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Some Battery Chargers Were Born to Rule

Some Battery Chargers Were Born to Rule

Meet the Blue Smart IP65 Charger

Batteries, not unlike people, prefer to operate within a specific temperature range and have unique requirements to stay healthy and comfortable. Batteries also need to be charged at different rates when at different temperatures, especially in very warm or cold conditions. 

We'd like to introduce you to the king of battery chargers, Victron's 120 Volt Blue Smart IP65 Battery Charger. He's smart, versatile, durable, and won't overheat in a battle with a big, nasty battery. 

While most battery chargers can only offer a voltage reading, the Blue Smart IP65 gives you many intelligent features that work together to help extend your battery life. 

One example: Victron's Blue Smart IP65 Charger has an internal temperature sensor that measures ambient conditions when first connected and automatically adjusts the charge delivered to your battery based on a temperature curve. Built-in Bluetooth and the free VictronConnect app make this charger fully programmable and give you valuable insight into the health of your battery. 

VictronConnect App connected to Victron's Blue Smart IP65 battery charger

You might be saying: "Whooo there, sunny. I want a battery charger, not a rocket ship. How easy is this charger to use?" The answer is: "Really easy." It has a big button that you push to select one of four main charging modes, including lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4).

In this article, we cover our favorite features of the Blue Smart IP65 Charger, answer common questions, and introduce accessories that make this product even more useful. Let's go. 

Intelligent charging algorithms for any battery type

The battery chemistry determines the voltage parameters for any battery. Depending on that chemistry, specific charging algorithms are ideal. However, most battery chargers use the same algorithm for all battery types, which means you can potentially damage your batteries with every charge.

The IP65 battery charger, on the other hand, uses custom charging algorithms for flooded lead-acid, AGM, and lithium battery chemistries, ensuring that your battery gets exactly what it needs, with every charge.  

When you consider the cost of new batteries these days, you're looking at $150 - $300 for Optima AGM car starting battery, $250-$400 on a Trojan lead-acid trolling battery and even $500-$1,200 on a 12 Volt Battle Born LiFePO4. It's easy to see why correctly charging batteries is important.

12 Volt Blue Smart IP65 Battery charger

Custom charge profile for Lithium-iron phosphate batteries 

Lithium batteries can be incredibly sensitive to the voltages they receive, and while lead-acid batteries have a lot of internal resistance, lithium batteries do not. For example, if your battery charger is 3 Volts too high, your lithium battery will not be thrilled about it and may be prompted into protection mode by the battery management system (BMS). Even worse, the battery may be permanently damaged.

In contrast, when you tell the Blue Smart IP65 charger that it's connected to a Lithium-ion phosphate (LiFePO4) battery and adjust the voltage settings to the manufacturer's recommendation, the battery charger operates as an ideal Li-ion battery charging source. 

Note: One of the main advantages of LiFePO4 batteries is how fast you can charge them. The charge cycle for lithium will spend most of the time in bulk, skip absorption and only float to balance the cells at the end. That's why when you toggle from lead-acid to Lithium-ion under battery charge profile settings, you'll notice that you go from a 3-stage charger to a 2-stage charger. This custom charge for Li-ion ensures that your batteries are safely, appropriately charged, and in a short amount of time.

Lithium charge profile on Blue Smart IP65 battery charger

Intelligent insights using the VictronConnect app 

Toggle to your preferred charging mode on the Blue Smart IP65 Charger's front display and see the charging state (bulk, absorption, and float or storage). Download the free VictronConnect app and sync it to your charger to set more detailed charging parameters (like to customize the duration of the bulk and absorption stages) and track how many amp hours the charger has put into the battery. 

VictronConnect App connected to the Blue Smart IP65 charger

Safely charge a dead battery 

Fully discharged batteries should be brought back slowly with a small amount of power rather than being hit with a large bulk charge. The IP65 charger's 'recovery mode' does just that by force-feeding the battery a minimal amount of power. Once the voltage is high enough, the charger will switch to a normal charging mode.

