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How is bike battery charged correctly? #141733 05/23/08 2:08 am
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Alan in TN Offline OP
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I would like to ask the members some information in regard to battery chargers and correct battery charging procedure. A recent thread touched on this subject but it was really focusing on several other issues.

Soon after I bought my ’78 T140E I thought I should have a small trickle charger for the bike’s battery. I was told or read it somewhere that the bike battery could not take much over 1 amp to charge it. I saw a “trickle charger” at Harbor Freight on sale for about $5.00 so I thought it was a deal. I put it on the bike battery and instead of charging it ran the battery down until it was dead. There’s the caveat emptor.

Whenever I charge my bike battery I am always uneasy that I might be try to push too much current into it. I am currently setting the charger at 2 amps and 12 VDC. I think this is OK but do not know definitely. Are there established minimum and maximum current settings when charging these small batteries? I also pull my fuse out before charging because the one time I didn’t the signal flasher was burned out. I do not understand how a couple of amps can find its way into the flasher when nothing is switched on. Symptom of a wiring problem?

I read about contributing factors causing battery failure such as sulfation, extreme heat and cold. I was most curious about the sulfation of batteries and found articles explaining if the chargers had a timing circuit (like a 555 timer) a way to vary voltage and current outputs that the problem of a battery sulfating could theoretically be eliminated and one would get many years of service from it (in excess of 10 years). I was not patient enough to build my own de-sulfating charger system but I did find one at Wal-Mart a well known brand in the battery service sector that claimed to sense a sulfated battery and then switch into the desulfating mode. I have actually seen it work in the de-sulfating mode with my bike battery.

TIA

Alan

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Re: How is bike battery charged correctly? #141734 05/23/08 5:09 am
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Tiger Offline
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I did an Army Signals course baci in '74 or so, lots of theory on charging batteries singly and in banks.
There was a formula which I have now forgotten but it was based on charging at 1/8th of total amp hour capacity for 9 hours.
With a wet battery I would use a hydrometer.
IMO 2 amps is way too hot a charge rate for a 7AH battery, .9A chargers seem to be readily available, mine cost around $AU50.00 if I recall correctly.


1969 TR6R
7.62 x 51 is not a maths puzzle.
Re: How is bike battery charged correctly? #141735 05/23/08 8:59 am
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dave jones Offline
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I bought a battery charger/ maintainer called Optimate and it removed all the worry from it.

dave

Re: How is bike battery charged correctly? #141736 05/23/08 9:15 am
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Derry Hincks Offline
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Alan, this is the web page I always go to for any battery questions I might have http://www.batteryfaq.org/

If you look in the FAQ then section 9 of the FAQ contents there is a section on charging algorithms. Each battery type is covered but you will have to adjust the current to suit your battery size.

Personally I always use an Optimate to condition my battery.

Derry.


Derry.

1969 T100S under reconstruction
GSX-R750K2 (having been rebuilt from a crashed wreck)
Re: How is bike battery charged correctly? #141737 05/23/08 10:22 am
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Blapper Offline
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Make that three votes for Optimate. Fit and forget.

Instructions for Optimate:

Click here

Alan, your flasher failure was a coincidence I reckon, and the little trickle charger was a good thing, (I use one), but it was faulty or maybe a 6V?

Blapper redwine

Re: How is bike battery charged correctly? #141738 05/23/08 11:19 am
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Phatt Bob Offline
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I go with Tiger, but my rule of thumb is 1/10th AH capacity. Shouldn't make much difference tho'

It's also worth dislodging the hydrogen bubbles every now and again during charging.

Bob


Phatt Bob
'95 Daytona 1200
'98 Daytona 1200 dragbike
ex-850 T140 Caff Racer, 850 Triton, Morgo T120, Starfire and Pretend Daytona 500 owner
Re: How is bike battery charged correctly? #141739 05/23/08 12:24 pm
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RF Whatley Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by Alan in TN:
Soon after I bought my ’78 T140E I thought I should have a small trickle charger for the bike’s battery. I was told or read it somewhere that the bike battery could not take much over 1 amp to charge it. I saw a “trickle charger” at Harbor Freight on sale for about $5.00 so I thought it was a deal. I put it on the bike battery and instead of charging it ran the battery down until it was dead. There’s the caveat emptor.
Alan -
The truth is, most owners who ride their bike regularly will not need a charger. It is enough to simply remove the battery fuse. However, Brit bike charging systems being what they are (or aren't), some owners will need to recharge a battery after finding a charging circuit wiring fault on their bike.

