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Author Topic: Is there a danger from trickle chargers ?  (Read 13736 times)

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April 08, 2010 - 19:07
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Offline GrandadRob

  • Non-Member
  • 1955 86 inch.
  • Location: Herefordshire, UK
After losing a couple of batteries last winter in cold sheds, I decided to invest in some trickle chargers, which I left on all winter in the thought that this would keep the battery alive. However, once again, I have a battery which will not turn the engine over. It shows fully charged on a charger, and on my cheap battery condition meter shows all greens/good. But the tester at the battery shop said it was dead. Did I do the wrong thing with the trickle charger ?

April 08, 2010 - 19:26
Reply #1

Offline 3sheets86

  • Non-Member
  • Location: Lancashire, UK
Are they conventional batteries or lead calcium?

April 08, 2010 - 19:33
Reply #2

Offline GrandadRob

  • Non-Member
  • 1955 86 inch.
  • Location: Herefordshire, UK

April 08, 2010 - 19:48
Reply #3

Offline fifty seven

  • LRSOC Member
  • Location: West Highlands, Scotland
A good quality trickle charger with cut out should not cause the plates to reach this stage. If a battery is left on constant charge the plates will break down and performance will be permanently lost. If the trickle charger did not have a voltage cut out system it will have caused the plates to overheat , electrolyte to evaporate and change concentration.This will have damaged the plates.

I have found this weblink among others which explains things better than I could.

It is better to "cycle"  a stored battery by putting it on charge for a few hours every few weeks than leave it recharging permanently.

April 08, 2010 - 20:04
Reply #4

Offline GrandadRob

  • Non-Member
  • 1955 86 inch.
  • Location: Herefordshire, UK
Thanks Fifty-seven, it seems that it is a self inflicted injury then. Really thought I was doing the right thing too. Just proves that you, meaning ME, are never too old to learn.

April 08, 2010 - 21:52
Reply #5

Offline DEG61 Paid Advertiser - Trade

  • LRSOC Member
  • Essex escapee
  • Location: Northants
Thanks Fifty-seven, it seems that it is a self inflicted injury then. Really thought I was doing the right thing too. Just proves that you, meaning ME, are never too old to learn.

Don't worry, I've fallen foul of this too. I put at least two batteries on trickle charge but it's never clear whether they're the right thing to keep on all the time. I've lost a battery for my Sprite and for my Healey 100 (2 x 6 V jobs) doing this). Next time, I'll buy the expensive battery conditioners!


April 08, 2010 - 22:53
Reply #6

Offline blacksmith

  • Non-Member
  • 1955 86 in
  • Location: North Yorkshire, UK
i use a time switch on  the trickle charger comes on  3 hours a day seems to work andrew

April 08, 2010 - 23:16
Reply #7

Offline Phil

  • LRSOC Member
  • Location: Asturias, Spain
If your battery charger does not have an automatic cutout then you can easily overcharge the battery and cause irreparable damage.
Years ago it was possible to rescue heavily sulphated batteries by several periods of slow charging with total replacement of the electrolyte between charges. However, I do not know if this applies to modern batteries.
A fully charged cell should give a reading of 2.2v but the only sure way to test the charge capacity is to use a hydrometer.  Each cell should read 1.260 when charged. Small variations between cells are ok but large differences, i.e one or more cells at 1.100 or less mean that your battery is probably shot.

April 09, 2010 - 00:44
Reply #8

Offline cjbp

  • Non-Member
  • Location: Herefordshire, UK
If the period look isn't an issue, then the Halfords calcium batteries are fantastic. The one on the 107 had been left for months, and fired up instantly when coaxed.

April 09, 2010 - 10:21
Reply #9

Offline northfawley

  • LRSOC & LR Register Member
  • Location: Hungerford,Berkshire, UK
I run a car storage business and therefore use a lot of battery conditioners!The airflow battery conditioners are very good and seem reliable over many years.I have had cars hooked up to these for 8 years and the batteries are still perfect!
I can supply them at a cost of 39.99 plus postage (sorry for the shamless plug)
Simon Lake
Simon Lake.
Classic and modern dehumidified car storage in Berkshire

80"   1948 NJO 8      R861473
80"   1950 LRO 276  R06108724
80"   1951  XVV 290  16134214
86"   1956 SLL 485  170603513
88"   1956 NDM 934 111605420

April 09, 2010 - 12:09
Reply #10

Offline AWM

  • LRSOC Member
  • Location: The Netherlands
Simon is right, you need to use one of the 'intelligent' battery chargers on the market.
I have a bank of six Sparkright 6A chargers to trickle charge all my car batteries. They aren't as sophisticated as the airflow type but they have done the job for more than a year now and are quite cheap eg.:
I also use a couple of pulser units for desulphating batteries that I have abused by allowing them to go flat etc. They can't work miracles but they have recovered the performance of several batteries for me over the last few years that are still going strong as a result. I made them from kits but they have assmbled versions also and they are available here:
There's a lot of information on this site about the technology and looking after lead acid batteries generally, which I won't bore everyone with here. If you look after your batteries properly under ideal conditions you probably don't need a desulphuriser but in the real world...

April 09, 2010 - 13:15
Reply #11

Offline rodthrutheblock Trade (Legend Advertiser)

  • LRSOC Member
  • Location: Saffron Walden
There is a danger from trickle chargers. Mine fell off a shelf in the shed and dented the top of my wing.
25 years classic vehicle valuation experience, qualified & insured.

April 16, 2010 - 22:10
Reply #12

Offline ebromwell

  • Non-Member
  • Location: Exeter, UK
I've used a  600 milliamp automatic trickle charger over the last 3 winters on a 1953 MG witha pretty hefty 12v standard lead acid battery with no problems. Also an identical charger was put on my MX5 which was off road from 1 November last year to 1 April.
The chargers are branded TRONIC made in Germany by HOYER Hondel GmbH and retailed by Lidl (on and off) for 4.99. ( Yes, less than a Fiver) The chargers have a green LED to show when they are putting out any current. Connected to the standard lead acid battery on the MG the light is rarely on and then only for very short periods. Connected to the Panasonic "gel" battery on the Mazda it never appeared to go out (swopping the chargers from one vehicle to the other made no differnce). So after about 6 weeks I put a time switch to limit the charge on the gel battery to 3 hours a day. Worked OK.

April 17, 2010 - 10:27
Reply #13

Offline starken

  • LRSOC Member
  • Location: Fife, Scotland
An addititional thought related to all of this, and passing on the wisdom learned from my mistake many years ago. I had my battery on charge up until the time I was going to use the vehicle. Disconnected the charger, climbed in and operated the starter. Large bang as the battery blew up. Fortunately the bonnet was closed so the only consequence was a very messy engine compartment. When charging, the battery generates a very fine explosive gas which will dissipate with time. Time I didn't give it. Luckily, it wasn't on the bench and I can still see.