HF 3 Stage Charger - thoughts?

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Anybody got any +/- words about this 3 Stage unit.
http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber™857
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wrote:

It's a joke. The thing is a 1.5 amp trickle charger. Something with that low an output doesn't need 3 stages.
You can leave a 12 volt car battery hooked up to an "always on" 1.5 amp charger indefinitely without causing any harm. It will maintain a charged car battery, but it probably couldn't charge a dead one.
Walmart sells an excellent name-brand (schumacher) 3 stage smart charger that has custom settings for flooded, Gel and AGM batteries. 25 amps max. Less than $50.
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On Jan 11, 12:34 pm, snipped-for-privacy@dog.com wrote:

If it is over 13.3v 1.5a will ruin a battery, You dont know how high or or what voltage the charger puts out, it may be the other case where it never puts out enough. Until something is tested with a meter you wont know.
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On Mon, 11 Jan 2010 16:05:22 -0800 (PST), ransley

You are wrong on several counts. A 1.5 amp charger is not really even considered a "charger" It is a battery maintainer. It will keep a battery that is already charged from self discharging, but that's about all it will do. The 3 stages of a "charger" that small are useless. If that 1.5 amp charger is putting out 16 or 17 volts unloaded, it will be barely able to keep a car battery topped up. When you connect it to the battery, it won't still be putting out 16 or 17 volts. I PROMISE. And what makes you think anything over 13.3 volts will harm the battery? At such low amperage, you aren't going to heat anything up, which is the over-voltage danger with a real charger. Gel Cells are more sensitive to over voltage than flooded or AGM batteries, but at 1.5 amps, even they won't be harmed by 15 or 16 volts. This thing is simply not powerful enough to harm a car sized battery.
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Gel

Depends what you mean by HARM. Yes it won't explode or catch fire or damage it in the short term.
But if you continue to charge a fully charged battery so that the terminal voltage goes much above 14V, it will reduce the long term life of the battery. By long term I mean the battery may need to be replaced after 2 years instead of after 7 years.
Mark
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Or in my case, after a couple months.
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Christopher A. Young
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wrote:

Not if the charger is 1.5 amps, and it is connected to an average sized car battery. It simply doesn't have enough power to do anything that will cause either short or long term harm to the battery. And, once again, having "three stages" in a 1.5 amp charger is absurd and meaningless. If you want to be paranoid, just an automatic cutoff would suffice. Not really needed, though.
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My Harbor Freight trickle charger (smaller than the one in the discussion) electrolyzed the water out of my marine battery, which never held a charge after that. I'd be careful stating that a 1.5 amp charger will do no harm.
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On Tue, 12 Jan 2010 11:56:02 -0500, "Stormin Mormon"

Pretty much impossible. My guess is that your battery was already bad. That's probably why you put the trickle charger on it in the first place.
I have an AGM marine battery that is permanently connected to an unregulated 20 watt solar panel that puts out about 18 volts unloaded when the sun hits it. AGM batteries are very sensitive to over voltage. The reason the 20 watt (2 amp) solar panel dosn't hurt the very expensive battery, is because of the low amperage involved. With a real battery charger putting out 10 or 20 amps (100-200watts) the voltage would be a factor, and 14.7 volts would be the maximum recommended charging voltage.
I have a second flooded deep cycle marine battery on a similar set up. I haven't had to add water to it in over 2 years.
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You'd be mistaken. My battery was new. The trickle charger was because the battery was only used for emergencies, and I wanted it to be charged when I needed it.
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On Tue, 12 Jan 2010 20:10:25 -0500, "Stormin Mormon"

Then either the battery was defective, or you have omitted some piece of information.
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Have you considered that maybe the HF float charger was a piece of junk, supplied too much electricity and electrolyzed the water out of the battery? Which is pretty much what I already said?
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On 01/12/10 08:10 pm, Stormin Mormon wrote:

I have a "Vector" charger with separate settings for Wet, Gel and AGM batteries and with charge-rate settings of 2, 10 and 15 Amps. Once my Group 31 Deep-cycle battery is fully charged I set the charge rate for 2A, and it switches into Float mode from time to time as well -- but the battery still has to be kept topped up with water.
Perce
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On Jan 11, 6:24 pm, snipped-for-privacy@dog.com wrote:

www.batteryuniversity.com might help you learn
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On Mon, 11 Jan 2010 21:31:06 -0800 (PST), ransley

Ransley - a 1.5 amp trickle charger will not charge a completely dead car battery because the dead battery will immediately suck the output voltage down well below 12 volts, where NO charging can take place. You can't charge a 12 volt car battery with 8-10 volts coming out of the charger.
A 1.5 amp charger will also never have enough power to heat the plates of a fully charged car battery, so all it can ever hope to do is keep the battery "topped up" and make up for constant battery drains from things like digital clocks, stereo tuning presets, etc, and self discharge.
You arguments would apply to small 10-12 amp hour motorcycle batteries, not 80-100 amp hour car batteries.
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On Jan 12, 6:52 am, snipped-for-privacy@dog.com wrote:

how high does the battery terminal voltage get to AND STAY AT with the solar panel?
the sun shines full only a few hours a day... an unregulated wall wart operates 24/7 and can overcharge a car battery.. If the terminal voltage stays above 16 Volts for a long period of time, that WILL shorten the life of the battery.
But I will agree with you that __THREE__ stage control may be overkill, but you do need some kind of control for even a small wall wart charger..
Mark
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On Mon, 11 Jan 2010 12:21:51 -0600, Red Green

That particular unit should work ok. It's not rocket science to maintain or float a charge on a battery. I use something similar made by Schauer. It was made for motorcycle batteries but works fine on an auto battery. Nice to have a fully charged battery when the outside temp dips below zero.
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On Mon, 11 Jan 2010 14:01:04 -0500, Jeff The Drunkwrote:

Scratch the Schauer it a Schumacher MC-1 Manual Trickle Charger. http://www.buy.com/retail/product.asp?sku 4613441&listingidY19465
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You have to buy it then test it, cut in and out V, full charge floating Voltage. It may be good, it may be junk and ruin your battery. Expensive ones ive seen you can test and adjust. Buy it and try it.
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My experience with a HF brand "float charger". It boiled a quart and a half of water out of my marine batter. which never held a charge, again. I'd put this on a lamp timer, so it only came on an hour a day, if you leave it on.
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