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Old 10-03-2002, 07:50   #1 (permalink)
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Ideas to keep a battery charged.

This relates to father's EH Holden but I guess the problem could happen with any OLD car.

My aging father (80+) now only usually drives this van once a week about 2 km to the shops and back. It should be no surprise that he keeps having a flat battery. Avoiding this flat battery is a problem as:

a) He recently split from mum and is living in units; this means i) his car is in a carport with no mains power to use his battery charger, ii) running the engine or otherwise working on the car in the car port is a "no no" and iii) no sun for a dash mounted solar charger.

b) He has an long term injury that makes it very difficult for him open the driver's door from the passengers side (where the only original key lock is). To overcome this I have fitted an alarm system with central locking. This means that it is not praticable for him to disconnect the battery to stop current drain while the car is parked. Rewiring it so that only the central locking is connected would make the alarm wiring a bit too obvious.

As a first step I plan to replace the original generator with an alternator (his local Holden dealer still has the upgrade kit for the HD aternator with mounting brackets for $202; yes wreckers are cheaper but this is his preferred option). This should mean that even at the relativly leasurly pace he drives, the battery will get a better charge. However, I think in winter time the low kms will still be a problem. The only other solution I can think of is to add a little circuit with a dozen Nicads that can be switched out of circuit and switched in to start the car when the main battery is flat (but this still leaves the main battery flat and just adds another set of batteries to be charged). However, he could charge the nicads in his flat as required. Any better ideas?

BTW Before you say "get him off the road" I might add that in all his years of driving he has never yet had an accident or been fined by the police. He may not drive like a larrikin but he is no road hazard. Besides, I inherit the EH (which has been in the family since day 1) if he stops driving and I don't have room for yet another car. He is also licenced to ride motorbikes and trucks of all sizes but I don't think the oldies in his flats would like either in their carports.
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Old 10-03-2002, 07:59   #2 (permalink)
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we have a vehicle with the same sort of problem at work and we have a solar cell on the roof of the car. I quess if you can't get enough light under the car port then perhaps put the cell on the roof of the carport with a lead to plug into the car somewhere. Into the cigarete lighter or something
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Old 10-03-2002, 08:02   #3 (permalink)
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Flats are also too high on 4 sides of car port so hours of sunlight would be very limited but we might buy one from Jaycar and see what it does. On 2nd thoughts at 80+ the short term memory is not 100%; he might drive off with it still on the car port roof and connected.
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Old 10-03-2002, 08:07   #4 (permalink)
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Before someone else says it maybe I should find him an out of town girl friend or one that lives at least 20 kms away.
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Old 10-03-2002, 09:18   #5 (permalink)
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what about a bigger battery?? One with more cca, and a better ah rating... This way the battery would'nt use as much to start the car, therefore not needing a real big charge.

btw - have you checked the charge the current generator is outputting?

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Old 10-03-2002, 14:02   #6 (permalink)
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Yeh, the alternator will be the fix - do that and see how it goes and if there is still a problem a higher capacity battery.

The other alternative is the portable starter kit you see in car yards a lot - auto parts outlets have the new breed of thes which are light and easy to carry around - he can keep it plugged in in his flat and just take it down to the car to start it - how is he though with lifting the bonnet and seeing to connect the leads the right way?

I really think the alternator will fix it though.
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Old 10-04-2002, 03:20   #7 (permalink)
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after you fit the alternator, just get him to let it idle in the garage for a while before and after he parks it (making sure he cant gs himself to death though!!!)
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Old 10-04-2002, 03:48   #8 (permalink)
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i think the solar charge wont work that well.
better of getting a small battery charger 1amp would be
fine have a small plug out the grill incase he drives off with it .

thats what we have on the boat and once in a wile discharge
will do the battery good.
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Old 10-04-2002, 04:48   #9 (permalink)
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No power point in the car port so the mains charger is out. The portable charger power starter might be an option though he will still get complaints fro some of the other oldies there who unfortunately have very empty lives and complain about every little thing; they will say he breaking the no working on your car in the car port rule. There also a hidden agenda in that he one of the lucky ones with a car bay and there is a queue waiting (if they can get off the road or banned from the car port the queue gets shorter).

However I may be able to rig a portable charger/starter so he plugs it into the cigarette lighter rather than having to open the bonnet. I'm not sure about a larger capacity battery; it may just take longer to recharge once it goes flat.
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Old 10-04-2002, 06:19   #10 (permalink)
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mate this is what I did to my dad's car having the same problem with his battery I installed a computer protector which gauges the battery condition from poor, good ,full & charging. and every so often he could check the battery and if it showed poor or good he would take the kingswwod for a run.
better to know I think.

hope that helps mate
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