Battery Service Fact or Fiction – Setting the Record Straight

We receive many calls and emails, along with forum posts, posing questions related to the use of jump starters, chargers, and the entire range of products we produce. Many of those inquiries are of the, “really?”, type. Often, it is related to a “do I really need to do that?” question. Others, it is more along the lines of, “I never did it that way before and things worked out fine.” When we were kicking around ideas for this month’s article, we thought it would be good to address those frequent questions in a way that would allow all readers to see the answers, not just the original poster/caller/emailer. So, here goes.

Jump Starters – Where to Connect the Negative Lead?

This has to be the number one question we receive and see in forums. That’s why we are including it here even though we have addressed this one before. In every case, effort should be made to find a good chassis ground or engine ground to which to connect your negative lead (vs. connecting to the negative battery post). We know it takes longer, is more complicated and is sometimes difficult due to the way modern engines are laid out and shrouded. All that said, it is worth your time and effort.

Safety should be your first concern when working around automotive batteries. They are very powerful and, if they are abused or are in a compromised state, they can be dangerous. For instance, all lead acid batteries can give off flammable gasses during normal operation, such as during charging, starting or while being jump started. If you follow the correct connection procedure (pos lead to battery positive, then neg lead to chassis ground), you are completing the circuit away from the battery, which is best practice. We know that many people have connected to both battery posts dozens, hundreds of times (per their own comments) without incident. To that, we say we are glad that you haven’t had issues before, but why risk it? Why not follow the safest practice?

 

Jump Starters – Ideal Storage Temperature

We have hit on this one before also, but we get this question at least once weekly, so it is worth revisiting. The manuals for all of our jump starters, regardless or the type of battery inside them, note that the ideal storage temperature for the unit is room temperature, 70˚F. This causes confusion or aggravation for many of our customers, who rightly point out to us that they do not have the good fortune of living in constant 70˚F climate.

We understand. What we are trying to point out is that all battery-containing devices prefer room temperature storage and that this is the ideal temperature to support long battery life. All of our products are designed to handle the temperatures that they are likely to experience. Storing at 20˚F or 95˚F shouldn’t overly impact their performance or their longevity. That said, if it is going to be -30˚F where you live (sorry if that’s the case!) and your vehicle has been having starting issues, maybe that would be a great night to bring your JNC660 (or other model) inside for a night, ensuring that it will tackle whatever you ask of it in the morning.

 

Lithium Jump Starters – Smart Cable Do’s and Don’ts

We have introduced several lithium battery based jump starters over the last few years, most recently under our Jump-N-Carry and Booster PAC brands. Some of our models have had all of their safety and controls built into the unit and others have portions of the safety and control system in the smart cable. Either way, it is really important to always use the cable set that came with your unit and not mix and match cable sets and jump starters. This is true of all brands and models, not just Clore branded products. Typically, the cable set and internal unit controls are mated and calibrated to work together as a system. If you substitute a cable set for your original one, you could learn a lesson about unintended consequences. Always use the original cable set.

Which brings us to the next point – never use a damaged cable set (this is true of traditional, lead-acid based jump starters also). If your cable set is damaged in any way, replace it. As noted above, depending on the vehicle being jump started and the particulars of the jump starting situation, this is an application that can involve quite a lot of power. If one of your components is compromised, including the cables and clamps, or especially the cables and clamps, don’t use them. Replace them with an original from the original manufacturer (whether the unit is a Clore model or otherwise). You’ll be glad you did.

 

Battery Charging – Charging AGM Batteries

AGM batteries have been around for quite some time now. We started building chargers to address them in 2006. They hit the bigtime in 2013 as they became the default standard battery for Start-Stop systems. Despite the prevalence in the original equipment space, they still create confusion in the aftermarket, among both professionals and consumers. AGM batteries are a subset of the lead-acid battery category, with a different construction than traditional wet cell flooded acid batteries.

AGM batteries are very sensitive to voltage, leading to the primary question we receive related to them: “Can I use any battery charger to charge my AGM battery?” The answer, quite simply, is no. AGM batteries require a charger that precisely controls voltage levels and that delivers a multi-stage charging routine consistent with its needs. The good news is that we can simply solve all AGM-related charging issues by saying that when it comes to AGM charging, the clear choice is PRO-LOGIX. PRO-LOGIX battery chargers are specifically optimized to deliver a beneficial charge to AGM batteries of all shapes and sizes.

