It's Electrifying! The Power of Redarc

It's Electrifying! The Power of Redarc

by Stephan Edwards

As overlanding has evolved in recent years the demand for electricity to power all of our stuff has steadily increased. From water pumps to laptop batteries there's no doubt we have a growing thirst for electrons. After all, these devices and accessories make life on the road that much more convenient, that much more fun. How do you best manage all those power needs? Look no further than Redarc.

Redarc's 40 years of development, innovation, and trail-proven performance have resulted in a robust lineup of performance products. From battery isolators to trailer brake controllers, to solar power management, you can build a comprehensive and interconnected electrical grid for your overland rig with Redarc's durable and high quality components. Importantly, Redarc also offers all the accessories, like fuses, switches, wiring and connectors you need to complete your install perfectly.

Let's look at just a few popular products from this inventive Australian company.

Battery Isolators

Borrowed from the world of sailboats, the solenoid battery isolator is old, but time tested and proven technology. The benefit lies in its simplicity. These devices are small, rugged, waterproof, and essentially consist of only one moving part. The isolator works as the charge distribution point in any “split charge” or dual battery system that is connected to your vehicle’s alternator. In its most basic form, the isolator has an internal voltage monitor that “reads” the state of charge in your starter battery.

When the isolator senses that your main battery is operating at a healthy voltage (usually above 13 volts), it trips a solenoid switch that diverts the charge from your alternator away from your main battery and into your house battery. The main battery remains protected from excessive discharge, while the auxiliary battery gets the juice it needs as you drive.


 

Their diminutive size means isolators can be installed nearly anywhere in your vehicle. More advanced modern versions, like Redarc’s Dual Sensing isolators, feature microprocessors that not only manage current from your alternator, but can also detect charge coming in from other sources, such as a solar panel or a plug-in wall charger, and distribute that charge to the house battery, and even to your main battery should it run low.

If your power needs are simple and your charging sources relatively few, a heavy duty battery isolator is a no brainer for your set-up. It’s cost-effective, plug-and-play, requires almost no maintenance, and works so transparently you’ll hardly notice it’s there. 

DC/DC Charge Controllers

If you are planning a much more sophisticated electrical system for your overland build, you should be looking to the DC/DC charge controller. While a battery isolator can work well for power circuits with one or two charging inputs, when you start adding hundreds of watts of solar power, or AC shore power, for example, things get a little more intricate. Employing a battery isolator in this context is going to require adding multiple new parallel systems to your design, which increases its complexity. As Patrick noted earlier, the fewer connections, controllers, and devices you can use in your electrical system, the better. 

The DC/DC charge controller, through cutting edge microprocessors and algorithms, does the job of several charge management components all at once. It operates as a traditional battery isolator in concert with the vehicle’s alternator, and simultaneously as a solar charge controller, and most can accept multiple charging inputs, including from AC/DC converters, and even direct from AC shore power. All of your charging inputs can be connected into one device, saving you extra wiring, connections, and components, which reduces the risk of failures or short circuits in your electrical system.
 

 

DC/DC controllers also offer a level of current management that far outstrips the traditional solenoid isolator. Their programming allows for the correct level of charging for advanced battery technologies like AGM and lithium, and they work seamlessly with today’s “smart alternators”. Some models, like Redarc’s BCDC 25, feature “Green Power Priority” charging, which, when detecting solar power input, will charge your auxiliary battery with the solar panels even while driving to save stress on your alternator.

In addition, some of these charge controllers (we can even refer to some of the more advanced models as “battery management systems”, like the BMS 1230S2-NA from Redarc) offer technologies that can monitor not only battery charge and health, but also battery draw from any number of your system’s components, and feature parameters that can be set by the individual user. Bluetooth connectivity and smartphone apps, such as RedArc’s RedVision, are just cherries on the cake.

Trailer Brake Controllers

Trailering is increasing in popularity among the overland crowd, and for optimal safety and stability both on road and off, a trailer brake controller is a must have. Old school versions of this technology usually involve a bulky device mounted right at knee level in the cab of the vehicle, and took lots of fiddly calibration to get them to work correctly.

 


Redarc has solved this problem with its advanced brake controller technology. The Tow-Pro Elite model features a three-axis accelerometer which can measure acceleration in any direction. The main unit can be mounted in any orientation, out of sight and still sense the brake level accurately. It also comes with self-levelling technology, so it can sense the rate of deceleration, and it features active calibration, which constantly monitors the vehicles direction of travel, with or without a trailer attached. The Tow-Pro Elite's user-control mode means you can dial in your trailer's braking force to match any off-road conditions you may encounter.

Much of this technology can be found in Redarc's Tow-Pro Liberty model as well. Look for a comprehensive hands-on review of this trailer brake controller in a future article. 

 


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