It’s not always necessary to jump start your battery, especially if you take preventive measures to keep your battery charged when you’re not frequently using your car or during cold weather months.
Needless to say, there’s some confusion out there about what the different methods are. In particular, confusion reigns supreme about the difference between trickle charging your battery and float charging it. Even though these two methods result in the same thing – slow charging your car battery to ensure it doesn’t lose its juice – there are subtle differences between the two that you should know about.
Trickle Charging Your Car Battery
Using the trickle charge method, you connect your car battery to a charging unit that feeds it with a slow and steady dose of low-voltage electricity. The charge doesn’t stop until you’ve physically disconnected the cables from your car battery terminal. As a result, if you’re not there to unplug the trickle charger, you could accidentally overcharge your battery and cause permanent damage. In this case, your battery could end up losing its charge after short periods of time and your best bet is to buy a replacement.
Float Charging Your Car Battery
Float charging works almost the exact same way that trickle charging does, with one critical exception: float chargers are a bit more complex and have electronic sensors built in that detect when your battery has reached peak charge. When this happens, the low-voltage stream automatically turns off. A trickle charger can also detect when your battery has started to lose its charge and automatically turns back on.
Picking the Best Method For You
If you’re going to be leaving your car in storage for extended periods of time and aren’t going to be around to keep an eye on it, a float charger is a much more efficient way to keep your battery charged without causing it damage. If, on the other hand, you’re in a position where you can monitor the charge and physically disconnect it when it’s done, trickle charging will work just as well. Because float chargers are built to automatically turn off and back on again as needed, they’re a bit more expensive to buy than basic trickle chargers. If cost is as big an issue for you as it is for the rest of us, going with a trickle charger will give you the best value.
How to Hook up Your Trickle or Float Charger
Trickle chargers and float chargers are connected to your battery the same way. The charger’s black clip should be connected to your battery’s negative terminal first. Then, connect the charger’s red clip to your battery’s positive terminal. Next, plug the charger into a standard wall socket and turn it on. As a precautionary measure, always read the instructions that come with your charger before doing anything just to make sure you don’t wind up causing any damage to either your car battery or the charger itself. Happy charging!
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