By Jody L. Campbell
How to Use a Car Battery Charger
By Jody L. Campbell
OverviewA car battery should only need to be charged if it is stored for a long period of time, a draw on the battery has accidentally drained it, or if the battery is aging and you’re trying to restore charge back to it. The latter reason will most likely only temporarily restore the charge to the battery and replacement of it should be considered. Car batteries provide the initial boost to start the vehicle as well as power to the electrical devices. The alternator takes over once the engine is running and perpetuates the reproduction of power back to the battery. The alternator does not fully recharge a car battery, however, but a car battery charger can, if the battery is not already compromised and the charger is used correctly.Step 1Put on the safety glasses before using the battery charger. Batteries contain a diluted sulfuric acid solution that can emit flammable hydrogen gas that can ignite by a small spark and cause the battery to explode. Safety glasses that wrap around all sides of the eyes are strongly recommended.Step 2Read the entire owner’s manual of the battery charger to learn how to place the settings and how the charger works.Step 3Place the volt setting of the battery charger on 12 volts if applicable. Many car battery chargers have a 12-volt default setting with no other volt options.Step 4Select a low amp setting (trickle charge) to charge the battery slowly. A low and slow charge to the battery will help desulfate the crystallization of lead sulphates providing a higher amperage output return. Setting a higher amp setting may be successful to shorten the length of charging time, but will decrease the desulfation reaction inside the battery.Step 5Select the correct battery type setting on the charger if applicable. Most modern car batteries use a conventional/low maintenance battery. Do not select “deep-cell” if present.Step 6Place the battery charger as far away from the car battery as the clamp wires will allow.Step 7Use a compatible AWG gauge extension cord if necessary to reach an electrical outlet. The owner’s manual of your charger will disclose the correct gauge extension cord required to operate the charger. If an extension cord is not necessary to reach the car battery, the electrical cord on the charger is already equipped with the correct AWG gauge wire. If the charger does not have a power-activated timer switch or an “on/off” button, do not plug the charger into the electrical outlet or extension cord at this time.Step 8Place the red positive alligator clip of the charger onto the positive terminal end or post of the battery first. Batteries installed in cars may have a red cable going to the battery post. All car batteries have a “+” sign stamped near the positive terminal post.Step 9Place the black negative alligator clip onto a non-painted metal bracket or bolt head as far away from an installed car battery as possible. This will reduce the risk of sparks from occurring near the battery, which can cause an explosion. For uninstalled car batteries, place the clip directly onto the negative terminal post (marked with a “-” insignia) ,or use a single wired/double clipped jumper wire at least 24 inches long with the correct AWG gauge and attach one end to the black alligator clip of the charger and the other end to the negative terminal post.Step 10Activate the charger. Different chargers are activated differently. Some supply electrical power to the charger the second they are plugged in. Other chargers have “on/off” power button sources on the unit of the chargers. Others still have a timer-power activated switch that will begin the charging process when the timer dial is set to a desired setting.Step 11Allow the correct amount of time to pass by (per owner’s manual instruction) on the trickle charge of a completely drained battery. Less time will be needed for batteries not completely drained. Most battery chargers will have a gauge that will display when the battery has reached a full charge. The trickle charge procedure may take 8 hours or more to restore charge to the battery. With this in mind, the battery charger should be monitored at least every hour to stop the charging procedure of the battery once it has reached optimum charge. Overcharging can damage the internal components of the battery.Step 12Unplug the charger (or power it down) before removing it from the battery. Remove the negative alligator clip of the charger first, and then the positive clip. If you’re going to attempt to start the car of an installed battery before removing the charger, be sure the alligator clips and wires will not come into contact with moving engine parts.skill3ingredientCar battery charger and owner’s manual
Car battery (in or out of vehicle)
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