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tictag

Perpetually Powered Booster Pack

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OK, a grandiose title for a simple gadget! I bought one of those booster packs for the car because I once flattened my battery in the middle of nowhere and had to wait an unfeasible amount of time for the AA – not happening again. So I wanted to charge it and keep it maintained and store it in my boot ready for whenever I needed it. ..

 

I could just plug it directly into a 12v accessory socket but because this battery was very much smaller than my car battery I thought there might be overcharging issues and, of course, if my battery went flat, so would my ‘backup’.

 

So I bought a cheap(ish) solar regulator from Maplins. Hard wired the ‘solar’ terminals to my battery (fused, of course) and the battery terminals to my booster pack. Now when the alternator is running, the regulator thinks it’s getting power from a solar panel and charges/maintains the booster pack as it would do any other lead-acid battery.

 

Booster pack will never be overcharged, never drain if the car battery were to drain and is kept fully charged. It’s also got a 240v inverter and a light so comes in handy when outdoors too.

 

Booster pack, regulator and accessories. £70. Peace of mind from knowing I’ll always be mobile. Priceless.

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Not exactly priceless - cost of £70 - which is £70 more than running my car costs me! Smiles| ;)

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My breakdown only costs me around £45 a year, but I have no faith in the ability of a tiny 12v battery to start my engine anyway.

 

How do I know, I bought one and tried it, and as expected I found it useless for starting the car with a flat battery.

 

It does though have a rather nifty built in charger system - It has a voltage sensing split charge relay and a second voltage sensor which trips out when it detects the voltage (just across its own battery) rising above 14. 0v. Once it trips out, it doesn't trip back in until the next voltage input cycle.

 

I keep it hung on my garage wall, with its PSU plugged into one of my timer controlled sockets. The sockets power up for 1 hour per day to top up various chargers around the garage, such as this charger, a battery wander light, battery drills and etc. .

 

It has been on this charging routine for 10 years and the battery still has full capacity. As a portable low capacity compressor it works. As a low power 12v test source it works, As a portable lighting sources it works. As a means to start my car with a flat battery it is useless.

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Using a spare wire from the relay for the caravan charging system is also an option :)

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It does though have a rather nifty built in charger system - It has a voltage sensing split charge relay and a second voltage sensor which trips out when it detects the voltage (just across its own battery) rising above 14. 0v. Once it trips out, it doesn't trip back in until the next voltage input cycle.

 

I keep it hung on my garage wall, with its PSU plugged into one of my timer controlled sockets. The sockets power up for 1 hour per day to top up various chargers around the garage, such as this charger, a battery wander light, battery drills and etc. .

 

It has been on this charging routine for 10 years and the battery still has full capacity. As a portable low capacity compressor it works. As a low power 12v test source it works, As a portable lighting sources it works. As a means to start my car with a flat battery it is useless.

 

I hope you don't have Ni-Cad batteries connected to the chargers Harry, charging them for an hour per day will not allow them to fully discharge and will cause the well publicised memory effect to occur in the Ni-Cad cells.

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I hope you don't have Ni-Cad batteries connected to the chargers Harry, charging them for an hour per day will not allow them to fully discharge and will cause the well publicised memory effect to occur in the Ni-Cad cells.

 

I have never been convinced by the memory effect argument, but yes I do have some Ni-Cads on such a regime for many years without problems.

 

The only effect I have come across with Ni-Cads is the growth of what is suggested to be conductive whiskas in the cells, which causes them to show a dead short. The fix for that, is to burn the whiskas out with a large pulse of current across the cells, which is safest done by charging up a large value capacitor, then discharging it across the Ni-Cad.

Edited by harry.m1byt

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My breakdown only costs me around £45 a year, but I have no faith in the ability of a tiny 12v battery to start my engine anyway.

 

Do you know, I’ve just realised that I've never actually tried it. Unusual for me, I do rather like practical challenges. A very valid point, Harry, and one which I shall address forthwith.

 

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I too have a booster battery thing, it has a relatively small battery in it, but it kicks over my Landrover V8 when its battery is completely flat (I don't use it enough) with ease, if you buy a cheap one, its not going to work. It's a Clarke unit from machine mart, I don't even look after it that well and it has never failed me.

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I too have a booster battery thing, it has a relatively small battery in it, but it kicks over my Landrover V8 when its battery is completely flat

 

Encouraging, thank you :) Still need to test it though because I am actually relying on it to start a three litre diesel and, unusually for me, I have no evidence that it will (other than the manufacturers claims but let's face it, they are a somewhat biased advocate!)

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I think turning over a modern diesel is no more of a strain than any petrol engine, now if you were starting a tractor, that maybe is another matter. My Mondeo 2L diesel spins very freely when I start it, and the battery is not that big.

