How to Trickle Charge a 12v Battery

Trickle Charging is the process of slowly recharging a lead-acid battery. This is done mainly to maintain the batteries as batteries discharge even while in storage.  It is derived from the word ‘trickle’ which means to flow or fall in drops or in a thin stream. Trickle charging is also referred to as Float Charging and is also sometimes referred to as drip charging. 

In this article, we explain how it works, how you can trickle charge various types of batteries, and what to look for when choosing one. 

How Trickle Charging Works 

A battery charge cycle describes the voltage and current relationship of a battery. A battery goes through various stages before it comes fully charged. There are three main stages of charging a lead-acid battery; bulk, absorption, and float charging. 

Bulk charging is the first stage of a battery charge cycle, during which the charger supplies the maximum amount of current that the battery can take. 

Absorption charging is the second stage of a battery charge cycle, during which the charger reduces the amount of current it is supplying to the battery, allowing the battery to slowly charge to its full capacity.

Float charging is the third stage of a battery charge cycle, during which the charger supplies just enough current to the battery to maintain its full charge. And this is where a trickle charger comes in. 

A trickle charger is meant to maintain the battery at this state as the battery slowly discharges. This is especially for batteries where even while even in storage it continues to discharge slowly and leaving it the battery will completely discharge and you may have to jump-start the battery. This reduces the battery’s life and even ruins it completely. 

How many amps for a Trickle Charger 

Trickle Chargers for 12v batteries are designed to supply less than 1 Amp of charge.  At less than 1 amp the charger will not overcharge the battery but some other features are added on to trickle chargers to ensure this. 

Some trickle chargers can go up to 2 amps and go down to 1 amp or less as the battery charges. The amps to trickle charge a battery will depend on its size and its discharge rate. 

Trickle Charger for Car Battery 

A trickle charger is very important for car batteries to maintain the charge on a car battery when the car is not being driven. It keeps the battery from being drained by the car’s electrical system and keeps it charged so it is ready to start the car when needed. 

When you leave your car for long periods of time you may find a dead battery. The battery discharge of a car battery is even higher than for idle batteries as the car’s electrical system which includes Alarms and lights continues to issue the battery’s charge. 

So for a car battery not only does it need a maintainer but to be regularly topped off against this discharge. 

To use a trickle charger with a car battery, you will need to connect the charger to the battery using the proper connectors. Once the charger is connected, you will need to turn on the charger and let it run until the battery is fully charged. 

Trickle Charger for RV Batteries 

The Trickle Charger can be used to keep the batteries of an RV  charged and ready for use. It’s great for long periods when the vehicle is not being used, and many owners have reported cutting down on battery replacements by using a charger like this one. 

The Trickle Charger uses a slow constant-current charging method that doesn’t generate any harmful gases (hydrogen or oxygen) and won’t overcharge or damage your batteries. 

A battery charger can help you to keep your deep cycle batteries ready to use. It can also help to prolong the life of the batteries, which means that they’ll last longer and provide you with better performance. 

A trickle charger is one of the most popular kinds of deep cycle battery chargers for use with solar or wind power systems because it’s so convenient.

Trickle Charger for a Boat Battery 

You won’t be using your boat over the winter months and, it ends up in storage. Your marine batteries are made to withstand tough terrain but they will also discharge when left for long periods of time. This includes the trolling motor battery. 

An onboard charger ensures that you don’t have to move your batteries and can charge them right where they are. This saves you the heavy lifting and keeps the battery topped off and ready to go when you need them. 

How to Use a Trickle Charger

A trickle charger is really easy to use and anyone can set them up. Nowadays you will find smart chargers that are safer and easier to handle. 

  1. Connect the Battery to the Charger

You can also use the alligator clips on the end of the cable to directly connect to your battery. The alligator clips will be indicated for the positive or negative usually red and black. Then connect the black (negative) to the negative terminal and red to the positive terminal. Make sure not to mix up the terminals as it will not charge.

2. Connect the Battery Charger to the AC power

Once the battery is connected connect the battery charger to the AC power source and check the indicator. The led indicator should light in green or blue color to show that it is receiving a charge. e.

3. Set Charger to Float/Trickle Charge

Chargers have three settings for Lead Acid batteries; Bulk, Absorption, and Float.  Some controllers will have a button that you can continuously press in order to set it to Float. But this is not necessary for all chargers as a charger can detect the voltage of the battery and set it to the right settings. Once connected you can leave. That’s it!

