Article from Redarc
If you have ever been in the unfortunate position of having a flat battery, then you would have experienced not only the pain and desperation of getting your car recharged, but the drive of shame around the block to get your battery back to full.
The truth is this drive is often not enough to fully charge your battery, and when you’re not equipped with an in-vehicle DC-DC charger there is a simple way to avoid this. By investing in a portable AC Battery Charger.
Short journeys often involve lots of stopping and starting, and when coupled with the never-ending list of accessories we run in our vehicles, it makes your battery work even harder.
That is because these accessories are drawing more current from the battery than what the alternator can put back, and when it drains too much then you don’t have enough power to charge the starter motor.
Modern technologies found in many of today’s vehicles mean that you need a high-quality battery charger, which can help extend battery life and restore battery performance, which ultimately reducing the risk of breakdown.
Types of charging
The charge supplied will vary depending on the chemistry make-up of the battery being charged. A good quality battery charger will be able to identify what type of battery it is connected to and determine what type of charging is needed. Another characteristic of a good quality battery charger is if it is compatible with a wide range of batteries including the increasingly popular lithium option.
There are generally four different ways that a battery can be charged, depending on the charger and your battery. These are all valid charging methods and perfectly applicable in different situations.
The simplest and most common way of using an automatic car battery charger is to plug it into 240V and hook it up to the battery by using the DC. This way the charge is correct and does not rely on a timer or the current charge of the battery, however this method does generally take longer to charge a battery.
This when the battery supplies a low charge current over a pro-longed period. A battery charger using a trickle charge method can sometimes be indefinitely connected to a battery, but this can be dependent on the make up of the battery charger itself.
Timer based charging
This is our preferred method of charging. In good quality battery chargers such as our SmartCharge range, the AC charger communicates with the battery to work out its level of charge. The advantage of this is that it allows the charger to evenly distribute its load and optimise the way it charges a battery.
When the battery reaches its capacity, charging is stopped. The overall advantage of a SmartCharge is that it can help keep your battery is a good state of health, which ultimately extends its life.
Lead acid batteries are the most common type of batteries found in our day to day vehicles (cars, 4WD, boats, trucks etc), as they can be charged and discharged on a frequent basis and do so without too much degradation in performance. However they should be maintained if you wish to keep the output optimised. The life of your lead acid battery can be extended if a good quality charger is used to float the battery (such as your alternator), this is because it ensures the battery maintains a full charge for an indefinite period.
Alternatively, Lithium-Iron Phosphate (LiFeP04) batteries are becoming more popular in touring setups because they benefit from frequent charging, which helps maximise performance. Whereas frequent discharge of a car battery can shorten the batteries life. Read more about the different battery types here.
Optimise your battery charge
Before you start charging your battery, REDARC recommend the following checks to ensure a safe, secure and optimised charge.
- The first step is to have a quick check of the battery to see if it has any signs of damage such as cracks. If there are cracks or visible damage you should replace it immediately.
- This comes as a no-brainer, but you need to make sure there are no flammable objects around – this shouldn’t be a surprise as the gasses are very flammable and can be easily ignited.
- If the battery has vents you need to ensure that they are clear of fragments or other blockages.
- Make sure the battery charger is connected to the battery before it is switched on.
- The same is to be said when disconnecting, make sure it is switched off when disconnecting.
- Make sure your battery charger is suitably rated for your battery size. For example, our 8 and 10amp chargers are larger, more powerful and better suited for applications with a larger battery such as your car, boat or tractor.
- If you notice your battery is getting too hot, stop charging the battery immediately.
The good news is that REDARC now offer a range of intelligent SmartCharge AC battery chargers that make battery charging safe and easy, regardless whether you are charging your boat, car, mower or motorcycle.
The REDARC range of battery chargers are the smartest battery chargers, they are available in 4, 6, 8– and 10 amp variants. They are compact, easy to use and always keep your 12-volt vehicle battery healthy, fully charged and ready to go.
The best thing about them is that all you need to do is plug it in and turn it on. They never over charge and more importantly work on all batteries including lithium (LiFeP04). They also have a multi-stage charging process that enables you to leave it connected for long periods of time without cooking the battery.
See the full range of REDARC’s SmartCharge range of AC Battery Chargers from DEFA here.