What Are Cold Cranking Amps (CCA) | When and Why Cold Cranking Amps Matter
If you’ve found yourself stuck researching different batteries and have come across the term “Cold Cranking Amps” and wondered what it meant, we’re here ot help you understand what it means and when and why it is important to know about a battery’s CCA rating.
The term “cold cranking amps" (CCA) is often thrown around when discussing batteries, but what does it really mean and why is it so important? As you read on, you'll find out how CCA affects your engine’s performance, particularly in a cold environment.
You will also learn about its applications in various fields such as fishing and RVs in addition to standard vehicle engines. By the end of this post, you'll have a deeper understanding of what are cold cranking amps, its significance and how to choose the right battery for your needs based on how many CCAs you may need.
- Understanding Cold Cranking Amps (CCA) is essential in determining the minimum battery starting power needed for various engines and motors cold climate.
- CCA measures a battery's ability to start an engine in cold temperatures, while marine cranking amps (MCA) refer to current measured at 32°F.
- Consult vehicle owner's manual for recommended CCA rating, reserve capacity & life span of fully charged batteries. More CCA won't hurt an engine, but may not improve performance either.
What Are Cold Cranking Amps (CCA)
Cold cranking amps (CCA) is a measure of a battery’s ability to provide enough power to start an engine in cold weather. CCAs are a rating that is expressed as a number of amps that can be delivered from the battery to start an engine, often in sub-zero temperatures.
The CCA rating applies typically only to batteries that are used to start up an engine, as opposed to those house batteries that may power electronics on boats, RVs or golf carts. Starting batteries are required to be able to deliver a large continuous output current for a short amount of time, typically 3-5 seconds, in order to start an engine.
The CCA rating essentially determines the battery's ability to provide sufficient power to start the engine in cold temperatures, which are adverse for batteries of all types. CCA is different from cranking amps (CA), which measure the current at 32°F, also known as marine cranking amps.
It is crucial to know the battery cold cranking amps required for the various engines and motors that you may expect to need to start in freezing temperatures. Most manufacturers provide the CCA requirements for outboard motors and vehicle engines.
The Cold Cranking Amps (CCA) requirements for different vehicles depend on the size and type of vehicle or engine.
For instance, most boat engines will require between 300 - 500 CCAs. An average vehicle may require slightly more. And larger RVs and motorhomes might require even more CCAs.
CCA vs. Cranking Amps (CA)
Cold cranking amps (CCA) is a measure of a battery's ability to initiate an engine in cold conditions. This is particularly pertinent for vehicles that operate in cold climates, as the battery must be able to provide sufficient power to start the engine, even when the battery starting power deteriorates due to cold temperatures.
The distinction between CCA and marine cranking amps (MCA) lies in the temperature at which the current is measured. CCA gauges the quantity of power a battery can provide at 0°F for 30 seconds, whereas MCA measures the current at 32°F.
When selecting a replacement battery for your vehicle or other engine, it is important to consider the cold cranking amps (CCA) rating, as it indicates the battery's capacity to initiate an engine in cold temperatures.
Even if you do not intend to operate an engine in sub zero temperatures, generally speaking, it is good to have a battery or batteries that have the power needed to start your engine on a regular basis in all sorts of weather.
Why are Cold Cranking Amps Important?
Cold cranking amps are essential for starting engines in cold weather conditions, especially for fishing, RV, and golf cart applications. As you'll see in the following sections, each of these applications has unique requirements when it comes to cold cranking amps.
Understanding these requirements will help you make informed decisions when selecting the right battery for your needs.
Most batteries intended for marine use refer to Marine Cranking Amps (MCAs) rather than CCAs because most boats will not be operating in sub-freezing temperatures.
However, ensuring that your battery has an adequate CCA or MCA rating can help prevent any potential issues when starting your boat engine in cold environments. This will allow you to focus on the catch of the day, rather than worrying about whether or not your engine will fire up when you want it to.
With marine applications, you may purchase a single battery that is used exclusively as a starting battery, such as our 12V 100 Ah ProConnect Series LiFePO4 battery.
Or you may choose a dual purpose battery, like our 12V 120 Ah ProConnect Series lithium battery, that will provide as much power as is needed both to start the motor as well as to power electronic devices on the boat.
Both batteries come with 100 amp maximum continuous discharge rating, which is typically more than enough power for most motors. Of course, if you need more CCAs then you can add two or more of our lithium batteries connected in parallel to double or triple the cold cranking amp capacity.
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When it comes to understanding how much CCA is required with your RV, you need to be sure that you understand the two primary types of batteries that your RV or motorhome may have:
- Vehicle/Starting Battery
- House/Leisure Battery
The first type is for your starting your vehicle, which is where knowing how many CCAs are required to start the vehicle in the cold matters tremendously. The second type is your house battery, or leisure battery, which provides power to various lights, fans and other appliances throughout the camper.
