Understanding 12V Battery Types: Which Type is Right For You?
Not sure about the 12V battery types and which is best for your application? Find out about the 4 main types of 12V batteries and the pros and cons of each.
When it comes to performance and efficiency in various applications, the right battery type can make all the difference. Whether it's powering a car, an RV, golf cart or a boat, choosing the right 12V battery is crucial.
This comprehensive guide will help you navigate through the world of 12V battery types, so you can make an informed decision and optimize the performance of whatever you are trying to power.
- Understanding 12V Battery Types involves exploring the differences between Flooded Lead-Acid, Gel, AGM (Absorbent Glass Mat) and Lithium-Ion batteries.
- Factors to consider when selecting a battery include capacity, type, size, energy density & more.
- Maintenance practices such as proper charging and temperature control are essential for extending the life of a 12V battery.
What is a 12 Volt Battery?
Most 12V batteries are rechargeable deep cycle batteries used in a multitude of applications, such as cars, boats, RVs and golf carts. These batteries play a vital role in powering the basic systems in an RV or automobile, like lights and some appliances, or starting and running essential fishing electronics such as trolling motors and electronics.
Additionally, 12 volt batteries are considered essential in automotive systems and boating applications as starting batteries that provide the initial jolt of energy required to start the vehicle or boat engine.
So regardless of which application you are researching, selecting the right battery type is crucial to ensure the best performance and longevity of your equipment.
The chemical reaction in a 12V battery converts the chemical energy stored within the battery into direct current (DC) power, which is then used to power various systems and electronics.
There are a few different types of 12V battery types, each with its own unique characteristics, such as maintenance-free or low-maintenance options, capacity, and lifespan.
So choosing the right battery type for your specific application is essential for optimal performance and efficiency.
Exploring 12V Battery Types
There are several types of 12V batteries available, each with its own design, capacity, maintenance requirements and cost of installation and purchase. The four main types of 12V batteries are Flooded Lead-Acid, Gel, AGM (Absorbent Glass Mat) and Lithium-Ion batteries.
Understanding the differences between these battery types will help you make an informed decision when selecting the right battery for your needs.
Flooded Lead-Acid Batteries
Flooded Lead-Acid batteries are the most common type of lead-acid batteries and consist of lead plates suspended in a sulfuric acid solution. You can consider these the traditional batteries of almost any battery system because they are affordable, common and the most basic design and function.
Until recently, these batteries were almost exclusively used as starting batteries in vehicle engines of all sorts. Now, however, there are other options we’ll describe in the sections below.
Flooded batteries have been a reliable choice for a long time, providing power for various applications. However, these batteries require regular maintenance, as the necessary amount of water needs to be monitored and replenished to ensure proper functioning.
The average lifespan of a Flooded Lead-Acid battery ranges from 2 to 5 years, depending on factors such as usage and maintenance.
While Flooded Lead-Acid batteries are cost-effective and widely used, they do come with certain drawbacks. They require periodic maintenance, such as checking the electrolyte levels and adding distilled water. Additionally, these batteries must be mounted in an upright position to prevent the electrolyte from leaking out of the caps on top.
A flooded battery also releases gasses so they must be installed in a place where the gas can be properly vented. Gas pressure not properly vented can be dangerous and cause catastrophic harm.
And because they are not sealed, like other batteries on the list, they can leak harmful battery acid that can not only cause battery terminal corrosion but also cause significant health issues when it comes in contact with the skin, eyes and/or respiratory system.
One final, and ultimately authoritative reason why a flooded battery is becoming obsolete is because the depth of discharge cannot exceed 50% of the battery capacity before causing fatal damage to the battery that will greatly shorten its lifespan.
- Very low price
- Common to find and use in various applications
- Can experience regular high current discharge
- Require the most maintenance
- Emit dangerous gasses
- Can leak harmful battery acid
- Should not be discharged below 50% of its capacity
- Must be mounted upright
- Short lifespan (2-5 years)
Gel batteries are a type of lead-acid battery that uses a gel-like substance to suspend the lead plates rather than the water/sulphuric acid found in flooded batteries. They are low-maintenance, do not leak fluid, can be installed in any orientation, and are suitable for high temperatures.
