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Wed, 15 Feb 2006
I have previously reported on my search for a solar-powered battery charger and its installation in an attempt to get more than the usual seven months out of the expensive batteries in my little-used BMW.
About eight and a half months later, I reported on the lessons from that experiment. In brief, the solar charger might have given me a tiny extension of life on that battery—but if so it was too small to measure meaningfully. As a result of that unfortunate experience, I then found an alternative kind of charger which, in an almost miraculous achievement, resuscitated the dead battery.
I declined to offer more details at the time, as I wanted to see if the new charger might have potential in the longer term. The battery I bought in November 2004 is now more than 15 months old, despite having being so badly mistreated in mid-life, and is still working just fine. Even if it dies totally tomorrow, I’m now ahead—having more than doubled the lifetime from the battery. So now it’s time to give credit where it’s due.
I bought mine from Supercheap Auto because they are local and have a decent range. Since then, however, they have completely fucked up their website and made it impossible for me to find anything. So, I’ll illustrate from the Jaycar Electronics catalogue. The one to avoid is the Smart Solar Battery Charger which was a complete failure in my application. The unit I am now using, which I highly recommend, is the Battery Fighter Super Smart 12V SLA Battery Charger. It’s a steal at under $80.
Bear in mind that my car gets started once every four to eight weeks, is abused for a day and then parked again. I’ve been leaving the charger plugged in permanently and every time I go to start the car, it just starts and all is well. If you have a similar problem, this solution is well worth a try. There are other Battery Fighter models—for lighter duty applications, as I recall. I have no experience with them, but would expect them to perform satisfactorily if used correctly, based on my experience with my charger.