The term ‘Sonnenschein’ is synonymous with the gel battery, just as ‘Hoover’ is with the vacuum cleaner and ‘Bic’ is with the ballpoint pen. The name harks back to the founder Theodor Sonnenschein who set up a factory in Germany in 1910. At that stage, the company specialised in starter batteries, but it was actually his protégé Otto Jache that was instrumental in developing the ‘dryfit’ gel battery, who filed the first patent in 1957.
The first maintenance-free battery went into production in 1958 and was used for telecommunications for gliders, power for golf carts and oddly enough – for cat toilets! Dryfit technology consists of a closed system in which the electrolyte is trapped in gel. This makes them ideal for applications in which hygiene is paramount such as food production & retail and pharmaceutical manufacture. Unlike most batteries, there is no gassing or risk of acid spillage in the event of damage. Their use also extends to electric boats, wheelchairs mobile elevating work platforms, cleaning machines, automated guided vehicles and walk-behind pallet trucks.
Sonnenschein monobloc gel batteries are also suitable for extreme operating conditions as recently proven by their important role on the Extreme Everest expedition in which a team of scientists and researchers made the first ever measurement of the level of oxygen in human blood at 8400m, on the balcony of Everest. They were used at -10oC, but are capable of operating in temperatures down to – 40oC, making them ideal for cold store operations. Unlike flooded batteries, they require no topping up – saving valuable time and removing the risk of dealing with spilt acid. They have a low self-discharge rate and offer a long service life. There are 6v and 12 v variants and capacities range from 50Ah to 270Ah.