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What is the difference between a deep cycle battery and a standard automotive battery? Are the two types interchangeable, or should they be used for entirely different purposes?
At LANplus, these queries stand as some of our most frequently asked questions. After all, deep cycle batteries look a lot like car batteries. Indeed, car batteries and deep cycle batteries have their similarities and differences. On the similar side, both car batteries and deep cycle batteries are lead-acid batteries, which means the chemistry behind their functionality is identical. On the difference side, car batteries and deep cycle batteries use and store their energy differently.
Typically, if you were shopping for a deep cycle battery online, you wouldn’t be looking for a battery for a standard vehicle. Most cars and trucks use conventional automotive batteries. A deep cycle battery, meanwhile, is more likely to be found in a camper/caravan, a golf cart, a boat or even a solar power system.
A car battery has a design that is optimised to deliver short bursts of high current energy. This design makes sense for anyone who has ever driven a car. The battery’s only real role is getting the engine to turn over and start. Once started, the engine doesn’t need the battery anymore. The car gets all its power from the alternator. The alternator also recharges the battery so that it regains the power used for that surge of high current energy.
This system keeps the battery from discharging more than 20% (or so) of its total energy capacity. The minimal discharge has two benefits. First, the car battery is reliable and ready to turn over the engine. Second, the car battery lasts longer because it only endures minimal strain. Thus, allowing a car battery to discharge completely leaves it unable to start the car and usually impacts its lifespan.
When you buy a deep cycle battery in Australia, you get a battery that treats its energy usage differently—even if the chemistry behind the process is the same. Where standard car batteries are designed to deliver a lot of energy in a short burst, deep cycle batteries are optimised so that they can provide a smaller, steadier current for extended lapses of time. These batteries are incapable of providing the kind of power surge needed to turn over an automotive engine. What they can do is supply power for less demanding applications—golf carts, appliances onboard a camper or boat, etc.—for extended periods. As the name implies, deep cycle batteries are also designed to discharge much more deeply than standard car batteries, which means they can usually go longer between charges.
If you didn’t know the information described above—about either car batteries or deep cycle batteries—don’t worry. Most consumers understand the basics of how batteries work but don’t know all the specific details about how their devices or vehicles are drawing energy. If you are shopping for a deep cycle battery in Australia but don’t know what to look for, LANplus is expecting your call on 03 9459 7206 if you need a little assistance.