A VRLA battery (valve-regulated lead-acid battery), more commonly known as a sealed battery or maintenance free battery, is a type of lead-acid rechargeable battery. Due to their construction, they can be mounted in any orientation, and do not require constant maintenance. The term "maintenance free" is a misnomer as VRLA batteries still require cleaning and regular functional testing. VRLA batteries have been shown to reach catastrophic failure and are prone to thermal runaway. A common cause of failure is overheating and dust obstructing the valve, preventing release of gasses. They are widely used in large portable electrical devices, off-grid power systems and similar roles, where large amounts of storage are needed at a lower cost than other low-maintenance technologies like lithium-ion.
There are two primary types of VRLA batteries, gel cells and AGM. Gel cells add silica dust to the electrolyte, forming a thick putty-like gel. These are sometimes referred to as "silicone batteries". AGM, short for "absorbed glass mat", batteries feature fiberglass mesh between the battery plates which serves to contain the electrolyte. Both designs offer advantages and disadvantages compared to conventional batteries, as well as each other.