How often do you charge your phone? What about your headphones or your computer? We use numerous devices throughout the day that require charged batteries to function. Vehicles—from cars and trucks to boats and RVs—are no exception.
In many cases, all it takes to keep a vehicle battery charged and functioning is to operate it. Leaving a car or boat to sit idle for months at a time is a recipe for a dead battery. Take the time to regularly keep it juiced up with a Schumacher Electric battery charger.
But, how do you know what kind of battery charger to buy? The answer depends on the type of battery, vehicle, and use case. Some chargers are used for a specific period of time and removed quickly. Others are more forgiving when it comes to battery overcharging. Have questions? You can always refer to your battery’s user manual for more information or contact us if your answer can’t be found in your manual.
Let’s look at some of the common terms related to batteries and battery chargers. Then we’ll talk about options you have for charging your batteries.
Common Terms Related to Batteries and Battery Chargers
Before we talk about the chargers themselves, familiarize yourself with the following terms. Different types of chargers are appropriate for different batteries. Charging speeds can vary based on amperage, voltage, and length of time spent charging:
- Voltage describes the pressure from a power source that pushes electrons through the conducting loop. It’s measured in volts. Many batteries are classified first by their voltage. Common voltages for batteries are 6 volts (for lawn tractors and motorcycles, or 12 volt and 24 volt for larger vehicles.
- Amperage is the overall strength of an electric current, measured in amperes, or amps.
Battery chargers often have different amperage depending on their purpose. Common charging rates include 2-amp, 10-amp, 12-amp, or 15-amp charge rates. Higher amp ratings will lead to faster charging, but exceeding the recommended rate for your battery could lead to dangerous situations. Always check your battery’s specifications to find the optimal safe charging rate.
Types of Battery Chargers
Schumacher Electric sells many different types of battery chargers. The two most common types we offer are manual battery chargers and automatic battery chargers. These two charger types have key differences in their operation. Follow the instructions to preserve your battery’s life and stay safe.
Manual Battery Chargers
Manual battery chargers charge the battery they’re attached to regardless of the battery’s charge level. They do not cycle or shut down by themselves. Instead, they’ll push current at the selected setting until you disconnect them from the charger.
If you’re using a manual battery charger, keep an eye on the ammeter as you charge. This will ensure you know when full charge is achieved.
You can also use a hydrometer or voltmeter to determine the level of charge. Stop the charging process as soon as the battery is fully charged. Failure to do so could result in battery damage, property damage, and even injury.
Automatic Battery Chargers
Schumacher automatic battery chargers will stop charging and switch to a Maintain Mode (Float-Mode) once the battery is fully charged. Automatic chargers don’t impact battery life or safety as much as manual ones. But they shouldn’t stay connected for indefinite periods of time or as maintenance chargers.
What is maintain mode (float mode) charging?
Maintain mode, also called float mode, charging is a technology used in many Schumacher automatic chargers and maintainers. It keeps batteries charged by delivering small amounts of current to the battery when necessary. If battery voltage drops below a preset level, the charger will begin to charge it once more. It continues to switch between the two modes as necessary. Most Schumacher automatic chargers use microprocessors to help manage the charging process.
How Microprocessor Controlled Charging Works
These differ from chargers with transformers in key ways. Microprocessor controlled chargers use algorithms to monitor the charging process and make adjustments based on the information about the battery’s current voltage and charge.
Fast charging in this way doesn’t negatively affect battery life or performance, and it can even help prolong battery life. The best part about microprocessor controlled chargers is that they can be connected for a longer period of time. For faster, safer, and more efficient charging, use a microprocessor controlled charger.
Another type of maintenance charger can be left attached to a battery for a day or two out of the month. These chargers are called trickle chargers. Unlike float chargers, however, they have no sensor to determine when or if a battery is charged. Like manual chargers, they’ll continue to deliver current until disconnected.
How to Use a Trickle Charger
To use a battery trickle charger, connect it like you would any other battery charger. Use it once per month, and let it run for no longer than a day or two. This will keep your battery adequately charged and maintained without running the risk of boiling the electrolytes out of your battery or damaging its exterior plates through overcharging.
Solar chargers draw energy from the sun via solar panels and convert it into usable current to charge your batteries. In many cases, solar chargers may be left installed on vehicles for longer than a day or two.
Despite their ease of use, using a solar charger may result in overcharging. In these cases, a charge controller may be recommended for additional protection from this overcharging process.
Which Battery Charger Should I Buy?
The choice of battery charger depends upon your battery and needs. Buy a trickle charger or manual charger for occasional charging where you’ll be monitoring the battery as it charges. For anything else, an automatic charger gives you powerful flexibility and peace of mind.
