An Emergency Battery Charger that is Quite Capable

((( UPDATE – Factory is going to replace the Iota for free including shipping! )))

After crying in my Diet Coke all night about the Iota charger failing, it suddenly occurred to buy a cheapie charger and top off the house batteries with a portable unit.  If the charger was a piece of crap, I could always return it after the new Iota came…  😉

I went to Wally World (Wal-Mart) and bought a little Schumacher XCS15 marine charger.  It will charge at 15Amps (my old one was 55Amps). That is not a bad rate if you don’t have a big bank of batteries or try to run them into the ground between charges.  Half drained, my battery bank would be 230 AH which would take about a day to charge.  For the little excursions, it never sees more than about 25% discharge or about 100A at most.  The little charger can handle that in a night.

The Shumacher has a three stage charge rate that is controlled by a microprocessor.  It’s incredibly simple to use:  just hook it up, turn it on, and select the battery type.

There is a helpful LED display that indicates the percent of charge present in the battery.  As a former 1980s era electronics technician and half-blind dimwit, I was thrilled to see BIG RED LEDs.  LCDs are no fun to try and read!  When the display reaches 100% you can turn it off or leave it on to maintain a full charge status.  I will opt to turn off the unit after an hour or two at 100%.  AGM batteries have slow self-discharge rates so it is better to be safe and unhook than to leave it on when the microwave kicks in.

Granted, this is NOT a charger you want to abuse.  It’s probably not going to put out very clean DC and certainly not a lot of it.  Don’t leave it on and crank up the inverter and microwave.  You might fry it!  Hell, you likely will fry it – I’d bet money if you think you wont.

But if you want a cute little portable charger for those cold winter nights, this is a impressive but compact and lightweight unit that won’t set you back more than about $50.  It’s a good investment.  I’m going to put this little guy in an old CPAP carrying case and tuck him under the bed just in case I fry another expensive charger.

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About VanTrekker

I am a former vandweller in Eastern Iowa who, for several years (off and on), lived in a 2007 Chevy cargo van. I still travel around Iowa with my tortoise shell cat, Jennifer Stefanie. Our favorite place to explore is the Country Heritage Community, the four far northeastern counties of Iowa (Clayton, Winneshiek, Allamakee, and Fayette). Ride along as we fish in pristine trout streams, enjoy fine home cooked camping meals, and meet new people. It's all possible on a shoestring budget. Happy travels always! --- Brad, the "Van Trekker"

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