I was recently contacted by Dave from 168Energy.com asking if I’d like to do a review on his FMR Programmable Battery Charger. I’ve used a few chargers over the years including an old school regular 12V lead-acid charger with an analogue display, Hyperion EOS unit, Oxford multi-stage charger, CTEK and even a no-name chinese unit. So naturally, I figured I could review a battery charger well enough to be useful! So here goes…
About the charger
The FMR is a 12V 1A unit that charges almost any battery 12 volt battery on the market today. The unit is able to charge Conventional Wet Lead Acid, Calcium Sealed Maintenance Free (SMF), Absorbed Glass Mat & Gel as well as Lithium (LiFePO4) batteries with built in Battery Management Systems (BMS). The FMR charger is a handy piece of kit to have in your garage for the foreseeable future due to its ability to charge any automotive battery currently available on the market. This charger can be used to rejuvenate not only your motorcycle battery but also charge boat batteries, campervan deep cycle batteries, ride-on batteries and of course, car and truck batteries.
The charger comes neatly packaged and includes the following:
– 1x charging unit – Which is the brains of the operation.
– 1x hardwire loom – Perfect for installing on your motorcycle battery and then running the connector to an easy-access location such as under the pillion seat so the charger can be connected without the need to remove the main seat or other fasteners.
– 1x Crocodile clip loom – These clips are great when charging a battery on a bench or in a vehicle, which is the case with most lead acid batteries.
The hardwired loom is fused to prevent any damage to sensitive electronics on a motorcycle or other vehicle and all ring terminal and crocodile clip connections appear to be high quality, well crimped and durable. The plug connection between the charger and looms is tight and secure. The charger unit itself is a polymer casing and feels to be robust enough to handle a few knocks in the garage.
Using the charger
The manual provided with the charger is well-written and easy to follow. The only minor inconvenience was the programming method to change the battery from charging one chemistry to another. It turns out it is important to read the instructions and follow them correctly instead of rushing ahead after reading one or two lines of the manual. It turns out Dave from 168 Energy has already put up an easy to follow video of how exactly to program the unit and it would have saved me a few minutes of reading! For most users, the initial setup is only ever done once as we will be charging our motorcycle AGM/Gel batteries and not switching to charge other chemistries.
One of the biggest killers of any battery is running flat due to lack of charging and then being left flat for extended periods of time. To help prevent this, there is also a float charging feature which is commonplace on most chargers nowadays which allows the user to leave it safely charging any battery indefinitely, allowing the battery to stay topped up over winter periods or other long periods of downtime for your motorcycle. Once the battery is fully charged, it will go into a low power state where it will check the state of the battery every 7 days and proceed to charge or maintain the charge automatically.
So far the charger does everything you would expect from a modern battery charger. However, the intelligent 9 stage programming of the charger is what sets it apart from most battery chargers in this price range. The unit not only recharges a heavily drained battery (claimed to be able to charge a 12V battery registering even 1V) but also reconditions the battery to return much of its operational capacity. This can prolong the life of your battery much more than conventional chargers with a simple charge and float capability. This charging capability was once limited to the likes of battery reconditioning shops and is now available to anyone.
The only downside of the unit for us nerdy types is that there is no voltage readout or elapsed timer. The unit communicates its status with a series of LED lights. This is not an issue for most and it did not bother me at all as the lights and the information they relay are simple to understand.
The FMR unit charged my motorcycle’s 2 year old AGM battery with no issues and I was surprised to see the battery underwent a reconditioning phase, which was not in the programming of my Oxford Oximiser or no-name chinese charger. This made the charge time for the battery longer (4 hours vs ~2 hours) than when being charged with the aforementioned chargers but at the end of the day, this is even better for the life of my battery!
I also tried the FMR unit on a small 300CCA lead acid battery that I keep in my garage as a spare. The battery gets charged every 3 or 4 months with a basic charger. The battery was charged a week prior to testing with the FMR unit. The FMR unit again took longer (over 8 hours vs ~4 hours) to charge than my regular charger and put the battery through a reconditioning phase, indicating that my regular charger was charging the battery but not necessarily bringing the battery to optimum condition.
In conclusion, this FMR 12V 1A unit is a fantastic piece of kit. For what it lacks in a fancy display and aesthetic appearance, the development dollars were instead spent on delivering one of the most potent chargers on the market for the price range. At NZD$69.99 (currently on sale for $59.99), it blows many competitors out of the water in terms of charging capability and FMR are kind enough to supply a hardwired loom for your motorcycle along with a crocodile clip loom. This is definitely a charger you want to have in your toolbox!