What Different Types of Car Batteries are Available?
When it comes to conventional, gas-operated vehicles, there are two main types of lead-acid batteries that power most machines on the road today: the flooded (or ‘wet cell’) battery and the sealed (or ‘dry cell’) battery. Sealed batteries are modern, rechargeable power units that can endure high vibrational movement, better charge retention and electrical loads.
Flooded batteries, while typically a cheaper car battery, are the traditional battery type seen in most older cars today. These batteries aren’t sealed, so they need to be positioned upright to avoid spillage. Some may also need to be ‘watered’ every so often to prevent solution loss. While these two models both use lead plates and should come in 12-volt models, they are different in the way they contain their internal, free-flowing electrolyte solution.
This popular battery choice falls under the sealed lead-acid (or ‘valve-regulated’) category, and is a step up from standard flooded batteries. Because they’re sealed, AGM (Absorbent Glass Mat) batteries are spill-proof with minimal gassing, which makes maintenance practically non-existent. The internal fiberglass membrane absorbs and separates the electrolyte-acid mixture. AGM Batteries are a top-tier choice for newer vehicles that need reliable power to keep up with intense electrical demands.
Another valve-regulated battery that’s similar to AGM batteries are gel batteries, which contain the same core technology as AGM, except with a silica substance to transform internal acid into stationary gel. Gel batteries are a great backup battery for electric vehicles with progressive technology, but aren’t the best choice for combustion engine cars. They aren’t as tolerant to extreme temperatures and need specific recharging protocol to stay in good condition. Plus, they can hurt the wallet. If you’re looking for a battery upgrade that’s suited to your modern vehicle with high bursts of amps, you’re better off with an AGM Battery.
Both batteries are considered “deep-cycle,” meaning they’re designed to deliver consistent power for an extended period until they’ve used up most of their capacity. Unlike starter batteries, deep-cycle batteries can be discharged and recharged multiple times. But what if you drive a hybrid? Then you’ll likely need a Lithium-ion battery. At NAPA AUTO PARTS, we carry a wide selection of battery models for any vehicle-type. We carry major battery deals on our online catalog of 160,000+ parts, which give you flexible options with the chance to fine-tune what’s actually applicable to your vehicle.
So, How Do I Choose a Car Battery Replacement?
After confirming the signs you need a new car battery, it can get a little overwhelming to consider all the different types of batteries on the market. While your owner’s manual will help narrow your choices to a group code level, you should also factor in things like budget, the age of your vehicle, your climate and if you want to deal with ongoing battery maintenance. AGM batteries outperform standard flooded batteries in almost every capacity and require virtually no maintenance, but their cost usually means it’s more of an investment purchase. Older vehicles with less computerized technology can often get by using the old-fashioned flooded battery, which is inexpensive and ideal for backup power use and storage. No matter what specific battery you choose, make sure to keep any eye out for standard qualities of a solid, well-produced battery:
Cold Cranking Amps
Important for everyone, especially those living in cold weather. This is a rating that indicates how well your battery can start in cold temperatures with consistent short bursts. The higher the rating, the better the battery. Check your OEM requirements (or engine size) for a good gauge of suitable cranking amps.
How much energy can your battery store and what’s the charge capacity? This metric will indicate how your battery does during an extended period through sustaining voltage. The higher your capacity, the longer your battery’s power lasts.
Are you willing to check and water your battery on a routine basis at a lower expense or do you prefer a hands-off approach with a newer, spill-free battery model?
Disposing Your Old Battery
After you’ve successfully purchased and transported the right battery for you, it’s super important to properly dispose of your old one. If you’re tackling this project at home, you’ll need to know your options. One thing is certain: never, ever dispose of your battery in the trash. Because car batteries are made up of toxic chemicals and non-degradable material, their impact (if not disposed correctly) can damage the health of local ecosystems and people-centered communities. A simple web search will show you local recycling services and businesses that help with disposal.
If you’re getting a battery replacement at a local NAPA AutoCare Center, then your old battery will be taken care of by our experts. If you’re shopping at a local auto parts store like NAPA AUTO PARTS, ask the staff if they can take your old battery off your hands. Eventually, your old battery should end up in a hazardous waste facility where chemicals are properly drained, lead is removed, plastic is recycled and anything salvageable is turned into a part of a new battery. With the seasoned expertise and NAPA Know How of our team, we’ll help you skip the hassle of battery maintenance with efficient, long-lasting automotive battery solutions.
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More than 90 years ago, the National Automotive Parts Association ("NAPA") was created to meet America’s growing need for an effective auto parts distribution system. Today, 91% of do-it-yourself customers recognize the NAPA brand name. We have over 6,000 NAPA AUTO PARTS Stores nationwide serving all 50 states with a unique inventory control system that helps you find the exact part that you need.