Read Practical Caravan magazine's verdict on the Ring SmartCharge+ 12 battery charger to find the best gadget to keep your caravan battery topped up
Nobody wants to discover a flat leisure battery in their caravan in the spring, when we're all raring to get away for the first holiday of the new season. Or, indeed, at any time of the year! So it's well worth investing in some kind of battery charger to keep your caravan's leisure battery in good shape between holidays.
There are plenty of options to choose from, so which is the best battery charger or battery conditioner? To find out, we tested eight units to find out the best buys for caravan owners. In this review we look closely at the Ring SmartCharge+ 12 at £65.
Up against it on the Practical Caravan test bench we had the Draper 11953, at £60, the Draper 07265 at £133, the CTEK MXS 7.0 battery charger, at £100, CTEK MXS 5.0, at £60, Ring SmartChargePro 25, £190, the Clarke CC120 at £47 and the Sealey Autocharge10D at £37.
During the testing we looked for leisure battery chargers and conditioners that we could use outdoors, in damp and cold conditions. We also wanted long leads, because the chances are that even if you keep your caravan on your own driveway, it won't be close to a power socket. Plus we wanted it to charge up swiftly and provide clear information about the battery's state of charge, whether it's completely flat, slightly flat, fully charged or in maintenance cycle mode.
As a bonus, we looked for units that have a bit of oomph, enough power in 'reconditioning mode' to dissolve any sulphation that has occurred, which could cause reduce the battery's effectiveness or even cause permanent damage.
We looked at the output available from the various units too. It's not always a case of 'the bigger the better' or 'the most powerful the better' when it comes to battery chargers, however. Batteries draw the amount of current that they need for recharging. So if you hook up the average sized half charged leisure battery to a battery charger it's very likely to start off by drawing 10-15 Amps of current at first. Then as it gets topped up it will draw less, perhaps down to 6 Amps. So in this case size isn't everything.
Ring is a British company that specialises in automotive electrical equipment accessories and lighting. The firm's head office and main warehouse is in Leeds, and it employs up to 100 people. Ring has been going since 1974 and now exports to more than 70 countries worldwide. Among other products, Ring makes a couple of excellent smart battery chargers, designed for all types of batteries, including caravan leisure batteries. There's a 'multi-chemistry function' that adjusts the charge to match the battery type.
Ring SmartCharge+ 12 was a very reasonable £65, at the time of our Practical Caravan group test of eight battery chargers and conditioners.
Ring Automotive’s take on smart chargers for caravan leisure batteries has one main advantage over the two CTEKs: more oomph! With a maximum output of 12 Amps, this unit will handle the biggest leisure and diesel batteries with ease. Ring reckons anything up to a staggering 300Ah is fair game, although we feel that’s optimistic. Nevertheless, the Ring SmartCharge+ 12 is an impressive option.
Power aside, this unit isn’t quite as sophisticated as the CTEK MXS 7.0 or the CTEK MXS 5.0, but it shares enough genuinely useful features to be a worthy alternative. These include the ability to charge and provide long-term conditioning, a reconditioning mode for revitalising tired batteries, and that initial plate-cleaning blast to ensure the fastest charge times.
This is a great smart charger to use when you need to keep your caravan's leisure battery topped up between holidays. We've given it a four-star rating and recommend it for you if you have a large leisure battery.
- Delivers a fast charge
- Copes with leisure batteries up to 300Ah
- Less sophisticated than the CTEK MXS 7.0