Slow Drain: A Smart Charger Is Good for Your Corvette
Not everyone has the opportunity to live in a place that you can drive your Corvette all year long, so sometimes it gets put away for several months. Or maybe you only bring it out for track days, or it might be your full-blown race car. For all of these situations, your ‘Vette will sit there for long periods without an alternator recharging the battery, if you have one at all. In these cases – even as an everyday maintenance for your daily driver – you want to buy a smart charger for your Corvette.
Custom Corvette Accessories recently put up an ad for the “Worlds Smartest Battery Charger” built by CTEK, called the US 3300, which is designed for lead acid batteries for cars and motorcycles. The interesting part is the “cold mode” that CTEK states will allow you to “charge during cold winter days without problems.” The reason that makes it interesting is lead acid batteries will not put out the same amount of energy when it gets cold, since the molecules will move slower in colder temperatures. Even worse, if it is discharged it will freeze the electrolyte and result in either cracking the plastic case, damaging the plates, or even exploding. This mode will increase the charging voltage to 14.7-volts at 3.3-amps instead of the normal 14.4-volts at 3.3-amps.
Other really good features are the automatic sensing for incorrect polarity, automatically reducing voltage with higher ambient temperatures, and automatic pulse maintenance charging when the battery is at 95 to 100-percent charged and voltage drops. That last part is what makes it a really good idea to pick up a charger like this when you store your Corvette, or any car with a lead acid battery.
The battery will discharge itself because of the phenomenon of internal chemical reactions reducing the stored charge in the battery. The exact cause of self-discharging is still not greatly understood, but it is known to have something to do with the chemical reaction of the chemistry inside the battery – this includes absorbed glass mat (AGM), gel, or “maintenance free, sealed, VRLA” types of lead acid batteries, or even modern batteries that use Nickel-Cadium (NiCad), Nickel-Metal Hydride (NiMH), Lithium-ion (Li-on), or even Lithium-Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4, or, more commonly, LiFe). All batteries will self-discharge and it’s why a maintenance charger is important.