Upgrade the Jeep JK Charging System with an Optima Yellow-Top Battery
Deep-Cycle and Sealed Glass-Mat Designs Combine To Maximize Winching And Auxiliary Electrics
The Jeep JK Wrangler was a huge success and helped popularized the legendary brand. Electronics additions such as LED bars, winches, and exotic entertainment system emerged as some of the most popular upgrades. Those electronic upgrades can placed so much stress on a factory battery, that one of those electronic upgrades should be a premium deep-cycle glass-mat battery like the Optima Yellow-Top.
In older vehicles, adding a second battery was a common solution for keeping up with increased electrical demands. Packaging is a challenge on newer vehicles: unused space is at a premium, and many Jeepers hesitate to sacrifice cargo area to an auxiliary battery. An easier first-step solution is to upgrade the battery in the engine compartment, followed by a higher-output alternator.
Veteran Jeepers are generally aware of Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) batteries, popularized by Optima. Unlike traditional "flooded" batteries, AGM uses mats to hold the acid electrolyte in suspension. This makes Optima batteries maintenance-free, virtually spill-proof thanks to their sealed design, accept higher charge amperages, resistant to shock and vibration, and produce more power from a smaller package.
Standard batteries are designed for SLI duty: starting, lighting, and ignition. These functions typically discharge the battery less than 5 percent, primarily during starting. When the battery is cycled deeper than that level, its lifespan starts decreasing. The more a standard battery is deep-cycled, the shorter its life.
Deep-cycle batteries evolved for marine and RV applications, where the power demands routinely exceed the approximate 5-percent discharge rate required to start a vehicle. The off-road community embraced this battery style - winching and overlanding-inspired 12-volt accessories can discharge batteries by 60 percent or more. Deep-cycle batteries use internal plates that differ from standard SLIs' to better accept discharge/recharge cycles with less affect on lifespan.
For our "Week To Wheelin'" 2007 JK, an Optima Yellow-Top deep-cycle battery was a perfect charging-system upgrade to optimize performance of the winch, higher-output LED headlights and taillights, and other electrical add-ons. While the standard Optima Red-Top is an upgrade over the factory-spec battery, an extreme winching session with a standard battery revealed that a deep-cycle Yellow-Top model would allow the 12-volt add-ons to perform their best the longest. The Yellow-Top is designed to withstand more than 300 discharge/recharge cycles.
For our JK, we also discovered an Optima power upgrade. A direct-replacement Optima Group 34 size is available for the earlier 3.8L JKs like ours, but the larger, more-powerful H6 fitment for the later 3.6L Jeeps will fit first-gen JKs. The posts are reversed, but the factory cables are long enough to span the additional distance.
|OE Mopar||Optima Yellow||Optima Yellow|
|C20 Capacity||67 Ah||55 Ah||72 Ah|
|RC||120 mins.||120 mins.||140 mins.|
C20 Capacity: A measurement of the battery's electrical storage capacity.
Cranking Amps (CA): Amps a battery can deliver at 32 degrees F for 30 seconds and maintain at least 1.2 volts per cell.
Cold Cranking Amps (CCA): Amps a battery can deliver at 0 degrees F for 30 seconds and maintain at least 1.2 volts per cell.
Reserve Capacity (RC): Number of minutes a battery at 80 degrees F can be discharged at a 25-amp rate until reaching 10.5 volts and maintaining 10.5 volts.