Battery Float Chargers
AUTOMOTIVE BATTERY FLOAT CHARGERS and FLOAT CHARGER TECHNICAL INFORMATION

Types Of Battery Chargers           What Is A Float Charger?           How Does A Float Charger Work?           Battery Charging Safety

How Can Battery Life Be Increased?     What Is Battery Self-Discharge?      Battery F.A.Qs      Postive vs. Negative Ground Vehicles

 

 



Did you know...
The best way to charge an automotive-type battery is to do so as slowly as possible (days-weeks-months), with very low amperage (2 amps or less).

A low amperage battery float charger is designed to do just that. This is the safest way and easiest on your battery.

Read more about the benefits of slow-charging your battery.

 

How do you connect a float charger to a battery that has a battery cut-off switch?

This might be a common sense answer.  But for those who aren't sure....

This is the
WRONG way!

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This is the RIGHT way!

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Notice that in the WRONG way method, the clamp from the float charger is connected to the battery cable side of the cut-off switch.  In this situation, if the cut-off switch was used, there would be NO charge current going to the battery, and the battery would never charge.

In the RIGHT way method, the clamp from the float charger is connected to the battery terminal-post side of the cut-off switch.  In this situation, if the cut-off switch was used, there would be charge current going to the battery, and the vehicle's electrical system would be isolated from the battery.

Did you know...
A battery will not freeze if kept fully charged.  This is why it is important to keep a battery float charger on your battery if your vehicle will not be used (and the battery will not be charged) for a couple of weeks or more.

 
 
 
 

WHAT IS A BATTERY CHARGER?
Before we can discuss the battery float charger and its advantages, let's start with the basics.  What is a battery charger? A battery charger is a device used to put energy into a rechargeable battery by forcing an electric current through it. The charge current that should be used will depend upon the technology and capacity of the battery being charged. For example, the current that should be applied to recharge a 12 volt car battery will be very different from the current for a mobile phone battery.

On this site, we will discuss charging of a lead-acid automotive-type battery, An automotive-type battery refers to a battery used to turn a starter motor, thereby starting a vehicle (car, truck, motorcycle, tractor, boat, ATV, personal watercraft, construction equipment, forklift, etc.).  We will also discuss different methods of charging an automotive-type battery: the GOOD, BETTER and BEST way.

WHAT IS A "CONVENTIONAL" BATTERY CHARGER?
Before we begin to explain battery float chargers, we should discuss how a conventional (simple) battery charger works.  A conventional charger works by supplying a constant DC (direct current) or pulsed DC power source to a battery being charged. These chargers can supply either a constant voltage or a constant current to the battery.

The conventional battery charger can deliver anywhere from 2 amp to 100 amps (or more) of DC current to charge an automotive battery.  Typically, there is a selection knob on the charger to change the charge amperage.  The conventional battery charger does not alter its output based on time or the charge on the battery. Think of it as a "dumb" charger. 

So why even make a conventional battery charger?  If you car battery is almost dead and you need to start your vehicle in a hurry, nothing beat this type of charger.  This type of charger is common in service stations.  Its high output current can dump a lot of current into your battery in only a short time.  But there is a heavy trade-off.  The higher the charge current, the harder the charge is on your battery.  And if only connected to a battery for a short time, your battery will not be properly or thoroughly charged. 

WARNING! A battery left connected to a *conventional* battery charger for too long will be weakened or destroyed due to over-charging! This is what some people refer to as "cooking the battery".

WHAT IS A TRICKLE CHARGER?
Many people use the term "trickle charger" to describe any small battery charger. This is not entirely true. Trickle charging means charging a battery at a similar rate as the battery self-discharges, thus maintaining a full capacity battery. Most rechargeable batteries, have a moderate rate of self-discharge, meaning a battery gradually loses its charge even if its not used in a device. Care must be taken, however, that if the charger you use does not have a battery regulator (circuitry) employed.  If the charge rate is greater than the level of battery self-discharge, then overcharging, possible damage, and/or battery leakage may occur.

In other words, a trickle charger will keep dumping current into a battery no matter whether the battery is fully charged or not.  So if you don't want to ruin your battery, the charger needs to be connected and disconnected periodically. Trickle chargers will work to keep the battery charged, if used once a month or so for a day or two, but the float chargers can be left connected indefinitely without potential harm to the battery.

WHAT IS A FLOAT CHARGER?
Float charging, jump-start by keeping your vehicle's battery fully charged. Use on 12 volt batteries while in storage or during cold weather Floating circuit maintains a full charge without overcharging Automatic safety shutoff 10 ft. long leads with copper clamps  Maintaining battery potency is a common problem when it hasn't been used for a while or if the weather's really cold. Skip the aggravation of recharging a battery use this automatic battery float charger to keep your vehicle's battery fully charged, even when not in use or just used sporadically. The floating circuit maintains a full charge without overcharging like some other battery chargers. Battery maintainer. Battery Charger Battery Tender  Automotive battery charger 10 amps 100 amps 1 amp trickle charger battery cables alternator classic car charging battery storage 12 volt 12 volts 6 volts 6 volt" alt="Float charging, jump-start by keeping your vehicle's battery fully charged. Use on 12 volt batteries while in storage or during cold weather Floating circuit maintains a full charge without overcharging Automatic safety shutoff 10 ft. long leads with copper clamps  Maintaining battery potency is a common problem when it hasn't been used for a while or if the weather's really cold. Skip the aggravation of recharging a battery use this automatic battery float charger to keep your vehicle's battery fully charged, even when not in use or just used sporadically. The floating circuit maintains a full charge without overcharging like some other battery chargers. Battery maintainer. Battery Charger Battery Tender  Automotive battery charger 10 amps 100 amps 1 amp trickle charger battery cables alternator classic car charging battery storage 12 volt 12 volts 6 volts 6 voltA float charger (also called a maintenance charger or smart charger) is similar to a trickle charger in that it will charge a battery at a similar rate as a battery self-discharges, thus maintaining a full capacity battery. However, the main difference between a trickle charger and a float charger is that a float charger has circuitry (electronics) to prevent battery overcharging. A float charger senses when a battery voltage is at the appropriate float level and temporarily ceases charging; it maintains the charge current at zero or a very minimal level until it senses that the battery output voltage has fallen, and then resumes charging. It is important to note that the appropriate float voltage varies significantly with the construction of the battery and the ambient temperature. With the appropriate voltage for the battery type and with proper temperature compensation, a float charger may be kept connected indefinitely without damaging the battery.

How does a battery float charger work?

 
 



Did you know...
A lead-acid (automotive type) battery will self-discharge* at a rate of 4% to 8% per month at room temperature.  The self-discharge rate will proportionately increase as the temperature drops.  This can result in a battery self-discharge rate as high as 40% per month!

Self-discharge means that there is no load on the battery.  No clock. No computer. No radio display. If you add these parasitic draws on the battery, the discharge rate will be much higher.

 
 (blue color hex: 006699)


Did you know...
The best, and most thorough way to charge a battery is to do so very slowly, with a low amperage float charge.

More about the benefits of slow charging.

 
 
 


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