Power Source Batteries - FAQ's                                   



What is a Battery?

A battery is an electrical storage device. Batteries do not make electricity, they store it. As chemicals in the battery change, electrical energy is stored or released. In rechargeable batteries this process can be repeated many times. Batteries are not 100% efficient - some energy is lost as heat and chemical reactions when charging and discharging.

What are some of the major types of Lead Acid Batteries?

Batteries are divided in two ways, by application (what they are used for) and construction (how they are built). The major applications are Automotive, Marine, and Deep-Cycle. Deep-cycle includes solar electric, backup power, RV & house boat batteries. The major construction types are Flooded (Wet), AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat), and Gel. Nearly all AGM batteries are sealed valve regulated - commonly referred to as "VRLA" or Valve Regulated Lead-Acid. 

What is a Starting Battery?

Starting batteries are commonly used to start and run engines. Engine starters need a very large starting current for a very short time. Starting batteries have a large number of thin plates for maximum surface area. The plates are composed of a Lead sponge, similar in appearance to a very fine foam sponge. This gives a very large surface area, but if deep cycled, this sponge will quickly be consumed and falls to the bottom of the cells. 

What is a Sealed Maintenance Free Battery?

Sealed batteries are known as maintenance free batteries. They are made with vents that (usually) cannot be removed. A standard auto or marine maintenance free battery is sealed, but not fully leak proof. Sealed batteries are not totally sealed since all batteries must allow gas to vent during charging. There are sealed lead acid (SLA) batteries that are non-spillable.

What is a AGM or Absorbed Glass Mat Battery?

The newer type of sealed non-spillable maintenance free valve regulated battery uses "Absorbed Glass Mats", or AGM separators between the plates. This is a very fine fiber Boron-Silicate glass mat. These type of batteries have all the advantages of gelled, but can take much more abuse. These are also called "starved electrolyte.” Just like the Gel batteries, the AGM Battery will not leak acid if broken.

What is a Gel Cell Battery?

A gel battery design is typically a modification of the standard lead acid automotive or marine battery. A gelling agent is added to the electrolyte to reduce movement inside the battery case. Many gel batteries also use one way valves in place of open vents, this helps the normal internal gasses to recombine back into water in the battery, reducing gassing. Gel cell batteries are non-spillable even if they are broken. Gel cells must be charged at a lower voltage (C/20) than flooded or AGM to prevent excess gas from damaging the cells. Fast charging them on a conventional automotive charger may permanently damage a Gel Battery.

What is the Amp Hour (Ah) rating?

An amp-hour is one amp for one hour. It is amps X hours. If you have something that pulls 20 amps, and you use it for 20 minutes, then the amp-hours used would be 20 (amps) X .333 (hours), or 6.67 AH. The accepted AH rating time period for batteries used in solar electric and backup power systems (and for nearly all deep cycle batteries) is the "20 hour rate". This means that it is discharged down to 10.5 volts over a 20 hour period while the total actual amp-hours it supplies is measured.

What is a Volt?

A Volt is the unit of measure for electrical potential.

Do batteries self-discharge when not in use?

All batteries, regardless of their chemistry, self-discharge. The rate of self-discharge depends both on the type of battery and the storage temperature the batteries are exposed to.

Are lead acid batteries recyclable?

Lead acid batteries are 100% recyclable. Lead is the most recycled metal in the world today. The plastic containers and covers of old batteries are neutralized, reground and used in the manufacture of new battery cases. The electrolyte can be processed for recycled waste water uses. In some cases, the electrolyte is cleaned and reprocessed and sold as battery grade electrolyte. In other instances, the sulfate content is removed as Ammonia Sulfate and used in fertilizers. The separators are often used as a fuel source for the recycling process.

Can I take a wheelchair, scooter or other equipment that is powered by a Sealed AGM or Gel Battery on a airplane or cruise ship?

Yes. There should be no problem, the battery is considered non-spillable, non-hazardous, since it is a absorbed glass mat design. These sealed lead acid valve regulated (VRLA) batteries are classified as "Battery, wet non-spillable, not subject to regulations" by DOT and IMO. By IATA they are classified as "Not restricted for air transport" and they are in compliance with IATA/ICAO special provision A67. For the gelled electrolyte batteries, they are classified as "Battery, wet, filled with acid, UN2794, Class 8". They can be legally shipped via air with special packaging etc.

Why is a Maintenance-Free AGM motorcycle battery superior to most conventional motorcycle batteries?

Maintenance-free AGM motorcycle batteries feature Absorbed Glass Mat technology (AGM for short). This design dramatically improves a battery's performance in the following areas:

  • True maintenance-free design, you'll never have to check or add electrolyte again, unlike conventional batteries which require periodic fluid checks.
  • Liquid-free AGM design, will not leak or corrode on expensive paint and chrome, and also eliminates corrosion around the battery terminals.
  • AGM batteries have less internal resistance which allows them to produce more discharge current (cold cranking amperage) vs. comparable conventional "wet" batteries, and AGM batteries also recharge faster. ·Better resistance to both heat and vibration, a major cause of failure in conventional motorcycle batteries.
  • Much slower self-discharge rate, (3% vs.15% per month) means longer periods between battery recharging over periods of non-use, like winter months or vacations.

Can I expect longer service life from a Maintenance-Free AGM motorcycle battery?

Yes, due to their sealed design, AGM batteries eliminate water loss due to heat and evaporation. Most people don't check their conventional battery's water level on a regular basis, and as the electrolyte level in the battery goes down , sulphation begins, which will dramatically shorten a conventional battery's life . Also the AGM battery's "Tight pack" lead calcium construction provides better resistance to vibration, there by increasing it's service life."

Do Maintenance-Free AGM motorcycle batteries require special charging?

No, most AGM motorcycle and powersport batteries can use the same low amp battery chargers that conventional motorcycle batteries use. We recommend a 1-2 amp "Smart" style charger, which will charge only to a certain point then taper down and maintain the battery safely for long periods. Check with the battery manufacturer on your particular battery's charging requirements if you are unsure of which battery charger to purchase.

Are Maintenance-Free AGM batteries safe?

AGM batteries are safer the conventional wet or flooded motorcycle batteries. The AGM design incorporates special safety valves in the battery case, which are designed to prevent pressure build up inside the battery during periods of excess over charging.

What happens if I open a AGM battery's case?

By opening a maintenance-free AGM battery's case, you release a set internal pressure or psi, which is crucial in a AGM recombination design. In compromising the case you are dramatically shortening it's service life and voiding the battery's warranty.

Can I expect more cranking amperage from a Sealed AGM battery?

Yes. Because of the AGM battery's more efficient design, there is less internal resistance from one plate to another, allowing for faster current discharge to reach the battery's terminals, i.e. more cold cranking amperage.

When I receive my new AGM battery, do I need to charge it?

If your AGM battery is already factory activated, and pre-charged, then it is ready to install. If your battery requires that you add electrolyte, then you must charge the battery afterwards. Please read and follow the battery’s instructions carefully.


If you do not see your question here, please give us a call and we would be happy to answer it for you.