OptiMate 3 battery charger | REVIEW
I’m not sure why but lots of riders would rather fork out on a new battery for their scooter every spring, rather than keeping their perfectly good one healthy.
Winter is a sure fire way of killing off a scooter battery, especially if you’re not using it as often as you usually would. Cold weather can zap those little cells within a couple of weeks if it’s not being charged.
This OptiMate 3 costs around £55, which is about the same price as a new battery. It’s very simple to use, you simply connect it using the crocodile clips and let it do the business.
Simple to use
Some chargers have buttons to press and settings to alter for different batteries. I prefer a simple connect it, switch it on and let it maintain your battery type. That doesn’t mean the OptiMate 3 is any less of a charger than its rivals though, in fact you’ll find an OptiMate in the workshop of most scooter shops. They’ll use them to keep used bike batteries maintained and charge new ones before fitting.
Can it be left connected?
Yes, the OptiMate can be left on for months at a time to optimise your battery without over charging.
Seven stage charge
1: Battery check
2: Desulphation and recovery stage: Tests the battery for deep discharge or sulphation. If necessary Optimate engages a high voltage recovery mode (up to 20v) using a very low fixed current.
3: Bulk charge stage: Charges at a constant 0.8 amps until the battery is able to crank the engine
4: Verification stage: A 30 minute charge & check cycle is used to make sure well used batteries are brought to full charge. Steps 3 & 4 are repeated if needed.
5: Voltage retention test: During a 30 minute pause the charging circuit monitors voltage to ensure the battery is capable of holding a charge. A green LED indicates a pass, a red one shows it failed to maintain 12v. A fully charged battery in good condition should retain at least 12.5v.
6: Maintenance/float charge stage: Whether the battery passed stage 5 or not a maximum voltage of 13.6v is applied with up to 200mA available to support any connected alarms/immobilisers etc.
7: Optimise: Stage 5 is repeated every 30 minutes and alternates with stage 6 for as long as the OptiMate 3 is connected.
Nothing really other than it doesn’t come with a wall mount to enable you to slide the charger in and out of its carrier when you need to. The charger itself can be mounted to a wall though and some come with a hook to go over the handlebar.
Crocodile clips are perfectly good if it’s easy to get to your battery and you maybe have more than one scooter to charge. If you’re just using it for one machine it’s better to use a permanent attachment to your battery, the OptiMate comes with both types. Additional connections including a 12v cigarette lighter, and extension leads are available as accessories.
Plug and charge, easy operation and does exactly what you need a bike charger to do. Both the charger cable and connections are long enough as well so you don’t have to sit your scooter against a socket or use an extension whilst charging.
This charger has recovered batteries that haven’t been used for months and months, usually they’d just end up being replaced so it’s paid for itself already. Every scooter owner (or at least the ones with batteries) should have one.
Lab rating: 9.8
The Optimate guide to battery care
Select the right charger/optimiser
It’s crucial to use the correct charger/optimiser for the type of battery. Obviously, a 6V battery should only be charged with a 6V charger, and a 12V battery with a 12V charger. If you have both, OptiMate 5 VoltMatic automatically selects the right voltage for the battery and it can even save 6 Volt batteries.
Also recognise what kind of rider you are. If you always remember to hook up your charger whenever you park the bike, then the OptiMate 1 or 2 maintainers will do the job, but if you are the forgetful type and want industry leading ‘battery saving insurance’, an OptiMate 3 or 4 is the right charger for your 12V lead-acid battery.
If you’re running a Lithium (Li-ion) battery, you need to use an OptiMate Lithium charger. That’s because a 12.8V Lithium battery’s working voltage range is higher than a 12V lead-acid – 12.8 Volts measured across the terminals indicates a lithium battery down to 10% charge, whereas at that same voltage a sealed AGM lead-acid battery is 100% charged! OptiMate Lithium will keep your expensive lithium battery 100% charged at 13.6 Volts and it comes with ‘battery saver insurance’ – the industry-leading lithium save programme that will gently bring your lithium battery back up to full charge.
Sort your connection
For optimum performance, give your OptiMate charger/optimiser the best possible connection to your battery. OptiMate includes a premium weatherproof battery lead (with ringlets) for quick and easy connection every time you park the bike. If you intend to charge with the OptiMate clips, thoroughly clean your battery terminals and remove any corrosion. Other connection options, such as panel mount sockets, both SAE and DIN, are also available.
For optimum long-term maintenance of batteries, a stable temperature is best. Ideally, try to minimise the difference between day and night time temperature around your battery, but if you cannot – if your bike is parked in an unheated garage or outside under cover – keep your OptiMate connected 24-7. OptiMate provides a much needed lifeline for your battery, and guarantees it will make it through winter unharmed, even at temperatures well below freezing.
If your battery has removable filler caps for topping-up with distilled water, be aware that high ambient temperatures can cause the water in the electrolyte to evaporate, increasing the concentration of acid and accelerating plate corrosion. Check the electrolyte level regularly and top-up if needed. Be careful not to overfill, as excess electrolyte is expelled during charging and riding You don’t want a puddle of acid forming on the floor below your bike!
A lead-acid battery left discharged for a long period can appear ‘dead’ however this might not necessarily be the case. OptiMate’s unique SAVE program can recover and repair even deeply discharged batteries, and bring them back to full capacity, automatically.
The OptiMate system can do this with the battery still fitted and connected to the bike, but if it detects live circuitry, it disables the special save mode, so it is more effective to remove the battery and ‘bench-charge’ it. This has the added benefit of allowing a full inspection for signs of mechanical damage, such as bloating or cracks.
For information and specifications of the complete OptiMate range visit Tecmate