Smart Battery Chargers

I popped into Lidl today to buy some Duck Breasts (not easy to find and the Lidl ones are very good). While there, I noticed they had some
'Smart' Battery Chargers- they look like copies of the CTEK ones, similar to those sold by Aldi now and then (I have one of those). For £13, they seemed a good buy and my Eldest daughter doesn't have a battery charger, £13 is worth it to save the hassle of the 20 min drive.
I thought I'd mention it, in case others are interested.
The Aldi one I have, which looks much the same, and I've had some time, has been fine.
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They've been selling these for years - although the external design has changed slightly several times.
They are very good indeed and especially value wise, compared to CTEK, etc.
Only common fault in service is the switch stops working. Easy and cheap to replace if you can solder - I've done several for myself and friends.
What I dunno is if CTEK uses a better quality switch. The one in the Lidl charger is a generic you'll find replacements for on Ebay, etc. Called a tactile switch, and there are lots of versions, so you need to measure up the old before buying.
I have one built into the old Rover. At that price seemed silly not to.
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On 30/09/2018 14:36, Dave Plowman (News) wrote:

I never thought of building one into a car. As we often have long holidays and our previous car (a Honda CRV), which we left at home, tended to end up with a flat battery after 4/5 weeks, I did run a cable to the rear with some Anderson Powerpoles on it. I then had a matching 12V cable connected to a charger running through the garage wall. I'd back the CRV up close enough and 'hook it up'.
Son-in-law now has the CRV but no where to host a similar set up- their drive doesn't lend itself to it. Hence the charger. More of a 'just in case', as they aren't likely to be leaving the car for long periods.
Interestingly, the Outlander didn't seem to 'drop' noticeably at all when we left it for 4 weeks recently (we just got back). There is a system whereby by the 12V battery is recharged from the main, drive, battery everyday if the car isn't driven but, even so, the main battery didn't show any noticeable loss of charge.
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I fitted it in the boot, as there is an always live fusebox there with a spare way. A waterproof Buccaneer main inlet connector just under the bumper so pretty well out of sight.
Only slight snag is you have to press the switch on it to start charging. But then you'd want to look at it after charging to make sure the battery was full, so no big deal.
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On Mon, 01 Oct 2018 01:14:22 +0100, "Dave Plowman (News)"

I have one of each of the smaller OptiMate range of 12V smart chargers and found them all to be excellent.
I don't need to charge 6V batteries and as the smaller models only put out 0.8-1A, can be used on fairly small (motorcycle) batteries quite safely, up to bigger batteries as long as you are in no rush. Even the OptiMate 2 charges my 60Ah gel semi traction battery reliably. I also have one that does 5A for the bigger bike / traction batteries.
And with no buttons to press, if someone else in the house switches it off by mistake (and back on again) or a clip get's knocked off and put back on, it just starts up again.
It doesn't care if a battery is flat / sulphated as they have a de-sulphation / recovery startup mode (so will start the recovery process, even if they can't do any good and will time out if they don't see reasonable progress after a certain time).
Unlike other smart chargers (and typically the things you get with mobility scooters), I've not had an OptiMate carry on the bulk charge and / or drop back to maintenance / fail, when the battery is bad and would probably be heating up.
Not cheap but seem pretty good / reliable and appear to treat a whole range of LA batteries correctly (I often monitor / log battery charge / discharge characteristics).
I've never had a CTEK but I do have several with the push button and don't generally use them because of it (I've bought them because they seem too good to miss but then given them away to friends / family that have asked to 'borrow' a charger). ;-)
Cheers, T i m
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T i m explained on 04/10/2018 :

It was the Optimate which wrecked batteries, if mains power was lost for any length of time - without power it would actually discharge the charge from the battery and wreck the battery. Unless the have changed the design? Disconnect from the mains and the LED's would remain lit, powered from the battery, so obviously discharging the battery.

