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MG MGA - Battery conditioner and cut of switch advice.

Hi

Having little use of the car over winter and finally resolving ignition problems I am considering the of purchasing a batter conditioner.

Was thinking of one that I can install semi-permanently so I don't have to undo battery wires and should a sunny winters days come by and I'll be ready for the road that bit quicker.

Am putting in a cut off switch over the next few weeks so something that can work with a this would be handy.

Any advice or words of wisdom on the best set up for the two.

Many thanks, Matthew.
M Elliott

I bought a 12v socket (e.g. Ebay item 181634317483), fixed it to the back board behind the driver's seat and wired it directly to the battery with an in-line fuse. It's now a minute's job to plug in the charger. Plus the socket is handy for other electrical items such as a sat. nav. you wish to use in the car. I also bought a small mains inverter to plug in as well.

Positioning of the socket is not as easy as I first thought because of the rear obstructions and room from the rear seat.

With a black carpet the socket is virtually invisible.........................Mike
m.j. moore

I did the same thing as Mike. Wired the socket directly to the battery. The car is +grd, the socket accepts -grd devices such as GPS.

I have a small batt conditioner of 2A that can be permanently attached to the car and wired direct to the batt. (I don't do it that way - 1 charger - 3 cars)

Wired direct to the batt with an in-line fuse, you can wire it so not to go through the battery cut-off. So you can charge the battery, and keep the battery isolated from the rest of the car.
... CR
C.R. Tyrell

Hi

Thanks for the responses. could either or both of you post some picture of your set up and what wires / modifications are needed.

Ta, Matthew
M Elliott

I have been wanting to install a socket behind the driver's seat, but I haven't found an appropriate one. I have seen many cigarette lighter sockets on ebay, but that's not what I want. I want to install an ordinary two pin socket that I can fix to the rear wooden board with wood screws (socket & plug).

Mike, I looked through ebay for the item you mentioned, but no luck. Can you possibly send me a link, the item number produced nothing. Even a picture might help.

Frank
F. Camilleri

Matthew
I also fitted a cigar lighter type socket into the rear bulkhead so that I could connect it directly to the battery with its own in-line fuse.
The direct connection is necessary as I have a battery isolator switch fitted and I can leave the battery isolated from the car but still connect the battery conditioner to charge it up.

The socket is the semi-outdoor type and it has a rubber hinged cover which keeps it dry if you get caught in the rain with the top down. (You can find them in boat parts and motorcycle parts catalogues)
Ideally you should try to position it so that you can still raise the seat back when you plug something into it.
I unfortunately made the mistake of fitting it directly behind the passenger seat and consequently, the first time I plugged the battery conditioner into it and raised the seat back, the back pushed the plug completely through the socket and broke the back out of it.

I considered moving the socket but it would have left an extra hole in the bulkhead.
So I looked for a cigar lighter plug with a flush top that would fit behind the seat back but I couldnt find one.

Fortunately I found a USB/cigar lighter adapter on ebay and modified it to connect to the battery charger. This made it into a flush fitting plug which fitted neatly behind the seat without any problem.
I have (hopefully) attached a picture of this so you can see what I am talking about.

I have also attached a picture of a double cigar lighter socket that bought which sits ideally on the back of the arm rest where it is really easy to access.

Colyn

c firth

Another picture of the socket with the cover closed.

c firth

A picture of the USB adapter that I modified to use as a flush fitting cigar lighter plug.

c firth

The twin socket adapter I found that fits perfectly at the back of the arm rest. It also has some useful USB sockets on it that I use to charge my smart phone.

c firth

Frank

That ebay item number worked OK for me.

Here's the link

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/181634317483
Dave O'Neill 2

http://i5.walmartimages.com/dfw/dce07b8c-52b5/k2-_836ad010-9bb4-40e0-a5ec-d74f50fab8a3.v1.jpg


This is the auxiliary socket that I used that is flush mounted on the heel board. The wires I put shrink tubing on (for looks) and ran under the rubber seal for the battery cover, and connected directly to the battery ends. No picture of my install, car is in storage and my camera doesn't function at -27.