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As I'm sure everyone knows, a " 'van" battery isn't designed for powering a starter motor but it's fine for lower-current loads. Consequently, in the old days, it could be connected to the car ignition system and the engine would then start easily if you could spin the engine even slowly on the starter battery or by pushing the car, turning a starting handle or by jacking up* a driven wheel and spinning the wheel by hand with 3rd gear selected.

*(Making darn sure that the car is secure and can't move or topple of the jack!)

 

It can still be used to give a boost if the starter battery is just not quite managing but only for a VERY brief starter burst. Permanent damage to the battery is a distinct possibility if it's used for more than a few seconds to drive the starter by itself.

 

If you don't fully understand what I'm suggesting, please don't try it.

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Encouraging, thank you :) Still need to test it though because I am actually relying on it to start a three litre diesel and, unusually for me, I have no evidence that it will (other than the manufacturers claims but let's face it, they are a somewhat biased advocate!)

 

Well, I’ve just found a glitch in the matrix because (no way can this be a coincidence. ..) my battery was dead last night. This has only happened once before in the four years I’ve owned it and it happened within a week of me writing a post about testing my booster pack!!! :blink:

 

Anyway, it didn’t work. Wasn’t even in the same county as working. The pack was 100% charged and powered the electrics fine until the starter motor was energised then everything just died.

 

On the bright side, I suppose it’s better to find out now in the car park at home than on a field in the middle of nowhere.

 

So I suppose the morale of this story is that a solar regulator used to keep a booster pack charged may well be a useful gadget, it’s no good if the booster pack doesn’t actually start the car.

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Going back to your first post

So I bought a cheap(ish) solar regulator from Maplins. Hard wired the ‘solar’ terminals to my battery (fused, of course) and the battery terminals to my booster pack. Now when the alternator is running, the regulator thinks it’s getting power from a solar panel and charges/maintains the booster pack as it would do any other lead-acid battery.

 

 

What amps does you alternator kick out & what amps was your cheap controller designed to take :blink:

 

 

 

I think that using the caravans relay would still be the better option

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I think we may be crossing some wires here (pun intended ;))

 

If we’re talking about the current my alternator is capable of producing into a load, then I’m sure this is a lot. It’s a big car, lots of electrics, heated windscreen, heated seats etc. , maybe in the region of 60 or so amps? But this has no relevance to the controller. If I connect a bulb across the alternator output terminals it’s not going push 60 amps through it.

 

In the same way, my controller will only ever draw as much as it was designed to and, as this device is essentially designed to trickle charge a battery from a solar panel, I wouldn’t expect it to draw anything more than maybe 5 amps.

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I think we may be crossing some wires here (pun intended ;))

 

If we’re talking about the current my alternator is capable of producing into a load, then I’m sure this is a lot. It’s a big car, lots of electrics, heated windscreen, heated seats etc. , maybe in the region of 60 or so amps? But this has no relevance to the controller. If I connect a bulb across the alternator output terminals it’s not going push 60 amps through it.

 

In the same way, my controller will only ever draw as much as it was designed to and, as this device is essentially designed to trickle charge a battery from a solar panel, I wouldn’t expect it to draw anything more than maybe 5 amps.

 

60amps output would make it quite a small car - more likely its output will be in the 100 - 150 amp range.

 

It might at a pinch initially draw 5amps, but that would not be for very long.

 

As said, I have never had any luck starter a big car with one of the starter packs and looking inside, I don' t believe the batteries have anywhere near the whoomph required.

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A lesson learned, methinks.

 

 

Interestingly, whilst I still had the kit out for my leisure battery capacity test (a separate thread in the Electric forum) and the battery in my bedroom, I thought I’d do the same for my car battery! When I put it on charge, o/c voltage was 9. 5V. I’m expecting that to have had some adverse impact.

 

 

90AH on the label. We’ll see. ...

 

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I think we may be crossing some wires here (pun intended ;))

 

If we’re talking about the current my alternator is capable of producing into a load, then I’m sure this is a lot. It’s a big car, lots of electrics, heated windscreen, heated seats etc. , maybe in the region of 60 or so amps? But this has no relevance to the controller. If I connect a bulb across the alternator output terminals it’s not going push 60 amps through it.

 

In the same way, my controller will only ever draw as much as it was designed to and, as this device is essentially designed to trickle charge a battery from a solar panel, I wouldn’t expect it to draw anything more than maybe 5 amps.

 

I might not be designed to run more than 5 amps but 80 plus amps would fry it, controllers are a bit more technical than light bulbs

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90AH on the label. We’ll see. ...

 

Oh dear :(

 

Looks like I’ve knackered my car battery. Labelled at 90AH, actual capacity 50AH. It discharged to 50% in 10 hours with an average current of exactly 2. 5A.

 

Is there any way this is so low because of the test not being suited to a starter battery?

