Selecting the Right AGM Battery to Match Your Needs Tech Tips – Powered by OPTIMA® Batteries
Tech Tip #1 – Selecting the Right AGM Battery to Match Your Needs
A battery is just a battery. Right?
The sophistication and number of automotive electronics are drastically increasing. Whether it's original equipment or the accessories you've added, you're drawing more power from your battery than ever. Choosing the right OPTIMA battery will help you keep the tunes playing and the lights on.
OPTIMA® batteries are the choice among performance enthusiasts who want to add more power to their adventures. Thanks to proprietary SPIRALCELL TECHNOLOGY®, these batteries are more than 15 times more vibration-resistant, which means they can take a lot of abuse both on and off the road, and provide up to twice the life of a traditional flooded battery.
OPTIMA® battery grids are constructed of 99.99 percent pure lead. The purity of the lead provides lower internal resistance for additional power and quicker recharging, corrosion resistance for longer life and reduced self-discharge when stored on the shelf.
OPTIMA's tightly coiled Absorbent Glass Mat (AGM) separators hold electrolyte like a sponge to eliminate acid spilling. Each maintenance-free battery is also completely sealed, preventing corrosion and acid spills.
Choosing the Right AGM Battery to Match Your Lifestyle
When selecting a battery, engine starting performance or cold cranking amps (CCA), and size obviously matter, but there are other considerations. Where and how you use your vehicle and the electronic load that your battery supports should be considered. Energy recovery and cycling performance are also quickly becoming important considerations. In some applications, they are even more important than CCA.
OPTIMA® REDTOP® – Starting Battery with Power
An OPTIMA® REDTOP® is perfect for starting applications where your vehicle's engine requires high amperage output in short bursts. The discharge cycle is shallow and the alternator takes over after the battery starts your car. Daily drivers love the REDTOP®, as do drivers of classic cars, show cars and SUVs.
OPTIMA® YELLOWTOP® – Dual-Purpose Deep-Cycle Battery to Power Electronics and Start Your Engine with Power
If you're looking for a reliable battery for starting your vehicle and to support a load of electronic accessories, including winches, audio systems and auxiliary, an OPTIMA® YELLOWTOP® deep-cycle battery is the right choice. The YELLOWTOP® battery is also ideal in vehicles that don't have an alternator or have electrical demands that temporarily exceed the alternator's output. It helps meet those high electrical demands until you're able to recharge.
YELLOWTOP® batteries provide deep-cycle power. This allows you to enjoy all of your electronic accessories while your vehicle is off, such as audio systems, DVD players or underbody lights. For off-roaders, your battery will allow you to winch your way out of precarious situations. There are also a number of key-off draws that pull energy from your battery, including clocks, alarm systems, digital radios (station settings), and onboard computer systems. You'll be able to pull all of this power from your YELLOWTOP® with the confidence that your battery's energy will recover time after time.
Charging Your AGM Battery Tech Tips – Powered by OPTIMA® Batteries
Tech Tip #2 – Charging Your AGM Battery
You've learned that with minor adjustments, you can keep your vehicle running smoothly. A tweak here, a new tip there, and you'll be able to get a little more from your ride.
Here are a few tips for keeping your lead-acid battery performing at its peak. There are also a couple of things to keep in mind when maintaining your Absorbent Glass Mat (AGM) battery, including an OPTIMA® battery.
Newer chargers keeping up with battery technology: Many newer battery chargers, like the OPTIMA® Chargers Digital 1200 12V Performance Battery Charger and Maintainer, have microprocessors that collect information from the battery and adjust the current and voltage accordingly. Some have different settings for charging flooded, gel and AGM batteries.
Battery performance limiter: sulfation. All lead-acid batteries can experience sulfation—the formation of lead sulfate crystals upon discharge. Look for a charger with a desulfation mode to help condition your battery and keep it performing at its best.
Low and slow is best. A low amp charger (1 to 12-amps) is generally the best choice for charging any lead-acid battery. It's quicker to charge at higher amperage, but it also can generate a lot of heat, which reduces the life of a battery, just like the raging heat of summer.
Alternators are NOT chargers. Don't rely on your alternator to do the work of a charger. If your battery is discharged to the point where it cannot start your vehicle, use a charger as soon as possible to make sure your battery gets fully charged.
An alternator is meant to maintain a battery, not charge it.
Batteries eventually die. Batteries are a consumable product. No battery will last forever. The goal is to consistently maintain your battery to get the most life out of it.