However, Gel batteries require more attentive charging, utilizing a specific charge controller and slower charging cycles at lower voltages. Deep discharges and rapid recharge are not recommended for these batteries. Like their primitive relatives, gel batteries should not be discharged below 50% of their capacity.
The expected lifespan of a Gel battery is between 2 and 5 years, similar to Flooded Lead-Acid batteries. Despite their maintenance advantages and temperature resistance, Gel batteries have a shorter life expectancy and more cautious charging requirements than other 12V battery types.
- Affordable alternative to FLA batteries
- Can be mounted in any orientation (except upside down)
- Work and charge in higher temperatures
- Require special charging care
- Should not be discharged below 50%
- Do not recharge quickly
- Have additional costs related to charging and discharging
AGM (Absorbent Glass Mat) batteries are a type of Sealed Valve-Regulated Lead-Acid (VRLA) battery, where the electrolyte is suspended in close proximity to the plates' active material. AGM batteries are widely used in various applications, such as RVs, boats, motorcycles, ATVs and golf carts.
AGM batteries are also common in backup power systems for hospitals and other industries where having a reliable alternative power source is essential to continued operations.
An AGM battery does not require any maintenance, making them suitable for use in a battery system that may endure harsh environments. And they have a longer service life than Flooded Lead-Acid or Gel batteries.
The expected lifespan of AGM batteries ranges from 4 to 7 years, depending on factors such as usage and maintenance.
However, AGM batteries tend to be more expensive than other types of lead-acid batteries with comparable capacities. Despite the higher price, their maintenance-free nature and longer lifespan make them a popular choice for many applications.
- Sealed (do not emit harmful gasses)
- Longer life expectancy (4-7 years)
- Can be discharged deeper than both FLA and Gel batteries
- Don’t require special charging equipment like gel batteries
- Can be mounted in any orientation (except upside down)
- Higher price than FLA and gel batteries
- Should not be discharged below 60% of capacity
Lithium-Ion batteries are a type of rechargeable deep cycle battery that uses lithium salt to achieve higher energy density and improved electricity storage efficiency. They offer the highest storage capacity, quickest and most efficient charging, longest lifespan and are lightweight compared to traditional lead-acid batteries.
However, 12V lithium-ion batteries can be pricier than other types. This is because they offer a higher quality and significantly longer life span than other types.
Despite their higher cost, lithium-ion batteries provide excellent reliability and efficiency and greater depth of discharge, making them a great option for those seeking a dependable and efficient battery.
The many advantages of lithium-ion batteries make them an increasingly popular choice for various applications, from transportation to power generation. As lithium battery technology has improved over time, lithium batteries have become more common due to fact that costs are coming down and the broader applications for which they can be used.
- Long lifespan (up to 10+ years)
- Largest battery capacity
- Can be discharged up to 100% of capacity
- More efficient and faster charging
- Require no maintenance
- Can be mounted in any orientation (except upside down)
- Deliver consistent higher voltage over longer periods of time
- Built-in Battery Monitoring System (BMS) to protect the battery
- Highest price
- Require a special lithium ion battery charger
- Cannot be charged in sub-zero temperatures
At Enduro Power Batteries we recognized the limitations posed by other 12 volt battery types and made the commitment to designing the best lithium alternatives for a variety of applications. We only sell the best lithium batteries that are guaranteed to offer the greatest value over the duration of the battery’s life.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a 12V Battery
When selecting a 12 volt battery, it is essential to consider factors such as the battery's capacity, type, size, energy density, current availability, durability, lifetime, cold cranking amps and reserve capacity.
Additionally, it is important to verify the standard battery requirements of the device or vehicle you're using the battery for to ensure compatibility throughout the electrical system.
By taking these factors into consideration, you can make an informed decision and choose the right battery for your specific needs.
12V batteries are employed in a variety of applications, including transportation, power generation and electronic devices. Depending on your desired application, there is a battery that fits perfect your your intended use.
As such, 12 volt batteries are commonly used in automobiles, fishing and boating applications, and recreational vehicle (RV) applications, providing power for various systems and devices. However, the type and size of the battery may be dependent upon the required usage.
For example, a sealed battery (such as an AGM battery) or lead acid battery may be best used as car batteries or boat cranking batteries due to the fact that they can provide a lot of power (current) in a short amount of time.
