Understanding Car Batteries
Ah, yes batteries. To most a mystery and to some an essential car audio component. To know exactly what sets a standard battery apart from a performance battery can mean the difference between a light dimming, inefficient system and a head turning, top-notch system. Follow us as we explore batteries and find out exactly what you should look for in a good battery for your sound system. Who knows, you might actually learn something too!
Cranking Amps: This specification is absolutely important when looking at batteries. Basically, the cranking amps tells you how much current a battery can produce for 30 seconds at a temperature of 32° F and not have the voltage of any of the individual cells drop below 1.2 volts. This may also be known as MCA or marine cranking amps.
Cold Cranking Amps: This is similar to cranking amps but is tested at 0° F instead of 32° F. This is particularly important for vehicles that must preform and operate in very cold climates. Since the chemical reaction which produces electrical current in a battery decreases as the temperature drops, the battery will produce less current at colder temperatures (below freezing, especially). When comparing the current of two batteries, make sure there are standards to qualify the current ratings. If there is no CA or CCA, you do not know how the battery was tested and the current rating will be fundamentally useless.
Reserve Capacity: The reserve capacity will tell you the time it takes a battery to produce 25 amps at 80° F before the individual cell voltage drops below 1.75 volts.
Deep Cycle vs Standard Battery: A normal lead-acid battery will be damaged if it is completely drained even one time. A deep cycled battery is designed to withstand draining multiple times. Deep cycle batteries have more reserve capacity but less cranking amps for a given size. This makes them ideal for seasonal vehicles such as boats.
Amp Hours: This is a rating usually found on deep cycle batteries. This is a unit of measurement for battery capacity. It is obtained by multiplying a current flow in amperes by the time of discharge in hours.
Remember that a battery is like a piggy bank: If you keep withdrawing and never depositing, you will eventually have nothing. Not only will a battery be a great compliment to your sound system, but will charge more efficiently allowing you to have more reserve capacity. These high performance batteries will not leak or corrode. Which means you can go as far as park your car upside down and still be thumping!