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hawkaye

My Aldi battery charger story - long post warning ...

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I'm a generally happy user of my 2 Aldi battery chargers but I'll give you forumers a heads-up. I'll try and keep it factual.

 

When Mrs H retired a few weeks ago it made sense to use her small petrol car for runing around in rather than my bigger 14-year-old DPF-equipped car. So, when we needed the bigger car I decided to put the battery on charge as the car had been stood for 4 weeks. I don't consider this charger has been in any wasy abused or mishandled. The battery is under the driver's floor so I connected up, saw that it was at 12. 1 volts and charging normally, and then popped the bonnet to check engine stuff. After a couple of minutes, aware of an 'electrical' smell, I looked up to see smoke billowing out of the driver's open door. I switched off the charger, noted that smoke was still being produced, and then used pliers to disconnect the red charger clip from the battery.   A burn mark was visible on the car's carpet when the smoke cleared.

 

Evidently the cable from charger to battery had got very hot and melted the insulation and some of the wire strands. Aware that many car batteries are found under the bonnet and the wires of a charger therefore may possibly rest on fuel pipes, I speculated on the possible danger to other unsuspecting users. So I contacted Aldi customer services. I explained that the charger was out of warranty but there seemed to be a safety issue and I offered my charger for them to pass back to the manufacturer to see if there might be a problem that they wanted to alert other users to. I took the charger to the nearest store and the assistant manager took it off my hands after I had filled in a form.

Last week I got a letter from Aldi saying they weren't going to examine the charger or send it back to the manufacturers as it was out of warranty but they were sorry for my distress. They were so sorry, in fact, that they enclosed a £10 voucher. I noted that there was no charger in the letter, so I emailed Aldi, duly got back the remains of the charger and then set about my own amateur investgation.

 

Now I know from experience and reading the instructions that the Aldi battery charger software prevents it working if the polarity is wrong or the clips are shorted, so the power to melt the charging cable must have come from the car battery, if the innards of the charger were working OK. I poked and prodded, tested for a short circuit and looked with a magnifying glass but I couldn't see  anything I could draw a conclusion from in the wreckage. I found that when I took the cover off the charger there appeared to no damage inside. I unsoldered the melted leads from the charger circuit board and plugged the charger in. The display flashed as it normally does when no battery is connected. So I soldered a spare lead with croc clips onto the contacts and connected it to a 6v battery that runs my bike lights. It powered up nicely and charged the battery. I then connected it to a  spare 85 Ah battery like the one in the car that I was trying to charge originally. I left that on charge for 4 days with no drama (but frequent inspections). I seem to have got 2 working chargers again, albeit the one with 'spare' lead on has no strain relief and isn't showerproof any more.

 

So, that's my story.   Draw your own conclusions.

 

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A dodgy battery - not Aldi's fault and a functional but outside of warranty battery charger and they have paid you £10 to boot.  A decent response from Aldi is one conclusion :)

Edited by happynomad

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56 minutes ago, happynomad said:

A dodgy battery - not Aldi's fault and a functional but outside of warranty battery charger and they have paid you £10 to boot.  A decent response from Aldi is one conclusion :)

And how could a dodgy battery possibly cause this fault?

The charger should current limit if it was going into a short
The charger shouldnt initiate a charge cycle if the polarity is reversed.

 

AJG

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2 minutes ago, AJGalaxy2012 said:

And how could a dodgy battery possibly cause this fault?

The charger should current limit if it was going into a short
The charger shouldnt initiate a charge cycle if the polarity is reversed.  

 

AJG

The OP said that the charger, with new leads is doing what it should do.  Sort of suggests to me that it wasn't the charger at fault.  Maybe the charger protected itself internally but couldn't do much about a battery melting cables outside.  The condition or fate of the original battery is not known.

 

Pehaps a cable was damaged prior to use and caused the problem.  It was just one of many conclusions that could be drawn from the information provided.

 

What do think is the likely cause rather than what may not be?

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22 minutes ago, happynomad said:

The OP said that the charger, with new leads is doing what it should do.  Sort of suggests to me that it wasn't the charger at fault.  Maybe the charger protected itself internally but couldn't do much about a battery melting cables outside.  The condition or fate of the original battery is not known.

 

Pehaps a cable was damaged prior to use and caused the problem.  It was just one of many conclusions that could be drawn from the information provided.

 

What do think is the likely cause rather than what may not be?

I was responding to your view that a dodgy battery could cause it, I don't see how the battery could.

