Optima battery vs. AGM – is the traditional form better than the newer incarnation?

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Among the most common questions regarding car batteries is whether using an AGM battery is a better idea than opting for a flooded battery. This can lead to some confusion, especially since the benefits look similar for each – but hopefully, this comparison of Optima battery vs. AGM will clear things up for you.

There are some cars today that use battery products that are lithium-based, but a vast number use AGM lead-acid or flooded batteries. Aside from this, there are people who believe all automotive applications use gel batteries, but this leads to confusion between AGM batteries and everything else, even though they are very different from each other.

AGM batteries do not come cheap though, especially when you compare them against their flooded battery counterparts. The advantage though is that they show better performance over other forms of car batteries, such as what we will delve into in this article. It is important to understand what each of these entail, and we will tackle both issues, which will give you a better idea on what to expect from each.

What are the differences between Optima and AGM batteries?

Battery brand Optima AGM
Voltage range 6V to 12V 12V
Cold cranking amps 720 to 800 700 to 900
Battery life 140 to 200 minutes 150 to 200 minutes
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Optima vs. AGM – how these two compare

Battery design

All automotive manufacturing companies are always looking for new ways to improve their machines as well as the constituent parts, and this has led to the result of many battery placements to be increasingly in the interior sections of the car rather than under the hood.

Because a battery in this placement is often harder to access, the manufacturer designs a battery that will not need frequent changing, which is why AGM batteries spring up.

AGM batteries are a relatively new technology of making car batteries, having come first on the scene in the early part of the 1980s. Also referred to as Absorbed Glass Mat batteries, these go through a different manufacturing process than the traditional battery.

This is due to the inclusion of a thin plate, which is made of ultra-fine fiberglass, and the two lead plates then sandwich this layer. The result is a 95% higher saturation of battery acid, making the result more efficient than the traditional flooded battery.

The mat within these plates is under compression, and then soldered. This will prevent any vibration from affecting the battery, since the parts are tightly packed in place.

On the other hand, Optima batteries utilize the design principles of traditional flooded batteries, with a slight difference of the SpiralCell design of the plates.

This technology uses lead spirals rather than the plates, which helps it perform better based on the higher efficiency of energy use and lower internal resistance.

It also makes them hardy even in the toughest of conditions, although they will sometimes be vulnerable to vibration issues much more than the AGM battery.

Battery life

The greatest advantage that AGM batteries have over Optima batteries is their longer battery life, and they still come at compact sizes which allow many automotivemanufacturers to fit them into smaller-size cars and machines.

This also makes them highly useful in the event of an accident, as a normal battery is highly susceptible to leaking and explosion, much more than an AGM battery. Optima batteries are still great for the job of powering a car, but they tend to have issues with shorter battery lifespans (especially for the Optima RedTops).

Optima vs. AGM – A comparison review

Optima battery- Overview and key features

From the many advertisements you see on TV, you might think that Optima batteries have some sort of invincibility, because they can survive all things and situations.

This is what the marketing team will tell you, but it is possible to have your own doubts as to whether the claims are all true. Well, the truth is that it does live up to some of these claims; but for other criteria, it can feel like a long stretch.

All Optima batteries have the SpiralCell feature in common, which helps them retain high efficiency levels in energy use and prevents shock or vibration problems.

Optima batteries are of three types, which you are probably familiar with. These batteries also cater for different uses, so it is important to choose the one that suits your needs. These types are:

The RedTop battery

Optima Batteries 8020-164 35...
  • 12-Volt, 720 Cold Cranking Amps, Size: 9.38 x 7.69 x...
  • Reserve capacity of 90 minutes for constant performance
  • Optimal starting power even in bad weather. Case material is...

These are probably the most famous of the three Optima models. They can typically handle high amps for cold cranking scenarios, such as when you want to rev up street rods, trucks, SUVs, or road cars. Their design helps them to have high ignition charges, and short start times of 5 seconds or less – and this will also help to avoid or mitigate instances of sudden battery failure.

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The YellowTop battery

Optima Batteries 8014-045...
  • 12-Volt, 750 Cold Cranking Amps, Size: 10" x 6 7/8" x 7...
  • Reserve capacity of 120 minutes for constant performance
  • Optimal starting power even in bad weather. Case Material:...

These are usually viewed as the most versatile option of the three Optima models, and work best when you need an automotive that requires high power usage. This is due to their ability of fast recovery, as well as meeting very stringent peak performances, all due to their quick cycling and cranking power.

You can make arrangements to own them if you have a truck, commercial car, a car with high-power stereos, and other high performance battery users. Their low internal resistance makes them a great choice for this due to the low electrical resistance, resulting in shorter charging time.

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The BlueTop battery

Optima OPT8016-103 Batteries...
  • 12-Volt, 750 Cold Cranking Amps, Size: 10 inches x 6 7/8...
  • Optimal starting power even in bad weather
  • Mountable in virtually any position. Works well as a boat...

In the world of Optima batteries, these carry the best of both worlds, although their use is limited to marine and freshwater vessels. They have elements of durability, very fast charging, and a capacity of energy storage that is 3 times greater compared to the normal automotive battery. Their ruggedness is also a source of strength, and they will serve you well where other batteries cannot.

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What we like

  • They give you a quick start, irrespective of external conditions
  • Leak-proof and low maintenance
  • Increased efficiency due to SpiralCell technology
  • Large reserve capacity (can run up to 90 minutes on a single charge)
  • Strong against problems of vibration
  • Easy mounting

What we do not like

  • Tend to be pricey
  • Some batteries have issues with lower battery life

What can you see with the Optima battery?

