Yorkshire Times
A Voice of the Free Press
Andy Harris
Motoring and Property Editor
1:00 AM 9th March 2024

All Charged Up And Ready To Go – CTEK CS Free On Test

So many new cars to test, so little time! A statement of fact and most certainly not a complaint. However, as a result my ageing fleet of cars often spend days, if not weeks without turning a wheel. In the summer, those vehicles with a newish battery will often fire up on the button but come winter it can be a very different story.

You know that ominous sound, when the key turns and instead of the engine bursting into life there is little more than an ominous click. Battery flat, user error! One way of dealing with the problem is to remove the battery for charging but what a faff that is, assuming of course that the battery is in any way accessible. Many are squirrelled away in some dark and dingy recess of the engine bay.

The solution I discovered many years ago is to use a trickle charger and my go to manufacturer is CTEK, a company that produces a range of units to sort all needs and budgets. I have owned one for many years and I rotate it round my idle cars, thus ensuring their readiness should the need arise.

Top of the range on offer from CTEK is the CS Free which is a unique and portable battery pack which can not only trickle charge your car battery but is also powerful enough to boost a flat one. There is also the option to add a solar panel charge kit.

Like all CTEK products, the CS Free is well made, sturdy and is fitted with rubber grips to stop it sliding around. It comes with a USB-C cable, a wall plug with adapters for the UK, EU and beyond and of course the all-important battery clamps.

As the product is sold worldwide, the instructions are mainly by way of diagrams. As I am familiar with this type of product it all made sense, but a few more words of instruction would be better for the first-time user.

The first step is to fully charge the unit, the smaller ring of light indicating how much battery life you have left. Each segment equates to one quarter.

So, how easy is the CS Free to use? I have now had the unit for a couple of months and one fine, sunny morning my Citroen Relay van refused to start. On reflection, it had probably not been started for over two months and had somehow been missed off my trickle charge rota. As I needed to use it that day, I attached the fully charged CS Free to the under bonnet battery terminals and waited.

Ever impatient, I then tried starting it after a minute or so and was nearly successful. It does take a little time for the CS Free to add some power, and diesel engines do require more oomph to start than their petrol equivalents.

Left for another few minutes, the van burst into life, the charger having done its job superbly. I disconnected it and plugged it back into a socket in the garage to power it back up. It makes sense to me to keep it fully charged so it is ready for action when needed.

The CS Free has also now joined the rota for keeping all my car batteries topped up. As with all trickle chargers, connect the red clamp to the positive terminal, the black to negative and switch on. The larger dial displays the time left until the battery is fully charged. My only criticism is I would like the main power lead to be a bit longer.

At the time of writing, Amazon are selling the CTEK CS Free for £175.88. If you are just wanting a simple trickle charger, there are CTEK units available from around £50 which will do the job. However, the CS Free offers many other benefits, as ably demonstrated with my van. It also doubles as a power bank, so if you keep it in your car, you will be able to charge up multiple electronic devices when a three-pin socket is unavailable. I can see camping and caravaners getting the benefit and then of course you will be able to jump to the rescue should you or anyone you come across have that dreaded flat battery moment. Highly recommended.

All-in-one solution to power up flat batteries and keep your vehicle batteries in peak condition.
Replaces jump starters and boosters with Adaptive Boost – the safest way to revive your flat battery.
Connect to a power source and turn the CS FREE into a 5A smart battery charger.
Charge and maintain any 12V lead-acid or lithium vehicle battery through mains power, solar panel or separate service battery.
User-friendly, with straightforward operation and clear, easy to read displays.
No need to select modes—simply connect, and the CS FREE will handle the rest.
Countdown function shows you when you have enough power to start the vehicle and the remaining time until your battery reaches a full charge.
Charge it up, and the internal battery will remain fully charged for up to a year, always ready for when you need it.
Equipped with USB-C and USB-A outputs to charge devices such as laptops, smartphones, and tablets.
Features a new modern design encased in a robust and durable housing.
Comes with a 2-year "peace of mind" warranty.