Batteries Have Changed – Has Your Battery Charger?
by Clore Automotive
Contributed | July 31, 2013
Battery composition and construction have changed drastically in the past decade. New battery chemistries, such as AGM and Gel Cell types, are gaining traction with vehicle manufacturers and are becoming increasingly present as aftermarket alternatives. In addition, new battery constructions, such as Spiral Wound batteries, are gaining in popularity in a wide number of application areas.
The reasons for the continuing increase in popularity of non-traditional flooded acid battery types are many, but are primarily related to the increased power needs of today’s vehicles and the quest for greater battery longevity. Today’s vehicles experience a much higher power demand than vehicles of the past. This includes the need to run such accessories as navigational systems, entertainment systems, backup cameras and personal electronics. As a result of this power demand, vehicle batteries are cycled (drained heavily and recharged) far more than in the past, driving a greater emphasis on battery reserve capacity and the durability needed to stand up to these more demanding usage patterns.
Newer battery chemistries and constructions are designed to handle the cycling demand of today’s vehicle better than traditional flooded batteries. In addition, they are designed to be smarter, be less prone to shorting and to deliver greater durability. For instance, AGM batteries are much more vibration-resistant than traditional flooded batteries, making them great for performance vehicles,
off-road vehicles and powersports applications (ATVs, motorcycles, jet skis).
The downside of this proliferation of battery types for vehicle dealerships, repair shops, fleet maintenance operations and consumers comes when it is time to maintain batteries. New battery types cannot be properly charged using traditional battery chargers. AGM and Gel Cell batteries, in particular, require a battery charger that is compatible with their specific charging needs. Generally, this means that the charger will charge the battery using a “smart” charging routine that incorporates a constant amperage rate for the majority of the charging process and will precisely control battery voltage throughout the charging process. Failure to use an AGM- or Gel Cell-compatible charger on those battery types will result in excessive voltage and heat build-up, deteriorating the battery’s chemical composition and shortening the useful life of the battery.
What should you look for in a smart charger to ensure you purchase a product that meets the needs of today and tomorrow? At a minimum, the charger should have automatic operation, switching to a maintenance mode when the battery reaches full charge and avoiding the possibility of overcharging. The charger should be specifically marketed as compatible with AGM and/or Gel Cell batteries and should (in most cases) have specific settings for each. Ideally, the charger will feature temperature compensation, altering its charging algorithm based on the temperature when charging, which can have a dramatic effect on the charging process.
New PRO-LOGIX battery chargers from SOLAR offer a wide variety of benefits, including the ability to properly charge all varieties of lead-acid batteries, including Flooded, AGM, Gel Cell, Spiral Wound, Deep Cycle and Marine types. In addition, they utilize an advanced, automatic multi-phase charging process to deliver an optimal charge to each battery serviced, regardless of battery size or type. Special SOFT START and RECONDITION routines automatically engage as needed, and several models feature temperature compensation for beneficial charging in all temperatures.
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