Optima Yellow Top Deep-Cycle Battery

Installation date: 10/18/09

If there’s one name synonymous with performance aftermarket batteries, it’s Optima.  They’re probably one of the most popular and common batteries you’ll find under the hood of a Jeep, and if you’re not already running one, chances are you know someone who is.  What sets Optimas apart makes them so popular is their Spiralcell® Technology design.  Without going into a ton of detail it basically means that Optima batteries are leak proof so they can be mounted anywhere in any position (and they won’t leak if you flop or roll your rig), and they’re far more vibration resistant (up to 15x more) than a regular flooded lead-acid battery so they’ll last longer too.  These two features make Optimas ideal for use in off-road vehicles.

Another feature that makes Optimas popular is their second set of battery terminals located on the front of the battery (or the top in the case of the Blue Top). These auxiliary terminals can make it easier and cleaner to wire in accessories that need to draw power directly from the battery.  Not all Optima batteries have the dual terminal setup, but the ones that fit most Jeeps do!

Optima makes three different types of batteries that come in a ranges of sizes: the Red Top, Yellow Top, and Blue Top.  In a nutshell, the Red Top is a starting battery, the Yellow Top is a deep-cycle, and the Blue Top is a marine deep-cycle.  If you’d like some more specifics on the Spiralcell® design, or on the differences between the Red, Yellow, and Blue Top batteries, check out Optima’s online FAQ.

The Red Top is probably what you’ll see most often, but if you’re going to be running a lot of high-load accessories, like a winch (or a lot of off-road lights, or a high-power stereo system), you’re going to want to go with a Yellow Top deep-cycle battery.  The Red Top is a great battery, but its weakness is that since it’s not a deep-cycle, if you run it all the way down a few times it can loose its ability to hold a charge.  That’s what happened to the original Red Top we had in our XJ, which is why it’s now got a Yellow Top under the hood.  So, when it came time to outfit our TJ with a new battery, the choice was obvious: an Optima Yellow Top.  The fact that the Yellow Top just happened to be color-matched to our TJ, well, that was just a bonus!

If you’re putting a Yellow Top in your TJ (or XJ or JK) you’ll want to go with the D34/78, which is what we installed here.  The D34/78 is a dual-terminal design and is rated for 750 Cold Cranking Amps (CCA).  The D75/25 will also fit and is a bit smaller, but it’s also not quite a powerful with only 620 CCA.  If you’re not sure which model fits best for your application, check out Optima’s handy online selection tool.

Installing a new battery, Optima or otherwise, in your Jeep is really pretty straight forward.  First things first though, depending on what kind of stereo you’ve got in your vehicle it may or may not remember all your presets if it looses power, so unless you know the stations by heart you’ll probably want to go through and write them down, just in case.  With that out of the way it’s really just a matter of undoing the battery tie-down, disconnecting the old battery, swapping in the new one, then hooking everything back up.

The nuts on the battery tie-down J-hooks and on the terminal clamps are different sizes on a TJ, so I just used a small adjustable crescent wrench instead of breaking out a couple of sockets or box-end wrenches.  One thing I’d highly recommend doing is wearing a pair of gloves during the install.  While Optimas are sealed so you don’t have to worry about leaking acid, the battery you’re replacing probably isn’t, plus the gloves will keep you from zapping yourself if you accidentally grab the wrong thing(s).  Safety glasses are always a good idea too.

As you can see from the photos, I haven’t yet made use of that handy second set of battery terminals, but it’s on my to-do list once I’ve got some spare time to go in and clean up some of that wiring.  We also took the opportunity during the install to replace the factory battery tie-down with a trick billet aluminum piece from NCM.  It doesn’t do anything more than the stock one did, it just looks darn cool.

As of the writing of this article we haven’t had the chance to get the TJ out on the trails to give the new battery a work-out with the winch, but the Yellow Top in our XJ has definitely been put through the paces with no complaints.  In fact, during one particularly tough situation the winch was under so much load that it partially melted the terminal clamps on one of the battery cables!  The Optima just kept on chuggin’.  If you’re looking for a heavy-duty battery for your rig, I think you’d be pretty hard-pressed to find anything better than an Optima.

For more information check out:

Optima Performance Batteries
Optima Off Road Batteries
Shop Optima Dual Purpose Deep Cycle Batteries

6 comments

6 Comments so far

  1. Mike H September 1st, 2010 5:23 am

    I have been running the same Yellow Top now for 2 years and love it! It serves tripple duty for me as it is my Jeep battery, my jetboat battery and also my trolling motor battery for my duck boat. This battery has never let me down and allways performs beyond my expectations. Get one for yourself!

  2. Ben September 21st, 2010 1:56 am

    I heard these are made in China now and are not as durable. Can you confirm?

  3. Jeepin Jason September 21st, 2010 7:17 am

    @Ben: I believe they’ve moved production to Mexico. I know it’s not China. I dont know if there has been any actual decrease in quality or if it’s just a perceived decrease because they’re “made in Mexico” now. So far no troubles from our Yellow Top but it’s only about a year old and hasn’t been worked over by the winch much yet.

  4. trey February 14th, 2011 6:09 pm

    can you use the side terminals to hook your winch up?

  5. Peter Chronis February 8th, 2012 2:17 pm

    Optima batteries are nothing but hype and they’re not the ultimate power source rather just junk. The gell cells melt down from excessive use of winching, I could never get more than 2 years out of these batteries and had 3of them,2 were yellow tops 1 a red top. If you want a real tough battery go with the “Energysys Odyssey” battery, this is a true dry cell battery and from what I’ve been told this company originally was Optima and they sold it off to persue thier new dry cell design which was initially marketed as a Predator Panther battery later becoming the Odssey.

  6. Optima Jim September 18th, 2012 9:55 am

    We do not recommend using side terminals for winching or any other high-amperage, extended draw accessories. Almost everything Peter Chronis posted relating to our products is false, except for his personal experience. OPTIMA batteries are not gel or “gell” batteries, they are lead-acid, AGM batteries and RedTops are not designed or warrantied for deep-cycle use, including winching.

Leave a reply