Should I put my lawn tractor's battery on a trickle charge for the winter?
Good question higgledy. I am waiting to see the pros views on this.
I will tell you that a couple of years ago I bought one of those little $8 trickle chargers from Northern Tool I think. After running the mower to charge the battery up I put it on the charger all winter. Next spring it cranked right up.
This year I put the charger on it during the first cold spell without running the mower first. Tried to start it a few days later and it would not start. So I do not know??
Pull the battery and keep it somewhere that is warm. Cold kills batteries
Check the electrolyte level in all the cells.
Put the battery on low charge for 12 hours every month.
You reall don't need to keep it connected all the time, just top it off every 30 days. Although keeping it connected 24/7 will absolutely do no harm. Use a good unit like the Battery Tender, as with everything, you get what you pay for. I would not trust anything that cost $8.
Yah yah, I am on the second battery since I revived the Inty in '01. 20 Bucks evry 5 yrs , I cant complain. It is a PITA to take out so it gets left unless I need it out of the way. The first time I just left and it started just fine the next spring. Since then it is one less thing to worry about. A battery has to be stone dead before it will freeze. Even if it wont start next spring , I'll usually limp it along for the the season. using the 2amp setting on my battery charger.
hig: Pick up a Battery Tender and if your in Northern Climate follow both Zoulas and Justlurker's advice . :)
I use a Schumaker (SP?) charger I purchased from Wal-mart. It is about $21 and comes with the option of two connections, one to clip on the batter and the other to hard wire to the battery with a plug. It is a maintenance charger, charges when it is down (yellow light) and shuts off when charged (green light). I use one on my motorcycle during the winter and another I swith around on my 12 volt lawn equipment year round.
Not a fan of leaving any charging apparatus plugged in unattended for an extended length of time ESPECIALLY with the lower parts quality and poor QC that the market dictates to manufacturers at the price points that consumers favor now days.
IMO that can be a quick way to test your homeowner's insurance because of a $10 battery tender.
I stick to what I said in my precious post cause it has worked well for decades although my battery charger is that old and far above the level of quality people are willing to buy today.
I agree JL , therefore my battery Tender and Battery Charger are used in my Garage only on a Dedicated 10 Amp Service Line far from any combustibles lol .
"... my battery tender and battery charger are used in my garage only on a dedicated 10 Amp service line far from any combustibles... "
The Insurance Investigator will be able to pinpoint EXACTLY where the fire started.
Seriously though, I have no problem leaving a quality charger (nothing under $100) plugged in from morning till night or from one day to the next but the low quality stuff that's on the shelves today worries me big time.
It's not that it can short out and pop the breaker it's that it may go crazy and overcharge the battery which can result in a variety of bad things happening.
I've seen a wet cell battery explode and it is only equaled by an exploding water heater and then there's the sulfuric acid bath for everything in the area.
JL : Points well taken Dude ! I do however as you have indicated only buy dependable Trickle Chargers also . No Bargain Store Special for this Dude . Thanks for the Insightful Precautionary Information , often overlooked by most occasional back yard mechanics . Better Safe than Sorry Right ? Cudo's :)
While we are on this subject of battery charging.....when you do pull out the charger to charge up a low, riding lawn mower battery.....do you put it on 12 volt 2 amp, or 12 volt 6 amp charge? I'm thinking the 6amp would just charge it faster than the 2amp?
Wet cell batteries are happiest with slow charging at low amperage. Fast charging at higher amperage generates more heat and heat warps the plates in the cells and that's bad.
A L&G battery should reach full charge in 12 hours IF the battery is in serviceable condition. A DC voltmeter and a battery hydrometer will give you an overall indication of battery condition and charge while the ultimate test after charging is a battery load test.
Not a bad idea to check the tractor charging system either. Quick charging system check... with a KNOWN good battery start the tractor. let it idle, and turn on the headlights. Watch the headlights as you increase engine speed to WOT. In general, if the headlights get brighter at WOT then the tractor is charging.
I also check that the Test Battery shows 12.5 V and that with WOT your DC Volt Meter shows approx 13.4 V Charging System Rate . I have also seen many salvageable Batteries ruined as JL states by Charging at a too quick a Rate and Overheating and warping the plates which ground out internally thereby destroying the battery . To rejuvenate a unit you must let recover gradually . Hydrometer usage within each cell will give a good analysis of the overall battery condition as JL has advised .
