I guess this really is the update to an update (Getting All Charged Up – Update…). We have been living with the Sterling Wildside unit now for about 6 months and a LOT of people have been emailing me asking how we are getting on with it and is it worth it?
Well I have done quite a bit of testing with my leisure battery in various states of discharge. With it at about 50% I have recorded a charging current of 15.9 Amps which is far greater than I could manage before and due to the fact that the Wildside unit uses the correct charging profile for my battery I’m not concerned that I will be reducing or damaging my leisure batteries life expectancy.
Earlier this month I had an email from David Dent who had successfully installed a Wildside unit in his Bailey Unicorn 3 Cadiz and he seemed pleased with the results so far. Although installing it in a Bailey was a bit more of a challenge. I’m looking forward to checking back with David to see how he is getting on with his unit.
A couple of other people have also emailed me reporting that after installing a Wildside unit that it had solved their problem of having enough stored energy to operate their motor movers. I still wonder if people who have been experiencing problems with their motor movers caused by supposedly bad batteries and have had to replace them is possibly down to the fact their battery was never really receiving a correct or full charge before causing its early demise.
One of the things I want to get to add to my ‘tool box’ in the near future is one of the computerised digital battery testers. At the moment I’m basing a lot of my work on the voltage of the battery and chemistry type. I’d like to be able to improve on this.
Watch This Space…
The other thing I’d also like to be able to do is get a voltage and charge current reading for the leisure battery while we are actually driving. I have been looking at a few – mainly American options for bluetooth remote voltage and current sensors that you can connect up to with your phone. There are a couple of devices that offer a separate display to fit in your vehicle.
However, there is a rather exciting unit that will shortly be coming on the market in this area that might be a bit of a game changer. If you want to know what it is well go and see Andy Harris or one of the guys on the Road Pro stand at the NEC in a couple of weeks time as they, along with the manufacturer will be launching and demonstrating a new product that might just be bringing caravan technology bang up-to-date. I hope to be bringing you a bit more about this soon and maybe an install too!
Is the Wildside unit worth it? Before I answer this let me just say I am not being paid by anyone for any endorsements of this unit. I was supplied one of the first (pre production?) units as a test and to provide feedback to Sterling Power on how easy it was to install and it’s performance in the real world, which I did. As a result a couple of things were ‘tweaked’ hence mine had to be returned, reprogrammed and reinstalled.
Well I’d say if you have a Euro 6 or even a 5 engine and you want to make sure your battery is looked after then yes. If you want to upgrade to a more advanced battery chemistry, again yes. If I had to return mine would I go out and buy one? Yes I would.
Is there anything I’d like to see changed? Well if they ever did a Wildside 2.0 I’d like to be able to move the caravan’s own charging system so it was routed through the Wildside unit when on mains hook up to take advantage of the Wildside’s smart charging facility and to allow you to move to more advanced battery chemistry. I guess also adding a solar panel input with built-in MPPT would be a big hit too.
In The Future…
I’m starting to wonder if the way we charge and power caravans needs to take a leap forward. I have had an idea that you could basically split an inverter. One half in the vehicle and the other in the caravan. Imagine a small unit that takes the 12 volt DC from the vehicle and inverts it to 48 volts AC. You then have a lead that connects this across to the caravan and there it is converted back into 12 volts DC.
So whats the difference… all you are doing is what’s already happening? Well using a 2.5 mm cable rated for 25 amps at 48 volts gives you 1200 watts of power. To transfer that much power at 12 volts you would need 100 Amps. Keeping it at 48 volts will mean the system is still in the ELV range for safety. (Use 4mm cable and this could be 1680 watts of power which would be equivalent to 140 Amps at 12 volts)
Being able to transfer that sort of energy would allow you to forget LPG cylinders and put 1000 Ah of lithium cells in the caravan with a 240 volt inverter and power everything. Just a thought that I’m throwing out there.