Are All Lead-Acid Batteries The Same?

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Are All Lead-Acid Batteries The Same?

10 March 2022
 Categories: , Blog

If you're looking for batteries for your boat, you're likely to come across many different styles and types. While you may see numerous other terms, these batteries are all broadly classified into two types based on their internal chemistry: lead-acid or lithium-ion. Lead-acid batteries are the conventional style, while lithium-ion batteries are the new kids on the block.

Although lithium-ion batteries have advantages, they're still costly, and sticking with lead-acid batteries may be a more cost-effective solution. However, understanding the differences between lead-acid battery types can help you make a better, more informed decision for your boat's battery bank.

Lead-Acid Battery Types Explained

Lead-acid marine batteries typically fall into three subcategories:

  • Wet cell (or flooded)
  • Absorbent glass mat (AGM)
  • Lead-carbon (or carbon enhanced)

Wet cells are the oldest and most traditional form of lead-acid batteries, while lead-carbon batteries are a relatively new technology. Wet cells don't offer many advantages over other styles of lead-acid batteries, although they are reasonably cheap to purchase. These batteries require periodic maintenance, and you can expect the batteries to fail if you don't routinely add more water.

On the other hand, both AGM and lead-carbon batteries are maintenance-free. These batteries will cost more than wet cells, with traditional AGM batteries typically hitting a midrange price point and lead-carbon batteries costing slightly more. Both options offer improved life over flooded batteries. These batteries also offer improved safety since their sealed design can be submerged.

Choosing the Right Lead-Acid Battery For Your Boat

In general, flooded batteries are only suitable if you're looking to save money and willing to put in the time and effort to maintain them. These batteries are also highly position-dependent since they require venting and cannot get wet. However, flooded batteries may be a practical choice for smaller, open boats.

For more extensive house battery banks, or in situations where you can't easily protect your batteries from the possibility of becoming submerged, AGM or lead-carbon batteries are typically a better option. Although these batteries cost more upfront, they offer longer lifetimes, deeper discharge capacities, and improved overall safety.

Lead-carbon batteries can be an excellent choice if you want to stay with lead-acid batteries but get the most advanced option available. These batteries perform better when in a partial state of charge, reducing one of the primary causes for battery wear. As a result, lead-carbon batteries can potentially last longer than even AGM lead-acid batteries.

While lithium-ion batteries might be the new thing, there are plenty of reasons to continue to choose lead-acid batteries for your marine battery bank. Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of each type of lead-acid battery will ensure you get the best performance and durability for your boat. 

For more information about boat batteries, contact a local supplier?