Where to Find Battery Chargers
Don’t let a drained battery put a damper on your plans. Use one of the many trusted battery charging products available from Schumacher Electric. Keep the juice flowing to your car, truck, ATV, boat, or other vehicles. Shop our full line of battery charging products today.
Prepare for Spring with Schumacher – As winter gives way to spring, it’s time to start paying attention to your lawn and garden once again.
Prepare for Spring with Schumacher – As winter gives way to spring, it’s time to start paying attention to your lawn and garden once again. Before you start your springtime outdoor chores, it’s best to make sure that your equipment is in working order and ready to tackle all the garden tasks on your list.
Schumacher can help you get the best out of your lawn and garden, whether you are tending a lawn that’s the envy of your neighbors or planting a vegetable garden. We can help you charge and maintain your riding lawn mower’s battery or power grow lights in your greenhouse.
Maintain Your Lawn Mower’s Battery
Spring is the time of year when your lawn will emerge from its winter dormancy. As it begins to grow, make sure your lawn tractor is ready to work. While lawnmowers are essential for anyone with a yard, most of us will leave ours unused for months of the year. This risks a dead battery.
When should you charge your lawn tractor’s battery? Schumacher recommends charging the battery before storing the lawn tractor for the winter, before starting it for the first time in the spring, and before starting if it has sat unused for an extended period.
Schumacher has a wide range of battery chargers and maintainers uniquely suited to prevent or remedy a dead battery.
Is designed especially for motorcycles, lawn tractors, and other light-duty batteries. It offers fully automatic charging—simply plug in and go—and is compatible with most battery types, including lithium. Once a connected battery is fully charged, it will automatically maintain that charge and preserve battery health.
Has a bit more power than the SC1586. In addition to light-duty batteries, it is strong enough to charge power sport, car, and boat batteries. It also offers fully automatic operation, and it is compatible with standard, AGM, gel, and deep-cycle batteries. For added convenience, the SC1588 features a quick-connect harness that allows you to connect the battery to the charger in seconds. The perfect edition to your spring battery maintenance toolbox.
If you have multiple batteries to charge and maintain, you might consider the Schumacher SC1410 2A 6V/12V Two-Bank Battery Charger and Maintainer
This charger allows you to charge or maintain two batteries at the same time with a 2 amps of output per bank. Fully automatic operation means it’s easy to use and it offers both clamps and ring terminals, giving you two ways to connect your batteries. This unit can be mounted permanently to a wall in your garage or you can use the hook to hang the charger outside your work area. It is compatible with standard, AGM, and gel batteries.
No matter which you choose, having a Schumacher battery charger and maintainer on hand will ensure your lawn equipment is in top shape and ready for whatever the season brings.
Give Your Vegetables a Boost
You’ve probably heard the phrase, “There aren’t enough hours in the day.” Well, sometimes your plants feel the same way. While springtime sees our days get longer, some gardeners like to give their seedlings and other plants a boost with a few extra hours of sunlight. If you’re lucky enough to have a greenhouse, it is easy to supplement the hours of natural light you’re given with grow lights, which are an economical and easy-to-implement solution. Greenhouse owners can also use grow lights to remedy uneven lighting, banishing the dark corners that are present even in these light-filled structures.
But what do you do if your greenhouse lacks AC power to run your grow lights? Traditional gas generators can supply power, but because they emit carbon monoxide, they are dangerous to use inside any type of structure. The fumes emitted by a gas generator can kill a person and your plants won’t appreciate the fumes either. Even if placed outside your greenhouse, gas generators can still be a nuisance. They are quite loud, spoiling the serenity of your garden.
Schumacher has the solution for safely powering your greenhouse—a lithium-powered generator. Schumacher’s lithium generators provide portable power on demand and because they are fume- and fuel-free they are safe to use indoors and operate silently.
Is an excellent choice for providing power to your greenhouse or portable power anywhere in your garden. In addition to grow lights, you can use the SL1467 to run a wide variety of electric devices, including fans, TVs, speakers, smartphones, and laptops. A built-in 1000W pure sine wave inverter means you can safely operate even sophisticated electronic appliances from your SL1467 lithium generator. With 880 Wh available, the SL1467 will run up to 35 hours on a single charge and it can be fully recharged in only 10.5 hours. You’ll also have numerous output options with a Schumacher lithium generator. The SL1467 features two household 120V AC outlets, four USB ports, two 12V DC output ports, and a 12V DC accessory socket.
Enjoy the Season
With a little preparation and some help from a few Schumacher products, you’re ready to enjoy the spring season without worry. Schumacher is dedicated to helping you get the most out of your lawn and garden equipment and ensuring it remains in top condition for many years to come.