The VECTOR Battery Charger

Vector Battery Charger

I have another product to complain about. Here’s the VECTOR battery charger, which promises to charge at rates as high as 50 amps, and even has a 150 amp auto start feature. They offer a five year warranty! WOW!

One day while I was charging on the 50 amp rate, the battery did not get charged, and the charger ‘timed out’. I found the connection at the 10 gauge wire going to the battery clips was hot! Looking at the connection, I see they used a rivet through the wire connector end, and then thru the battery alligator clip.

As we all know, when you need something done, you don’t have time to call in the warranty and find out if it’s any good, you fix it yourself to get the job done. Rivets were drilled out, connectors were soldered, quality screw fastener used, and that was the end of the HOT connection. Done.

Next problem was the little 12 volt cooling fan. This is a ‘run all the time design’, and the quality of the fan is not all that good (my opinion). As with many cooling fans of this type (same as computer power supplies) they either get dry and need a drop of oil, or they rapidly wear out, makes no difference what it needs, if it stops working your charger over heats and shuts down!

Now to tell you what I don’t like. In my mind, there are certain basic principles a decent engineer sticks too. One example, if you are offering a warranty, it’s really a good idea to build the product to last that long or maybe even a little longer. If the product makes use of mechanical devices (like a fan), make it easy to get at these devices for service or replacement. A smart engineer who has any life experience will consider designing a cover you can quickly pull to access a part as problematic as a fan! For the engineer who runs up against a bean counter who wants to save a few cents per unit, the idea of one more part (access cover) may get the axe. When this happens, he will then consider designing easy access into the case, and making it easy to get at the fan for replacement or oiling.

Getting into this case to service this FAN is going to cost you time you may not have. In my opinion, this case was likely designed by some kids right out of school. There are several different sizes of screws (for no good reason). Seasoned design teams learn the value of designing a case with one size screw as this makes money on the production line. I think this unit is a product of three or more design teams. There’s the telescoping handle, the charging unit at the top of the case (fairly compact) and this big clunky case made to look like the old heavy duty charger often seen in gas stations or repairs shops of years past. Figuring out (from the outside) just which screws you need to remove in order to get at that fan is going to cost you more in labor hours than the $175-$200 or so that some people paid for this unit. Once in, you might struggle to align the clam shell case, and get the thing put back together. If you actually own this unit, beware that some screws are black, and may have stayed in their holes, if you forget, and put a brightly plated screw on top, the point will ‘wedge in’ the first screw, and you’ll make yourself more work to remove both of them and start over. These are long screw holes, and you’ll need a long shank Phillips to get to them, so use a flash light and prove the screw is out of the hole, or count holes and screws.

10 gauge wire to the battery clips? I guess I’ll leave that to you to decide if they ‘cut corners’ here.

Bottom line, to bury a problematic fan so deep in a product like this, and to make some really poor connections in such a (KNOWN) problem area sure doesn’t help to add value to the product. If I were the CEO of this company, I’d make every person on this design team replace a couple of fans in this unit so they can be thinking about how they’ll do it differently next time. Yes I know, it’s a disposable ‘throw away’ world, but I don’t think this was a ‘throw away’ price.

Practical experience is something that upper management often discounts, and I sometimes think Wall Street doesn’t know the difference between a seasoned Rocket Scientist, and a kid out of school with a 4 year degree. Sure, they know the difference in their wages, but since they themselves are usually inept when it comes to electrical or mechanical ability, they discount the value of knowledge and experience in this area. Just how hard could it be??

It reminds me of how Mechanical Engineers are perceived by society today.. “just another greasy mechanic”.

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One Response to The VECTOR Battery Charger

  1. Jesse Allen says:

    Maybe I just got lucky I bought one in 2006 and it just quit and 2016 I have charged lots of batteries with it the diagnostic setting was awesome for everything like I said maybe I just got lucky

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