Lead-acid batteries are the oldest type of rechargeable battery. Despite having a very low energy-to-weight ratio and a low energy-to-volume ratio, their ability to supply high surge currents means that the cells maintain a relatively large power-to-weight ratio. These features, along with their low cost, make them attractive for use in motor vehicles to provide the high current required by automobile starter motors.

Lead-Acid Battery Applications

Wet cell stand-by (stationary) batteries designed for deep discharge are commonly used in large backup power supplies for telephone and computer centers, grid energy storage, and off-grid household electric power systems. Lead-acid batteries are used in emergency lighting in case of power failure.

Traction (propulsion) batteries are used for in golf carts and other battery electric vehicles. Large lead-acid batteries are also used to power the electric motors in diesel-electric (conventional) submarines and are used on nuclear submarines as well. Motor vehicle starting, lighting and ignition (SLI) batteries (car batteries) provides current for starting internal combustion engines.

Valve-regulated lead acid (VRLA) batteries cannot spill their electrolyte. They are used in back-up power supplies for alarm and smaller computer systems (particularly in uninterruptible power supplies) and for electric scooters, electrified bicycles, marine applications, battery electric vehicles or micro hybrid vehicles, and motorcycles.