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Battery System

Optima vs Interstate: Which AGM Batteries Will Suit You Best?

Optima vs Interstate
Written by Nick Steiner

When it’s time for a new car battery, do you know what to choose? Optima is usually an expensive brand battery on the market over other brands. The Interstate battery is considered the traditional brand of the battery industry.

What are the differences between the two? Optima is known for being a part of motorsports and off-roading capabilities. It uses an AGM (Absorbent Glass Mat) technology, making it strong, durable, long-lasting, and practically maintenance-free.

The Interstate battery focuses on OEM (original equipment manufacturer) replacement applications. It has a time-honored cell structure but doesn’t have the same weight or durability benefits as the Optima battery.

Let’s investigate further and see what type of battery makes sense for you.

Optima: A quick overview

The Optima battery employs a progressive form of AGM (Absorbent Glass Mat) in secured cells named SpiralCells. They use 99.99% pure lead plates, and the Pureflow and SpiralCells technological advances boast more than 15 times the vibration protection (in comparison to other batteries). They are made maintenance-free and can’t be spilled without severe structural damage.

Optima’s design makes it a higher energy battery packed into a lighter weight component. Its resistance to vibrations and low weight make it ideal for marine vehicles, motorsports, and off-roading.

Interstate: A quick overview

The Interstate battery does make some AGM batteries, but they aren’t very high in quality. The traditional Interstate battery uses OEM replacement applications and performs as an original supplier to many different brands.

The warranty coverage for Interstate is usually better than most batteries overall, and there are numerous service centers allowing you easy access to replacement ones.

The design of the battery is not as dependable, lightweight, or durable as the Optima but is considered a tried-and-true option on the market.

Optima vs Interstate: How Do They Differ?

1. Battery capacity

Optima

This type of battery has 910 amperages and 720 cold crankings (able to turn on in freezing temperatures).

Interstate

This type of battery has 1000 amperages and 800 cold crankings (able to start in cold weather).

Winner

They are very close in power, although the Interstate is slightly higher in both amperages and cold crankings. It squeaks by with a win.

2. Battery life

Optima

It depends on certain conditions (like climate), but the Optima can last anywhere from 4 to 8 years; however, it doesn’t hold a charge as long as the Interstate battery.

Interstate

This battery lasts around 3 to 5 years if you take precautions like storing your vehicle indoors and not around extreme temperatures or climate changes. It also has more staying power by holding a charge longer.

Winner

Optima can last up to 2 to 3 times longer than traditional batteries like the Interstate. If you are strictly talking about how long it can hold a charge, the Interstate is the better battery. Both batteries have pros and cons, and the winner depends on what aspect of battery life you are looking for.

3. Recharge time

Optima

They have a fast-recharging time, probably since it has a smaller storage option than the Interstate battery.

Interstate

The ample storage makes this battery have longer recharging times than the Optima.

Winner

Although it occasionally has difficulty with its discharge after use (up to 2 hours sometimes), the Optima battery takes less time to charge.

4. Reliability

Optima

The Optima battery is partial to deep discharges even when your vehicle/battery is not in use.

Interstate

The Interstate can hold a charge for an extended period and has reasonable discharges when not used.

Winner

The Interstate batteries are more reliable than other batteries.

5. Notifier use of light indicator

Optima

Only a few enhanced Optimal batteries have the notifier use of a light indicator. However, using its battery tender, you can monitor the charge status and other information.

Interstate

All Interstate batteries have a notifier that uses a light indicator. It will show you what the battery is currently charged at. It also changes color while you charge it.

Winner

The Interstate battery wins this section.

6. Safety

Optima

The grid material is made from high-purity lead and is more impervious to grid degradation. This type of deterioration is internal corrosion that attacks the plates inside the battery as it ages. The design is completely sealed and prevents water loss (which can lead to plate failure and dry-out).

Interstate

All batteries have safety hazards because of the acid inside. Exposure to that may result in skin irritation and damage to the eyes and the upper respiratory system. Extreme caution and handling are advised.

Winner

The internal workings of an Optima battery provide the owner with more safety features than an Interstate battery.

7. Different Types

Optima

There are 3 different types of Optima batteries to choose from –

  • Red Top

These are starter batteries. They are acceptable for cold-starting vehicle engines. With enough charge in your battery, the ignition will turn over in less than 5 seconds. The red top is used for off-road vehicles, SUVs, trucks, and street rods.

  • Yellow Top

These are heavy-duty batteries. They are high-performance with incredible cranking power and cycling rates. It’s widely used in commercial vehicles and trucks with winches. It has excellent capacity for stereo systems and recharges very quickly.

