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AGM vs Standard Battery: Is There a Better Choice?

27 May 2024
AGM vs Standard Battery: Is There a Better Choice?

When it comes to choosing the right battery for your vehicle, the decision often comes down to AGM (Absorbent Glass Mat) and standard lead-acid batteries. Both types have their own set of advantages and disadvantages, and understanding the differences between them is crucial for making an informed decision.

In this article, we'll delve into the characteristics of AGM and standard batteries, comparing their features, benefits, and ideal applications to help you determine which type is best suited for deep cycle using.

Understanding Standard Battery

Standard lead-acid batteries, also known as flooded batteries, are the traditional type of automotive and deep cycle battery. They contain a liquid electrolyte and are designed with vent caps to release gases produced during charging. While standard batteries have been a reliable choice for many years, they do have some limitations compared to AGM batteries.

Advantages of Standard Batteries:

Lower Cost: Standard batteries are generally more affordable than AGM batteries, making them an attractive option for budget-conscious vehicle owners.

Wide Availability: Standard batteries are widely available and compatible with most vehicles, making them easy to find and replace when needed.

Established Technology: With a long history of use in the automotive industry, standard lead-acid batteries are a proven and reliable power source for a wide range of vehicles.

While standard lead-acid batteries have been a reliable choice for many years, they do come with a set of disadvantages:

Disadvantages of Standard Batteries

Maintenance Requirements: Standard batteries require regular maintenance, including checking and topping off the electrolyte levels, cleaning terminals, and ensuring proper ventilation. Failure to perform these maintenance tasks can lead to decreased performance and a shortened lifespan.

Spill Risk: Unlike AGM batteries, standard lead-acid batteries are not spill-proof. The liquid electrolyte inside these batteries can spill if the battery is tipped over or if the vent caps are damaged, posing a risk of corrosion to surrounding components and potential harm to the environment.

Limited Mounting Options: Due to the risk of spillage, standard batteries must be mounted in an upright position. This limitation can be a challenge in certain vehicle configurations or applications that require non-traditional battery placements.

Sensitive to Overcharging: Standard batteries are more sensitive to overcharging compared to AGM batteries. Overcharging can lead to excessive gassing, electrolyte loss, and accelerated plate corrosion, ultimately shortening the battery's lifespan.

Reduced Performance in Extreme Conditions: Standard lead-acid batteries may experience reduced performance in extreme temperatures, both hot and cold, which can affect their ability to deliver power efficiently during harsh weather conditions.

How Long Does An Standard Flooded Lead-Acid Battery Last

The lifespan of a standard flooded lead-acid battery can vary depending on several factors such as usage, maintenance, and environmental conditions. In general, these batteries typically last anywhere from 3 to 5 years under normal operating conditions.

However, with proper maintenance and care, they can sometimes last longer. Regular maintenance, including checking and maintaining proper electrolyte levels, ensuring proper charging, and avoiding deep discharges, can help extend the life of these batteries.

Understanding AGM Battery

AGM batteries are a type of lead-acid battery that uses a special glass mat separator to absorb and hold the electrolyte solution. This design makes AGM batteries spill-proof, allowing them to be mounted in various positions without the risk of leakage. The absorbed electrolyte also enables AGM batteries to deliver high levels of power, making them an excellent choice for vehicles with high electrical demands, such as those equipped with advanced electronics, high-end sound systems, or aftermarket accessories.

Advantages of AGM Batteries:

Maintenance-Free: AGM batteries are sealed, eliminating the need for electrolyte maintenance and reducing the risk of acid spills.

Deep Cycle Capabilities: AGM batteries can withstand repeated deep discharges without affecting their performance, making them suitable for applications that require frequent cycling.

Vibration Resistance: The construction of AGM batteries provides excellent resistance to vibration and mechanical shock, making them ideal for off-road vehicles and marine applications.

Faster Recharge: AGM batteries have a higher charge acceptance rate, allowing them to recharge more efficiently than standard batteries.

However, even though it’s upgraded than standard lead-acid battery, it’s still a kind of lead-acid battery and comes with common disadvantages that lead-acid batteries have like sensitive to overcharging, limited lifespan.

Disadvantages of AGM Battery

Cost: AGM batteries are generally more expensive than traditional flooded lead-acid batteries. This higher cost can be a significant disadvantage for consumers and businesses, especially when needing to replace multiple batteries in a system.