Different chargers. Different capabilities. Under normal conditions most 12 Volt automatic battery chargers will work on an AGM battery. Many newer battery chargers have settings specifically for AGM batteries; some even have separate settings for OPTIMA REDTOP® and YELLOWTOP® batteries, like the OPTIMA® Chargers Digital 1200 12V Performance Battery Charger and Maintainer.
AGM and gel technology differ. Remember that the technology of an AGM battery is not the same as a gel battery, which has its own charging requirements. If your charger offers different modes, select the correct one for your battery. If you use the gel setting to charge an AGM battery, it won't fully charge and, over time, it will actually damage your AGM battery.
Under normal starting conditions, an OPTIMA battery should never experience "at-rest" voltages below 12 volts. Most 12 volt chargers and alternators have no problem recharging an OPTIMA if it has an "at-rest" voltage of 10.5 volts or greater.
The magic threshold – 10.5 volts. The charging scenario for a deeply discharged AGM battery, one that's dipped below 10.5 volts, may be slightly different. The OPTIMA Digital 1200 can charge batteries discharged to only 1.5 volts! For other chargers tips for recovering a deeply discharged AGM battery can be found in OPTIMA's tech tip, How to Resuscitate a Deeply Discharged AGM Battery.
Charging Your AGM Battery Tech Tips – Powered by OPTIMA® Batteries
Tech Tip #3 – Don't Throw Away Your "Dead" AGM Battery: Three Tips on Resuscitating a Deeply Discharged AGM Battery
Like a ghost story, sometimes the seemingly dead really aren't dead at all. The same may be true for your deeply discharged AGM battery.
In time, AGM batteries, including OPTIMA® batteries, may fail. Typically, failures are often caused when a starting battery is used in a cycling application, for which a deep-cycle battery is the better choice.
OK, so you have a seemingly bad AGM battery, you attach it to your charger and…CLICK. The charger won't even charge it! "It must be a bad battery!" you exclaim. Or is it? In many cases, OPTIMA batteries that are assumed to be bad may actually be perfectly fine, just deeply discharged.
The great thing about AGM batteries, including OPTIMA REDTOP® and YELLOWTOP® batteries, is that they have incredibly low internal resistance. This allows very high amperage output allowing the battery to power your accessories longer and deeper than a traditional battery, but at the same time deeply discharging it.
An AGM battery with its low internal resistance may stump car guys because sometimes it doesn't work like a traditional flooded lead-acid battery.
Here's the problem: most battery chargers have built-in safety features that may prevent chargers from recharging deeply discharged batteries. A traditional battery that's at 10.5 volts or less is seen as defective, having either a short, a bad cell or some other defect. Most analog chargers are binary and are either on or off. If they don’t come on, it may be because the charger thinks the battery is “bad.” Turning on to charge a “bad” battery could create an unsafe scenario. But the fact is that the AGM battery may be just fine; it has simply slipped below the minimum voltage threshold of the charger to turn on and the charger doesn't know what to do with the battery, so it does nothing.
Here are three options for bringing that deeply discharged AGM battery back to peak operational performance. So grab your jumper cables and charger and…CLEAR!
Recovery Option #1: The Best Solution – AGM-Specific Chargers
The best method for recharging a deeply discharged AGM battery is to purchase a modern charger that has kept up with battery technology. Many chargers now have AGM-specific settings and desulfation steps that help recondition and recover deeply discharged AGM batteries. These are becoming more common, and they work well for all lead-acid batteries. They have the additional capability of doubling as a battery "maintainer" for batteries in storage. Some come with additional ring terminals to permanently attach to your battery leads so you can charge the battery externally with an accessible charger or maintainer. This makes it easy to hook up when you store your car, truck, boat or RV.
The OPTIMA® Chargers Digital 1200 12V Performance Battery Charger and Maintainer enhances the performance of OPTIMA and other AGM batteries, recovers deeply discharged batteries and extends battery life. The OPTIMA® Chargers Digital 1200 12V Performance Battery Charger and Maintainer are optimized when used with high-performance AGM batteries but has enhanced charging capabilities that can also be used with all traditional types of automotive batteries.
This is the preferred method of charging a deeply discharged battery.
Recovery Option #2: The DIY Solution
This is a recovery method for the do-it-yourselfer using the equipment you've got in the garage. With this option, you're going to trick your traditional charger into charging the deeply discharged AGM battery.
Here's what you need:
Battery charger (under 15-amps)
A good battery, preferably above 12.2 volts. (It can be an AGM or flooded battery, it doesn't matter.)
