An April 2012 survey asked cleaning professionals their thoughts about battery-operated cleaning equipment, such as those found in autoscrubbers. Conducted by Tornado Industries, participants were asked the type of battery now found in their cleaning equipment, 52 percent indicated it was a "deep-cycle flooded" battery. This type of battery is designed to power equipment for long periods of time.
The other respondents were divided equally, using either absorbed glass mats (AGM) batteries or gel batteries. With a gel battery, the electrolyte (sulfuric acid) is in the form of a gel, the battery is totally sealed, and it cannot be refilled with water, eliminating the possibility of acid burns. AGM batteries use fiberglass to hold the electrolyte in place. They are also spill-proof and are considered more vibration- and impact-resistant than other types of batteries.
Respondents indicated the two main benefits of using battery-powered cleaning equipment were the greater flexibility of the machine and the fact that it had "no cords to worry about."
However, 45 percent said their biggest dislike of battery-powered cleaning equipment is that some machines have short run time; 26 percent said battery-powered machines are more expensive than nonbattery machines; and the rest complained "they need frequent recharging."
"These are problems with some battery-powered machines," says Daniel Frimml Technical Service Coordinator of Tornado. "However, new technologies have resulted in improvements in battery performance, lasting power, and the cost differential has receded."
Among the other key findings in the survey:
• Overall, 71 percent said they prefer maintenance free batteries.
• If two machines are comparable in price and performance, 88 percent said they would select the battery-powered machine.
• More than half of the respondents indicated a battery-powered machine is more sustainable than a nonbattery machine; other did not agree or were "not sure."

"Finally, the overwhelming majority believed more cleaning equipment will be battery powered in the future," says Frimml. "This is the view of many manufacturers as well."