Ohm is a smart car battery that never needs jumping, works on the coldest days and weighs only six pounds.
While just about every part of your vehicle has drastically improved since the inception of the automobile 100 years ago, the battery seems to remain stuck in the past. If you really think about, not much has changed from the one found in the Ford Model T. This is something one San Jose-based startup has set out to change. Ohm is a new kind of car battery that never needs to be jumpstarted, works reliably on the coldest winter days, lasts twice as long as the average lead-acid battery, and weighs only six pounds — a far cry from its 40-pound ancestors. According to its creators, its seven-year battery life may even outlive your car.
Ohm is more than a battery, however, it is an entire energy storage and management system crammed inside a battery-sized case. A built-in processor monitors its power level and will automatically turn itself off when it gets critically low, and then switch back on when you go to start your car. Meaning, if you leave your lights on overnight or while at work, Ohm will shut down before dying. No more getting stranded because of your forgetfulness or running late because you had to find the jumper cables! Aside from that, it is also self-regulating which enables it to prolong its lifespan.
Instead of lead plates, Ohm employs the combination of lithium iron phosphate batteries (LiFePO4) and EDLC supercapacitors. The LiFePO4s keep the supercapacitors charged when the car is off, allowing them to deliver the quick burst of electricity for starting the engine. Since it is both acid and lead-free, the battery will work just fine in low temperatures and eliminates the sole reliance on a chemical reaction. These two systems are controlled by its integrated electronics to ensure optimal performance over the lifetime of the device.
As great as it may be, it’s not invincible, though. Like all batteries, Ohm will eventually require replacement. When the system predicts a swap-out is necessary, it will provide you with a couple of days notice by periodically beeping. This provides you with an earlier and more accurate warning than the dashboard battery light you’ve grown accustomed to.
One of its only drawbacks is that it only has a reserve capacity of 10Ah — compared to the 45Ah hours of conventional units. The typical car stereo consumes about 2A of current at medium volume, which means that you could run it on Ohm with the engine off for hours, no problem. Headlights draw about 15A and the battery will let these run for about 30 minutes before Ohm disconnects the battery to retain energy for cranking.
In terms of size, Ohm comes in two different forms. The first will slip into an existing car’s Group 35 battery well and connect like its lead-acid counterparts, while the second can fit into smaller spaces.
Tired of frequently having to jumpstart or replace your car battery? Check out Ohm on Indiegogo, where the team is currently seeking $50,000. Shipments are expected to begin in August 2016.