DCDC Charger Comparison & Guide
This post is a DCDC charger comparison.
In it I will be comparing DCDC chargers that have charge cycles for lithium batteries and range from 25 amps all the way up to 60 amps.
Using the numbers in the DCDC charger comparison you will be able to decide what is the best DCDC charger for your particular application and budget.
Where possible I will make note of the differences between one DCDC charger and another so that the numbers are given some context and meaning.
This DCDC charger comparison is a buying guide for those in the market for a DCDC charger, it goes hand in hand with the below comparison posts regarding 12 volt systems and components.
12 Volt system comparisons
- Lithium batteries.
- Fixed solar panels.
- Solar Blankets.
- Portable solar panels.
- DCDC charger, AC charger and inverter combinations.
For those who don’t know about 12 volt systems, I have written a very detailed post about how to plan a 12 volt setup that includes all of the information you could possibly need.
Affiliate links may be present on this page. These are links to websites such as Amazon, where if you decide to purchase something, then they will offer me a tiny commission. This comes at no extra cost to you and is just a way for me to try and support myself and the blog.
Why I did the DCDC charger comparison?
As someone who is currently in the process of a 4WD build, this was my own research that was going on for my benefit in the background, but it would be a waste not to share it with others.
As part of building a 4WD it is inevitable that people will look to get more creature comforts, this is where the 12 volt system comes in. DCDC chargers act as a great manager of that system, allowing it to charge as efficiently as possible.
As more and more cars get smart alternators (they switch off when not needed) the importance of DCDC chargers grows, as this is what is needed to charge your lithium batteries properly.
The other advantage of having a good DCDC charger is that they have built in solar regulators.
So I was in the market for a DCDC charger, you can see what I bought at the bottom of the post with my reasons for having done so, but all of this research helped me make my final decision.
What is the best DCDC charger? That really depends on your situation.
What brands are included in the DCDC charger comparison?
The brands that you will see in this post are listed in no particular order below.
Being in Australia, these brands were selected for the DCDC charger comparison based on availability to me here.
Often referred to as the cream of the crop in 12 volt systems here in Australia, Redarc have a great track record when it comes to being bullet proof as well as innovative.
Kings are a budget brand that sell out of 4WD Supacentre stores across the country.
A good brand for those looking to make their first purchases without breaking the bank, but buyer beware of their reputation.
Victron are well known in the renewable energy sector, bothh in houses and in marine. They have also got a very high quality range of 12V equipment for 4WD and caravan enthusiasts.
A budget offering operating out of Perth. They have a decent share of the market given their cheap pricing and you will often find things on “sale”.
Enerdrive have recently been bought out by Dometic, but are an Australian company that have great products and great warranties.
Found throughout most automotive stores here in Australia such as Supercheap and Repco, Projecta have some really good offerings at good prices.
BMPro appear to be specialising in caravan and RV equipment but there is obviously an overlap here in to 4WD 12 volt components.
A brief rundown on DCDC chargers
I will keep this brief as it is not the intention of the DCDC charger comparison to explain what they are, it is more for comparing the models available.
DCDC chargers will connect to your starter battery, as you drive along the road they will charge your auxiliary battery in stages depending on its charge state in order to get the most life out of your battery.
DCDC chargers will boost a weak voltage to create the prime charging conditions. They can be used with smart alternators as they will enable full charging and prevent the smart alternator from switching off.
DCDC chargers in this comparison have solar input capabilities unless otherwise stated, but most these days will offer it as it is seen as a basic inclusion.
DCDC chargers will offer safety features to prevent over or under charging or prevent spikes damaging your battery.
Why you should consider getting a DCDC charger
I can’t say that everyone needs a DCDC charger because for some a simple isolator will work just fine depending on their battery chemistry, size and alternator arrangement.
But if you want a simple and powerful one stop charging manager for your 12 volt system then DCDC chargers are where it is at. They are getting cheaper as there is more competition but they are by no means cheap purchases.
For me the decision was easy due to the smart alternator in my car. Even without that though I’d have gone for a DCDC charger for the multi-stage charging and solar capabilities.
IP ratings define the ingress protection of an item to dust and water. Long story short, an IP rating of 67 will be needed for those who wish to mount their DCDC charger inside an engine compartment.
The only DCDC chargers in this comparison that state they are IP 67 are those from Redarc, Projecta and iTechworld.
If you want to mount a DCDC charger in your engine bay then you won’t be able to purchase the other offerings here, which are all made for canopy or internal mounting.
When it comes to solar regulators there are 2 types: PWM and MPPT.
Without going into details, MPPT is the option that will get you more power from your solar panel system and is the preferred method of regulation.
MPPT regulators will give anywhere from 20-30% more power back to the battery depending on the conditions.
All of the DCDC chargers in this DCDC charger comparison advertise that they use MPPT solar in their DCDC chargers. with the exception of Victron and BMPro.
Victron does not say anywhere that it has a solar input.
The BMPro Miniboost pro says it has solar input but does not specify whether it is PWM or MPPT.
Will a DCDC charger use solar before using other sources?
Not necessarily, but some will. This did have a part to play in my purchasing decision which will come later so I thought I’d briefly cover it here.
The offerings from Redarc explicitly state that the priority will be for solar input, then AC input, then DC input if the car is running. The reason for this is to prevent the alternator running more than it needs to so you use less fuel.
BMPro also write that their DCDC charger has a “preference to solar” but without giving further details.
Kings also have on their website that the Kings DCDC charger will prioritise solar.
Projecta’s instruction manual states:
“Allows two energy sources to power the IDC25 simultaneously. Solar input takes precedence if solar and alternator inputs are present. When solar input cannot provide enough energy to the load, the IDC25 will draw power from solar and the alternator simultaneously”.