 

sml_gallery_63455_1385_3908.jpg

Edited by tictag

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Oh dear :(

 

Looks like I’ve knackered my car battery. Labelled at 90AH, actual capacity 50AH. It discharged to 50% in 10 hours with an average current of exactly 2. 5A.

 

Is there any way this is so low because of the test not being suited to a starter battery?

 

sml_gallery_63455_1385_3908.jpg

 

Not that I'm aware of. I'm in the same situation, having had mine damaged by a constant slow discharge which culminated with it being completely flat - as recently mentioned. Its hanging in there for the moment after fixing the discharge, but the tv receiver has stopped working whilst parked due to the lower voltage - so replacement is on the cards soon.

 

Cheapest source I have found so far, is http://www. justcarbatteries. co. uk/index. php/varta-car-batteries/varta-silver-dynamic-car-batteries/varta-silver-dynamic-110-battery-f18. html for my particular battery.

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Not that I'm aware of. I'm in the same situation, having had mine damaged by a constant slow discharge which culminated with it being completely flat - as recently mentioned. Its hanging in there for the moment after fixing the discharge, but the tv receiver has stopped working whilst parked due to the lower voltage - so replacement is on the cards soon.

 

Cheapest source I have found so far, is http://www. justcarbatteries. co. uk/index. php/varta-car-batteries/varta-silver-dynamic-car-batteries/varta-silver-dynamic-110-battery-f18. html for my particular battery.

 

It's interesting how they use the 110 part number where the amp hours are usually stated :o

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It's interesting how they use the 110 part number where the amp hours are usually stated :o

 

The 110 means a Type 110, which is the spec of the battery H/W/L amp/hour and CCA.

 

This table lists the Type number versus the above details. All you need to know to replace your current battery, is its type number, it should then match in all respects.

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I think Paul_B's point was that at a quick glance, the positioning of the part number could lead the buyer to infer it was a 110AH battery, when in fact it is an 85AH battery.

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Well, I’ve just found a glitch in the matrix because (no way can this be a coincidence. ..) my battery was dead last night. This has only happened once before in the four years I’ve owned it and it happened within a week of me writing a post about testing my booster pack!!! :blink:

 

Anyway, it didn’t work. Wasn’t even in the same county as working. The pack was 100% charged and powered the electrics fine until the starter motor was energised then everything just died.

 

Because I clearly have too much time on my hands, I have just carried out a discharge test on the battery pack. It is labeled as 40AH but actually measures 12AH. It's been kept fully charged since I bought it so I can only assume the unit is defective. Maybe a serviceable unit might fare better?

 

batterypack

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Because I clearly have too much time on my hands, I have just carried out a discharge test on the battery pack. It is labeled as 40AH but actually measures 12AH. It's been kept fully charged since I bought it so I can only assume the unit is defective. Maybe a serviceable unit might fare better?

 

My suspicion is that if you open the unit up you may find a small 12ah sealed battery :lol:

 

Not that I'm aware of. I'm in the same situation, having had mine damaged by a constant slow discharge which culminated with it being completely flat - as recently mentioned. Its hanging in there for the moment after fixing the discharge, but the tv receiver has stopped working whilst parked due to the lower voltage - so replacement is on the cards soon.

 

Cheapest source I have found so far, is http://www. justcarbatteries. co. uk/index. php/varta-car-batteries/varta-silver-dynamic-car-batteries/varta-silver-dynamic-110-battery-f18. html for my particular battery.

Cheaper here ---> http://www. tayna. co. uk/Type-110-Varta-Silver-Dynamic-F18-585-200-080-P7709. html

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One thing to rember when checking the Ah capacity of a battery is it desine discharge time. In that almost

all car battery's are c20 rated meaning that the Ah capacity is only right if dischacharged over a 20 hour time scale.

In the case of a 40 Ah battery this is a constant current of 2amps for 20 hours down to set voltage per cell.

Now if you drew 4 amps you may think it would it would last 10 hours, but practice it may only last 7. 5 hour giving you only 30 Ah. Then if you drew 10 amps you would maybe guess 4 hours, but 2 hours is more likely ( 20 Ah ). The rest is lost through internal losses and ultimley heat.

This type of rating is used mainly for marketing reasons to make the battery sound better than it is.

There are some battery's that are sold rated at c5, i. e. discharged over 5 hours and there is presser to use this rating for most car and leisure battery's as it is more realistic.

Also worth looking out for is the cca, the cold cranking amps, but this also has several methods of testing so check like for like and if you can the DIN rating.

Also rember a lot of these jump start packs are sold as "boster packs" not for when the car battery is fully flat, only nealy flat.

At the end of the day you only get what you pay for and small packs are unlikely to be much use on a larger Diesel engine car with a fully flat battery.

It also dose not take long for them to lose the top 20-25% of there rated capacity.

Sorry for a long post but it mite help explaine some points.

 

Roger

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