AAPEX Workshop Recap: AGM

January 1, 2023

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Whether for work or for play, consumers are increasingly looking for more fuel-efficient vehicles with fewer carbon emissions. They also want vehicles decked out with safety features and improved functionality — from connecting to smartphones to detecting nearby obstacles. With all of these features, there’s more strain put on the car’s battery. That’s where AGM batteries come into play.

Continental Battery Systems was pleased to welcome battery partner Clarios to our booth at the 2022 Automotive Aftermarket Products Expo (AAPEX). Clarios representatives presented a workshop exploring the increasing demand for more advanced batteries, projected growth, benefits and more to help consumers determine whether an AGM battery is right for their needs.

In this blog post, we’ll provide a high-level overview of the workshop and offer insights into the power of AGM. 

What Is an AGM Battery?

AGM stands for “absorbent glass mat.” An AGM battery is specifically designed to power electronics for long periods of time thanks to a higher voltage output than traditional batteries. AGM batteries have become increasingly popular for all types of vehicles, from cars and SUVs to golf carts, trucks, and RV applications like boats or powersport vehicles. Electric vehicles (EV) and hybrid vehicles also need the power offered by AGM to handle their increased electrical loads.

AGM batteries have been around since the late 1970s, but they are more popular in many types of vehicles today. Consumers now want their vehicles to do a lot more than cars used to have capability for. Backup cameras and built-in navigational systems require power, as do heated seats, Bluetooth connection and lane-keep assist. Consumers want to know that a vehicle battery can adequately and reliably power all of these functions and more.

AGM batteries are necessary for supporting these increased electrical loads, even in harsh temperatures and weather conditions. Not only that, but electrical vehicles need these batteries for proper, safe and reliable functionality.

How Does an AGM Battery Work?

Before we can understand how the AGM battery works, we need to review how a traditional flooded battery works. A flooded battery contains lead plates divided by separators, which — along with an electrolyte — are all contained inside a solid casing. In a flooded battery, the electrolyte is liquid sulfuric acid. The electrolyte creates a chemical reaction with positive or negative materials on the lead plates to create electricity.

With an AGM battery, the setup is similar, but the electrolyte is absorbed into the separators, which are made of fiberglass. The electrolyte is stored dry. The fiberglass separators allow manufacturers to fit more lead plates into the battery, which in turn can provide more power to sustain higher electrical loads.

AGM Benefits

Not every vehicle needs an AGM, but these batteries have many benefits for everyday and recreational vehicles.

Performance. AGM batteries are made for higher voltage output, so consumers can quickly and easily start up their vehicles and get on the road (or water) while also powering up phone connections, lane-assist technology and other functions that require energy.

Stability. An AGM battery is reliable and remains stable under higher loads (discharge) and cycling. Because the electrolyte is stored dry, there are no issues with acid stratification (where the sulfuric acid becomes concentrated at the base of the battery and creates lead sulfate buildup, reducing battery capacity). AGM batteries also offer stable performance in partial state of charge (PSoC), when the batteries are frequently left not fully charged.

Safety. AGM batteries are non-spillable and can be mounted in any direction (even upside-down). This flexibility means AGM batteries will not expel free acid in the event of a crash. 

Sustainability. From reducing fuel and emissions to their high recyclability, AGM batteries are great for anyone who cares about battery sustainability. AGM batteries support start-stop functionality, which improves fuel economy for vehicles. AGM batteries — combined with cars that have start-stop functionality — can reduce fuel consumption (and fuel costs) by 5%. In EVs, these batteries are powering low- or zero-emissions vehicles. 

As an added sustainability benefit, AGM batteries have a 98% recycling rate and are one of the most-recovered products in the world.

Longevity. An AGM battery can start up an engine about 60,000 times, about two to three times more than a traditional flooded battery. An AGM battery lasts an average of 7 years, while flooded batteries may need to be replaced about every 3 years.

AGM Use Cases

Use of AGM batteries is on the rise for various vehicle types, and they can come in handy for everything from work trucks and personal cars to boats and RVs.

AGM Car Batteries. AGMs are useful in all types of vehicles on the road today, especially modern cars that have all the bells and whistles. For consumers who want cars with smartphone connectivity, added safety features and start-stop functionality for fuel efficiency, an AGM can power all that and more.

With updated federal tax credits for electric vehicles, AGMs will be of interest to anyone planning to switch to an electric sedan, SUV or truck. These vehicles need the high voltage supplied by AGM batteries to power electric motors plus all the electrical car functions.

AGM Marine Batteries. The absorbent mats in AGM batteries makes them better suited to withstand vibrations. Plus, these batteries are spill-proof and resistant to extreme weather for long periods of time. That makes them ideal for marine vehicles. They last a long time, so they need to be replaced less frequently than flooded batteries, and the low self-discharge rate of AGMs means they’ll stay charged up while stored away for long periods of time.

AGM RV Batteries. Like in marine applications, AGMs are suitable for RVs because of their shock and vibration resistance. With the dry electrolyte, there’s no concern about the angle or positioning of the battery, so it can suit many types of RVs. Many consumers leave their RV parked for long periods of time, but with the low self-discharge rate, there’s less risk of hopping in the vehicle for an adventure only to find it won’t start. These batteries have minimal corrosion risk and require very little maintenance, too.

AGM vs. EFB

An enhanced flooded battery (EFB) has its own benefits over a traditional flooded battery. This type of battery has a polyfleece material that lines the lead plates to improve the flow of power. These batteries are good for vehicles with start-stop functionality and will last up to 6 years.

AGM batteries offer even more benefits, including better performance and durability, compared to EFBs. AGM batteries tend to be a higher upfront cost, but they typically last longer and provide more electrical power.

Read more: AGM vs. EFB, What’s the Difference?

Find the Best Battery For You

AGMs in operation are expected to grow to over 102 million by 2026. As interest increases in vehicles with more robust features, smart technology and electric motors, people are looking for batteries that are safer, more reliable and more sustainable for all of their vehicles — whether on the road or in the water.