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Car and Truck batteries I found IN NJ with good ratings from Consumer Reports, Oct., 2006, Nov. 2007: (See consumer Reports for more details)
  Rating by BCI Group *
Brand Cost 65 34/78 75 35 24 Store
NAPA Performance Select 8465 $79 82†         Napa
NAPA Select 84xx $86   67† 66†    
NAPA Legend 7535 $60       64† 55
AutoCraft TITANIUM 65-2 $80 81† 66†       Advanced Auto parts
Duralast xx-DL $70 70†   54 63†   AutoZone
Duralast Gold 34DT-DLG $80   63       AutoZone
EverStart MAXX-xxN (North) $70   60 71†   67† Wal-Mart
EverStart MAXX-xxS (South) $74 77   44   39 Wal-Mart
AC Delco Professional 75-7YR $90     72†      
Interstate Mega-Tron Plus $90 75 63 44 49 74†  
DieHard Platinum 50090 $180   91       Sears
Optima RedTop SC34U $150   76        
DieHard Gold 330xx $90 66   48 56 40 Sears
DieHard SUV, Truck and Van
39990 (South)
$100   72      
DieHard SUV, Truck and Van
39990 (North)
$100   66      
DieHard WeatherHandler 300xx $65     53 42  
Kirkland Signature 12869 $45     48     Costco
* Battery Counsel International (BCI) Group size:
65 (most Ford corp.), 34/78 (large Chrysler, Jeep Wrangler) and 75 (midsized Chrysler) were tested in Nov. 2007; 35 (other Japanese) and 24 (Acura CL, TL, Honda Accord) were tested in Oct. 2006 CCA - Claimed CCA (Cold Cranking Amps)/ CR test results 1-5
See more on size codes below.

† - Quick Picks
CCA ranged from 540 to 880
Claimed CCA was not always correlated with actual CCA one battery had a 800 CCA but only average tested value while another with 770 CCA had the top tested value.

Deep Cycle:
These batteries are better for uses that require auxilary power over extended periods e.g. to run lights, radios, etc. on boats or Recreational Vehicles (RVs), Campers, trailers, etc.
and for hobbies such as telescope tracking motors, Radio Control planes, ..., backup power systems and solar power systems.

RC - Reserve capacity, Ah - Ampere Hour
Ah = (RC /2) + 15.5
My car battery is rated at 800 CCA, 1,000 Charging Amps and 105 RC. Trojan Battery Company
Marine Batteries Deep Cycle/Starting
(A hyprid combination of starting and deep cycle used in Boats and RVs)
Brand BCI Group Store Ah RC Cost
EverStart   WalMart 115   $69
Optima Yellow 34/78   Pep Boys   120 $200
Optima Blue 34   Pep Boys 55 120 $210
Energizer 27M 27 Pep Boys 120 180 $80
Energizer 29HM 29HM Pep Boys 125 210 $115
Kirkland 24DC 24 Costco 115   $60
Exide     180 $85
Exide Orbital
34XCD Xtreme Cycle Duty Battery
34 55 100 $190
Interstate SRM-29 29     210
Interstate SRM-4D 4DDC 390 $170
DieHard   Sears   180 $85
DieHard M-2   Sears 80 135 $80
DieHard M-3   Sears   135 $100
DieHard 29HM   Sears 115 200 $120
DieHard Platinum   Sears 100 205 $250
True Deep Cycle - Commercial
(Backup power, floor cleaning machines, wheelchairs, etc.)
Brand BCI Group Store Ah RC Cost
Trojan SCS 225 31 Solardyne.com 130   $258
Heavy Duty 31 Pep Boys (110) 195 $145
Interstate 4D-XHD 4D (160) 295 $130
Interstate 8D-MHD
Commercial
8D (240) 450 $160
Everstart   105   $65
High Capacity Deep Cycle batteries
Good for renewable energy systems because allow more charge/discharge cycles.
Sonnenschein SB12/130 (Exide)     130   $
Deka 8A31DT 31 Apex 116   $309
Deka 8A4D LTP 4D Apex 216   $571
Trojan L16H (6v)   Trojan 345-
420
  $?
Rolls 5000 6 CS 17PM (6v)   Rolls 546   $635
Rolls 5000 6 CS 25PM (6v)   Rolls 820   $1315
Golf Cart Batteries
Interstate U12VGCUTL
Golf Cart - 78 plates
    155 292 $xx
Trojan T105   Trojan 185-
225
  $?
Deka MK 8AGC2 (6v) *   Apex 200   $308
Exide E3600 (6v) *   Apex 220 390 $165
* Marine/RV Batteries typically last for 150 cycles, Deka golf cart batteries last 750 cycles and Exide last around 475 cycles. Source: Deep Cycle Batteries at SolarRay.com.

A boating forum says: "The Walmart Everstart 27DC-6 is highly rated in several boating forums in dual setups." However, forums.iboats.com has some bad reviews. Same with Optima, some love them others say since Johnson Controls bought Optima their quality has gone down.
Boaters like Trojan's for trolling motors.
Off road vehicle enthusiasts seem to like Exide Orbital.

