With the high cost of vehicle recovery, delivery rescheduling and disappointed customers, it is essential that battery quality and maintenance are given a high priority. This will ensure the longest possible battery service life and reduce the costs associated with battery related breakdowns.
Avoid prolonged use of consumers when parked up
Battery performance and service life is affected by the number of additional electrical consumers on the vehicle and their power requirements.
Some of the most popular additional consumers and their power requirements are:
• Refrigerator at 2 amps
• Parking heater at 7 amps
• Interior lighting at 5 amps
• Entertainment systems at 4 amps
If these additional consumers are used together for a period of 10 hours whilst the vehicle is parked they will collectively consume 180Ah from the battery pack.
Correct battery specification
A 225Ah battery can only use approximately 50% of its energy before its lifetime is reduced. This could drain the battery pack to a level where engine starting is not possible.
It is therefore essential that batteries have adequate specification to support any additional consumers and that they are managed by the driver when the engine is off to prevent deep battery discharge and an engine non-start.
Check and recharge your batteries at least every 3 weeks but more if there is an opportunity like overnight stops, weekend breaks or when vehicle inspections or repairs are necessary. If possible, always use an external charger with a minimum 10% output of the ampere hour capacity of the batteries, intelligent charging control and temperature compensation. This is because the alternator will only top charge up to 90% if the temperature is at least 25°C outside due to the maximum charge voltage regulation of 28.8 Volts. Top charging batteries using an external charger also reduces fuel consumption as charging using the alternator increases fuel consumption by approximately 1.5%.
Always check and keep battery connections clean to guarantee a good connection between the battery and the cable clamps.
Battery status indicator
Closely monitor the vehicles battery condition indicator if fitted as this shows battery status and current usage. The system may also be capable of issuing alerts to the driver if a low state of charge is detected.
Use of electrical consumers
Every consumer from the in-cab fridge to charging a mobile telephone or tablet will discharge the battery. Ensure that all possible electrical consumers are switched off if not required especially during long stops.
A temperature drop from +20°C to -18°C reduces battery capacity by approximately 50%. At low temperatures pay special attention to the battery’s condition and ensure only essential electrical consumers are used when the vehicle isn’t in operation.
Most modern commercial vehicles feature a parking mode. This reduces the amount of battery load during stops by shutting down the refrigerator and comfort and convenience systems such as interior lights and audio. This system should always be activated when the use of in cab features is not required and the driver is away from the vehicle.