John Deere Maintenance Monday: Using a battery charger
Radio interview source: Kent Kolbeck, John Deere Ag Tech Instructor, Garden City Community College
Listen here to the radio story (mp3) or read below
In this edition of Maintenance Monday, we're answering a question from Ryan in South Carolina. He just bought a new charger for his compact utility tractor's 12-volt battery, and is looking for some tips on how to make sure he's using it correctly.
Kent Kolbeck is a John Deere Tech Instructor at Garden City Community College in Kansas. He says when the charger is hooked up to the battery, it's important to keep an eye on voltage so it stays within safe levels. A charge that reaches above 14-volts may damage the battery. "If you're not going to be there, set the timer so that it shuts off let's say after an hour or so, and then come back and check it," Kolbeck says. "If you can't be there to watch the voltage, let's say the voltage starts pushing up near 15-volts or above 14-1/2. I'd turn the rate down. Instead of 10-amps, I'd charge at 5 or at 2, and let it charge for a longer period of time."
If your charger has a boost setting, it will send out a very high current flow for a quick burst of power. However, Kolbeck says this must be used very carefully. "The owners' manuals will usually tell you only operate here for no more than 10-seconds. And they mean it. If you go much longer than that, the coils inside the battery charger do get hot, and you can ruin your transformer."
Kolbeck says most compact utility tractors that aren't in commercial operation sit for long periods of time. He recommends putting a charger on the battery at least every 30-days and bringing it back up to full charge. If you don't do that, you risk a much shorter battery life. When you're done with the charger, clean the clips, and repack it. Store it in a dry place, but not in sub-zero temperatures. This could cause the cord insulation to become stiff and possibly crack when uncoiled.
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