OptiMate 3 Battery Charger
by Bill C. for webBikeWorld.com
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Owner Comments (Below)
Summary: Compact motorcycle battery charger
is claimed to have the ability to de-sulfate batteries in addition
to its normal battery maintenance charging duties.
UPDATE: See our
Optimate 4 review
I can't think of a reason why a motorcycle
owner wouldn't want to keep their bike on a battery charger.
Wait -- that's a double negative, so let me try again:
I'm always surprised to learn of a motorcycle owner who doesn't
use a battery charger on a regular basis.
The motorcycles in the webBikeWorld garage have everything
from lead-acid to gel internals, and they all go on a charger
just as soon as their parked for the day.
The Battery Tenders
we've been using have been in continuous operation now for over
8 years without a hitch. The motorcycle batteries seem to last
forever, and I credit the maintenance chargers for that miracle.
But I don't know how much longer the Battery Tenders will
last. An unheated garage probably isn't the best environment
for electronics; it gets way hot in there in the summer and
frigid in the winter, and the humidity can sometimes make it
feel like rain will drop from the ceiling at any moment.
So we're always looking for something new and different,
and I picked up this OptiMate 3 battery charger at a local shop
a few weeks ago to give it a tryout.
The OptiMate 3 is one of the most popular motorcycle battery
chargers in the UK, although it probably is not as well known
as the Battery Tender brand in the U.S.A. Perhaps that's because
buying an OptiMate 3 can be a bit confusing -- online retailers
sometimes mis-label it by calling it an AccuMate battery charger,
and I've also found it labeled as a TecMate battery charger.
The manufacturer of the OptiMate 3 (and the brand new OptiMate
4; more on that in a minute) is TecMate International, S.A.,
headquartered in Belgium, with North American offices and distribution
located in Ontario, Canada.
TecMate makes industrial-grade battery chargers like the
AccuMate Pro series; the AccuMate V, a fast battery charger;
the TestMate, a cool-looking little battery analyzer that can
be connected to the motorcycle's electrical system; the AccuMate
6/12 Mini, a 0.9 Amp charger and lots more, including motorcycle
battery chargers labeled for Honda. Thus the possible cause
of confusion over the names...
The OptiMate 3 battery charger shown here is probably the
most popular unit used by motorcyclists, and it's claim to fame
is that it "will save neglected, deep discharged batteries
other smart chargers canít!", according to TecMate.
The OptiMate 3 is labeled as a "Desulfator-Charger",
and although I hope to never let a battery become so neglected
that it suffers from deep discharge and sulfation (and if I
did, I'd simply buy a new battery), it's nice to know that the
OptiMate 3 is up to the task.
OptiMate 3 Description
As a motorcycle battery
maintenance charger and as a potential replacement for the Battery
Tender, the OptiMate 3 has proven to be a very nice system.
It has a compact heavy plastic body, measuring about 160 mm
by 60 mm by 53 mm at its widest point (6-3/8" by 2-1/4"
It weighs about 565 grams (1 lb., 3-7/8 oz.), not counting
the wires. The electric cord is about 1.7 m long (6' 6")
and it's permanently attached to one side of the unit, while
the working end is the same length and includes a two-pronged
adapter on the end.
The OptiMate 3 comes with a short 230 mm (~9") adapter
that converts the SPT-2 two-prong plug to an SAE Battery Tender
type plug, so anyone with an SAE harness already attached to
their battery will be all set.
TecMate also provides a nice SPT-2 two-prong harness with
a water-resistant inline fuse holder, which includes a 15A fuse.
This harness could be attached to the battery also to use in
place of the SAE adapter if desired (see photos below).
They also throw in a set of Alligator battery clips with
the SPT-2 two-prong adapter on the end ($9.90 if you had to
buy it), and the box shown here also includes a free wall hanger,
which is an $11.90 option if you had to buy it. I proceeded
to immediately lose it somewhere though, yet to be found.
TecMate is serious about the North American (and European,
for that matter) market, and all of the parts and many accessory
SAE and SPT-2 cables and adapters are readily available for
TecMate also has service centers in the North American and
European markets if any repairs are needed. The OptiMate 3 comes
with a 2-year warranty.
They said that the company strives to maintain a "strong
emphasis on service, whether in response to technical enquiries
or in providing after-sales back-up" and that they also
focus on maintaining a high level of quality, which has given
them the ability to partner with several original equipment
motorcycle manufacturers to offer the chargers under the various
It's pretty hard to run a proper evaluation on a battery
charger; for our purposes, it either works or doesn't. But this
one works well; something about it makes it easy to use and
the unit seems more robust than -- I hate to admit this -- the
The instructions that came with the OptiMate 3 are relatively
easy to understand, although like any new electronic device,
I read through them slowly a couple of times to make sure I
understood everything. The instructions are written in English,
French and Spanish.
Using the OptiMate 3
The instructions state that
the charger should be first connected to the battery via the
wiring harness of choice before the unit is plugged into the "mains",
i.e., the electrical outlet. UPDATE: Battery Tender Plus
instructions are similar; they read "Do not connect the
charger AC power plug to the electrical outlet until all other
connections are made."
The OptiMate 3 has 6 LED lights in various colors on the
front panel. Turn it on and the light on the upper left (left
photo above) immediately glows green; it's the light next to
the "I" bar inside a circle.
The yellow-orange "Charge" light displays after
the unit goes through some checks (middle photo) and if the
battery is accepting the charge.
The OptiMate 3 averaged about 1 hour of "Charge"
time on each of the four different motorcycles we connected
it to, all with batteries at different levels of charge, having
sat in the garage for various amounts of time. This seems slightly
longer than the Battery Tender to run the checks and before
it indicates that the battery is charged, but that's not a problem,
just a curiosity.
