A car battery can only last you if you keep it in optimal condition. However, given the various complexities of its structure and working of a regular car battery, there are several ways its maintenance can go wrong. It can even prove hazardous if you’re not careful.
An excellent way to minimize that danger while reducing legwork is to use a car battery maintainer. Throughout this guide, you’ll learn all about how it works and the process of choosing the most suitable one for your vehicle.
What Is a Battery Maintainer?
A battery maintainer optimizes the charging cycles, so the battery remains at full capacity. It uses a trickle charge mechanism to supply the necessary charge to the terminals intermittently. It can even switch off to prevent the battery from overcharging, extend the usage of the electrodes, and preserve the memory of the ECU for vehicles that keep it active.
How To Use a Battery Maintainer?
Using a battery maintainer is pretty straightforward. You can refer to the owner’s manual for a detailed step-by-step guide on adequately using it. But, if you’ve misplaced the manual, you can generally follow the steps below to charge your car battery with a battery maintainer.
- Turn all the switches to the ‘off’ position and connect the battery maintainer to the mains supply. Don’t turn it on yet.
- Use the charging cables to connect the positive end to the battery’s positive terminal and vice versa. Make sure the battery is not connected to any other circuit.
- Depending on the variant, you can configure your car battery maintainer to charge the battery slowly or quickly. In any case, you must ensure that the auto cut-off when the battery is fully charged remains active.
- When you’re satisfied with the settings, turn the power on and leave the maintainer to charge the battery.
- Once the battery is fully charged, turn off the power to the maintainer and disconnect the cables.
See full this video: How To Use A Maintainer Battery Charger When Vehicle Is In Storage Or Not Used Often
When Should I Use a Battery Maintainer?
You can use a battery maintainer as a charger or preserve the car battery for extended periods of non-usage. Remember that achieving a full charge on the battery may take quite a while. So, it’s best to ensure that you won’t need it for at least a few hours.
Types of battery chargers
A battery charger can belong to any of the following types.
- Regular battery charger: A regular battery charger can charge the battery as quickly and safely as possible. It supplies adequate current and often only takes a few minutes to make the battery functional again.
- Battery maintainer: A battery maintainer uses small intermittent currents to slowly charge the battery. It’s often the safest way to preserve a battery you won’t require for at least a few hours.
- Trickle charger: Trickle chargers are the middle ground between battery maintainers and regular chargers. You can use them to charge a battery faster than a maintainer, but not so fast that it may overcharge or damage the battery.
What’s the best time to use a battery maintainer?
A battery maintainer is best used to preserve the battery at full charge without the risk of electrolyte degradation or sulfation at the electrodes. It can also charge a battery if you’re in no hurry, although charging from less than 50% capacity takes quite a long time.
What Are the Different Types of Battery Chargers?
You can choose from three primary categories of battery chargers: standard chargers, battery maintainers, and trickle chargers. Standard chargers supply a constant source of DC electricity to a battery. Since you need to turn off standard chargers manually, you must pay attention so that you don’t accidentally overcharge the battery.
Trickle chargers are designed for scenarios that have long periods of inactivity. They work by supplying your battery with much smaller electricity over a longer duration. The weaker current means that they require less maintenance than standard chargers. You can use them to revive a dead battery safely.
Car battery maintainers keep the batteries charged when you wish to store them away for a while. They are highly adaptive and can prevent the leakage of gasses like hydrogen. That confirms adequate fire safety and keeping the battery ready when needed.
What Is Better: A Battery Maintainer or a Trickle Charger?
It depends on how drained the battery is. A battery maintainer is best if you want to recharge a battery with more than 50% charge retained. Sure, it will take longer to charge to 100%, but you can ensure improved battery life.
On the other hand, a trickle charger will charge your battery from zero to full within only a few hours. Still, it helps to carry a multimeter to ensure you don’t overcharge the battery.
How Do I Find the Right Battery Maintainer for My Needs?
Before deciding on the best battery maintainer, it helps to consider the following criteria:
- How long do you have to charge the battery?
