What is the difference between the Starter Battery and Deep Cycle Battery?

Automotive batteries are typically of ‘lead acid’ construction (lead, lead compounds and acid being the main electrical power producing components) and can be divided into two main groups ‘Starter batteries’ and ‘Deep Cycle batteries’.

The main purposes of starter batteries are to:

  • Supply power to the starter and ignition system.
  • Supply power to lights, radio etc when the engine is not running, or to supply power when the vehicle electrical load exceeds the capability of the vehicle charging system.
  • Act as a stabilizer in the vehicle electrical system by absorbing voltage spikes caused by the system thereby providing important protection for sensitive components in the electrical system.

Whereas starter batteries are intended to be maintained in a relatively high state of charge by the vehicle charging system, Deep Cycle batteries are designed to cycle between fully charged and various depths of discharge. Starter batteries do not typically cope well in ‘cycling’ applications leading to vastly reduced service life. Conversely, Deep Cycle batteries are less efficient at providing high bursts of power for engine starting and are best confined to longer slower discharges except in starting emergencies.

The main uses for deep cycle batteries are to:

  • Provide accessories power for caravans, 4WD’s, boats etc in the absence of mains power
  • Provide power for electric vehicles such as golf carts, motorised mobility aids, floor sweepers etc.

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