Here in the Northern America, we’ve reached the time of year when vehicles and equipment of all sizes get put away, as we deal with things like frozen lakes and salty roads. Here in KC, next week is going to bring our first wave of freezing temps and nasty weather. So, whether you have a hot rod, ATV, motorcycle, riding mower, pontoon boat or Waverunner, odds are it was recently or will very soon be put away until next spring. That’s great when it comes to getting your equipment out of the elements and preserving its cosmetic appearance, but, what about the battery(ies) contained in it?
Batteries are expensive these days. Even if you’re still primarily using traditional flooded lead acid batteries, they are steep. Heaven help you if your batteries are of the AGM or lithium variety, as these battery types can range to 2-4 times the cost of a traditional flooded lead acid battery. So, it makes a lot of sense, regardless of which type you have, to do what you can to get the longest life from them. In addition to the fact that letting your battery(ies) reach a deeply discharged state is detrimental to their long term health, a dead battery can be a real hassle. Imagine when that first beautiful spring weekend arrives next year. You’re ready to bring your “baby” out of mothballs and the battery is dead. It can be a weekend crusher.
Imagine, on the other hand, you were taking great care of your battery(ies) through the winter, had a good handle on their service readiness and had a ready backup plan to address any unforeseen problems. This is not only possible, but easy to bring about. That’s what this month’s article is all about – how you can crush “Put Away” season like a pro.
Winning in Storage Starts with Battery Maintenance
We’ve written quite a bit about the importance of battery maintenance, but nowhere is this category of product more relevant than when discussing seasonal use vehicles and storing equipment during the offseason. This is where a quality battery maintainer takes center stage and provides a multifold payback to your purchase investment.
First, let’s define our terms. When we talk about a battery maintainer, what we mean is a battery charger that will, once the connected battery has reached full charge, automatically keep the battery charged over an extended period of time. In addition, these products typically have a lower current output than standard chargers (<6A). Finally, they often come with multiple output options that allow the operator to choose the option that works best for the equipment to be charged. For instance, a 12V male plug output option is very convenient when maintaining the battery of many types of personal watercraft, where direct battery access can be difficult. Charging through the 12V power port makes life much easier.
So, what does a battery maintenance deliver, in terms of tangible benefit to your batteries and equipment? The enemy of all batteries is deep discharge. No matter the battery, no matter the equipment, no matter the application. Even deep cycle batteries and lithium batteries don’t want to sit in a deeply discharged state for any period of time. For lead acid batteries, deep discharge allows the natural sulfation process to accelerate, sometimes to an irreversible point. Sulfation is the enemy of lead acid battery health. A similar situation happens with lithium batteries. Though the chemical process is different, the result is the same. The battery’s capacity to store energy (the whole point of a battery) is diminished. Keeping your battery(ies) properly charged using a quality battery maintainer enables you to keep sulfation at bay and, even better, improve battery reserve capacity and extend total battery life. Over time, that can add up to big savings.
4 Great Options, Depending on Your Need
The PRO-LOGIX battery maintainer lineup offers several great options for delivering beneficial service to your batteries and equipment. They all feature fully automatic operation, temperature compensation, an enhanced maintenance mode and special service modes that allow effective service on problem batteries. These include “forced start” mode to allow servicing of completely dead (0.0V) batteries, soft start mode for beneficial service of deeply discharge batteries and repair mode for reconditioning sulfated batteries. In addition, all models shown below have the ability to overcome power outages, so if a blizzard takes out your power, you don’t have to worry about resetting the charger when power resumes.
More than any other charging category, choosing the right battery maintainer for your needs is driven by your usage patterns, the batteries you plan to service and the size of batteries in your equipment. So, we’re going to break our recommended units down based on these criteria.
Optimized for Smaller Batteries – The PRO-LOGIX PL2112 12 Volt 1.0 Amp Battery Maintainer is ideal for smaller Flooded, AGM, Spiral Wound, Deep Cycle, Marine and LiFePO4 Lithium batteries. Its low amp output will not overwhelm smaller batteries (when it comes to battery maintenance, our philosophy is low and slow is the way to go). While this unit can be used to maintain batteries as large as 70-80 Ah, we specifically suggest using this unit whenever you are servicing batteries 40 Ah and smaller. A higher output unit could simply be too much for these smaller batteries.
