Harbor Freight Automatic Battery Charger


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Harbor Freight Automatic Battery Charger

Postby WingAdmin » Mon Dec 08, 2014 3:34 pm



Harbor Freight, a discount tool and automotive supply store in the United States, sells an Automatic Battery Charger for around $20, although it can be frequently found discounted or on sale for a third of that price.



Here is the description of the product from the Harbor Freight web site:

This lightweight 12v battery charger lets you skip the hassle of recharging a battery by maintaining the charge in your car battery. The automatic battery float charger features an automatic safety shut off and copper battery clamps for better conduction. Lightweight and easily stored for quick access, this 12v battery charger is a must-have safety precaution for battery maintenance while traveling.

  • Prevent battery self-discharge while maintaining the life of 12 volt rechargeable batteries
  • Floating circuit maintains a full charge without overcharging
  • Simple to use - just connect and plug in
  • Automatic safety shutoff


This sounds like a fantastic deal for a useful product. The battery on my GL1100 had a tendency to run down over the course of a week and a half or so due to parasite draw of clocks and other electrical items. On top of this, I was going through batteries on my GL1100 about once a year. I figured this would fix the discharge problem and keep my battery in top shape, hopefully making it last longer. I also had another spare battery sitting in my garage that I wanted to keep charged as well, so I bought two of these inexpensive chargers.

I hooked up the chargers to my batteries and plugged them in. They lit up red, indicating that they were powered up and charging.

A couple of days later, I wanted to take my GL1100 out for a ride. I noticed the voltmeter on the bike showed 14.6 volts, indicating the charger was actively charging the battery. I was a bit concerned about this high voltage, which is above the gassing voltage for lead acid cells. I disconnected the charger and it dropped down to 12.6 volts, showing a full charge. I switched the ignition on, and the headlight came on - a bit dimly, I thought. I hit the starter, and CLICK. The headlight turned off. I hit the starter again, nothing. Looking at my voltmeter, the battery voltage was around 8 volts. Uh oh.

I hooked up my normal battery charger to the battery, let it bring the charge back up to 12.6 volts (which took about half an hour). I tried again, with the same results. I had seen this before: this battery was toast.

With fear rising in me, I checked the other battery that I had hooked up to a Harbor Freight charger. It too had been destroyed. Over $200 in motorcycle batteries destroyed over the course of a couple of days by cheap Harbor Freight chargers.

I threw both chargers in the garbage and went out to buy a couple of new batteries. While these chargers are cheap, it is false economy. They obviously do not do what they purport to do. Instead, they overcharge, sulfate and corrode the plates inside batteries, quickly destroying them. I have no idea how they actually sell these things - perhaps using them as a slow charger on a battery that is very low might work, but leaving it connected to a battery as a float charger (as the instructions tell you to) will quickly destroy the battery.

I cannot recommend this charger in any way. Instead, buy the Battery Tender Jr., which actually will keep a battery in top condition when left connected 24/7, and genuinely extends the life of the battery.



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thrasherg
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Re: Harbor Freight Automatic Battery Charger

Postby thrasherg » Tue Dec 09, 2014 5:31 pm

I also purchased a couple of these chargers to keep my two RZ350 batteries topped up, in less than a year both batteries (which had been brand new when I put the chargers on them) died. So I threw the chargers away. I would suggest extreme caution to anyone thinking about using these chargers, I do not know if they overcharge the batteries or do something else, but on my limited experience the 2 chargers destroyed both batteries that they where connected to!!

I then got some battery tender juniors and 3 years later both batteries still work just great.. I really believe the harbor freight chargers are a BAD investment..

Gary

jim mccarty
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Re: Harbor Freight Automatic Battery Charger

Postby jim mccarty » Wed Dec 31, 2014 5:08 pm

Am I ever glad I saw the post about the HF float charger. Hooked one up to my trike about 4 days
ago. After reading the post, I checked it today. Nothing. Dead as can be. I removed battery cables, cleaned posts & cable ends & charged it with reliable charger.
Put it all back together & she fired right up.
I'll be trashing the HF charger.
Thanks for the info.

triwing
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Re: Harbor Freight Automatic Battery Charger

Postby triwing » Fri Jan 02, 2015 10:31 pm

Harbor's stuff kinda runs the gammet of price, the cheapest one of any thing is probably a P O S. But their best & most expensive is useally pretty good
& cost is not too bad. Snap On is definantly better source of tools, can you afford them? Battery chargers I've used battery tender for years, good product at good price.

