THE REDARC BATTERY MANAGER 30
We're no stranger to this particular product - this is the now the second recreational vehicle we have fitted with the Redarc Manager 30. The first being a hard floor Cub Camper Trailer we travelled around Australia in for 3yrs. And now the just about completed renovation of a 16ft 1972 caravan in New Zealand, gutting it entirely and starting again.
This was like nothing we have done before and was a massive undertaking! There were all sorts of new things we haven’t had to deal with before, like mounting fresh and grey water tanks, setting up a fully self contained plumbing system, building cabinetry, layouts, vents, appliances, the list is endless. But one thing we did know about was what and how we wanted to get our 12v system to work.
Why the Manager 30 Battery Management System?
The main reasons we chose the Manager 30 for this build are obviously past experience but also ease of use (both installation and user friendliness) and the reduction in physical space taken by the amalgamation of 3 separate formats of charging. This last point was important as the layout plan we had in mind wouldn’t leave a huge amount of space for the electrical set up to be located, (we only really had one spot it could all go). It’s also important to note that having all 3 of these in the one unit means that they are all working and controlled together.
The previous camper we had the unit in was installed from new by the people at Cub Campers so I was a little apprehensive about installing it ourselves. But I was super keen to give it a go as I've built up quite a bit of knowledge over the years about this type of stuff, and quite frankly with the build being bigger than anticipated we needed to save some cash where we could! The Manager comes in a box with all the connections and cabling you need between the separate components of the unit. The installation instructions are clear with breakdowns of what features do what, and with great picture diagrams to help.
For us the main feature/benefit of the Manager 30 is that it combines multiple charging components into one unit. Those being the capability to charge your RV batteries from mains power like in storage at home or at a powered caravan park site, solar power and from your alternator via your start battery in either a tow vehicle or your motor home.
To be honest we try not to use the mains power function, as our goal is be self sufficient with our power needs (but occasionally it serves its purpose), and mainly this involves the use of solar. We have 300watts of solar permanently fixed to our roof and the Redarc unit takes that power and keeps our two batteries topped up beautifully.
The last option is the use of DC power from the start battery while we are driving. This is super handy as 9 times out of ten when we drive to our next camp site the Manger 30 is putting 30amps of power into our batteries (depending on the state of charge they are in), meaning they are fully charged or close to when we arrive. A side note to this is that the unit has green power technology, meaning even when you are driving it will actually be taking power from your solar panels first and topping up from the start battery if this is possible.
The final feature and my wife would argue the best one, is the LCD screen/monitor it comes with. It comes in the box with a couple of different mounting options and a long cable so it can be mounted nearly anywhere in your vehicle (there is a longer cable that can be bought separately if needed). Its main feature is that it shows you in a nice battery icon how full the batteries are and also a more accurate percentage amount. This is great as we can just glance at it on the way out the door to see how we are doing. The home screen is a simple clock and date feature which is actually quite handy when you're on the road and have no idea what day it is half the time. Then it has more stuff like a charging log, how much charge is actually going in and out of your batteries in amps (which is awesome to see what appliance actually uses what in real time) and how many watts are coming in from your solar.
How we use it
As mentioned before we use the Manager 30 mainly as either a solar charger or a DC to DC charger while driving. That is mainly because we have enough solar to cover what we use, even in not so great weather, and so tend not to need to plug into mains power. I will mention that on our previous camper trailer set up we didn’t have as much solar as we do now on our caravan, so on the odd occasion we would just hook the car up and run that for an hour or so, getting us by for the time being if we didn't have access to mains power. But its nice to know the mains option is there and it’s not a separate item taking up more space elsewhere. Again as mentioned before, all working together as one unit.
This monitor really is worth its weight in gold; accurately letting you know what your batteries are doing in real time so there is no damage done.
As we have it set up now with adequate solar, it is essentially a set and forget system other than the occasional check on the monitor, and we have full confidence in it, which means we can sit back with our feet up, coffee or beer in hand and enjoy the more important things in life.
Want to see a video of our entire 12v setup? Check it out below