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Built-in battery charger

Flat battery? Just plug it in!
  [vote for,

How many times do you find yourself calling out some paid-for assistance just because your battery has gone flat? Isn't it annoying that you can't marshal enough juice to kick-over the engine on a cold morning, when just 15 feet away, your house/office is teeming with electricity? Why not fit-out a power converter for cars, with a mains connector so you can plug in into a proper electricity supply? That way, no flat battery woes, just recharge it like your mobile phone. Lift the hood, run an extension cable to a connector just next to the battery, and sit back for 10 mins. I mean, who has actually bought a separate battery charger to keep on hand..? And what's the chances that everyone knows what to connect where? Everyone knows how to plug in a power cord.

Extension cable a bother? Optional extra: a built-in extension cord (20 meters?) on a reel. Of course, it would need a cut-out switch so that you couldn't actually start your car with the power plugged in - I'm sure that wouldn't do your fuses a lot of good. I could imagine the entire unit being little bigger than a shoe-box, including optional extension cord.

nwheat, Jul 03 2001

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       I've had one of these for twelve years.
angel, Jul 03 2001

       All lead-acid batteries will produce hydrogen gas under certain conditions (which I've forgotten). Modern car batteries have catalytic thingummies in the caps which are supposed to dispose of the excess H2 (turning it back into water), but they won't necessarily get all of the hydrogen. The risk is pretty small, but having an explosion that throws hot sulfuric acid into my face sounds very unpleasant.
wiml, Jul 04 2001

       Una typed almost EXACTLY what I was going to, but a sidenote is that it creates MORE hydrogen gas when you've got it being charged (I work around these all day), and a co-worker told me a story about his buddy who took the negative cable (from the charger) off the battery while it was still plugged in. The explosion from the spark sent the hood about 10 meters away and burned all his hair off.
AfroAssault, Jul 05 2001

       I've seen the results of a battery explosion. <The car, not the guy. The guy was in the hospital having his face rebuilt, as I understand.> They told us all the minivan needed was a jump-start. When I got there, the top had blown off the battery and splattered acid all over everything. Ate a hole in the aluminum head, you could see the piston...Made a major mess...
StarChaser, Jul 05 2001

       Whew. I've been pretty cavalier about jump-starting, but never again, baby.   

       Now in regards to the proposal: since it takes so long to charge a battery, perhaps a relatively simple built-in AC/DC transformer with overcurrent protection and voltage regulation could supply enough juice to start the engine without toasting any microchips. When it's connected to the mains a relay disconnects the battery. Once the automotive beast is purring you disconnect the aux, which automatically reconnects the battery, and let the alternator re-juice the battery whilst you drive. Would that suit?
Dog Ed, Jul 06 2001

       If I understand my car's user manual, jump-starting off another car is OK, as is starting off a high-capacity, mains-charged 12V booster. The problem is that some auto-shop boost starters use a higher than standard voltage, typically 24V, to give your that starter that *little* extra kick, and it's this high voltage that tends to fritz the electronics.
In the winters of my bus-driving days, we used 48V or sometimes more to boost-start reluctant vehicles, but as they were about as electronically sophisticated as a house-brick this wasn't a problem.
angel, Jul 06 2001

       So it's thoroughly baked (except for the bit about building one into the car, which is pretty small potatoes). Very good, then.
Dog Ed, Jul 06 2001

       Angel: My father, long ago, had a tow-truck driver jumpstart his car. <I think a TR3, but I don't remember> 12v didn't work, 24 didn't work. The driver said he was going to try something, but tell him as soon as the car started, and hit it with 48v. The car started immediately, and my father said that even though before that it had been finicky, all he ever had to do was threaten to call the tow-truck again, and it'd start right up.
StarChaser, Jul 07 2001

       I have an Acura 3.2 TL (2000). This morning I went to start it again after pulling it out of the garage and the battery exploded. Any idea why that would happen? Thanks.
gcoconn, May 25 2002

       <wordlessly points to first three or four annos>
yamahito, May 25 2002

       Felt like I was the only one on the planet ... Dodge Ram 1500's have their batteries explode as well ... this morning in fact ... violently !! Older batteris can short out internally ... usually just results in a dead cell and lower amperage available for cranking. In some cases hydrogen gas can accumulate. Hydrogen + spark = BOOOOM !!!
tomcat, Jun 21 2002

       How about a little wind-up generator to put charge in the car's system and use that old crank handle idea from years gone by. to lazy, not allowed by battery manufacturer's. where did that port on the car go?
wjt, Apr 15 2003

       Modern cars might have engines unsuitable for direct crank starting. What you need is a good-old geared flywheel system that allows the build-up of a sufficient kick, even if you're a puny 8-stone featherweight.\ or lighter still.   

       Which brings me to my idea... A hamster-powered geared-flywheel starter. 'Hammy' runs round his wheel while you are in the office, slowly raising the speed of the fly. When you get back, you engage the conventional starter, which is supplemented by Hammy's accumulated efforts to improve the start and/or reduce battery drain.
FloridaManatee, Apr 15 2003

       presuming your car is not auto, simply push start it and by the time you reach work the battery should be sweet as, and you can push start a car by youself,put in nuetral, sit side saddle and run with both legs, get some speed,bring in you legs put in clutch , put car into 1st/2nd and drop the clutch, splut splut bang broooooom
blueovalracing, May 23 2003

       [blueovalracing] ...not one presumably for Humm-Vee drivers?
silverstormer, May 23 2003


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