AGM batteries are what you need when you are ready to head out camping off the beaten track or take to the water for a day’s fishing, and you want a quality battery that is going to keep you going and perhaps power up a little creature comfort by running a few accessories. Not all batteries are created equal, and there are a host of different batteries for different uses – car batteries, marine batteries, golf cart batteries and RV batteries, just for starters. However, if you are looking for batteries that give reliable power, are easy to look after, have decent battery life and don’t cost a packet, then an AGM battery is probably what you need. They are particularly useful in a dual-system or inverter battery and can support most of your outdoor adventures.
What is an AGM battery?
AGM batteries are lead-acid batteries. AGM stands for absorbent glass mat, a special glass mat separator that wicks the electrolyte solution between the battery plates. These layers of fibreglass are soaked in an electrolyte solution, which holds the electrolyte in place, storing it in a “dry” state rather than a liquid form. The plates in an AGM battery are also squeezed tightly into their cells, increasing the pressure which holds them in place. Their original purpose was for use in the military and aircraft industry, so they have a sturdy industrial design and are resistant to strong vibrations and shock-resistant.
Most people associate AGM batteries with AGM deep cycle battery applications, but not all AGM batteries are used as deep cycle batteries. Deep cycling is when a battery is regularly deeply discharged, and most of its capacity is used. FOR EXAMPLE, some AGM batteries are used as start-stop batteries in cars, as they are strong enough to handle the wear and tear of repeated cycles in that application.
Some common uses for AGM batteries are marine vessels, RVs, golf carts, wheelchairs, scooters and high-end motorcycles, so they really are versatile and dependable batteries.
What are the advantages of an AGM battery?
AGM batteries are reliable and durable, well-designed batteries, so they have a number of advantages over other types of batteries, particularly the flooded lead-acid battery.
The main advantage of an AGM battery has got to be its maintenance-free status. Of course, no battery is entirely maintenance-free as they need to be kept clean and recharged for a start. However, as far as lead-acid batteries go, AGM batteries are pretty low maintenance. This is because of what was previously mentioned – the sulfuric acid is stored in a ‘dry’ state, so it is not going to leak or need topping up. This is in contrast to the more traditional and still common flooded lead-acid battery, which really does need constant monitoring and topping up with distilled water to keep the electrolyte solution at the right level.
The fact that the electrolyte solution is held in place by the glass mats creates more advantages, especially in comparison to the flooded lead-acid battery. Not only does this mean that spillage is not a possibility, but it also means that an AGM can be placed in unusual positions, making it much more versatile. It also means that they are safe to transport. Also, less electrolyte is required, so the AGM battery is lighter than a flooded lead-acid battery.
On the topic of location or position of the battery, when considering the gas emission of the lead-acid batteries, AGM batteries produce minimal gassing. This is an advantage because they can be used in areas that are not as well ventilated, although care still needs to be taken.
As far as maintenance goes, gel batteries are low maintenance too. Still, an advantage that an AGM battery has over a gel battery is that it has more capability to deliver high currents on demand. This is because AGM batteries have minimal internal resistance. Gel batteries also tend to be quite delicate and may react badly to an incorrect charge, but AGM batteries are quick and easy to charge, and they also hold their charge well. That means AGM batteries can be stored fully charged and shouldn’t have discharged much by the time they are taken out of storage.
Then there’s the cost. While a lithium-ion battery will probably outperform an AGM battery and have a higher energy density, it's going to cost a lot more for that kind of technology. AGM batteries sit comfortably in the more economical end of the battery scale, although they are certainly not cheap. They are pricier than flooded lead-acid batteries, but they have all the other advantages mentioned.
Finally, something to consider is that AGM batteries are recyclable but should be recycled at the correct recycling centre.
At Outbax, we can help you find the right kind of battery for your needs, from 12v AGM deep cycle batteries to setups for solar batteries. We deliver across Australia and have great offers and fast shipping.