Thanks men. I may have been living on the edge here because I just turn'r up to 6 amps, let it charge about 30 mins and crank it. Oh and do you connect the charger to the battery with the battery still connected to the mower? and then attempt to start with the charger still connected and on? I think I'm fixin to get my ears lowered, but that's what I been doing.
"... I just turn'r up to 6 amps, let it charge about 30 mins and crank it"
The American way... you know they make 100 amp chargers. You could have that battery ready to go in just 10 seconds.
JL: ROFLMBO :)
Me to ewalk!
??Has anyone ever had an issue by simply unplugging the charger from the wall and leaving the battery hooked up??
There should not be a problem with leaving the low voltage charge leads connected to the battery after unplugging the A/C power cord from the wall.
The battery charger is essentially a transformer to reduce the voltage to a level that is appropriate for the battery to be charged. After the voltage is "stepped down", it is then rectified by a diode or diodes as batteries need DC for charging.
The same rectifier device will prevent any power from flowing out of the battery .
Some caveats would be if the battery charger features a volt meter, the volt meter will continue to impose a parasitic drain when the charger is unplugged.
Also, depending on the quality of the rectifier, it could be possible for a poorly made diode to flow a very small current out of the battery, back through the transformer output windings, which if given enough time.....could run the battery down.
You could test to see how good the diodes are by placing a volt meter in series with one of the charger leads and a battery post (either post). If you can measure some voltage this way, you best not leave this charger connected when it is not powered up.
This is all you need - best value to performance smart charger of all time:
If you want to connect the charger to battery and leave it on all winter you can do so with no problem or fear of over charge. It also works with alligator clips if you just want to hit it over night every month or so. I have never been disappointed with this little charger.
I agree with Mownies Logic Tom ! :) I have never experienced any Charger Related Drain Issues .
As Mownie said... there should be no drain on the battery unless the charger fails.
Leaving a charger plugged in unattended is safe as long as the charger doesn't fail.
Don't leave anything plugged in or hooked up unattended and there is NO CHANCE that anything will go wrong.
Like the W.H.O.P.P.E.R. said in Wargames... "the only winning move is not to play".
"??Has anyone ever had an issue by simply unplugging the charger from the wall and leaving the battery hooked up??"
Gee, and I didn't get one- it's ok until you get the cord caught in the blades or anything like that... the groups a slippin'!
Tom / JL : Ok You Two that's the second cup of coffee that I have spilt because of your one liners lol :)
Changing post heading to "Tickle Charge"
Many batteries have been smoked by trickle chargers left on too long or left unattended. Wet cell lead acid batteries like to be fully charged all the time. They also don't like overcharging. How to best recharge a battery depends on it's state of discharge among other things. Today's better smart chargers assess the battery's charge and then charge it at the best rate varying the amperage until full charge is reached and then turn off. If left hooked up some chargers will come back on and charge the battery as needed. I have had good luck with the newer smart chargers. They will charge a battery quickly and best of all they do a good job even if and when I forget about them being hooked up.
The smart charger design is sound and properly executed is a great device. When the the cost analysis-marketing department gets a hold of it and designates 20% tolerance $.001 caps and resistors and little to no QC that problems arise and you won't find it properly executed at Wal-Mart or Amazon prices.
Even a respected name like Schumacker bows to the pressure the market imposes and sells products now that they would never have put on the shelf when they were making a name for themselves.
There are two companies I know of that still manufacture their products the way they always have... Bunn coffee makers and Kitchen Aid stand mixers... and NEITHER of them are inexpensive cause they charge what it costs to make 'em like they used to today.
Unless one is willing to spend what it costs to buy a quality smart charger the best way to get the longest service life out of a seasonally used wet cell battery is to remove if from the device, keep it where it's warm, and charge it at low current for 12 hours every 30 days.
There is NO easy solution... there is NO magic bullet to battery maintenance.
As Sean Connery said to Kevin Costner in The Untouchables "here endeth the lesson"
JL: Amen !
Wasn't it Rusty that said to put a battery charger on an appliance timer? And wasn't there a B movie about appliances that took over the world?
There's no end to the complexity and variables we can introduce into the simplest task rather than just do it.
If one is too busy to do the proper maintenance on their L&G battery then buy one every spring.