Digital Juice - Compact Optima Battery ChargerPosted in Product Reviews on August 9, 2013
Having a dedicated trail rig can be an absolute blessing and a curse. There’s no doubt that owning a rig that doesn’t have to double as a day care shuttle or daily driver is nice, but letting any vehicle sit for long periods of time is not good. If your wheeling toy is seasonal, you’ve probably learned that the rig’s battery doesn’t like to sit. Conventional 12-volt chargers and battery tenders are great for keeping your rig’s battery alive, but not all are created alike.
Just like batteries, charger technology has changed. No longer are the hip-high roller-chargers the norm, but rather much smaller battery boosters (some slightly larger than your hand) are commonplace. Recently, Optima Batteries stepped into the battery charger world offering a handheld 12-volt tender/charger dubbed the Digital 400. Optima, which is well known for its line of AGM (commonly known as dry cell) batteries, designed the Digital 400 to work with its series-specific batteries (RedTop, BlueTop, and YellowTop), as well as standard flooded 12-volt batteries. The Digital 400 uses a standard 120-watt outlet and offers a charge rate of up to four amps on large batteries and three amps on small batteries.
A few months ago we got our hands one of the first Digital 400s released. Since then, we’ve used it primarily to tend to our Optima RedTop that sits inside of our sporadically-driven Jeep Wrangler trail rig. Given that the Digital 400 comes with two terminal hook ups (terminal clamps and eyelets), we wired ours directly to the Jeep. One major plus of the Digital 400 is that its case doubles as a wall mount. We fitted ours directly to our garage wall, which made plugging in easy and reduced the amount of cables and devices being randomly scattered about. The fact that we could easily pop it out of the case also made it handy for charging other batteries.
While the Digital 400 is bit more expensive than a charger that you might find at Wal-Mart, you do get a lot for your money. The fact that it charges and conditions Optima series-specific batteries and provides an actual digital readout of the batteries amps and volts is excellent. There is also a percentage light scale, so you can see how far along the battery is and when the charge is complete. A combo LCD and LED screen is easy to read, and the device is extremely easy to operate. To choose the battery type that you want to charge or tend, you simply press one of the four categorized 12-volt battery options on the front of the case.
Overall, the Digital 400 has been a very durable and useful tool in our garage. Battery tenders have always been a necessity that we often wish we didn’t have to use, but it’s a product that ultimately saves us money and time. If you’re looking for a new charger for your 12-volt toys, we say the Digital 400 is definitely worth a closer look.