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16 Oct 2017 20:19

Right, it's been a while since I've had to do a DIY, need some help with a car battery charger. Here's the story...

My mom barely drives her '87 Honda CRX these days, so the battery frequently goes dead. So, instead of having to jump it each and every time is there a charger that will keep the battery constantly charged?

There are a lot of products on the interwebs, but I'm somewhat confused by it all. So any info would be highly appreciated. :)
User avatar Tricycle Rider
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16 Oct 2017 21:45

I think there are basically 2 types of battery chargers -
1) The old type that just pumped 'charge' into the battery and has a gage that you're supposed to watch to determine when it has 'had enough'. If you leave it connected too long, the battery can be damaged.
2) The new type of 'intelligent' chargers (more expensive) that actually monitor the battery condition and only charge when needed.

A big concern is whether your mother can (and will) do the correct process to detach the charger from the car before driving away ...

Also, inspect the top / side of the battery where the large cables connect to the battery posts. It should be clean and grease free. If there is dirt around the posts it can give a slow leakage of current thru the dirt and drain the battery. Also, the battery posts and the connectors shouldn't have any white/green/blue debris growing on them.
There might even be a light bulb that has a broked switch and is staying on all the time - glove box, trunk, etc.

Jay
JayKosta
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19 Oct 2017 03:55

I use a float charger (tender) on my motorcycle any time it sits for more than a few days. Once the weather gets cold and wet it stays hooked up all of the time. Mine was about $20. My sister has a vintage Porsche that mostly lives in her garage, and her float charger plugs into the DC outlet (cig lighter). She runs the cord out the driver's window so that she never forgets to unplug (as Jay alluded to).
jmdirt
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20 Oct 2017 21:48

Thanks for the tips, guys!

I just bought one of these "Smart Charger & Maintainer" thingies at Walmart for about $20, the instructions are less than clear. Here is a picture of it, it does comes with a standard wall plug cable that is supposed to charge the battery. (Which is what I've been looking for.) Image

I know what to do with the red clamp (it goes unto the red battery terminal), but what do I do with the black one? Am I supposed to ground it, or does it go on the black terminal of the battery?

Help please! :sad:
User avatar Tricycle Rider
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Re:

21 Oct 2017 01:11

Tricycle Rider wrote:Thanks for the tips, guys!

I just bought one of these "Smart Charger & Maintainer" thingies at Walmart for about $20, the instructions are less than clear. Here is a picture of it, it does comes with a standard wall plug cable that is supposed to charge the battery. (Which is what I've been looking for.) Image

I know what to do with the red clamp (it goes unto the red battery terminal), but what do I do with the black one? Am I supposed to ground it, or does it go on the black terminal of the battery?

Help please! :sad:

Red to + (pos) and black to - (neg), then plug it into the wall. Unplug it from the wall before unclipping the gator clips.

I don't use the clips, I use eyelets that mount to the battery posts (moto is slightly different than auto). The eyelets have a wire lead that has a plug on the end, and the trickle charger has a matching plug. I plug the trickle into the moto, and then the trickle into the wall.

EDIT: This is the one I have: https://www.cyclegear.com/accessories/duraboost-battery-maintainer-750
jmdirt
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22 Oct 2017 20:46

Looking for some kind of race shower setup. I want a hot water shower after remote rides. I have seen some on demand water heaters w 6 liter tanks.. that quantity of water just doesn't sound sufficient.. looked at RV sites and some YouTube but everything looks either expensive or complicated or both.. I could have 5 or ten gallons of water available in plastic cans but getting it under pressure to flow through a water heater is a different thing. I looked at a low volume transfer pump from Harbor freight.. but the van I am converting to a mobile training camp doesn't have all that much room..
Unchained
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23 Oct 2017 13:44

A small submergeable sump pump with auto-shut off/on will pump plenty of water. You'll want some way to make sure the pump and heater shuts off if it runs out of water.

But I think you'd do better with a way to heat a large pot of water and just do sponge bath, and manually refill the pot as needed.

Jay Kosta
Endwell NY USA
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Re: Re:

27 Oct 2017 12:05

jmdirt wrote:Red to + (pos) and black to - (neg), then plug it into the wall. Unplug it from the wall before unclipping the gator clips.

I don't use the clips, I use eyelets that mount to the battery posts (moto is slightly different than auto). The eyelets have a wire lead that has a plug on the end, and the trickle charger has a matching plug. I plug the trickle into the moto, and then the trickle into the wall.

EDIT: This is the one I have: https://www.cyclegear.com/accessories/duraboost-battery-maintainer-750
I'm a bit confused about something... the booklet that came with the charger says that for car batteries it's "maintenance only", whereas with smaller batteries (such as for mopeds) it gives an actual time as to how long it would take to charge them. Does this mean that the charger won't actually charge a car battery? Will it keep the charge wherever it's currently at only?

