A VRLA battery (valve-regulated lead-acid battery) is the designation for low-maintenance lead-acid rechargeable batteries. Because of their construction, VRLA batteries do not require regular addition of water to the cells. VRLA batteries are commonly further classified as: Absorbed glass mat (AGM) battery, and Gel battery (gel cell).

VRLA batteries are often colloquially called sealed lead-acid batteries, but they always include a safety pressure relief valve. As opposed to vented (also called flooded) batteries, a VRLA cannot spill its electrolyte if it is inverted. Because VRLA batteries use much less electrolyte (battery acid) than traditional lead-acid batteries, they are also occasionally referred to as an “acid-starved” design.

Technically speaking the VRLA batteries are nearly the same as compared to flooded lead acid batteries. These are really “recombinant” batteries, which means that the oxygen evolved at the positive plates will largely recombine with the hydrogen ready to evolve on the negative plates, creating water and so preventing water loss. The valve is a safety feature in case the rate of hydrogen evolution becomes dangerously high. In flooded cells, the gases escape before they have a chance to recombine, so water must be periodically added.

Advantages of VRLA Battery

One result of this design is a much higher ratio of power to “floorspace” than large, flooded type battery systems; another is a high-rate power capacity, though of relatively short duration. As a result, VRLA batteries are frequently employed in UPS (uninterruptible power supply) or other high-rate applications.