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Frequently Asked Battery Questions

Batteries Plus Bulbs has been a trusted source for battery power and knowledge for over 25 years! Some of the things we encounter every day may be new to you. We have compiled some of the frequently asked questions in regards to batteries below. Do you have a question beyond what you see below or on our site, please contact your nearest store or one of our Customer Care representatives at 1-800-677-8278.

Battery Types

SLI refers to Starting Lighting and Ignition batteries commonly used in cars, trucks, powersports, boats, tractors, generators, and more. SLI batteries are lead acid batteries designed for a high rate of discharge to provide starting power for engines. Alternate designs are available for deep cycle purposes. These batteries last longest when the charge is maintained on regular basis.

Lithium Ion batteries are a rechargeable design with a high energy density in relation to its' size and weight. Li Ion batteries are the most common power choice for personal electronics and communication devices such as smartphones, laptops, and tablets, along with power hungry items like cordless tools, scanners, and personal gaming devices. These batteries operate at higher voltages than other rechargeables, typically about 3.7 volts per cell, which means a single cell can often be used rather than multiple NiMH or NiCd cells. Lithium Ion batteries also have a low self-discharge rate to retain their charge longer.

SLA batteries have the same general chemistry as SLI batteries, but utilize a gel or paste electrolyte rather than a liquid. This design change means an SLA can be utilized in applications without concern of "acid" leaks or spilling of electrolyte. SLA batteries are maintenance free and are completely sealed. SLA batteries can be designed for high rate discharge, as well as deep cycle applications. These batteries last longest when the charge is maintained on regular basis.

Alkaline batteries, also known as manganese dioxide, are non-rechargeable and are the most commonly used batteries for heavy current, extended run-time disposable applications. Able to operate in a wide range of temperatures and perform under varying drains (low and high), alkaline batteries are the choice for consumer electronics. The most common sizes are AA, AAA, C, D and 9V configurations.

NiMH (Nickel Metal Hydride) batteries provide outstanding capacity in a lightweight, rechargeable format. NiMH is interchangeable with NiCd in devices while providing a more environmentally friendly profile. Generally utilized in applications ranging from cellular phone to camcorder/digital camera. NiMH batteries offer higher capacity than NiCd, but with fewer cycles.

Battery Terminology

mAh (milli-ampere hour) is a capacity rating that measures how much current a battery will discharge over a specified period of time (typically a one hour period). Higher mAh ratings do not necessarily reflect how fast current can be drawn, rather, how long a current can be drawn. This capacity can also be displayed as Ah or Ampere-hour, with the rating equating to mAh/1000. Overall capacity will be influenced by other factors including temperature, depth of discharge and speed of discharge.

A unit of measuring electrical potential or pressure, all batteries are rated in volts DC. Voltage is based upon the electrochemical reaction that occurs in the battery, and can vary by battery types.

CCA (cold cranking amps) is a measurement of the starting power of a battery, an SLI or SLA battery, at 0°F under a load (ampere draw) for 30 seconds with the end voltage maintained at 1.20 volts per cell. Several variations of CCA ratings may be applied to a battery including; MCA (marine cranking amps) or CA (Cranking amps), which are generally 20% higher than CCA (cold cranking amps) and reflect higher temperature testing.

RC (reserve capacity) is the number of minutes that a battery, an SLI or SLA battery, can support a 25 ampere load at 80°F until its terminal voltage drops to 1.75 volts per cell or 10.50 volts for a 12V battery. For example, a 12V battery that has a reserve capacity rating of 100 minutes signifies that it can be discharged at 25 amps for 100 minutes at 80°F before its voltage drops to 10.50 volts.

OEM refers to the original maker of the battery or device. OEM batteries are often referred to as "original" batteries installed in a device. These batteries were part of the original specifications of the device manufacturer to power the device. Replacement battery performance specifications can be measured against the OEM specifications to ensure the device will operate to the manufacturer's minimum standards.

Pro Rata is used in relation to a warranty. Products that have a pro rata or pro rated warranty are replaced at a cost that depends upon the age of the product at the time of failure. The cost of a new product is said to be pro rated by the time in service of the original product. A product replaced under pro rated warranty coverage will come with an entirely new warranty.

Battery Performance

Self-discharge is the loss of useful capacity within a battery due to internal chemical reactions. Self- discharge will occur within all battery chemistries and will be influenced by temperature. Self-discharge will occur regardless of whether the battery is connected to a device or not.

The amount of time a battery will retain an operable percentage of its stated capacity (calculated under ambient temperature storage conditions).

Capacity is the measure of the energy stored in a battery. Expressed in Ah (Ampere hour) or mAh (milli-Ampere hour), capacity defines the ability of a battery to perform under specified discharge criteria over a set period of time. A battery rated as High Capacity or Extended Capacity exceed OEM specifications and will provide longer run time than the original battery.

Temperature variances can have a dramatic impact upon the performance and life of a battery. High temperatures intensify the chemical reactions inside a battery and may cause permanent damage to the battery. Lower temperatures can slow chemical processes to the point where the battery performance may not meet the requirements of the device. Batteries are best stored, charged, and operated at room temperature, generally rated at 25°C (77°F).

How To...

Across all battery types, there are several things that you can do to ensure the maximum production from your battery: Always store batteries in a cool and dry place, fully charged, before storing for longer periods of time. Never leave your battery on its charger for more than 24 hours, doing so will shorten the life of your battery. Keep your batteries clean. Clean dirty batteries with a cotton swab and alcohol. A clean battery will ensure a good connection between your battery and its device. Keep your batteries dry. Moisture can corrode contact points and limit charge/discharge performance. Do not leave your battery dormant.

New batteries come in a slightly discharged condition and must be fully charged before use. It is recommended that you fully charge and discharge your new battery two to four times to allow it to reach its maximum rated capacity. An overnight charge (approximately twelve hours) is recommended. Note: It is normal for a battery to become warm to the touch during charging and discharging. When charging the battery for the first time, the device may indicate that charging is complete after just 10 or 15 minutes. This is normal with rechargeable batteries. New batteries are hard for the device to charge; they have never been fully charged and not “broken in.” Sometimes the device's charger will stop charging a new battery before it is fully charged. If this happens, remove the battery from the device and then reinsert it. The charge cycle should begin again. This may happen several times during the first battery charge.

Many battery types can be fully recycled. Some types require special handling or processes that may require a fee to properly recycle the battery. Our stores operate in full compliance with federal, state, municipal, EPA, and DOT regulations governing the disposal and recycling of dead batteries. Please contact your local store for specific disposal and recycling information for your dead battery.

Warning: Batteries produce explosive gases. These instructions are designed to minimize the explosion hazard. Keep sparks, flames, and cigarettes away from batteries at all times. Both batteries should have the same voltage (6, 12, etc.).

When jump starting, always wear proper eye protection and never lean over the battery. Do not jump start a damaged battery; inspect both batteries before connecting booster cables. Be sure vent caps are tight and level. Be sure that the vehicles are not touching and that both ignition switches are in the "OFF" position. Turn off all electrical equipment (radio, defroster, windshield wipers, lights, etc.)

The following steps should be followed exactly:

  1. Connect positive (+) booster cable to positive (+) terminal of discharged battery.
  2. Connect other end of positive (+) cable to positive (+) terminal of assisting battery.
  3. Connect negative (-) cable to negative (-) terminal of assisting battery.
  5. Be sure that cables are clear of fan blades, belts and other moving parts of both engines.
  6. Start vehicle and remove cables in REVERSE order of connections.

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