A lot of people get confused by the labels they see on their battery chargers. This is because there are a lot of people who do not realize that there are different classifications of batteries. Knowing the most common types of batteries will help you to discern the right car battery charger for your specific needs.
If you have a battery charger that says it is an AGM battery charger then it is describing the fact that it is specifically designed to charge absorbent glass material or gel cell batteries.
Absorbent glass material batteries have an absorbent material between the plates of the battery. This absorbent material holds the fluids that are normally found in a battery. These batteries are considered by many people to be safer in the event of an accident because in a standard battery (lead acid) more battery acid/fluid would be spilled and battery acid can be harmful, corrosive, and even explosive.
- Standard Battery Chargers
- Things you can do with an AGM Charger that you cannot do with a standard battery charger
- Combination Battery Chargers
- The differences between the AGM battery charger and the standard battery charger
- Final Thoughts
AGM Battery Chargers
If you have an absorbent glass material battery or a gel cell battery they probably cannot be charged using a standard battery charger. AGM and gel cell batteries cannot tolerate quick speed charging like the standard battery chargers create. These types of batteries need to be given a slow and steady charge over several hours rather than a fast paced charge in the span of a few hours.
If you overcharge an AGM battery there is a distinct possibility that you will damage the battery to the point that it does not function. At the very least an over charged AGM battery will no longer be able to hold the same amount of a charge and will be easy to discharge quickly.
Features of an AGM Battery Charger
- The charging speed is usually 2amp or what is considered to be a trickle or float charge
- Feature for charging flooded batteries
- Feature for charging AGM or gel cell batteries
- Automatic shut off
- Reverse polarity protection
- Overload protection
- Spark protection or anti spark technology
- Over-heating technology
- The ability to discern what voltage the battery is
- May have a repair feature that helps to improve the health and longevity of your battery
- May be able to test the battery and tell you if the battery is capable of receiving and holding a charge
- May be able to tell you if the alternator on your car has been functional
- May have a water resistance or a dust resistance
- Is likely to have push buttons and digital screens that tell you the status of the battery you are charging
Standard Battery Chargers
The standard battery charger uses technology that was designed to charge the lead acid batteries. These chargers may not have the new features that prevent battery damage and accidents.
Most standard battery chargers will charge at a fast speed, then when the charger senses that the battery is over half charged they will switch to a lower charging rate, (this switch over may be manual or it may be automatic) and then when they sense that the battery is fully charged they will possibly shut off, or possibly switch over to a trickle or float charge.
Lead acid batteries can stand the pressure of a quick charge so many of the standard battery chargers started charging with a 10 amp, 12 amp, or even 15 amp charge.
Features of a standard battery charger
The most common features on a standard battery charger are
- Quick charge capabilities
- May have automatic shut off
- May have a sensor that determines the amount of charging a battery needs so it switches the charging mode automatically
- May be able to detect the voltage of the battery it is charging
- May have a jump start feature or quick start feature that works like you were connecting the dead battery to an operational battery on a running vehicle
- May be controlled by knobs that you turn
Things you can do with an AGM Charger that you cannot do with a standard battery charger
There are some things that you can do with an AGM charger that you simply should never try doing with a standard battery charger.
- Charge an AGM or gel cell battery
- Charge a deep cycle battery
- Provide a continuous float charge where you can leave the battery connected to the charger with no fear that the battery will be over charged, over heated, or damaged.
Combination Battery Chargers
The main difference between the AGM battery chargers designed for AGM and Gel cell batteries, and the standard battery charger designed to be used with lead acid batteries, or flooded batteries, is the speed in which the charger charges the batteries.
Some people buy combination chargers if they have more than one type of battery that they use a charger on. The combination chargers are capable of charging many different types of batteries because they have mode switches that allow you to select the type of battery you are charging.
The differences between the AGM battery charger and the standard battery charger
- The speed in which the device supplies the charge to the battery
- The specialized features that may be found on the newer AGM battery chargers
- The ability of an AGM battery charger to be used on a deep cycle battery
- The AGM battery charger may be smaller and more compact than the standard battery charger
- AGM battery chargers are usually anti – spark battery chargers so they are considered to be safer and easier to use than the older standard battery chargers were.
The technology that has given us the absorbent glass material batteries that are less likely to spill battery acid if they are broken, and are usually smaller and lighter than the traditional lead acid batteries, has also brought to us a new style of battery charger that is smarter, easier to use, and safer to use.
The most important thing for you to do is know what type of batteries you are using, so that you are always prepared.