Top Tips for Using Power Packs

Following a customer’s workshop health and safety incident, as part of a full process review, we were called to advise on the correct usage of power packs. Near misses can certainly ‘sharpen the pencil’ for workshops because paying attention to the manufacturer’s instructions is about reducing the risk to staff.

Following this incident, we felt that it was important for us to share our knowledge about the correct and incorrect usage of power packs to provide power to keep batteries in good health.

Using Power Packs

1. Power packs should only be for short sharp bursts of energy, to start a vehicle, they are not for the slow discharge of current over a long period of time.

2. They must not be used to maintain vehicle loads once the vehicle is switched off.

3. If there are any continuing loads that may run the battery down (i.e., cooling fans, consumers, heaters, lighting etc.) a controlled power supply from the mains supply should be used to preserve a vehicle’s battery from discharging while these loads are at play.

4. Power packs are designed primarily to provide a short burst of power to start a vehicle’s engine and should not be used to support long-term power supply needs. This will cause abnormal discharging of the power packs' batteries, and significantly reduce their efficiency and long-term serviceable life.

5. The net impact will also cause overheating of the internal AGM batteries of the power pack, which creates excessive gassing. This can ultimately lead to the power pack exploding, sending debris throughout the workshop.

6. Although explosions are infrequent, this improper use of the equipment can be dangerous if it is not used in line with the manufacturer’s guidelines. The manufacturer would never recommend discharging the power pack over a long period of time.

Solutions

The CXPRO50/2 charger has a specific Power Supply Mode, which is ideally suited for such applications, and will ensure consumer loads are supported with a controlled power supply of up to 50 amps.

In addition, placing the charger into charge mode thereafter will ensure the vehicle’s batteries are both balanced and topped up, in a controlled and safe manner. This mitigates any risk of damage or gassing of batteries, removing any health and safety concerns.

Top Tips

  • When using a power pack, double check when you are attaching the power pack that the unit is not live, ensuring the power is switched to the OFF position.
    • Whilst there are built-in polarity warnings, if the power pack is live, this will not operate.
    • You run the risk of spiking ECU (electronic control units), which will need replacing at a significant cost.
    • You can get a spark and cause an explosion.
  • Check the voltage setting on the powerpack: if you require a 24V system, make sure that it is set for 24V and the same for 12V – otherwise, you will cause vehicle damage. Failure in doing so can cause significant damage to vehicle electronics and ECU modules.
  • Make sure that the battery pack is placed back on charge after use, to restore the energy you have just used so that it is ready for next usage.
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