What would you rely on to keep your family happy?
Words & images Mark Allen
No doubt, fitting a dual-battery system should be one of the first ‘must-have’ items in any touring 4WD; especially if you’re charging a battery-sucking 12-volt fridge. After all, a dead battery won’t keep anything cold; nor will it keep the family happy.
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While consideration must be taken with respect to the battery type, a battery tray and fitting position, the big choice of how to keep the battery full (in my case) was handed to the recently released Projecta Intelli-Charge 25A DC/solar battery charger which incorporates (as the name suggests) a ‘solar in’ wire to allow efficient battery charging from a solar panel.
While I thought I wouldn’t take advantage of the auto selecting mode for alternator and/or solar charging as I don’t have (or want) a solar panel fitted permanently on the roof while driving, it has come in handy as I’ve mounted an Anderson plug on the bullbar… so the underbonnet system doesn’t need touching when I plug or unplug the solar panel (at camp) which is out in the sun while I’m parked in the shade. Beauty! If you do choose to hard-mount a solar panel on your vehicle roof, this system will automatically charge from the alternator or the solar panel as required.
The charger unit incorporates LED lights to indicate which charging source is being used, which puts my mind at ease as I know it’s working as it should. The charging unit is suitable for both smart and ‘dumb’ (or traditional) alternators. It has a 25-amp three-stage switch mode, simultaneous automatic charge system for solar and alternator, and it features the ability to choose the correct charging profile to suit your chosen battery type (AGM, wet cell, calcium or GEL).
I’ve also run a thick wire to the rear of the Troopy with a second 50-amp Anderson plug which plugs into my camper-trailer to charge the ‘house’ battery in my trailer. That third battery then runs camp lights and a second larger fridge, while the first fridge is mounted in the rear of the Troopy.
Other than setting the battery type on the front panel, there really is nothing else to this smart charging system… set it and forget it. Having different battery types for starting (generally wet cell) and secondary (or auxiliary) batteries as an AGM is all taken care of; something not all chargers can handle correctly.
While I opted for an underbonnet mounting (it can take the higher heat), the unit can be fixed pretty much anywhere within your 4X4 and is IP67 rated as well as shock and vibration proof. For what it’s worth, I’ve fabricated a small bracket to fit the unit between the secondary battery and the inner mudguard… a tight squeeze, but I can still view the lights on the face if need be.
While this system is pretty basic in its set-up, it works a treat and has never let me down over the last 12 months of use. Happy family, happy camping with cold food and drinks… and the best part is, my life wasn’t threatened because of a flat battery or hot drinks.