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help finding a GOOD battery charger preferably under $40

Discussion in 'Automotive Electronics' started by budget minded, Oct 22, 2016.

  1. budget minded

    budget minded Member

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    i tried keyword searching battery chargers here for any discussions about good ones to buy, but found nothing

    i'm trying to buy a charger for 12v batteries, and am a bit overwhelmed as reading reviews for ALL of them, issues come up that make each one sound useless eg.
    - won't fully charge to 13.6v
    - can't handle high amperage
    - charges, then discharges
    - for maintaining only... and so on.

    i'm looking for a charger that can SAFELY handle charging up to FOUR 12v x 18aH deep cycle batteries in parallel for a bicycle trailer sound system. i'll be starting out with just one battery though. i want a charger that can FULLY charge 72aH without frying or discharging my batteries. i don't really need a maintainer as i intend to disconnect the charger within 1 day of it fully charging my system. i'd PREFER a charger that can trickle charge instead of speed charge the batteries. basically, i just want a charger that gets the job done without acting up.

    i was looking at various schumacher chargers which seem to have good ratings, but every one of those also has horror stories, and especially now, just to get up and running, i was considering this cheap $13 1.2 amp (trickle) charger
    [​IMG]
    https://www.amazon.com/AURELIO-TECH...00QI7BO22/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8
    as it has no horror stories attached to it, and it's cheap enough that i could upgrade to a premium ($50+) charger later and keep this as a backup as finances allow after completing my final system which still needs a sub and 2-3 more batteries.

    any help that anyone has to offer on affordable chargers that are a solid buy, or ones to avoid like the plague is appreciated. i never thought buying a battery charger could be such a gamble. my grandfather had a basic charger back in the 70s, long before "smart chargers" that he probably bought for $20 and had for years with no problems. that's all i'm looking for, a simple cheap charger that doesn't break or destroy my batteries. what's so complicated about that? i don't care if it has a short cord or any other similar kinds of minor quibbles. i can park my trailer right next to an outlet. all i care about is that the charger is functional and dependable. being able to charge 72 amps in no more than 2 days would be nice too.

    thanks in advance to anyone who can help me get the battery i just ordered up and running at full capacity without wasting money on useless junk.
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2016
  2. k7elp60

    k7elp60 Active Member

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    Here is a website :http://www.powerstream.com/. They have quite a selection, from reading you post perhaps the PST-A200 12A charger might fit the bill.
    If what you find there is not suitable, it is possible to build one, I have built many 12v lead-acid chargers in the past 15 to 20 years so I may be able to help you.
     
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  3. budget minded

    budget minded Member

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    no, i don't think building is an option. i'm not technically oriented. i can maybe read a schematic well enough to build a passive speaker crossover or make an LED string, but that's about my limit. i can wire components up, but not much more than that. i'd rather just buy a charger. i'll take a look at that link and site.

    thanks for your help. :)

    nope. not liking those at all... no alligator clips. i want a charger that's ready to use out of the box.

    UPDATE:
    OK... i went back and tried to search for the specific model you mention (it took a few minutes to find where the site search was hiding) and it didn't turn any results up. the navigation at that site is HIDEOUS! no home button? really? from what i saw too, their stuff is expensive to overpriced. little wall wart chargers like the one i showed a pic of are $40 there and everything else was $160 and up. if it costs over $40, i can't afford it right now.

    OK... i tried a GOOGLE search for it and found the one you recommended... $94?! definitely not going to happen, at least not now. i don't even know if i'd get it later as by the time i could afford a $100 charger, i'd be making enough money to switch over to li-poly packs and lighten my load up.

    like i said too, i'm NOT looking for a battery stressing rapid charger, just a nice gentle trickle charger.

    OK... i tried searching for chargers again at amazon, but instead of filtering 4 star plus results by price, i tried sorting by rating, and after sorting through 5 star results with just a few people down to results from just 1 person each, THIS seems to be the highest rated charger with a respectable 3,430 reviews, 87% of which rate it a 5 and "only 3%" rate it a 1 vs up to 10% with other chargers.

