By: Michelle Macha
Batteries are expensive, and often they do not seem to last as long as we think they should. Why is that? There are a number of reasons why a battery’s life can be cut short, but one of the best investments you can make to help extend the life of your battery is to purchase a trickle charger (aka battery maintainer or battery tender.)
What is a trickle charger, you might be asking? And is it the same as a regular battery charger?
The short answer is no. Regular battery chargers are designed to deliver higher constant voltage to the battery charging it much faster, however the trickle chargers deliver a slow charge to your battery and are designed to be left on your battery for extended periods of time. Also, regular battery chargers deliver a constant charge to the battery even after the battery is fully charged UNLESS the charger has an automatic shutoff option after the battery gets charged. When batteries are left to charge on regular chargers too long, damage can occur from overcharging. Trickle chargers help to avoid damage from overcharging by constantly sensing the charge level of the battery.
Why should you use a trickle charger?
After a battery is fully charged, you may think it will remain fully charged until the next use. That is not the case. In addition to losing its charge, a battery that sits for a long period of time is subject to sulfation. In short, sulfation causes lead sulfate crystals to build up on a battery cell, which can be intensified by over or undercharging a battery. Sulfation is the number one reason a battery goes bad.
Damage can also occur when batteries are exposed to extreme temperatures, particularly extremely cold weather. When batteries freeze, they tend to swell and/or crack. By utilizing a trickle charger, the battery is kept warm by the low, steady charge.
What kind of battery is a trickle charger for?
Trickle chargers are designed for most normal 6- or 12-volt battery. You can use them on a variety of small to large engines, from your lawn tractor or Zero-Turn mower to your car or large tractor. They are also regularly used on boats, ATVs, jet skis – really anything that has a battery.
The main reason to use a trickle charger is if you are preparing to store your lawnmower/car/boat/etc. for a period of time. One of the most common examples would be storing your lawnmower for the winter. To ensure your battery and lawnmower are ready to go in the spring, you can install a mountable battery maintainer before you store it.
There are many different options when it comes to battery maintainers. These John Deere Battery Charger/Maintainers vary from 1.5 Amps to 3 Amps output and can automatically determine the voltage of the battery, for optimal trickle charging. Check out this video to learn more about how to use and install these maintainers!