Will a Trickle Charger charge a dead battery?

No,  a Trickle Charger will not charge a dead battery. A trickle charger applies a small charge that prevents a battery from dying but will not revive a dead battery. Some battery chargers have specialized settings to revive a dead battery while jump starters can apply enough amps to kick start the battery back to life. 

Can I leave a trickle Charger on All the Time? 

Yes, you can leave a trickle charger on all the time. Once connected you confirm it’s charging you can leave it for long periods of time. This is because it has overcharge protection and won’t overcharge your battery

Some deep cycle batteries need an equalization charge to be applied at least once every two months and this can interrupt the trickle charge. This can be set automatically or if the charger does have the setting you will need to remember to do so. 

Can you charge a 12-volt battery with a trickle charger?

Yes, you can charge a 12-volt battery with a trickle charger. A trickle charge is usually set at a high voltage to apply a float charge. A float charge is applied to the 12-volt battery once it reaches around 13.9 volts. 

How many amps do I need to trickle charge a 12-volt battery? 

The recommended amperage for trickle charging a 12-volt battery is 1 amp. This depends on the size of the battery in terms of Amp-hours. For a small battery, a charge of less than 1 amp can be enough while for a bigger battery 2-amps can be the amps required to charge the battery. 

What is the difference between a trickle charger and a battery charger? 

A trickle charger is a type of battery charger that charges the battery at a very slow rate. A trickle charger is best used for batteries that are not being used for a long time. A trickle charger keeps a battery’s charge at a constant level. 

A battery charger, on the other hand, charges the battery at a much faster rate. A battery charger is best used for batteries that are being used often. A battery charger will allow a battery to be used to its full capacity. 

Is it better to trickle charge or fast charge a battery? 

It depends on the condition of the battery. If the battery is completely discharged, it is better to trickle charge the battery. If the battery is only partially discharged, it is better to fast charge the battery. 

Choosing a Trickle Charger

There are various trickle chargers in the market. Some for Vehicles including Cars, Trucks, and RVs while others specialized for snowmobiles, ATVs, and Motorcycles. You can also find trickle charges for lawn mowers 

But you can find a charger that is a one fit for all these. The Foval Automatic Trickle Battery Charger keeps your battery charged and ready to go. It will not overcharge your battery so you can sit back and enjoy the ride while the charger keeps working on keeping your battery at its peak charge. 

And with an indicator light telling you the status of your battery, you know exactly when it is full charged. Foval chargers are smart chargers designed to charge batteries with the right amount of amps so stretching the life of your battery.

The Battery Charger is designed specifically for cars, boats, motorcycles, and other vehicles. This smart charger can operate without a microprocessor and operates in a fully automatic mode. Connect the battery to a constant end current and restart when the battery power is low.

When looking for a Trickle Charger ensure you look out for these features:

Overcharge Protection 

Overcharge protection ensures that the battery is not overcharged and damaged. A charger should also ensure that there is no overvoltage, under-voltage and too much current from the charger.  A smart charger should be able to check the battery’s state to ensure the proper charge is applied. 

Spark proof 

A spark-proof charger is designed to prevent sparks from occurring when it is in use. This is typically done by using a specialized insulation material that is resistant to sparks, or by using a design that minimizes the potential for sparks to occur. 

Reverse polarity protection 

Reverse polarity protection is a feature found on some electrical devices that prevents them from being damaged if the electrical current flowing through them is reversed. This can happen if the wires connecting the device to the power source are accidentally swapped around, and can potentially cause serious problems if the device is not protected against it. 

ISM adaptive charging 

ISM adaptive charging is a type of battery charger that is designed to automatically adjust the charging rate based on the specific needs of the battery being charged. This can help to prolong the life of the battery by ensuring that it is not overcharged, and can also help to improve the overall efficiency of the charging process.

Consider a Solar Trickle Charger

A solar trickle charger is a small solar panel designed to provide a small charge to keep your battery topped off. A solar trickle charger is really easy to use and anyone can use it. It is also convenient as it only requires power from the sun. This means that you can use it from anywhere. 

Solar chargers have been specialized with 12v connectors that include alligator clips, cigarette lighter connectors, and o-ring terminals that can be easily connected to the battery and charge your batteries. 

A Solar trickle charger can be used on cloudy and even during winter as they do not require much sunlight in order to operate. A 5-watt solar panel can be used to trickle charge your car, boat, and even RV battery i.e batteries over 50 ah without the need of a charge controller.

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