...CR
C.R. Tyrell

I went for the more conventional plug and socket that I sourced in a caravan shop. See Photo. However Mike and Colyn's idea of the cigarette lighter socket in the wooden bulkhead is a good one and I may modify my system as I currently have the cigarette/sat nav socket on a plinth under the dash.


Steve

Steve Gyles

I hope all you folks are putting a fuse in the live side as close to the the battery post as possible. A nasty little fire could ensue if the live side of the wiring to your socket were to chafe on the chassis, or where fed under the battery cover, on the cover itself. A 5A fuse would be big enough to cope with chargers or anything likely to be powered from the socket.
Lindsay Sampford

Is a battery conditioner really necessary for an MGA? There are no battery drains unless you have a radio or alarm etc with a permeant feed.

My car will happily start after 6 months without use. My newer classics however, do need regular use or condition charging.

John Bray

Hi Lindsay
yes I have put a 5 amp fuse in-line very close to the battery, a 5 amp fuse is plenty for the battery conditioner but also, when I use the socket as a power supply, it seems to cope with everything I connect to it, sat nav, mobile phone etc.

John, I use the battery conditioner as my battery is a single 12v unit that is the same size as fitted to a Fiat Punto and probably only just big enough for the job. I found that if it had been stood idle for a long time, it would struggle to start the 1850cc high compression MGB engine in my car.

The conditioner also allows the battery to discharge a little and then automatically recharges it. This is supposed to keep your battery in better health and much increases the working life of the battery.

This may not matter much for my economic Fiat Punto battery but if you have the original twin 6-volt types, they are pretty expensive nowadays and well worth looking after.

My battery conditioner came from Aldi, it works really well and it only cost me about
c firth

Matthew,Frank, Here's a picture of the socket position on mine. The socket centre is 5.25" from the driver's side tunnel and 3.25" up from the floor.
The socket quality is not too bad even though they're not much more than a couple of quid from China. The plugs seem to be much more variable in quality and some are rather long. When inserted the plug I use sticks out 1" from the socket and there is approx. 1" clearance when my seat is back as far as it will go.

I can't remember the fuse or wire size I used at the time to connect the back terminals but it was probably around 10 amps.

The thing I like about this type of socket is that all the metal except, of course, the terminals is completely surrounded and therefore insulated by plastic and you'd have no problem mounting it on an earthed metal panel.............Mike

PS I've just damaged my picture uploader so I can't post the picture
m.j. moore

Even without an external drain, all lead/acid batteries lose their charge through internal leakage. The older they get, the more they leak (the same could be said of human beings!). When the state of charge gets low, lead-sulphate builds up on the positive plates, insulating them from the electrolyte and reducing the battery's capacity. If left in this state for long enough, the battery will get to the point where it will not accept any charge. If you connect a charger, the ammeter on it will register close to zero. Batteries on an idle car will last longer if they are given a refresher charge evey month or two or have a smart charger permanently connected.
Lindsay Sampford

When I bought my battery conditioner (Banner) the output cable has white plastic plug fitted to it it also came with 2 cables that fit this plug, one with 2 crocodile clips on the other end, and the other with a plug and about a a foot of cable, i used the latter and just connected to the cars fuse box,just connect the live (in my case the positive) to the purple wires in the fuse box and the other to earth, that way its fused and you dont have to run any cables to the battery, A,T PS i know this is a B buts it the same,

andy tilney

Thanks Mr. O'Neill, found the socket using your link.

Frank
F. Camilleri

Am I right to be concerned about the robustness and safety of those inexpensive lighter sockets that are coming out of China? Lindsay mentioned about putting a 5 amp fuse in line which is sensible. However, I note that most of the Ebay adverts for these items do not carry their rating. I did spot one that looked identical (I cannot now relocate the advert) that quoted 2 amp. I am worried that it might be too easy to overload them, with the associated fire risk.

