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

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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.

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