CLEVER CHARGE

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WORDS AND PHOTOS STUART JONES

gear PRODUCT TEST – PROJECTA INTELLI-CHARGE DC/SOLAR CHARGER

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AVAILABLE FROM: www.projecta.com.au RRP: $419 (approx.)

WE SAY: Easy installation and operation, with impressive battery longevity.

BOOST A BATTERY TO MAX CAPACITY WITH THE IDC25.

AN AVERAGE weekend in the bush usually consists of a diet of meat and beer. To keep this traditional campsite cuisine fresh and chilled, many rely on a 12-volt fridge, and to keep that running at its best you need a means of charging it – both on the road and when at camp.

Even those prepared for bush adventure are stuffed if their 12-volt system runs out of juice – and warm beer and spoiled steak is no-one’s idea of a good time.

Working out the best 12-volt option for my small camper trailer took time, as I wanted to ensure the single battery mounted in the trailer was up to the job. I wanted only one battery due to space and weight considerations, so a 110amp AGM battery was chosen.

To maximise the battery’s performance, I paired it with a Projecta 25amp Intelli- Charge DC/Solar charger.

In layman’s terms, a modern vehicle’s alternator will only charge up to about 80 per cent of the battery’s full capacity, and it actually does this slowly over time.

The IDC25 is compatible with regular alternators, as well as with the latest smart-charging alternators.

To make the most of things, the DC/ solar charger acts like a smart charger by supplying all available power from the alternator and/or solar panels to rapidly boost a battery to maximum charge. I could have gone with the straight DC/ DC, however, I wanted the flexibility of the MPPT solar regulator to maximise the solar-generated power.

Installing the charger wasn’t overly difficult and took a leisurely three hours.

The Projecta comes with almost everything you need for installation, but you’ll need about 50 fuses and extra-heavy-duty cables if you need to lengthen any cables – with a trailer I have the issue of voltage drop, as the battery is about 10 metres away from the alternator. All the cables/wires on the unit are clearly labelled, while solid joiners, heat shrinks and cable ties are supplied to ensure the finished job is neat.

Once all connected, the unit has a series of lights that indicate when it’s charging, how it’s sourcing its power, and the type of battery being used. It works with GEL, AGM, wet cell and calcium batteries, and it immediately detected that mine was an AGM. When it is fully charged, the battery light turns blue.

The unit has a number of features including an operating temperature up to 80°C, spark-free protection (if it’s not connected properly, it won’t charge), overand under-voltage protection, and overtemperature protection.