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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

How to Keep the Battery Charged in Motorcycles.

For vehicles or motors that we use only seasonally, or vehicles that sit idle for extended periods, it’s important to maintain a healthy charge on the battery. By using a battery charger, we can help ensure our batteries are always ready, and a quality charger will also extend the life of our batteries. During the winter, I keep a charger on my mower battery. And during times I am not using my motorcycle, I use a charger on this battery as well. Most shops that service motorcycles and ATVs keep a commercial charge unit in place and will always move batteries to this charging system when vehicles are out of service. In this article, I’ll offer a simple overview of how you can use a charger on your own batteries.

Instructions

First, you’ll need to purchase a battery charger. It’s important that you use a charger that will not damage your battery after extended use. Many “trickle” chargers and automatic chargers either cycle charges in a way that shortens battery life, or are incapable of regulating the voltage output as required for varying types and ages of batteries. I recommend the Deltran Battery Tender family of chargers. I use a Deltran Battery Tender®Jr. on both my mower and my motorcycle. This is a very economical charger (approx. $25 at Amazon.com or eBay), and it does an awesome job of keeping my batteries charged. With the Battery Tender® Jr., I can simply plug in the battery and leave it all winter, if desired. I never need to worry whether the battery will over-charge, since the voltage is regulated to keep the optimal charge without cycling (on and off) and without manual intervention.

It’s impossible to include specific instructions for your charger, since there are so many manufacturers and types of chargers on the market. Take a few minutes and read over the instructions for your charger. Be sure you understand how the system works before you connect to your battery. With the Battery Tender® Jr., it’s simply a matter of connecting terminals to the battery, and plugging the unit in to a normal 110v outlet.

Regardless of which type of model of charger you use, be sure to connect the positive (+) [usually red] terminal to the positive clip on the charger, and the negative to the negative clip. Also, before you connect, be sure that the voltage output for the charger matches the battery you are using (i.e., 12 volt). For most negative-ground systems (where negative cable connects to vehicle chassis), connect the positive (+) charger clip to the battery + lead, then connect the negative (-) charger clip to the vehicle chassis. Once both positive and negative connections are made, THEN plug the charger in to the outlet.

If using the Deltran Battery Tender® line or chargers, you may simply leave the batter charger connected for as long as needed. Once your battery is fully charged, the charger will maintain a float level or optimal charge. Deltran chargers do this without cycling on and off, so this helps to extend the life of your battery. And it couldn’t be any easier to use.

Warnings
  • Never use a 12v charger with a 6v battery, or vice-versa. Always be sure your charger voltage matches the battery output.
  • Avoid using extension cords with your charger. If you must use an extension cord, be sure it’s at least 18AWG for short runs, or 16AWG for longer runs (smaller AWG is a thicker cord).
  • Be sure to read the instructions for your charger, and pay particular attention to cautions and warnings.
  • Wait until you’ve connected both positive and negative connections before you plug-in your charger to the electrical outlet.

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