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Battery Terms Glossary

Battery Sharks offers a glossary to frequently used battery terms terminology. In this article you will find the battery terms and definitions associated with purchasing a battery.

Capital A - English AlphabetAGM (Absorbent Glass Mat)

  • A type of non-woven separator material composed mostly consists of glass microfibers absorbing and retaining the electrolyte. Therefore, leaving no free electrolyte in the cell to spill.

Amp (Ampere)

  • this is an electrical current measuring unit. Basically, 1 Amp is the amount of current produced by an electromotive force of one volt acting through the resistance of one ohm. The abbreviation for Amp is A but small currents are measured in milli-Amps (mAh).

Amp Hour (Ah; Ampere-Hour)

  • A unit measuring the electrical storage capacity of a battery. In other words, this is the current multiplied by time in hours give us the Ah. We must mention that 1 Ah = 1,000 mAh.

Capital B - English Alphabet


  • An electrochemical device used for energy storage. Usually, the term applies to a group of two or more electric cells connected together. The term “battery” is also applied to a single cell, such as AA battery.

Battery Capacity

  • The electric output of a cell or battery on a service test delivered before the cell reaches a specified final electrical condition and may be expressed in ampere-hours, watt- hours, or similar units. The capacity in watt-hours is equal to the capacity in ampere-hours multiplied by the battery voltage.
  • The electrical output of a cell or battery on a service test delivered before the cell reaches a specified final electrical condition and may be expressed in ampere-hours, watt-hours or other, similar units. The capacity (C) in watt-hours (Wh) is equal to the capacity multiplied by the voltage (V) of the battery in ampere-hours (Ah).

BCI Group

  • The Battery Council International (BCI) Group Number groups different part numbers from different brands under one group based on the following characteristics:
  • (a) dimensions (L x W x H),
  • (b) voltage (6V or 12V),
  • (c) polarity (right-hand front positive, left-hand front positive, etc.),
  • (d) type terminals (top, side, “L”, etc.).

The BCI Group Number does not designate a battery’s capacity; it only defines the aforementioned characteristics.

Capital C - English Alphabet


  • The capacity of a battery is a proportion of the measure of energy that it can convey in a single discharge. Battery capacity is known as amp-hours (Ah), milli amp-hours (mAh) or as watt-hours (Wh).


  • An electrochemical device, made of positive and negative plates as well as electrolyte, which is fit for electrical energy storage.


  • The transformation of electric energy, provided in the form of a current, into chemical energy within the battery.


  • The process of providing electrical energy for conversion to be stored as chemical energy.

Cold Cranking Amp (CCA)

  • This is the rating utilized to characterize a battery’s ability to start an engine in cold temperatures. It is the number of amps a top-charged battery can deliver at 0°F for 30 seconds, while holding a voltage of at least 7.2 volts for a 12-volt battery. The higher the CCA, the higher is the starting power of the battery.


  • This is the chemical reaction usually between a metal, and its environment that produces deterioration of the material and its properties. Also, battery terminals are subject to corrosion if they are not properly maintained.


  • This is the full sequence of charge and discharge.

Cycle Life

  • For rechargeable batteries, the total number of charge/discharges cycles the cell can deliver before its capacity is significantly reduced. End of life is usually considered to be reached when the cell or battery delivers only 80% of rated ampere- hour capacity. The cycle of a battery is greatly influenced by the method of recharging.

Capital D - English Alphabet

Deep Cycle

  • A cycle in which the discharge is continued until the battery reaches its cut-off voltage, which is usually at 80% of discharge.



  • The conversion of the chemical energy of the battery into electric energy.

Dry Cell

  • A primary cell in which the electrolyte is absorbed and restrained from flowing. The term “dry cell” is usually referred to the common commercial type.

Capital E - English AlphabetElectrolyte

  • A chemical compound which, when fused or dissolved in certain solvents, will conduct an electric current.


Capital G - English AlphabetGEL

  • Electrolyte that has been immobilized by the addition of a chemical agent, normally fine silica, to prevent spillage. Batteries made with gelled electrolyte are often referred to as GEL batteries.


Capital L - English AlphabetLead-Acid Battery

  • Battery made up of plates, lead and lead oxide (various other elements are used to change density, hardness, porosity, etc.) with a 35 percent sulfuric acid and 65 percent water solution. This solution is called electrolyte, which causes a chemical reaction that produces electrons.

Load Tester

  • An instrument that draws current (discharges) from a battery using an electrical load while measuring voltage. It determines the battery’s ability to perform under actual discharge conditions.

Capital M - English AlphabetMaintenance-Free Battery

  • A battery that doesn’t require for acid or water to be added.

Memory Effect

  • A phenomenon in which a cell, operated in successive cycles to less than full, depth of discharge, temporarily loses the remainder of its capacity at normal voltage levels (usually applies only to Ni-Cd cells). Note, memory effect can be induced in NiCd cells even if the level of discharge is not the same during each cycle. Memory effect is reversable.

MCA (Marine)

  • MCA is an industry rating defining a marine battery’s ability to deliver a large amount of amperage over a short period of time. The rating is the number of amps that can be removed from a marine battery at 32°F for 30 seconds while maintaining a voltage of at least 7.2 volts for a 12-volt battery. The higher the MCA rating, the greater the starting power of the marine battery.

Capital N - English AlphabetNegative Terminal

  • The terminal of a battery from which electrons flow in the external circuit when the cell discharges. See Positive Terminal.

Nominal Voltage

  • Voltage of a fully charged cell while delivering rated current.

Capital P - English AlphabetParallel Connection 

  • Interconnecting cells or batteries by joining all like terminals which doubles battery amp hours/run time & cca (cold cranking amps).


  • Refers to the charges residing at the terminals of a battery.

Positive Terminal

  • The terminal of a battery toward which electrons flow through the external circuit when the cell discharges.

Capital R - English AlphabetRated Capacity

  • The number of ampere-hours a cell can deliver under specific conditions (rate of discharge, end voltage, temperature); usually the manufacturer’s rating.

Reserve Capacity

  • The capacity of a battery, measured in minutes, to keep a vehicle operating if the charging system fails.

Capital S - English AlphabetShelf Life

  • For a dry cell, this is the period of time (measured from date of manufacture), at a storage temperature of 69F, after which the cell retains a specified percentage (usually 90%) of its original energy content.

Starting, Lighting, Ignition (SLI) Battery

  • A type of rechargeable battery that supplies electric energy to an automobile to power the starter motor, the lights and the ignition system of a vehicle’s engine.


  • The generation of the lead sulfate in the plates to a state that resists normal recharge. It usually develops when a battery is stored or cycled in a partially discharged state at warm temperatures.

Capital T - English AlphabetTerminals

  • The external metal prongs of a battery to which the external electric circuit is connected.

Trickle Charging

  • A method of recharging in which a secondary cell is either continuously or intermittently connected to a constant-current supply that maintains the cell in fully charged condition.

Capital V - English AlphabetVent

  • A sealed mechanism that allows for the controlled escape of gases from within a cell.


  • The unit of measurement of electromotive force, or difference of potential, which will cause a current of one ampere to flow through a resistance of one ohm.


  • Valve-regulated lead-acid battery. AGM and gel are the two types of VRLA batteries. VRLA batteries feature vents. These low-pressure burp valves prohibit air ingress to the cell while permitting gases to vent from the cell if necessary.

Capital W - English AlphabetWatt

  • This is the measurement of the total power. In other words, it is Amps x Volts.


Wet Cell

  • A cell, the electrolyte of which is in liquid form and free to flow and move.



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