There are cases when "bigger is better," and this seems to be one of them. The introduction of the 16-volt battery in the '90s left many wondering about its need. While many racers were taking a wait-and-see attitude, the brave few that ventured forward were seeing results. Consequently, more have taken the step to see how a change in their batteries will yield desired results.

As with any change, there are substantial questions about the effectiveness of a new idea. We went directly to the source-in this case the New Castle Battery Manufacturing Company-for answers to questions racers may have about this idea.

What type of racing battery would I need?
For the types of racing that do not require an alternator, the choice is the two-post model. If you're using an alternator and racing up to 100 laps, you can eliminate the alternator and use the two-post battery. It may also be necessary to run a step-down resistor. This can be helpful if there are components where you don't want the 16 volts to go. A 16-volt battery will produce 16.8 volts, while a 12-volt system with an alternator will produce 14 to 15 volts.

What should be checked first in the ignition before installing a 16-volt battery?
Read the plugs based on the 12-volt system. This will give you a baseline reference. If the plugs are right on or on the lean side, the engine might need to be fattened up one jet. You can eliminate the risk of burning a piston. A 16-volt system will produce a hotter spark than the 12-volt system.

If the spark is hotter, what about the plug gap?
There have been cases of customers running as much as 0.08-inch side gap. This is because of the hotter spark.

What about damage to the system with the increased volts?
We have never heard of damage to the ignitions in a racing application. The 16-volt system provides a 4-volt cushion to the ignition system, so it actually improves the performance of the system. To be on the safe side, a racer should contact the ignition supplier for its recommendations, and do the same for the remaining electrical components. The ignition supplier may have some thoughts on using the 16-volt system. Many companies are making components that are compatible with the newer technology.

How does the size of the battery compare to a standard battery?
The 16-volt battery is a standard size. It is the BCI (Battery Council International) group 24 size. It measures 10.08 inches long, by 6.39 inches wide, by 8.79 inches high.

Since weight is so important in racing, what does the battery weigh? The 16-volt battery has a wet weight of 42 pounds.

Will the battery's cold cranking amps (550) be adequate for starting the car?
By incorporating eight cells into the same dimensions as a 12-volt battery of the same size, there was a need for a thinner cell size (to make eight units fit into a space normally occupied by six). If you take the total plate surface area that is used in a 16-volt battery, you would have a deep cycle 12-volt battery with a cold crank rating of 600 amps. Remember, it's the extra voltage and not the cranking amps that will make the starter spin over faster on 16 volts as compared to 12 volts. Consequently, electrical components such as the water pump and fan also spin faster and work more efficiently.

Since most racing is done when the temperature is above 32 degrees Fahrenheit, and because many forms don't utilize an alternator, this 16-volt battery was designed to have deep cycle capabilities. Thick plates allow the battery to be discharged and recharged more than a battery with high cranking amps and thinner plates. The cold cranking amps figure is determined at zero degrees. An engine operating in a temperature of 50 degrees requires considerably less in terms of cold cranking amps.