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Car Battery Charging and Maintenance

Keeps the battery healthy and powers all tech devices

In addition to the alternator, the battery is the most important component of the vehicle’s electrical system. This allows all electronics to function when the engine is not running and plays an important role in the proper functioning of the alternator voltage regulator when the engine is running.

Unlike older electrical systems that use generators and can run without batteries, modern automotive electrical systems Battery for proper operation. A dead battery means that the car won’t start and the alternator will have to work hard-until it potentially fails-so how to properly and safely charge and maintain the car. It is essential to understand. battery.

Sam Edwards / Kaia Image / Getty

What does the car battery charge?

There are two ways to charge your car’s battery: an alternator or an external charger. Under normal conditions, the alternator charges the battery while the engine is running. If the battery is exhausted, the best way to charge it is to use an external charger.

Therefore, most of the normal battery use, such as turning off the engine and starting the radio or dome light, will charge naturally the next time you start the car. As the engine speed increases, the alternator’s power generation capacity also increases, allowing the battery to be charged using power not used by accessories such as headlights.

Conversely, in some cases, the alternator may not be able to provide enough power to run all the accessories. For example, if an air conditioner, wiper, headlights, radio, and other accessories are idling at a traffic light, it may be overloaded by the alternator. When this happens, the energy stored in the battery occupies space.

How long can the battery hold?

When properly charged and functioning properly, the car’s battery typically reads 12.4 to 12.6 volts and has enough reserve capacity to power a 25 amp load for 9 to 15 hours. After applying such a load to the battery, the voltage will drop below 10.5 volts and the battery will probably not be able to start the car.

Individual batteries are evaluated to indicate how long they can power a particular load before they fall below the critical voltage, but it is advisable to avoid exposing regular automotive batteries to this type of use. To do. Over-discharging a car’s battery can actually impair its ability to hold a charge in the future.

Extreme temperature and wear from normal charge and discharge cycles can reduce reserve capacity, so leaving the headlights on for short tasks can cause the battery to run out. ..

Car battery charging

Another way to charge the car’s battery is to use an external charger if the alternator isn’t ready for the task, or if the battery is too discharged to start the engine.

The vehicle’s battery charger shuts off AC power and supplies 12VDC at a relatively low voltage. This is the best way to recharge a fully discharged battery. Charging a discharged battery at high voltage increases the generation of hydrogen gas, which can create a dangerous situation where the battery explodes.

For this reason, it is important to be as careful when installing the car battery charger as when installing the jumper. It is also generally recommended to use a charger.

How to connect the car battery charger

Installing a car battery charger is very similar to a car jump start.

Make sure the battery charger is turned off. If in doubt, unplug it.

Connect the positive terminal of the charger to the positive terminal of the battery.

Connect the negative charger leads to a proper ground.

When connecting a negative cable to the negative pole of the battery, be careful not to touch, move, or disconnect the cable while the battery is charging.

Set the battery charger to the correct voltage and amperage.

Turn on the charger or plug it in as needed and set the timer as needed.

Charge the vehicle battery with a jumper cable

With this in mind, there are some risks, but it is also possible to provide some charge to a depleted battery through a jumper. After the jumper cable is attached from the donor vehicle to the battery and dead vehicle engine or chassis, starting and running the donor vehicle for a period of time allows the alternator to recharge the dead battery.

All accessories in the donor vehicle must be turned off during this process. Otherwise, the alternator may not have enough juice left to charge the dead battery. Depending on the condition of the battery, a few minutes will usually provide sufficient surface charge.

After the jump start, the car’s dead alternator is activated and you can just drive the car and recharge the battery unless too many accessories are running.But the alternator really design It is recommended to connect the battery charger after reboot to charge the fully discharged battery.

Car battery maintenance

Most automotive batteries are regular in the form of checking electrolyte levels and densities, in addition to ensuring that the batteries maintain good charge levels, primarily by not turning on the headlights overnight. Requires maintenance.

The electrolyte, which is a solution of sulfuric acid and water, should always cover the lead plate of each cell. This is because exposure of the board to the air can cause problems over time.

If all cells have a low density, the battery usually needs to be recharged. If the density remains low after charging the battery, this is usually a good sign that the battery needs to be replaced. Charging the battery is extremely dangerous if the specific density in the cell is low, that is, if it indicates an internal failure.

Car alternators can continue to charge the battery under normal conditions, but the battery can be depleted for a variety of reasons, and the life of every car’s battery has a time to take action.


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Car Battery Charging and Maintenance

Keeping your battery healthy so it can power all your high tech gadgets

Aside from the alternator, the battery is the most important component in any car’s electrical system. It provides the juice to run all of your fancy electronics when the engine isn’t running, and when the engine is running, it plays an essential role in the proper functioning of the alternator’s voltage regulator.

