What is the Best DCDC Charger, AC charger and Inverter Combo?
That is one question that I knew would be hard to answer when I was planning my 4WD build.
I can tell you now that I went with the Redarc BMS1230S3R (affiliate links) and paired it with the Enerdrive 600W inverter, but that doesn’t mean that it is the best DCDC charger, AC charger and inverter combo.
All it means is that it was the best for me at the time, given the circumstances and the timing.
Comparing DCDC chargers, AC chargers and inverters
In this post I will share my research into finding the best DCDC charger, AC charger and inverter combo for 12 volt systems.
Note that this post cannot and will not be comparing every brand under the sun, because with the sheer number of components and possible combinations being considered here the post would be immeasurably long!
In this post I will share my research and thought process of finding a good combination, different things that may be of importance to you, and some comparison tables. But if you’d like more in-depth comparisons of each component then check out the following posts:
- DCDC charger comparisons.
- Lithium battery comparisons.
- Inverter comparisons.
- Fixed solar panel comparisons.
- Solar blanket comparisons.
- Portable solar panel comparisons.
- Upright fridges.
- Dual zone chest fridges.
- Upright fridges vs chest fridges.
The comparison table in this post will only be made up of Enerdrive and Redarc products, with a few Victron inverter/chargers thrown in as well. However, you can substitute it all for your preferred brands like Projecta, Kings, iTechworld or whoever else takes your fancy.
Things To Consider
Before we get to the table of the best DCDC charger, AC charger and inverter combos, I want to briefly touch on some of the things that I considered, this way the “notes” column of the table will make a little bit more sense.
This is self explanatory, everyone has a budget.
You could be in a well established career with years of savings behind you, or you could be an apprentice just starting out. It’s going to seriously affect your purchasing decisions.
There are things discussed here that are not cheap, not by a long stretch. But there are cheaper brands on the market to get people into 4WD-ing and help people discover how they want to use their equipment.
Something worth considering for those who are building a vehicle for longer range touring. It all adds up, you can get pretty fancy when looking at 12 volt systems, but try not to be caught out by the weight.
This isn’t only important for the overall GVM but also consider where it will get mounted and the strength of the material that you plan on mounting it to.
How much space will it take up?
Also, if you’re trying to hid a lot of this stuff out of the way, then you not only need to consider the footprint but also the volume, or the depth of the products.
There’s no point having an idea of where you want to mount something without ensuring that it fits. Keeping in mind the actual space required around components for airflow and proper cable entry with well terminated cables.
Usability / Simplicity
Can you simplify everything by having an inverter/charger (something that is both an inverter and an AC charger built into one)?
Is it worth getting the Redarc BMS30 because it combines the AC charging with the DC charging in one unit?
What settings and changeable parameters does the charger have that will make the experience better in the long run?
Does it come with a monitor or is that a separate purchase that you will need to make on top?
Is it worth doing a more complicated install (you only need to install once) for the benefit of saving money?
Do you want to spend more to get a longer warranty period?
Will this last you for your intended use case? For example, a few weekends here and there, or a long trip off-grid?
What happens if it breaks? What is the customer service like? Will you be stranded?
This is the thing that will counter balance the cost element. There needs to be a good enough balance between the quality and the cost to make a good purchase.
What are you going to add to the system in the future?
Is it easy to change the monitor to a new one or is it better to spend more on a better monitor now and only have one install?
Do you want to change your battery one day? Do you want to run a larger inverter when you have saved more money (this means more discharge capacity from your battery)?
There we have it, a few things to consider when deciding what is the best DCDC charger, AC charger and inverter combo. All of these things matter, but some may carry more weight than others.
For me personally it was finding that value without skimping on quality. To do this I was looking for things on sale which I was lucky enough to find.
The other thing that I wanted to do was try to keep a simplified setup with less cables and less things to go wrong.
In the end 600W was enough for my needs, in fact it was more than I needed!
Here are my notes, these were jotted down in mid-2022 so prices are obviously subject to change.
Click on the product’s title to be taken to see the actual up to date prices (affiliates obviously).
This table helped me to decide what I thought was the best DCDC charger, AC charger and inverter combo.
Links in the table are affiliate links, I will earn a small commission through qualifying purchases through partnerships with, but not limited to: Amazon, eBay and Commission Factory.
|DCDC, ACDC, INVERTER COMBINATION||COSTS||TOTAL COST||WEIGHTS||TOTAL WEIGHT||FOOTPRINTS||TOTAL FOOTPRINT||NOTES|
|Enerdrive 40A DCDC|
Enerdrive 40A ACDC (eBay)
Enerdrive 2000W Inverter
ePro Monitor (eBay)
|Enerdrive 40A DCDC|
Enerdrive 40A ACDC (eBay)
Enerdrive 1000W inverter
ePro monitor (eBay)
|0.149m²||As above but with smaller inverter to save costs, weight and footprint.|
No bundle available but is cheaper regardless due to smaller inverter.
|Redarc BMS1230S3R (eBay)|
Enerdrive 600W inverter
|0.124m²||Slight change from above, using an even smaller inverter again to reduce cost, weigh and footprint. You don't need a 1000W inverter and could always upgrade as need arises.|
**sale price at time of writing
|0.177m²||As above but smaller inverter.|
Best DCDC Charger, AC Charger and Inverter Combo Analysis
The table I understand won’t help a lot of people, because the brands that you like probably won’t be represented. Again though, this is just to assist you in thinking about and comparing your favourite options.
