Properly charging your batteries is critical to the life and longevity of your battery. You made the investment in a good battery, so now be good to it and charge it properly. If you do, you will get all its worth out of it. Batteries that are not charged and maintained will fail prematurely. So, let's be smart about! Invest in a smart charger! What is a smart charger anyway? These power supply devices are commonly defined as such that have switch mode capability. These chargers are known as high frequency chargers that are able to interpret signals or communicate via microprocessors and can self monitor and control the charging process. Let's dive into the three stages of the smart charging process:
- Stage 1 - Bulk Charge. This is the stage where the primary work of charging up a drained battery takes place and at the highest voltage and amp capacity the charger is able to deliver. Charge rates may vary slightly between different brands, however, for 12 volt traditional flooded lead acid batteries the voltage charge rate would be 14.6 to 14.8 or even a bit higher. For AGM 12 volt batteries the charge rates of 14.5 to 14.8 are used and gel batteries would be the lowest at 14.1- 14.4. At this bulk rate charge you are charging the battery to reach full charge.
- Stage 2 - Absorption charge. Since a smart charger is able to measure the voltage it knows when it reaches about 70-80% full charge and voltage. At this point the absorption charging stage begins and a lesser steady current is supplied in a gradually diminishing rate until the battery safely reaches full charge and tops off the battery and then the current levels off. This charge stage takes more charge time than the bulk charge stage takes.
- Stage 3 - Float Charge. This stage of charging is where your smart charger will charge the remaining portion of your battery, typically the last 15% (chargers will vary) and take the state of charge through to 100% and maintain 100% state of charge. It decreases and then floats or trickles a charge on the battery at that point just to maintain the full state of charge without overcharging your battery. Since the smart charger does not overcharge the battery but merely maintains it, there is no need to shut off the charger. It is safe to be left in the float mode. Some chargers will even shut themselves off at the full state of charge and will turn on as needed.
Oct 31st 2018