What is the Best Marine Battery? Start with Chemistry
The Best Marine Battery Installation starts with the chemistry of the battery itself...
A van sized bus, no matter how spiffy, will ever beat a stock, 1970's Mustang up the mountain. The 70's Mustang will lose to a Ferrari up to the top of the pass, over the curvy mountain roads. The laws of physics dictate that the larger bus slow down as the Ferrari downshifts and hugs the road through the corners. The Mustang has more engine to mass than the bus, but is clobbered by the Ferrari. This analogy is very similar to the differences between GEL, Flooded, AGM Marine Batteries. To start this discussion though, let us first define the three types of lead acid batteries, how they work, why, and their pros and cons.
GEL Batteries, our Passenger Bus in the analogy.
Devised in the early 1980s, GEL batteries are lead acid batteries with a jelly like gelatin substance that acts as the electrolyte. The gel in these batteries is designed to be semi viscous, so when the battery is cracked or broken, it doesn't spill out. This same safety feature hampers the ability of the electrolyte to freely move, as the electrical and chemical interactions take place. When charging or discharging at higher amperage rates, a GEL battery can literally scar the jelly inside, and create a burn in it. This area of the GEL marine battery is then useless. Because of this inability to run high amperage loads, GEL batteries are not starting batteries, and are able to run limited amperage loads in a deep cycle scenario. Therefore they are not an optimal battery type for Marine Applications, where engine starting, and the loud (watt eating) tunes on the water are the point. Since the advent of AGM batteries, many GEL production lines have been shut down, and most GEL Marine Battery manufacturers have switched to other chemistries.
Flooded Lead Acid Batteries, the Mustang in our Analogy.
The ability to turn well enough, the ability to climb the hill rapidly with that horsepower, and the ability to put out more power are the facets of the Ford Mustang that relate well to Flooded Lead Acid Batteries. Consisting of lead plates, suspended in a sulfuric acid electrolyte, the flooded lead acid battery hasn't changed much since it's invention in the late 1800's. Without much technical innovation, it hasn't gotten much better either. It is a truck, it works, it isn't pretty, makes a mess, needs to be watered routinely, and can even blow up. BUT IT WORKS!!! It works well, and when respected, maintained, and even cared for, it will do an abundance of work for you.
AGM Marine Batteries, the Ferrari of Marine Battery installation.
AGM Marine batteries, are a flooded lead acid battery, with several technical innovations. The AGM Battery has non-porous glass mat fibers between the plates that hold the acid electrolyte solution at 95% saturation. By keeping the plates wet via capillary action, and not retarding the movement of the acid, resistance is reduced. In addition, the packing of the plates, tightly with the matting, allows manufacturers to cram more plates in a smaller space without short circuits, increasing the capacity of an AGM battery compared to an equally sized Flooded Lead Acid battery. Finally the sealed nature of a AGM battery actually recombines the gases caused by charging and discharging, reducing the maintenance, watering, and cleanup to ZERO! AGM Marine batteries are the most efficient, have the least resistance, more capacity, gas less, and are safer.
It's an obvious choice, AGM Marine Batteries are the Best Marine Battery Type Available!
Environment and Safety:
Any Flooded lead acid marine battery design is better than a Ni-Cad on the environment. Lithium Ion marine battery designs can ruin more than just your wallet or weekend. First Ni-Cad batteries are hazardous, and not easily recycled. Why would you wish to contribute to hazardous dumping in the same pristine waterways in which you want to use your boat? DOESN'T MAKE SENSE. Lithium Ion marine batteries must remain sealed, should the lithium be exposed to oxygen, it immediately burns. In the authors opinion, at this time, No Other Type of marine battery is currently safer, cleaner, more reliable, or able to be recycled en masse. Flooded lead acid marine batteries are 98% recycled into new batteries, making them a complete answer for the generations to come. Lead Acid Batteries are abundantly available because of this thorough thought, cooperation, and compliance throughout the usage chain, but it starts with you the end user. We ask that you too join us in making the world a better place as we boat.
Use Lead Acid Marine Batteries and recycle them.
Select sealed lead acid batteries to keep acid out of the water (in the event of capsize, sinking, etc.)
Select American Made Batteries.
Recycle your batteries at any Auto Parts Store.