My guess is that the insulation failed on the output lead resulting in a dead short across the battery. That would definitely melt the cables yet leave the charger in a working condition. I cant think of any other possibilities.

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18 hours ago, AJGalaxy2012 said:

My guess is that the insulation failed on the output lead . ..

 

I agree. Thanks for the comment.

 

My hope is that it's a one-off and no-one comes back to a vehicle in flames as a result of the output lead on another charger melting through a fuel line.  

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50 minutes ago, hawkaye said:

 

I agree. Thanks for the comment.

 

My hope is that it's a one-off and no-one comes back to a vehicle in flames as a result of the output lead on another charger melting through a fuel line.  

I have three chargers Lidl, Aldi and CTEK. I bought the Lidl and Aldi ones out of pure interest, they are very keenly priced and quality not tooo bad, its not however (nor should it be) in the same league as the CTEK. The quality is down and the leads are one area. I would be tempted in view of your failure to add an inline fuse at the crocodile clip end of the lead for peace of mind.

 

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I'd go along with the charging lead shorting to the vehicle chassis

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4 hours ago, Borussia 1900 said:

I'd go along with the charging lead shorting to the vehicle chassis

 

There's no metal to short to; the battery is under the driver's floor. Plenty of plastic and carpet (burnt) but no chassis. We're thinking wires shorting internally.

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I have several chargers including Aldi, Ctec  etc.

My thinking is that and 85 ah car battery at 12. 1v would create a considerable resistance to the Aldi charger and expose any potential weakness - in this case the comparatively lightweight cable and insulation.   (You would get the same heat generated through cheap jump leads).

It could be that the nearly flat battery was just a bit too much for the charger on this occasion.   I'd be tempted to get the battery tested.  

 

Fitting an in-line fuse is always a good idea as per AJGalaxy

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I'm unable to draw a conclusion as to what the fault is or was

macafee2

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8 hours ago, CJ1149 said:

I have several chargers including Aldi, Ctec  etc.

My thinking is that and 85 ah car battery at 12. 1v would create a considerable resistance to the Aldi charger and expose any potential weakness - in this case the comparatively lightweight cable and insulation.   (You would get the same heat generated through cheap jump leads).

It could be that the nearly flat battery was just a bit too much for the charger on this occasion.   I'd be tempted to get the battery tested.  

 

Fitting an in-line fuse is always a good idea as per AJGalaxy

It doesnt work like that, these 'smart' chargers will simply current limit so for example if it's maximum output is 4 amps even if you feed it into a dead short it will simply supply 4 amps with no drama. The Aldi and Lidl wont feed into a dead short because they need to see battery voltage to enable their output. You cant stress these units, they simple refuse to go over the 4 amps. The issue I think the OP had is a short between the conductor of the charging lead and the battery was happy to supply a few hundred amps which melted the leads.

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Hi, I have a few Aldi, Lidl chargers and have had the charger ends of the leads perish on one. This is tight against the charger on the mains and 12v leads. twisting the leads causes a short. I repaired the leads, but it is not obvious and the break can happen just inside the reinforced rubber shroud coming out of the charger. Makes me wonder how many people have not noticed and have had a short. On the 240v side it would blow the fuse. It would melt the 12v leads and possibly melt part of the charger......as above. The chargers all have similar use, but only one has dodgy wires. A bad batch?  P.S. The chargers all work fine except for the most recent one i bought which had a display screen. After a year it started flashing blue and stopped working. Seems a common problem. Avoid these!

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Its often been said "Buy cheap - buy twice". 

 

I have often said, "C-Tek are the best chargers".

 

Thanks Hawkaye for reinforcing my opinion of C-Tek.

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48 minutes ago, BOAC said:

Its often been said "Buy cheap - buy twice". 

 

I have often said, "C-Tek are the best chargers".

 

Thanks Hawkaye for reinforcing my opinion of C-Tek.

+1 on the CTEK, does exactly what it says on the tin reliably.

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I have both a CTEK and an Aldi - neither has any issues so just as reliable as each other

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I’m surprised OH felt the need to charge the battery before he used the bigger car after it had been stood for 4 weeks.

My Sorento regularly stands for periods in excess of 4 weeks at this time of year when our trips with the van are fewer than at other times, without any battery issues.

I took it for a run the week before Christmas after it had stood for 7 weeks.

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2 hours ago, Black Grouse said:

I have both a CTEK and an Aldi - neither has any issues so just as reliable as each other

 

Well lucky you :P.  

 

The original post was concerning a faulty Aldi charger which should prove a point. You don't hear of many C-Tek chargers becoming faulty in comparison. It is known that the C-Tek range of chargers are far superior both in electronic components and care in manufacturing.

