We are entering the time of year where shops are reaching for their battery charger(s) with greater frequency. As the mercury dips, it is a good time to revisit the few simple steps needed to make battery charging a useful and easy process in your busy operation.
1. Inspect Your Equipment. Right now, before the serious cold moves in, is a great time to give your chargers (and jump starters) a quick once over. Are all input and output cables intact and without damage? Are your charger clamps in proper operating condition, with no serious signs of jaw degradation? Are your chargers operating properly in all functional settings?
2. Engine Start (Boost) Mode Checklist. It is boosting, more than charging, that tends to cause issues with chargers. Remembering a few tips when using the Engine Starting Assistance mode will greatly reduce your chance of unit damage. First, when feasible, charge the battery for 2-5 minutes prior to boosting the vehicle. Your chance of starting success on the first crank will increase greatly. Second, check your extension cord. It needs to be properly rated for its length or you are going to have above 90VAC input at the charger. For instance, a 150 ft. extension cord should be at least 8 ga. wire. Finally, NEVER attempt to boost (or charge) a frozen battery – Yikes, this is dangerous!
3. What Battery? It is important to know the type of battery you are charging and charge using the proper battery type setting. We know that this isn’t always as easy as it sounds, as many batteries are not explicitly marked as AGM or Gel Cell, even when they are of these types. But, it’s worth the effort, since charging these batteries in the Flooded setting on a smart charger or with an older-style charger is detrimental to the battery’s health. We’d say, when in doubt, charge a battery in the AGM setting. Doing so would never harm a flooded battery inadvertently charged in this mode.
4. The Dead Battery Dilemma. Most “smart” chargers require a minimum voltage level within the battery to be charged in order to activate the charger and enable it to sense the battery’s polarity. This is a great safety feature that prevents accidental reverse connections. But, it also poses a real problem when charging a severely depleted battery. SOLAR PRO-LOGIX battery chargers avoid the Dead Battery Dilemma by enabling an easy override in this situation. After checking that all connections are correct, simply depress and hold the CHARGE/START button for three seconds and the charger will commence the charging process, activating its “smart” monitoring once the threshold voltage has been exceeded.
5. Multi-battery Systems. For operations charging heavy-duty vehicles with a multiple starting battery configuration, there are a few additional points to note. First, check the inter-battery connections. Are they in order, clean and without corrosion? Second, when charging, use the highest charge setting available. You have a lot of amp hours to replace in a multi-battery configuration, so the highest setting makes sense. Third, if you are attempting to start a multiple battery system, connect to the battery closest to the starter. This will make the starting process most efficient.
Keeping these 5 factors in mind should make life easier and reduce your charging hassle as we enter the cold weather charging season.