Absorbent glass mat batteries (AGM) have been a market favorite for the past few decades. At the time, they were designed to be a viable alternative to the Ni-Cad batteries, which were very costly. Though they were mainly used in military vehicles as a source of back up power and heavy vehicles such as long-distance trucks, nowadays, they have more diversified uses. In principle, the AGM batteries work like any other lead battery. However, the AGM batteries, compared to flooded batteries, have several significant improvements that make them more efficient. Additionally, just like other types of batteries in the market, they have their advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages of AGM
1. They are spill-proof
Unlike the traditional lead-acid batteries that freely flood their electrodes, AGM batteries have glass mats that prevent this. Additionally, it is the function of these glass mats to avoid spillage. Rather than absorbing the electrolyte, the glass mats work by holding the electrolyte in place, preventing it from spilling over, even when the battery is placed in odd positions.
2. They have a high-power output.
Because of the way that they are designed, the AGM batteries have minimal internal resistance. This, therefore, enables them to provide sufficient bursts of power when necessary, such as when one needs to start a battery. Due to this feature, these batteries respond better to loading than any other battery on the market.
3. They have a short charging time.
AGM batteries, compared to flooded batteries, charge quickly. When compared to flooded batteries of a similar capacity, the charging rate can reach five times faster with the same power source.
4. They have a longer lifespan
AGM batteries have a longer lifespan than traditional flooded batteries. Moreover, not only do they serve for a more extended period when they perform the same tasks, but they also last longer when they are not in active use. This is because self-discharging is minimized in these batteries, unlike other types of batteries, which is a huge problem. This ensures that one does not have to keep charging them after an extended period of inactivity.
5. They are durable.
These AGM batteries were originally designed to serve the aircraft industry. This means that they have a sturdy design, one that can handle conditions of intense vibrations, just like those in military and commercial aircraft. Because of this property, they are a favorite for high-end motorcycle riders and race car drivers. The sandwich construction method adopted in their design ensures that their internal components do not fall apart. Moreover, they are invulnerable to the subsequent wear and tear that may result from frequent and continuous vibrations. Furthermore, they can withstand extreme temperature variations.
6. They are unlikely to build up sulfation
Sulfation is the property of lead-acid batteries, where there is a gradual accumulation of lead sulfate crystals in the cells. In most cases, it is the cause of failure in lead-acid batteries. Sulfation mostly occurs when the battery is not fully charged, and thus the crystals continuously build up on the plates. When this process goes out of hand, it prevents the efficient conversion of chemical to electrical energy. Therefore, for other types of lead-acid batteries, it is essential to charge them every six months to prevent sulfation. However, in AGM batteries, sulfation is significantly reduced. Therefore, they can be stored for extended periods without needing a recharge.
Despite their many advantages, AGM batteries, just like other lead-acid batteries, also have their disadvantages. These include:
1. High production cost
Unlike the flooded batteries, AGM batteries have a higher production and manufacturing cost. However, they are still cheaper to produce than gel type batteries. Even though the cost of manufacturing these batteries has reduced since their introduction into the market in the 80s, it is still generally higher when compared to other battery types in the market. This, therefore, make them slightly expensive for use in some devices.
2. Energy issues
While these AGM batteries have a high-power output, they have a low specific energy. Generally, it is a necessity for batteries that are required to run for a long time under a moderate load to have a high specific load. This means that these batteries cannot be used on several devices.
3. Reduced capacity over time
Though AGM batteries keep a charge for a longer time than other batteries, they gradually reduce their charging capacity over time. This is unlike gel batteries that have an advantage in this sector because of their excellent performance dome.
4. They are sensitive to overcharging
These AGM batteries, compared to flooded batteries, have a low tolerance to overcharging and high voltages. If they are subjected to these conditions, it shortens their life span.
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