TESTED: REDARC DUAL-BAT­TERY CHARGER

SNAP­PER ELLEN POW­ERS UP HER FJ CRUISER, WITH THE FIT­MENT OF A REDARC DUAL-BAT­TERY CHARGER.

4 x 4 Australia - - Contents -

ELLEN De­war’s FJ Cruiser has been steadily mod­i­fied to suit her of­ten no­madic role as both 4X4 Aus­tralia snap­per and keen off-road tourer. As you’d ex­pect, Ellen is of­ten away from ‘reg­u­lar’ power sources when on as­sign­ment, so when it comes to recharg­ing cam­era bat­ter­ies, work­ing on lap­tops and pow­er­ing some of the other ac­ces­sories fit­ted to her rig, a bat­tery charg­ing sys­tem was a must-fit.

NEW TECH MIR­RORED

MOD­ERN 4x4s are com­plex, es­pe­cially when it comes to power which, these days, sees ve­hi­cle al­ter­na­tors of­ten con­trolled by the ECU, mak­ing hook­ing up an aux­il­iary bat­tery a more in­volved process than it was in the past. En­ter the Redarc BCDC1225D charger, a multi-stage charger de­signed specif­i­cally to cater for that com­plex­ity, as Phil Cochrane from On­track Au­to­mo­tive (www.on­track4x4.com.au) ex­plains.

“If the ve­hi­cle is equipped with a volt­age sen­si­tive al­ter­na­tor – which is com­puter (ECU) con­trolled – that’s the charger we’ve got to use most of the time now, oth­er­wise it won’t fully charge sec­ond bat­ter­ies,” he says. “If the al­ter­na­tor is con­trolled by the ECU … some of these Ford Rangers, they turn the al­ter­na­tor off while they are trav­el­ling and then turn it back on once the volt­age drops below cer­tain volts to recharge it. And then the al­ter­na­tor is switched back off again – it’s an ab­so­lute night­mare.”

This also means the sec­ond bat­tery can of­ten never reach full charge, so fit­ment of the charger is a way to en­sure the aux­il­iary power source is al­ways juiced up, ready to go. This is dif­fer­ent to older ve­hi­cles, where fit­ment of a so­le­noid-based man­age­ment sys­tem is still ef­fec­tive.

“If the ve­hi­cle is charg­ing at over 14 volts then we’ll put a so­le­noid on them, but if they’re charg­ing un­der 14 we won’t do that,” Phil ex­plains. “I reckon a so­le­noid is more re­li­able, but some peo­ple don’t like the so­le­noids any­more. It’s what the cus­tomer wants ba­si­cally, so we do it this way if that’s their pref­er­ence.”

FLOAT LIKE A BOOSTED BUT­TER­FLY

FOR the FJ Cruiser, Phil chose a charg­ing sys­tem that re­flects Ellen’s needs. Of­ten out in re­mote ar­eas, be­ing able to keep cam­eras and lap­tops charged, as well as food and drinks cold, is an es­sen­tial for her, so the Redarc BCDC1225D is ideal.

“The sys­tem we fit­ted to Ellen’s ve­hi­cle was a charg­ing sys­tem, so it works off the ve­hi­cle’s en­gine man­age­ment sys­tem to charge the bat­tery,” Phil ex­plains. “As a charg­ing sys­tem, it doesn’t ac­tu­ally work off the al­ter­na­tor. So what it does, it charges as a multi-stage charger; it will charge for a cer­tain per­cent­age and then it will ‘float’ and ‘boost’ when the bat­tery needs the cor­rect amount of power.”

When Phil is talk­ing about power ‘float­ing’ he is de­scrib­ing how the charger stores ex­cess charge; if the bat­tery is full and can­not take any more charge, then the BCDC1225D ‘floats’ (or stores) that ex­cess and will just trickle power into the bat­tery (down to 0.5amp) un­til it needs more of a boost. Then, that ex­cess charge is utilised. This self-reg­u­la­tion en­sures full ca­pac­ity at all times.

Im­pres­sively, the BCDC1225D is more than a one-trick pony – the ‘D’ sig­ni­fies so­lar power ca­pa­bil­ity, and a ca­pa­bil­ity that is su­per sim­ple and very ef­fec­tive.

“It [the Redarc BCDC1225D] is a charg­ing sys­tem that can also op­er­ate off a so­lar panel, so it’s got the in­put on the charger,” ex­plains Phil. “So, if you wanted to plug a so­lar panel into it, you can, and with­out

us­ing a so­lar reg­u­la­tor.

“The charger does all the reg­u­lat­ing to the bat­tery, so, as long as the charger is get­ting over 18 volts to it from the so­lar panel, it au­to­mat­i­cally con­verts it to 14.3V to the bat­tery. It’s a fan­tas­tic sys­tem the way it works, com­pared to just a so­lar panel with a built-in reg­u­la­tor that can only put in a max­i­mum of 8amp (this de­pends to a de­gree on the size of the so­lar panel).