Instead, I have opted for one that quotes 20 amps. I will replace the supplied fuse with a 5 amp.

Steve
Steve Gyles

Steve, From the look of it the socket to me looked more than capable of allowing 10 amps through. However, I wouldn't be happy with some of the plugs. One in particular I had around was distinctly flimsy looking inside.

The sockets are supposed to be rated for cigarette lighters and I thought these drew about 10 amps.

The most I've had out of mine so far was when I connected up a mains 40W lamp through my inverter which will be 3.5 amps. I didn't check whether the socket got warm but I'll do it tomorrow if I get time.....................................Mike
m.j. moore

Mike

I scrolled down loads of those adverts on Ebay which advertised the sockets for about a pound or so and I came across one that said do not use with a cigarette lighter. That got me concerned, hence my earlier post.

Steve
Steve Gyles

Steve, You are not meant to plug a cigarette lighter into these sockets directly; they are not designed for this.

If you wanted to use a cigarette lighter you would have to get a plug socket converter. I think the cig. lighter sockets must be specially designed to cope with the heat given off by the element when it is on.

The thing I really liked about this socket is that it is barely noticeable on the back board. I don't like seeing non-original items on the car .....................Mike
m.j. moore

Mike

Precisely. You know about these electrical things. I have a cautious approach and the many guys probably does not have much of a clue. These sort of items flood our shores from China with either no instructions or poorly written English. Fires in cars? We discussed that in another thread!

Steve
Steve Gyles

Steve,

You can see one type of cig. lighter adaptor in Ebay item 291351662494. This is a twin one and would plug into the normal socket we've been discussing. It gives you a cig. lighter socket (I think it will be the one on the left with the metal surround) and a normal socket on the right. You would only be able to plug a cig. lighter into the left hand one. There would be no mechanism inside the right socket to retain the central part of the lighter when you press it in and also there would be no means for it to be auto-released when the element is hot enough.

However, if the lighter takes 10 amps when on this 10 amps flows through adaptor socket and the normal socket which, of course, would have to be rated the same.

I agree that you have to be careful with chinese components but from the pictures it looked OK and it was worth a punt for a couple of quid.

By the way no instructions came with it!! ..................Mike
m.j. moore

I have this afternoon modified my car from the plug and socket charger point (photo above) to Colyn's cigarette socket version. Most pleased.

Now my problem. I have a CTEK charger/conditioner. My modification involves removing the two pin plug I had previously fitted to the charger and wiring up a 'cigarette' plug. Not an issue in itself, but before wiring up I decided to check the +ve and -ve charger wires on my meter - I had simply cut the cables off the plug leaving 2 identical black cables. And that is the problem; with mains power on the charger, the meter registers almost nothing. The needle moves perhaps 0.5 degrees against the 60 degree ish sweep I would expect to see. The meter is fine, it reads correctly when attached to my spare battery. Is it a function of these conditioners that nothing flows in this situation or is my charger/conditioner shot/dead/kaput? It was working last time of asking a couple of weeks ago.

As an aside, I just checked new prices on Ebay and they start at about 40, going up to 200 plus. What's all this about cheap ones from Aldi for under a 10? There must be some fundamental differences and capabilities for that price difference.

Steve
Steve Gyles

A few more thoughts.
I have found it quite handy to have two power sources in order to have a choice of where the wires to devices run - so as to avoid tangling wires with the gear lever: one behind the seats and one under the dash. What influenced my original thinking (some years ago now) was that the cut-off switch behind the seats already protrudes into the void when in position, so I adopted a vertically orientated surface-mounted 'binnacle' 12v lighter-type socket so that my switched plug would not intrude further into the space behind the seats when plugged into it (the whole assembly is thus a known quantity as to size/location and also helps to keep my fire extinguisher snugly in place). From there, I normally run a 3-way adaptor trapped between armrest and ashtray (similar to CF's approach, but further forward): this is where I plug the charger/conditioner, mobile 'phone and most guest appliances. CF's adaptation of the USB plug seems to be a very neat way to save lateral space, but this lower-tech approach saved the lateral space in a different way (in pre-USB days!). The forward power source is a 2-pin Lucas/ MGTC/ LandRover red/black dual socket which suits my own purposes, but SG's 12v socket always struck me as a neat solution for the additional forward source - and has the advantage of consistency of plug types. And, for what it may be worth, in order to try to retain some element of control, I tend always to prefer angled 12v power leads over those where the wire comes straight out from the plug. We each find our own ways ... but I offer the thoughts for those contemplating the modification(s).
As to checking charger polarity, might touching a LED bulb across the severed wires work?
D
D Smith