    [​IMG]

    at $50, it's just a little more than i want to spend, but it seems to be the best of the best as far as consumer chargers go anyways. well... not after reading the few 1 star review horror stories about $30 warranty honoring. why is it that a product type far simpler than an mp3 player should cause so many people so many problems?

    if somebody knows of a charger that's even better at the price, as as good for le$$. i'm still shopping.
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2016
  4. dave

    Dave New Member

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  5. tcmtech

    tcmtech Well-Known Member Most Helpful Member

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    Actually using a trickle charger to bring a large well discharged battery up to a less than proper full charge voltage (13 - 13.8 volts Vs the proper full 14.2 - 14.6) over a long period of time (2 - 3+ days) will do far more sulfation damage far faster than using a properly sided and rated multistage unit that brings them up over a period of a few hours then tapers back to a proper floating voltage.:facepalm:

    By my books a 72 Ah battery bank run down will take 120+ Ah of equivalent input at ~14.2 - 14.4 volts before reaching full charge to which could be reduced back to the 13.8 or less float voltage which in my books says that a 1.5 amp charger with long term low rate charging losses factored in would take the batter side of 4 - 5 days to bring the battery set back up to a workable charge level. :(

    For every watt hour you take out at least 1.5 need to go back in and be put back in and be done in a similar equivalent time frame. That is if you drained the battery bank at 20+ amps for 2- 3 hours you need tp put at least 20+ amps back into the battery for 3 - 4.5+ hours before tapering off the charging voltage. :rolleyes:
     
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  6. Mosaic

    Mosaic Well-Known Member

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    Just as an aside.
    Lead acid batteries have become a bit of a specialization of mine over the last 5 years. I'm rolling out a 12v/6v regenerator that really works and is IoT ready. Capable of 800A pulsing, Ah and CCA re rating, battery sequencing, precharging, load testing, and float maintenance, all automated with up to two being regen'd and two on mtce. at any time. All in a 9" cube. That took 3 years to develop and test. Handles from 12Ah thru 250 Ah. Overnight regeneration for mid sized car, 11 plate sized batteries, no matter the condition. Critical battery failures rapidly identified for early rejection.

    More on topic, I just finished an 8 port maintenance 'charger' with red/green LED displays per battery and up to 0.75A per 'channel'. This is for 12V lead acid batts. 4" x 6" x 5" dimensions and I plan to launch it as a DIY kit. No microprocessor in this one. All analog electronics with front end PTC protections and 120VAC crowbar fuse protections in the event the fixed 'float' voltage drifts upward due to a fault. A green display means the battery is under charge and < 13V, a red indicates a low voltage or rev connected batt. No LED display => no batt connected or batt V > 13V and is taking little energy.

    Two DB9 RS232 style 'ports' handling 4 batteries each permit easy cable extensions.

    Developing a mainframe based 'charging' system for slotting in charging modules ( up to 8 per mainframe) good to 350W each to permit easy maintenance and capability for RV farms or Vehicle service centers.
     
  7. budget minded

    budget minded Member

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    i understood about half of that and have a clue on about another quarter of it where the final quarter is pure gibberish to me.

    i gathered you designed 2 different chargers though.
     
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  8. budget minded

    budget minded Member

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    supposedly, it makes a difference, the batteries i'll be using are AGMs aka glass mat which hold more of a charge than traditional lead acid batteries and benefit from chargers that take that into account. one review/comment i read somewhere claimed "regular" chargers undercharge AGMs thus limiting their capacity.
     
  9. tcmtech

    tcmtech Well-Known Member Most Helpful Member

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    Yes they do. AGM need 14.6 - 14.8 volts to charge properly whereas most standard deep cycle lead acid are good with 14.2 - 14.6.

    So once again if you are thinking that by using a crappy cheap little trickle charger that tops out at 1.5 amps or whatever is somehow going to extend the life of your 72 Ah battery bank by taking days to reach full charge you will be creating more problems than solving.

