New or old, it doesn’t matter what you drive, one day you will go to start your car and there won’t be enough juice in the battery to crank it over. You may have left your lights or stereo on overnight, you may have been working on the car and needed the ignition on, or, like many of us, it may be another project that you just haven’t driven for a while (I’ve found that out myself this month, twice). It’s just a fact of life. And, because most of us don’t replace our batteries every three years like the battery companies recommend (they would say that, eh?), sooner or later it will happen to you. Let’s just call it an automotive rite of passage.
Anyway, the good news is that it’s usually a simple case of the battery dipping a little too far below the 12-volts needed to start your motor. You will fi nd it’s most common at this time of year because the freezing cold weather reduces a battery’s ability to hold on to a charge. That’s also why, right about now, you will see about a billion different brands advertising all manner of funky chargers.
Now, I don’t need to tell you they’re available in all shapes and sizes, at just about every price range, and that, at some point, you’ll definitely need one to get you on the road. But how do you even begin to narrow all these down and choose just one for all your garage needs? Well, as I’ve bought, tested, and broken more than your average Joe over the years, I’m gonna stick my neck out and suggest taking a look at this…
The first thing you will notice here is that this Silverline job is a rather hefty bit of kit. For once, though, weighing in at around 7kg and being entirely clad in powder coated steel is a good thing. It simply lets you know straight away that it’s solid enough to stand up to plenty of workshop abuse. In fact, this one’s such a lump, I wouldn’t be surprised if you’d be tempted to use the bugger as an axle stand too! (Er, but don’t, obviously.)
The business end of any charger is the transformer circuit and, like all the most up-to-date items out there, this one is microprocessor controlled. It’ll breathe life into all the main types of vehicle battery (AGM, Lead Acid and Gel) along with deep-cycle audio batteries, leisure batteries, and even the 6-volters used in lawnmowers and various industrial equipment. It’ll also let you know the battery percentage and voltage on the large, easy-to-read display.
There are normal and fast charging options as you’d expect, but it’s nice to see they’ve included some valuable extras like a trickle charge mode for more long-term use, and even a circuit that’ll test effectiveness of your alternator. The trump card here, though, is this unit can also be used as a jump-starter with a whopping 75-amp kick. That means if you haven’t got time to charge your battery all the way, you can still fi re it up and get yourself to work. The truth is that this one really offers the lot.
It’s obvious that this is more like the hardcore chargers you will find in a professional garage than the home-use jobs you buy at the local accessory store to get you out of a hole… even though the price is pretty much the same. Come to think of it, scratch that, it’s actually far cheaper than many DIY chargers, so, the real question is: how come?
Well, it’s unusual nowadays but I think Silverline have been clever making this a no frills workshop item. Like all the best tools it’s got everything needed to do the job quickly but doesn’t go over the top with go-faster stripes and the like. Yes, it appears to be a little industrial-looking, possibly even a bit old skool, compared to some of the fl ashy kit on the market, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s not just as clever as any other automatic, microprocessor-controlled unit. In fact, there’s many ‘smart chargers’ out there that look the part (you see them modelled after the latest smartphones or power packs), but too often these can be a simple case of style over substance. Besides, they simply won’t have the sheer grunt this can provide, let alone the starting power. And you’ll have trouble breaking or wearing this one out quite so easily.
The point is, it’s good quality, and that makes it tough enough to stand up to use day-in and day-out without any problems. Just look at the big copper power leads; there’s no silly little crocodile clips here, and it’s got a massive 80-amp fuse, too. What they’ve engineered is a tool that’s built to deliver; it’s a simple as that.
To be fair, unless storage is a particular problem, or you’re some sort of gadget freak that’s more concerned about how it looks on the garage shelf than functionality, I couldn’t imagine why you’d buy anything else. In a nutshell: A professional-quality item for practically peanuts.
For more info see Silverline Tools
Review by Midge