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Most Common Battery Terms and Definitions FAQ

  • What is a dry cell battery?
    A dry cell battery uses an extremely low-moisture electrolyte usually in the form of a paste, as opposed to a liquid electrolyte such as the sulfuric acid in a lead-acid battery. Dry-cell batteries include alkaline, carbon zinc, lithium, mercuric-oxide, silver-oxide and zinc-air.
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  • What is a primary battery?
    A primary battery is not rechargeable, such as household alkaline batteries. Other primary batteries include carbon-zinc, mercuric-oxide, silver-oxide and zinc-air.
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  • What is a secondary battery?
    A secondary battery is a rechargeable battery, such as lead-acid, lithium ion, lithium ion polymer, lithium iron phosphate, nickel cadmium, nickel metal hydride and nickel zinc.
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  • How do I convert Reserve Capacity to Amp Hours?

    To convert Reserve Capacity (RC) to Amp Hours (AH) you must first figure out the total Coulombs (C). To better understand the "how and why" follow the steps below.

    1. 1. Multiply the reserve capacity by 60 to convert it to seconds. For example, if a battery offers a 160-minute capacity: 160 x 60 = 9,600 seconds.
    2. 2. Multiply this length of time by 25, which is the battery's amperage. Example: 9,600 x 25 = 240,000. This is the number of coulombs of charge in the battery.
    3. 3. Divide this answer by 3,600, which is the number of coulombs in an amp-hour. Example: 240,000 / 3,600 = 66.67. This is the number of amp-hours in the battery.

    NOTE: this number should be used more or less as an estimate and not used as an exact science as each battery brand will have different resistance levels, metal alloys and production quality that will skew certain metrics in favor of a desired outcome.

    If you are in a hurry and don't care about the steps simply multiply the RC by 0.4167. If you are in a bigger hurry and want a guesstimate divide the RC by 2. The actual battery AH should fall somewhere in between these two numbers

    Look at the Drakon Group 24 battery, for example, it lists the RC at 160 and the AH at 76 vs. our calculation of 66.67AH using the multiply by 0.417 method and 80AH using the divide by 2 method.

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  • What are Cold Cranking Amps (CCA)?
    Cold crank amps – or CCA – is a measurement of the amount of power a battery can deliver for 30 seconds at 0F degrees. The higher a CCA rating, the more power a battery has to "crank" over an engine. High performance and large engines require more cold cranking amps than smaller engines.
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  • What is reserve capacity?

    Reserve Capacity (RC) indicates the amount of time a fully charged lead acid battery discharged at 25 amps will last before falling below 10.5 volts. In a perfect world this test is measured at 80F or 26.7C.

    Odyssey and NorthStar Battery are great examples of a dual purpose AGM battery with a high Reserve Capacity.

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  • What is a Coulombs?
    A Coulomb (C) is the equivalent of one ampere-second. Another way of putting it is the International System of Units (SI) unit of electric charge that flows with a constant current of one ampere during one second.
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  • What is a gel battery?
    A gel battery uses a gelled electrolyte in place of a liquified electrolyte. This reduces evaporation and spillage, resulting in less maintenance and corrosion.
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  • What is an AGM battery?
    AGM batteries are a sealed, maintenance-free lead-acid battery. AGM refers to the manufacturing method in which the electrolyte is suspended in a glass mat, as opposed to being in a liquid or gel state.
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  • What is a starting battery?
    Starting batteries are designed to turn over (crank) an engine and provide enough energy for ignition. Once the engine is started, a vehicle's electronics are powered by an alternator.
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  • What are AMP hours?
    AMP hours refer to the amount of charge or energy in a battery, similar to how much gas is in your car.
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  • What is a maintenance-free battery?
    Maintenance-free batteries do not require adding water or acid to activate or maintain. The correct amount of distilled water and sulfuric acid are added to the battery at the factory, and the battery is then sealed to prevent spillage and evaporation.
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