Mickey Thompson
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Exide Select Orbital

Exide Orbital CutawayA few months ago, Exide Battery Corporation released its new Orbital batterry. Though Exide is the world's largest producer of lead-acid batteries. The Exide name is big in motorsports, like NASCAR, Exide is a leader, right up there with Interstate, Delco, and Champion. But, on the rocks, it has been another story...until now.

Off-road vehicles demand a lot from batteries, and many of us overlook how much abuse we put them through. Maybe you've been putting whatever $40 battery you could get on sale at Wal-Mart in your CJ-7 for years and never gave it a second thought.

Next time you need a battery, think about it a little harder. How much are you asking of your battery? Got fog lights? Got a winch? What other goodies do you have that need power? Start adding up the the power all that stuff needs and you'll quickly realize that you need more battery than you've got right now. You may even need two batteries!

Now think about this. What is it that we do with our rigs? We climb hills. We go into crevaces. We get into all sorts of off-camber situations. How will your battery hold up in the event of a roll-over? Assuming it is strapped down well in the first place, unless it is a sealed-type battery, you're tempting fate if it starts leaking.

For years, Optima batteries have been around and been the number one choice for four-wheelers who were serious about their rigs. Their spiral technology made them the leader in the field. But now Exide has taken their idea a step further.

Exide Orbital has handlesThe Orbital uses tightly wound plates, along with gas recombinant technology to eliminate free-liquid battery acid. What the heck does that mean? Don't worry about it. The bottom line is that each of the six battery elements is sealed up in what looks like a six pack. In the event of an overcharge, the battery features six "burp" valves which allow gas to escape without compromising its sealed quality.

The battery cannot possibly leak and because there is no danger of leaking acid or explosive gasses, the Orbital can even be used upside down! In addition, it is one of the only batteries that can be shipped by US Mail and other couriers like UPS and FedEx.

Weighing in at 41 pounds, the Orbital puts out 890 CCA (Cold Cranking Amps) at 32 degrees F and 700 CCA at 0 degrees F. That means that when it's cold outside, this battery is going to start your rig. Even if it has been sitting for a while. The battery even has a handle, fold-down handle for carrying it around and for lifting it back out of your engine compartment.

We've really used ours
So how does it work? Our Project TJ has a 4.0L with a/c. Also under the hood is a Premier Power Welder and an ARB air compressor. That means that we have no room to run a dual battery setup. This is very common and unfortunate situation for those of us with TJ's.

Our embarassing wiring jobIn order for us to test our Orbital, we needed to take out our other battery. We had been using a blue top Optima battery, which is their marine deep cycle model. We realized two things immediately after dropping the Orbital into the Jeep. First, we really need to clean up our under-hood wiring. Second, the Orbital has two full-size posts on top and on the sides there are threaded holes to accept screw-in posts. This threw us for a loop because on our Optima, we had run some accessories off of the side posts. Not a big deal, though, as we had some extra post adapters around and jammed everything on the top. The Jeep fired right up and we called it quits for the day.

One thing I noticed right away, was the way the Jeep started with this battery in. It started a lot nicer and didn't have as much of a surge like with the Optima. It seemed friendlier and a little more gentle on the motor.

We wheeled quite a bit with the battery and even though it's not a deep cycle, we really put it through it's paces. We decided that if we were going to test it, we were going to use it! We made that battery winch us up long hills and it never gave up. Just a tap of the gas pedal here and there was all it needed to keep going. If that wasn't enough, we even welded with it. Again, it came back for more.

Obviously, we've enjoyed having our Orbital and we'd highly recommend it to anyone who needs a new battery (whether they realize it or not).

Recently, Exide has brought out a new deep cycle model, so if you have room for a second battery to run your winch, welder, or lights off of, the deep cycle model provides 950 CCA at 32 degrees F and 750 CCA at 0 degrees F. Running one of each of these batteries under your hood would be an unstoppable combination.

Incidentally, one really nice thing about our Orbital, is that it happens to be the same model that applicates to our Chevy Tahoe tow rig, so when the day comes that we need to swap, we'll have the Orbital ready to go.


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