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Before you can confirm the advantages and disadvantages of a gel mat battery and how they will affect you, it is important to understand what gel batteries are. Gel batteries are very similar to traditional lead-acid batteries with the addition of silica to the electrolyte to create the gel like substance.
This thickening of the electrolyte means that gel batteries can be installed in different locations without emitting as much smoke.
Pro Tip: This allows for gel batteries to be used in applications where ventilation is limited.
A gel mat battery (often referred to as a gel cell battery)is a valve-regulated lead-acid battery. When the electrolyte is mixed with sulfuric acid and silica, it becomes a relatively stationary gel substance.
This gel mixture allows the battery to utilize the acid and electrolyte in the same way it would with a traditional lead-acid battery, just without additional maintenance.
– Maintenance Free: Because the batteries are comprised of gel instead of liquid, it can be guaranteed to work normally without maintenance.
– No Leaks: Even though wet cell batteries are sealed in a plastic encasement there is still the chance that it will leak. Gel batteries are also sealed but with a valve that removes excess pressure. This means that between the gel substance and the removal of pressure, the mixture has nowhere to go.
– Install Them Anywhere: Gel batteries have the advantage of being able to be used in anywhere, because they don’t leak and are generally maintenance free. This greatly increases the number of applications gel batteries can be used for.
– Minimal Risk: When damage occurs to a traditional lead-acid battery you are faced with a massive and dangerous clean up (not to mention the impact on anything the battery acid may come into contact with during the process). Gel batteries will not leak out if the casing becomes damaged, so there is a reduced risk of harm coming to the equipment and clean up hazards.
– Vibration Resistant: One of the biggest complaints about wet cell batteries is that they are very susceptible to extreme vibration and other impacts. Gel batteries absorb the impact and vibrations, making them great batteries for items such as four wheelers.
– No Fumes: Because these batteries are made of gel material, they produce very little smoke during use. This means that there is a reduced need for ventilation which increases the potential applications gel batteries can be used for, while also making them easier to charge anywhere.
– Resistant To Discharge Death: When using a wet cell battery,it is important not to over discharge the batteries. Otherwise, it will never recharge. Gel cell batteries aren’t that way. They are deep cycle batteries which means that they can discharge more and still be recharged like new.
– The Price: The benefits of gel batteries are numerous, so is the price tag. Many people who want to switch from wet batteries to gel batteries think this is the biggest disadvantage.
– Charging Challenged: When charging the gel battery, you’ll want to plan on giving it extra time. Slow charging cycles are pretty common with these batteries, but you can’t walk away and leave it. Because it’s a gel instead of a liquid you’ll need to take it off the charger as soon as it’s complete. To leave it on could cause voids with the electrolyte which is irreversible damage.
– Heat Control: This is truly a drawback with most batteries and gel cell batteries are no exception. Heat is one of the fastest ways to cut the lifespan of your battery short. By controlling the batteries exposure to heat, you can lengthen the life cycle and keep your battery running like new.