As a tour operator with Fly Africa Safaris, I have led more than a thousand vehicles over the border, and guided countless tours as far as Uganda in my 18 years in the business. In that time, I have experienced a lot of changes and developments in the field of dual-battery systems, deep-cycle batteries and charging systems.
I’ve seen technology evolve from a cooler box packed with dry ice to fridges connected directly to the vehicle’s main battery. Then solenoid systems took over the market. Today things have moved on with vehicle manufacturers opting for smart alternators, while charging technology has evolved to the use of equally smart DC to DC chargers and better storage via Absorbent Glass mat (AGM) batteries, among others.
People have argued for many years about which split-charging system is the best, but with the latest alternator and battery technologies, one needs to admit that we need to migrate away from old solenoid technology, which served the market very well for many years, to new DCDC chargers.
Most vehicles still use wellproven lead-acid batteries for engine cranking, and alternators are designed to charge these batteries optimally. However, “intelligent charging systems” such as the InterVOLT DCC Pro can be programmed specifically to charge different auxiliary battery formats (Absorbent Glass Matt, Lead Calcium and Gel) which are commonly used in the industry.
It is important to remember that the battery is mainly a storage tank and 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 plays a role, it is not as important as the other two factors. DC-DC chargers will always charge the second battery to 100% of its capacity while the same cannot be said of solenoid systems – which initially charge a depleted battery quicker to a certain point but are not able to charge the battery to full capacity. It will take a little longer for a DCDC system to charge the same battery, but it will restore the health of the battery and get 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.
DCC Pro features
• The under-bonnet charging system is dustand water-proof.
• The unit comes standard with an in-cab display, giving accurate battery performance from the comfort of the driver’s seat.
• The display system allows one to keep track of two individual chargers from one display monitor.
• Built in MPPT solar controller enables optimal charging in the sun.
• The unit will correctly charge AGM, Gel, deep-cycle Calcium and Lead-acid batteries.
• The unit works with all Smart Alternators currently available and will give true
The InterVOLT DCC Pro DC-DC charging system is 100% manufactured in Australia and endured vigorous testing in both that country and in Africa, with impressive results. The greatest benefit is the unit’s ability to maintain a constant output at temperatures between 50 and 85 degrees Celsius, while other chargers in this category will switch off at 50 degrees Celsius. This is vital as under-bonnet and ambient temperatures spike during the heat of the day. It will also remain effective to an operating humidity of up to 98%.
As a standalone power conversion unit, the InterVOLT DCC Pro requires no modification to your vehicle’s original wiring and no changes are made to the manufacturer’s electrical system. Basic unit cost is R6495 and installation at a reputable 4×4 outlet is likely to be in the region of R1250. Once installed, it requires no maintenance and all necessary values are displayed on the cabin display which is included standard with the charger. The display provides a real-time indication of charge rate, current usage as well as charging phase. In addition, the ability to connect more than one unit to the display means one can monitor up to a 600Ah battery bank at once from a single display monitor, plus allow any user to monitor the batteries in a trailer or off -road caravan during travelling.
So what is my recommendation for a complete system? I would choose a Flooded Wet Cell deep-cycle battery (first choice a Discover Mixtech EMX), which is less expensive to purchase than a Dry Cell EV Traction battery, yet will perform equally well if connected to the DCC Pro DC-DC charger. That said, the unit can be configured to work equally well with Lead-Acid, AGM, Gel and Lead Calcium batteries. This InterVOLT product is available from Opposite Lock stores and other 4×4 outlets.
By Andre van Vuuren