To help keep your fridge cold, light the camp site and charge accessories you can use solar panels, a generator or the vehicle's alternator to prolong useable battery time and extend your stay in the bush.
A quality charger with intelligent electronics to correctly charge your battery is another good investment.
There are two types of chargers available, AC/DC and DC/DC. One uses alternating current or mains power, the other uses direct current from your vehicle.
A DC/DC charger improves the charging efficiency of the vehicle's standard alternator and is ideal when you're on the move.
It can compensate for potential voltage drop while delivering a proper three-stage charge, ideal for auxiliary batteries, camper trailers or caravans.
So is there any benefit to having a small portable intelligent AC/DC charger on board as well?
Yes, because an intelligent charger utilises modern electronics to monitor the charging process for efficiency.
Trying to charge a flat battery sufficiently with a generator to enable starting the vehicle can be an exercise in frustration and self-control. Most generators produce a 12-volt output with relatively low amperage. Plug in a quality AC/DC intelligent battery charger to the generator and you will obtain higher output voltages, up to 14.1-14.7 volts, during bulk charge operation. The increased amperage rate also reduces charging times.
You can plug the intelligent charger into the mains at a caravan park. Your battery will receive a slow, progressive multi-stage charge over time, starting with desulphation, soft start, bulk charge, absorption, equalisation (calcium mode only) analysis, recondition and finally float.
While the use of a high current charger rapidly charges the battery, a slow multi-stage charge over a longer period yields better results.
We bought a Projecta IC1500 portable AC/DC charger. It's compact and lightweight with a 15 amp output. The IC1500 has the intelligent features built-in and works well with our Honda genset. It allows you to select the correct charging algorithm for AGM, gel, wet or calcium.
Caution should be used when a standard battery charger is connected to a battery powering an appliance. The output is divided between the battery and appliance.
If the charger doesn't recognise this, it can result in the charger "thinking" the battery is not yet charged and so may remain in "bulk" mode, potentially overcharging and boiling the battery.
Projecta's IC1500's intelligent electronics recognise a load, adjusting the charge process to compensate, preventing over-charging and ensuring a safe charge is delivered.
The unit provides a power-supply mode maintaining a constant 13.8 volts. It is safe for long-term use, maintaining the battery and supplying sufficient power to the appliance.
For more information on Projecta's range of intelligent and Pro-charge battery chargers visit its website projecta.com.au.An intelligent charger utilises modern electronics to monitor the charging process.