It would be impossible to complete the above table with every different combo available to you.
Things to note about the table
It is worth mentioning that the table has not included the weights or footprints of the displays/battery monitors, but the costs have been included.
With the Redarc gear it is included, with the Enerdrive the Enerdrive ePro monitor was added to provide a more balanced result.
The Redarc BMS30 is the only product in the table that combines both the DCDC charger and the AC charger into one product.
There are inverter/charger combos in the table though from both Enerdrive and Victron that combine the inverter and the AC charger into one product, this is another way of simplifying the physical layout.
Affiliate links are present on this page. Through partnerships with, but not limited to: Amazon, eBay and Commission Factory, I will make a small commission through qualifying purchases. This comes at no extra cost to you and is just a way for me to try and support myself and the blog. Thank you.
What did I choose and why?
If you sort that column by footprint, the 2nd smallest footprint is the combination that I chose.
Where my 1st choice ranks?
This combination came in at the 3rd lightest of everything listed, being 1kg heavier than the lightest.
5th least expensive.
It was $418 more expensive than the cheapest option on this list, although in reality I did get the inverter for a better price than was listed here.
The margin here is only 0.004m² in area that this combination missed out on first place by.
Where my 2nd choice ranks?
This combination came in as the lightest combination by 1kg. It consisted entirely of Enerdrive equipment.
1st least expensive.
This was the only combination to come in under $2,000 in this table. Both of these packages come with the same inverter output.
Because this combination has both an AC charger and a separate DC charger it does take more room to install.
How I chose one over the other
Looking at the above you can see that the column on the right hand side is probably the better choice for most people, ordinarily that would have been my choice as well.
But there were a few things that tipped the scales for me, and there is more to consider as well for those who would prefer the other option.
It’s not just the fact that it is cheaper and lighter than the Redarc choice, there’s more to it.
The Enerdrive combination offers 40 amps DC charge and 40 amps AC charge as well, this is 133% more charging power than the Redarc BMS30 will offer!
Not just that the, the Enerdrive 40A DCDC will often input >40A and will work at greater than 100% efficiency, so you can get your batteries charged quicker whether you’re driving or plugged in at the wall.
All of this for less cost and 1kg less weight! What’s the down side?
Firstly, it does take up more space on the headboard and requires a few extra cable terminations. You could say that there’s more to go wrong here.
There is no solar priority, so when you’re driving the car will not use the solar connection until you stop driving and turn the car off.
The ePro battery monitor is pretty basic for way too much money.
Straight off the bat, I would not have purchased this for the RRP of $2,690, not by a long shot. If this wasn’t on special for $1,908 then it would have been the other way around. I’d have taken it for anywhere <$2,100.
The benefits here for me were the simplified wiring. It is neater, there is one central hub that takes up less room on my headboard and creates less points of failure (assuming the good quality Redarc gear won’t fail).
The Redarc BMS30 will input from solar before using the vehicle alternator, even when driving.
The display is so much better than the Enerdrive offering, with the ability to add water tank sensors and also pair it to the Red Vision kit if I ever wanted to upgrade.
For me personally with an intended battery size of no larger than 200Ah, the extra 10A of charge on offer from the Enerdrive was not so important, especially considering the eventual fixed solar input I would have.
The green power priority, the tidy footprint, the fact that I could get that display with all of the future proofing it gave to me was more important to me.
This means one day I can have a Red Vision kit and switch loads on/off from an app, I can add a level sensor to my water tank, I can expand the system to suit without ever changing the base components.
To pickup Redarc quality for ~$700 off was too good to pass up.
Another thing that needs to be considered is that the footprint is not simply a matter of adding up all of the components’ footprints. There are connections to be made in between with cables to be lugged and run.
In reality, the more components the more spacing between them as well, so the difference will be slightly larger than the theoretical numbers would suggest.
I really do love the display that is offered with this package (there is another cheaper package with a cheaper display).
So what would you choose?
This table is limited in brands on offer and the changes are minute, often changing just one component at a time to see where the differences come from and how it compares to other combos you might be interested in.
When you’re getting down to your last few choices though laying it out like this might help you decide between two very similar combinations to get the best DCDC charger, AC charger and inverter combo for your vehicle setup.
Anyway, hopefully seeing this can provoke some thought or help you decide what you need.
Until next time.
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