A high quality and reliable rechargeable battery is essential for powering any mobility scooter or electric wheelchair.
While both Gel and AGM are types of VRLA (Valve Regulated Lead Acid) battery, there are significant differences to be aware of and each type of battery is better suited to certain applications.
To answer why Gel is generally the battery of choice for mobility scooters and electric wheelchairs, it’s best to briefly explain the characteristics of each battery technology.
AGM battery technology
So what is AGM?
AGM is an acronym for Absorbent Glass Matting which is the material in which the electrolyte is held inside the battery. As opposed to traditional wet cell batteries, the internal construction of a AGM battery has the acid immobilised in the AGM separator which is held between positive and negative lead plates.
While AGM batteries are rechargeable, the number of charge and discharge cycles is restricted to the depth of discharge of each cycle and the conditions the battery is exposed to.
AGM batteries are primarily designed to supply power fast and for a short period of time. They are ideal of use in standby applications where energy is required due to mains power failure or there is a lack of alternative energy. These batteries have a quicker discharge rate and are not as sluggish as Gel batteries, however they do not have the cyclic ability of Gel batteries.
Finally, AGM batteries are slightly less expensive than Gel.
Gel battery technology
Gel batteries, like AGM batteries, have the acid immobilised inside the battery. However, in the Gel technology the acid is immobilised in thixotropic silicone gel. The separator used is typically a combined porous polyethylene material as well as AGM which supports the Gel between the plates. It is the combination of Gel and the separator which allows the user to obtain substantial benefits of this technology.
Whilst a Gel battery of equivalent physical size to that of an AGM battery may have a little less capacity, the cycling ability of a Gel battery allows for greater longevity in cyclic applications e.g. mobility scooters, electric wheelchairs and solar panel systems.
Additionally, Gel batteries have the ability to withstand deep discharge and recover their capacity.
Gel batteries are designed to release power slowly over a long period of time, making them perfect for cyclic applications. As mobility scooters and electric wheelchairs require a very high power demand over a long periods of time, it is easy to see that while Gel batteries are initially more expensive, they will give the user a better long term battery solution.
To wrap things up…
From the above, it is clear to see that while both technologies are VRLA, they have been manufactured with different purposes in mind;
AGM – Standby power back up
Gel – Cyclic endurance usage
Want to know more about Gel batteries?
Do you need advice choosing the correct battery for your mobility scooter or electric wheelchair? Or not sure what charger you need? The team at Valen would be happy to help.
We have extensive experience in the mobility industry. So to talk to one of our battery experts, simply click here to get in touch.