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Old 11-20-2012, 05:19 PM   #1
ballmode
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Default Looking to get a portable battery charger

Wanting to get a good battery charger for a gift to a car friend this holiday.

Any suggestions? Amazon, Auto Zone, O Reilly, Wal Mart?
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Old 11-20-2012, 10:19 PM   #2
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Schumacher has always been good to me.
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Old 11-20-2012, 10:42 PM   #3
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Define portable?

Like one of those little boxes? Or something with two wheels and a handle?
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Old 11-21-2012, 01:38 AM   #4
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one that can fit in your trunk and can be easily handed to somebody.

Thanks LTC I've been looking at Schumachers
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Old 11-21-2012, 02:49 PM   #5
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one that can fit in your trunk and can be easily handed to somebody.
So a jumper pack?

Most people don't keep a charger in their car.

Not trying to be pedantic, it's just that the features to look for are different between the two.

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Old 11-21-2012, 04:07 PM   #6
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A jump box would be what I'd buy as a gift, unless he's one of those anal-retentive people that puts a trickle charger on their battery every night (probably decreasing the life of the battery through mild overcharging).

Working on cars is what I do all day (okay; when I feel like doing something), and I still don't own a charger. If a battery's stone dead, I take it up the block to the part store. They have a far better charger than what most people are going to buy for their home garage. Only caveat is some are automated (senses charge and regulates output automatically) and some arent- requiring an operator who's not going to leave it on rapid charge for a few hours or something.

But anyhow- yeah, jump boxes are nice to have. Buy one that is only a jump box...the little junky 12v tire inflators can be had separately for like $20. As can flashlights or whatever else they might throw on there that will probably just break. Also make sure it has an on-off switch (a lot of the more expensive 'shop grade' ones actually don't).
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Old 11-21-2012, 04:15 PM   #7
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A jump box would be what I'd buy as a gift, unless he's one of those anal-retentive people that puts a trickle charger on their battery every night (probably decreasing the life of the battery through mild overcharging).
A true trickle charger won't do that. Furthermore, the lead-acid chemistry is such that the only consequences of overcharging are heat and electrolysis, neither of which will be significant under a trickle charge. Unless the owner never checked their electrolyte level, but the sort of person who hooks up a trickle charger every night isn't the sort to omit adding some distilled water occasionally.
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Old 11-21-2012, 04:35 PM   #8
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Eh, I don't meet many people who pop the caps on modern batteries, since they're all advertised as sealed and maintenance-free. I was indeed mostly referring to said electrolysis gradually decreasing the electrolyte level.

Mostly, I just don't see why people bother. A properly-functioning charging system should mean the battery pretty much always having 12.4v or more when the vehicle is parked. And that voltage is going to stay up there in the healthy range (12.4-12.6 or so) for at least a few days.

Out of curiosity- I've seen hot, swollen batteries from too much rapid charging...is it not at all possible to do the same with a trickle charge (2a seems to be the norm)? It would overall take more power input, but I would think overcharged is overcharged, no matter how slowly you do it.

You also gotta consider the voltage of the charger. If it's putting out 15-16v (common for cheap chargers to be over/under rated voltage or current), that battery is going to keep trying to take more charge. Ideally I would think you would only want to 'maintain' a battery with around 13v or so. But I dunno, this is outside my realm...I usually just charge batteries to 'good enough' (50%+) and then let the car take care of it; don't know the science of absolutely maximizing the charge (safely)...again, mostly because it just isn't necessary.
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Old 11-21-2012, 05:07 PM   #9
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Mostly, I just don't see why people bother. A properly-functioning charging system should mean the battery pretty much always having 12.4v or more when the vehicle is parked. And that voltage is going to stay up there in the healthy range (12.4-12.6 or so) for at least a few days.
Oh, I agree...trickle chargers are only necessary if the car is going to be parked for weeks to months.

Quote:
Originally Posted by phucheneh View Post
Out of curiosity- I've seen hot, swollen batteries from too much rapid charging...is it not at all possible to do the same with a trickle charge (2a seems to be the norm)? It would overall take more power input, but I would think overcharged is overcharged, no matter how slowly you do it.

