Is a tour guide with Fly Africa Safaris and he has more than 18 years of overlanding experience in Africa. He’s led more than a thousand vehicles across the border, as far as Uganda, and he has worked on many dual-battery systems, deep-cycle batteries and
Andre van Vuuren have seen technology evolve from a cooler box packed with dry ice to a fridge connected directly to the vehicle’s main battery. Then solenoid systems took over the market and today we have vehicles with smart alternators, absorbent glass matt (AGM) batteries and best of all, DC-to-DC chargers. People have argued for many years about which split-charging system is the best, but with the latest alternator and battery technology, we need to admit that solenoid technology is outdated. It served the market very well for many years, but DC-to-DC charging is the future. Most vehicles still have an older lead acid battery as its main cranking battery, and the alternator is designed to charge that battery. However, with the use of an “intelligent charging system” the unit can be programmed to specifically charge more specialised auxiliary batteries (AGM, lead calcium or gel). It is important to remember that a battery is just a storage tank and it will not determine the efficiency of the system. The most important factors are the efficiency of the charging system and the condition of the battery. Although driving time also plays a role, it is not as important as the other two factors. A DC-to-DC charger will always charge the second battery to 100 % – the same cannot be said of a solenoid system. A solenoid system will initially charge a depleted battery quicker to a certain point, but it won’t be able to charge the battery to full capacity. It will take a little longer for a DC-to-DC charger to charge the same battery, but it will restore the status of the battery and charge it to full capacity. It is extremely important to use the correct charging method. If incorrect charging methods are used, it may result in premature battery failure or permanent battery damage.
The InterVOLT DCC Pro DC-DC charging system has endured vigorous testing in Africa that has led to some impressive results. The greatest benefit is the unit’s ability to perform at 20% at temperatures between 50° C and 85° C. (All other chargers in this category switch off at 50° C). It will also remain effective to an operating humidity of up to 98 %. The DCC Pro has a multitude of features with great benefits: • The unit is IP67 rated, with unrivalled temperature performance. It can safely be fitted under the bonnet of the vehicle, in a dust-proof and waterproof casing. • The unit comes standard with an in-cab display, which gives you accurate battery performance from the comfort of the driver’s seat. The display system allows you to keep track of two individual chargers from one display monitor. • The built-in MPPT solar controller allows for optimal charging in the sun. • The unit will correctly charge AGM, gel, deep-cycle calcium and lead acid batteries. • The unit works with all newer “smart alternators” currently available, and will give true 25-amp charging.
This revolutionary charging system is made in Australia for the harsh conditions of the Outback and Africa. As a standalone power conversion unit, you require no modification to your vehicle’s original wiring and no changes are made to the manufacturer’s electrical system. Once installed, the system requires no maintenance and all necessary info is displayed in the cabin. Many other brands only display battery voltage; the InterVOLT display gives a real-time indication of charge rate, current usage and charging phase. The ability to connect more than one unit to the display is unheard of in the industry. Monitoring up to four batteries at once allows a user to maintain batteries in a trailer or offroad caravan while travelling.
SO WHAT IS MY RECOMMENDATION?
I would choose a flooded wet-cell deep-cycle battery like the Discover Mixtech EMX. (Buy it from a reputable battery dealer for proper fitment and warranty purposes.) This kind of battery is much less expensive than a dry-cell, EV traction battery and will perform equally well if connected to an InterVOLT DCC Pro DC-DC charging system, available from Opposite Lock and numerous 4x4 outlets.