Why Batteries fail in Australia
Conditions in Australia create havoc for batteries. The extreme climate, rough roads and tough driving conditions attack the critical components of a battery which over time can lead to premature failure. Batteries available in the Australian market place are not created equal when it comes to addressing the causes of battery failure. Many imported or inferior quality batteries focus on delivering higher starting power (CCA’s) at the expense of more critical design factors. When choosing a battery it is of utmost importance that you invest in a battery that has been specially designed to combat the causes of early battery failure and withstand the abuse of corrosion, water loss, vibration and idling.
In hot under bonnet temperatures, such as those experienced throughout the year within Australia, battery acid becomes increasingly corrosive. At hotter temperatures the acid in a battery will eat away faster at critical metal alloys (plates) within the battery.
Water loss occurs in a battery as a result of gassing under normal conditions. Gassing and resulting water loss rates significantly increase with temperature and as a result choosing a battery that can be maintained by topping up water levels is important as this can extend battery life.
On rough, uneven roads or unsealed tracks vibration damage can contribute to early battery failure. Vibration causes damage to a battery's internal components, contributing to the development of cracks within materials and accelerating corrosion rates.
During long periods of the engine running at a slow speed or while idling, such as in a traffic jam, vehicles generally fail to provide enough charge to a battery when used to power radio, aircon units or navigation systems. A battery must be able to to cope with this constant cycling (stages of charge and discharge).
A "lightly sulphated battery" has a layer of insulating lead sulphate on its plates. When you try to charge a sulphated battery, the voltage rises quickly, as per Ohm's law, and for an uncontrolled battery charger it rises all the way up to its maximum. It is often said that sulphated batteries "will not accept a charge". However, they can sometimes be "revived" by charging them with a low current over several days. Another way is to raise the voltage to 20-25V in order to get the sulphated battery to charge a little. This may work with a sulphated battery that has been protected on a workbench, but it is risky for the vehicle when the battery is still connected to the mains. Many manufacturers including BMW motorcycles, have prohibited the use of this type of battery charger without first disconnecting the battery in the vehicle. This may result in you losing the settings for your radio and sometimes even for the engine control unit, which makes this method of desulphation a lot more labour intensive.
Another more efficient method is applied by CTEK battery chargers. They charge at full current right up to maximum voltage whereupon the battery charger returns to zero. Charging starts up again immediately and keeps on in this way by sending pulses of energy to the battery. You can see this as the lamps in the upper row are flashing. If they are still flashing after 60 minutes, you will have to accept that the sulphated battery is spent, but if a lamp indicating CHARGING is lit permanently, you have succeeded in desulphating the battery. Bear in mind, however, that the sulphated battery is probably at the end of its service life and will need to be replaced sooner rather than later.
A CTEK battery charger uses 4-8 stages depending on the model
The most important quality of a battery charger is the precision of the final voltage during the battery charging cycle. If the voltage is too high, gassing will occur in the battery rendering it unusable as a result of dried out cells and grid corrosion due to increased acid concentration and the excessive heat generated when charging. If the voltage is too low, the battery will not charge properly and it will lose more and more capacity until it finally becomes unusable.
CTEK battery chargers charge your battery in a controlled manner in order to optimise its capacity and service life.
Typical linear battery charging behaviour compared to CTEK battery chargers
Not all power grids deliver constant 230V voltage. Even minor variations in mains voltage will cause undercharging or gassing. Undercharging will result in the negative plate not being fully converted and therefore part of the material will be inactive. Overcharging will cause gassing in the battery which will dry it out and the heat generated will damage the lead plates.
The CTEK range of switch mode battery chargers operate independently of variations in mains voltage which means the batteries are charged efficiently.
Battery charger vs equipment
Interruptions and ripple from voltage and current may damage equipment connected to the battery:
Audio equipment in cars.
Telephone equipment in caravans.
GPS and navigational aids in boats.
Sensitive equipment in emergency service vehicles.
Data and control boxes
The noise and ripple from the CTEK battery chargers is negligible.
Battery charger vs authority regulations
All battery chargers has to carry the CE mark in the EU. For your own safety, demand a third parties testing and approval of the equipment.
CTEK battery chargers are tested and approved by Intertec SEMKO AB and UL.
Battery charger vs safety
Battery chargers are often used in damp and dusty environments:
In the garage
In caravans and motor homes
In harbours and on boats
When charging outdoors, you must use a battery charger that has been approved for outdoor use. CTEK battery chargers have been approved (IP65 and IP44).
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