The seemingly dead, deeply discharged AGM battery
A voltage meter
A watch or timer
Now, here's what you do:
Hook up the good battery and deeply discharged AGM battery in parallel – positive to positive and negative to negative. Do not have the charger connected to the battery or turned on at this stage.
Now, hook up the good battery to the charger. Turn on the charger. The charger will "see" the voltage of the good battery (hooked up in parallel), and start providing a charge.
After the batteries have been hooked up for about an hour, check to see if the AGM battery is slightly warm or hot to the touch. Batteries naturally become warm during charging, but excessive heat may be an indication that there really is something wrong with the battery. Discontinue charging immediately if the battery is hot to the touch. Also discontinue the process if you hear the battery "gassing" — a hissing sound coming from the safety valves. If it's hot or gassing, STOP CHARGING IMMEDIATELY!
With your voltage meter, check back often to see if the AGM battery has charged to 10.5 volts or above, this generally takes less than two hours with a 10-amp charger. If it has, disconnect the charger from the wall outlet and remove the good battery from the charger. Now, connect only the deeply discharged AGM battery to the charger. Turn on the charger and continue until the AGM battery reaches a full charge, or until the automatic charger completes the charge process. In most cases, the AGM battery will be recovered.
Recovery Option #3: Enlist the Professionals
If you don't own a battery charger, you don't want to make the investment, or you're not the do-it-yourself kind of person, this is the option for you.
Take the battery to a professional battery specialist who knows AGM technology. Most specialists are willing to provide "charge and check" procedures free or for a small fee. Auto parts stores are typically not capable of accurately determining an AGM battery's condition and many use conductance testers that don't provide correct readings. Battery specialists (like Interstate Batteries and other independent battery distributors) are experts who can help determine if your battery is recoverable or not.
Selecting the Right AGM Battery to Match Your Needs Tech Tips – Powered by OPTIMA® Batteries
Tech Tip #4 – Proper Battery Storage
The days are getting shorter. The temperature dips lower with each passing week. It's the season that no enthusiast wants to think about. It's time for one last drive before you throw the cover over the paint for winter storage.
When storing your vehicle for the season, something that may get overlooked is the battery. As an enthusiast, you already know that you have to maintain the battery while you're enjoying your ride, but proper battery storage during the off-season is just as important. Here are some battery storage tips that will ensure your battery is in good working order when it's time to pull the cover off.
Things to Consider Before Storing a Battery
All batteries gradually lose their charge when stored over long periods of time. However, AGM batteries, including high-performance OPTIMA® batteries, lose their charge much more slowly. This helps to prevent the battery from becoming deeply discharged during storage, but it won't completely protect it from damage.
Even when your vehicle is turned off, there still may be a drain on the battery. This is especially true of newer vehicles equipped with computers, alarm systems and clocks that continue to run even when the vehicle is off. Over time, these will drain a battery to voltages too low to start the vehicle. It could even continue to drain to the point of damaging the battery.
You can considerably extend the life of the battery and avoid permanent damage by following these simple storage tips.
In-Car Battery Storage
You could take the battery out of your vehicle during storage, but sometimes access can be a challenge. So, it may be easier to leave it in. That's OK, but you'll need to disconnect it to prevent drain caused by electronics.
First, check the voltage to ensure the battery has a full charge. If it's not fully charged, give it a full charge prior to storage. Then, loosen the negative terminal and disconnect it from the battery. All electrical draws on the battery will cease and your battery will be protected.
In spring, the battery will have drained some but should still have enough power to start your vehicle. Don't leave it up to the alternator to fully recharge the battery, though; that's not what it's for. Instead, use a battery charger to top it off. You'll extend the life of the battery by doing this.
You may want to consider using a battery maintainer to keep the battery at full power during storage. This is the method that OPTIMA batteries recommends.
After your vehicle is stored, just hook up the battery maintainer – with the battery either in or out of the vehicle – plug it in and walk away. This will ensure a full charge when you're ready for your first drive in spring. (Always remember to follow manufacturer instructions.)
Some battery maintainers, like the OPTIMA® Chargers Digital 1200 12V Performance Battery Charger and Maintainer, also include ring terminal leads. These will give you easier access to maintain the battery both during storage and during the driving season. Hook up the leads to the battery connections and extend them so they're accessible from under a bumper or wheel well. The leads can remain there indefinitely, so you'll never have to open the hood to keep the battery fully charged.
You'll extend the life of your battery and ensure your vehicle is ready to roll in spring with these simple battery storage tips. Just remember – check the battery's charge before your first drive no matter what storage method you use.