Optima Batteries – Fueling the Future of Automotive
Modern electronics in recent vehicles place much greater demands on the charging system than in the past. As such, battery technology has been challenged to meet these demands. But before we can explore the future of batteries, we first need to know where they come from. Because, as they say, you cannot know where you are going without knowing where you have been. A mantra that is gaining more and more importance in modern society. So we sat down with the folks from Optima batteries to deepen the subject.
The first automobile batteries became fashionable around 1920 and were largely stimulated by the advent of the electric starter. However, the sealed battery, which most of us know and grew up with, was not invented until 1971. The big step forward for the sealed battery was that it did not require recharging, maintenance was therefore quite simple. In addition, the capacities had been considerably increased by this time.
Because the early systems weren’t exactly like what we know today or even in the near past, they were sort of the opposite, in fact. Instead of a 12 volt system, they were designed to run on six volts and instead of a negative ground from the battery to the chassis, the chassis was grounded to the positive terminal of the battery.
But once automakers started using bigger engines with higher compression ratios, they had to switch to a higher voltage system – hence the switch to 12 volts. By the late 1970s, this was the norm for most cars. Although there was some reluctance – the Volkswagen Beetle comes to mind.
Let’s also take a moment to think about the composition of a drum set. The most common type of automotive battery that people are familiar with is what is known as a wet cell battery or a flooded lead acid battery, but these days there are several types to consider which are changing quickly. There are also gel cell (dry cell), absorbent glass mat (AGM), deep cycle, lithium-ion (li-ion), and NiHM (nickel-metal hydride) batteries to consider.
Lead-acid type batteries were originally fitted with a filler cap because all six cells had to be refilled periodically. In addition, the caps had ventilation holes to accommodate the escape of hydrogen gas which was a by-product of the system charge. You can see why we have moved away from this guy in recent years.
The cells of lead-acid batteries are connected by straps running from the positive plates to the negative plates of the neighboring cell. Corrosion resistant lead plated terminals are mounted on the top or side of the battery which is plastic covered to prevent spillage. However, it is not as durable as some of the other options.
An AGM battery is another sealed battery that requires little maintenance and uses an absorbent glass mat that absorbs the electrolyte solution. They are sometimes referred to as sealed lead-acid batteries. The main feature is that they will not tip over if they are knocked over or bumped into the engine compartment. Generally, AGM batteries are superior to gel or lead acid batteries for most applications.
AGM batteries have a much faster charge time, and they can last longer than the types of batteries they replaced. AGM batteries are best suited for vehicles with automatic start-stop applications and with braking energy recovery, which we will discuss later in this article.
The only downside is the cost – a 40-100% increase over conventional batteries.
The future of the battery
Speaking of modern vehicle demands, we spoke with Jim McIlvaine from Optima and he offered his expertise on the subject.
“From an electrical standpoint, the automotive landscape has changed dramatically in recent years. Electrical demands in vehicles were already increasing very significantly over the past 20 years, which is why the battery under the hood, in the trunk or under a seat is now much larger than it was ago. has a generation. From built-in alarm systems to satellite communication systems, wifi and all kinds of other high-tech features, new cars use electricity in ways our parents never imagined possible. . As if these requirements weren’t high enough, many newer vehicles are now equipped with a start / stop feature, causing batteries to be called upon to start engines thousands of times more, while spending more. time to power the accessories while the engine is temporarily shut down. “
“These factors alone have significantly and permanently changed the way we maintain our car batteries, but the past 18-24 months have put even more strain on the batteries. When much of the country was stranded and daily commuting ceased to occur, vehicles began to sit idle for longer periods of time. Even though vehicles didn’t run as often or as much, the batteries were still being used to keep all memory settings intact, maintain a connection to OnStar, or keep a built-in alarm system running. If you took your car to the grocery store and parked it on a Friday, the battery voltage may be around 12.8 volts. If you don’t drive it all weekend, it could drop to 12.5 volts on Monday and maybe 12.0 after a week or two of no use. It is not uncommon now for some vehicle owners to report that their batteries are completely discharged within a few weeks of non-use.
“Once a battery is discharged below 12.4 volts, sulfation begins to form in the plates of the battery, which decreases both capacity and life. This makes regular use of a quality battery care device a great idea for any vehicle, whether it’s used daily or maybe just for weekend trips. Filling up a battery on a daily driver once a month with a night spent on a battery charger won’t hurt and can only help ensure that the battery voltage is properly maintained, which is becoming more and more difficult to do from day to day. in which we live.
We searched the Optima Batteries website and found some very useful information for those looking to switch to Optima specifically, but want to know whether or not they will need to purchase a new charger / maintainer.
Can you use a standard or factory battery charger on an Optima battery? The short answer is yes. People often assume that the regular chargers included with new vehicles are unable to charge an Optima battery because they are designed for a different type of battery (lead-acid), but this is not the case. Optima batteries are always lead acid, so regular chargers will perform just fine as long as they are set to match.
According to Optima employees, “Confusion often arises because Optima batteries are AGM lead acid batteries, with the term ‘AGM’ standing for ‘Absorbed Glass Mat’. Apparently, the “G” can confuse some people and lead them to believe that Optima batteries are gel batteries, which they are most definitely not. While there might be a car or truck driving around somewhere with a gel battery, we haven’t seen one yet. Everything else on the road probably works with a lead-acid battery (or in rare cases, a lithium battery).
“To add to this confusion, some battery chargers have ‘gel’ or even more confusing ‘Gel / AGM’ settings. Our advice is to simply avoid any setting on the battery charger that refers to “freezing” in any way, as it may not fully charge the batteries without gel and damage them over time. We also suggest avoiding charger settings that exceed 10 Amps, as some chargers have settings as high as 200 Amps, which could severely overload any battery and potentially create a dangerous situation, if not. not properly monitored.