On the other hand, lithium batteries are beginning to dominate RV and fishing applications due to the fact that a fully charged lithium battery bank can provide hours, if not days, of power to essential electronics such as trolling motors, interior lights and AC power inverters. This is especially true when combined with an adequately sized solar panel system.
Understanding the specific requirements of your intended application is crucial when selecting a 12V battery to ensure optimal performance and efficiency.
The cost of a 12V battery can range from $50 to over $1,000, depending on the battery type and the amp hour rating for the battery.
Factors that influence the price include the the type and capacity of the battery. It's essential to consider your budget when selecting a battery to ensure you choose a cost-effective option without compromising on quality and performance.
However, it is equally important to understand the concept of value and convenience when deciding which 12 volt batteries are best for you.
For example, if you do not want to worry about regular maintenance on your 12 volt battery and the associated consequences of failing to do so properly, then the extra expense of an AGM or lithium battery may make perfect sense.
Related: Read about the dangers of working with battery acid.
Additionally, if you want to have a deep cycle battery that will last 10 or more years before you even think about replacing it then both a lead acid battery and sealed battery are out of the picture and you will appreciate the higher cost, but greater value that a lithium battery provides.
If you are making your decision based purely on budget, then you are going to miss out on other necessary ingredients that make the perfect purchase impossible.
But taking these factors into account, you can find a 12V battery that fits your budget while still providing the necessary power and performance for your specific application.
Maintenance requirements for 12V batteries vary depending on the type of battery. Some batteries, like Flooded Lead-Acid batteries, require periodic maintenance, such as checking electrolyte levels and adding distilled water. Others, like Sealed Lead-Acid batteries, are maintenance-free and do not require any upkeep.
Understanding the maintenance requirements of different battery types is crucial when selecting a 12V battery, as it can impact the overall performance and longevity of the battery. By choosing a battery that aligns with your maintenance preferences, you can ensure optimal performance and extend the life of your battery.
We only sell the best lithium battery on the market because we know that once you install it you will never think twice about it again.
Tips for Extending 12V Battery Life
To extend the life of your 12V battery, it's important to follow proper charging practices, avoid deep discharges and keep the battery within proper temperature ranges. Other tips include limiting short trips, securely fastening the battery, turn off all lights and other electronics when not in use, checking for corrosion if using lead acid batteries, and regularly testing the battery to ensure optimal performance.
Buy Lithium and Never Buy Another Battery Again!
If you do not want to have to shop for another battery after reading this post, then choose one of our Enduro Power Battery lithium batteries for your desired application.
In addition to all of the pros that we described about the benefits of a lithium battery in the section above, our batteries are designed with leading technology that means that you can be very hands off when it comes to making your batteries last.
Not only do we back up the quality of our product with a 10 year warranty, but also we provide the best built-in battery monitoring system (BMS) that will help protect your battery from excessive high or low voltage.
Our batteries have less than 3% monthly self-discharge, meaning that you can store the battery fully charged and expect it to still be able to produce power when you pull it out of storage.
And we are confident that the overall value of our batteries exceeds that of other brands on the market. We’re not the cheapest and we’re not the most expensive. But we have a great team that will walk you through every decision you need to make and any questions you have about the installation and use of our batteries.
* SHOP OUR PROCONNECT SERIES LITHIUM BATTERIES FOR MARINE APPLICATIONS
* SHOP OUR BAJA SERIES LITHIUM BATTERIES FOR RV APPLICATIONS
* SHOP OUR GOLF CART LITHIUM BATTERIES FOR GOLFING APPLICATIONS
In conclusion, understanding the different types of 12V batteries – Flooded Lead-Acid, Gel, AGM, and Lithium (LiFePO4) – and their respective advantages, drawbacks, and lifespans is crucial when selecting the right battery for your needs.
Considering factors such as intended application, budget and maintenance preferences will help you make an informed decision and optimize the performance and efficiency of your devices. By following proper charging practices, avoiding deep discharges, and maintaining optimal battery temperature, you can extend the life of your 12V battery and ensure its longevity.
With this comprehensive guide, you are now equipped with the knowledge to choose the right 12V battery for your specific needs.
NEED MORE ASSISTANCE PLANNING YOUR POWER SETUP?
GIVE US A CALL AT 303-968-1366 AND OUR TEAM WILL HELP YOU GET STARTED!