This article will explore the factors affecting battery price and how you can get the best one at the most affordable price.
Factors That Affect Battery Price
Before we delve into this topic deeper, here is a simple list of the factors that affect battery cost and the topics we will explore in this article:
- Type of technology
- Battery purpose
- Battery design
- Manufacturing date
- Country of manufacture
- Customer reviews
Let’s explore these topics a little further to understand better how battery price affects your battery’s quality and longevity.
Type of Technology
Battery technology continues to evolve, and new batteries are designed to be more efficient, more durable, and have a longer life than older flooded lead-acid type batteries. Here is a brief explanation of some of the more common types of batteries on the market today and how they will affect price and quality.
- Lead-acid flooded. Until recently, a majority of the batteries found on the market were this type of battery. These are also called wet cell batteries. This technology uses lead plates submerged in acid to produce a charge. In older batteries, you had to continually check the battery’s fluid levels to ensure the plates were completely covered to preserve the battery’s power. Now, many of them are sealed and have vents, which eliminates the need to do this.
When it comes to price, these batteries are lower-priced than the other options, but they also have a shorter battery life and are a little more finicky when it comes to harsh conditions like extreme temperatures and vibration. Some older batteries tend to freeze, which can damage the battery permanently. This is not a problem with newer technology, but if you are looking for a cheap battery, this might be a good option for your needs.
- Absorbent glass mat (AGM) is a little newer type of battery on the market, but has been around for quite some time. These are also sometimes referred to as dry cell batteries. They are an advancement over flooded batteries, but they operate on the same principle. Both flooded and AGM batteries produce power through a chemical reaction between the lead plates and battery acid.
This battery uses an absorbent glass material to hold the battery acid, creating better contact with the plates. This also means there is little or no free flowing battery acid to worry about. AGM batteries are spill-proof and maintenance-free. The acid has better contact with the lead plates, which allow them to produce more power and have a longer life. They are more stable for high vibration and extreme temperature conditions, but you will also pay a little higher price than traditional lead-acid flooded type batteries. This is a highly competitive battery market and you can find AGM batteries at a price similar to the higher-end flooded batteries.
- Gel batteries are similar to flooded and AGM batteries, but instead of a liquid, the acid is in the form of a gel or thick paste. They are maintenance-free, spill-proof, and allow excellent contact between the acid and the lead plates. They are a popular choice for this reason, but you can expect to pay a higher price as a result.
- LIFEPO4 stands for Lithium Ion Phosphate and is a battery type that has recently become popular for high-performance vehicles. They come with longer warranties, and as you can expect, you will pay for this quality and performance. They are the choice for emergency vehicles and for situations where reliability and performance are the main concern.
The purpose of the battery will also affect its price. Batteries fall into three different categories are appropriate for different purposes. Let’s explore how the type of battery will affect its cost.
- Starting-Lighting-Ignition (SLI). This is the most common type of battery, and it is designed to deliver a majority of its power in a short burst to the vehicle start. Once it delivers its burst of power, the alternator quickly steps in to recharge it. Several things can affect this battery’s life, including discharging it to low levels frequently, temperature, and long-term storage without charging. This is the least expensive type of battery, and unless the battery indicates otherwise, most passenger car batteries are of this type.
- Deep Cycle batteries are designed to release their charge at a slower rate and over a longer period. They are designed for vehicles to support a heavy electronics load, and they are also used for marine purposes. While most of them have enough power to start the car, they may not have as many cold cranking amps as SLI batteries. They have a longer life, and they are typically in the middle of the price range between SLI and dual-purpose batteries.
- Dual-Purpose batteries are a popular choice because many of them have a balance between starting capability and deep cycle use. They use a combination of thick and thin plate technology allows them to strike a balance between fast discharge and deep cycle capability. This type of battery is perfect for today’s electronic-heavy vehicles, and you can expect to pay a premium price for them.
Battery specifications are another factor that affects the cost. You can expect to pay more for a battery with more cold-cranking amps, higher amp-hours, a longer warranty, and different types of connectors. For instance, you can expect to pay more for one with two types of connectors than for only a single type of battery post.
