Optima vs. Interstate–which AGM battery is a worthy choice for your car?

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Think of this scenario: you are in the middle of a road trip, or heading somewhere important in your car. In the middle of the road, the battery suddenly dies and your car grinds to a halt. What do you do? Do you descend into a panic because of a dead car battery? No worries, because we will tackle two famous battery brands in this review and compare them – Optima vs. Interstate.

We are sure you do not want to end up in a situation like we have described – but unfortunately, it is a reality that numerous people experience. It is all due to failing to purchase a good car battery, and can easily ruin the progress of your day.

Therefore, remaining prepared in advance is always the best policy to take. However, searching for a car battery can prove to be a daunting task; there are so many varieties to choose from, all promising you great service, yet you are not sure whether they will actually live up to their expectations.

This brings to light this review; we will tackle two famous brands in the market, by doing an Optima vs. Interstate review. Hopefully, by the end of this review, you will have a better idea of what works for you, which between them you should choose, and what makes them stand out from other car battery brands.

What are the differences between Optima and Interstate batteries?

The differences between these two batteries are not numerous, but we have outlined the few present below:

Optima batteries Interstate battery
Type of battery mechanism SpiralCell Lead plates
Light indicator (for battery life left) No Yes
Cranking amps Cold cranking 720, total 910 Cold cranking 800, total 1000
Battery weight (lbs.) 43.5 8
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Optima vs. Interstate – how these two compare

Battery life

The battery life of both these brands varies significantly, as some models are better at holding charge for longer periods compared to others. The Optima is regularly questioned by many when it comes to this aspect, especially with some of their models having a high discharge rate of up to 2 hours when you are not using them. If you want reliability, the Interstate batteries are a better option.

Light indicator

Interstate batteries all have light indicators, which will show you the amount of charge that the battery is currently holding, as well as changing the color of the indicator when you are charging it. However, the Optima batteries do not have this light source, though some upgraded models have it – it is still a work in progress.

Charging time

Even though Optima batteries sometimes have problems when it comes to discharge of their energy store, they do have a faster recharging time compared to other batteries – including Interstate. This could be due to their smaller storage options. The Interstate battery, on the other hand, has longer recharging times due to the large storage it contains.

Optima vs. Interstate – A comparison review

Optima battery – overview and key features

The AGM batteries by Optima are distinct from many others due to their use of the SPIRALCELL trademark design. Due to this, they also tend to perform better than traditional lead-acid batteries because of their insistence on using clean and strong power sources.

If you are wondering how they work, it is important to firs understand the mechanism of traditional batteries. The usual setup you will find in a car battery is the use of very fragile lead plates, which are contained in vats of acid. However, the Optima wounds the lead into a spiral tube, which ultimately has several advantages: the design is less prone to vibration issues as it is stronger, and the design is less prone to leaking due to the fiberglass mat holding the lead and electrolyte gel together.

If you are charging the Optima battery and using a low current, then you can operate either one or two amps. However, when deep discharge occurs (which, unfortunately, is something Optima batteries are prone to), the battery plates might have some sulfation, which you can remove by charging it at 10 amps.

Like the Interstate batteries as we will mention below, there are several battery types you will find in the Optima range, complete with their own uses. They are:

BlueTop batteries

These are unique in the line of Optima batteries, as they possess some characteristics you will not find in the other two – ability that is 3 times more than traditional batteries, faster recharge rate, and durability.it will serve you well if you own RVs and boats, or other water vessels, and it comes in handy when handling applications that are prone to draining other batteries.

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YellowTop batteries

If you are looking for a battery that has the ability to meet your peaks in performance and recover just as fast, this is the best one for the job. The reason behind this ability is their top cranking power, as well as their quick cycling rates.

This battery is also the most versatile of all Optima batteries, and will work well if you have commercial vehicles, trucks with winches, as well as cars that are modified with extreme stereo systems. You might wonder why they work for the extreme stereo systems – but it is because they have low levels of internal resistance, which leads to greater power output.

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RedTop batteries

This is best suited to cold cranking needs, due to its design. It is strong enough to provide high power charges for the ignition, all within 5 seconds of starting the engine. In addition to this, it also helps you avoid common failures of car batteries, and lending it to a wide range of uses such as off-road cars, SUVs, street rods, and trucks.

The best of the three is the YellowTop batteries, while the RedTop batteries are mostly a hit or miss – with some of them featuring issues of discharging at a very fast rate.

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What we like

  • Has a long reserve capacity of up to 90 minutes
  • Increased efficiency due to the SpiralCell technology
  • Strong resistance from vibration
  • Easy to mount
  • Easy to maintain
  • Good performance even in challenging weather

What we do not like

  • They tend to be pricier than other battery options
  • The packaging is of low quality in many cases

What can you see with the Optima battery?

