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.

You have mentioned a need for a resistor. What would be the occasion for using the resistor?
Older components may not be compatible with the modern technology. Since the battery was introduced more than 10 years ago and has become a part of the racing scene, many of the component manufacturers have modified their components to be compatible with the 16-volt idea. If a component has a 12volt/16volt designation, there should be no issue with 16 volts.

This cannot be stressed enough. Contact the manufacturer of the product if there is any doubt. Their professional opinion will serve you well and insure that you get the best performance.

Can you use the three-post model instead of the resistor, and the two-post battery for the 12-volt components?
It is recommended that the two-post battery be used with the resistor in applications that do not use an alternator. Using the three-post battery without the "boost box" and a 12-volt alternator can result in a cell imbalance.

If you use the three-post battery and a boost box with a 12-volt alternator, what components will have to be run on 16 volts?
The ignition and starter should be run on 16 volts. These are the primary components that benefit from the system. All other components should be run on 12 volts. With the exception of the starter, not more than 15 amps should be placed on the 16-volt side in the three-post side of a three-post with boost box application.

Will 16 volts hurt my gauges?
While there haven't been any known instances, a concerned racer can use a resistor with the two-post battery, or you can hook the component to the 12-volt post on the three-post battery. Some lights may be brighter, but they will not be detrimentally affected. During testing phases, computers will work fine on the 16 volts. However, you shouldn't have the charger plugged in and charging while trying to download or print. Basically, 20 volts will be going into the system and could affect the printing operation.

Can I charge the battery while servicing the car in the pits?
There are only three circumstances that would prevent you from charging the battery in the pits:

1. If you attempt to charge the battery while printing out from a computer, you will get a haywire graph printout.

2. If you are bumping over the engine when adjusting the valves, this will cause the charger to surge and can blow out the circuit board in the charger. The charger is constantly sensing the voltage and adjusting it during charging. When you bump the engine over, this causes the voltage in the battery to immediately drop, signaling the charger to increase the amperage immediately. This results in damage to the circuit board.

3. If you are warming up the engine, this procedure will also lead to the same type of damage listed under number 2.

Can I leave the charger on overnight?
Yes. All of the chargers are fully automatic. When the battery has reached full charge, the charger will either shut off completely or provide a float charge of less than one amp. Using the 25-amp charger, a fully discharged battery will need a full overnight charge. Chargers should not be left on the battery for more than 24 hours.

Where should the acid level be within the cells?
The acid level should be no more than 1/4 inch above the lead plates. These plates are visible when you look into the cell. If the cells are overfilled, the excess fluid in one cell can work its way up into the manifold venting system of the battery and drain into the other cells. If enough excess fluid completely fills two cells of the battery, there is a chance of those cells failing because of the mixture. When acid is allowed to flow freely between two cells of a lead acid battery, the two cells will cancel each other out. Their failure to produce voltage will affect the battery's performance. A container incorporated within the venting system will fill up with the excess fluid in the case of overfilling. You will also notice the battery becoming wet on top and around the cell plugs if it is overfilled.

What is cell imbalance and why does it only happen in a three-post battery?
Cell imbalance occurs when two different amperages are pulled from the positive posts of a three-post battery (not used with a boost box or 12-volt alternator system). The cells with the higher amperage draw will discharge faster. Any components connected to 16 volts, regardless of their amp draw, will discharge all eight cells equally. If a boost box and a 12-volt alternator are not used, additional amperage draw at the 12-volt positive post will cause the six cells on the 12-volt side of the battery to discharge faster than the two additional cells that make up the 16-volt side. This imbalance results in the six cells becoming discharged and the remaining two cells becoming overcharged.

A 12-volt charger hooked up to the 12-volt post and the negative post will recharge the discharged 12-volt side. Periodic hydrometer readings should be done to make sure the 12-volt side is maintaining an equal state of charge to the 16-volt side. If the 12-volt side has a lower state of charge, this side must be fully charged.

If a racer runs a three-post, 16-volt battery without an alternator and boost box, the imbalance problem can be reduced by running as many components as possible (fans, pumps) on the 16-volt side. The 12-volt post can be used for components that don't benefit from 16 volts. It is recommended that any racer using a 16-volt, three-post battery should check the cell gravities in all cells to make sure the eight cells are equal. A three-post, 16-volt battery used without a boost box will have to be charged with a 16-volt charger.

What is the life of the battery?
The batteries have lasted well past three seasons of use. Some customers have reported four seasons with proper maintenance.

Try Dry
TurboStart has recently developed the valve-regulated 16-volt battery to accompany the "flooded cell" design. The new AGM series (Absorbent Glass Mat) is shipped fully charged and ready to install. This battery has an additional 100 cranking amps and five more minutes of reserve power, but weighs the same as the flooded design.

The acid required in the AGM series is totally absorbed into the separator, making the battery leakproof and spillproof. The sponge-like qualities of the separator hold the acid against the plates. To achieve the 95 percent or higher acid saturation rate, the battery cell is compressed 20 percent, then inserted into the container. The compressed cell technology increases vibration resistance.

The sealed maintenance-free design is accomplished by using a pressure release valve in each of the cells. Unlike a traditional flooded cell battery, most of the hydrogen and oxygen given off during charging remains inside the AGM series design. The two components recombine into water, making the battery maintenance free.

Because the acid is totally absorbed into the separator, the AGM series battery can be mounted in any direction.

SOURCE
New Castle Battery/TurboStart
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