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Is AGM Battery better for RV in winter?
Pubdate: 2024-04-17
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How Does Cold Weather Affect a Car Battery?

Winter weather puts an enormous strain on your vehicle’s battery. The cold causes it to discharge more quickly, reducing the amount of power it has available to turn over your engine. At the same time, these low temperatures are also slowing down the chemical reactions that take place inside your battery and thickening the oil in your engine. That means your battery has to work much harder to turn over your engine and has less energy than normal to do so.

What is an AGM Battery and How is It Different from a Lead Acid Battery?

Most cars come with a 12 volt flooded lead acid battery, but as technology moves forward, more and more models are relying on AGM batteries. A lead acid battery is divided into six separate cells. In each cell, positively and negatively charged plates are stacked in an alternating pattern with a plastic separator between them. Within each cell, these plates are immersed in a liquid acid solution called an electrolyte, which creates a path for electricity to flow.

AGM (short for Absorbed Glass Mat) batteries are constructed a bit differently. They’re still divided into individual cells, each of which contains alternating positive and negative plates. In an AGM battery, however, the separator is a non-woven microglass-mat material that absorbs the electrolyte and keeps it suspended in place. The mat contains enough electrolyte for the battery to deliver its full capacity and also allows it to be mounted in a variety of positions without fear of spilling.

How well do Lead Acid Batteries perform in Winter?

Understanding how temperature affects the chemistry and capacity of Lead Acid batteries can be helpful during winter for its owners. Lead-acid batteries lose capacity in normal to cold weather by about 20% and in temperatures as low as -22°F(-30C) by about 50%.

To help you better understand, let’s talk about more details. Around -80°F, the electrolyte in a fully charged flooded battery will freeze (-62C). A drained battery will freeze at roughly 20°F, but you’ll probably never see that (-7C). Remember that these figures refer to the electrolyte’s freezing point, not necessarily the permitted operating temperatures. A battery is probably lost forever once it physically freezes.

So it is clear that by most standards, Lead Acid batteries are not performing well in cold weather. If the temperature is below 32°F, several manufacturers advise against charging these batteries at all (0C). Of course, this is a significant issue for many off-grid applications.

When winter rolls around, the last thing you want is to be caught off guard with a dead battery. Cold weather can be particularly harsh on batteries, leading to decreased performance and reliability. This is where Absorbent Glass Mat (AGM) batteries come in. In this article, we will delve into why AGM batteries are an excellent choice for cold winter weather and provide answers to frequently asked questions to help you make an informed decision.

 

Why Choose AGM Batteries for Winter?

AGM batteries are known for their superior performance, especially in extreme weather conditions. Here are some reasons why they stand out:

1. Enhanced Cold Cranking Amps (CCA)
AGM batteries typically have higher CCA ratings compared to other types of batteries. CCA is a measure of a battery’s ability to start an engine in cold temperatures. The higher the CCA, the better the battery can perform in the winter.

2. Low Self-Discharge Rate
AGM batteries have a low self-discharge rate, meaning they lose their charge more slowly when not in use. This is particularly beneficial in winter when vehicles and equipment may not be used as frequently.

3. Durability and Vibration Resistance
The construction of AGM batteries makes them more durable and resistant to vibration. This is crucial in winter when roads can be rough and vehicles are subjected to more stress.

4. Maintenance-Free
AGM batteries are maintenance-free, which is a significant advantage in winter. Traditional batteries may require regular topping up of water levels, which can be a hassle in cold and harsh weather conditions.

5. Quick Charging
AGM batteries charge faster than other types of batteries. This means less downtime and more reliability, especially when you need it most in winter.

How to Maintain an AGM Battery in the Winter?

1. Ensure Full Charge: Prior to the onset of winter, make sure your AGM battery is completely charged. A battery that is fully charged is less likely to freeze compared to a depleted one.

2. Store in a Dry, Moderately Cold Environment: If the battery is not in use, keep it in a moderately cold, dry location. Extreme cold temperatures can harm the battery, so avoid leaving it outdoors or in a car.

3. Utilize a Battery Keeper: If the battery will not be used for an extended period, connect it to a battery keeper. This gadget will maintain the battery’s charge without overcharging, which can lead to damage.

4. Regularly Monitor the Voltage: Regularly check the voltage of the battery to ensure it’s maintaining its charge. If the voltage falls below 12.4 volts, the battery needs to be recharged.

5. Keep the Terminals Clean: Corrosion can accumulate on the battery terminals, causing the battery to deplete. Regularly clean the terminals using a solution of water and baking soda.

6. Prevent Overcharging: Overcharging can harm an AGM battery. Ensure to use a charger specifically designed for AGM batteries and avoid lengthy charging periods.

7. Provide Insulation to the Battery: If the battery is installed in a vehicle, provide insulation to shield it from extreme cold. A battery blanket or a carpet piece can be used for this purpose.

8. Use Regularly: If feasible, use the battery on a regular basis. This will help maintain its good condition and prevent it from depleting.

6 Winter Tips to Get the Most from Your AGM Battery

Anyone responsible for the maintenance of commercial work trucks, a government fleet or other heavy-duty trucks, knows how critically important it is to perform routine scheduled maintenance to avoid costly repair and downtime. In many parts of the country, winter brings its own set of challenges —foremost being the frigid temperatures — that take a toll on vehicles.

