Aggressively Priced or Cheap?

In these economic times, recreational users often go with the cheapest, quickest solution to their immediate issue rather than looking at the long term costs of such a quick-fix.

Or, as my Daddy, would say, “People got the Quarter so close to their face, they can’t see the Dollar down the road.”

All of the latest reader concerns center around the rising cost of batteries and finding the best value when shopping for Golf Cart Batteries, RV Batteries, and Marine Batteries...

The following is an excerpt from a recent email I recently received:

“…[The Green Race Car Company] has a 6 Volt Golf Cart Battery for my boat that I use in series to make a 12 volt deep cycle bank. I noticed Powerstride Battery has a US2200 which specs out higher, but is way more expensive. Can you help me figure out which is best?”

Well, geez…I am The Battery Genius, after all...Holla!

In the case of The Green Race Car Company, they recently made some decisions about how and where their products are made that may have affected quality. Since The Green Race Car Company is waaaaaaaaay more powerful and bigger than TBG, and since I am only repeating what US Battery and their representatives has tested and said, you’ll have to make a determination on your own based on their facts… I won’t tell you which is “best”, as you asked.  I’m only telling you what is factual.

Think of me as a Joe Friday in this case – “Just the facts, ma’am.”

Keep in mind, all of the information included here is from US Battery’s own tests against a competitor product. But all of the information here was presented to The Green Race Car people – and they had no rebuttal, so…draw your own conclusions. As you have heard me say, “capacity means more power, and better technology means more life”.

What a manufacturer uses in a battery determines capacity.

How they use it determines life.

The short answer to your question is: The Green Race Car Battery is less expensive because of the way they make it. And the US Battery is more expensive because of the way they make it.

For starters, The Green Race Car Company uses a stamped lead grid in their batteries. A stamped part is, well, a sheet of lead that is stamped into shape.  USBatteryuses a more expensive cast grid. A cast part is made by pouring molten metal into a mold that has the shape of the part.

Some stamped parts have their advantages:

  • Stamping Dies are less costly and will often last for the lifetime of the part, versus Casting dies which are more expensive and may occasionally need to be replaced.
  • Per pound, material cost for Metal Stampings can be much lower, while also utilizing a stronger material.
  • The Stamping process is much quicker than the Casting process, thus greatly improving throughput with the end result being a faster on-time delivery.

The biggest drawbacks (that I am aware of) to machine stamping is quality control AND the surface of the grid is smooth and non-porous. (more on that later)

Casting benefits include:

  • castings with superior mechanical properties because the metal mold acts as a chill;
  • castings are uniform in shape and have excellent dimensional tolerances because molds are made of metal;
  • excellent surface finishes;
  • sections of the mold that can be selectively insulated or cooled, which helps control the solidification and improves overall casting properties.

But the biggest advantage to Casting is in battery manufacturing the minimal dimensional tolerances of 0.005-0.01inches.  This ensures a more consistent Grid or “plate” in your battery. But the other thing that Casting allows – is that the Cast Grid is Porous. This means that the paste actually has something to stick to…Better adhesion characteristics.

Speaking of paste, The Green Race Car Company 6 Volt Battery incorporates a low density paste material.  US Battery uses a high density paste material.

Pasting is really the “secret sauce” in a batteries performance. You see, a high density paste extends the life of your battery by giving you more total surface area and thicker active material. That translates to a much “deeper draw” – a TRUE deep cycle when you use your battery.

There are manufacturing benefits by using a lower density paste:

  • Higher plate yield per batch
  • Saves money

Next, The Green Race Car Company uses a less expensive “automotive battery” style Polyethylene envelope around their batteries’ positive grids as a separator, whereas US Battery uses a premium separator with a fiberglass mat backing.

This 20mil, glass backed design includes a sturdy “ribbing” facing the positive plate, and also smaller ribs against the negative plates to increase acid flow during charge and discharge.

As a Deep Cycle Batteries age, positive active material (PBO2) will be used up and converted to spent or (PBSO4) positive and active material. These spent materials will naturally fall to the bottom of the cell, however, the process will be accelerated during the charging process when gas bubbles form on the plate surface and cause agitation. If a positive plate has been enveloped, as in the case of The Green Race Car battery, the material is trapped on three sides with the top being the only open surface – Causing aLOTof gassing because the TOP is the only place it can escape!

Oh, and one last thing. The Green Race Car Company builds their batteries in Mexico and then brings them throughout the US to form it (fill and charge and finish). The US Battery US2200 is built and formed and finished in the USA, never leaving the factory until it’s done.

I hope that answers your question. My Daddy's point when he said, “People got the Quarter so close to their face, they can’t see the Dollar down the road" is that you may think you're saving money, until you have to replace it sooner than you thought. Consider this: You may be able to buy a CHEAPER battery... But you really could be buying a Cheaper Battery.

Still got questions? For the honest poop on your Deep Cycle Battery, call the folks at Powerstride Battery. Service for the Distance since 1926…

Aug 6th 2011 The Battery Genius

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