Being in Tennessee, you're probably like me and ride about 10-1/2 to 11 months a year. The battery, with fuse disconnected, will not need any kind of maintenance during that time as long as it's held at a temperature that a human would consider fairly comfortable.


Quote
Originally posted by Alan in TN:
Whenever I charge my bike battery I am always uneasy that I might be try to push too much current into it. I am currently setting the charger at 2 amps and 12 VDC. I think this is OK but do not know definitely. Are there established minimum and maximum current settings when charging these small batteries?
Here's where we start to get into deep trouble. There are numerous types of batteries available now and each has its own recommended charge rate . Generally, a piece of paper comes in the battery box which details all this information for your particular battery.

If you have lost this piece of paper, then SLOWER is ALWAYS better. If forced to invent something, then you would be safest to use 1/10 the AH rating for a current setting. Therefore a typical 12N7 flooded cell would be best charged at .7A or 700 mili-amps. But this is a loose “rule of thumb”, and 1/8 would probably be just as good. However, the faster you charge, the more care you’re going to need to practice.


Additionally, therein lies another pitfall... the word "rate". Charging is just as much about charge current as it is about time. Most people discussing this topic completely forget about TIME.

The charge is complete when a hydrometer tells you it is. Lacking a hydrometer, the main thing to watch is the internal heat of the battery. If the battery feels warm on the exterior, you can believe that it's hotter inside. Heat will kill a battery whether it is heat from the sun or heat from a charger, it makes no difference. I have often suggested here that you plug your low-current charger into a cheap "lamp timer" and set the timer for minimum time ON, say 1 hour out of every 24. That will definitely control the rate and give the battery time to cool off between charge sessions. That’s the exact same way it works in the bike, since most of us stop for fuel, food and blondes.


Quote
Originally posted by Alan in TN:
I read about contributing factors causing battery failure such as sulfation, extreme heat and cold. I was most curious about the sulfation of batteries and found articles explaining if the chargers had a timing circuit (like a 555 timer) a way to vary voltage and current outputs that the problem of a battery sulfating could theoretically be eliminated and one would get many years of service from it (in excess of 10 years). I was not patient enough to build my own de-sulfating charger system but I did find one at Wal-Mart a well known brand in the battery service sector that claimed to sense a sulfated battery and then switch into the desulfating mode. I have actually seen it work in the de-sulfating mode with my bike battery.
Here again it greatly depends on the type of battery we're talking about. The current output of the charger will be listed on the side of the charger as the "output". You should expect to see something like "14V @ 600 mA". Most battery chargers sold at Wal-Mart and similar stores are for automobiles and not motorcycles. So the current is going to be too high. No flooded cell battery, unless it's an industrial deep cycle battery, is going to last 10 years. Industrial batteries are made with virgin lead plates. The world price of lead being what it is, you'd think you were buying gold. So most motorcycle batteries are being made from recycled lead with very little process control, that is, they are Chinese. Therefore, IMHO you'll be lucky to get 3 years service from a flooded cell, and 5 years from an AGM.

But again, more batteries die from heat than anything else. And the number one source of heat is over charging. This either because the battery selected is physically too small and the bike is dumping 2A into a miniature battery (ala custom bike builders), OR the customer is using a maintenance charger with too high a charge current or an unregulated charger for too much time.


:bigt:


Don't hide 'em, Ride 'em !!

RF Whatley
Cornelia, GA
Re: How is bike battery charged correctly? #141740 05/23/08 11:41 pm
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Tiger Offline
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Mechanical integrity is not so good with new wet batteries either, the Odyssey is made in the US and you get what you pay for.


1969 TR6R
7.62 x 51 is not a maths puzzle.
Re: How is bike battery charged correctly? #141741 05/24/08 2:12 am
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RF Whatley Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by Tiger:
Mechanical integrity is not so good with new wet batteries either, the Odyssey is made in the US and you get what you pay for.
Tiger -
I have it on good authority that we specially import Chinese workers to make those that way!


laughing


Don't hide 'em, Ride 'em !!

RF Whatley
Cornelia, GA
Re: How is bike battery charged correctly? #141742 05/24/08 4:19 am
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Alan in TN Offline OP
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I certainly appreciate the wealth of information this subject brought out. I will be changing my procedure for servicing my battery now and especially know what I need to use to do that.

Thank ya'll very much.
:bigt:
Alan

Re: How is bike battery charged correctly? #141743 05/24/08 8:16 am
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Tiger Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by RF Whatley:
</font><blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">quote:</font><hr /><font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Originally posted by Tiger:
<strong> Mechanical integrity is not so good with new wet batteries either, the Odyssey is made in the US and you get what you pay for.
Tiger -
I have it on good authority that we specially import Chinese workers to make those that way!