- What are the specifications of your particular car battery? (Type, voltage, current, CCA ratings, etc.)
- Does your car battery show signs of wear or damage?
- Do you need to store the battery or use it right after charging?
- Do you have alternative devices to charge the battery and measure the various parameters?
How Long Can a Battery Stay on a Maintainer?
There is no definite time as to how long you can connect a maintainer to your car battery. It can switch off automatically to save electricity and prevent overcharging. There is no danger in leaving the battery connected for weeks or even months.
Top 3 Best Battery Maintainers
Given that battery maintainers come in various forms and sizes, here are our top three picks for automotive batteries.
One of the most portable car battery maintainers, you can pack this small device in a small purse or backpack. It fulfills the functions of a charger, maintainer, and multimeter in one device. You can use it to not only preserve your car battery but also run diagnostics using the various modes easily accessible through the digital interface.
In addition, the NOCO GENIUS1 can suit any commercial car battery in the market. Whether you have a trusty AGM variant or want to switch to a Li-ion alternative, the GENIUS1 has you covered.
Schumacher Battery Charger
If you desire a modular and lightweight solution for both a charger and a maintainer, then the Schumacher battery charger is the ideal choice. Due to the simple design and auto-adjusting circuits, it can provide the necessary charge for a wide range of vehicles, including cars, trucks, boats, tractors, RVs, and even snowmobiles.
You can also use it to revive batteries wholly discharged due to cold weather or electrode degradation. Thanks to its 100 CCA and 30A capacity, it can work well for personal vehicles and mechanic shops alike.
BLACK+DECKER BM3B Fully Automatic 6V/12V Battery Charger
For those unsure of their battery handling services, the BM3B variant of Black+Decker’s car battery maintainers is a reliable starting point. Although the charger doesn’t have plenty of features, its rugged design can withstand most households. It comes with various types of cables, allowing you to choose the safest option to charge your car battery.
At just over $25, it’s the least expensive of the lot. Nevertheless, the company claims a service life of at least five years for this 1.2-pound wonder gadget. While it’s most convenient to order it from Amazon, you can also find it stocked in the Electrical aisles of your nearest Walmart or Target store.
See full this video: The 5 Best Battery Tenders & Maintainers
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Is a battery maintainer a good idea?
Yes. It helps keep your battery in optimum condition when you don’t plan to use it anytime soon.
Is a battery maintainer better than a battery charger?
It depends on your urgency to use the battery. If you don’t require it for a day or two, it’s best to connect it to a battery maintainer. For faster charging and making the battery operational again, you must use a compatible battery charger.
How do I choose a battery maintainer?
In order to choose the best battery maintainer, you must consider the specifications of your battery and plan your use in the coming months. You can refer to the owner’s manual or the earlier sections in this guide.
Can I leave the battery maintainer on all the time?
Yes. The battery maintainer uses intermittent currents to charge the battery, which doesn’t damage it. It prevents the electrolyte from degrading and avoids the sulfation of the electrodes. You can leave a battery maintainer connected for months without wasting too much electricity.
Can you overcharge a battery with a maintainer?
No. Battery maintainers come with an auto cut-off feature that prevents overcharging.
Can you leave a battery maintainer on overnight?
Yes. A battery maintainer configured correctly can keep the battery charged and diagnose it for any faults, even when left overnight.
Does a battery maintainer need to be plugged in?
Yes. A battery maintainer needs a consistent power supply to perform its function flawlessly. You must never use it to charge from another battery.
Should I use a battery maintainer?
If you plan to leave the battery unused for a while and want to maintain its health for years to come, then a battery maintainer is definitely called for.
With the prices of rare earth elements skyrocketing and durable batteries still out of reach, it’s best to care for our available equipment. We’ll have more lifespan from car batteries soon, but until that day, it pays to rely on a car battery maintainer to reduce your pollution footprint.
- The 5 Best Battery Tenders & Maintainers
- How To Use A Maintainer Battery Charger When Vehicle Is In Storage Or Not Used Often