 

Battery Charging – Charging Lithium Batteries

The most important thing to know about charging lithium batteries is that not all lithium batteries are created equal (in many ways). Here, we are specifically talking about battery chemistry and the charging process. While many batteries might use terms like “Lithium Ion” or Lithium Polymer,” these are generic terms and, when it comes to charging, you need to dig deeper, as in, what is the specific lithium chemistry used for this particular battery? It matters because each lithium battery has a different nominal voltage and all lithium batteries are sensitive to excessive (for that battery) voltage. So, what may be safe for one lithium battery is not safe for another lithium battery. Always make sure that any charger you use is properly optimized for the specific lithium chemistry of your specific lithium battery. Anyone with radio controlled car/plane/etc. experience understands this, but it is a learning gap with the automotive aftermarket, especially among vehicle owners. In this case, it pays to do your homework.

 

Battery Testing – The Key to Accurate Invasive Load Testing

Many end users, both professional and consumer, prefer and trust invasive load testers for battery health assessment. While we have a full range of electronic testers, we also offer a comprehensive range of fixed and variable load invasive testers covering battery capacities from 100-2000 CCA. One question we run into regularly is related to gaining accurate results as it relates to battery state of charge. While electronic testers are able to assess discharged batteries, invasive load testers require the tested battery to be at or above 85% state of charge to obtain an accurate result. This is true of all invasive load testers, whether they be one of our SOLAR branded models or a competing model. So, charge it up first, then test (making sure that you remove any surface charge). If the battery doesn’t take a charge, you probably don’t need to test it – it is most likely compromised.

That wraps up our frequently asked questions. Hope you find this helpful. You might agree or disagree with some of our answers. We understand that. If you’d like to weigh in on any of the above topics, or ask another question, please add your input to the comments below and we would be happy to respond.

 

 

 

4 Comments

  1. I have been a long-time BELIEVER in the CLORE, JNC660 for quite some time. Please understand I am a ‘novice’ and do the best I can with what I have; or, with what is available at any given moment.

    #1: Under “Battery Testing – The Key to Accurate Invasive Load Testing”, you state it is important to remove any ‘surface charge’. I have heard and read this term in your newsletters before, but, still not really sure what this is relating to, or, how to “REMOVE” it. Any ‘simple’ input would be welcome.

    #2. Does CLORE® offer / provide any type of classes, seminars, etc. for mechanics, (in their own businesses, or, in a ‘DEALERSHIP’ environment), to provide at least BASIC knowledge and education on the questions raised / answered in your ‘newsletters’? Whether AT your headquarters, or, in the field?

    Maybe an ‘on-going’ set of classes or seminars?

    There are just sooooo many out there who are about as dumb as a ‘box-of-rocks’ when dealing with battery and charging system ‘dilemmas’.

    May sound totally redundant in light of your newsletters, etc. BUT, how many receive these, and ACTUALLY “READ” THEM???

    I am on full disability (SSDI) and haven’t ‘worked’ for10+ years . . . but, FYI: I find these ‘newsletters’ to be most interesting. Keep up the ‘good fight’, and pray that READING, in-and-of-itself, doesn’t become a ‘lost art’, like writing in the cursive-style!!!

    – Jay, Lorain, Ohio

  2. jerry says:

    Lithium Batteries ? Can they be jump started just like normal batteries?

  3. jimohara says:

    Jay – Thanks for your comments. #1: Surface charge is usually something that happens right after charging a battery. A typical vehicle battery is fully charged at 12.8V, but sometimes you will see its voltage at 13.4V-13.8V right after a charge. The excess voltage above 12.8V is surface charge, which is empty voltage. You can remove the surface charge by turning on your high beams for 30 seconds or so. Now your battery is ready to be tested. #2: We do not currently offer classes. I know that great classes are offered by AASA at the Vision Show here in Kansas City, the recent Automechanika Show that was held in Chicago last month and that there are other continuing education classes at shows throughout the country. These would be very helpful. Thanks again for your comments. Jim from Clore Automotive

  4. jimohara says:

    Jerry – Typically, yes. The jump starter is, in effect, an extension of the battery (DC-DC). As such, there should be no issues. Thanks, Jim from Clore Automotive

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