    Same problem with adding one battery at a time to a set where the present battery or batteries are being actively used and cycled for some time before the next new one is added. . In the long term it does not go well. Especially so if the charging cycles were long slow ones that only got longer and slower as more batteries were add due to inadequate charger unit capacity. :rolleyes:
    Being cheap, not conservative but just cheap, is going to cost you more money and cause you more problems in the long run than doing things the right way at the begining. :facepalm:

    [Mod edit] Sorry TCM... A tad over the line...
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 25, 2016
  10. Mosaic

    Mosaic Well-Known Member

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    AGMs are not going to last like wet cell, pure lead plate for true deep cycle operation. Trojan claims to have the only true deep cycle AGM as opposed to 'dual' purpose AGMs, which do a passable, but not great, job.
    Also, if you need 72Ah , purchase a 72 Ah or 75Ah deep cycle battery. Charge balancing among batteries in a bank requires more maintenance or more expensive chargers.

    I had the opportunity to 'regenerate' a 10 year old , 12V, wet cell, Caterpillar Gen. Set battery ($450 retail) a few months ago. It literally sat self discharging for 10 years in a tropical warehouse, down to around 2V, no load. It returned to 50% Ah capacity after the process. Eminently useful when repurposed. Caterpillar batteries are made to stand the rigors of heavy use.
     
  11. budget minded

    budget minded Member

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    AGM batteries are a temporary stopgap measure to get rolling ASAP. they aren't what i intend to use forever. when my income improves, i will step up to lighter, but far more expensive, li-poly batteries.

    as to 72aH batteries, they are simply way too big! this is a bicycle trailer afterall, so real estate is at a premium. i can lay 4 x ML18-12 on their sides in a bike trailer for a depth of only about 3 inches, and spread the batteries out for better use of space under my trailer. a huge single battery would eat up a lot of vertical space as well as unused horizontal space. i'll likely be paying more per amp/watt, but gain a lot in mounting flexibility. i've given this issue literally YEARS of thought and started a single battery system years ago,
    [​IMG]
    and finding space for the battery proved to be a very annoying space wasting challenge.

    i pretty much had EVERYTHING i needed to complete the system i had to abandon once i realized far to late, there was no way i was going to be able to get it out of my second story apartment because of balcony rails.

    it's REALLY a shame because those amps were AWSOME! they were class A/B, but those white discs on top of them were electric blue plasma (borg) displays which had a very wide range of displays from a few lightning bolts to complex spider webs depending on the song, and i'm guessing its frequency profile being played at any given time. i REALLY hated selling those before i ever used them. the amps had a very fun, slightly warm, PRAT stomping eager/playful sound quality perfect for dance tunes and the displays were super-disco. i ended up giving the battery, charger and 10" goldwood poly wedge sub away without ever really using that either. i got a really good (i think $80 each) deal on the amps on closeout at sonicelectronix and as you can see in the pic, they didn't quite match in color. the one on the left was a neutral titanium grey while the one on the right was a slightly reddish and darker sunglasses tint.

    i sold those along with 3 of 4 hifonics (aka MB quart) 12" subs (back when they still had cool looking chrome trim rings) and boxes i had. i WISH i had the last sub to use now, but it's in storage in another state.

    i REALLY wish i never sold the amps. i found these cool inner/outer "crochet stretcher rings" that were just the right size to poke the displays through the chrome sequined fabric you can see in the background i planned to use as an outer shell.

    i really miss the NHT superzeros i sold too. what they lacked in bass as well as treble speed and extension they more than made up for in imaging and total lack of box resonance neutrality. i've owned speakers with better drivers, but they all sucked with woody sounding & larger 5/8" MDF boxes with resonances that drove me crazy. DO NOT get me started on bass reflex! just don't! LOL
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2016
  12. k7elp60

    k7elp60 Active Member

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    interesting
     
  13. Mosaic

    Mosaic Well-Known Member

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  14. tcmtech

    tcmtech Well-Known Member Most Helpful Member

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    Like watching the mentally changed compete in a Jeopardy match. ;)

    It's interesting for totally different reasons than any normal match. :oops:
     
  15. budget minded

    budget minded Member

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    i'm DIY as far as engineering goes, but nearly clueless when it comes to electronics.

