Posted: Dec 31, 2018
Are AGM Batteries Better?
One of the most-commonly asked questions out there about car batteries is whether or not AGM batteries are better than their flooded counterparts. While there are a relative handful of vehicles (for now) that use lithium-based battery products, the vast majority of the vehicles on the road today use either flooded or AGM lead-acid car batteries. Some folks might believe gel batteries are also commonly-used in automotive applications, but they typically are confusing AGM batteries with gel batteries, which are two very different technologies. In fact, the next time you see a gel battery in a car or truck, it might be the first time...if you ever see it.
So now that we've established that most consumers will choose between an AGM or flooded lead-acid battery, we'll look at why AGM batteries are better. After all, AGM batteries typically have a higher price tag than their flooded counterparts. However, AGM batteries have many design & performance benefits over their flooded counterparts. First and foremost, the fact that the electrolyte is absorbed into fiberglass matting (hence the name Absorbed Glass Mat) makes AGM batteries far more resistant to vibration than flooded batteries, which simply hang lead plates in an electrolyte solution inside the battery.
The design of AGM batteries also means the chances of the acid leaving the battery and damaging your vehicle's paint or sensitive electrical components has also been minimized. While we can't speak for every AGM manufacturer, we can tell you that OPTIMA AGM batteries also use 99.99% pure lead, which helps our batteries perform better in all temperature ranges and last longer than their flooded counterparts. In fact, as many vehicles are now equipped with start/stop technology to help improve fuel economy, many automakers are now moving to AGM batteries to handle the increased starting demand of these vehicles.
Automakers are also looking for ways to make their cars perform better and last longer. This has resulted in many battery locations being moved from under the hood of a vehicle to somewhere in the interior or trunk. These batteries can be harder to access, so automakers often look for batteries that won't need to be changed as often, which results in a lot of AGM batteries ending up in these applications. AGM batteries are also ideally-suited for these applications, because many of them have provisions for external venting, in the unlikely event the battery is somehow overcharged and does need to vent excess pressure.
So if a flooded battery costs $100, could an AGM battery that costs two to three times as much really be better? Many AGM batteries will last two to three times as long as their flooded counterparts, so from that perspective it seems to at least make sense. When you add in the safety benefits of an AGM battery on top of the performance benefits, AGM batteries make even more sense. When you think about what happened last time your car battery stopped working and the inconvenience it caused, any chance to reduce the number of times that might happen makes even more sense. Were you late for work? Did you miss an appointment? Did you need to call a tow truck, take a cab or buy jumper cables and find another car? How much value do you put on your time?
Having established that AGM batteries typically perform better, offer more safety features and last longer than flooded lead-acid batteries, we will concede that there are some instances where flooded batteries are a better option. If you are planning on selling your vehicle soon or don't own your vehicle, but need to replace the battery, a flooded lead-acid battery would certainly be a cheaper option all the way around. If buying an AGM battery doubles the value of your vehicle, you may also decide a flooded battery makes more sense (unless you plan on keeping your battery after you sell your vehicle). If you can't get the battery in your vehicle to last a year, let alone to the end of it's warranty and you find yourself replacing your battery all the time, it also might not make sense to spend even more money on an AGM battery. In those instances, you likely have an electrical issue unrelated to your battery, that is causing problems that even a better-performing AGM battery won't fix.
If you think an AGM battery is the right choice for your vehicle, you can order one factory-direct from OPTIMA and we'll ship it to your front door!