Versatile, Beneficial Service for Full Size Batteries –
The PRO-LOGIX PL2140 6/12 Volt 4.0 Amp Battery Charger/Maintainer is perfect for charging and maintaining full size batteries from 40-100 Ah. It services the same battery types as the PL2112 and offers the same feature set, but is optimized for the batteries found in passenger vehicles and other full size battery applications. It is our all-around champ and a great starting point for anyone looking to improve their battery game.
Permanent Mount Option – The PRO-LOGIX 1002 12 Volt 1.5 Amp Underhood Battery Maintainer is unique in a few ways when it comes to PRO-LOGIX units. It is the only charger or maintainer in the lineup designed to be permanently installed on a vehicle or piece of equipment and it’s the only PRO-LOGIX unit that doesn’t require operator input prior to commencing the charge/maintenance process. Simply connect an extension cord to its AC input cord and it starts working. Perfect for installation on service vehicles and fleets of all shapes and sizes, it services Flooded, AGM, Spiral Wound, Gel Cell, Deep Cycle and Marine batteries.
Perfect for Those with a Bunch of Batteries –
The PRO-LOGIX PL4020 2 Amp x 4 Channel 12 Volt Battery Maintenance Station is the unit of choice for those who have numerous batteries to maintain during the storage season. It features 4 independent charging channels, each delivering 2A of charging current to service Flooded, AGM, Spiral Wound, Deep Cycle and Marine batteries from 10-80 Ah.
Can I Check on My Battery Health?
While battery maintenance is the linchpin of “Put Away” season success, it is also important to be able to check the health of your batteries and track their status over time. That’s where a quality battery tester comes in. With a battery tester, you can spot check the health of a battery, whether one subjected to daily use or one dedicated to a seasonal use vehicle. You can also track the health evolution of a given seasonal use battery from year to year, which can be very helpful in avoiding surprise problems and budget planning for expected new purchases. We recommend testing your seasonal use batteries at the start of the storage season and then again right before it’s time to put the equipment back into service.
Accurate, Easy and Compact – The BA9 Digital Battery and System Tester is the perfect complement to your battery maintenance routine. It can be used to test Flooded, AGM, Spiral Wound, Gel Cell, Start-Stop AGM and EFB batteries from 40-1200 CCA, covering everything from powersport to Group 31 batteries. It provides quick, easy battery analysis and system assessment and walks the operator through the testing process for quick, easy operation. Like all BA Series testers, it provides a resistance value for each battery test, which can be very useful for tracking battery health over time.
What If, Even After All This, I Encounter a Problem?
Batteries are fickle beasts. Sometimes, even the best planning and preparation can’t prevent sudden, unexpected battery failure. Of course, it usually happens at the worst possible moment and can really ruin your day/weekend/week. Unless you have a quality jump starter at the ready. Having quick, easy access to a jump starter turns what could be a major hindrance into a blip. Similar to what we noted about battery maintainers, it is important to match your jump starter to the types of vehicles and equipment you expect to need to start. For instance, if you are needing to start garbage trucks and snow plows, it makes sense to invest in a large jump starter, like the Truck PAC ES1224. But, for most of us, something smaller makes more sense. Here are two great options.
The Passenger Vehicle Problem Solver – The JNC770R 12 Volt 425 Cranking Amp Premium Jump Starter is perfect for starting virtually any passenger vehicle and many medium duty trucks and other larger equipment. It features a high performance Clore PROFORMER battery, delivering high cranking amps, extended cranking duration, superior cold weather performance and long service life. It also has a master ON/OFF switch, extra-long 68” cable reach with our PowerJawTM clamps, 2 USB ports to power small electronics and a high-rate built-in charger for quick recharging of the unit.
A Compact Unit with Some Serious Punch – The JNC325 12 Volt 450 Start Assist Amp Lithium Jump Starter offers strong starting performance in a compact, lightweight and super convenient package. Its Clore PROFORMER lithium battery technology enables deep cranking and superior cold weather performance over competing lithium models. It features 24” cable reach, USB-C charging convenience, 2 USB ports and a work light. It includes a storage pouch, wall charger kit and 12V female adapter that allows the unit to be used as a power supply.
Arming yourself with this combination of products really does allow you to succeed during “Put Away” season. It enables you to ensure that your batteries are getting what they need, that you have a handle on each battery’s current health profile and that you can overcome an unpleasant surprise, should one arise. The other great thing it does, when done right, is extend the life of your batteries, which can save a lot of money over time. Imagine getting an extra 1-2 years of service life from your seasonal batteries. Deploying this strategy can be a real game changer.
Do you have a lot of equipment that you put into storage at this time of year? Do you have a specific strategy that you follow? How has it served you over the last few seasons? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below.