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With car batteries ‘Made in America’ still reigns supreme

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013 12:00 p.m. CDT

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A lot of goods are no longer made in the U.S., but East Penn Manufacturing still believes in American made goods. East Penn is better known as Deka batteries.

East Penn is a manufacturer that makes lead-acid batteries, including car batteries. During the winter months, car batteries are most likely to die. The most common reason is that the cold cranking amps are not high enough to start the engine.

Exide Technologies manufactures some of their batteries in the U.S., but the quality is not as good as East Penn. An extra $30 for an East Penn battery can prolong your battery’s life.

Another popular U.S. battery company is Johnson Controls. Johnson Controls has bought out battery companies in the past, including Optima Batteries. The quality is not as good as Deka, and the price shows it.

Harley-Davidson and NASCAR depend on East Penn batteries. Harley uses East Penn because of their gel technology.

The battery is still a standard absorbed glass mat battery, but it has gel technology in it. The gel prevents leakage. If the battery was stabbed with a screw driver no acid would come out.

When an East Penn gel battery is purchased, it is already pre-charged. Regular AGM batteries usually have to be filled.

East Penn car batteries with gel technology can be expensive, but are considered to be one of the best on the market. Most stores that carry East Penn offer two less expensive batteries, and depending on sales, it can be worth it. The higher price usually indicates a higher CC.

Official Harley-Davidson batteries are expensive, but there is an alternative. Some stores have East Penn batteries, that are gel filled, but they do not have the official Harley-Davidson label. They are almost built the same way, and the quality is just as good.

Chances are if the label says made in America, it is an East Penn battery. Batteries Plus sells them, but has them labeled as an X-2 series.

Another option are flooded battery. Some bike models, including Harley’s, only take flooded batteries. It is not recommended to use flooded unless the bike is going to be sold.

Because the battery is not sealed there is a risk of the acid being split. Maintenance of the acid levels must be monitored. If the acid drops below a certain level, distilled water must be used to refill the battery. Do not use tap water. These batteries can also be used in snowmobiles, jet skis and lawn mowers.

East Penn was started in 1946 by Delight Breidegam Jr. He was a veteran of the Air Force, and went into the battery business with his father. In the past, his father had worked for Bowers Battery Company and Price Battery Company in Berks County, Penn. Materials were scarce, but together they rebuilt batteries.

By 1971 East Penn had 350 employees. Today, East Penn has the largest acre plant site in the industry. It is more than 2 million square feet while other companies produce batteries in Mexico, East Penn believes in America.

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