Here is a crude but efficient charger for Lead Acid Battery. It uses a 12 volt car bulb as current regulator and charge status indicator. The brightness of the bulb indicates how much charge is flowing into the battery. When the battery becomes fully charged, lamp turns off. If the lamp is staying on with full brightness for more than 30 minutes, it indicates that the battery is dead and is not accepting charge.
Charging current is obtained from a 15-0-15 volt secondary 2 Ampere step down transformer. Diodes D1 and D2 are rectifiers which can handle 3 ampere current. In order to give “DirtyDC” for charging, a low value filtering capacitor C1 is used. So that the DC voltage will have some ripples which is necessary for better charging of lead acid battery.
The trick of the lamp is interesting. A 12 volt car tail lamp bulb is used in the circuit. It is connected in series with the positive output rail so that current flows through the bulb into the positive terminal of the battery. From the positive terminal, current passes through the battery chemistry into the negative terminal and then returns into the transformer. So the current flowing through the bulb depends on how much charge is using by the battery. When the charger is connected to the battery, the lamp turns on only if the battery requires charging current. OFF state of the bulb indicates that the battery is dead. If the battery holds some charge, bulb will turns on. If the battery is partially discharged and holding 50% charge, bulb will light brightly when the charger turns on. Then the brightness gradually reduces and finally the filament appears as a red hot line. This indicates that the battery is fully charged. The bulb also restricts the flow of current like a resistor.
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