Enerdrive and iTechworld do offer solar input but not as a priority. When you are driving the alternator will charge, when the car is switched off it will change over to solar charge.
You forgot about [insert brand here]!?
Look, I am sure I missed out a few brands but these are the brands that were readily available for me to buy and look at, therefore the easiest to research and compare.
No further brands will be added to the tables but feel free to use the tables to make your own DCDC charger comparison and find the best product for you in your region. I hope it helps in some way.
DCDC Charger Comparison
Time for the DCDC charger comparison tables and scatter plot. The DCDC charger comparison table can be sorted by the headings if you click on them.
For reference here are the averages of all the DCDC chargers that are listed in the table.
Avg $/Ah = 16.18
Avg Ah/kg = 29.60
Wherever possible the pricing used was from the manufacturers’ websites. This was done regardless of if there was a sale on at the time of the table being made.
However the opposite may occur and prices may also go up after the making of this table, so understand that everything is fluid and forever changing.
Clicking the solar panel tag under “brand” will take you to see the latest pricing on Amazon or eBay, these are affiliate links but they don’t cost you any extra (as described below the intro).
Clicking the “price” will take you to the product on mygenerator.com.au – which is my preferred method of shopping (also affiliate).
To see what other DCDC chargers are available at mygenerator.com.au that didn’t make the cut here, click to be taken to the relevant page. The website often has bundle deals if you’re after a DCDC charger as well as other gear like lithium batteries and solar panels for example.
DCDC Charger Comparison Table
See below the information that I had found to be of the most importance in the DCDC charger comparison post. Note that some fields are blank as I could not find the relevant information.
All of these range from 25 amps and above as anything smaller would not be sufficient for my needs.
|BRAND||CAPACIT Ah||COST||WEIGHT (kg)||$/Ah||Ah/kg||WxLxH (mm)||MPPT SOLAR||WARRANTY|
DCDC charger comparison scatter plot
Below is the DCDC charger comparison scatter plot, this might help you decide between DCDC chargers that you hadn’t really been able to split before, or help you rule out a charger that you think represents bad value.
DCDC charger comparison thoughts
When I look at the DCDC charger comparison scatter plot it shows me that the Victron offering is average. Coupled with the fact that it might not even have solar capabilities and that’s an instant scratch for me.
If you had a massive lithium set up it would be hard to go past the Redarc BCDC50 for output and the power to weight ratio is comfortably the best.
The Redarc BCDC seems like poor value, I’d probably sooner just fork out for the 40A variety and allow that room to grow into a bigger system.
Enerdrive’s system has proven to be one of the most popular around, thanks in no small part to its great entry price and very good standing for reliability.
DCDC Charger Comparison – Things To Consider
There are a few things to consider when looking at this data. Things that could shape the way you decide to go with your purchase.
If you have a larger battery system (200Ah+) then you want to be looking at the 40 amp chargers and above.
Speaking of output, it is worth noting that the Enerdrive 40 amp charger can output higher than 40 amps, sometimes pushing out closer to 50 depending on temperatures etc.
The charger can also be set to a lower charge rate, so you can cap the output at 30 amps for a smaller system or to keep it running cooler.
This goes a long way. This goes beyond the performance of the DCDC charger and also considers what sort of customer service you will get.
Both in the way of repairs, but also technical assistance over the phone if something has gone wrong.
Weight & footprint
Weight and footprint matter to a lot of people. Although the weights won’t make or break any 4WD build given they’re all within 1kg of each other, the larger dimensions of the Enerdrive and iTechworld might rule them out.
Which DCDC charger did I end up choosing?
I ended up buying the Redarc BMS1230S3R.
You won’t see it in this comparison because it is not exclusively a DCDC charger, it also doubles as an AC charger. Therefore I didn’t put it in this post.
The reasons I bought this are as follows.
It was on special for $1908.
That’s essentially it, I would not have purchased this for the retail price of $2,512.
A large selling point here was the fact that it combined the AC charger with the DC charger. This meant for me: a smaller footprint, less work in mounting, less wiring required and less electrical connections to be made.
This was at the beginning not high up on my list of priorities but as it came down to the wire (buying this on special vs me 2nd choice) it proved to be that little bit extra that helped me decide.
My 2nd choice would have been the Enerdrive 40A option.
Battery monitor display
I could have saved even more money by purchasing the Redarc BMS1230S3 but I wanted this display that comes with the kit I ordered (slightly different part number you’ll notice).
It is the same display as the Redvision unit comes with, I have no interest in the Redvision unit but I love the display with its flush mount, good UI and future proofing factor that I can grow into, such as adding water tank level transmitters.
The bad things about it & comparing it to my next choice
The Enerdrive 40A DCDC charger was my next choice and it was a very close thing.
The thing that annoys me the most about the Redarc BMS30 is the seemingly low 30 amp limit on both the DC and AC inputs.
This doesn’t bother me now, as my battery is only 125Ah, but I feel like for that price and with their reputation that they could easily push 40amps out of this thing consistently. If I had a larger battery system this might be too little charge.
The second thing was the price, I could have, and very almost did have the Enerdrive DCDC paired with an Enerdrive 40 (or even 60) amp AC charger for less than this kit cost me inclusive of the fact I purchased it for a heavy discount.
I would actually recommend the Enerdrive combination for most people, especially those with 200Ah+ in batteries.
DCDC charger comparison – Final thoughts
This is the brains of the 12 volt system as your battery is the heart.
I would recommend going for something good quality. Enerdrive have a large warranty and Redarc have proven themselves over a long time (but try find a discount).
Hopefully nobody has any issues with whatever they choose to purchase, it’s good to see so many options out there to keep the companies honest.
More competition = more ideas = more innovation, and that’s good for us, the consumer.