Car batteries are essential to the effective operation of the vehicle. However, there is a tendency for drivers not to pay too much attention to the kind of car battery they have, as some of these things can last for years without needing too much maintenance.
Meanwhile, there are also types that need constant topping up of electrolytes or water refilling, and it pays to know the difference between these types of batteries.
There are many different types of car batteries, but most of them fall under one of the five types: Starting, Lighting and Ignition batteries (also commonly known as SLI batteries); deep cycle batteries; valve regulated lead acid batteries (also commonly known as VRLA); wet cell or “flooded” batteries; and lastly, Lithium ion or Li-ion batteries.
These battery types are classified according to the way they are built, and also the main material that makes them work as portable energy containers. Of course, each of these types is specialized for different purposes, and it pays to know what you have installed on your car.
6 Type Of Automotive Battery In Detail
1. Starting, Lighting, And Ignition Or “SLI” Batteries
As the name indicates, this battery is made to facilitate the starting of your car, as well as operate the interior lights, turn signal lights, headlights, and rear (brake lights). It is not limited to those purposes, though, as it can also power the wipers, power windows, radio, stereo speakers, and more. Therefore, it is not surprising to learn that a majority of automotive batteries are SLI type batteries.
SLI batteries have a short charge cycle, which means that it does not take long to drain it and to charge it up again. It can only give short, quick bursts of power every time, so it is not suitable for vehicles that demand heavier power consumption.
2. Deep Cycle Batteries
Deep cycle batteries give off more power compared to the short bursts given off by SLI batteries. They also have a longer charge cycle, which means that they can sustain themselves longer. This makes deep cycle batteries the ideal type of battery for use in small vehicles like golf carts and marine vehicles.
Deep cycle batteries are known for their longevity, and these batteries can last you a long time. What’s more, the thick plates on deep cycle batteries increases the capacity charge. Deep cycle batteries can also be used to collect solar power and wind power.
However, these batteries are not usually used for cars because of its quick discharge rate. Cars tend to be idle for most hours, and that idle time will mean significant discharge for deep cycle batteries.
#Deep cycle battery costs start at $200.
3. Valve Regulated Lead Acid Batteries (Or VRLA)
The defining characteristic of valve regulated lead acid batteries is that they are designed so that they will not require too much maintenance. For example, the battery cells do not really need to be regularly topped up with water, and there will be minimal fluid loss.
These battery are sealed because they do not need as much servicing as other battery types. Being sealed, this means that their contents are less likely to spill when inverted or tipped over. This means that when they fail or die, they are more likely to be replaced outright as well, rather than undergo repairs.
The name “valve-regulated” refers to the safety valves used by this type of battery, usually located somewhere prominent on the battery box. These safety valves are pressurized, and by constraining the gas in the battery, it will mix with and form water that will replenish whatever liquid has been lost during continued use.
Valve regulated lead acid batteries also have two common subtypes: Gel Cell and Absorption Glass Mat (AGM) batteries.
Batteries under the AGM type are built so that its materials — the thin fiberglass surface mat that is its namesake, and the electrolytes — can have fast reactions with each other.
As a result, these kinds of batteries deliver lots of short-burst power compared to other types of sealed batteries. Because of the thinness of mat, this batter type’s internal resistance is also very low. AGM batteries are good for starting cars because of the significant burst of power packed in such a small volume.
#The price range for this battery brand is from $50 to $300.
Gel batteries are so named because of their electrolytes are silica-based. They work well enough and provide enough power to be used in deep cycle purposes like golf carts, sail boats, and other marine vessels. However, due to their composition, they are far less effective in extremely hot or cold temperatures. They are also not the best types of battery for starting a car, because of their low power output.
#Gel cell batteries costs anywhere from $100 to $250.
4. “Flooded” Or Wet Cell Batteries
Batteries classified as wet cell are so called because they utilize a wet solution as electrolytes. This usually is a mixture of sulfuric acid, water, and lead. These batteries can be the least expensive among the types, but it is also the most tedious to maintain.
It does not afford the cycle life and convenience the VRLA cells provide, especially since some of them may actually need to be maintenance regularly so as to replace whatever electrolytes are lost during continued operation. The wet cell design uses freely suspended plates that are insulated from each other, while the negative plate is sealed in what is called a separator bag.
#Wet cell batteries can cost anywhere from $30 to several hundred dollars, depending on the brand.
5. Lithium Ion Batteries
Lithium ion batteries are not in common use as car batteries, especially since they are not compatible with most vehicles available on the market today. However, there are some newer electric and hybrid cars that utilize Lithium ion batteries for their purposes.
Some of the advantages of Lithium ion are that they weigh significantly less than most lead acid batteries, and they store more power, as well. However, the drawback of Lithium ion is that they have a very short lifespan. The typical battery of this type lasts about an average of three years on, no matter the way they are used.
#They are also expensive, and starting costs for cars can amount up to $1,000.
6. Calcium Alloy Battery
This type of battery design is composed by a calcium alloy applied on the differently charged plates. This alloy significantly reduces the amount of fluid loss with battery use, as well as reducing the rate of self-discharge.
There are also bubbles that move in the fluid utilized, which are responsible for mixing various acid densities. The disadvantage of calcium alloy battery is that it can be severely damaged when it is overcharged.
#Calcium alloy batteries can be found in the $100 price range or lower.
Battery Types By Size And Position
Aside from the material used, batteries can also be classified by sizes or the way they position int the car. Some of these types are industry standard, so that consumers will not have a hard time just finding a replacement for their used or dead batteries.
There are also size group numbers that indicate the size and terminal position of the battery. These numbers are indicators of compatibility.
1. Side Post Batteries
This kind of battery is popular for General Motors vehicles. These GM vehicles have this battery scheme wherein the cables are screwed to the side of the battery, instead of on the top as per usual.
#GM battery groups: 70, 74, 75, 78.
2. Recessed Top Posts
Typically found in Eurocars, recessed top post batteries have their posts recessed on the top corners of the battery (hence the name). This means that the posts are actually the highest part of the battery design.
Eurocar and VAG manufacturers also produce cells that have a ventilation system as part of the battery. A common example of this is in BMW cars, most of which hide their batteries underneath rear seats, or even in the car’s trunk.
#Size group numbers for this type of battery: 41, 42, 47, 48, 49.
3. American Recessed Top Posts
Most American and Japanese models typically put their posts in a standardized place. When you see a car battery in the U.S., its type is most likely American Recessed. However, batteries in this group still vary in height, which may spell trouble when installing or replacing batteries. It pays to check in the battery is compatible with your car first before purchasing.
#Size groups for this type: 24, 24F, 25, 34, 35, 51, 51R, 52, 58, 58R, 59, 65.
Of course, there have been advances in battery technology that they may be types of batteries that are a combination of two or more of these batteries together. There may also be obscure battery types that may not have been economically viable now but may have a significant impact in the future.
There are lots of battery types, and more may crop up in the future. But for now, i hope that this general guide gave you an idea on how to determine the auto battery type that you need for your purposes.