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The Complete Guide to Trickle Charging: Why and How to Use a Trickle Charger?

When it comes to charging a car Battery, faster isn’t necessarily better, especially since charging at a high amperage can cause off-gassing, or worse, battery explosion. Fortunately, you can always buy a Trickle Charger to keep all your battery-related blues at bay.

What is trickle charger?

A car battery Trickle charger is an electrical charger that works at a relatively slow, steady rate. Distinct for its low amperage, the trickle charger gradually charges the battery as it depletes energy. Some variants of this charger are designed to be left connected to the car battery for extended periods of time, minus the risk of battery damage or explosion.

Trickle charging is also most ideal for vehicles that are stored away during the winter season, or for any vehicle meant to be used for emergency situations. Since the battery is connected to a trickle charger, its energy won’t get drained even if it is rarely used.

Trickle chargers are available in two major types: manual and automatic. As the names imply, manual trickle chargers are less advanced versions of automatic ones, which are capable of automatically switching on and off, depending on the battery level.

How to Trickle a Car Battery

Even the most advanced trickle charger for car won’t be useful if you don’t know how to safely operate it. Fortunately, using a trickle charger is as easy as counting 1 to 3. To keep you guided, below is a step-by-step procedure on using this device:

What You’ll Need:

  • Car battery
  • Trickle charger
  • (2) alligator clips
  • (1) power cable


      Check for Safety

      Before connecting your battery to a trickle charger, do a rain check and park your car at a well-ventilated space. Charging a battery can emit extra hydrogen gas, which can explode once left concentrated in an enclosed space.

      The coast is clear? Turn off the car lights and the ignition, remove your car keys and make sure that the charger is unplugged.

      Then, find a suitable ground location before attaching the negative terminal of the trickle charger. The ground location can either be a large bolt connected to the chassis or a part of the frame that is free from grime, dirt or oil.

      *Note: never use the negative terminal of the car battery as this may lead to explosion.

      Connect the Cables

      Prior to connecting any cable, set the appropriate amperage and voltage for your car battery. Then, turn to your alligator clips and look for the red and black clips.

      The red clip, which is the positive cable, should be connected to your battery’s positive terminal, while the negative clip, which represents the negative cable, must be connected to the ground location. Make sure the negative wire is solidly attached to the ground location before you plug your car charger. Similarly, refrain from touching any of the wires once the charger is already plugged as doing so can result to shock or injury.

      Lastly, Turn on the Charger

      Before turning on the charger, double check your manual and make sure you are following the recommended settings for your trickle charger and battery. Turn the charger on and, if available, read the amp meter.

      If the meter reading is high, it means that the battery is low or zero in energy. If, by contrast, the meter reading is low, it may either mean that the battery is sufficiently charged or your ground connection is not enough. In cases like this, turn off the trickle charger for car and try reconnecting the charger.

    How Does a Car Battery Charger Work

    Battery chargers have the same working mechanism–they supply an electric current to batteries so the cells can feed on these currents and regain energy.

    However, not all battery chargers are created equal. While the more innovative chargers use a lower and gentler “charge” or electric current to eliminate chances for over or undercharging, the cheapest ones distribute a constant current or voltage regardless of the energy level of the battery, consequently leading to either over or undercharging.

    How Long Does it Take to Trickle Charge a Car Battery?

    Typically, a fully-discharged car battery takes around 20 hours to trickle charge. However, there is no definite rule when it comes to trickle charging a vehicle, especially since the charging time of a car battery is largely dependent on factors like battery capacity, level of discharge, output current of the charger and the battery’s recharge efficiency.

    For instance, a 30-amp battery with a reserve capacity (RC) around 60 can take 1 hour to charge, while a 2-amp battery with an RC of 60 can take as long as 20 hours to trickle charge.

    Can You Overcharge a Car Battery with a Trickle Charger?

    Even though a car battery trickle charger is highly advanced, it is still vulnerable to over-charging your battery, which can lead to serious battery damage. Fortunately, you can always use a battery regulator to prevent lower any possibility of overcharging.

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