 

Tell me, does the Aldi charger resume the charging regime if there is a power interruption or do you have to reset it?  Whats the back current drain figure on a Aldi charger?  Etc etc. See some specifications on one of many C-Tek models HERE

 

I leave my C-Tek smart charger connected to my battery permanently in the caravan because it is a true plug and forget charger with a more superior specification than the Aldi - when you can get it. If the C-Tek goes faulty the exchange is a far easier procedure than the one the OP experienced.

 

Having said the above, if anyone can't afford to buy C-Tek, then you can warm the garage with an Aldi charger :D

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2 minutes ago, BOAC said:

 

Well lucky you :P.  

 

The original post was concerning a faulty Aldi charger which should prove a point. You don't hear of many C-Tek chargers becoming faulty in comparison. It is known that the C-Tek range of chargers are far superior both in electronic components and care in manufacturing.

 

Tell me, does the Aldi charger resume the charging regime if there is a power interruption or do you have to reset it?  Whats the back current drain figure on a Aldi charger?  Etc etc. See some specifications on one of many C-Tek models HERE

 

I leave my C-Tek smart charger connected to my battery permanently in the caravan because it is a true plug and forget charger with a more superior specification than the Aldi - when you can get it. If the C-Tek goes faulty the exchange is a far easier procedure than the one the OP experienced.

 

Having said the above, if anyone can't afford to buy C-Tek, then you can warm the garage with an Aldi charger :D

 

My Aldi doesn't reset after power interruption but I understand later models do - the Aldi is of course much better value - individual reports of an issue give little indication of overall reliability, bigger number samples are needed for a clear view.

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Just now, Black Grouse said:

 

My Aldi doesn't reset after power interruption but I understand later models do - the Aldi is of course much better value - individual reports of an issue give little indication of overall reliability, bigger number samples are needed for a clear view.

It also begs the question of how the units are treated - cables being pulled or dragged or wound tightly round the unit when its being stored.

My wife has managed to damage several items where the cable enters by wrapping cables as tight as she can round stuff. By the time she's finished a flat twin cable looks like a twisted pair and the cable entry is usually bent at right angles to the entry grommet or strain relief causing the cable to break or even split the sheathing.

 

I've given up moaning, I just check stuff and repair it when she's damaged it (hopefully before it becomes a hazard)

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4 hours ago, matelodave said:

It also begs the question of how the units are treated - cables being pulled or dragged or wound tightly round the unit when its being stored.

My wife has managed to damage several items where the cable enters by wrapping cables as tight as she can round stuff. By the time she's finished a flat twin cable looks like a twisted pair and the cable entry is usually bent at right angles to the entry grommet or strain relief causing the cable to break or even split the sheathing.

 

I've given up moaning, I just check stuff and repair it when she's damaged it (hopefully before it becomes a hazard)

I have to repair the cables on our vac every few years due to this. I also had to do our daughter's vac due to the same problem where the cable enters the vac and the cables break due to Mrs P wrapping it up tight. Also I have given up explaining the cause.

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On 02/01/2020 at 17:33, matelodave said:

It also begs the question of how the units are treated - cables being pulled or dragged or wound tightly round the unit when its being stored.

My wife has managed to damage several items where the cable enters by wrapping cables as tight as she can round stuff. By the time she's finished a flat twin cable looks like a twisted pair and the cable entry is usually bent at right angles to the entry grommet or strain relief causing the cable to break or even split the sheathing.

 

I've given up moaning, I just check stuff and repair it when she's damaged it (hopefully before it becomes a hazard)

Matelodave: thanks for the nudge, that's just promoted me to re-wire the battery cables on my decade-old Aldi charger. Having had a lot of use/abuse over the years it had started neading a 'waggle' of the wires to get it working. I was not surprised to find the insulation failing so re-wired it & all is now well (for another decade?).

Although I don't doubt c-teck are made to a higher spec. I can't possibly justify paying 5 times the price, even for the 'bragging rites' LOL.  Bit of a 'boys toys' thing going on here methinks.

I've yet to feel a need for more than the 3.5A output of the Aldi anyway, or been even the slightest concerned by the very rare  potential occurrence of power cuts. Otherwise things might be different.

I also carry a spare in the 'van (the original Aldi bought well over a decade ago!) As an emergency to charge the 'van or car batteries or my wife's  buggy. Rarely used it but it was indispensable when l did need it!

I might be slightly biased but I find the Liddle version slightly inferior (but that's another story).

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