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Thread: Gel Battery Charger

  1. #1
    Alps Adventurer GlobalRider's Avatar
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    Question Gel Battery Charger

    I stopped in at my BMW dealer and checked on the part numbers of the voltage regulators used over the years on the R1150 GS.

    The part number for the voltage regulator for a 2001 and 2003 GS model were the same.

    So I would like to have BMW AG or BMW NA explain why all the black magic surrounding "their" special gel battery charger.

    If the gel battery in my 2003 R1150 GS Adventure can be charged by the same charging system as a 2001 that employed a lead acid battery, what do I need a special BMW gel charger for?

    As it stands now, they haven't proven their case, BMW Service Bulletin or not.

  2. #2
    BMW MOA co-founder bmwdean's Avatar
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    The part number for the voltage regulator for a 2001 and 2003 GS model were the same.


    Yes, but what about the 2004 model with gel batteries regulators?

    You pay your money -- or not -- and take your choice and accept any consequences.

    Latest info is at the bottom of:

    http://bmwmotorcycle.home.att.net/1150.htm
    Jeff Dean − Tucson, Arizona − BMW MOA Co-founder (1972)
    http://bmwdean.com/2014-r1200rt.htm − MSF Chief Instructor (1994)
    Friend of the Marque (1999) − Prof. Gerhard Knochlein BMW Classic Award (2013)
    2014 & 2007 R1200RTs, R60/2s, R67/3, R51/3 ↔ 1949 R24

  3. #3
    Alps Adventurer GlobalRider's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Jeff Dean
    Yes, but what about the 2004 model with gel batteries regulators?
    Jeff,

    Do they have "gel battery regulators" installed in the alternators (I doubt it)? Did you check the part number of the regulator at the dealer?

    I have a 2003 BMW R1150 GS Adventure that was manufactured in 04 (April) of 2003. It is a "2 spark" model with a "gel battery".

    2004 models didn't come out till September of 2003. I don't care how BMW NA wants to label them. The date code on the manufacturer's sticker is what I go by. Just because they changed the head design to a "2 spark" mid year, doesn't call for a new model year designation. What would happen if we had 2 or 3 mid year design changes...call them 2006 models?

    So back to the charger issue. I have the same charging system that a 2001 and 2002 GS had and that a 2004 model GS has (namely for an acid battery setup), so BMW has a bit of explaining to do.

    Now I don't have a PhD in batteries; probably why I got 9 years out of my original GS battery and the car battery just surpassed the 13 year mark...and still going strong.

    Why does the BMW charger take a battery through a "desulfation cycle" if my battery hasn't been subjected to that?

    As for charging a battery while hooked up to the motorcycle, I've always been against that for various reasons and especially more so now that my latest buy has electronics up the kazoo. When I disconnect the battery on my GS Adv, I connect another battery in parallel to maintain my fault codes and other settings and then disconnect the battery that I want to charge. You cannot go wrong using that setup.

    Unless BMW comes up with a very good explanation, I say their Service Bulletin is a bunch of you know what. I'd love to hear their explanation to my original question in the first post. Better yet, let them send me the full spec sheet for their gel battery charger, showing graphs, etc.

  4. #4
    RIDERR1150GSADV
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    Batteries etc

    I would like to add my 2 cts worth in this debate about BMW's chargers.
    The main difference between lead acids and gel batteries is the charging voltage. 14.4 volts is the maximum a gel can handle before it disintegrates internally and over a short period of time seizes to function . A lead acid can handle higher charging voltages without too many problems although it would be wise to keep it less than 15,5 volts as too much heat will be generated with water evaporating out of the battery.
    Sulfating of plates occurs when the battery voltage is drained too low and the charging system (alternator or 110V charger) is not up to the task. Well designed chargers charge in three stages. There is a bulk charge followed by a "topping off" charge and last stage is a "float /trickle" charge to maintain the battery without overcharging them.
    The big difference is the voltage that comes from the charger into the battery. As mentioned before 14.4 V is the max for gels.
    All I know is that on my boat I use gel batteries and the charger was designed for these batteries with the right voltage coming out of the charger I plug in the wall. The engines alternator puts out 14.4 volts and won't burn up the batteries either.
    I don't know what voltages are involved in the BMW chargers for either type of battery, but it would be a good thing to compare the new and the old chargers to see if indeed they have been changed.

