What is a Gel Battery? AGM vs Gel Battery Comparison

Gel batteries are often a good fit for deep-discharge, critical backup power applications. But how do they compare to much more commonly-used absorbed glass mat (AGM) batteries?

AGM vs Gel Batteries

AGM and gel batteries are similar in a number of respects. Both are:

  • Sealed
  • Non-spillable
  • Non-hazardous
  • Operable in any orientation
  • Designed for deep-discharge applications.

The one major difference is the way in which the electrolyte (i.e., the acid content) is integrated between the battery plates.

As the name suggests, an AGM battery uses glass matting to wick electrolyte between the battery’s plates, while gel batteries use a silica compound that increases viscosity and suspends the electrolyte between the plates without matting.

yuasa NP7-12FR battery
NP7-12FR AGM Battery by Yuasa

Gel Batteries: Pros and Cons

This difference in design gives gel batteries a couple advantages over their AGM counterparts:

  1. On average, a longer overall lifespan, and
  2. A higher operating temperature rating.

However, gel batteries are typically much more costly, while not offering the same power capacity relative to physical size as AGM batteries.

Another drawback is how gel batteries are recharged. Slow charge cycles can reduce a gel battery’s lifespan, and the battery charger being used must be compatible with gel batteries.

In particular, once charging is complete gel batteries must be taken off charge (i.e., they cannot be kept on a constant float charge).

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