Words and photos by Jok Nicholson
Has the 16-volt battery come of age for bracket racers? After doing as much research as I could, I say Yes! Are they an answer for everyone, No! Here is what I found out as I looked into them so far.
One of the most common things I heard when I asked racers I know if they would consider switching to 16 volt was: “Why change, my 12-volt system has always worked OK?” “The 16-volt will probably burnout my fuel pump or fan.” “My expensive delay box will probably just sizzle and it will be junk.” These concerns are unfounded. Research and basic electrical engineering principles prove these fears are baseless.
Before I go into direct comparisons of 12-volt and 16-volt race car electrical systems, I want to tell you one thing that every manufacturer told me. Before you hook up the 16-volt battery charger they all said to turn off the master battery disconnect. The reason for this is the 16-volt charger puts out between 19 and 20 volts and that much voltage could be damaging to electronic components. This means do not download from data acquisition components, program ignitions or work on wiring when the 16-volt charger is active.
When I first heard about 16-volt systems I thought they were mainly for Pro Stockers or Comp cars. These are the guys looking for every bit of horsepower and every state of the
I have used about every type of 12-volt battery there is, from lead-acid batteries, deep cell, gel-filled and Odyssey. I tried cheap batteries that I could afford to replace every season and I tried $189.00 12-volt batteries like the Odyssey. Last week both of my cars had Optimas in them. I checked the voltage on the one in my dragster, which is equipped with an alternator, after it had sat for two weeks it was only 12.3 volts. Son Andy’s dragster runs two Optimas with no alternator and his voltage was 12.6. I have to tell you I have never had a car not start due to a dead battery, but I can also tell you the charger is almost always hooked up at the track on race day. I am also pretty fussy about getting the batteries to 100% a couple days before the weekend.
I tried to contact technical people at different battery companies, specifically Powermaster, TurboStart, Odyssey, Optima, the Rock and the V-Battery. I got return calls from exactly two of them. Steve Earwood called and informed me his company was introducing a new 16-volt battery in the next few months. He sent me the technical information on that Rock battery and you will see it at the end of this article. DudLee from V-Battery returned my call and we had a great conversation on batteries. He was very specific on what his new 16-volt battery could and couldn’t do and exactly why it worked so well. Without a doubt, I was impressed a busy guy like him would take the time to answer the questions I was asking. He convinced me to give them a try and report the actual findings back to my readers. No B.S., he wants a straight up report and he will get one and so will you. I am taking both cars to the Moroso 5-Day and give the V-Battery 16-volt a tough test.