You also gotta consider the voltage of the charger. If it's putting out 15-16v (common for cheap chargers to be over/under rated voltage or current), that battery is going to keep trying to take more charge. Ideally I would think you would only want to 'maintain' a battery with around 13v or so. But I dunno, this is outside my realm...I usually just charge batteries to 'good enough' (50%+) and then let the car take care of it; don't know the science of absolutely maximizing the charge (safely)...again, mostly because it just isn't necessary.
A true trickle charger will keep the battery on 13.4V or so (temp adjusted ideally) once it is fully charged, which will provide a current equal to the self-discharge rate (well below 2A) and can be left connected almost indefinitely. A cheap charger that puts out a higher voltage and doesn't reduce it once the battery is fully charged will indeed cook the battery and permanently damage it if unattended.

Most cars actually don't have very fancy charge circuitry and do "overcharge" batteries regularly, but obviously car batteries can last for many years despite this abuse. If you're trying to set up a backup power system, however, you want to treat your batteries better than that.
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Old 11-21-2012, 05:38 PM   #10
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A true trickle charger will keep the battery on 13.4V or so (temp adjusted ideally) once it is fully charged, which will provide a current equal to the self-discharge rate (well below 2A) and can be left connected almost indefinitely. A cheap charger that puts out a higher voltage and doesn't reduce it once the battery is fully charged will indeed cook the battery and permanently damage it if unattended.

Most cars actually don't have very fancy charge circuitry and do "overcharge" batteries regularly, but obviously car batteries can last for many years despite this abuse. If you're trying to set up a backup power system, however, you want to treat your batteries better than that.
That's what I was looking for...I knew you couldn't maintain a 12.6v battery with a 12.6v source; but didn't know how high the voltage needed to be. And couldn't remember the term 'self-discharge rate.'

I see a lot of 'smart' chargers that don't really seem to be such...if it's not one of the high-end things with a little computer in it that constantly manages voltage/amperage, I just wouldn't trust it enough to leave it alone. And even those fancy onces scare me. I've seen them charge up in the 16-18v range and get batteries hot as shit. And I'm talking about a multi-thousand dollar midtronics unit. [edit: this thing. Three grand and I wanted to throw it out a fucking window.]

Last edited by phucheneh; 11-21-2012 at 05:41 PM.
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Old 11-21-2012, 07:42 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by phucheneh View Post
A jump box would be what I'd buy as a gift, unless he's one of those anal-retentive people that puts a trickle charger on their battery every night (probably decreasing the life of the battery through mild overcharging).

Working on cars is what I do all day (okay; when I feel like doing something), and I still don't own a charger. If a battery's stone dead, I take it up the block to the part store. They have a far better charger than what most people are going to buy for their home garage. Only caveat is some are automated (senses charge and regulates output automatically) and some arent- requiring an operator who's not going to leave it on rapid charge for a few hours or something.
I've had people ask for float chargers as gifts before, and even bench chargers. I definitely agree that a bench charger isn't something that gets used every day, but when the nearest parts store is 10 miles away it's quite nice to be able to be able to hook up my bench charger in the evening, set it to 2A, and trust that the little microprocessor in it will shut it off if the battery in the "fun" car is topped off before I get down there the next morning. For the $65.00 it cost me at Sears it's been worth having around.

It's similarly helpful when I get a new motorcycle battery for the old CB450 since they don't make a sealed version and I have to add the acid myself, then charge the battery before use. The little battery tender would take too long, but the bench charger can have the new motorcycle battery ready in an hour or so. Without it, I'd have to bring the battery home, fill it, then take it back to the shop for them to charge it and wait there while it charged. Much easier to just have everything in my shop.

For motorcycles, I've always kept them on a float charger (not a trickle charger) and I've never had that reduce my battery life. Yes, a "dumb" charger that just supplies a low-amperage charge all the time will eventually kill a battery, but you can get very good intelligent float chargers for $50-$100 that will shut off or only provide self-discharge current once the battery is charged. No need to spend three grand on a full-on diagnostic system.

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Old 11-21-2012, 07:52 PM   #12
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Point taken. I guess I'm just spoiled by having four parts stores within about two miles. And the closest one has people who know me, so it's no prob to just drop a battery off while I'm out and about. Takes about a minute.

