When your car or truck won’t start because of a dead battery, it’s time to head to the part’s store. However, upon your arrival, you’re faced with many different options. All of the batteries there show different credentials such as cranking amps, cold cranking amps, weight, and reserve capacity. But which of these are the most important?
I reached out to Jim McIlvaine at OPTIMA Batteries to get his professional opinion on this and here’s what he had to say. “One point I’ve been sharing with a lot of folks lately is that when they are battery shopping, the weight makes a difference,” Jim said. “For decades, battery companies have been touting cold cranking amps and while that can offer an apples-to-apples comparison between brands and manufacturers, it is really an outdated specification for evaluating a battery.”
I thought cold-cranking amps was the go-to spec to pay attention to. Jim explained that CCA’s are measured for 30-seconds at 0-degrees, which is a scenario that almost no modern vehicle will ever encounter in terms of temperature or time it takes to start an engine. “Most vehicles on the road today require a specific-size battery or batteries. Almost all of the choices in that size will deliver the required CCAs for that engine to start, at least when the battery is new,” Jim said.
“What an increasing number of vehicles on the road today need to be concerned with, is how much reserve capacity a battery has, either because of how car owner uses the vehicle (listening to music or watching videos with the engine off) or how they don’t use it (sitting for extended periods of time),” Jim explained.
Here’s an example. Take a 1992 Chevrolet 454 SS pickup truck and it will start all day long with a traditional Group 75/25 OPTIMA REDTOP battery. That battery is a 720-CCA, 33-pound battery. Fast forward to 2017, it doesn’t matter what engine is in your pickup truck anymore. Even with a small V6 engine, the minimum battery required is an H6. When talking about the OPTIMA YELLOW TOP DH6, it tips the scale at roughly 54-pounds and is rated at 800 CCAs.
The V6 isn’t a high-performance engine that requires exponentially more cranking power than a 454-powered truck does, it’s about the reserve capacity the newer batteries are capable of delivering. “It’s not a coincidence that the OPTIMA H6 YELLOWTOP is 63-percent heavier and offers 63-percent more Ah than the 75/25 REDTOP. That is what modern vehicles really need,” Jim said.
Some battery brands often try to confuse consumers with proprietary ratings with their own variations of measuring cranking amps, but oftentimes, the weight is where the results lie. “The external dimensions of the battery, like an H6 or H7, are the same, regardless of who manufactures it. Even though our SPIRALCELL batteries have a unique design, they still can’t exceed the length, width, or height of their respective group size,” Jim explained.
Regardless of what specifications a battery brand may brag about, the weight of a battery will often provide a strong correlation with the reserve capacity of that battery and provide consumers with an apples-to-apples comparison. At that point, consumers have to ask if the size of the box is the same, why does one weigh so much more than the other. Pure lead, more of it, and cast straps instead of weaker tombstone welds are the reasons why OPTIMA batteries often outweigh the competition…at least in the flat-plate battery market. – Jim McIlvaine
What Is the OPTIMA Difference?
The SPRIALCELL batteries feature pure lead and cast straps that help them perform better and longer, but newer vehicles have become so demanding of batteries, OPTIMA simply couldn’t put enough active material into the dimensional constraints of some popular battery sizes. So, the sizes that can still utilize the famous SPRIALCELL construction, continue to do so.
“While this may sound like I’m suggesting OPTIMA SPIRALCELL batteries are a thing of the past, they are not. Pound for pound, they still provide great cranking power and reserve capacity, when compared to many other batteries on the market, and in some cases, they are still heavier,” Jim said. They have features that result in great performance.
What about the sizes that can’t fit within the size constraints? OPTIMA uses its flat-plate PUREFLOW design. Either way, regardless of its construction, OPTIMA batteries use 99.99-percent pure virgin lead and robust cast straps to connect the cells. The new PUREFLOW has been engineered with 99.99% pure lead, highly compressed radial grids, and a direct-path cast-on strap to deliver robust power, extreme recharge, and unsurpassed performance.
For more information about OPTIMA Batteries, head on over to the company website. What battery do you use in your vehicles? What ratings did you normally look at prior to purchase? Let us know in the comments below.