Battery size and BCI battery group also affect the cost of the battery. If you have a heavy-duty vehicle that requires a larger, more powerful battery, you can expect to pay more for it than for a common passenger car battery. Aside from the BCI group and the purpose of battery, the battery’s physical size will affect price. Many times, physically larger batteries can deliver more power than smaller ones because they have larger plates and more acid. You can expect to pay for this additional power.
Battery manufacturers include additional features that will drive up the price but might make the battery more useful for your purposes. Batteries that require maintenance, for example, lead-acid flooded batteries, will be less expensive than maintenance-free ones. The type of post and case materials will also affect the price of the battery. Some batteries include features like a charge control indicator or overcharge protection, and you can expect to pay more for these features.
If you find a too-good-to-be-true deal for a battery online, make sure you know the manufacturing date. As batteries age they experience something known as self-discharge even if they are not in a vehicle. This means the battery slowly loses its power if it is not charged regularly. Batteries are meant to be used, and one that has been sitting on a warehouse shelf might be almost dead when you buy it. This is especially true for SLI batteries, which don’t have the best reputation for long-term storage. Sometimes, you will find batteries offered at a deep discount because they are near the end of their warranty, or the supplier might know they have been stored in improper conditions or stored over a long time. This is a case where cheaper might be a warning.
As with any other item, name brand also affects price. You can expect to pay more for Odyssey, Optima Yellow Top, Weize, and Dakota. Just because the battery is a good brand and is expensive does not necessarily mean that it will last a long time. How you use it, how it has been stored, and other factors can affect battery life, but these battery brands are the most expensive for a reason.
Some of the more expensive brands use advanced technology, such as spiral cell technology, or other design features that increase the battery’s life and make them more reliable. Some of the least expensive battery brands include ACDelco, Delphi, Autocraft, and Everstart, but this does not necessarily mean that they are inferior. You can still find a good battery made by less expensive manufacturers.
Country of Manufacture
The country of manufacture also affects the price of the battery. Some batteries made in other countries, like China, are less expensive than those made in the United States. You should understand something about the quality control and design in this particular country to make a good decision. Sometimes, you will pay a higher price for a cheaper battery because you pay for export and shipping costs to the United States. In this case, you are paying a premium for an otherwise inexpensive battery.
Popularity and Customer Reviews
The world of batteries is like any other retail market. Battery companies know that they can charge more for a battery with good reviews than a battery with lower reviews, even if it’s cheaper. Reading reviews is an excellent way to get an idea of real customer experience and how a battery might perform for you, regardless of its price.
Final Tips and Tricks for Buying a Car Battery
The battery’s weight can be an indicator of quality. A heavier battery has more or thicker places, a more durable casing, and other materials.
Average Cost of New Car Battery Replacement
When you know factors affecting battery cost, the next thing you might want to know is, how much does a new car battery replacement cost on average? Batteries come in a range of prices. Here are a few examples from low, middle, and high-end battery price ranges to give you an idea of what to expect.
- Interstate 12V 35AH AGM Deep Cycle: $90
- ACDelco ACDB24R AGM Group 51: $170
- Optima Red Top SLI AGM: $200
- XS Power D3400 XS Series 12V 3,300 AMP AGM: $318
- Deka Intimidator 9AGM40 AGM: $248
- Kinetik 12V 3800W High-Current AGM: $492
- Ampere Time 24V LIFEPO4 Deep Cycle, 4,000+ cycle: $1,400
- Weize LIFEPO4 12V 100AH Deep Cycle 7,000+ cycle: $600
- FXnn LIFEPO4 12V 40AH: $968
Have you enjoyed this exploration of battery prices? Hopefully, now you understand a little bit more about how to choose a battery that meets your needs and how to choose one at an affordable price. It is important to always consult your owner’s manual before choosing a battery, but now, you have some ideas of where to begin. Price is not always the best indicator of quality or for which battery is right for you. If you enjoyed this article and learned something from it, feel free to leave a comment, and share it with others, too.
Eric Strong works in the automotive repair industry more than 12 years. His work included repairing electrical systems in various vehicle systems. A hybrid electric car battery replacement experience expanded his understanding of automotive battery technology.