    as to li-poly, i don't like the idea of used batteries, but am planning on going that route next year after my income improves, as well as building a mold for carbon fiber lined with fiber and/or hemp glass. right now, i'm just trying to get rolling asap and as cheap as possible, and it's already too late as i just bought my 1st starter 12v battery to get rolling without a sub. i might not use anything from the system i'm building now in the 4x12 one i'll build next year except maybe the amp and circuit breaker.

    when i go the lithium route, it will be using top of the line panasonic cells.

    if you're not following the "system thread", the system i'm building now will use a pair of proel 8 inch 96dB efficient mini-DJ speakers that actually sound really nice except for their lack of bass. i got them on closeout at MCM after researching their sound for just $100 when the pair lists for $500 and uses celestion drivers including a titanium waveguide tweeter. as the air motion tweeters i wanted to use, and will likely use in the final system are $70 each, i figured the deal i was getting on the proels was too good to pass up as i originally intended to start with a lower power sure amp and just those.

    the sub i'll be starting with is a $22 MCM 15 inch 4 ohm rated at 92dB -3dB @ 50Hz poly with a cool looking inverted dustcap and rubber surrounds mounted in a 1.9 cubic foot sealed box i can get up the street for $42 with a system Q of .68.

    the amp i'm starting with is a 4 channel class D planet audio (boss) unit that theoretically i can 2x100+ & 1x600 biamp with, without having to deal with high voltage class D issues.

    gotta go, or i'll be late to work
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2016
  16. Mosaic

    Mosaic Well-Known Member

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    If I build a 5A capable charger for u for $40 as a project, would you be interested?
     
  17. k7elp60

    k7elp60 Active Member

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    Mosaic, I may be able to save you some work. I checked my stock and I have a 5A charger that I would sell to budget minded for about $40.00 plus shipping.
     
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  18. k7elp60

    k7elp60 Active Member

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    Budget Minded, I have a 12V 5A charger that works very well. I will sell it to you for $40.00 plus shipping.
    I can send you pictures if you are interested.
     
  19. budget minded

    budget minded Member

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    i'm not a fan of unknown quantities. what exactly makes that charger better than, say, a schumacher i could get new for the same price or less? (and please... use something resembling plain english LOL my understanding of electronics and especially the math & circuit nuances behind them is very limited. i couldn't tell you what a diode does)
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2016
  20. k7elp60

    k7elp60 Active Member

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    In the simplest terms and plain english that I can use here is what the charger is: It will safely charge 18AH AGM, Gel-Cel and automobile batteries. It has two meters on the front panel, a voltmeter that shows the charge voltage, and an ammeter that shows the charge current. It was built in the old style of a metal case and a power transformer. It weighs approximately 25 pounds, and has alligator clips the same shape of the two pictures you posted earlier.
    After thinking about this charger I have decided not to sell it to you.
    I'm sorry you don't understand the terms that myself and the other people have posted answers to your questions. by by
     
  21. budget minded

    budget minded Member

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    that's why i'm here, to gain understanding and knowledge where i'm lacking and share what i do know about other topics, but when you use the same vocabulary as the majority of your peers here, it sounds like chinese to me. my mind understand spatial, materials & creative problems better than abstract & mathematical ones. it's a lot easier for me to wrap my head around, say, load bearing in a structure intuitively than it is to quote the math behind it. electronics have "spooky behaviors" i find difficult to model in me head beyond the basics.

    give me a problem in plain english, explain the variables and name assets, and i'm really good at finding solutions, but i have to understand it at the underlying form level. it's hard to model the complex interactions in a circuit for me, just as it's probably hard for you to understand how every organ and cell structure in a human body interact to produce the whole and your understanding of individual organs is likely comparable to my understanding of electronic components. complex electronics just aren't my thing but i'll run circles around a crowd in more basic problem solving as i have no boxes to think within whatsoever other than the variables that can't be exceeded.

    back to the purpose of this thread

    i need a charger that can do more than just 18 amps too. i want to be able to charge 4x 18aH batteries in parallel instead of having to charge each one one at a time. so far, i've gotten absolutely nowhere other than having to gamble on a charger that 1 in 20 people have had nothing but problems with. as complex as the are, TVs seem a lot safer investments.
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2016

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