I didn't know you ever had to fill motorcycle batteries. I did that one time with a little tiny battery for a gokart- thought the 'build it yourself' models were limited to lawnmower batteries and similar (karts usually having repurposed mower engines, of course).

And I agree that there is zero need to spend $3000 on a charger/tester. Nissan required it for warranty, though. Again- probably the most aggravating shop tool I've ever used. While I'd probably trust a stranger with it more than I would an old-school charger, said trust is still far from absolute...and as far as my own use, my god was that thing a pain in the ass. It would, say, try and charge a battery with a dead cell for two hours before it would (maybe) finally call it bad and give you a warranty code.

...we kept a stack of Duralast batteries around for generating quick failure codes...
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Old 11-22-2012, 12:58 AM   #13
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Point taken. I guess I'm just spoiled by having four parts stores within about two miles. And the closest one has people who know me, so it's no prob to just drop a battery off while I'm out and about. Takes about a minute.

I didn't know you ever had to fill motorcycle batteries. I did that one time with a little tiny battery for a gokart- thought the 'build it yourself' models were limited to lawnmower batteries and similar (karts usually having repurposed mower engines, of course).

And I agree that there is zero need to spend $3000 on a charger/tester. Nissan required it for warranty, though. Again- probably the most aggravating shop tool I've ever used. While I'd probably trust a stranger with it more than I would an old-school charger, said trust is still far from absolute...and as far as my own use, my god was that thing a pain in the ass. It would, say, try and charge a battery with a dead cell for two hours before it would (maybe) finally call it bad and give you a warranty code.

...we kept a stack of Duralast batteries around for generating quick failure codes...
Makes sense that a manufacturer would want to put service departments through some hoops before spending warranty money (I don't like it, but it makes sense), but I agree that it sounds like a lot more hassle than its worth.

Even the modern AGM motorcycle batteries I've seen don't come filled, unless you buy them from a dealer or somewhere that will fill them for you first. I think this is mostly due to the fact that motorcycle batteries are more likely to sit on a shelf for months and that they have so much less reserve capacity (the CB450's battery is only 12 amp-hour) that self-discharge is a larger problem for them. I suppose that maybe the larger heavy cruiser type bikes like a Triumph Rocket III or a GoldWing might have large enough batteries to come pre-filled, but I don't know for sure.

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Old 11-22-2012, 08:58 AM   #14
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What are you going to get, a charger that plugs into a cigarette lighter?
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Old 11-22-2012, 11:03 AM   #15
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Depending on the use of the charger its not that big a deal as some of you are making it.

For the OP only suggestion i have is to get it from a Automotive store or supplyer, VS a Bixbox store such as Walmart(but not limited to)

Those who get these things cause they can and compliment the 'toys' they drive around, wont care. but for the rest... normal car battery voltage can be anywere from ~12.6v-13.2v , The battery in a road car only serves 2 purpose -start the car -and system stabalizer(similar to a capacitor) when car is running. Alternator output is prolly somewere just under ~14v its always trickle charging the battery. Car batteries arn't meant to be drained dead or left at half charge. Charging the battery wont hurt it for all practical purposes, its the amount of charging cycles it has to go through if soemone keeps killing it and amount of time left uncharged.... Starting the car is what the battery does that is it. If your contantly cycling batteries, you need a Marine Deep-cycle battery. If you kill a battery by chargin it, it was either already damaged to begin with or your doing it wrong... No trickle charging a battery overnight will Not kill your battery. Yes its better to Fully charge our battery befor putting it backinto the vehical for normal operation, because depending on Driving cycles/time the customer usess the car and how many accessories are in use Alternator Will Not fully charge a severily depleted batterie on its own (Disclaimer unless the more modern charging systems on recent vehicales has been improved since i was taught mechanics ~10 yrs ago)

EDIT: oh yeah to phucheneh - just cause you dont know how to use a tool or think its worthless doesnt mean its a peace a shit. As long as it wasn't broke or miss calibrated im sure it was doing its job. Though i cant say the same for u. The machine was probably making sure any of the seemingly 'dead' batteries couldnt be revived and load tested... you may of found this anoying but if you think about it, it saves everyone money in the end. EDIT: unless ofcourse the machine isnt being utilized, then there was probably a lota waist spent on the machine :/

Last edited by jolancer; 11-22-2012 at 11:25 AM.
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Old 11-22-2012, 11:17 AM   #16
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Oh this thread is about battery boosters

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Old 11-22-2012, 12:27 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phucheneh View Post
A jump box would be what I'd buy as a gift, unless he's one of those anal-retentive people that puts a trickle charger on their battery every night (probably decreasing the life of the battery through mild overcharging).

