We’ve probably all been there. Ready to ride. Expecting the engine to start as you turn the key. And…nothing! The battery is dead or dying but your temper is charged.

It didn’t use to be a big deal when all snowmobiles relied primarily on rope starting. Virtually all electric start sleds came with a pull cord as backup. Heck, after the first time your sled’s electric start failed, you counted on the rope start. It’s not so simple anymore. Have you tried to pull start a 150 horsepower Yamaha Apex or Arctic Cat’s latest 4-stroke Turbo?

Let us introduce you to ‘The Smartest Battery Charger in the World.’ Well, at least that’s what CTEK, the manufacturer, calls it. Based in Sweden, CTEK is very familiar with the needs of cold weather enthusiasts like us snowmobilers. CTEK develops, manufactures and markets battery chargers for lead batteries and has sales in 49 countries.

CTEK comes complete with alligator clips and pigtail plug-in.CTEK comes complete with alligator clips and pigtail plug-in.

We had the opportunity for a ‘hands on’ of CTEK’s Multi US 3300 battery charger. It’s perfectly suited to powersports enthusiasts as it can be used to charge batteries on sleds, ATVs, dirt or street bikes. We only wish we’d come across this product earlier. A couple of these devices would have saved us some money as well as shop space. How’s that you ask? Well, we wouldn’t need the little trickle charger for the pontoon battery, the ‘official’ Harley charger for the road bike, the Sears mini-charger for the ATV or the heavy-duty charger with the ‘quick start’ burst for emergencies. After playing with this device, we feel confident that it would easily keep the battery in our touring sled current. It’s so simple to setup and use. We could easily switch it over to juice our ATV’s battery the night before a snowstorm and have it ready for plowing duties.

As you may be able to tell, we are either hard on batteries or simply like to have a lot of chargers on hand. If we’re hard on batteries, it has to do with most chargers being a bit too much of a pain to use on a steady basis. The trickle charger works great — if you plan ahead. If you don’t, that means you might like to have a “quick” charger on hand. The Harley charger works great, but it’s in dedicated full time use from the time we put the bike away in November until our first ride in early April. That leaves us the option of adding a charger — hope CTEK doesn’t want this one back!

The CTEK Multi US 3300 battery charger isn’t unique in the fact that it comes standard with positive and negative alligator clips, plus pig tails. It is uniquely engineered to be incredibly simple to use. It is extremely portable, lightweight and nicely styled. But, you do need to understand that the CTEK Multi US 3300 is not a “booster,” but a battery charger with a unique system that is friendly to batteries and electronics. It can even charge drained batteries.

Using the pigtail makes the most sense for battery maintenance. Simply attach the pigtail leads to the appropriate terminal.Using the pigtail makes the most sense for battery maintenance. Simply attach the pigtail leads to the appropriate terminal.

Attaching the pigtails to our sled/ATV battery was incredibly simple. The red lead attaches to the red (positive) battery terminal. The ends fit neatly over the screw on terminal bolt. Same with the black (negative) lead. There’s even a replaceable 15-amp inline blade fuse that can be quickly checked and replaced if it blows. We really like this feature. Simply uncap the fuser holder to check the fuse’s condition. If it’s bad, pull it out and replace it. Simple. Efficient.

Alligator clips connect to the battery for a quick charge. The main unit can sit on the sled’s runningboard out of the way while charging.Alligator clips connect to the battery for a quick charge. The main unit can sit on the sled’s runningboard out of the way while charging.

We also appreciate the way the main charging line fits either of the accessory ends — pigtails or alligator clips. You simply find the bright orange finger clip to easily match up and secure the male/female stem joints. A clip action secures the lines so they won’t pull apart if you should accidentally trip over a cord.

As for the actual operation of the device, it’s equally simple. Heck, you don’t even need to be able to read. You’ll find graphics on the face plate indicating a motorcycle, automobile or snowflake. To set the device for your needs, simply press the “Mode” button and step forward one press at a time. When you’ve settled on your specific “mode,” simply release the button. An automatic “memory” setting will return to the saved setting even if the charger is turned off.

CTEK designed the Multi US 3300 to operate in a four-step cycle. Completely automatic, the charger begins the charging process at a nearly constant current (0.8A or 3.3A) until it reaches maximum voltage. At that point the battery charger switches to a constant voltage, then gradually reduces the charge to maintain the battery. You can tell what’s happening by checking the charger’s lights. It will show an orange light to indicate charging and green to represent charged. It takes a couple of hours to get a small sled battery up to about 80 percent charged. Once the battery is between 95 to 100 percent charged, the CTEK charger continues to maintain the battery at that level.

Orange and green lights indicate the CTEK is operating.Orange and green lights indicate the CTEK is operating.

What you get with the CTEK Multi US 3300 battery charger is a device that can give a boost when your battery gets low. But you can leave the charger hooked to the battery to maintain it between rides. The charger kit comes with its own black, all-weather storage pouch, making it so portable that you can pack it along with your spare belts, spark plugs and extra oil.

Now for the good part, the CTEK battery charger retails for about US$70.00. We think that’s a fair price because of what our “official” Harley battery tender cost us. Yes, you can find less expensive “trickle” chargers, but we’ve been there. Why do you think we have so many chargers on hand? We finally decided that paying a few extra bucks for quality usually pays for itself. This is a quality piece.

If you can’t find a retailer, you can order the Multi US 3300 online. Check out http://www.ctek.com/.