Today, most companies operate their vehicles, workplace equipment or renewable energy systems using rechargeable batteries. The most commonly used is the lead acid battery. This mature technology that's known to be reliable, durable, and can cost effective. However, under the lead acid battery category there are many different types to be aware of. In this article we will talk about the differences between Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) and Flooded batteries.
Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) and wet cell or “flooded” batteries are both considered lead batteries and contain an electrolyte solution which causes a chemical reaction and produces electrons. These batteries are recharged when put in contact with a reverse current. But, given the way they are designed, they each have their own pros and cons and these variations should be considered before use.
What is a AGM Battery
Absorbed glass mat batteries or AGM batteries, became popular in the 1980s. They were used to power motorcycles, military, aircraft, and submarines, but now you can find them in everyday cars and trucks.
AGM batteries are a maintenance free alternative to traditional flooded lead-acid batteries. They are designed to provide powerful bursts of starting amps and run electronics for a longer period of time.
How do AGM batteries work
An AGM (absorbed glass mat) battery contains a special glass mat separator that wicks the electrolyte solution between the battery plates. This material’s design enables the fiberglass to be saturated with electrolyte – and to store the electrolyte in a “dry” or suspended state rather than in free liquid form.
As the battery works, electrolyte is transferred from the glass mat to battery plates as required. The mat contains enough electrolyte for the battery to deliver its full capacity and – should the battery case become damaged or the battery is tipped on its side – its electrolyte will not spill.
Pros and cons of AGM batteries
These batteries are referred to as maintenance free batteries, and do not require watering service. Since there is no free liquid and minimal gassing, AGM batteries can perform better than flooded batteries in applications where maintenance is difficult to perform.
Users should take care when charging this battery as over and under charging can affect their life and performance. AGM batteries perform most reliably when their use is limited to the discharge of no more than 50% of battery capacity.
AGM batteries can often be found in off-grid power systems including environmentally friendly renewable energy systems like wind and solar power. They are also great for electric vehicle service and uninterrupted power supply systems, as well as robotics and some ATVs and motorcycles.
What is a Flooded Battery
Possibly the most “traditional” type of battery, wet or flooded batteries are widely used in cars, stationary (large) uninterrupted power supplies and of course, stand alone energy systems. These batteries contain a combination of liquid electrolyte. The liquid in these batteries must be carefully measured and maintained in order for the battery to perform properly.
How do Flooded batteries work
Flooded batteries use a liquid electrolyte-containing medium to trigger a chemical reaction. When the battery is connected, the battery acid bonds to the lead plates. This causes a reaction that sends an electric current through the attached circuit.
Pros and cons of Flooded batteries
Wet Cell batteries are typically the best choice for backup power applications, utility, and grid energy storage. Additionally, they are more cost effective when compared to AGM batteries.
Most of the cons of the flooded battery stem from the fact that they contain free liquid that requires periodic inspection and maintenance. Flooded batteries can also be inadvertently damaged in forceful movement. Extreme climates can have a greater effect on the battery life due to the electrolyte solution inside the battery having the ability to evaporate or freeze.
While flooded batteries do require maintenance, if taken care of properly this battery type will last longer than many of their counterparts.