I am thinking that the 'no volts' I discovered yesterday is part of the design of these conditioners. I have just connected it to my spare battery and the appropriate light indicator on the charger changed immediately from Green - charged (or no load?) to Amber (charging).

Time will tell.

Steve
Steve Gyles

Steve,
sorry I have been away from the laptop for a day or so and I have just noticed your post.

Im embarrassed to admit that I did the same as you and cut the wire before I took note of the polarity.

My battery conditioner showed no voltage when I checked it with my meter and so it didnt help me either. At first I thought I had burnt it out but I took the chance and connected the cigar lighter type plug and switched it on.
Fortunately the borrowed conditioner was using at the time had a "Wrong polarity" warning light and so it was worth taking the chance.
As it happens I had guessed correctly and it worked fine.

The ALDI battery conditioner is great Steve, it indicates the voltage and if you can see exactly how your battery is doing at a glance.
When you switch it on you have to select either 6v or 12v otherwise if your battery is very flat and showing less than 6 volts, it may assume that it is a 6v battery and only maintain your battery up to 6v.

My only niggle with it is that if there has been an interruption in the mains power supply, the charger switches off and you have to manually switch it back on. No problem if the car is garaged nearby but maybe not so good if the car is garaged elsewhere.
But great value.
Colyn
c firth

Colyn

I also made an intelligent guess on mine and got it correct. The output lead to the battery has a connector mid length (photo) and I assumed that the female (shrouded pin) was +ve.

I thought my charger was a CTEK but it is in fact a RING Powering Smartcharge 4. I am going to see if I can source another pin so that I have the choice of using the cigarette plug on one set of leads and crocodile clips on another.

I was not disputing the good value of Aldi items, just that there is such an enormous disparity in price compared to other suppliers.

If power interrupts my charging, the charging rate drops back to default (2 amp I think). Max rate is 4 amp.

Steve

Steve Gyles

For those still in need of a battery charger and conditioner, Lidl are knocking them out at 14 today and they are pretty much identical to the one i bought from Aldi 3 years ago for a miserley 9!. The Aldi one is still going strong.

regards
Colin
Colin Manley

I have a Projecta smart charger 1600 ma that actually turns on at 13.8v and off at 14.2v (2 step) and costs $55 here on special. The Ctek are 7 step and cost about $150 - i suppose you get what you pay for! How many step is the Aldi charger?
Mike
Mike Ellsmore

My RING conditioner is 3 step and costs about 30. It's working fine. False alarm earlier with the 'no volts'. However, the polarity is different to what I said in the post above. The male pin is the +ve. Forunately, the charger has polarity protection. Another charger I have for my lawn mower dry cell battery has -ve on the male pin. Industry standards strike again!

Steve
Steve Gyles

Mike
the Aldi charger is surprisingly sophisticated according to the instructions.

If the battery voltage is really low (7.3v or less) it first puts a 3.8amp charge for a couple of minutes.
If the voltage climbs up to 10.5 it decides that it is a flat 12v battery and not a fully charges 6v one and continues to charge up to 14.4v.

If the voltage does not climb beyond 7.3v then it decides that it is a 6v battery and goes into trickle charge mode.

Once it reaches 14.4 v it then reverts to trickle charge which apparently adjusts between 0.07 to 0.8amps.

Im not sure how many "Steps" that makes it compared with the others?

Colyn
c firth

This thread was discussed between 08/01/2015 and 16/01/2015

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