Working on cars is what I do all day (okay; when I feel like doing something), and I still don't own a charger. If a battery's stone dead, I take it up the block to the part store. They have a far better charger than what most people are going to buy for their home garage. Only caveat is some are automated (senses charge and regulates output automatically) and some arent- requiring an operator who's not going to leave it on rapid charge for a few hours or something.

But anyhow- yeah, jump boxes are nice to have. Buy one that is only a jump box...the little junky 12v tire inflators can be had separately for like $20. As can flashlights or whatever else they might throw on there that will probably just break. Also make sure it has an on-off switch (a lot of the more expensive 'shop grade' ones actually don't).
Man you have really made a name for yourself around here.


As a 'self pronounced' mechanic IE oil/tire change monkey you really give a lot of................ typical advice from a fucking idiot who has no idea what they're talking about, other than normal 15 min lunch break "bitch sessions" with your equally clueless coworkers.


Any modern, even half decent trickle charger is perfectly safe, and healthy, for a battery that is not used often. All of the modern chargers are 'smart chargers' that will not overcharge a battery.

Just because you have one vehicle and thus are "too good" to use a charger doesn't mean there are others who are aboe to have garage toys that need one.

Your post is fucking stupid and idiotic, not much different than any of your other ridiculously biased posts that make it absolutely clear that you know how to remove a drain plug and only add 4 quarts via the nozzle with the twist dial.... and that's it.



To the op: I would get a jumpbox along with a name brand ~$40 trickle charger, that advertises to charge around 1mA. A jumpbox is very useful (needs to be plugged in every few weeks otherwise it's useless) and a trickle charger with a hard-wired lead is great for a vehicle that's only driven on the weekends.
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Old 11-22-2012, 12:57 PM   #18
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Man you have really made a name for yourself around here.


As a 'self pronounced' mechanic IE oil/tire change monkey you really give a lot of................ typical advice from a fucking idiot who has no idea what they're talking about, other than normal 15 min lunch break "bitch sessions" with your equally clueless coworkers.


Any modern, even half decent trickle charger is perfectly safe, and healthy, for a battery that is not used often. All of the modern chargers are 'smart chargers' that will not overcharge a battery.

Just because you have one vehicle and thus are "too good" to use a charger doesn't mean there are others who are aboe to have garage toys that need one.

Your post is fucking stupid and idiotic, not much different than any of your other ridiculously biased posts that make it absolutely clear that you know how to remove a drain plug and only add 4 quarts via the nozzle with the twist dial.... and that's it.



To the op: I would get a jumpbox along with a name brand ~$40 trickle charger, that advertises to charge around 1mA. A jumpbox is very useful (needs to be plugged in every few weeks otherwise it's useless) and a trickle charger with a hard-wired lead is great for a vehicle that's only driven on the weekends.
TR[etarded]DR. Go away, golden god of nothing.

also:

Quote:
Originally Posted by jolancer View Post
EDIT: oh yeah to phucheneh - just cause you dont know how to use a tool or think its worthless doesnt mean its a peace a shit. As long as it wasn't broke or miss calibrated im sure it was doing its job. Though i cant say the same for u. The machine was probably making sure any of the seemingly 'dead' batteries couldnt be revived and load tested... you may of found this anoying but if you think about it, it saves everyone money in the end. EDIT: unless ofcourse the machine isnt being utilized, then there was probably a lota waist spent on the machine :/
I know how to use a GR8. It's a piece of shit. I was trying to imply that if industry-leading equipment has sketchy automation, I'm probably not going to trust a $50 charger to manage itself.

Last edited by phucheneh; 11-22-2012 at 01:01 PM.
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Old 11-22-2012, 01:16 PM   #19
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TR[etarded]DR. Go away, golden god of nothing.

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