  • The distinctive feature is SpiralCell technology that increases efficiency
  • Longer lifespan (especially for the YellowTop and BlueTop)
  • High resistance to vibration
  • Powerful starting mechanism
  • Battery capacity of 12V

Interstate battery – Overview and key features

Thanks to their longstanding reputation of performance and strong build, Interstate batteries are among the most popular brands in the US due to their reliability – and have a long history that goes back to 1952. The company is privately held and has its headquarters in Dallas, and many know them for providing high-quality batteries that serve almost any car.

Their batteries usually have an average of 800 cold cranking amps and a total of 1000 cranking amps, while the Optima has 720 cold cranking amps and 910 cranking amps range total, which makes them slightly similar in their power output.

There are several battery models available in their range, which are:

Interstate 12V 35AH deep cycle DCM0035

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...

Deep cycle batteries are somewhat reminders of the past before lithium batteries came on the scene, as they were most common in hybrid and solar off-grid energy storage, and other applications. They either come as a single 2V cell battery, or a number of cells that are arranged in a series and increase the minimum voltage.

In other terms, this is the best option if you want a compact and portable battery to allow you to use it in a trolling motor. Since it comes at a weight of 23 lbs., it is lightweight, yet still retains a punch to power a small-size trolling motor for a few hours.

It has other advantages as well, such as the thick exterior comprised of plastic material that protects it from external shocks and vibration.

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Sealed Lead Acid SLA1055 5AH

Interstate Batteries 12V 5AH...
  • Genuine Interstate Batteries 12v 5ah battery sealed lead...
  • Interstate 12v batteries utilize VRLA technology to...
  • Great replacement 12 volt battery uses include home security...

This is a type of battery known as ‘sealed’, maintenance-free, or valve regulated, because the acid electrolyte is enclosed within an absorbent mat made of fiberglass. The advantage of the design is that you do not need to add water in it, you can operate it close to sensitive equipment or people, and you can operate it in any position.

The maintenance-free aspect is due to the no-leak design and lower discharge rates. It has a 1-year warranty, and operates through the CC/CV (constant current/constant voltage) charging methods.

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All-battery CTR 10A 6V internal battery

Interstate Batteries 6V 10AH...
  • Interstate Batteries 12volt 10 ah Sealed Lead Acid battery...
  • Used in several applications including UPS back up power...
  • Rechargeable, Maintenance-free and spill proof because of...

This is among the best batteries to get in terms of its durability, and should last you many years as long as you top it off occasionally. The standard OEM-replacementbattery has 4 to 5AH ratings, but this one has 10AH rating, which should last you twice as long and still give you high quality service in the long term.

Like the other Interstate batteries on this list, it is durable and long-lasting. The hard plastic shell ensures that it can take abuse and not risk damage, and you can use it to charge up your burglar and fire alarms to guard your home.

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What we like

  • Generally comes in small compact sizes, which makes them easy to transport
  • Reliable service and does not discharge easily
  • Durable exterior
  • Easy to maintain
  • Easy to mount
  • Fair pricing

What we do not like

  • The terms of warranty are unclear in many cases
  • Some of the batteries are of poor quality

What can you see with the Interstate battery?

  • It is easy to mount and dismount in any position
  • The main technology in use is the absorbent glass mat (AGM), which allows it to be low maintenance
  • The batteries have a hard plastic exterior, which can handle scratches and bumps
  • Compact size that is easily portable

Verdict: So what is better? The Optima battery or the Interstate battery?

Even though these two battery companies have similar output for their batteries, the discharge rate of the Optima is what leads to our decision – that the Interstate batteries are better and more reliable. Using an Optima can be risky when you are not using it, as it discharges at a high rate within minutes even when fully charged, and that can be disappointing as it is not something you can control.

Frequently asked questions

Will heat affect my battery, and if so, how?

The presence of hot weather, especially if prolonged, means that the under-surface of the hood also has high temperatures, and this ultimately hastens corrosion within the battery.

It also leads to the evaporation of water from the electrolyte of the battery liquid, reducing capacity of the battery, weaknesses when trying to start the engine, and shorter battery lifespan.

How can I install the battery?

The process of installation is something simple, and many car owners can do it on their own. You need to exercise proper precautions though; always wear protective clothing as well as gear such as gloves and eyewear. In many cases, batteries are not easy to access, so you will need the owner’s manual to consult on specific questions.

Is it easy to know the age of my car battery?

Fortunately, it is quite simple, and you can do it through the code of the battery date. This is a 2-digit code that the manufacturer stamps in the cover, and it is usually part of a longer code that you will find on the side or top of the battery.

The code tells you when the manufacturing plant shipped out the battery, and you read it as:

  • Letter – tells you the month the manufacturer made the battery
  • Digit – tells you the year the manufacturer made the battery

Can I fully recharge the battery while driving my car?

This depends on several factors, which are:

  • The age of the battery
  • The temperature of the battery
  • The amps/current that is entering the battery from the alternator
  • The drive time

The general rule is that driving the engine for short trips or having long idle times, and even during night-time bad weather, will be insufficient in proper recharging.

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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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