How to choose an Optima battery

OPTIMA batteries

All automotive and marine batteries are not created equal. And the folks at OPTIMA Batteries make a pretty compelling case for their products being among the very best.

If you’re in the market for a new battery for your car, truck, SUV, Jeep, boat, or recreational vehicle, we encourage you to explore OPTIMA’s offerings.

OPTIMA manufactures RedTop, YellowTop, and BlueTop batteries—all of which are absorbed glass mat (or AGM) style batteries, and are all designed for various specific applications.

Continue reading to learn how to choose an OPTIMA battery.

The OPTIMA Difference

What makes OPTIMA batteries different?

Simple. Superior construction built with premium materials.

AGM-type batteries are OPTIMA’s answer to flooded lead acid batteries and gel batteries. Both flooded lead acid and gel batteries are comprised of positively and negatively charged lead plates suspended in sulfuric acid. Lead plates are susceptible to cracking, breakage, and in the case of lead acid batteries, spilling hazardous chemicals.

Daryl Brockman, senior sales application engineer for OPTIMA Batteries, describes the OPTIMA batteries as being constructed of extremely pure lead—99.99-percent pure—as the basis for their long life and superior performance.

“Because it’s very high purity, there is low resistance,” Brockman said. “That means we can deliver more power.”

The lead plates, rather than being suspended in a liquid or gel acid bath, are compressed and fixed firmly in place.

“That’s important from a vibration standpoint,” Brockman said. “AGM batteries will often have more power-producing capacity because of this. If you look at cranking power per pound, OPTIMA batteries are exceptional.”

What follows is designed to help you choose the OPTIMA battery best suited for your particular needs.

OPTIMA RedTop battery

OPTIMA RedTop Batteries

OPTIMA’s RedTop batteries are best suited for high-power engine cranking applications like cars with high-compression big block engines that don’t have a lot of extra accessories that require significant electrical loads, like large audio systems, winches, or high-output exterior lighting.

If your alternator has the capacity to maintain electrical equilibrium in your vehicle during regular use, the RedTop battery is recommended. The key differentiator is the amount of cranking power required, Brockman said.

“If you have a high-compression big block in your muscle car, you need every bit of starting power available to get it started,” Brockman said.

The compromise is in power-draining deep cycling applications where batteries are repeatedly being drained and recharged, he said. In these instances, OPTIMA’s YellowTop battery is the optimum choice.

Choose a RedTop if:

  • Your primary need is for high-power cranking
  • You are not running aftermarket in-car electronics or don’t have a heavy electrical load pulling from the battery

OPTIMA YellowTop battery

OPTIMA YellowTop Batteries

Drag racers, winch-using off-roading rock crawlers and low riders with power-draining subwoofers and amplifiers are the perfect candidates for OPTIMA’s YellowTop batteries. The batteries are designed specifically to handle significant electrical loads to meet your vehicle’s needs not being met by the alternator or charging system. With the YellowTop, you sacrifice a little cranking power, but the battery is built to be recharged, drained, and recharged again time after time—providing reliable starting and operating power throughout a long life. Due to its chemistry and internal make up, the YellowTop has more energy storage capacity than an equivalent starting battery. It is also more tolerant of being repeatedly discharged to a lower voltage, Brockman said.

“Think about drag racers,” he said. “A lot of those guys don’t run charging systems at all. From the time they leave the pits to the time they get back, the only time that the vehicle is running at any significant rpm is during the run.

“The alternator doesn’t make its peak output at idle. These cars have electric fans, fuel pumps—significant electrical load. The electrical needs of the vehicle aren’t being met by the charging system in a drag racing vehicle, and the difference is made up for by the battery.”

Batteries ill-equipped to handle that kind of up-and-down deep cycle usage will have a very short life, Brockman said.

Choose a YellowTop if:

  • You run key-off electronics
  • You have a high-demand audio system or multiple electronics
  • You need your battery to recover from deep power drains


OPTIMA BlueTop battery

OPTIMA BlueTop Batteries

In terms of the internal workings and design, OPTIMA’s two BlueTop battery varieties are identical to OPTIMA’s RedTop and YellowTop batteries. The BlueTop battery with the light gray case is designed for deep-cycle applications like the YellowTop, and the BlueTop battery with the dark gray case is designed for high-power engine cranking applications like the RedTop.

The significant differentiator in the BlueTop batteries is that they have automotive-type posts and male-threaded studs consistent with the needs of marine and RV applications.

Choose a BlueTop if:

  • You require deep cycling or cranking power in a marine or RV application



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Author: Matt Griswold

After a 10-year newspaper journalism career, Matt Griswold spent another decade writing about the automotive aftermarket and motorsports. He was part of the original OnAllCylinders editorial team when it launched in 2012.