I was not at all convinced by any of that sales blurb from Optimate. I tested mine extensively on my bench with meters and scopes, I saw no such behaviour, just a steady 13.8v continuous output voltage whilst ever connected to the mains, inhibited when reverse connected (I Think).
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On 01/10/2018 01:14, Dave Plowman (News) wrote:

Snag for me would be getting a mains lead connected as the car's street parked.
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Same here. I have an outside socket, and lay rubber matting over the mains lead where it crosses the pavement.
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On 30/09/2018 14:09, Brian Reay wrote:

I threw mine out after only a few uses, the switches inside are shite. The Ctek one may be expensive, but my one has lasted many, many years of almost constant use, while the cheapo aldi/lidl one died within a year or two. A big advantage of the ctek one is that it ignores power outages and re-starts when the power goes back, unlike the cheapos.
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On Sun, 30 Sep 2018 15:58:46 +0100, MrCheerful wrote:

+1 Cheap smart chargers aren't worth the bother. In *fact* any product with "smart" in the name is well worth avoiding IME. Give me a *dumb* charger, a dumb phone and a dumb car any day of the week.
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The CTEK is regarded as a smart charger.
Beauty of the Lidl one is it changes automatically to a maintenance charge after the battery is full, and can be left on indefinitely. It also charges a battery faster than the average sort of dumb sort you like - as well as being smaller lighter and cheaper.
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On 01/10/2018 01:24, Dave Plowman (News) wrote:

Dumb chargers can damage the battery, and I would not use one with a modern vehicle / a modern battery.
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On 01/10/2018 06:29, MrCheerful wrote:

I did use the old one I have to 'force' a bit of charge into a dead flat battery that the smart charger wouldn't detect - and then put it on the smart charger.
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On 01/10/2018 08:23, RJH wrote:

Just don't do it while the battery is connected to the car, nor leave it on there for any longer than absolutely needed.
These days even jump starting from a running car is something to avoid!
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On 01/10/2018 08:31, MrCheerful wrote:

In my days of economy motoring with cheap aluminium leads I always preferred tow starting. I will confess to find the Li-Ion jump starter packs very convenient.
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Many modern chargers have a relay with diode in series with its coil to prevent wrong connection. This is activated by battery volts. So won't operate with a totally flat one. Of course whether a totally flat one will ever recover is a gamble.
Other way is to connect a second battery jumps start pack etc - along with the charger to kick it on, then disconnect when the charger has connected.
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RJH formulated the question :

When stuck, one way is to put a second charged battery across the flat one, to get the charge to start, but its not a good idea to allow batteries to get that low.
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On 04/10/2018 07:59, Harry Bloomfield wrote:

No, of course - I'd left an OBD scanner connected for a week or so accidentally. As it happened, the battery recovered and remained fine for 6 months, until i sold the car.
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On 01/10/2018 06:29, MrCheerful wrote:

But if the power is interrupted the Aldi (/Lidi?) ones switch off and resets to voltage display mode so no more float charge. 2-4 weeks later, say hello dead flat battery.

Cheap smart chargers won't charge a flat battery. I think the CTEK has a pulse charge battery recovery mode.
So you have to use a dumb charger when the dumb car has drained the battery pancake flat through the door lock circuit. Mazda 323F after about 2 weeks the voltage dropped below some threshold that put it in to fast drain mode, found door locks were pulling over 1 amp by pulling fuses. Charged the battery and the high drain disappeared.
Or the fwit cheap Hawk alarm starts going off to alert you to the fact that the battery is going flat. Just pancakes it completely much sooner than it should. Nothing you can do when you are a 1000 miles away on holiday, just makes the neighbors want to burn your car for the few hours it takes to finish off the battery.
Cars (yes 2x) when left have to be parked 200 m up road to be safely above flash flood level. Solar maintainer?
Smart chargers won't fully charge a Ford silver calcium battery as they require 14.8 V (not to be confused with lead calcium batteries). I don't think there are any chargers at reasonable price that will fully charge these batteries. Most have a 14.7 V cold setting but not the full 14.8 V.
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Quite.
I have a pretty massive and heavy Halfords one. Claims 11 amps on the front of the thing in large print. The Lidl one - small enough to fit in your pocket - charges a battery to full quicker. Despite claiming only 4 amps or so output.
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