If the battery is "Weak", the red light next to
the "Weak" logo will glow instead of the "Good",
which glows after the battery is fully charged.
The light at the lower left is the reverse polarity indicator;
if the positive and ground wires get crossed somehow, the OptiMate
3 has a lock-out protection that will prevent any damage and
the reverse polarity LED will glow.
If the battery is discharged or sulfated, the "Desulfate"
LED will glow yellow-orange and as long as the battery has 2
Volts or more. The OptiMate 3 will provide up to a 20V charge
maximum at 200 mA to try and force a charge. As soon as the
battery will take a charge, the "Desulfate" light
will go out and the "Charge" light will go on.
Note that if the battery is in a serious state of discharge,
it should first be removed from the motorcycle before the charging
attempt is made.
The instructions say that during the charging state, the
OptiMate 3 will deliver a constant current of 0.6 Amps to the
battery "whose progressively rising impedance will cause
the charging Voltage to increase (to) 14.3V, when the OptiMate
3 will start the absorption and verification stage".
The unit is programmed to check for Voltage drops and other
indicators to make sure that the battery becomes fully charged
and can be maintained.
During the maintenance, or "float" stage, the OptiMate
3 checks the battery Voltage every 30 minutes to make sure everything
Finally, the red LED next to the "Weak" logo will
glow if the Voltage can't be maintained or if the battery could
not be saved due to things like a short-circuit (fairly common
in motorcycle batteries and can happen suddenly) or total sulfation.
Alligator battery clips provided with the OptiMate 3.
This is the SPT-2 battery wiring harness with fuse block provided
in the kit.
SPT-2 Adapter ends (for illustration; these are on the supplied
SPT-2 wiring harness).
The SPT-2 (white) to SAE adapter cable.
By the way, the OptiMate 3 understands that the motorcycle
may need to draw up to 200 mA of current each 30 minutes to
support any accessories, such as a clock, alarm system or other
losses due to wiring problems, so it takes that into consideration
in the program.
The instructions say to first disconnect the OptiMate 3 from
the "mains", or electrical outlet, before removing
the connection to the battery. I think this is pretty typical
for battery chargers, but I'm not sure how many owners really
follow this advice.
And about that OptiMate 4: it's brand
new to the North American market, and it has a sleek-looking
new case. It has 19 different LED indications, and it will time
out after 48 hours if it can't get a battery recharged. It has
several other features, but so far TecMate is still selling
the OptiMate 3, which seems simpler and possibly easier to use.
We'll plan on a follow-up with an OptiMate 4 just to compare.
UPDATE (December 2008): See our
Optimate 4 review
That's about all there is to it; the
OptiMate 3 works really well, it's smaller and more compact
than our old Battery Tender and it works with just about any
size battery, from 2 Amp-hours to 45 Amp-hours, according to
TecMate, although the company says it will also work on larger
batteries but may take longer to bring them to full charge.
I can understand why the OptiMate 3 has become one of the
most popular motorcycle battery chargers in the world; it's
easy to use, the indicators are bright so you always know what
it's doing, and it works.
The warranty is shorter than the Deltran Battery Tender Plus,
which has a 10-year warranty, which I suppose is something to
Review: OptiMate 3 Motorcycle Battery Charger
||Made In: China
Date: August 2008
See the wBW
Motorcycle Batteries page
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From "D" (12/08): "I was
perusing the pages and came across your reviews on the OptiMate
3, and to be honest i am in agreement totally with the general
information on them.
I have been running one on my bikes for 4 years now without
problem, and have revived a deep cycle 75ah leisure battery
that was expected to be thrown, it now performs as new thanks
to the OptiMate 3.
I have never had a start problem nor had reason to doubt
the OptiMate, I would recommend this unit 100% to anyone."
From "S.C." (9/08): "I
have had the OptiMate 3 charger for a couple of years now, its
maintained my car's battery during the summer and the motorcycle's
during the winter. Its brought back to life the car's battery
from complete drain when I left the inside lights on the car
for over a week... Never had to purchase a new battery since
I bought the Optimate, frankly with the options that came with
it as noted in the review, I have been totally satisfied from
From "R.O." (9/08): "I
have the OptiMate 3, after replacing my (Yamaha) R1 battery
twice due to the LoJack system. I have to admit itís very easy
to use, because I have the pigtail I used it a lot. I never
have a weak start or dead battery again. My friend had a dead
battery that was 4yr old that the service (departments) said
had to be replaced, well after leaving it overnight he is using
the same battery and he has strobe light, (and) LEDs with an
alarm. And so far it been working real good, no issues. Take
that stupid service department!"
From "T.B.": "I have the
ubiquitous Battery Tender Plus. I donít have the instructions
in front of me, but I believe Deltran recommends plugging the
unit into an outlet first then connecting the battery.
Having read the opposite in the OptiMate 3 review, I would
be less than enthusiastic about this product out of shear convenience.
Often, as in my case, the outlet is nowhere near the unit nor
the battery being maintained.
From personal experience, the reason for the Battery Tender
purchase was for the car after the purchase of my first bike.
What happened was that the car got so little use over the first
8mo that the battery started to fail. This was demonstrated
by the fact that the accessories would not work for more than
a minute without the engine running.
After being on the Battery Tender for about a week, the car
would start without struggle. Now, and ever since, the carís
battery has been great with normal accessory capability and
strong starting power.
It seems that TecMate may want to review their procedure
if they want to successfully penetrate this market, in my opinion."
Editor's Reply: Battery Tender Plus instructions
read "Do not connect the charger AC power plug to the electrical
outlet until all other connections are made."