The cheapest battery charger in our test performed better than one costing three times as much – read what our experts thought of the Sealey Autocharge10D
Even when you're not using your caravan, there will be items on board that are steadily draining the leisure battery, without you noticing. For this reason, we do recommend that you use a battery charger and conditioner to keep your leisure battery in good shape. But how much do you need to spend to achieve this? We tested eight smart battery chargers to find out which ones can do the job with the minimum of fuss. We also wanted one that wouldn't fry the battery if we accidentally left it on charge for too long.
We reviewed 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 SmartCharge+ 12 at £65, and Ring SmartChargePro 25, £190, the Clarke CC120 at £47 and finally one of the cheapest battery chargers, the Sealey Autocharge10D, which we're reviewing here.
In terms of weight and style, the Sealey Autocharge10D feels much like a traditional battery charger stuffed full of conventional electronics. But dedicated charging models for AGM, gel and conventional batteries — plus a safe long-term conditioning mode — suggest that this basic unit has some built-in computerised control. Factor in a top output of 10A, and that £40 price tag (plus VAT) really is a bargain. Since our test, shop prices have fluctuated quite a lot. Sealey lists the retail price as £71.94 including VAT, but it's then listed as a 'winter saver 2014-15' offer at £47.94. At the offer price it is considerably cheaper than the other battery chargers that we tested.
So what's the catch? Sealey recommends that this unit be used for batteries no larger than 100Ah, which probably suggests that the impressive output is only available fleetingly.
What's inside the box? Sealey describes the Autocharge10D as a compact electronic battery charger with a pressed steel casing and a carry handle. There is 'intelligent charge control' and you can select a slow charge or a fast charge, depending on whether you want a quick boost or long-term maintenance and conditioning for 'batteries on irregularly or seasonally-used vehicles'. The unit adapts to the level of charge in your battery, adjusting the voltage and maintaining the optimum charge level. As we discovered, it's designed to work with all batteries, adapting to suit lead acid, AGM or gel batteries. It has reverse polarity protection. The LED display is a digital ammeter that reveals the charging current.
Sealey supplies a large range of tools and equipment produced for workshops, particularly car workshops. The range of battery chargers and conditioners available is pretty comprehensive – we counted 31 units – so there's something in the range to suit all sizes of vehicle and types of battery. Some of the bigger units, such as the START360 at £227.94 look as though they could jump start pretty much any car, motorhome or van's flat battery, without boiling it!
You should be able to buy Sealey battery chargers and conditioners through the network of local, independent Sealey dealers, or you can ring 01284 757500 for stockists. The advantage of buying locally is that you can talk to staff about your exact requirements. There's also a technical support phone line you can ring – 01284 757505.
Sealey's battery chargers are sold with a warranty and there are spare parts available, so you do get pretty solid back-up, should you need help, advice or replacement bits and pieces.
This is an excellent battery charger and conditioner to buy if you're on a limited budget, provided the caravan leisure battery that you want to charge up is no more than 100 Ah. We awarded it three stars.
- Low price
- Safe to leave plugged in long-term as a conditioner
- 10 Amp output (maximum)
- It can only cope with batteries up to 100 Ah