  5. #5
    Alps Adventurer GlobalRider's Avatar
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    Re: Batteries etc

    Originally posted by rider1150RT
    The main difference between lead acids and gel batteries is the charging voltage. 14.4 volts is the maximum a gel can handle before it disintegrates internally and over a short period of time seizes to function . A lead acid can handle higher charging voltages without too many problems although it would be wise to keep it less than 15,5 volts as too much heat will be generated with water evaporating out of the battery.
    Correct me if I am wrong, but don't all automatic chargers cut out at 14.4 volts or less (ie: 2.4 volts per cell). The only way I can see going beyond the 14.4 volts is when a manual charger is used.


    Originally posted by rider1150RT
    Sulfating of plates occurs when the battery voltage is drained too low...
    That never happens if you charge a battery on a regular basis.

    Originally posted by rider1150RT
    I don't know what voltages are involved in the BMW chargers for either type of battery, but it would be a good thing to compare the new and the old chargers to see if indeed they have been changed.
    That would be a plan, but I'd still like to know why the charging system in my GS that was designed for lead acid batteries, is now also used to charge my factory gel cell. The voltage regulators, as mentioned, are the same.

  6. #6
    RIDERR1150GSADV
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    Smile

    I am sorry but that I don't know

  7. #7
    Subzero Scooter Idiot oldcarkook's Avatar
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    More food for thought here...


  8. #8
    Registered User bmwterrien's Avatar
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    One local dealer told me if you charge a gel battery over 14.4 volts, it builds up excessive internal pressure and then vents to the atmosphere through a safety valve. The result of this is that you reduce the life of the battery, because it now is NOT sealed.

    Take it for what it is worth......

    There was a similar disscussion on the Yankee Beemer messsage board a while back. I told them , that IMO, the alternator makes the best battery charger----- just use the bike.

    YA DON'T NEED NO special charger!



    Cheers,
    Steve
    Steve Terrien

    BMWMOA #18114

    BMWMOV

  9. #9
    Mudbug
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    BMW gel battery chargers are made by

    BMW gel battery chargers, 72 60 1 470 156 and 99 99 0 005 656, are made by Deltran Battery Tender.


  10. #10
    Rocky Racoon
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    I have a 2000 RT, my battery died a couple of months ago and I replaed it with the BMW gel battery (supposedly the latest & greatest thing). Now that cool weather and home time projects make for less riding I wanted to put the bike on a charger. I began checking and have had much conflicting information. I was told my existing trickle charger could damage the battery and reduce life expectancy(of the battery). I was sold a battery tender plus by my local dealer, but the instructions offered conflicting info. I contacted my dealer again, who said to go ahead and use it. I then contacted the manufacturer of the battery tender plus and was told I needed to use the private label version that the dealer should have sold me. I spoke with one of their engineers and learned more about batteries than I wanted to know. However with the 2000 RT alternator and the Gel battery working okay and the discussion with the engineer and the lack of bacward compatability of the BMW version of th battery tender plus (it puts out a lower charging voltage per specs of the gel battery and may not adequately charge a regular lead acid battery) I have elected to use the standard battery tender plus and if I have a shortened battery life, I will consider it an expensive lesson and replace with a lead acid or maintenance free (wesco type) battery next time.

    another thing about the gel battery is that if you were to leave your parking light on and run it completely down, the battery cannot be boost started.

    knowing what I know now, I would not buy the gel battery.

    Rocky Raccoon

  11. #11
    BMW MOA co-founder bmwdean's Avatar
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    I have retrofitted two pre-2004 BMWs with gel batteries. I would not have a lead-acid battery again. I am very glad to have the gel battery alternative.

    I bought a Battery Tender gel-battery charger to charge them. The lesson is to get the correct charger for your battery.

    I encourage anyone considering BMW's gel battery not to hesitate. Get it! And also get the correct charger for it.
    Jeff Dean − Tucson, Arizona − BMW MOA Co-founder (1972)
    http://bmwdean.com/2014-r1200rt.htm − MSF Chief Instructor (1994)
    Friend of the Marque (1999) − Prof. Gerhard Knochlein BMW Classic Award (2013)
    2014 & 2007 R1200RTs, R60/2s, R67/3, R51/3 ↔ 1949 R24

  12. #12
    Alps Adventurer GlobalRider's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Rocky Racoon
    another thing about the gel battery is that if you were to leave your parking light on and run it completely down, the battery cannot be boost started.

    knowing what I know now, I would not buy the gel battery.
    My 2003 GS Adventure came with a gel battery.

    I don't know what "added" benefit I will get from it. I don't intend to do any inverted flight or an outside loop with my GS Adventure.

    Except for signs of slowing down during the last few months, the factory Mareg lead acid battery in my R100 GS lasted 9 years and never failed to start within that time period.
    I wonder if my gel battery will last that long. I'm not against progress, but "real" progress is associated with "real" gains in my books.

    As for BMW's gel battery charger service bulletin, I'm not buying it based on technical reasons that they've failed to clarify. My first post at the top of this thread pretty well sums it up.

  13. #13
    Rocky Racoon
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    Thanks for your input, both Jeff & Alex. As for the right charger, according to the engineer I spoke to, the fact that my alternator/voltage regulator is putting out a higher charging voltage, the "Incorrect" battery charger will do no more harm to the battery than my bike. Also the information that the engineer gave me is that engine start situations are much less critical than are what he referred to as "deep cycle" situations in which a battery is run from a completely charged state to a completely discharged or nearly discharged state each time it is used. He explained that in those types of situations without the appropriate charger that noticable battery degredation would soon become evident.

    As for the gain/benefit of the gel (which was one of my primary reasons for getting it) if you have ever tried to check and or add distilled water to the battery in an R1100RT, not having to take off the left body panel and remove the battery is worth the extra expense.

    I guess that when I think about it, I don't really regret buying the battery, (and so far - about two months - it is fine) the biggest issue has been the confusion about its care.

    My primary ride till I got my RT was/is a 1976 R75/6 where simply lifting off the seat gave me access to the battery for filling and charging.

    Today has been my first experience with the forum, I am pleased to have had replies so speedily and look forward to learning a great deal. With folks like you with such tremendous experience giving opinons and suggestions there will be a lot to consider.

    Thanks

    Rocky Racoon

  14. #14
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    Question charging battery on the bike

    My question arises from what GlobalRider said about charging the battery while still connected to the bike. I have an 03 k1200 ltc with all the bells and whistles and I am now wondering if I should disconnect the battery to charge it. I don't know much about bmw cycles as this is my 1st one so (1) will I do damage to electrical components if Charging still hooked up (2) and if the battery tenders come with the bmw plug socket adapter then I am under the impression that is one of the ways it was designed to be used? I have just bought the new gel charger even though my battery is the old style ( the bmw dealer recommended to purchase that one over the old style charger) as the replacement battery will probably be the gel type when the time comes. If charging should be done with the battery unhooked -- I don't know what all that would effect upon reconnecting and trying to get going again (security, sensors, clock, computer etc.) I have already used the charger via the socket plug adapter so have I possibly done damage to my battery and electrical system? Any replys to the correct way to charge the k1200 ltc would be appreciated. This is the only time that I have charged the battery since I haven't ridden any distance in a couple of weeks here in Tennessee. Thanks Ya"ll

  15. #15
    Focused kbasa's Avatar
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    No problem, Cowboy. Just plug that sucker in.

    dave
    Dave Swider
    Marin County, CA

    Some bikes. Some with motors, some without.

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