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How to get the most out of your battery

First, let’s talk about battery terminology. All batteries have ratings on them such as:


Cold Cranking Amps
Cranking Amps
Marine Cranking Amps
Reserve Capacity
Amp Hour

How many amps at 0º it will produce
How many amps at 32º it will produce
How many amps at 70º it will produce
How many minutes it will draw 25 amps
Can be rated at 5, 15, or 20 hours.

How to get the life out of your battery picture of Tom and Casey

The RC rating is real important today, as there are parasitic draws on a vehicle such as computer memories, as well as radio and other electronic devices.

The AH rating is used in deep cycle batteries like those used in your camper, RV, boats and other off-grid use. Batteries will produce more amps when warm and less when cold, so CCA rating is what you want to look for.

So how do you get the longevity out of your battery?

You need to do several things. First, keep the battery clean. Second, keep the water level up in the battery. Third, keep terminals and connectors clean. Finally, and most importantly, keep the battery charged. Batteries just sitting will discharge themselves. The rate of discharge is really small. I suggest people look at it the way they look at a dripping water faucet. It may not look like much, but put a cup under it and come back in a while to see how much is in the cup. The same thing occurs with a battery; the drain will add up.

Several things will happen when a battery is discharged. The battery will freeze and swell, which breaks case and will break plates in a battery. A battery sitting in a discharge state will start sulfation, which is a chemical reaction that adheres to the plates in the batter and causes loss of cranking amps inside the battery. 

We recommend using a battery float charger for off-season storage. If this is not possible, take the battery out, clean it up, make sure the battery is charged up and store it where it is above freezing. If you are going to leave the battery in, unhook the negative terminal as this will stop any drain coming from for the vehicle, boat, RV and off-road toys and equipment. In campers and RVs, we have found they have a propane and CO2 detector running all the time, and this drains the battery.

Here at Dakota Battery & Electric, we will ask you what you’re putting your battery in. We want to make sure we’ve putting in the correct battery for what you need. Customers ask us for the biggest cranking amp battery, but bigger is not always the best. It’s like a fuel tank. If we put a bigger fuel tank in your car, will it run better? No, it runs down the road longer before you need to refuel. Your starter in your car will not crank faster but will crank longer. In order to get more cranking amps out of the same size case, you need more plates in the battery, and that requires thinner plates. Thinner plates do not stand up to the vibration and jarring that the battery receives.

Normal battery life is around five years in most cases. Taking care of your batteries and keeping batteries charged and maintained will extend their life. When you are buying batteries, make sure you are getting the right size battery, the right cranking power, and the right RC rating. 

We’ve been in the business for over 60 years and we know batteries. Give us a call today and let us help you!

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