In the world of battery technologies, the AGM vs. Gel debate is always an interesting one. First, let’s go back to the beginning and understand what we’re dealing with.
Valve Regulated Lead-Acid Batteries, also known as sealed lead-acid batteries, has two subtypes: AGM and Gel.
The AGM, or absorbed glass mat batteries, use a technology in which a glass mat holds the electrolyte between the plates. The second type is the Gel battery. This battery uses a silica gel that suspends the electrolyte between the plates. There are many similarities between the two types of batteries, but they are not the same.
They Walk Alike, They Talk Alike…
Both the AGM and the Gel batteries use technologies intended to hold the electrolyte in place between the battery plates. This means there’s no leaking in the event the battery casing breaks.
They can both be mounted in any position without decreasing the effectiveness of the battery.
They are both deep cycle batteries with a low rate of self-discharge, and they are both safe to transport as well as use in a non-ventilated area.
They both sound pretty great, so where’s the issue? Well, this is where things get interesting.
Why the debate?
While their similarities are all excellent features to have in a battery, it’s their differences that really make them stars in their own galaxy. As with most debates over which widget is better, it usually comes down to which widget fits your needs the best. Invariably, your personal set of needs is what will decide which side of the debate you’ll land on. So what are the differences between these two batteries that have caused such an uproar? Let’s find out!
The absorbed glass mat battery is definitely the better seller of the two batteries in question. That may have something to do with the fact that it is the cheaper option in the VRLA category.
It could also have something to do with the fact that AGM batteries are excellent when you need a burst of amps. They recharge with a typical battery charger or alternator, instead of using specialized equipment.
AGM batteries offer a great life cycle expectancy as long as they are kept charged and maintained. AGM batteries are great for applications that need starter power and can handle vibration, such as ATVs and motorcycles.
In the interest of full disclosure, gel batteries do tend to cost more and do not offer the same level of power per battery size as the AGM battery. They have some charging issues as well.
For instance, they recharge in a very specific way and only by a specialized charger. Failure to do so will result in early battery death. You can use an alternator to charge the battery but you will need to install a regulator. Rest assured gel battery manufacturers are working on this technology and it’s just a matter of time before these issues are a thing of the past.
That being said, gel batteries are excellent when used for slow discharge applications. Gel batteries are perfect for things like battery-powered wheelchairs, golf carts, and other applications that need consistent power and not a burst of power.
Which battery wins?
The true winner of the battery debate depends on your personal needs and battery’s application. As long as you are maintaining your battery properly and making your decision solely on what you need the battery to do, the true winner of the debate will be you.