  • Blue Top

These are RV and Marine batteries. It shares some of its components with the red and yellow tops but also differs. It’s available in a dark gray case which is advisable for starting engines alone. The light gray case variety of blue top is a deep cycle battery with immense cranking power. It’s optimal for deep cycling and starting and is 3 times the power of a standard battery. It’s durable and recharges fast, so it’s an excellent option for RVs, boats, and other water vehicles. You can also use it for things like draining other batteries.

Interstate

There are 3 different types of Interstate batteries to choose from. They include:

  • Start

Built for your motorhome or RV. They come in a variety of sizes depending on your needs. Every RV Interstate battery has a year-free replacement warranty.

  • Deep cycle

They are high-performance and come in different sizes. Many people use this type of Interstate for your RV’s house battery. That means it can power stereo systems, lights, and cooking appliances (when the engine is on or off). The flooded battery variety gives you enough voltage to power cookers, refrigerators, computers, and other high voltage electronics. It also comes with a 2-year free replacement warranty.

  • Dual-purpose

They can provide deep cycle and start power for your RVs anywhere you are. It comes in a multitude of sizes and gives out a lot of energy which is ideal for daily driving and commuting but is also ideal for your RV requirements. It comes with a 3-year free replacement warranty.

8. Different sizes

Optima

The Optima battery comes in a lot of distinct sizes. Your needs will determine what size battery will be required.

Interstate

The Interstate battery also comes in a variety of sizes. Your necessities will decide what one you will need.

Winner

Both the Optima and Interstate come in different sizes. It’s a draw for this one.

9. Easy to carry

Optima

These batteries can weigh around 43.5 pounds (depending on which one you choose).

Interstate

These batteries can weigh around 37 pounds (depending on which one you choose), but it usually comes in small and compact sizes. This makes them very easy to carry.

Winner

The Interstate batteries tend to be more portable and easier to carry.

10. Vibration resistance

Optima

They have a strong vibration resistance.

Interstate

Not as good as the Optima battery for vibration resistance.

Winner

The Optima easily wins.

11. Prone to leak

Optima

These batteries are made to be sealed completely. The only time that they seem to leak is when they are highly overcharged.

Interstate

Most traditional batteries shouldn’t leak unless they are structurally damaged or overcharged. Still, they are not immortal and have been known to leak from time to time, especially if it’s around the time to replace it.

Winner

Neither battery is prone to leakage, but the Optima is sealed completely. It takes the win.

12. Installation

Optima

If you have the know-how, it is easy to install this battery.

Interstate

If you are experienced with vehicle maintenance and batteries, installing the battery yourself is a good idea. It’s a painless task to mount and dismount it when you are done using it.

Winner

If you don’t want a professional, both can be easily mounted and installed. They do, however, have different battery locations. It will be best to look at your vehicle’s owner’s manual for the complete directions. You also need to be cautious during installation. Wearing protective gear like proper clothing, gloves, and safety glasses is a must.

13. Maintenance

Optima

It’s very straightforward to care for this battery’s maintenance.

Interstate

This battery also claims easy maintenance.

Winner

It’s a deadlock as both batteries can be maintained easily.

14. Warranty

Optima

You can tell if your battery is still under warranty by looking at the date code on the top of the battery.

Interstate

Many batteries come with a warranty. It will have a date code printed on the battery top. That way, you can tell if it’s under warranty still.

Winner

The warranty will depend on the size and type of battery you purchase. Where you buy will also be a factor. It’s a stalemate for this one.

15. Price

Optima

Optima batteries are usually available at a high-cost point.

Interstate

You can obtain cheaper batteries than the Optima options.

Winner

The Interstate batteries usually cost lower than the Optima batteries.

Optima or Interstate: What’s Best for You?

Optima or Interstate: What’s Best for You

Many professionals will argue as to what battery is better but it comes down to weighing the options available, like cost, performance output, why you need the battery, and what type of vehicle you are powering.

Both offer designs that serve distinct purposes. Interstate batteries are commonly used in motorhomes. Optima batteries can be used in RVs, boats, and conventional vehicles. Interstate is a reliable battery, whereas the Optima tends to have a high discharge rate when not used. The Optima batteries have an extended reserve capacity and high efficiency, which is excellent for a driver’s daily use.

However, Scotty has his own opinions that you cannot ignore –

FAQs

1. Can I recharge my battery while driving?

Ans: This is contingent on many factors: the battery age, temperature, drive time, and current/amps entering the battery from the alternator. Generally, proper recharging will not happen if the weather is terrible, on short trips, or if your vehicle idles for a long time.

About the author

Nick Steiner

Nick has been a car nut for his whole life as far as he can remember. His father was a car dealer who used to change and repair his cars himself. As a result, Nick had the opportunity to get around all sorts of cars and learned to get his hands dirty repairing vehicles from an early age.

Nick is a great fan of Japanese quality and German preciosity. His deep passion lies in older models that he believes have a flair that takes him back to his childhood. He also loves their durability and reliability when compared to the modern models.

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