Keeping Lead-Acid Batteries Charged
And a Few Tools for When You Don’t

I recently replaced the battery in my 1997 Chevrolet Tahoe that was over seven years old. This is pretty old for any car battery, and this one was an Autozone Duralast. I was OK driving around with an old battery, because a few years ago I received Black & Decker Booster Pack with air compressor that I could use to start if my battery finally quit on me. Last summer I kept a Solar battery maintainer plugged in at work to try to top it off. When it started to really die last fall I didn’t think it would make through another season of cold cranks so I finally replaced it. Then just the other day then, left my lights on at work. I actually keep my phone number on my windshield so people can call me if something like this or other more serious things are happening to my truck, but no one called that day.
So, I came out to a cold truck that wouldn’t crank, even with my booster pack on it (although, I can’t say when I had charged it last.) My truck takes a lot of cold cranking amps. I finally got a jump from a friend that gad an even bigger Black and Decker Booster Pack (400 Amps) that he carries for his boat (so that he can party all day out on the water with his radio blasting until it dies, and still have a way to restart at the end of the day.) Needless to say, I left my truck running as we ran a couple of errands on the way home and stuck my Diehard Battery Charger on it overnight. I have had a 12V Battery Tender Junior on my 2006 Harley-Davidson 1200 Sporster R almost since I bought it, and haven’t had any battery issues with it yet. The battery tender junior is cheaper since it doesn’t actually have a charger in it. I also have a 1973 Harley AMF TX-125 Dirt Bike. It ran well a couple of years ago then all of the sudden it gave up. I have recently come to the realization that the cause may be the battery. This bike is purely kick start, so you wouldn’t notice a dead battery necessarily, but it has been sitting, hardly ever run in my garage with no battery maintenance charge on it. I have a Jeep that sits in storage most of the year. The boys and I just went to run it the other day to keep the gas from going bad and keep the batteries charged. It is actually a 24V Jeep and has (2) 12V batteries in series. One under the hood, and one just in front of the windshield. It was made 24V for cold starting in the Korean War. Before this jeep they were 6V and after it they went to 12V. So, to keep the batteries charged for this one I have been looking at a Battery Tender 24V Tender and Charger. A 24V battery tender alone would probably be cheaper, but I can’t find one offered. Also, since the batteries are in series, I am concerned about charging them, because there are issues charging batteries in series. Because it is only two in a row and because they don’t completely discharge like an electric vehicle, it doesn’t concern me too much, and it is probably better to let them charge than to not charge them at all. I could get two 12V tenders and wire it to charge them both independently, and it may even be cheaper (and more versatile for my fleet management) I also have an electric Go-Ped Hoverboard, which is 24V but is (4) six volt batteries in series. I have actually failed the last battery in the series before through repeated full discharge and charging, so I actually rotate them periodically, maybe twice a year (would recommend more often if I used it more). I also picked up a Schwinn scooter that is 24V, but it has (2) 12V batteries, one of which was dead when I got it, which I suspect was a series problem again, and since it is an electric vehicle and probably completely discharged and charged repeatedly. I also have a remote controlled HUMVEE, with a single 12V battery which is dead due to long shelf life and no maintenance, and two newer Powerwheels Jeeps for the boys. The Powerwheels manual actually sets forth some very specific charging guidelines. Charge at least once before and after use for 18, but no more than 24 hrs and at least one 18 hr charge a month even when not in use. I still wonder if I can put a battery tender on these, because the powerwheels batteries are expensive, but I haven’t seen anything that will work unless I build my own. Unfortunately the plug on them is unique and hard to get to. There are multiple vehicle maintenance/charging banks available, but if you have a power plug available near each vehicle then the tender juniors are actually cheaper.

No comments: