Whether in our personal or professional lives, we’ve all experienced that dreaded occasion to where the car battery is dead, or as the English put it… “flat”. In our personal lives this occasion is mostly a nuisance, but it’s quite a different story in our professional lives especially for those of us with critical jobs in public safety, utilities, towing, etc. A dead battery in these professions can literally put lives at stake.
Despite the critical nature of jobs such as public safety, it never ceases to amaze me how increasingly common dead batteries are. In many occasions those dead batteries can simply be chalked up to poor maintenance of terminals, replacements and belt tensions. Others are the result of phantom current draw from the myriad of electronics that constantly sip battery power, even when if the switch is off. Another major reason for flat batteries are technicians maxing out the specified load and not understanding the vehicles charging capability is never constant.
Along with performing proper vehicle maintenance to prevent dead batteries, another great way to mitigate problems is using an auxiliary battery. The use of an auxiliary battery is especially recommended for missions that require operating electronics for extended periods with the engine off, i.e. emergency management, bait cars, drop cars and surveillance vans. Regardless of the mission, on-board electronics should be connected to the auxiliary battery which leaves the vehicles starting battery fully dedicated for normal usage. As a result, starting batteries tend to last longer in terms of years and the auxiliary battery can play a dual role by providing emergency power should the starting battery ever battery fail.
To get the most out of auxiliary batteries and to keep operators safe, there are some simple things you should consider and recommend items you should include in any installation.
1 – Battery Isolator
Perhaps the most important item needed for an auxiliary battery system is a battery isolator. Isolators allow auxiliary batteries to receive a charge from the vehicles electrical system but as the name suggest, isolates it and prevents a back-flow of current and depletion of the auxiliary battery. Advanced battery isolators also give operators the ability to manually override isolation and to assist with emergency jump starting.