Battery Maintenance

By: Mike Cecchini

Optimate Battery Charger

It goes through about 5-6 different cycles to monitor how the battery acts on and off the charging. I will say that it can be "fooled" by a really low battery and it will say that the battery is "no good" (red light).  I then break out a manual (non-automatic) charger and give it a 2-5 amp charge for about an hour.  Then the opitmate will say: "Ok...........I can do this".  12-15 hrs later the battery is fully charged.

You guys got to get a "feel" for a battery when it's charging.  It's not as cut and dry as you might think. You need to monitor the "amps" the battery is taking and how it's taking the amps.  A low battery can take an itinital charge and come up to aboaut 70% done and then just sit ther for 20-30 hrs and cook it's self to death. So when I charge a low battery (without a ampmeter on the charger) I  hook one up and see what it is doing.  The big clue is when the amps don't go down (as normal).  Then I let the battery sit for 3-10 hrs and just "settle".  Then I come back with the auto charger and ampmeter and hit it again.

All of this is done remembering that a battery likes a 10% charge rate.  If it's a 18 amp/hour batter (our ducks) then I charge it at>1.8 amps.  700 amp/hr batteries (my van) get charged with 70 amps..........and so on. All of this,  again,  is charging.  Maintenance charges are MUCH lower.  1-2 amps is fine for small batteries (remembering the 10% rule) and is even used for the biggest of batteries.  I do a maintenance charges of everything I have........once a month......overnight.

I realize that I have a garage senario that lets me pull my stuff up to the door and put thd charger on it ....and I go to bed.  Next morn my stuff is jumpin' right.  Full 13.8 volts.  Batteries love it and last a long time (8-10 yrs.) So..............after say ing all that.  Get a small (.25-10 amp) automatic charger that has a ampmeter on the front of it.  Use it and pay attention to what it's doing.  That way you'll get a feel for what it's doing and you can make judgements.   Radio shack has great small digital voltmeters for $10-20 that will geive you years of service.

A battery below 12.80 volts needs to be maintence charged.  Below 12.5 volts it needs a real charge. A battery full charge and ready to rock is in the 13.5-14.0 volts.  That's what works for me.

Mike Cecchini

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