Battery Charging Basics
by Pat Goss
There have been amazing changes in cars over the years, and that’s really evident when it comes to the electrical systems. One of the things that we’re really concerned with, well, that’s the computer or computers, because many cars will have multiple computers in them.
Well, you may have problems with a dead battery or something. One thing you don’t want to do is to use your old fashioned booster cables on a modern car, because you can damage electronics. What you should be using there is one of these booster packs. Very safe, it does a good job and it won’t damage anything.
Now the batteries themselves have changed over the years, in as much as modern batteries may not give you any warning before they fail. One minute they’re good, the next minute they’re bad. Now one thing that is very common, you may have an automobile that is collectible or a boat or an RV or something that doesn’t get used but has a battery in it. It just sits.
Well, the battery goes dead. What do you do? Well, you can recharge it. Of course you could use a big commercial charger like this [left]. It works well to recharge it, but this is no good to maintain the battery, to keep it from going dead again. So what do a lot of people do? Well, they go out and buy one of these trickle chargers [right]. Well, they’re pretty neat. They’re small, they’re inexpensive, but they’re deadly to batteries. Even if it only produces a tenth of an amp, over time it will overcharge and damage your battery. So how can you maintain a battery in something that doesn’t get used on a regular basis?
Well, here we have a battery maintainer. This one is from Griot’s Garage. Now the difference here is when the battery is fully charged, a battery maintainer shuts off completely. Then when the battery discharges, it turns itself back on. That way it doesn’t overcharge the battery. These are very good for cars that are collectible. They’re good for boats and RVs or anything that has a battery where you don’t use it on a regular basis.
If you have a question or comment, write to me. The address is MotorWeek, Owings Mills, MD, 21117.