Battery Charger Suggestions - Defender Source
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  #1  
Old January 25th, 2010, 01:52 PM
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Tony Brooks
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Battery Charger Suggestions

My faith in my $30 Autozone battery charger is beginning to wane. There, I said it.

Granted, it's been out in the rain more times than I care to remember, it's 5 years old, it did come from autozone, it was only $30 and it is trying to resucitate Optimas of indeterminate age. But, it just really doesn't seem to be as super-fantastic as it used to be -- it seems to be taking much longer to charge batteries (see above about them being Optimas, though -- Lord I hate optimas), the little guage thing gives out strange readings and fluctuates wildly, and the cable get disturbingly hot to the touch (like "painfull to touch" hot).

So, while I almost certainly need to replace both yellow tops with batteries that don't actually suck (did I mention I hate optimas?), I'm thinking that the charger may not be entirely faultless. In looking for new ones at Sears, Amazon, etc. the majority all have the same case as my autozone one, indicating to me that there's one big battery charger assembly line in China and they're all just rebranded versions of the same charger. And maybe that means that battery chargers are just disposable commodities now like televisions and socks. And if that's the case, back to The Zone I go to get another one with checkered flag and lightning bolt decals all over it.

So what are my options? Anyone had particularly good luck with a specific brand? Suggestions?
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  #2  
Old January 25th, 2010, 02:58 PM
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I have a Battery Tender ($46 at Amazon) and I use it mostly to keep batteries charged while out of the vehicle for storage but it also works as a regular charger.
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Old January 25th, 2010, 07:23 PM
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The best one made for gel batteries is the CTEK brand
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Old January 25th, 2010, 07:42 PM
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I bought one from Lowe's that will charge both wet batteries and gel(Optimas), it has several settings, including a battery tender type setting and it was about $75.
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  #5  
Old January 25th, 2010, 08:05 PM
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I bought a Vector smart charger that seems to work pretty well and like you Tony I now have a collection of red and yellow top optimas. The Vector showed fault codes on both my red and yellow top batteries and I finally bit the bullet and bought an Odyssey last week.
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Old January 25th, 2010, 08:10 PM
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It depends on what you are looking for. For a small charger, particularly to maintain a battery that isn't being used, I have this one, which I really like. I actually bought 3 extras for our store to keep the batteries charged on the cars in the Showroom. They see constant use, and have been going strong for years now. They are also a very nice size, and seem very well built compared to a lot of the cheap ones out there.

I also have a very old version of this, which still works great after well over a decade, and is very handy to have around. This thing can put out some power, and has the ability to jump a dead vehicle, which is nice, but it isn't useful for battery maintenance.

If you want to hard-mount something in the Defender so that you just have to plug it in to AC when you want to charge it, you might look at one of these or these.
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Old January 25th, 2010, 08:20 PM
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Great suggestions, thanks! Ideally I'd have another charger/jumper -- is that asking too much of one (good quality) unit? Most of what's been posted so far is either/or . . .
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Old January 25th, 2010, 08:49 PM
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Check these out Made is USA http://www.usabatterychargers.com/Portable_Chargers.htm
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Old January 25th, 2010, 08:53 PM
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That large DieHard one will charge, but you set a timer for the charge. This is nice, as compared with a lot of chargers, in that you won't over charge it by leaving it charging too long, but it doesn't sense the battery voltage and automatically turn on/off to maintain it like the Guest does.

Those were quick suggestions based on what I have, but if you search, I bet you can find one that does both Jump & Maintain the battery.

Edit:

In fact, here are a couple of DieHard's that Jump as well as Maintain. They are a little more pricey, but may be just what you are looking for.

http://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_1...attery+charger

http://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_1...attery+charger
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  #10  
Old January 25th, 2010, 11:01 PM
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my current battery charger came from a landfill somewhere in NoVa. Works good!
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  #11  
Old January 25th, 2010, 11:07 PM
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Remember which one?
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Old January 25th, 2010, 11:17 PM
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a guy I work with regularly goes shopping there. I want to say fairfax.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Abrooks View Post
Remember which one?
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  #13  
Old January 26th, 2010, 08:44 AM
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I have one of these in my International Beast of a truck:

http://www.dickssportinggoods.com/pr...LAID=110385844

I own a boatyard so i got it at wholesale and it may have been the next size up? Not sure. But I have had good luck with it for one that is mounted right in the truck all the time. Of course i have large side-boxes under the body where both batteries are mounted so this is bolted right in there.