Unlike outdated electrical systems that used generators and could function without a battery, modern automotive electrical systems need a battery in order to function properly. A dead battery means a car that won’t start, and an alternator that will have to work too hard—potentially to the point of failure—which is why it’s so important to understand how to correctly, and safely, charge and maintain a car battery.

Sam Edwards / Caiaimage / Getty What Charges a Car Battery?

There are two ways to charge a car battery: with the alternator, or with an external charger. Under normal circumstances, the alternator charges the battery whenever the engine is running. When a battery dies, then an external charger is the best way to charge it back up.

This is why most normal battery usage, like running the radio or dome lights while the engine if off, is replenished naturally the next time you start your car. As the RPM of the engine increase, the alternator’s ability to generate electricity also increases, and any power that isn’t being used by accessories like your headlights is available to charge the battery.

The flip side of this is that, in some cases, your alternator may not be able to supply enough power to run all of your accessories. For instance, if you have your air conditioning, wipers, headlights, radio, and other accessories on when you’re idling at a stoplight, it’s possible to create a load that’s larger than your alternator can handle. When this happens, power stored in the battery will pick up the slack.

How Much Charge Can a Battery Hold?

When properly charged, and in good working order, a car battery will typically read at about 12.4 to 12.6 volts and have enough reserve capacity to power a 25A load for anywhere from nine to 15 hours. After subjecting a battery to a load like that for that amount of time, the voltage will have dropped below 10.5 volts, and the battery probably won’t be able to start the car.

While individual batteries are rated to show how long they can provide power to a specific load before dropping below a critical voltage, it’s a good idea to avoid actually subjecting a regular automotive battery to this type of use. If you drain a car battery too far, you can actually damage its ability to hold a charge in the future.

Extreme temperatures, and wear incurred through the normal cycle of charging and discharging, can reduce the reserve capacity, which is why you may come back to a dead battery after leaving your headlights on while running a short errand, while in another situation, you may be able to leave them on all day and still start the engine just fine.

Charging a Car Battery

When the alternator isn’t up to the task, or when the battery is drained to the point where it isn’t capable of starting the engine, the other way of charging a car battery is to use an external charger.

Car battery chargers run off AC power and provide 12V DC at relatively low voltages, which is the best way to charge a completely dead battery. Charging a dead battery with an excessively high voltage can increase the off-gassing of hydrogen, which can, in turn, result in a hazardous situation where the battery might explode.

This is why it’s important to take the same care when hooking up a car battery charger as you would when hooking up jumper cables, and also why it’s often a good idea to use a trickle charger.

How to Hook Up a Car Battery Charger

Hooking up a car battery charger is a lot like jump-starting a car:

Check to make sure your battery charger is off. When in doubt, unplug it.

Connect the positive lead from the charger to the positive terminal on your battery.

Connect the negative cable on the charger to a good ground.

If you connect the negative cable to the negative terminal on your battery, be very careful to avoid touching, moving, or removing the cable while the battery is charging.

Set your battery charger to the appropriate voltage and amperage.

Turn on your charger, or plug it in if necessary, and set the timer if it is equipped with one.

Charging a Car Battery With Jumper Cables

With that in mind, it’s also possible to provide a certain level of charge to a dead battery via jumper cables, although there is some risk involved. After hooking up jumper cables from a donor vehicle to the battery and engine or frame of a vehicle with a dead battery, starting and running the donor vehicle for a while will allow its alternator to charge the dead battery.

During this process, all of the accessories in the donor vehicle should be turned off, or the alternator may not have enough juice left over to charge the dead battery. Depending on how dead the dead battery is, a few minutes will typically provide enough of a surface charge to get things rolling.

After receiving a jump start, the alternator in the car with the dead battery will take over, and as long as there aren’t too many accessories running, simply driving the car around will allow the battery to charge back up. However, alternators aren’t really designed to charge totally dead batteries, so hooking up a battery charger is still a pretty good idea even after receiving a jump start.

Maintaining a Car Battery

Aside from making sure the battery maintains a good level of charge, primarily by not leaving the headlights on overnight, most automotive batteries require regular maintenance in the form of checking the electrolyte level and specific gravity.

The electrolyte, which is a solution of sulfuric acid and water, should always cover the lead plates in each cell, since exposing the plates to the air can cause issues over time.

If the specific gravity is low across all the cells, the battery is typically in need of a charge. If the specific gravity remains low after charging the battery, that’s usually a good indicator that the battery should be replaced. If the specific gravity is only low in one cell, that indicates an internal fault, in which case charging the battery may actually be dangerous.

Although a vehicle’s alternator is capable of keeping its battery charged under normal circumstances, batteries do go dead for a variety of reasons, and there also comes a time in the life of every car battery when it’s just time to move on.

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