If you are towing a trailer or fifth wheel, the vehicle starting battery is located in the engine bay of your truck, while the house batteries for the trailer will be inside the trailer itself.
However, if you have a Class A, B or C motorhome, both types of batteries will exist within the confines of the motorhome itself.
While cold cranking ratings are crucial for RV vehicle batteries, not all RV house batteries have CCA ratings. This is because RV house batteries are typically deep cycle batteries and are not intended to act as starter batteries.
It's important to keep in mind that most vehicles, including RVs, require a higher CCA rating in cold temperatures to ensure that there is enough power to start the engine. By understanding the CCA requirements of your RV, you can ensure that your battery is able to deliver the necessary power when you need it most.
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Golf Cart Applications
Golf cart batteries may also be rated in CA and CCA. Golf carts being used in colder climates will require a battery with a higher CCA rating to ensure that the engine can start in low temperatures.
The requirements for CCA in golf cart batteries differ contingent upon the type of golf cart and the climate in which it is utilized. Generally, the higher the CCA rating, the more proficient the battery will be in cold temperatures.
Lithium batteries, for example, have a higher CCA rating than traditional lead-acid batteries, providing better start-up capability in cold temperatures, as well as a longer life span and lighter weight.
CCA Requirements for Different Vehicles
Different vehicles require different CCA ratings based on the size of their engines. The standard recommendation is that a vehicle battery should possess at least one CCA for every cubic inch of engine displacement.
In the following sections, you will learn about the specific CCA requirements for cars and trucks, boats and marine batteries, and RVs and motorhomes.
Cars and Trucks
The CCA requirements for cars and trucks are determined by the size of the engine. For most vehicles, the CCA requirement is between 600 and 1000 CCA.
The rationale behind these requirements is that the motor requires 1 CCA for every engine displacement in cubic inches. By adhering to these guidelines, you can ensure that your vehicle's battery has the necessary power to start the engine in cold temperatures.
When selecting a battery for your car or truck, it is important to consult the owner's manual for the minimum CCA rating required. Choosing a battery with a CCA rating significantly lower or higher than what is recommended by the manufacturer may not provide optimal performance and could potentially lead to issues when starting your engine in cold weather conditions.
Boats and Marine Batteries
Boats and marine batteries also require an adequate CCA or MCA rating to ensure that the engine can start in cold temperatures. The majority of boats require between 250 and 600 CCA, depending on the size of the engines.
When selecting a battery for your boat, it is essential to consider factors such as the CCA or MCA rating, the reserve capacity and the battery life in addition to having the proper battery voltage and adequate deep cycle storage (amp hours).
Lithium batteries are an excellent choice for boats and marine batteries, as they have an advantage over traditional lead acid batteries in that they deliver a continuous voltage during their discharge. That means that you do not need to have a fully charged battery to be able to deliver the current required to start the engine.
While lithium batteries cannot be charge in sub zero temperatures, they are fully capable of discharging and providing enough power to start an engine in adverse temperatures on a regular basis.
In addition to providing better start-up capability in cold temperatures, lithium batteries also have a longer life span and are lighter in weight, making them more convenient to transport.
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RVs and Motorhomes
The CCA requirements for RVs and motorhomes depend on the size of the engine and are not fixed. It is advisable to refer to the vehicle owner's manual for the appropriate CCA rating.
By understanding the CCA requirements for your specific RV or motorhome, you can ensure that your battery is capable of providing the necessary power to start the engine in cold temperatures.
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Lithium Batteries and CCA
Lithium batteries do not have CCA ratings, as they are designed to provide sustained power output and are rated for continuous current output, regardless of the temperature.
All of our ProConnect Series lithium batteries for marine applications, for instance, can deliver up to 100 amps of continuous current to start a boat engine.
In the following sections, you will learn more about lithium batteries, their relation to CCA and the advantages they offer over traditional lead-acid batteries.
Do Lithium Batteries Have CCA?
Lithium batteries do not possess CCA ratings as they are not engineered to initiate engines in low temperatures. Rather, lithium batteries are designed to deliver a consistent and reliable power source for electronics, not necessarily to start engines.
However, lithium batteries like those in our ProConnect Series offer the ability to start an engine in colder weather while also supplying constant voltage, an advantage over traditional lead acid batteries.
This makes them an ideal choice for off-grid energy storage, boat or RV house batteries, or as a home backup battery bank, particularly when used in conjunction with wind and solar power systems.
While lithium batteries do not have CCA ratings, they still offer many advantages over traditional lead-acid batteries. These advantages include a longer life span, faster charge times and a higher energy density, which allows them to store more power in a compact package.
Advantages of Lithium Batteries
Lithium batteries possess several benefits that make them an attractive option for various applications. They have a high energy density, which means they can store more energy in a smaller package compared to other battery types.