Sensitivity to overcharging: AGM batteries are sensitive to overcharging. If they are overcharged, the internal pressure can build up, leading to the potential for the battery to vent or even rupture. This makes it crucial to use the correct charging equipment and methods.

Limited deep cycling capability: While AGM batteries are good at providing short bursts of high current, they are not as effective as some other battery types for deep cycling applications. Deep discharges can shorten the lifespan of AGM batteries, making them less suitable for certain applications such as off-grid solar systems or electric vehicles that require frequent deep discharges.

Temperature sensitivity: AGM batteries can be sensitive to temperature extremes. High temperatures can reduce their lifespan, and low temperatures can reduce their performance. This can be a disadvantage in environments with extreme temperatures, where additional climate control may be necessary to maintain optimal battery performance.

Performance degradation over time: Like all batteries, AGM batteries degrade over time. Their capacity and performance decrease with each charge-discharge cycle, eventually leading to the need for replacement. This degradation can be accelerated by factors such as overcharging, deep discharges, and exposure to extreme temperatures.

Recycling challenges: AGM batteries contain lead, which can be harmful to the environment if not disposed of properly. Proper recycling of AGM batteries is essential to prevent lead contamination, but the recycling process can be more complex and costly compared to other types of batteries.

How Long Does An AGM Battery Last

The lifespan of an AGM (Absorbent Glass Mat) battery can vary depending on several factors such as usage, maintenance, and environmental conditions. Generally, AGM batteries are known for their relatively long lifespan compared to traditional flooded lead-acid batteries.

When properly maintained and used in suitable conditions, AGM batteries can last anywhere from 4 to 7 years on average.

Is There a Better Choice for RV or Boat?

In recent times, lithium batteries have become increasingly popular among van dwellers and anglers, thanks to their impressive performance and lightweight construction. Lithium batteries boast a higher energy density, enabling them to store more energy in a smaller and lighter package compared to AGM batteries. This characteristic proves advantageous for van occupants who are mindful of weight and space constraints.

upgrade agm to lithium battery

LiTime 12V 100Ah Group 24 Lithium Battery

A standout attribute of lithium batteries is their exceptional cycle life. These batteries can withstand a significantly higher number of charge-discharge cycles compared to AGM batteries, making them a long-lasting investment for van dwellers who prioritize durability and longevity. Moreover, lithium batteries are renowned for maintaining a consistent voltage throughout the discharge cycle, ensuring a more stable power supply for the electrical systems of vans or boats.

Advantages of Lithium over AGM and Standard Batteries

Lithium batteries offer several advantages over AGM (Absorbent Glass Mat) batteries, including:

1. Higher Energy Density: Lithium batteries have a higher energy density, meaning they can store more energy in a smaller and lighter package compared to AGM batteries. This is particularly advantageous for applications where space and weight are critical factors, such as in recreational vehicles, boats, and off-grid solar systems.

2. Superior Cycle Life: Lithium batteries can endure a significantly higher number of charge-discharge cycles compared to AGM batteries. This makes them a long-lasting investment for applications that require frequent cycling, such as in renewable energy systems or mobile applications like RVs and boats.

 

3. Consistent Voltage Output: Lithium batteries are known for maintaining a consistent voltage throughout the discharge cycle, providing a more stable power supply for electrical systems. This consistent voltage output can be crucial for sensitive electronics and appliances.

4. Lighter Weight: Lithium batteries are significantly lighter than AGM batteries, making them ideal for applications where weight savings are important, such as in portable electronics, electric vehicles, and marine applications. 

5. Faster Charging: Lithium batteries generally have faster charging capabilities compared to AGM batteries. This can be beneficial for applications where quick recharging is necessary, such as in electric vehicles or portable electronics. Related reading: Can I Charge LiFePO4 Lithium Battery with a Normal Charger?

6. Longer Lifespan: When properly maintained, lithium batteries typically have a longer lifespan than AGM batteries. This means they may need to be replaced less frequently, reducing long-term costs.

7. Maintenance-Free: Unlike AGM batteries, which may require periodic maintenance such as checking electrolyte levels and equalizing charges, lithium batteries are generally maintenance-free, offering convenience to users.

8. Environmental Impact: Lithium batteries are generally considered more environmentally friendly than lead-acid batteries like AGM, as they contain fewer toxic materials and are more easily recyclable.