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bill55
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Re: Harbor Freight Automatic Battery Charger

Postby bill55 » Sat Jan 31, 2015 10:49 am

I also made that mistake. This is my first winter storage for me. I bought the plus model, same as yours but this one had the wire connection for the batter and a connector on the end. Then all you had to do is plug the charger wires into the wires on the battery. Connected everything up with battery out of the bike. Like you said, red light, it's doing its job. Well 3 days later the light was still red. Threw the charger in the garbage.
What I have done now is I bought a 2/6 amp charger at Kmart. I bought a 44 gallon plastic container with lid, lined the container with fiberglass insulation ( I live in a mobile home so not good to charge battery in home). I bought a heavy duty outdoor timer. The battery, charger and timer are in the insulated container and the timer is set for 1 hour a day. After 2 months of this setup I pulled the battery out to check the acid level and voltage. Water level was fine and voltage was 12.7. I should be good to go come spring.

triwing
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Re: Harbor Freight Automatic Battery Charger

Postby triwing » Sat Jan 31, 2015 4:13 pm

Never used any type of battery charger from H F . Only simple things, mostly CHEAP hand tools. Their earthquake 1/2" impact has been great for over 10 years, :D don't use often, but can be rebuilt if memory serves, floor jack, & 6 ton jack stands get a car up high enough to work under SOMEWHAT comfortably, & safely. Would not buy a welder, or anything very complex there, but their free with coupon, multi meter, is a great one for automotive & motorcycles & around the house, disposable but surprisingly accurate, & durable. Meter is probably the MOST complex thing from there I own. ;)

triwing
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Re: Harbor Freight Automatic Battery Charger

Postby triwing » Sat Jan 31, 2015 4:16 pm

Battery Tender or Batterytender is NOT H F it is namebrand

htranter
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Re: Harbor Freight Automatic Battery Charger

Postby htranter » Mon Feb 02, 2015 7:58 am

Note that very near the top of the user manual for this charger, it clearly states:

TO PREVENT BATTERY DAMAGE:
Do not use on GEL batteries

Many motorcycle batteries these days are GEL cell type. Are you sure this is not your respective problems? The charger seems to work well on lead-acid batteries and AGM batteries (Absorbed Glass Mat). I use several and have for many years.

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Re: Harbor Freight Automatic Battery Charger

Postby thrasherg » Mon Feb 02, 2015 6:47 pm

I can assure you, both of my 1985 RZ350's had regular batteries, not Gel batteries, and these chargers killed them both.. Great if they work for you, but it seems to be a gamble as not many people are saying these chargers worked for them.. I have not heard anyone say a batterytender did NOT work for them..

Gary

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Re: Harbor Freight Automatic Battery Charger

Postby hearseman » Mon Feb 02, 2015 8:37 pm

I find myself on the fence when it comes to the HF trickle charger.
On one hand, I've used it to keep the batteries in my collector car (standard and deep-cycle both) charged for several years without trouble (though I have had to replace it twice). Never had a problem with it - have been able to climb into the car, after sitting a month, and fire it right up.
However, after reading the top of THIS article, I immediately went out and checked the one hooked to my 1500, and found the charger failed, and the battery dead!!
Worried, I immediately grabbed my standard battery charger, hooked it up, waited an hour, and the bike fired right up, and voltages look fine!
Yes, I have since bought a better storage trickle charger from O'Reillys, and it seems to be working just fine, so there's some truth to the warning.
I just cannot explain why it works on standard batteries and not on motorcycle batteries.

tnttoolman
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Re: Harbor Freight Automatic Battery Charger

Postby tnttoolman » Wed Feb 04, 2015 11:53 am

I have 5 motorcycles, all with Battery Tender Jr's and have never had a problem.

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thrasherg
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Re: Harbor Freight Automatic Battery Charger

Postby thrasherg » Wed Feb 04, 2015 12:10 pm

tnttoolman wrote:I have 5 motorcycles, all with Battery Tender Jr's and have never had a problem.


I now have 9 motorcycles all on Battery Tender Jr's and have not had a problem in over 4 years!! Go for the battery tender and forget about battery issues!! :D

Gary

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Re: Harbor Freight Automatic Battery Charger

Postby Franchise2k » Sun Mar 01, 2015 11:57 am

triwing wrote:Snap On is definantly better source of tools, can you afford them? Battery chargers I've used battery tender for years, good product at good price.



Yea but that's like saying Cadillac is a much more luxurious car then a Yugo. There are definitely high quality tools in between. Craftsman comes to mind as just one. And you don't have to mortgage your house to buy a ratchet!

