November 13, 2008
Motomaster Eliminator battery charger-maintainer. Click image to enlarge
It’s that time of year when many of us are putting away collector/hobby cars for the winter. One thing that many of us overlook is maintaining the battery when in storage. Yes, we can take it out of the vehicle and store it in a cool dry spot for the winter, but that just isn’t always convenient. There is an easy way of keeping your vehicle’s battery in near-perfect working condition over long periods of inactivity, and that is to use a charger/maintainer.
What is really unique about a battery charger/maintainer is that it will charge up your battery as well as keep it in topped-up and then turn itself off when not needed. The unit does this by monitoring the battery’s voltage and automatically turns the charger on when it senses any drop in the voltage. This cycle is repeated throughout the period the vehicle or battery is inactive.
The unit I tested was the Eliminator Battery Charger/Maintainer, a unit that will charge both six and 12-volt batteries at a slow, even rate. The reason I chose this unit to test is that I have vintage cars and motorcycles with six-volt batteries.
Small lights on the Eliminator will tell you when it is actively charging or just in maintaining mode. It also has another feature which tells you if your battery is not taking a charge, usually indicating a bad battery.
Using the Eliminator Charger/Maintainer is fairly simple procedure. First you set the voltage to either 6 or 12-volt, then attach the clips to the appropriate terminals of the battery, and then plug it in and let the charger/maintainer do the rest. If you happen to attach the charger/maintainers cables to the wrong terminals, the unit will automatically shut down until it is correctly attached to the proper positive and negative terminals. This actually happened to me under low light conditions and no harm was done to the car or battery.
The first vehicle I used the unit on was a 1980 MG Midget, to maintain its 12-volt battery while it was not running due to some maintenance issues over last Christmas season. The battery on the MG had been sitting for some time and really did need a good charge. The Eliminator slowly charged up the battery over a few days and then maintained that charge for the next few months until the car was fixed. Next, I used the charger/maintainer to maintain a small 12-volt motorcycle battery in a Vespa. Throughout the rest of the winter it maintained the battery without any ill effects on the pint-sized battery. The charger/maintainer was then used to charge a couple of large and small 6-volt batteries over the summer, which it did quite well, as both were called into action from time to time.
A nice accessory that comes with the Eliminator is a cable/plug that you can attach to the battery. When the cable/plug is attached to the battery by means of the bolts on the vehicles battery clamps, it allows you to quickly hook up the Eliminator on a more permanent basis. It does away with worrying about hooking it up wrong and in most cases allows you to close the hood, eliminating the need to worry about clips touching the hood and shorting out. A friend and I tried this plug-in setup on his Miata, which gets infrequent use and found it a fast and effortless way to maintain the car’s battery.
I have to say that after an 11-month test of the Eliminator Charger/Maintainer, that it works – and works well. What I like most is that you just set it and leave it. In the past I have set chargers up and forgot about them for a day or so and have almost cooked the battery as a result of over charging. Just keep in mind that the Eliminator charges at a slower rate, so to get a faster charge you will need a regular higher-amperage charger. As the Eliminator Charger/Maintainer essentially does two jobs, I feel it is well worth its $49.99 price tag.
NOTE: Alternators in cars or trucks only maintain your battery and will not fully charge it up. If you do happen to run your battery down, a good charge with a Battery Charger will top it up and work much better.