One of the most important factors to consider when choosing a 12V battery is deciding which type of battery will meet your specific needs. Depending on what you’re powering, there are several types of 12V batteries to choose from. We’re talking about flooded lead-acid batteries, gel batteries, AGM batteries, and lithium batteries.
Each type of battery has its own set of pros and cons, such as cost, maintenance requirements, lifespan, and performance in different environments. By understanding the differences between these batteries, you can make an informed decision on which is best for your particular needs. Keep reading to learn more!
What is a 12v Battery Used for?
12-volt batteries are often used to power the following things: RVs and campers, bass boats, UTVs, zero-turn lawnmowers, golf carts, trolling motors, and more. In fact, many business owners use them to power commercial equipment, such as lift gates, floor sweepers, small forklifts, floor scrubbers, and more. With a dependable 12V battery you can power so many different things!
As with other rechargeable batteries, a 12V battery stores energy for later use. This means you can partially drain your battery and recharge it over and over again. With a lithium 12V battery, you can repeat this process about 3,000 – 5,000 times. With a traditional lead-acid battery, 500 – 1,000 cycles are more common.
There are a huge variety of 12V batteries available on the market, and it can be hard to make a good decision without some context. That’s why we’ve listed several of the different types of 12V batteries to consider below – so let’s take a look!
Types of 12V Batteries
When it comes to deep-cycle batteries, there are usually two categories to choose from: lead acid and LiFeP04 lithium. Do keep in mind that there are multiple versions of lead-acid batteries. To explain things a bit better, we’ll talk about a few different types:
Flooded Lead-Acid 12V Battery
Flooded lead-acid batteries are the most common type of lead-acid battery. One thing they have going for them is their low-cost investment. The truth of the matter is that you can’t find a more economical option up front. But we’re talking about the initial cost, not over time. Flood lead-acid batteries do require a lot of maintenance though. You can’t get around that. Since you’re dealing with liquid electrolytes, you’ll need to consistently monitor them for spills and malfunctions. You’ll also have to do periodic distilled water-top-offs. Depending upon your usage, this may be every 5-10 charging cycles or every few weeks to months. These batteries have the shortest lifespan among all the battery types listed here, usually around 2-5 years.
Gel 12V Battery
Unlike flooded lead-acid batteries that use liquid electrolyte solutions, these lead-acid batteries use gel. Did the name give it away? This special solution creates the chemical reaction necessary to store a charge. These batteries are sealed, so they don’t have to be installed upright. The big win for this battery type is the inability of its contents to spill.
The major drawback, however, is how finicky they are when charging and discharging. You’ll need to keep a close eye to avoid damaging them. Discharge them too much and you might damage them. Charge them too much and you might do the same thing. The gel is fragile, and can easily burn if used in high-amperage situations.
AGM 12V Battery
AGM, or “Absorbent Glass Mat” batteries are another type of sealed lead-acid battery. With this design, lead plates are placed between fiberglass mats to make them more resistant to spills and vibrations. They give off minimal gassing, so they can be used in areas that are less ventilated than others.
These batteries are somewhat sensitive to overcharging and high voltages, though. In general, you’re going to want a full charge between uses, which can be frustrating and time-consuming.
AGM batteries are the most expensive lead-acid batteries. But despite their higher cost, they tend to be a decent option thanks to their resistance to spills, vibrations, and shock.
Lithium 12V Battery
Finally, we have lithium batteries, specifically LiFeP04 lithium batteries. These are designed very differently from all the other batteries we’ve talked about so far. They’re made from lithium iron phosphate and are the newest deep-cycle battery type available.
The 12V lithium battery is the most low-maintenance and longest-lasting battery available. More energy can be stored per unit of weight or volume, making them a great choice for applications where space is limited. They also weigh about half as much as lead-acid batteries.
Lithium batteries are spill-proof and can be stored in any direction you’d like. Big win! Because they’re made from non-toxic materials, they’re the safest option for the environment too.
If you’re looking for a battery that will last on average 10+ years and that’s not susceptible to charging and discharging issues, you’ve found it. Really, we could go on and on. There are so many perks to choosing lithium, including Bluetooth monitoring and a built-in battery management system. The only negative thing we can mention is the price. They are more expensive than the other battery types. But when considering all of the maintenance that comes with other batteries and how long a lithium battery will last, the price is simply an investment. You’ll likely spend less in the long run!
When Deciding Which 12v Battery to Choose…
When deciding which 12V battery to choose, you may want to ask yourself the following questions:
- Will my batteries be in extreme temperatures?
- Is the environment prone to shaking, vibrations, or sudden movement?
- Am I willing to invest in a battery that will last, or do I need the most affordable option upfront?
- Do I mind battery maintenance every few weeks?
- How long do I want my battery’s lifespan to last before I need to buy a new one?
Answering these questions will help you pinpoint which battery is right for you and your needs. As always, if you have questions or need guidance, reach out to us!