Btw., car batteries scare the crap out of me, the idea of a sulfuric acid explosion doesn't sound terribly appealing. At least I don't have to add water to mom's battery as it is maintenance-free, do some people actually have to do that?
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Re: Re:

27 Oct 2017 12:45

Tricycle Rider wrote:
jmdirt wrote:Red to + (pos) and black to - (neg), then plug it into the wall. Unplug it from the wall before unclipping the gator clips.

I don't use the clips, I use eyelets that mount to the battery posts (moto is slightly different than auto). The eyelets have a wire lead that has a plug on the end, and the trickle charger has a matching plug. I plug the trickle into the moto, and then the trickle into the wall.

EDIT: This is the one I have: https://www.cyclegear.com/accessories/duraboost-battery-maintainer-750
I'm a bit confused about something... the booklet that came with the charger says that for car batteries it's "maintenance only", whereas with smaller batteries (such as for mopeds) it gives an actual time as to how long it would take to charge them. Does this mean that the charger won't actually charge a car battery? Will it keep the charge wherever it's currently at only?

Btw., car batteries scare the crap out of me, the idea of a sulfuric acid explosion doesn't sound terribly appealing. At least I don't have to add water to mom's battery as it is maintenance-free, do some people actually have to do that?

Most of the low amp float chargers will only 'top off' a battery that has 80% charge or more, and they won't do anything for a battery with any plate buildup. That's why you leave them plugged in all of the time.

I'm with you on the chance of KABOOM! Other than a vintage moto battery, I haven't seen a flooded (add water) battery since the '90s.
jmdirt
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Re: Re:

27 Oct 2017 13:12

jmdirt wrote:Most of the low amp float chargers will only 'top off' a battery that has 80% charge or more, and they won't do anything for a battery with any plate buildup. That's why you leave them plugged in all of the time.

I'm with you on the chance of KABOOM! Other than a vintage moto battery, I haven't seen a flooded (add water) battery since the '90s.
I would hate to imagine the people who found out that car batteries can explode the hard way. :eek:

Thanks for the help, I think this charger should be okay. (They had much more expensive ones at the store, but I'm naturally too cheap for that.) The charger indicator says that the battery is at 90%, so if I can keep it there that would be great.
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Re: Re:

27 Oct 2017 17:20

Tricycle Rider wrote:
jmdirt wrote:Most of the low amp float chargers will only 'top off' a battery that has 80% charge or more, and they won't do anything for a battery with any plate buildup. That's why you leave them plugged in all of the time.

I'm with you on the chance of KABOOM! Other than a vintage moto battery, I haven't seen a flooded (add water) battery since the '90s.
I would hate to imagine the people who found out that car batteries can explode the hard way. :eek:

Thanks for the help, I think this charger should be okay. (They had much more expensive ones at the store, but I'm naturally too cheap for that.) The charger indicator says that the battery is at 90%, so if I can keep it there that would be great.

If you keep it plugged in for a few days and it still says 90%, you could try taking to someone who will "deep" charge it for you, and then use the float charger to keep it there. I used a regular charger on a low battery one time and it still didn't get to 13 volts. I took it to the moto shop and they used their "sonic" charger, and I got two more years out of it after that.

Check with local auto parts stores, I think that O' Reilly might offer this service for free (in hopes that when you buy a new one, you will remember them).
jmdirt
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27 Oct 2017 18:24

This is a good thread. Well, allow me to share what I have observe for the materials on DIY's project. Everything that is reusable and recyclable can be use for your next DIY project.
audrey27
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Re: Re:

28 Oct 2017 03:26

jmdirt wrote:If you keep it plugged in for a few days and it still says 90%, you could try taking to someone who will "deep" charge it for you, and then use the float charger to keep it there. I used a regular charger on a low battery one time and it still didn't get to 13 volts. I took it to the moto shop and they used their "sonic" charger, and I got two more years out of it after that.

Check with local auto parts stores, I think that O' Reilly might offer this service for free (in hopes that when you buy a new one, you will remember them).
This had me a bit concerned, if the floater charger won't charge a car battery to 100% I'm not sure what good it will do mom. (And, as Jay had mentioned earlier, I don't trust my elderly parents around a floater charger that is hooked up to a live battery non-stop even if the battery is at only 90%.)

So I went back to the store and exchanged it for this charger (slightly more pricey), currently the indicator is saying the battery is bad and it's trying to de-sulfate it. And if the de-sulfating doesn't work the battery needs to be taken to an actual professional.