In fact, I was garage sale shopping here in Phoenix last week. Found a broken Craftsman file for free in a pile. Took it back to Sears. It was discontinued so I got a $10 gift card and applied that toward some combination ratcheting wrenches on sale for $21. (normally $39.99!) So for roughly $11 I got SIX new wrenches lifetime guaranteed. It isn't about price, its about cunning frugality!

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Re: Harbor Freight Automatic Battery Charger

Postby tfdeputydawg » Mon Mar 02, 2015 12:15 am

Never understood why anyone would buy wnything from "Horrible Fright" :x

WilwaY
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Re: Harbor Freight Automatic Battery Charger

Postby WilwaY » Mon Mar 23, 2015 1:06 am

I also have had good results with Battery Tender Jr.

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Re: Harbor Freight Automatic Battery Charger

Postby bullwinkle » Sat May 02, 2015 9:24 am

used this item on my GW battery and a Quad battery thru the winter.
killed both of them dead.
had to buy 2 new batteries.
in defense of the item tho it does state not to use them on gel batteries.
I didn't realize that til it was too late.
they seem to work ok on a regular acid filled car battery.

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Re: Harbor Freight Automatic Battery Charger

Postby WingAdmin » Mon May 04, 2015 1:44 pm

bullwinkle wrote:used this item on my GW battery and a Quad battery thru the winter.
killed both of them dead.
had to buy 2 new batteries.
in defense of the item tho it does state not to use them on gel batteries.
I didn't realize that til it was too late.
they seem to work ok on a regular acid filled car battery.


I've had them kill lead acid batteries as well.

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Re: Harbor Freight Automatic Battery Charger

Postby Dogsled » Fri May 22, 2015 7:04 pm

I know a guy that says (now you can believe this or not, I didn't see it) he mounted his HF charger on the side of his bench with the with the wire to the battery facing down and it is the only way it works correctly shutting off and on. Guess if you got one to toss out, tear it apart and see if there is anything visible that would make his statment seem viable....
"Fight until hell freezes over, then fight on the ice"

flash1942
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Re: Harbor Freight Automatic Battery Charger

Postby flash1942 » Mon May 25, 2015 1:25 pm

Ok I give. Will someone please tell me why a trickle charger kills batteries? The HF puts out about 1/2 amp so how can that kill a battery.
Maybe wingadmin has an answer.........

triwing
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Re: Harbor Freight Automatic Battery Charger

Postby triwing » Tue May 26, 2015 8:05 am

Constant charging will boil a battery dry. Any bubbling of acid is boiling, water evaporates plates exposed to air, NEVER charge like before.

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Re: Harbor Freight Automatic Battery Charger

Postby WingAdmin » Tue May 26, 2015 10:15 am

flash1942 wrote:Ok I give. Will someone please tell me why a trickle charger kills batteries? The HF puts out about 1/2 amp so how can that kill a battery.
Maybe wingadmin has an answer.........


The proper way to charge a lead acid battery is to taper off the charge current as the battery reaches 100% state of charge. Continuing to charge a fully charged lead-acid battery will damage it, for a number of reasons.

The HF charger apparently just blasts out current regardless of battery state of charge.

flash1942
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Re: Harbor Freight Automatic Battery Charger

Postby flash1942 » Thu May 28, 2015 3:28 pm

So far here is what I have done. Took the box with the red LED and found 2 chips and other components. I connected it to a battery and measured it's output. It was 146 ma. I still don't know the battery's state of charge but I will keep checking things out and report what I find. I'm very curious about this little bugger.

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Re: Harbor Freight Automatic Battery Charger

Postby Rjabrum » Sat May 30, 2015 1:26 pm

Hi,
Since i use my GW1100 asp, just occasionally, bad starting has been a constant in my GW career. Bought a Li battery and this improved starting a lot. After not driving for a while (winterstop) this battery was also flat. Recharged it using controlled V and Amp psupply. And it fired up instantly.
Works out when the bike is just sitting it draws current, some 20mA. (Clock??). This is enough to discharge. So i just disconnect the - wire from the battery and dont have problems starting anymore. Li batteries hold charge a lot longer than LeadAcid.
Greetz
Richard

decolvin1
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Re: Harbor Freight Automatic Battery Charger

Postby decolvin1 » Sun Nov 01, 2015 7:27 am

With batteries becoming so expensive, I don't think it's worth taking a chance on these cheapies. They're in the trash and my new Battery Tender Jr. is now in service. Thanks for the heads up on these!
Dan

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Re: Harbor Freight Automatic Battery Charger

Postby Dogsled » Sun Nov 01, 2015 8:47 am

I had one that the float evidently never shut off and cooked the battery. This was over the winter.


"Fight until hell freezes over, then fight on the ice"


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