AGM vs Gel Batteries – What’s the difference?
AGM vs Gel batteries; its a rough battle! AGM batteries and Gel batteries are easily confused among a lot of people, but we can’t blame them. AGM batteries and Gel batteries have a lot in common. For example, they both use valve regulated lead acid technology and they are both maintenance free and non-spillable. However, there are a number of differences between the two types of batteries. Read this blog entirely and you’ll be able to highlight some major differences.
AGM stands for Absorbed Glass Mat, which is a unique mat designed to trap the electrolyte between the plates inside the battery. AGM batteries are also known as SLA batteries or VRLA batteries. SLA stands for Sealed Lead Acid. VRLA stands for Valve-Regulated Lead-Acid. Unlike the traditional wet batteries, AGM batteries only hold a small amount of acid, which is entirely absorbed by the glass mat. This is a major safety feature which prevents acid from leaking from the battery, even if the battery breaks. This is why AGM batteries are known to be non-spillable and maintenance free. AGM batteries have a wide range of applications, such as emergency lights, alarm systems, medical equipment and UPS.
Gel batteries are a type of lead acid batteries, but built with with a gel electrolyte, which is designed to mix with the sulfuric acid and fumed silica. This causes a chemical reaction that causes the gel electrolytes to immobile. This allows the battery to be maintenance free and spill-proof, meaning you can install the battery in any direction without worrying about acid leaks. Gel batteries also have deep cycling capabilities, making it an ideal battery option for many applications, including: solar and wind energy, electric vehicles, wheelchairs, golf carts, cleaning equipment, medical equipment and marine.
AGM vs Gel – Life Expectancy
Battery life expectancy is not measured by a year count. It is measured by the number of times it can be charged and discharged. This is referred to as the battery’s cycle life. Both AGM and Gel batteries are recommended to be fully recharged as soon as possible after using them.
Life Expectancy of AGM Batteries
AGM batteries should not be discharged more than 50% in order to ensure a long service life. This does not only apply to Canbat AGM batteries, but rather to all AGM batteries on the market. Discharging your AGM battery more than 50% and up to 70% will be fine if you do it occasionally, but it will significantly decrease the cycle life of the battery if done regularly. For detailed information about the how many cycles you’ll get in relations to how deep you discharge the battery, you should review your battery’s datasheet, which would be provided by the manufacturer. Here is an example of a Canbat AGM battery model from our CBL series, showing how many cycles you’ll get by discharging the battery to 30%, to 50% and to 100%.
As presented in the graph, you’ll see that the deeper you discharge the AGM battery, the less cycles you will get. For example, if you discharge the battery to only 30%, you’ll get about 1,200 cycles. However, if you discharge the battery to 50%, you will get about 550 cycles. In the worst case scenario, if you completely discharge the battery to 100%, you will only get about 320 cycles.
There is another important factor that affects the cycle life of your battery: temperature. If you look closely in the graph, you’ll notice that it says “Ambient Temperature 25°C (77°F)”. The cycle counts in the graph is based on that temperature. If you install your batteries in an environment with much higher or much colder temperatures, the cycle count will surely decrease.
Life Expectancy of Gel Batteries
Gel batteries a deep cycle durability that allows you discharge them up to 90% and still get a much better cycle life compared to AGM batteries. Here is a graph showing the relationship between the depth of discharge and the number of cycles for Canbat gel batteries, the CBG series.
Similar to AGM batteries, the number of cycles decrease as you further discharge a gel battery. For example, discharging a gel battery at 30% gives you about 2,600 cycles, compared with only 1,200 cycles with AGM batteries. In fact, if you discharge a gel battery to 90%, it will give 700 cycles, which is more cycles than an AGM battery discharged at only 50%.
Of course, a higher cycle life doesn’t come for free. Gel batteries are more expensive than standard AGM batteries, but they might be worth the investment when used properly. It is important to note that you cannot use the same charger for both gel batteries and the AGM batteries. Gel batteries are more sensitive and require special chargers.
This is the end our AGM vs Gel battery guide. If you have any questions, please post them below!