Image

So yeah, that's how well my latest DIY project is going. Thanks for your help, nonetheless, jmd! :cool:

PS - Apparently you're supposed to ground these chargers to a metallic part of the chassis, not the negative terminal of the battery. YMMV, I suppose.
User avatar Tricycle Rider
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Re: Re:

28 Oct 2017 13:42

Tricycle Rider wrote:...
PS - Apparently you're supposed to ground these chargers to a metallic part of the chassis, not the negative terminal of the battery. YMMV, I suppose.

-----------------------
Yes, chargers and jumper cables usually say to connect the ground clamp to the chassis away from the battery itself.
The reason seems to be a safety concern with sparks near the battery. In some cases hydrogen gas can accumulate around the battery and might be ignited by sparks - connecting the ground clamp LAST and far from the battery reduces that concern.

A common CAR WON'T START problem that I see is that the transmission safety switch doesn't allow the starter motor to run - all the lights and radio are fine, and there is no 'clicking' when the key is turned. The fix is ususally to just move the gear shift lever out of PARK and then back into PARK to activate the switch. The mechanical linkage of the shift lever to the switch is worn or the lever wasn't fully in the PARK position.

If the starter relay does click when the key is turned, FIRST check that the clamps on the battery posts are tight. If one seems loose (giving a poor connection) gently tap on it with a piece of wood, hard plastic, etc. That might restore the connection enough to start and take to mechanic or home for proper tools, etc.

Jay Kosta
Endwell NY USA
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Re: Re:

28 Oct 2017 15:06

Tricycle Rider wrote:
jmdirt wrote:If you keep it plugged in for a few days and it still says 90%, you could try taking to someone who will "deep" charge it for you, and then use the float charger to keep it there. I used a regular charger on a low battery one time and it still didn't get to 13 volts. I took it to the moto shop and they used their "sonic" charger, and I got two more years out of it after that.

Check with local auto parts stores, I think that O' Reilly might offer this service for free (in hopes that when you buy a new one, you will remember them).
This had me a bit concerned, if the floater charger won't charge a car battery to 100% I'm not sure what good it will do mom. (And, as Jay had mentioned earlier, I don't trust my elderly parents around a floater charger that is hooked up to a live battery non-stop even if the battery is at only 90%.)

So I went back to the store and exchanged it for this charger (slightly more pricey), currently the indicator is saying the battery is bad and it's trying to de-sulfate it. And if the de-sulfating doesn't work the battery needs to be taken to an actual professional.

Image

So yeah, that's how well my latest DIY project is going. Thanks for your help, nonetheless, jmd! :cool:

PS - Apparently you're supposed to ground these chargers to a metallic part of the chassis, not the negative terminal of the battery. YMMV, I suppose.

As Jay said, you are trying to avoid a spark at the battery. So the gain of using the chassis ground is that its slightly away from the battery. So that's why I (based on things I've read and tried) hook up the battery before plugging in the charger, and unplug the charger before unhooking the battery. You can even wait a few minutes after unplugging the charger before unhooking the battery. Also, the application on my moto is semi-perm hooked up so I'm not hooking/unhooking at the battery.

The chassis ground isn't a true ground because vehicles are on rubber tires.

Keep us posted on how well your new charger works!
jmdirt
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Re: Re:

30 Oct 2017 13:29

JayKosta wrote:A common CAR WON'T START problem that I see is that the transmission safety switch doesn't allow the starter motor to run - all the lights and radio are fine, and there is no 'clicking' when the key is turned. The fix is ususally to just move the gear shift lever out of PARK and then back into PARK to activate the switch. The mechanical linkage of the shift lever to the switch is worn or the lever wasn't fully in the PARK position.

If the starter relay does click when the key is turned, FIRST check that the clamps on the battery posts are tight. If one seems loose (giving a poor connection) gently tap on it with a piece of wood, hard plastic, etc. That might restore the connection enough to start and take to mechanic or home for proper tools, etc.

Jay Kosta
Endwell NY USA
Hotdamn, I did not know that, I might give that a try once the car (somewhat inevitably) won't start again.

Thanks for the tip, Jay!
Last edited by Tricycle Rider on 30 Oct 2017 14:01, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Re:

30 Oct 2017 13:33

jmdirt wrote: Keep us posted on how well your new charger works!
Hmmm, the de-sulfation didn't seem to work, so next step is to take the battery to a pro and have it analyzed. If I'm reading the date stamp correctly the battery is over 5 years old, so it's probably time to replace it. (That's if my mom even wants to have it replaced, she's totally indifferent when it comes to taking care if her car. She thinks that's my dad's job. :rolleyes:)

Anyhoo, can't say if I can fault the charger itself, so won't be returning it yet.

PS - The battery in my '67 Bug is inside under the rear seat, on the boneheaded occasions I've left my headlights on and have drained it it's a pain in the **** to jump it because I have to rearrange the car's furniture. So I really try not to forget to turn everything off when I'm parking the car.
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