There are many brands of automotive batteries and what brand you buy is dependent on where you get the battery replaced. Some popular brands include DieHard, sold at Sears; Autocraft, sold at Advance Auto Parts; Interstate, sold at Interstate Batteries; and, Everstart, sold at Walmart.
Lead-acid batteries are made up of plates of lead and separate plates of lead dioxide, which are submerged into an electrolyte solution of about 35% sulfuric acid and 65% water. This causes a chemical reaction that releases electrons, allowing them to flow through conductors to produce electricity. As the battery discharges, the acid of the electrolyte reacts with the materials of the plates, changing their surface to lead sulfate. When the battery is recharged, the chemical reaction is reversed: the lead sulfate reforms into lead dioxide and lead. With the plates restored to their original condition, the process may now be repeated.
People who have recreational vehicles (RVs) and boats are familiar with deep cycle batteries. These batteries are also common in golf carts and large solar power systems (the sun produces power during the day and the batteries store some of the power for use at night). If you have read the article How Emergency Power Systems Work, then you also know that an alternative to gasoline-powered generators is an inverter powered by one or more deep cycle batteries.
Typically, a deep cycle battery will have two or three times the RC of a car battery, but will deliver one-half or three-quarters the CCAs. In addition, a deep cycle battery can withstand several hundred total discharge/recharge cycles, while a car battery is not designed to be totally discharged.
Both car batteries and deep cycle batteries are lead-acid batteries that use exactly the same chemistry for their operation (see How Batteries Work for more information). The difference is in the way that the batteries optimize their design:
A car's battery is designed to provide a very large amount of current for a short period of time. This surge of current is needed to turn the engine over during starting. Once the engine starts, the alternator provides all the power that the car needs, so a car battery may go through its entire life without ever being drained more than 20 percent of its total capacity. Used in this way, a car battery can last a number of years. To achieve a large amount of current, a car battery uses thin plates in order to increase its surface area.
A deep cycle battery is designed to provide a steady amount of current over a long period of time. A deep cycle battery can provide a surge when needed, but nothing like the surge a car battery can. A deep cycle battery is also designed to be deeply discharged over and over again (something that would ruin a car battery very quickly). To accomplish this, a deep cycle battery uses thicker plates.
Battery recycling of automotive batteries reduces the need for resources required for manufacture of new batteries, diverts toxic lead from landfills, and prevents risk of improper disposal.