:bigt:


1969 TR6R
7.62 x 51 is not a maths puzzle.
Re: How is bike battery charged correctly? #141744 05/24/08 9:00 am
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dave jones Offline
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I have no other motor transport so end up in the city or in slow speed limits all the time with full lights on which strains the system a bit. The Optimate is the best thing because you can't overcharge it.

With the gradual deterioration of my old battery I thought it was normal for it to be completely flat after one ride. A new one was a revelation! It never now goes flat but I like to keep it full with the charger.

Dave

Re: How is bike battery charged correctly? #141745 05/26/08 3:04 am
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RF Whatley Offline
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Dave -
Be careful here, friend. Under-charging can have many causes...

• Battery unable to accept a charge
• Charge sys not putting out full charge
• Accessories draining more than the sys output
• Constant low RPM equating to low charge sys output
• Probably several others

To tell which one you have you'd have to hold off on the guessing and do some real testing.

:bigt:


Don't hide 'em, Ride 'em !!

RF Whatley
Cornelia, GA
Re: How is bike battery charged correctly? #141746 05/26/08 3:53 am
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Mark Z Offline
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The last battery I bought (Exide) had detailed charging instructions enclosed. The documentation specified 1/2A charging rate.

I think that there must have been something wrong with your 1/2A trickle charger; it should never run the battery down. I have a 1/2A trickle charger I've been using for many years and it has never run a battery down. There MAY be a problem if you leave the charger hooked up to the battery and not plugged into the wall; some of these chargers might not have "leak back" protection.

I think the flasher issue is also a red herring. First of all, there should be no current passing through the flasher unit unless a turn signal is actually switched ON. Secondly, you cannot hurt a flasher unit by passing too much voltage through it; it will just flash a bit faster. At work (we make electric trikes), we use 12V flasher units in a 24-volt system, and we have not had a single flasher unit failure because of the higher voltage.

Whatever charger you use, during charging the voltage across the battery should be something greater than 12V; that's how chargers work. If your charging voltage is less than the static battery voltage, unhook that sucker and send it back!


Mark Z

'65(lower)/'66(upper, wheels, front end, controls)/'67(seat, exhaust, fuel tank, headlamp)/'70(frame) A65 Bitsa.
Re: How is bike battery charged correctly? #141747 05/26/08 4:21 am
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leon bee Offline
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I had just that problem on a cheap little 1/2 amp charger yesterday. I unplugged it and was getting up to throw it away........wait, whats this? It was a little switch, said 6 volt/ 12 volt, guess what it was set at.

Re: How is bike battery charged correctly? #141748 05/26/08 9:57 am
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dave jones Offline
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Richard- The new battery fixed it.

dave

Re: How is bike battery charged correctly? #141749 05/26/08 6:33 pm
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RF Whatley Offline
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Quote
Originally posted by dave jones:
Richard- The new battery fixed it.
Davy Jones -

And we know this because.... ?? It could be that new a battery is simply able to rebound quicker after a discharge, thus making it appear to fix the issue.

Unless you put a meter on it, then 2 days simply isn't enough time to discern the answer you're giving here, my friend.

Don't get me wrong, I certainly HOPE a new battery fixed your issue. A bad battery is certainly way up there on the "usual suspects" list. But electrons have a way of out voting eternal optimism! And Murphy's Law has a knack for making fools of us all !!

All the best. :bigt:


Don't hide 'em, Ride 'em !!

RF Whatley
Cornelia, GA
Re: How is bike battery charged correctly? #141750 05/26/08 7:14 pm
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dave jones Offline
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Richard- We know this because it is now ok! What's this two days thing? I put the battery on 6 months ago.

Dave

Re: How is bike battery charged correctly? #141751 05/26/08 8:20 pm
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Dave,

Richard is saying your real world circumstances could be being disguised by the ability of the new battery to survive the periods of lower charge rate merely because it is new. I understand his point completely. You could find that your new batteries charge will not last as long as it does if you don't continue to keep it on life support with the optimate.

Personally, I would only use the tender during longer periods of non use (more than a month) so it doesn't disguise a problem that will bite your a$$ during the shorter days.

You two are being so nice to each other lately, I would hate to see it spoilt by a tiff! redwine

Re: How is bike battery charged correctly? #141752 05/26/08 9:46 pm
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Derry Hincks Offline
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>Personally, I would only use the tender during longer periods of non use (more than a month) so it doesn't disguise a problem that will bite your a$$ during the shorter days.<

Blapper the Optimate does check the battery's self-discharge rate as part of it's cycle. They come with a permanent connector for your battery so when you get back from your ride you can plug it straight in.

