Batteries provide the spark to kick start our lives. They are used in almost all devices, vehicles, or electric utilities, and with a single click or push allow us access to the technological wonders of this century. When it comes to cars, there are two basic options: dry battery and a wet battery.
Wet batteries are the most deployed kind and use lead plates and a sulfuric acid solution that acts as the electrolyte. Dry batteries use a gel as their electrolyte or, in some cases, an Absorbent Glass Mat which uses a thin fiberglass mat for electrolyte suspension. This gives them an enhanced efficacy at discharging and charging, making them a high-performance battery. The two kinds can be very different, and which one proves to be a top battery depends on different aspects such as cost, maintenance, and service life.
Let us look at the two battery types in detail by considering various aspects.
Maintaining a car battery is one of the most tedious tasks a car owner has and can be annoying at times. A wet battery brings forth the task of high maintenance. The electrolyte evaporates as your car heats up and needs distilled water now and then to replenish its liquid electrolyte. Wet batteries also need to be recharged regularly, which means that the vehicle should be in regular use so that the battery is not sulfated and is ready to be used again.
If a battery is not recharged regularly, white sulfur crystals may form on the negative terminal. In the case of overcharging, these crystals form on the positive terminal. This is called sulfation which hinders the charging process and consequently leads to battery corrosion and failure.Corrosion can also be caused by the hydrogen gas being released that can react with the battery terminals’ lead. This gas is a by-product of the charging and discharging process of the battery.
This means that the wet batteries need periodic care and awareness to check for signs of corrosion and electrolyte depletion.
However, dry batteries do not require such check and balance and can be low charged quickly. These do not experience the electrolyte evaporation and hence eliminate the problems of corrosion and offer considerable rigidity in an extreme environment, vibration, or shock. Consequently, they can be considered the top battery kind in terms of maintenance. Dry batteries can also be damaged if the vehicle overcharges or undercharges the battery; hence the charging system should be efficient for you to enjoy a low maintenance battery life.
Wet batteries or the common lead-acid batteries are relatively inexpensive as compared to dry batteries. They have a longer service life of about two to six years if maintained properly. They also have a higher number of charge-discharge cycles. This means that they are a cost-effective option. But this would only be true for gas-fueled cars as wet batteries are for the purposes of starting a vehicle, ignite, and lighting. These are called cranking batteries and are designed to deliver a larger amount of energy at once before it can be charged back again, as the vehicle runs and the alternator works.
The gel batteries are the deep cycle batteries that are efficient when it comes to electric cars or electric car conversions, as they are designed to discharge slowly and steadily for a longer time. Wet batteries would cost a lot more if used in these electric vehicles; thus, the kind of vehicle decides the kind of battery that wins this category.
3. Safety Hazards
Wet batteries are also called flooded batteries because they contain the liquid in an unsealed container and can spill and cause corrosion or rust. They need to be placed upright in all conditions, to avoid spillage and make sure that the plates are immersed in the electrolyte at all times. They also require ventilation for hydrogen gas to disperse off.
Over-charging can cause the release of a mixture of gases at a rate higher than their dispersal, causing damage by exploding or the battery case bursting. The traditional lead-acid battery is also heavier than the dry ones, making them harder to handle.
With dry batteries, which can be placed in any orientations, safety is a good proposition. They avoid spillage and so can be considered less harmful in this case. The dry batteries produce lesser amounts of gases, so the possibility of an explosion is substantially lesser than those with wet batteries.
They convert hydrogen on the negative electrode to water by combining it with oxygen from the positive terminal, avoiding the need for water top-ups and the dispersal of gases that can cause corrosion and explosions. They also have a pressure valve to let out any excessive amount of gases produced, if any.
4. Temperature Effects
Batteries discharge gradually, even when unused, and extreme temperatures do not favor wet batteries at all. Extra heat means electrolyte evaporates increasingly and extra cold means that the chemical reactions are slowed down. The cold engine also requires a higher power input to ignite, adding stress to the already cooled or possibly sulfated battery. This means that a dry battery might just save the day when you require a quick early start to your winter mornings.
Absorbent Glass Mat batteries have lower internal resistance, proving to handle higher temperatures better than the wet batteries. They are also seen to last longer in colder temperatures. Lower maintenance for the dry batteries proves to be a much more helpful option in extreme temperatures.
5. Installation and Storage
If you are looking for a quick installation or change of batteries, the wet battery is the option to go for. They are cheaper, easily available, and quick to make a part of your busy running life. However, they do not have a long shelf life, which means that a battery that has not been used for some time or is stored for emergency use might not work even if you install it easily.
Dry Battery or Wet Battery – Which One to Choose?
Wet batteries and dry batteries are among the top batteries used by people worldwide as both of them offer unique benefits. Wet batteries o became the go-to option for millions of customers because their maintenance is easy enough for almost everyone to master, plus they are a cost-effective option in the longer run. Their only downside is that they can be problematic in overheated or very cold environmentsdue to their higher internal resistance.
Dry batteries use a paste or gel as an electrolyte which does not require regular checking and are safer. They are less likely to undergo sulfation; hence, they do not need regular rides and can work in very cold and hot conditions. Some think of this as a disadvantage as not all vehicles support a high ampere recharging system needed for some of these dry batteries.
The dry batteries are a win if you require discharging for a longer time before the batteries need recharging, mostly used in electric vehicles.