NOCO NLP30: The Budget, Lightweight Lithium-ion Racecar Battery

The old adage goes something like this: You can build your car fast, cheap, and reliable. Now, pick two. This principle seems to hold true with racecars and most things in life. But occasionally, a product comes along that seems to laugh in the face of this principle. I actually got excited when I found an affordable lithium-ion battery for the racecar.

I had to take a moment to process that last sentence. I am not that old, but I must admit that I am excited about this battery. But here’s the thing: You should be, too. Let me explain.

Racecars and Batteries

Here is a little wisdom: racecars and lead-acid batteries do not like each other. A traditional lead-acid battery likes to be used, craves constant charging, and generally does not like prolonged storage periods. Racecars, on the other hand, are used infrequently and sit for long periods, sometimes months, between uses.

As a result, batteries are a big source of problems at the racetrack. A weak or dead battery can:

  • fail to start the car (nothing better than being harnessed up and yelling for a push start pre-race)
  • fail to support proper spark, causing power loss and driving issues
  • fail to hold a charge resulting in early retirements (DNF)

These are the issues I have dealt with in every racecar I have run. Whether it is a full-size or lightweight battery, they all fail way too soon. In fact, over the years, I have spent thousands on lightweight Odyssey and Braille batteries, which last about a year with disciplined battery tender usage. Needless to say, for the last few years, I have opted for factory-size batteries as they tend to be more forgiving and readily available.

Battery Weight Reduction

When I converted the Spec Miata to a Super Touring 6 (ST6), I greatly emphasized weight reduction, which brought me back to researching lightweight batteries. The factory Miata battery weighs 24 lbs, and I came across the NOCO NLP9, which weighed 2 lbs and boasted a 400A start. For perspective, that is a 22-lb weight reduction and 80 more starting amps. Not to mention, the battery was tiny and less than $100.

This is a win-win situation on paper, so I placed my order, installed the battery, and the car fired right up. I came out the next day, and the car fired right up again. And then, after overnight temps in the teens, the NLP9 struggled.

NOCO NLP9 lithium-ion battery next to the factory spec lead-acid miata battery.
The NOCO NLP9 is tiny when compared to the factory battery. It is also 22 lbs lighter.

Introducing the NOCO NLP30

The first tests with a 2 lb battery were great, but I wanted a ‘set-it-and-forget-it’ battery on the racecar. Fortunately, NOCO has an entire lineup of progressively more powerful lithium-ion batteries. With the race season quickly approaching, I went the overkill route and ordered the NLP30. Just like the smaller one, this battery is a beast. For $199, you get 700 cranking amps, almost triple the output and storage capacity. All this at only 5 lbs.

The NOCO NLP30 next to the NOCO NLP9 for size comparison.
A not to scale size comparison of the 2 batteries tested. The NOCO NLP30 vs the NOCO NLP9.
NOC NLP30 next to the NOC NLP9 in the racecar.
The NLP30 was installed in the Miata with NLP9 for comparison. Unlike lead-acid batteries, lithium-ion ones can be mounted inside the cabin without special considerations. (And ignore the rats’ nest of wires; I will simplify things further in part 2 of the 1.6l NA Miata rewiring. link soon)

NOCO NLP30 Results

This battery is everything I was looking for. Even without a battery tender, the racecar fires up the first time, every time, with no drama. It has been stored for 6 weeks between events and has shown zero signs of voltage drop. And that is what I needed from a battery. No fuss, no worry, and minimum weight.

Other Lightweight Lithium-ion Batteries

I want to stress that having a company sell this battery lineup between $99 and $200 is insane. Maybe it’s not insane, but it’s a proper price point. For instance, the Performance Racing Industry show was flooded with lightweight batteries, all lithium-ion variants with little gimmicks. One brand I won’t name included a little LCD screen displaying voltage on the top. What did this one run? Oh, just $800 … starting. And this was just one of the many, all way overpriced ‘because racecar.’ When I say the NOCO is a bargain, I mean it.

The NOCO Lineup

To conclude, I really did get excited about batteries. Namely, I appreciate a product that works as intended and is advertised at a great price. I am including the NOCO battery comparison below with links. Even though the NLP9 failed me in cold weather, I suspect I didn’t need to jump immediately to the top of the lineup. And when I finish the exo car, I will test one of the smaller versions because every pound counts in racing.

The NOCO lithium-ion battery lineup comparison chart.
Here is a quick comparison of the battery lines. I will probably use the NLP14 on the ghettocet. Below are links to each battery.

By Chris Simmons


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The Crew @ Memphis International Raceway