With stay-at-home orders currently issued all over the country, people may have not considered the fact that many classic vehicles, boats, RVs, and motorcycles have been sitting dormant for even longer periods of time than normal this year and many will require a new battery, or at least some battery maintenance, before we fire them up again. These days, though, there’s more than just the standard parts store lead-acid battery to choose from, so let’s break down the differences between lead acid, gel, AGM, and other battery types now on the market to see which is best for your needs.
For almost 100 years, the lead-acid battery was the basis for any automotive electrical system to provide an energy boost for starting, as well as long-lasting amperage to power ignition systems and dozens of electrical accessories. Initially offered in 6-volt form, batteries used a series of lead-based plates (with other ingredients), bathed in 25-percent water and 75-percent sulfuric acid, encased in an acid-resistant rubber box. The acid (or electrolyte) allowed charged ions to move between the lead plates, which resulted in an electrical charge either being drawn from the battery or returned to the battery via the car’s charging system. These 6-volt batteries have three “cells,” and 12-volt batteries have six.