“With this sys­tem, if the bat­tery charger is get­ting about 21 volts from the so­lar panel it will put in the 25amp, so they are a very good sys­tem – they work fan­tas­ti­cally.”

Hav­ing the abil­ity to gain max­i­mum in­put from the so­lar panel, and all through a di­rect con­nect to the charger, makes for a has­sle-free recharg­ing process when you’re in the mid­dle of nowhere.

When quizzed on the amount of grunt needed to power an off-road ve­hi­cle’s ac­ces­sories – fridge/freezer, lights, winch, etc. – Phil reck­ons that, gen­er­ally, this model charger (at 25amp) is more than enough.

“Most peo­ple run a fridge, some lights and ev­ery­thing else, so dur­ing the day when you’re driv­ing, the charger will charge the bat­tery back up to its full ca­pac­ity,” he reck­ons. “At night time the bat­tery will use what it’s got to use to keep the ap­pli­ances charged, so, by do­ing that, most of the time, a sin­gle bat­tery only re­quires a 25amp charger.”

How­ever, he does sug­gest for those run­ning two fridges, a pile of power­based ac­ces­sories or two aux­il­iary bat­ter­ies, the 40amp model is the one to go for.

THE PROCESS FOR POWER

THE fit­ment of the Redarc sys­tem to Ellen’s FJ is a day-long gig, with aux­il­iary bat­tery choice and pro­tec­tion fuse lo­ca­tion just some of the things to fac­tor in when fit­ting. Phil used a full­y­sealed lead-acid Cen­tury bat­tery as the aux­il­iary bat­tery choice as it is more

IM­PRES­SIVELY, THE REDARC CHARGER IS MORE THAN A ONE TRICK PONY

heat-re­sis­tant, and be­ing mounted un­der­bon­net means it will be sub­ject to plenty of high temps. He also tries to get the big­gest ca­pac­ity bat­tery he can into the space al­lo­cated – in this case, an 82A/h job­bie.

Pre-fit­ment, Phil went over the ve­hi­cle with Ellen to dis­cuss what she wanted and where she wished the power out­lets/points to be lo­cated, and also what types were re­quired. For this par­tic­u­lar FJ Cruiser, it was two in the back – a Merit socket and 12V socket – plus an An­der­son plug for the fridge/freezer.

To en­sure power spikes don’t af­fect the two con­nected bat­ter­ies, pro­tec­tion fuses are fit­ted be­tween them, with Phil opt­ing for 40amp midi-fuses, which have to be fit­ted in cer­tain lo­ca­tions for op­ti­mum pro­tec­tive per­for­mance.

“If it’s a 25amp charger, we put a 40amp midi-fuse in there; if it’s a 40, we up the fuse size to a 60amp,” he says. “We use the mid­i­fuses as they are the best on the mar­ket, as they can take the cur­rent and high flow.”

He does men­tion the fact any charger can be af­fected by nearby heat and can shut down if over-heated; they work best in a (rel­a­tively) cool en­vi­ron­ment, with a lo­ca­tion like the back of an en­gine bay as one ex­am­ple of where they can be po­si­tioned for op­ti­mum per­for­mance.

THE POWER OF PROOF

THE FJ Cruiser is a com­mon ve­hi­cle through the On­track Au­to­mo­tive work­shop, and this gave Phil the chance to show Ellen pre­vi­ous ex­am­ples of the Redarc sys­tem. Sur­pris­ingly (or not?) the team there made up spe­cialty brack­ets for the many LC79S that come in, and these also fit the FJ Cruiser per­fectly. Phil also men­tions his LC79 as proof of the Redarc sys­tem’s ef­fec­tive­ness in try­ing con­di­tions, not­ing how it is also fit­ted with the BCDC1225D unit.

“We’ve got an LC79 with a canopy on the back,” he says. “We can be out in the mid­dle of nowhere and have two fridges run­ning and lights and ev­ery­thing else, and the so­lar panel is just sit­ting on the roof con­nected to the charger, charg­ing away and do­ing all the right things.

“We’ve got cold food, cold beer; ev­ery­one’s happy and there are no is­sues.” I reckon there’s a cer­tain 4X4

Aus­tralia pho­tog­ra­pher that will be happy, too, know­ing she can be in the mid­dle of nowhere and be able to rely on hav­ing con­stant, re­li­able power ready to go.

PHIL’S LC79 IS PROOF OF THE SYS­TEM’S EF­FEC­TIVE­NESS IN TRY­ING CON­DI­TIONS

2 1. The cra­dle for a sec­ond bat­tery is un­der a cover plate. 2. The power-steer­ing fluid reser­voir will be repo­si­tioned.

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1. Spe­cial­ity brack­etsfor LC79S also fit FJS. 2. The Redarc chargertucked neatly in place.

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