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All about car batteries

Without the car or motorcycle battery, modern automobiles would not start at all. Before the battery, starting power was provided by the driver cranking the engine with an insertable crank handle. But for several decades now, modern electronics, including batteries, have helped this process. Unfortunately, even today defects with batteries contribute to the numbers of car breakdowns. Many components of modern vehicles, such as air conditioning, heaters, and infotainment systems add to the demands on power storage. There are special battery solutions for vehicles with a start-stop system, though these are often costlier than conventional power storage devices due to their higher capacity. Normal car batteries cost between 60-350 Euros, depending on their storage capacity, measured in Ampere-hours (Ah), and the battery type (lead-acid battery, AGM battery, EFB battery, or GEL battery). There are differences between open systems, in which distilled water can be poured in, and closed "maintenance-free" batteries. Currently the battery market is clearly trending toward the closed system.


Types of car and motorcycle batteries

If you want to buy a new car or motorcycle battery, many drivers are inundated with choices, since the selection is huge and can be confusing to the uninitiated. Closed, maintenance-free batteries are winning out more and more over the conventional open, refillable systems. The customary trade name of starter battery is actually not quite correct, since it is essentially a lead-acid battery which is continuously recharged by the alternator and partially discharged by the various devices in the car which use electricity. You can read about the differences among batteries in:

  • Lead-acid batteries: so-called "wet batteries"; the most common type of car battery; too heavy for use in motorcycles
  • AGM batteries: light and therefore suitable for motorcycles. Instead of heavy lead plates, a light glass-fiber layer is built in. AGM stands for Absorbent Glass Material.
  • EFB batteries: EFB stands for Enchanced Flooded Battery. Predominantly used in vehicles with start-stop systems. A type of polyester mesh serves as a storage medium.
  • GEL batteries: contains gelatinous acid, due to the heavy power demands of very performance-intensive systems.
  • Lithium-ion batteries: frequently used in electric and hybrid vehicles due to their high energy density.

Can a car battery be used to charge a motorcycle battery? Basically yes, if both batteries operate on the same voltage.

In modern vehicles, batteries for the most part need to perform under heavy demand due to systems such as air conditioning and heating, navigation systems, and many others. And so it is no surprise that there are many different types of batteries: 55 Ah, 60 Ah, 70Ah, 44 Ah, etc. The number of Ampere-hours (Ah) refers to the battery's storage capacity. More specifically, the amount of current that can be produced at a constant temperature of 27°C over 20 hours, up to a voltage of 1.75V per battery cell. Subcompact cars require around 36 Ah, which is naturally a lesser capacity than compact cars (up to 50 Ah), mid-class cars (up to 70 Ah), and full-size cars (up to 120 Ah).

Classification of battery strength

For a precise car battery classification, the current (amperage) or the load capacity for the most part will serve as the ultimate measure. All storage devices operate at 12 volts, so the capacity must serve as the defining feature. This electrical unit of measure tells how much current the battery can produce. Thus, if a battery is constantly charged for 20 hours with 5 amperes, and is completely charged after this period of time, this gives a capacity of 5 times 20 hours, or 100 ampere-hours (Ah). The battery can then produce exactly this charge capacity until it is completely discharged. And so now you know the differences in car battery designations.