  • All have SpiralCell technology, which make them efficient and leak-proof compared to traditional batteries
  • All have a battery capacity of 12V
  • Good levels of resistance to vibration issues
  • Relatively long lifespan
  • Powerful mechanism of starting an engine

AGM batteries – Overview and key features

The best application when it comes to an AGM battery is its highly efficient mode of power use and storage, which makes them have a longer battery life (as much as five times in some cases). Because of this the industry of automotive manufacturers and repairs has made good use of them, since they come sealed and mid-sized.

There are some considerations to keep in mind when you are considering the usage, which include:

  • The usage – it is important to know the purpose which you are buying the batteries for, and they need to be of high quality as well.
  • Brands – this is very important to consider, as the older brands are easier to trust than the newer ones, which need more scrutiny.
  • Quality – always check the full cycles that the battery has, and whether the manufacturer claims are accurate. They need to be at least 300 full cycles, which allows for less discharge rates and less recharge time.

There are many brands that make AGM batteries, and they include:

Mighty Max battery

Mighty Max Battery 12V 200Ah...
  • ML4D SLA is a 12V 200AH Sealed Lead Acid (SLA) rechargeable...
  • Dimensions: 20.75 inches x 8.11 inches x 8.43 inches....
  • SLA / AGM spill proof battery has a characteristic of high...

This is a 12V maintenance-free battery, but does not include mounting accessories or wire harness. The design works right out of the box, and will require no maintenance on your part. It also comes with a full 1-year warranty policy, as well as a refund policy of 30 days. It is also great for beginners in the world of AGM batteries, and can last many years with proper maintenance.

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Universal Power Group 100Ah AGM battery

Universal Power Group 12V...
  • UPG #45978 UB121000 12V 100Ah
  • Dimensions: 12.17 inches x 6.61 inches x 9.16 inches....
  • SLA/AGM maintenance free, spill proof battery

This rechargeable battery is easy to mount in any position, and fully resistant to vibration and shock issues. It comes with a 1-year warranty cover as well.

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Interstate 35Ah SLA battery

Interstate Batteries 12V 35AH...
  • Interstate Batteries Deep-Cycle mobility product, our...
  • Rechargeable, Maintenance-free and spill proof because of...
  • Professional-grade quality product developed specifically...

This is among the most versatile AGM batteries is their wide application; you can use them in a variety of Hoveround products, mobility scooters, and so on. The quality is professional grade, and has a long lifespan for deep discharge use.

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XS Power D3400 AGM battery

XS Power D3400 XS Series 12V...
  • 12 Volt battery with CA: 1000, Ah: 65
  • Absorbed Glass Mat (electrolyte is suspended in fiberglass)
  • Spill proof, sealed, valve regulated and vibration resistant

This is among the outstanding battery picks when it comes to the realm of AGM batteries, as it gives you maximum peace of mind through its tight sealing and spill-proof qualities. You can also mount it in any position, satisfying your needs.

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What we like

  • They are spill-proof
  • Very fast charging (much more than other car batteries)
  • High output of power
  • Have a longer lifespan
  • Strong, reliable and safe to use

What we do not like

  • Tend to be more costly than other batteries
  • They can have issues with overcharging
  • Tend to have problems with reducing capacity as they get older

What can we see with the AGM battery?

  • Low internal resistance
  • Long service life
  • Do not have issues with spillage or vibration
  • Higher power outputs and low discharge rates
  • Lack a strong heat threshold, so should be kept away from heat

Final verdict: so which is better? The Optima or AGM battery?

Narrowing down to the better choice between these two can be somewhat difficult, because it will mainly depend on your own battery requirements and needs. Optima batteries are also quite attractive in design, more so than the AGM batteries available. Sometimes though, reliability and overall features are more important, and the AGM wins in both regards.

Generally speaking, the AGM is a superior choice to the Optima, thanks to the long service life, low discharge rates, and the superior technology to stop any issues with spillage – and it can be a worthwhile pick as long as you can afford it.

Frequently asked questions

Are Optima batteries covered under a warranty policy?

Yes. They usually come with a manufacturer’s warranty of 3 years, and they will work immediately out of the box. Note that the warranty will cover the workmanship and manufacturer defects only, so this will apply to issues such as bad cells.

However, most of the issues that relate to batteries relate to bad charging problems or parasitic voltage that leads to faster draining.

What does battery sulfation mean?

The sulfation process is the formation of lead sulfate or its deposit on the pores of the lead plates of the battery. The deposits are usually in form of large crystals, and they hinder the automotive battery from functioning properly. Some of the common causes include long periods of over or undercharging, operating the battery at excessive temperatures, and leaving the battery standing for a long time in a discharging state.

How long does a battery last?

The lifespan of an automotive battery will vary widely, and it will vary according to how you charge it, maintain it, use it, the temperature you frequently use it in, and other circumstances.

What are AGM batteries and why are they important?

AGM is a recent form of technology when it comes to lead-acid batteries. Instead of a flooded design, the electrolyte is sealed in between glass fibers, and the battery can only drain excessive pressure through its discharge channel instead of the liquid electrolyte. In order to increase the safety factor added protection is designed at the end of the battery to prevent incidents of explosions.

The rise of AGM batteries is important because they lead to better car development, and they also save your consumption of fuel in the long term. The reason is because they have a greater storage capacity of energy than a normal car battery, and they can also handle many more charge cycles.

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Steven Reilly is a qualified mechanic and his passion for cars goes beyond just the technical aspects. He is also an amateur racer and all round car enthusiast. When he is not driving them, he can often be found in his garage under the hood of a rare model. Steven Reilly has lost track of the number of hours he has spent setting up his fine collection of rebuilt models. He believes that cars can provide a constructive and fun opportunity to teach the youth important life skills. In line with this, he is developing a community outreach program, potentially dubbed ‘Cars for change'.
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