Vehicle Sitting for a While? Here’s How to Keep Your Battery Topped Up

You may think not using your car for a while is a great way to cut down your gas budget. In exchange, though, your car’s battery may be suffering. When left alone for an extended period, the battery in your car can lose charge. The next time you need it, your battery may not be ready to go.

In this post, we’ll discuss some methods for charging your car battery to keep it in good shape so that it’ll be ready to go whenever, even if you haven’t been driving for a while.

Electrical Battery Chargers

The quickest way to power up your car’s battery is with a standard electric battery charger. These chargers are best if you need to use your vehicle fairly soon.

Make sure you get the right charger for your battery. As a rule of thumb, look for a charger that’s 10% to 25% of the Ah rating of your battery. Most 12v car batteries will have an Ah rating between 50 and 100. Once you’ve got your charger, read the instruction manual carefully for directions on how to use it.

For electric vehicles, you can install a home charger to power your battery. Check out this article for help with finding EV charging stations in Ontario for when you’re on the road.

Solar Panels for Recharging Batteries

Another way to charge your car battery is with a solar-powered battery charger. Some people prefer this method because it’s more eco-friendly and provides steady charging, which can extend the life of your battery. However, these chargers typically produce much less amperage than electrical chargers. They’re best for maintaining your battery as opposed to fully charging it.

Before using your solar charger, allow the panel to charge for 4 to 12 hours. This time will depend on the specific model you have and the amount of sunlight available.

Solar chargers can vary in price. They’re typically more expensive than electric ones, but for some people, this initial investment is worth it to save on electricity bills in the long run.

Trickle Charging & Maintainers

An alternative way to charge, available in both electrical and solar-powered models, is trickle charging. Trickle chargers power up your battery at a slow rate and can be connected for a long time without overcharging. Most trickle chargers put out between 1 and 3 amps, whereas regular chargers typically put out between 1 and 50 amps.

A battery maintainer is like a trickle charger. The key difference is that trickle chargers must be unplugged once they’ve finished charging, but a maintainer can stay connected to your battery indefinitely. This is super convenient if you plan to leave your vehicle unattended for a long time.

Extend the Life of Your Battery

On average, most car batteries last three to five years. Driving and maintenance habits can have a significant impact on this, though.

Here are some tips for extending the life of your battery:

  • Clean your battery to remove buildup and corrosion.
  • Avoid driving or leaving your car in extreme temperatures/weather.
  • Avoid frequent, short journeys.
  • Keep the battery charged between 20% and 80%.

All but the first tip apply to electrical vehicles, as well. Check out this article for a summary of the major difference between the batteries in gas-powered vehicles vs. EVs.

The Takeaway

If you haven’t driven for a while without charging your battery, your car may have little power to run on or may not start at all. Using one method highlighted here, charge your battery periodically to avoid these uncertainties. When you’re ready to hit the road, your battery will be loaded and ready to go, too.