For a portable cheap one to take down to the docks and possibly loose overboard I use this (I think it's this one) :

http://www.amazon.com/Vector-1089A-1...pd_sbs_auto_11

Never had an issue. If you scroll down on that Amazon page you'll find the "other items looked at" column - check them all out. Vector and Black and Decker seem to be the same.... but it wouldn't surprise me if B&D used lighter cables, cheaper clamps etc. They may well be 100% the same, but - something to keep in mind.

Schumacher brand makes a lot of nice ones - some of them pretty reasonable price and portable. All depends what you need and how much you want to spend.
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  #14  
Old January 26th, 2010, 09:32 AM
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Bill Adams
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Hi Tony. Suggest that you leave the Optimas to the Luddites and go with real batteries. Batteries should be judged by weight; a heavier battery has more lead and therefore more storage capacity. Deka Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) Batteries are the best choice for deep discharge (like winching) and recharging. These are available at Pasco in Easton MD or by calling East Penn in Baltimore 410-354-1010. For recharging, especially for Deep Cycle batteries, a smart charger is almost a requirement. These multi-step chargers will recharge at the most efficient levels without the risk of overcharging (gassing) the battery. Generally speaking, the more amps the faster the recharge and higher the price. Whether you use wet, gel or AGM batteries, they can be set up to charge any type. It is best of course to have all your batteries the same type. You may want to consider splitting your loads for "start" and "house". One battery charger can be configured to recharge both banks.
There are several brands available. Professional Mariner makes one that would fit and can be seen here
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  #15  
Old January 26th, 2010, 09:57 AM
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got a battery tender for x-mas.. its great. Truck stays plugged in until I go to use it. No more dead batttery when it sits for a while..
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  #16  
Old January 26th, 2010, 10:28 AM
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I got this one a couple of years ago and have used it fairly regularly as my truck sits for long stretches and I have occasional electrical "issues." My dad borrowed it one weekend for the boats at the lake and liked it enough that I bought him the same one for Christmas. He used it last weekend again to charge up 5 batteries and the charger "discovered" one was bad.

http://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_1...attery+charger
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  #17  
Old February 2nd, 2010, 09:23 AM
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Update: turns out the g-d optima was so dead it wouldn't take a charge at all -- the good people of costco provided me a conventional battery and we're up and running. I'll give the Autozone charger another chance and will investigate a solar trickle charger to avoid this in the future. Thanks, everyone, for the advice.
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  #18  
Old April 14th, 2010, 11:50 PM
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Tony, I have the same Yellow Top, the same Autozone battery charger, and the same problems. I bought a Battery Tender (one for the bike and one for the truck). It's cool because it's got a quick disconnect. You can keep it attached to the battery, and let the quick disconnect dangle from under the cover of the seat box.
That said, I've got to replace the Yellow Top, this time with a store brand one for half the price. Oh, and the truck really does run. Checked a couple of weeks ago and it started like a champ! Anyone have a pair of Mud Terrains??
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Old April 15th, 2010, 06:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by loykd View Post
Tony, I have the same Yellow Top, the same Autozone battery charger, and the same problems. I bought a Battery Tender (one for the bike and one for the truck). It's cool because it's got a quick disconnect. You can keep it attached to the battery, and let the quick disconnect dangle from under the cover of the seat box.
That said, I've got to replace the Yellow Top, this time with a store brand one for half the price. Oh, and the truck really does run. Checked a couple of weeks ago and it started like a champ! Anyone have a pair of Mud Terrains??
He's alive!!!

Happy Hour Friday night Ken, be there!

I will have a pair of mud terrains in the near future that I will be looking to get rid of. Of course, they are in Vermont but we travel to DC often enough, and my wife loves it when I pack the car full of Defender parts as part of the "D90 Parts Underground Parts Delivery Network".
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  #20  
Old April 15th, 2010, 12:39 PM
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Charles Galpin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by loykd View Post
Oh, and the truck really does run. Checked a couple of weeks ago and it started like a champ!
I'll believe it when I see it!
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