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For Comparison’s Sake: Battery Chargers

How to choose the battery charger that's best for your boating needs.

September 11, 2012
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Battery chargers are as varied as the boaters who need them. Bass boat guys, offshore anglers and cruisers all have different needs and expectations and different operating conditions that dictate the best sort of battery for them. Here are three chargers representing a cross-section of the market.

X2 Xtreme
Trailer Boat Guy: This guy needs a portable charger that’s equipped for at least two batteries.

The Fix-Up: The X2 Xtreme charges two batteries (or four, using the optional QuadLink accessory) and is best suited to charging flooded cell batteries but also provides the higher voltage that absorbed glass mat (AGM) batteries require. Flooded cell ­batteries are more prone to sulfuration, a chemical reaction that reduces the battery’s ability to accept a full charge. The pulse charging system dissolves sulfuration.

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Special Forces: Clamps make this charger portable; it can also be permanently installed. The QuadLink accessory converts one terminal to four, for winter maintenance of multiple batteries.

$200; xtremechargers​.com

Charge Output Channels: 2
Input Voltage: 100V~250V AC
LED Indicators:
1. Power: YES
2. Charge Status: YES
3. Connection/Battery Check: YES
4. Battery Type Select: NO
5. Overvoltage/Overheat Indicator: NO
6. Battery Temp Select: NO
7. Charger Mode Select: NO
Maximum Charge Current: 2.5A (5.0 effective) per channel
Nominal Float Voltage: 13.6V per channel
Maximum Bulk Charge Voltage: 14.8V per channel
Battery-Type Setting: None
Max Bulk Time: 24 hours
Output Cable Length: 8 feet
Power Cord Length: 8 feet
Pulse Frequency: 40 to 50 kHz per channel
Housing: Weatherproof rubberized base
Safety Features: Reverse polarity protection

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Turbo M Series 220
Electric Horseman: This guy is using 12- or 24-volt power for way more than starting the big ponies and running the woofers. He’s likely cranking a big amp and pumping water into livewells, spinning a radome or stalking fish with a trolling motor. ** **

The Fix-Up: He needs a two-bank charger that can zap a depleted battery back to full charge in four hours and then hold it there indefinitely by monitoring the battery condition, all the while making sure it never overcharges or overheats. Its selector ensures the right amount of voltage for AGM batteries.

Special Forces: It’s potted for water resistance but isn’t rated as submersible. Mount it under a hatch so it’s accessible, visible and well ventilated.

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$200; powermaniausa​.com

Charge Output Channels: 2
Input Voltage: 100V~240V AC
LED Indicators:
1. Power: YES
2. Charge Status: YES
3. Connection/Battery Check: YES
4. Battery Type Select: NO
5. Overvoltage/Overheat Indicator: YES
6. Battery Temp Select: NO
7. Charger Mode Select: NO
Maximum Charge Current: 10 amp/channel (20 amps total)
Nominal Output Voltage/Bank: 12V/24V DC
Battery-Type Setting: AGM, gel, AGM/flooded cell
Max Bulk Time: 15 hours
Output Cable Length: 6 feet
Power Cord Length: 6 feet
Housing: IP65 (splash-proof)
Safety Features:
Ignition protection
Overheat protection
Overcurrent protection
Overvoltage protection
Reverse polarity protection
Short circuit protection

Xantrex TrueCharge2
Slow Boat to China: If cruisers lose their house batteries, they may lose cooking, lights and refrigeration, especially if they lack a genset.

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The Fix-Up: Available in 12- and 24-volt and 20-, 40- and 60-amp models. All can run on a wide range of voltage starting at 90 volts alternating current (VAC). Microprocessor-controlled, the TrueCharge2 manages minute voltage differences of AGM, gel and flooded cell batteries. It’s internal fan cools the charging system and quickly brings depleted batteries back to an 80 percent charge and then finishes the job without boiling or overcharging.

Special Forces: Xantrex has selectors for temperature control, overheat protection and battery control settings for heavy use or long-term dockage.

$600 (for 60-amp model); xantrex.com

Charge Output Channels: 3
Input Voltage: 100V~240V AC
LED Indicators:
1. Power: YES
2. Charger Status: YES
3. Charger Mode Select: YES
4. Connection/Battery Check: YES
5. Battery Type Select: YES
6. Battery Temp Select: YES
7. Overvoltage/Overheat Indicator: YES
Maximum Charge Current: 10 amp/channel (20 amps total)
Nominal Output Voltage/Bank: 12V/24V DC
Battery-Type Setting: Flooded (lead-acid)/AGM, gel, AGM+
Max Bulk Time: 15 hours
Output Cable Length: 6 feet
Power Cord Length: 6 feet
Housing: IP65 (splash-proof)
Safety Features:
Ignition protection
Overheat protection
Overcurrent protection
Overvoltage protection
Reverse polarity protection
Short circuit protection

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