It’s 2019 and we’re battery charger shopping

So we finally have had our fill of the battery chargers that came in the KoP…from my last time on 1293…which ended in 2006.

I know the ones from my old pals (and employer) at AndyMark are great. What other ones should I be looking at?

We use this one.

Probably doesn’t need to be waterproof and it says it can cause cancer in California but it does charge batteries.

Qty. 4 (12 batteries worth)

Our old charger uses the AndyMark (Qty. 2) and is still in use on the practice field and is working fine.

2 Likes

Oh - I see that the 12A is 4A per bank, so it’s legal once you install SB connectors.

Apart from a manufacturing defect with one bank of one charger (did not switch properly to float; quickly and easily replaced under warranty), I haven’t had or heard of any problems with the ones from AndyMark.

We’ve had great experiences with the AutoMeter BusPro 660. It’s a 6 bank charger, AGM optimized, 5 Amps per channel. Each channel is a completely independent charging module. It’s on the expensive side (Amazon has it for $800, but it’s possible to find it cheaper sometimes, I think I got it for closer to $600). The team has two, and it’s been very robust over an 8+ year period; the only issue we’ve ever had with it was a bad generator spike at an event blowing the fuses, but a quick fuse swap and it was back up and running.

1 Like

I extensively researched chargers several years ago, and was not impressed with most of the selection out there. I specifically wanted something with no buttons or user interaction, and simple red/green indicators. There were very few chargers that met that criteria and are also in the range of 4-6 Amps per channel and multi channel. If you can afford it, the AutoMeter BusPro 660 has done well for us over the past three years or so. Aside from that, there’s the Dual-Pro RS3, which seems to do fine. Though, yesterday I put some very depleted batteries on it, and it seemed to go from red to green more quickly than I would consider reasonable for how dead they were. On the Autometer, we did have one resistor on the board of one of the chargers (one individual charging bank) fry itself which disabled the charger, and may have killed a battery in the process, but we repaired it and all has been well since.

Edit: sniped

We like the Schumacher SC1301 - no-buttons operation, rock solid reliability, $40/input pricing.

Lots of empty air in plastic cases by the time you’ve got a bunch of them hooked up on a bench, but did I mention $40/input pricing?

I’ll save @AllenGregoryIV the repost from when he answered my Facebook post with this:

https://www.powerstream.com/lead-acid-12V-5A.htm?fbclid=IwAR3ThY-sY6MQXsWr56GyC8wN-qojxevuFJcDgAlNYE5kEZX_EQTJuUiu_9s

$49.95 and small is really promising.

I would caution teams to pay a little more than they would like for a battery charger. The battery is the life blood of the robot. If the battery doesn’t work, literally nothing else will on the robot. Get a good charger!

3 Likes

548 tried some NOCO chargers a few years ago and we were not impressed. They seem to be too “gentle” on the batteries for our liking. They charged pretty slow and didn’t charge very much. We were used to our old chargers charging to 130% (measured on a battery beak) but the NOCOs hardly ever got to 100%. We bought the AndyMark chargers recently and they are pretty good. They always charge to 130%, but have a couple fixable issues. First, if you jostle them around too much, the potted electronics can fall out of the plastic case. We just duct taped ours in. Also, the yellow fuse/connector block things near the Anderson connectors are terrible. Many somehow got loose, resulting in an intermittent connection. We replaced the connection with a firm solder joint, which is probably less safe but the risk seems minimal.
After those repairs, they do their job quite well.

I’ve been guilty of buying Walmart chargers in the past, generally in between-event desperation. It seems recommendations go anywhere from $40-100 per charging circuit, so price alone isn’t a perfect predictor. I think I know the answer to this these days, but I’ll ask for communal knowledge: What goes into a good charger?

For many years we’ve coped with a dozen partially working harbor freight chargers. After buying a set of new competition batteries this year and finding out they were AGM which didn’t really work with the chargers we had, we looked at replacing them last fall.

Instead of a set of individual chargers, we splurged and ended up with an excellent deal on a Schumacher DSR127 which is a pro level 8-bank recharger/reconditioner.

One of the freshman reworked the old battery cart to fit this and the whole things looks awesome. Even better, it worked great all year.

Downsides:
Not much, but a our testing soon showed that we would draw upwards of 1500 Watts for a minute or so if you quickly plugged in 8 dead batteries. We didn’t wish to blow the circuits at competition so we came up a procedure to plug them in one at a time and wait for the power to come down after its initial diagnosing phase. It usually will be around 150W per battery after the initial diagnosis tapering down as it gets close to filled.

That is what the colorful thing is in the corner – a volt/amp/watt meter that cost about $12. Not only does it tell us what we are using, but its perfect for showing inquisitive LRIs how much current we are drawing.

Also list price is really expensive. I’ll say that we paid a whole lot less.

2 Likes

That’s the 64 million dollar question.

I would say a charger that seems to have some intelligence. It’s should be able to figure out when to stop charging. Some of the cheap chargers are just low current transformers ran through a rectifier. If you put a scope on the output, it looks like unfiltered, rectified AC. They count on the battery voltage to come up to the charger output voltage to stop the charge.

A red/green indicator is a sign that there might be some intelligence but isn’t a guarantee.

Research said charger and see if they make claims that they can be plugged in indefinitely.

I’ll bet most of the chargers folks recommend here are good chargers especially the expensive ones.

jnicho15 mentioned the NOCO chargers seem to be a bit gentle on the batteries and I tend to agree. We recently put Volt/Amp meters on them and found when they think the battery is charged they put ZERO current into the battery so there’s no trickle/maintenance current. Sometimes smart chargers are too smart for their own good.

1 Like