How much does it cost to charge your car battery?

With fuel prices and the general cost of living increasing rapidly, many drivers are looking at ways to save money and make their budgets stretch further.  CTEK, the leading global brand in vehicle charging solutions has revealed that one of the most frequently questions is “how much does it cost to charge my car battery?”

CTEK calculates that, when using a CTEK CS ONE battery charger, and based on a typical electricity cost in the UK of 36 pence per kWh1, it only costs about 19 pence to get an almost flat 12V, 75Ah battery fully charged (assuming battery power efficiency of 85%2 and charger efficiency of 85%).

So that means that you can charge your car battery for an equivalent cost as watching television for 5 hours, or for less than it would cost you to cook dinner in an electric oven for an hour (68 pence), playing on a games console for three hours (30 pence) or running two loads of laundry through a washing machine (61 pence)!3

The precise costs to change your car battery will of course vary, based on how much you’re paying for your electricity and other considerations such as the size of the battery and the overall health of it. The minimal effort needed to maintain your battery on a consistent basis will not only save you the annoyance of a car breakdown, it could also save you money in the longer term.

Regular battery charging can extend your battery’s life by up to three times and, if your car has technology such as a ‘stop/start’ function, this may not kick in if your battery is drained. This will increase the amount of fuel you’re using, and with pump prices still high, fuel is a precious commodity that we really can’t afford to waste.

Even a minor change in the level of charge can affect battery health, decrease its longevity and make a costly replacement battery essential. Battery failure can damage your vehicle’s sensitive electronics, leading to expensive repairs, as well as causing lasting damage to your battery, and if you find yourself stuck on the side of the road with a flat battery, you’ll have the cost and inconvenience of breakdown and recovery to deal with.

Consistent battery charging can actually increase your battery’s life, saving you money on battery replacement. Charging your car battery at least once a month prolongs its life by up to three times, so buying a reliable battery charger, and getting yourself into a regular battery maintenance routine, makes perfect sense.

Beware the dangers of jump starting

If you find yourself with a flat battery, you may be tempted to jump start your car from another vehicle, using jump leads, or from a battery booster pack.

But while this may get you going again, did you know that jump starting can damage your vehicle’s sensitive electronics, leading to expensive repairs, as well as causing lasting damage to your battery?

Today’s modern vehicles have more than 200 mini computers or ECUs (electronic control units) performing a range of tasks from engine management to controlling air conditioning, lights and parking sensors. These computer systems have a sensitive level of around 16 volts, but jump starting the lead acid battery on your car causes a surge of power of up to 20 volts – rather like hitting your car’s electrical system with a lightning bolt – and this sudden spike in voltage can quite easily blow one of these ECUs. And with replacement ECUs costing hundreds of pounds, this is a risk you really don’t want to be taking!

What happens when you jump start a car?

When you jump start a car, the battery booster pack – or, if you are using jump leads, the battery on the connected vehicle – acts as a power reservoir to get the engine started, temporarily bypassing the drained battery. Then, once the engine is running and you disconnect the booster pack or jump leads, the alternator suddenly sees an empty battery and instantly reacts by opening the floodgates to refill it. This massive rise in current creates a spike in voltage, and this is what can cause the damage.

Jump starting a car can damage your battery too, as the alternator is pumping in current at a higher rate than the battery can handle. This causes the battery to heat up, bending the battery plates, leading to the shedding of active material (lead dioxide) and causing a buildup of debris in the bottom of the battery. This damage will reduce the efficiency of your battery and dramatically reduce its lifespan, making earlier replacement necessary.

Safe starting with CS FREE

But you’ll be pleased to hear that there is a safe way to get your car started safely if you find yourself with a flat battery. CTEK’s fully portable CS FREE uses patented adaptive boost technology to get you going again in around 15 minutes.

This is completely safe for your vehicle’s electronics, because the CS FREE gently refills the battery with charge and will let you know when it’s safe to start the car. Then, when the CS FREE is disconnected, the battery is already half full, so the alternator only raises charge slightly, and within safe limits, to top up the battery.

The CS FREE is actually four great products in one portable unit. As well as being an adaptive booster, CS FREE also works as a battery charger, a smart maintainer and high tech power bank. And if you use the CS FREE to maintenance charge your battery on a regular basis, you can actually extend battery life by up to three times.

You can find more information about the CS FREE, which is compatible with all types of 12V lead-acid battery as well as lithium (12V LiFePO4) batteries, here.