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6 Different Types of Car Batteries (with Pictures)

Car battery

As we move closer to the age of electric cars, it can be helpful to learn more about the types of batteries that we already use in our vehicles. You might be surprised to find out exactly how many different types there are. Keep reading as we discuss wet cells, gel cells, lithium-ion batteries, and many others, as well as they are used for.

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Wet Cell Batteries

1. SLI Batteries

Characteristics: 12.1 volts, delivers short, powerful bursts of power
Uses: Typical automotive battery

The standard type of battery in most automobiles is an SLI, which stands for starting, lighting, and ignition. It’s a wet cell battery that charges quickly and delivers 12.6 volts to the starter, which helps get it going. This battery is also responsible for powering your headlights, interior lights, and entertainment system.

The downside to this type of battery is that it loses its charge quickly, so it’s not a great choice for applications where it doesn’t connect to an automatic charger, like your car’s alternator. Frequently running it out of charge can also damage it, reducing its lifespan.

Pros
  • Charges quickly
  • Provides enough power to start the car
  • Powers your lighting
Cons
  • Loses power quickly

2. Deep-Cycle Batteries

Characteristics: Holds charge longer than SLI batteries.
Uses: Marine vehicles and recreational vehicles

One type of wet cell battery is the deep-cycle battery. It doesn’t provide the powerful burst of power that an SLI battery provides, so you won’t find it starting an engine. However, it doesn’t lose power nearly as quickly, so you can use it to power your device when the power is off. You can also allow it to lose charge without damaging it. It’s a popular type of battery in situations where you don’t need to start a large engine. You will likely find them in ATVs, RVs, golf carts, motorcycles, etc.

Pros
  • Holds a charge longer
  • Useful for small engines and powering electronic devices
Cons
  • Not strong enough to start large engines

3. Dual-Purpose Batteries

Characteristics: High power and long charge
Uses: Large vehicles at rest

Dual-purpose batteries are a hybrid of SLI batteries and deep-cycle batteries. This battery can provide the power that you need to start a large engine, and it can hold a charge for a long time, so it’s well suited for almost any application. People usually use this type of battery in large recreational vehicles, like marine vehicles and RVs with high power requirements.

The downside to dual-purpose batteries is that they are more expensive than most other types, and if you use them to start a large engine, it will lose its charge like a standard SLI, so you can only use it for one purpose at a time.

Pros
  • Can use it to start an engine or power electronics
  • More powerful than deep-cycle batteries
Cons
  • Expensive
  • You can only use it for one purpose at a time

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VRLA Batteries (AGM Batteries)

4. Dual-Purpose Batteries

Characteristics: High power and long charge, enclosed casing
Uses: Vehicles that spend a lot of time in storage

Valve-regulated lead-acid (VRLA) batteries are completely enclosed, so they are safe to use in an enclosed space like your vehicle’s interior. You will often find them under seats or in small compartments because they don’t leak. Absorbed glass mat (AGM) batteries are among the most popular types of VRLA batteries because they are powerful and hold a charge for a long time. It’s a great choice for vehicles that sit for long periods, and you usually find them in high-end and off-roading vehicles.

Pros
  • Plenty of power for starting engines
  • Holds a charge for an extremely long time
Cons
  • Expensive

5. Gel Cell

Characteristics: Resistant to high temperatures and vibration
Uses: Off-road vehicles

A gel cell battery is a type of VRLA battery, and this one uses a special gel material in its construction that helps it be more resistant to high temperatures. The gel also helps keep the battery stable when you use it in an environment with a large amount of vibration, making it ideal for off-road vehicles.

The downside to gel cell batteries, besides their high cost, is that they don’t do well in cold temperatures, so they are not ideal for year-round use in many parts of the United States.

Pros
  • Won’t leak
  • Resistant to high temperatures
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Not suitable for cold temperatures

6. Lithium-Ion Batteries

Characteristics: Extremely lightweight, more powerful
Uses: Hybrid and electric cars

Lithium-ion batteries are becoming extremely popular in the power tool industry, and you can also find them in many vehicles. These batteries are extremely lightweight compared to most others, and they can store more energy, but you won’t find them in many standard cars. They are more common in hybrid and electric cars.

The downside to lithium-ion batteries is that the materials are harder to find, so they are expensive.

Pros
  • No lead to weigh them down
  • Plenty of power in a small package
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Not common

divider 1Which Battery Is Right for Me?

Most people having a problem with their car battery will purchase an SLI battery replacement, as it’s the most common for starting cars. Choose an AGM if you are going to store the car for several weeks at a time. If you are looking to power an ATV or other small vehicle, a deep-cycle battery is a great choice, but some people may choose a dual-purpose battery or a gel cell if their requirements are more than what the deep-cycle battery can provide. If you have a modern hybrid or an electric car, there is a good chance that you will need a lithium-ion battery.

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Conclusion

Most people are looking for replacement SLI batteries because cold weather and frequent starting can wear them down every few years, so they can no longer provide the power required to start an engine. However, there are many types of batteries, and if you have a high-end vehicle, do plenty of off-roading, or need to use the battery to power electronics without the engine running, you might need one of the other types.

Sources
 

Featured Image Credit: 13_Phunkod, Shutterstock

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