They also require minimal maintenance, as they do not experience sulfation and do not need recharging as frequently as other battery types.
In addition to their high energy density and low maintenance requirements, lithium batteries boast a lengthy lifespan, feature fast charge times, are notably lightweight, and are temperature tolerant.
These advantages make them an ideal choice for a wide range of applications, including those that require a consistent power source in various weather conditions.
Check out all of our lithium battery options for any application!
Choosing the Right Battery: CCA and Other Factors
When choosing a battery, it is essential to match the CCA rating to your vehicle and consider other factors such as reserve capacity and battery life.
In the following sections, you will learn how to match the CCA rating to your vehicle and the importance of reserve capacity and battery life.
Matching CCA to Your Vehicle
To match the CCA rating to your vehicle, consult your owner's manual for the minimum CCA rating required. It is advised not to select a battery with a CCA rating significantly lower or higher than what is recommended by the car's manufacturer, as this may not provide optimal performance and could potentially lead to issues when starting your engine in cold weather conditions. The recommended CCA for most vehicles is at least 600 CCA.
By matching the CCA rating to your vehicle, you can ensure that your battery has the necessary power to start the engine in cold temperatures. This is particularly important in colder climates, where the battery's starting power can deteriorate due to the cold temperatures.
Common Misconceptions About CCA
There are several misconceptions about CCA that can lead to confusion when choosing the right battery for your vehicle.
In the following sections, we will debunk the myths that more CCA can hurt an engine and that CCA ratings decrease over time.
Can More CCA Hurt an Engine?
Contrary to popular belief, having a higher CCA rating than recommended by the manufacturer will not harm your engine. The engine starter will only draw the required amount of power, regardless of the battery's CCA rating.
Therefore, using a battery with a higher CCA rating than necessary is entirely safe and will not result in any damage to your engine.
It is important to note that while using a battery with a higher CCA rating will not harm your engine, it may not necessarily enhance its performance either. Different battery types are more suitable for different applications, and deploying a battery with a higher CCA rating than what is recommended by the manufacturer may not provide any additional benefits.
Do CCA Ratings Decrease Over Time?
Another misconception is that CCA ratings decrease over time. While it is true that the gradual deterioration of the lead plates inside of a standard lead acid battery can lead to a decrease in overall capacity, this does not directly result in a reduction of the number of cold cranking amps. CCA ratings remain constant, and any decrease in capacity is typically due to factors such as age, temperature, and corrosion.
To maintain your battery's CCA rating, it is essential to monitor its charge level regularly, keep it clean and store it in a favorable environment such as a cool, dry place. By taking these preventative measures, you can help ensure that your battery continues to provide the necessary power to start your engine in cold temperatures.
Understanding cold cranking amps (CCA) is essential for choosing the right battery for your application and ensuring that it can start your engine in cold temperatures. By debunking common misconceptions and learning about the importance of CCA in various applications, you can make informed decisions when selecting the best battery for your needs.
Remember to match the CCA rating to your vehicle, consider factors such as reserve capacity and battery life, and maintain your battery to ensure optimal performance in any weather condition.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is higher cold cranking amps better?
Yes, higher cold cranking amps are generally better because it means that your battery can deliver more power right away, which is important for reliable engine performance.
Therefore, if you're looking to get the most out of your engine, then higher cold cranking amps should definitely be a factor in your decision.
Is 400 cold cranking amps good?
With a battery rated at 400 CCA, it would not necessarily be ideal for vehicles in cold-weather starts as the most common advice for vehicle engines recommends a battery rating of 600 CCA or more.
However, 400 CCA is within range of average battery CCA for marine engines, which tends to range between 250 - 600 CCAs.
What does 650 cold cranking amps mean?
With 650 cold cranking amps, it means the battery is capable of producing more power at lower temperatures, making it ideal for vehicles operating in colder climates.
This battery rating is commonly seen on shelves for passenger vehicles, with trucks requiring a higher rating.
What does more cold cranking amps do?
More cold cranking amps can provide your vehicle with greater starting power, even in cold weather conditions. A battery with a higher CCA rating is better able to withstand the stress of cold temperatures and will be more reliable during winter months.
However, it is important to know that just because you have a battery with a high CCA rating doesn’t mean it will start your vehicle or boat engine any better than one that is adequately sized. This is because the starter will draw only the amount of current it needs to start. So as long as you have enough CCAs, enough is general enough.
What is a good cold cranking amps?
For optimal cold-weather performance, it is recommended that a vehicle have a battery rated for at least 600 CCA (cold cranking amps). Anything lower than this may not provide sufficient energy to kickstart the engine in cold temperatures.
In general, standard car batteries are rated from 300 to 500 CCA, but these may be insufficient for cold climates.
When it comes to marine applications, most boat engines require between 250 - 600 CCAs.
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