A battery charger is a must-have tool for anyone who drives in winter. It can jump-start your car on a cold morning and keep your battery healthy while your vehicle’s in storage. However, not every charger is the same. Here’s how to pick the right device for your needs.
Determine the main functions you require
Battery chargers serve three main functions, and not every charger can perform all three of them, so it’s best to determine which ones you need most. The main functions are:
Jump-starting. You can use a battery charger to jump-start a dead car, but it takes a lot of power to do it, and even more if you have a large truck. If this is a feature you need, then you’ll need a heavy-duty charger.
Battery maintenance. If you store a motorcycle or boat over the winter, you’ll need a charger to keep your battery healthy. Most units come with a trickle-charge feature that regularly sends small amounts of electricity to the battery.
Recharging. The most common function of a battery charger is to recharge a low or dead battery. This process can take between 10 and 24 hours, depending on the power of your charger.
Identify your battery
Check the amp-hour (Ah) rating on your battery. Your charger should be a minimum of 10 per cent of the Ah rating. For example, if your battery has a 100 Ah rating, you need a minimum 10-amp charger. Don’t exceed 20 per cent of the rating.
Also, check what type of battery your car has before purchasing a charger. Lead-acid batteries work with all battery chargers, but gel and AGM batteries may not.
Choose your features
Today’s battery chargers do more than power your car’s battery. Here are some added features:
USB ports. These allow you to charge your devices as you drive. In an emergency involving a dead car battery, you can use the charger to keep your phone working and call for help.
Flashlight. This function is a welcome feature. It can produce a much brighter light than your phone’s flashlight app.
Air compression. Some modern battery chargers also feature air compression pumps to help you if you have a flat tire.
What to avoid
You shouldn’t buy battery chargers that don’t have an “end of charge control” function, as these units can overcharge and ruin your battery.
Automotive Battery Specialists
At Prairie Battery, we specialize in all types of automotive batteries. We also carry a selection of battery chargers and boosters. We have locations in Edmonton, Regina, Brandon, Winnipegand the Greater Toronto Area. To learn more about our batteries, chargers and other products, contact us today.