New products from CTEK – And tips from the battery maintenance specialist
With the role of electronic systems becoming ever more crucial on all PCVs, there is an increasing strain on batteries, a consequence of which is that battery checking and maintenance has grown in importance
Charging devices are an essential tool for every operator and there are two broad types available, smart chargers and linear chargers
According to battery maintenance specialist, CTEK, smart chargers present a much safer and efficient way of maintaining and prolonging the life of the battery
Chris Peat spoke to the company to find out more about its products
New dual voltage battery support unit
One of the latest developments at CTEK is the MXTS 70/50, a powerful dual voltage (12V and 24V) battery support unit and smart charger that can provide up to 70A. It is designed to further meet the demands that complex vehicle technology and battery chemistries are placing on workshops.
The MXTS 70/50 can support 12V batteries during ECU (Electronic Control Unit) diagnostic procedures by supplying up to 70A of clean and constant current (50A in 24V mode), protecting against disruption to the diagnostic process. In 12V mode, the device features a selectable power supply program for constant voltage output of up to 70A in 0.4V increments between 13.6–14.8V (0.8V increments between 27.2 – 29.6V when in 24V mode).
Category Manager at CTEK, Peter White, said, ‘During flash programming, which in some instances can take hours, battery load current and voltage can vary. If the voltage to the ECU drops during programming, then it may be disrupted and if the voltage itself is unstable the ECU may even be damaged – something workshops want to avoid in terms of time, money and reputation. The MXTS 70/50 provides a stable constant voltage at all times. During initial workshop trials the unit has proved an essential piece of equipment.
The MXTS 70/50 Smart charger offers superb intelligence on a wide range of battery requirements. The combination of powerful battery support, rapid charge functionality and safe, simple connectivity makes it the ideal all round charging solution.’
According to CTEK, the charger provides safe and optimum charging in the shortest possible time. It also has selectable modes for specific battery types (wet/flooded, calcium, gel, and AGM) including Stop-Start types to ensure that a safe, fast charge is delivered to exactly meet the needs of the individual battery chemistry and avoiding damaging overcharge. Not only does it detect the state of the battery, it also has an Automatic Temperature Sensor. It will continually adjust the charge rate depending on ambient temperature to achieve maximum charge levels. Analysis functionality means the MXTS 70/50 can quickly identify whether the battery is capable of taking and holding a charge.
Intended for unsupervised use, the MXTS 70/50 is designed to be simple to connect, spark proof and reverse-polarity protected to guard the user and battery. Furthermore, there is no need to disconnect the battery before use as it regulates mains voltage to protect ECU settings. It requires no specialist knowledge to operate, comes with a two year warranty and has an SRP of £900 plus VAT.
Step by step
According to Business Development Manager, Tony Zeal, at the ‘heart and soul’ of MXTS 70/50, as well as the rest of CTEK’s battery charging range, is the eight step charging algorithm. The system maintains and conditions the battery and can be left attached indefinitely without risk of over or under charging. The first stage of the charging sees the device remove sulphates from the lead plates, restoring battery capacity. Secondly, it tests if the battery can take charge, with charging beginning if it is OK. The third phase charges the battery at maximum current to approximately 80% of capacity. The absorption phase is next, which maximises it to 100% capacity.
After that, it tests whether the battery can hold charge. The sixth step is a reconditioning function for deeply discharged units. The seventh phase maintains the battery voltage at maximum level by providing a constant voltage charge. Finally, the eighth step is for maintenance charging. This keeps the battery at 95% to 100% capacity. The charger monitors the voltage and gives a pulse when necessary to keep it fully charged.
Also benefitting from this automatic eight step charging cycle is CTEK’s standard model for the bus and coach market, the MXT 14 24V charger. It is designed for applications where batteries are put under considerable strain and should be useful for solving a broad range of battery problems in workshops. Tony said that by using this and other products in its range and by charging on a regular basis, one London bus operator had doubled its batteries’ life.
Tony said the massive problem of battery failures need not be a problem if they are maintained properly. Doing so avoids the hidden costs of breakdowns, including lost miles and any financial losses and/or penalties this incurs, not to mention the damage it could potentially have to reputation if it affects passengers. He said that in a ‘busy workshop’, the system can pay for itself in around two months.
Research by CTEK has identified that by regularly maintaining batteries in a 24V series and charging each 12V battery individually, workshops can extend battery life by up to three times. The company estimates that as many as a third of CVs entering the workshop have a battery requiring attention, with this figure rising to nearly 50% for buses and coaches that make frequent stops. For vehicles operating a 24V system, one of the main reasons for this (apart from lack of maintenance) is battery ‘balance’, according to the company. A 24V system is actually two 12V batteries joined together in series. Over time the two batteries become ‘out of balance’, with one battery at the front of the circuit absorbing all the loads placed on it (starter motor, accessories, etc). This imbalance reduces battery capacity, performance and life.
CTEK has outlined a solution to enable workshops to maintain the balance of 24V battery sets across their fleet. The process involves testing the battery when vehicle arrives in the workshop using the company’s own battery analyser. There is no need to take the batteries out of the 24V ‘set’ to accomplish this as each can be tested individually. This will indicate whether it is OK, it needs a charge or a replacement. If charging is required, it can be connected up two MXS 25,000 Extended 12V chargers while other work is completed without interruption, just connect a charger to each battery to charge and condition them.
CTEK provides not only battery charging products but expert advice about them too. Its marketing material describes the range as ‘The smartest battery chargers in the world’ and with such systems as the eight step charging algorithm, it certainly has some convincing technology to meet operator’s needs.