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Understanding the fundamentals of charging your motorcycle battery will give you a long and healthy battery life. One of the most common causes of premature battery death is leaving your motorcycle battery in a discharged state, or not charging the battery after use. There are many types of motorcycle batteries which can also be in various conditions and charge states; therefore there are many ways one can charge a motorcycle battery. We have broken this article into several sections from beginners guide to more specific motorcycle battery charging methods.
Lead-Acid batteries when installed on your motorcycle are actually charged by the motorcycle alternator. You probably knew this. What you may not have known is that unless you are riding on long trips or for several hours at a time, the motorcycle alternator due to size constraints is not quite strong enough to fully charge your lead-acid battery during occasional driving especially if the battery has a low charge. Therefore motorcycle batteries tend to get deep cycled faster than automotive batteries. Cars have much stronger alternators and when regularly driven will easily keep the lead-acid batteries charged preventing them from getting deeply discharged.
When a lead-acid battery is fully discharged, you risk reducing the calendar life of the battery. Fully discharging, means taking a battery from a charged state to a discharged state where the individual cell voltage drops to 1.9v. Since lead-acid batteries for motorcycles aren’t designed for deep cycling this will negatively impact the battery and reduce the life of the battery (see battery cycle life).
Under ideal operating temperatures and ideal voltage charge, a lead-acid battery will last according to manufacturer calendar life expectations. In reality, we neglect our batteries. Also, the conditions in which they operate in have many different variables.
So deep cycling will impact your motorcycle lead-acid battery life. Temperature also plays a large role in battery life. Lead-acid batteries work optimally under an operating temperature of 25 degrees Celsius (77 degrees Fahrenheit). Higher operating temperatures will degrade battery life as can be measured by the Arrhenius Equation. Many things can affect the operating temperature of a battery.
If you live in hot desert areas and drive a motorcycle, you may experience replacing the battery more than someone who drives the same motorcycle but lives in a more temperate climate like southern California. This doesn’t mean you should move to a much colder climate to increase your battery life! Extreme cold weather also affects lead-acid battery life. Although the lead-acid chemistry type can withstand a range of temperature extremes, if a flooded lead-acid battery is allowed to discharge in extreme freezing weather, the water content is higher and more susceptible to freezing. If this happens, the battery could actually experience cracking and leakage. At which point you will need to replace the battery very soon.
This video demonstrates the typical steps required in preparing a dry charge sealed lead acid motorcycle battery. Since shipping regulations won’t allow this type of battery to be shipped with the electrolyte solution preinstalled, it is up to the consumer to install this liquid themselves.
In any case refer to the manufacturer instructions and precautions. All instructions provided by the manufacturer shall be followed when instructions are different from the techniques and process used in this video. Read Full Article
Even with no actual load, all batteries will self discharge. A float charger sometimes referred to as a “trickle charger” will maintain a full charge of a battery that is in storage. A battery under “no-load” will self discharge at a rate based on several factors including battery chemistry. A float charger essentially charges a battery in balance with its discharge rate to maintain a fully charged battery without over-charging or allowing it to drop below a certain voltage. A microprocessor monitors the voltage of the battery and will cycle on when a maximum allowed discharge is reached (i.e. 14.4V) and will continue charging until the maximum “float mode” charge is reached (i.e. 14.8V). The float mode maximum charge is typically lower than a standard mode full charge to increase the life of the battery in storage.
To successfully float charge a motorcycle battery, you will first need to buy a battery charger that has an automatic float mode such as the Noco genius series chargers or the Battery Tender chargers. The actual battery charger model you choose is based on the type of battery you own along with voltage and amperage specification of the battery.
It’s probably easiest to remove your battery from the motorcycle and place it on a neutral (non-conductive) service in a dry a cool, well ventilated and covered area. See the individual charger’s owner’s manual for safety precautions. If you are using the Noco genius charger or the Battery Tender charger, these will automatically charge the battery to full charge, and then switch to “float” or maintenance mode and maintain the battery at an optimal charge for short or long term storage.
CAUTION: Some Trickle Chargers aren’t sophisticated enough to know if a battery is fully charged and will continue "over-charging" a battery. This can potentially be dangerous and damage your battery. Be sure to check that the charger has a float mode that cycles on and off according to the battery needs without over-charging.
Lithium Iron motorcycle batteries are a good investment for Motorcycle enthusiasts. While upfront costs are higher, the total cost of ownership decreases since average battery life is higher than Conventional Lead-Acid and Sealed Lead-Acid motorcycle batteries. An additional investment in a Lithium Iron battery management system/charger will provide further enhancement to battery performance and lifespan…Read Full Article