These advantages make lithium batteries an attractive choice for a wide range of applications, especially those that demand high performance, lightweight design, and long-term reliability.

Aspect Flooded Lead Acid AGM Lithium
Depth of Discharge (DoD) 50-80% 80-100% 100%
Lifespan 3-5 years 4-7 years 10-15 years
Size and Weight

Heaviest, Largest

12V 100Ah  FLA: 80-100 lbs

Moderate

e.g., 12V 100Ah  AGM: 63-70 lbs

Lightest, Smallest

 LiTime 12V 100Ah Group 24 Smart: 21 lbs

Energy Density Low

Moderate

Around 7.23Wh/lbs

High

60.95Wh/lbs

Charge Time and Efficiency Long, Low Moderate, Moderate Short, High
Maintenance High Low Very Low
Environmentally Friendly Low Moderate High
Safety Moderate Moderate High
Bluetooth Technology Rare Rare Common
Initial Cost Low Moderate Higher initial cost, superior lifetime cost

 

While lithium batteries offer numerous benefits, they do come with a higher price tag. The initial investment for lithium batteries is typically greater than that of AGM batteries. Nonetheless, many van dwellers and boaters find that the long-term performance and lifespan of lithium batteries justify the higher upfront cost.

Fortunately, LiTime offers technologically advanced, high-value batteries, making it feasible for van dwellers and boaters to access top-quality lithium batteries at an affordable price. LiTime's dedication to innovation and efficiency has transformed the accessibility of lithium batteries for enthusiasts of van life. Through the utilization of cutting-edge manufacturing processes and advanced technology, LiTime has made it possible for individuals to enjoy the benefits of lithium batteries without incurring exorbitant costs.

FAQs about AGM VS Standard Battery

1. Are AGM Batteries a Good Investment?

The worth of AGM batteries depends on individual needs.

In the context of vehicle use, conventional flooded lead-acid batteries are typically employed for starter applications. However, for those seeking an upgrade for their starter engine, AGM batteries present a compelling choice. AGM batteries offer higher quality, a longer lifespan, and require significantly less maintenance compared to regular batteries. Importantly, the cost difference between AGM and flooded batteries is minimal.

Conversely, for those in need of a solar energy storage solution, opting for lithium-ion batteries is advisable. While they are more expensive, their superior quality, efficiency, and significantly longer lifespan make them a worthwhile investment in the long term. In this realm, lithium-ion batteries reign supreme as the top choice for 12V applications.

2.Are AGM batteries deep cycle?

Yes, AGM (Absorbent Glass Mat) batteries are capable of deep cycling. They are designed to handle deep discharges and recharges, making them suitable for applications that require deep cycling, such as in renewable energy systems, marine vehicles, RVs, and off-grid power storage. AGM batteries are known for their ability to provide reliable power over numerous charge and discharge cycles, making them a popular choice for deep cycle applications.

3. Which batteries are optimal for solar energy?

Various deep-cycled batteries, including flooded lead-acid, AGM, gel, and lithium iron batteries, are popular choices for solar energy storage solutions. They differ in terms of efficiency, maintenance needs, charging duration, service life, and, importantly, cost.

These options cater to a wide range of consumer requirements, allowing individuals to select the one that best suits their needs. Flooded lead-acid batteries remain the most cost-effective, while sealed lead-acid batteries offer enhanced charging efficiency and energy capacity at a reasonably affordable price.

Although lithium iron batteries are the most expensive, they excel in all aspects. For those seeking a high-capacity and portable battery storage solution, a solar station or solar-powered generator integrated with LiFePO4 batteries may represent the optimal choice for solar panel batteries.

4. Can I wire different battery types and sizes together?

Wiring different battery types and sizes together can be quite risky and is generally not recommended.

Mixing different types of batteries, such as lithium-ion, alkaline, nickel-metal hydride, etc., can lead to imbalances in charging and discharging rates, which can result in overheating, leakage, or even explosion. Additionally, connecting batteries of different sizes can lead to uneven charging and discharging, potentially causing damage to the batteries and the devices they power.

If you need to use multiple batteries, it's best to use batteries of the same type, size, and age, and ideally from the same manufacturer. If you need to increase voltage or capacity, it's safer to use a battery pack designed for that purpose or consult with a professional who can help you create a safe and effective battery configuration.

For more information about LiTime batteries, visit LiTime's YouTube Reviews and LiTime User-Stories.

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