Getting all charged up
Is this smart battery charger from Redarc going to be top of its class?
Words and Images Grant Hanan & Linda Bloffwitch
Ah … the good ol’ flat battery! There can’t be too many other things more frustrating than when you go to start something, and its battery is as dead as a doornail. But what makes matters worse, is whatever life it did have before things went south, has now been well and truly sucked out and beyond help. Sound familiar?
Upon hearing that Redarc have added to their extensive range of offerings with a series of 240V battery chargers, we were keen to learn more. These chargers have been designed as a “set-and-forget” style unit, as they come with a range of smarts to charge, monitor and keep your batteries ready to go while left in storage for weeks on end. We recently unboxed a couple of units to take a closer look.
The SmartCharge battery chargers cover a range of 12V charging requirements as they’re suitable for all sorts of batteries, including lead acid through to lithium. The units come in four models, starting with their four-amp, which is suitable for a motorcycle, followed by six and eight-amp models (middle of the range), through to their 10-amp for those big diesel-engine starter batteries. So it’s simply a case of aligning the correct amp range unit with your requirements.
HOW THEY WORK
A degree in batteryoligy isn’t required to use these battery chargers, when you simply connect the spring-loaded alligator-style terminal clamps to the battery posts. And even if you get that step wrong you don’t have to worry, as a fault code will illuminate if it’s not connected correctly. The unit begins to analyse the battery once it’s plugged into 240V and switched on. Voltage rates vary during pulsing, ramping up and holding stages, while amps also vary throughout the different charging phases.
The initial charging profile starts out with a constant current until the voltage reaches 14.4V. This voltage is then held while the current is reduced until the voltage falls below 13.8V. This is when the long-term charging stage kicks in. Once the battery is fully charged, the unit goes into sleep mode for 168 hours (one week), before waking up and repeating the process. If you’re using a battery that requires a higher charging voltage, this is covered off by selecting the 14.7V button on the unit. Another feature of the battery chargers is that they can be used at a constant power supply level of 13.6V if required.
WHAT WE THOUGHT
The SmartCharge battery chargers are compact and IP65 rated (protected from dust ingress and low-pressure water), and they’re cleverly designed to be self-contained with a simple LED battery display that shows the state of charge. We like how the units automatically recognise the battery type and size, as well as how a battery check is performed both before and after charging. Having the units display a warning symbol when errors have been detected was another plus. But if there was one thing we thought quite clever, it was the unit’s ability to automatically restart the process if the battery fell below 12.6V during sleep mode.
The SmartCharge battery charger range comes with a significant amount of charging smarts, so there’s no need to worry about leaving the unit on and overcooking the battery. And with multiple amp variants available, there’s going to be a charger to cover all types of applications. So from what we’ve tested so far, it truly is a set-and-forget style charger that can keep our batteries in tip-top condition.
Pricing starts from $137
Visit www.redarc.com.au for more information.