See:
Deep Cycle Battery FAQ

Size (Group) codes:
Batteries come in all different sizes. Many have "group" sizes, which is based upon the physical size and terminal placement. It is NOT a measure of battery capacity. Typical Battery Counsel International (BCI) size codes are group U1, 24, 27, and 31. Industrial batteries are usually designated by a part number such as "FS" for floor sweeper, or "GC" for golf cart. Many batteries follow no particular code, and are just manufacturers part numbers. Other standard size codes are 4D & 8D, large industrial batteries, commonly used in solar electric systems.
Some common battery size codes used are: (ratings are approximate)
Group Amp Hours RC † Volts Size (in.) Cars ‡
L W H
Group 24 70-85 90-140 12 10 1/4 6 13/16 8 7/8 Acura CL, TL, Honda Accord
Group 27 85-105 118-162 12 12 1/16 6 13/16 8 7/8  
29HM 115 200 12 13 6 3/4 9  
34 103-110 12 10 1/4 6 13/16 7 7/8 large Chrysler, Jeep Wrangler
34/78 * 104-120 11 7 1/4 7 4/5  
35 100 12 9 1/16 6 7/8 8 7/8 other Japanese
65 130-165 12 12 1/16 7 1/2 7 9/16 Most Ford
94R 130 12 12 7/16 6 15/16 7 1/2 Chrysler 300
Side Terminal  
75 80-100 12 9 1/16 7 1/16 7 11/16 midsized Chrysler
78 110 12 10 1/4 7 1/16 7 11/16  
Deep Cycle - Marine  
24M 95-258 11 6 9/10 9 1/2  
27M 160-302 12 4/5 6 4/5 9 1/2  
Commercial  
4D 180-215 250-295 12 20 3/4 8 3/4 9 7/8  
6D 20 3/4 10 10 1/4  
8D 225-255 380-450 12 20 3/4 11 1/8 9 7/8  
31 160-190 12 13 6 4/5 9 7/16  
 
Golf cart & T-105 180 to 220 165-225 6  
L-16 340 to 415 6  
Lawn and Garden  
U1 34 to 40 35-56 12 7 3/4 5 3/16 7 5/16  
Height includes terminal

† - RC - Reserve capacity is the time a starting battery can sustain a 25 amp load before cell voltage drops to 10.2V.
Ah - Ampere Hour - A unit of measurement of a battery's electrical storage capacity. Output in Amps x hours before the battery needs recharging.
Ah is measured in 5, 20 and 100 hr. rates. Ah = (RC / 2) +15.5

‡ Cars - These are general guidelines. Check your model for the exact battery. For example some early (1970-2005) Chrysler, Mazda, Subaru and Toyotas used Group 21 batteries. A mazda miata requires a Group 51 size battery even though most others use a Group 35.

* To reduce inventory costs, dual terminal "universal" batteries that will replace several group sizes are becoming more popular and fit 75% or more of cars on the road today. 34/78 and 75/35 are the most common ones.

Sources:
www.windsun.com/Batteries/Battery_FAQ.htm
battery-usa.com
Battery Type Information

Johnson Controls (JCI) (http://www.jci.com/bg and http://www.autobatteries.com/) makes many of the common batteries, Sears Die Hard Gold, Auto Zone (Duralast Gold), Eveready, Costco (Kirkland Signature), Pep Boys (ProStart & Energizer) and Optima.
Enertec [Grupo IMSA] (Mexico), www.enermex.com/ makes EverStart (Wal-Mart) and Duralast for Johnson Controls.
Exide makes Champion, Exide, Napa, and some EverStart batteries.
See: Manufacturers & Brand Names at scoop0901.net

Comparing Deep Cycle Battery Types (www.solarray.com/TechGuides/Batteries_T.php)

Battery
Type
Cycles to
80% discharge *
Normal
Lifespan
Price per kWh
for life of battery

Price per kWh including maintenance, & installation
Marine/RV Battery
150
1 year
$0.21
$0.34
Golfcart Deka Golf Cart Battery
900
5 to 10 years
$0.07
$0.14
700
4 to 8 years
.16
$0.20
2000
9 to 20
.08
$0.09

* Cycles (to 80% Depth of Discharge) is how many times you can drain most (80%) of the energy from the battery and recharge it completely. Eventually the battery will lose its storage capacity and need to be replaced. In a normal solar system, the battery is only discharged about 10 to 20% a day, so it can last many more cycles than if it is drained totally every night (as in an Electric Vehicle).

All batteries lose strength just sitting on the shelf, so it's best to pick one no more than six months old. Most have a shipping code on the case. Some use a letter for the month ("A" for January) and a number for the year ("7" for 2007), and others use a numeric date, such as 1/07.

Battery Web Sites:
Optima Yellow
Interstate
Trojan Battery Company (Renewable Energy, Recreational Vehicle, Golf and utility vehicles, Marine)
Rolls
Exide Orbital
Exide GNB Industrial Poswer

Battery Distributors:
DC Battery Specialists
Apex
www.eBatteriesToGo.com
BatteryMart.com
Exide Specs at LaBatteries.com

Links:
Batteries in Home & Garden and Auto section.
Battery Charging
Solar Power
Power Inverters
Home Electronics Batteries
Solar Ray: Deep Cycle Batteries
Deep Cycle Battery FAQ
Apex Battery
Battery Cable size
Battery Equaliser claims to disolve existing sulphation and prevent new deposits from forming

last updated 19 May 2008