I first came across them a number of years ago when a friend of mine was given a clock for his BMW by his wife at Christmas.

Dutifully he went out and fitted it on Boxing Day.

She was very pleased of course because she knows nothing about bikes and managed to get the correct clock for the correct BMW.

A number of weeks later he went out to his bike for a ride and we all know what happend! That started his search for a fit-and-forget device.

I had a number of sulphated batteries through lack of maintenance and after reading the bumph bought one as well. As I ride erratically it's now a case of when I take the ignition key out I connect to the optimate.

Derry.
PS by erratically I mean not very often <s>.


Derry.

1969 T100S under reconstruction
GSX-R750K2 (having been rebuilt from a crashed wreck)
Re: How is bike battery charged correctly? #141753 05/26/08 10:56 pm
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dale karger Offline
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Personally, if the temperature where the bike is parked stays between 60 and 78 degrees F, I wouldn't throw it on a charger unless it: was going to sit for several months( or sit in extreme weather )....there was a device that produced a draw on the battery like that clock...or my rides were consistantly so short that the charging system never has a chance to reguvenate the battery. as long as it maintains above a 75 to 80% charge it will neither fall prey to sulfation or acid stratification. The longest i have walked away from a "top off" charge was overnight on a 1 amp charger. I just dont trust "automatic" devices that much.


76 T140V
79 Honda CB 650
79 Yamaha 175 Enduro
68 Chevy Impala Convert
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Re: How is bike battery charged correctly? #141754 05/27/08 6:44 am
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Hi Derry,

I agree with everything you say, plus I have researched the Optimate myself and am very 'pro' them for winter use BUT - you have to see that in the context of Dave's posting (no mention of clocks, alarms etc), there is the real possibility of him having a marginal charging system disguised by routinely using the Optimate.

Why did his old battery die? If his charging system is PERFECT, it would be old age, but it could have been slowly damaged by not being recharged quickly after:

Quote RJW:

"• Battery unable to accept a charge
• Charge sys not putting out full charge
• Accessories draining more than the sys output
• Constant low RPM equating to low charge sys output
• Probably several others"

I am not saying that there is a problem or that the Optimate is a bad idea, but today's riding is much different to when these bikes were designed, the 100+ times more cars on the road mean more chance of lower revs, lights on full-time for safety is a load that the old bikes weren't designed for, and if I know Dave (just from his posts), he hasn't updated his wiring, zener or alternator (to three phase or at least high output).

"Can you see it yet Dave" (quote from Rolf Harris)?

Blapper redwine

Re: How is bike battery charged correctly? #141755 05/27/08 12:03 pm
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dave jones Offline
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I used my optimate mostly in the winter and occasionally since. I didn't test to see if the battery was discharged at anytime but there was no problem and the lights were still fully bright at idle. I just put it on anyway. I haven't used the optimate for a week and I won't use it anymore to see what happens. I thought that the Optimate was a maintainer too- that's why I use it. I'm sure that a battery lasts longer if you keep it topped right up with a maintainer (not a normal charger that could over do it). I didn't buy the optimate until I bought the new battery.

I had a look at the old battery and it really is old. It was on the bike for the time I have owned it, that is four years, and the bloke before didn't do much with it so probably another five years before that with a lot of standing. If I charged it and then put the full lights on it was flat in not very many minutes (engine not running). The battery says "mce exclusive" (not to be confused with MCA) on it. They haven't been going for a while have they? It must have been a real drain on the system because at idle with the lights on it would be flat and sometimes the engine would stop at a light or whatever. If I turned the lights off it would start again and I could put them on again again and then ride normally.

Funny- I answered this post to tell Alan to get an Optimate and, suddenly, everyone wants to help me. I really don't think there is a problem with my bike! Oh well, whatever gets you through it! laugh

Dave

Re: How is bike battery charged correctly? #141756 05/28/08 12:05 am
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Alan in TN Offline OP
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I read up on the Optimate 3 and it sounds pretty good. I plan to order one in the next few days.

Thanks for all the input.

Alan

Re: How is bike battery charged correctly? #141757 05/28/08 7:16 am
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Yup Dave,

Sounds like your battery had run its course and your charging system is good otherwise you wouldn't be able to re-start and carry on.

Now you could have avoided us all helping you if you had just written the last posting first!

The Optimate is a float charger or 'maintainer'.

Blapper redwine

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