Many improvements have taken place in lead acid battery technology since its invention more than 160 years ago. One example is the introduction of Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) technology in the 1970s. This advancement in particular provided advantages that are critically important for today’s power-hungry vehicles with high work demands, such as work trucks, government fleet vehicles and heavy-duty trucking applications. Benefits typically include more starts per battery, faster recharging, lighter weight, safer handling and gas release valves that protect battery lifespan. Yet even with all of these advancements, lead acid battery performance is still dramatically affected by cold weather.

While AGM batteries are more durable and much more reliable in cold weather, ANY battery can be impacted by freezing temperatures. With colder weather approaching, there are some practical measures you can take to avoid unnecessary downtime brought on by battery issues, and to help keep your vehicles starting strong all winter long.

Here are 6 tips to keep the winter cold from putting the freeze on productivity:

  1. Check battery condition
    Routine battery inspection is always important. It is especially advisable prior to the winter season. Following all safety rules and wearing the appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – such as safety glasses or face shield, rubber gloves and protective clothing – your technician should perform a full inspection of the batteries in your vehicle fleet. Check for any cracks, broken pieces, leaks or other damage to the case. Check battery hold/tie-downs.
  2. Perform battery connection maintenance
    Inspect cables and connections to be sure they are tight and clean. Examine the terminals or posts to be sure they are not stripped or scuffed. Connections should be cleaned to remove any dirt and corrosion. Coat unsealed connections with dielectric grease.
  3. Perform a load test
    A load test is essential to determine the condition of the battery. In essence, it mimics the strain placed on the battery by the starter and other auxiliary items. An electronic tester simplifies the procedure. Begin with a fully-charged battery. For AGM batteries, an Open Circuit Voltage (OCV) of at least 12.6 is required. Then disconnect the negative ground cable. With the tester, you will need to enter the exact information to get an accurate reading: the Cold Cranking Amps (CCA), battery type (AGM versus Flooded) and battery temperature. The tester will then load test the battery and provide the test results.
  4. Keep batteries fully charged
    Any reprieve from outdoor cold can help your battery, thereby becoming less impacted by cold temperatures. Parking in a garage or other enclosure when possible is best. Battery warmers are also helpful. For vehicles in the shop, using a charger/maintainer while the vehicle is being serviced will help recharge the battery, keep it from discharging to freezing levels and offset loads during the repair or Preventive Maintenance (PM) service.Chemical reactions within the battery are slowed down by the cold, so recharging takes longer. During cold weather, make sure that scheduled trips provide an adequate opportunity for a vehicle’s alternator to fully recharge the battery. Starting a vehicle reduces the battery’s State of Charge (SOC). A vehicle that is constantly used for short trips may be more likely to have a discharged battery. This could result in shorter battery life if not fully charged daily, or worse a stranded vehicle.
  5. Disconnect cables for long-term storage
    To sustain the charge in spare batteries held in storage or in vehicles not in operation, simply remove the cables to prevent any parasitic drain from discharging the battery. A small maintenance charger is a good option.
  6. Keep the Terminals Clean: Corrosion can accumulate on the battery terminals, causing the battery to deplete. Regularly clean the terminals using a solution of water and baking soda.

FAQs

Are AGM batteries more expensive than other types of batteries?

Yes, AGM batteries tend to be more expensive upfront. However, their longer lifespan, reliability, and low maintenance needs can make them more cost-effective in the long run.

Can AGM batteries be used in any vehicle or equipment?

AGM batteries can be used in a wide range of vehicles and equipment. However, it is crucial to check the manufacturer’s recommendations and ensure that the battery’s specifications match the requirements of your vehicle or equipment.

How do I maintain my AGM battery in winter?

AGM batteries are maintenance-free, but it is still important to ensure they are kept clean and securely mounted. Additionally, regular charging will help maintain optimal performance.

Can AGM batteries freeze in winter?

All batteries can freeze if the temperature is low enough, but AGM batteries have a lower freezing point compared to other types of batteries. Keeping the battery fully charged can also help prevent freezing.

 How long do AGM batteries last?

The lifespan of an AGM battery depends on how it is used and maintained. Generally, AGM batteries can last between 4 to 7 years, which is longer than many other types of batteries.

Are AGM batteries environmentally friendly?

AGM batteries are lead-acid batteries, which are recyclable. Ensuring that the battery is properly recycled at the end of its life can help minimize its environmental impact.

Can I use an AGM battery for my solar power system?

Yes, AGM batteries are an excellent choice for solar power systems due to their durability, low self-discharge rate, and ability to handle deep discharge cycles.

How can I make my AGM battery last longer?

It’s critically important to charge your battery as often as possible. This will maintain your battery’s life and ensure it stays alive for at least five years. However, it is important to not overcharge your battery. Instead, find the perfect balance and make sure you are charging it at the correct voltage.

Choosing the right battery for winter is crucial to ensure reliability and performance in harsh weather conditions. AGM batteries offer numerous advantages, making them an excellent choice for cold winter weather. While they may have a higher upfront cost, their durability, low maintenance needs, and superior performance can provide peace of mind and long-term cost savings.

Remember to check the specifications and manufacturer’s recommendations to ensure that the AGM battery you choose is the right fit for your vehicle or equipment. With the right care and maintenance, an AGM battery can be a reliable and efficient power source throughout the winter and beyond.

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