Battery Myths

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Battery Myths

By: Battery Systems

Over the years, the staff members of our different locations at Battery Systems have been asked a variety of questions about the form and functionality of the different batteries we offer. While our customers will have the customary questions we are glad to answer, batteries have evolved which leads to thoughts which were once true to now be myths. Saying that, I thought it would be a good idea to give our readers a list of traditional battery myths followed by the truth.

Myth #1: Storing a battery on a concrete floor will discharge them.

Truth: In the past, when battery cases were made out of wood, the rate of discharge was accelerated. Today, battery cases are made of polypropylene or hard rubber which seal better and allow discharge to longer be a problem. **Suggestion: Top of battery should be kept clean and keep the battery at a cool temperature because temperature stratification within large batteries can accelerate the internal “leakage” or self-discharge when sitting on a floor that is too cold or too warm.

A little joke from one of our smart staff members regarding this myth: “They’re called ‘batteries’ not ‘bat-trees’!” lol

Myth #2: Driving a car will fully recharge a battery.

Truth: There are some factors which can affect an alternator’s ability to charge a battery. The main reasons vary from, how much current is being diverted from the alternator to the battery, the length of available current, and temperature. Note: Using your vehicle on short stop and go trips during bad weather will not recharge the battery.

Myth #3: A battery will not explode.

Truth: A wet, lead acid battery produces hydrogen and oxygen gasses. However, the vent caps in batteries help prevent explosions that occur when jumping, connecting or disconnecting charger/cables, and starting the engine. Keep in mind that a battery explosion will most likely cause an eye and burn injury rather than create a Hollywood building explosion scenario.  It is very important that all sparks, flames, and heat sources are nowhere near a battery that is charging or being cycled and always wear the appropriate personal protective equipment when working near batteries.

Myth #4: “Maintenance Free” batteries never require maintenance.

Truth:  What happens to water on sidewalks, in cups, etc. during summer? Evaporation! The same thing occurs in batteries. In hot climates, the water in the electrolyte can evaporate due to the high under-hood temperatures. Therefore, non-sealed batteries are a nice benefit in hot climates because you can easily add distilled water when evaporation occurs.  Many maintenance free, or sealed, batteries are designed so that is vented during charging collects and is “recombined” back into the battery.  All batteries require that they are charged properly.

Myth #5: A larger capacity battery will damage my car.

True: A starter motor will only draw a fixed amount of current from the battery, based on the resistance of the load. A larger current capacity battery supplies only what is required but will give you more starting capacity and will not damage your car.

Myth #6: Flooded, AGM, and Gel batteries are the same.

Truth: Even though all AGM, GEL, and flooded batteries are classified as lead acid, the internal construction of the battery divides them into their respective categories. AGM are the latest batteries. AGMs are sealed and use a separator consisting of fiberglass between the plate to hold electrolyte in its place with capillary action. Flooded or ‘wet cell’ batteries are the most commonly used. Flooded batteries use the lead plates, sulfuric acid electrolyte, and plate separators but the acid flows free within the battery. Gel batteries are also sealed like AGM. However, unlike an AGM, they use a silica material to turn the sulphuric acid into a jelly like substance. This jelly is then used as the electrolyte.

Myth #7: Trickle charger is the best way to charge my car battery.

Truth: No, not very effective. One should charge the battery at 10% to 13% of the battery’s 20 hour AH capacity. Most vehicles are rated between 50-110 amp hours. Automatic trickle chargers are good to keep the battery charged in storage or for small batteries like those used for Powersports.

Myth #8: After leaving the car’s lights on, going for a drive will recharge the battery.

Truth: No, you will not fully recharge the battery by going for a drive. In fact ‘surface’ charging or continuous undercharging will lower the capacity of the battery over time and shorten its life. You could also void the warranty by not recharging it correctly. The best way to restore a flat dead battery is to use an appropriate multi-stage battery charger.

Myth #9: Tap water can be used to top off the water level in a battery if the plates are exposed.

Truth: To replace lost water in batteries, use distilled, deionized, or demineralized water. Tap water can produce mineral build-up on the plates of the battery.

Myth #10: The bigger the cold cranking amps (CCA), the better the battery.

Truth: The electrical systems on most cars are designed around a specific size battery. The vehicle’s computer systems regulate the power required for normal operation. The electrical system will only use a fixed amount of power from the battery based on the requirements of the starter motor and electrical system. A large CCA battery only supplies what is required. While it won’t damage your car, it can affect the performance of the car.

These are only 10 very common myths our sales staff gets asked about on a daily basis. At Battery Systems, we are glad to answer any of your questions, give any of our different locations a call or even better, visit our staff who gladly await.

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