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Gel and AGM Batteries
Gel and AGM batteries
Although I have written about this many times, I still think it is important to inform readers and battery buyers about the difference between the two battery types. In my early days as a battery retailer, I must admit to being as confused as anybody about the differences.
Subsequently, both Gel batteries and AGM batteries are often mistaken for each other! In fact, they are closely related. Both types possess distinct differences and also share features. Both types of batteries look the same. Many times, they are both used for similar things. For example, they are used as mobility scooter batteries and other types of leisure batteries.
Both fall under the category of VRLA (Valve Regulated Lead Acid) batteries
and incorporate vent valves. Thus making them safer than the standard lead-acid battery used on many of our cars. These Gel and AGM batteries eliminate the need for distilled water top-ups due to their closed design (totally sealed), which recombines the hydrogen gases produced within.
Of course, this is similar to traditional wet batteries. Beyond these commonalities, there are notable contrasts between Gel and AGM batteries. The fitted valves will only vent due to extreme heat. Say after overcharging for a long period.
All about Gel Batteries
So, Gel and AGM batteries often look like regular car batteries. Many even have fake tops on each cell. Making them look like conventional lead-acid batteries. However, electrolytes envelop the positive and negative electrodes, but these electrolytes differ by being gel-like. This is done through the introduction of silica. Thus turning the liquid acid into a semi-solid gel.
I liken it to a wall paper paste mix.
The stiffness of the gel formation offers enhanced resistance to vibrations and vehicle tilting. The encapsulated design simplifies handling and elevates safety, ensuring that intact batteries don’t leak fluid. Consequently, Gel and AGM batteries are often referred to as maintenance-free batteries within the industry.
The gel batteries are suitable for many leisure and marine-type applications. The downside is that they are expensive to buy in the first place. There are many battery companies that make gel batteries; the best-known is the Sonnenschein battery label. Followed closely by Exide Batteries, who make excellent equipment-grade gel-type batteries.
All about AGM Batteries
The acronym AGM signifies “Absorbent Glass Mat.” In AGM batteries, a glass fibre mat completely absorbs the electrolytes. These batteries are leakage-resistant and can withstand inclines and vibrations, making them ideal for off-road and motorcycle applications. Gel and AGM batteries outperform standard starter batteries, enduring three times as many charging cycles. The structural advantages contribute to increased performance, positioning Gel and AGM batteries as a premier choice. Their extended lifespan, superior performance, and heightened safety establish AGM batteries as top-tier options for contemporary vehicles.
Comparing Gel Batteries and AGM Batteries
Gel batteries excel due to minimal electrode wear, resulting in extended service life compared to regular lead-acid batteries. However, their elevated internal resistance limits their ability to produce high cold start currents within short intervals. Additionally, gel batteries are sensitive to temperature fluctuations, posing a second drawback.
AGM batteries have endured a new lease of life
in recent times and have been discovered to be tailor-made for vehicles equipped with automatic start-stop systems and elevated power requirements. These batteries are recommended for drivers using numerous electrical devices, driver assistance features, or seeking enhanced starting and supply reliability via high-performance batteries. Noteworthy characteristics of AGM batteries include:
- Leak-proof design
- Tolerance to different positions (can be fitted to most spaces on the inside of vehicles)
- Resistance to vibrations
- Enhanced safety (including no threat of acid spills, which is important for motorcycle safety)
Even if the battery casing sustains damage, the acid remains confined within the glass mat, significantly mitigating the risk of uncontrolled acid leakage.
When to opt for an AGM Battery
As I have reiterated, the consistent high cold start current output makes AGM batteries suitable for vehicles with start-stop technology and regenerative braking. Vehicles equipped with basic automatic start-stop systems and increased power demands also benefit from AGM batteries
The substantial number of charging cycles contributes to their longevity and cost-effectiveness. While conventional gel batteries are designed for supply purposes rather than starting functions, AGM batteries offer an updated solution for reliable energy, eco-friendliness, and dependability while catering to modern needs.
In my opinion, the AGM has taken over from the gel battery in recent years. The regular lead-acid battery charging system cannot be used to charge an AGM battery. There are all sorts of smart battery chargers on the market, so look for one that is specific to charging gel and AGM batteries. This includes gel batteries! Use a smart charger for the best charging results.
It is also important to note that gel batteries are more suitable for things like solar storage, and are worth the extra cost for better results.
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