Fun fact: Most lithium batteries have integrated cell balancing, requiring the charging profile to be within specific parameters. When a lithium with an internal battery management system (BMS) goes into over or under-voltage protection mode, it isolates itself from discharging any power (you can put a meter on the battery and get nothing). Most battery chargers will not even recognize a battery in protection mode. A Blue Smart IP65 battery charger set to Li-ion mode, on the other hand, will wake up a lithium battery, reset the under-voltage protection circuitry and start a charge. 

Use your battery charger as a DC power supply 

Toggle from 'Charger' to 'Power supply' in the VictronConnect app and pick an output voltage to turn your Blue Smart IP65 charger into a portable or benchtop AC to DC power supply.

It's common to want to test 12-volt loads for DC circuits. For example, say you'd like to test the lighting system in your RV. Introducing a battery with no current regulation into that circuit could be dangerous. A safer option would be to use your IP65 battery charger set to power-supply mode to feed a precise, controlled voltage into the circuit and adjust as needed.

Set to power supply mode, a 12 Volt Blue Smart IP65 battery charger is ready to power up just about anything, up to 15 amps, replacing the need for a battery or a 12 Volt DC power supply which is pretty awesome. 

Note: Can power supply mode be used on a dead battery? When charging a dead battery, you should still use the regular charging mode, but since the charger now acts as a power supply, you do not need a battery connected to its terminal for it to start working and sending power. While regular battery chargers will not release power unless connected to a battery, the Victron IP65 charger will still attempt to charge a 0V battery.

Equalize battery cells using recondition mode 

When charging a flooded lead-acid battery, it's important to be able to balance your cells. You typically do that through an equalized charge process. It's only done once it a while as part of battery maintenance. If you have a dead battery, an equalization charge is also essential after bringing a dead or damaged battery back to a full charge. The IP65 battery charger's 'recondition mode' acts to give your batteries a mild equalization charge.

Temperature compensation for every charge

Say it's wintertime in Alaska, and you've discovered that the battery you'd like to charge is completely dead. What's an appropriate charging rate? Well, it's not as much as if it were 70°F outside. 

When the Blue Smart IP65 charger is connected to your battery, it enters a short test phase in which it measures ambient temperature and compensates for that temperature during the charge phase. Ambient temperature is measured a second time during the float or storage phase. 

Battery temperature compensation curves are especially critical for lithium batteries as they can be damaged when charged below freezing. When set to Li-ion battery mode, the Blue Smart IP65 charger will prevent a charge to your lithium battery in below-freezing conditions thereby prolonging the life of your investment.

Prevent damage caused by overcharging 

It's hard on most batteries to be kept fully charged, which is why a trickle charger, which continuously hits the battery with a tiny amount of power, can reduce the overall life expectancy of a battery.

When left plugged in, the Blue Smart IP65 charger will utilize its built-in 'Storage' mode, which essentially gives the battery a rest before returning it to a full charge. Practically speaking, this means you don't have to physically take the charger on and off to allow the battery to rest or worry about overcharging a battery left overnight. 

Pro tip: The Blue Smart IP65 battery charger cable has a quick disconnect to switch between the included crocodile clips and the M8 eyelet connector. Whether you have three different batteries on your property or 30 boats in your marina, it's now easy to plug the charger into a previously mounted M8 cable, charge your battery, and disconnect, leaving the cables on the battery. There is even a little dust cap to protect the open end of the cable. Victron designed a handful of accessories specifically for the IP65 charger, making this product even more useful. More on that below. 

Quick Disconnect on Blue Smart IP65 battery charger

Protection from dummies (Not you, of course. Other dummies!) 

Have you ever short-circuited your battery leads? Have you forgotten that red goes on positive because it was dark outside and you were scared?

Connecting your charger to the wrong battery terminals can be very exciting for a short time and can, of course, cause a lot of damage to you, your battery, car, and reputation (hello, Sparky). The Blue Smart IP67 Charger immediately detects reverse polarity, prevents a charge from occurring, and gets your attention with a blinking light on the front interface, quietly allowing you to fix your mistake.

Small, highly efficient & made to get dirty

The automotive-style, waterproof Blue Smart IP65 Charger comes in a 6, 12, and 24 Volt version. The 12 Volt variety ranges from 1.1A to 15A.

6 Volt Blue Smart IP65 battery charger

The 'IP65’ protection rating guarantees that it is dust-proof and protects from condensation and sprays of water from any direction. At first glance, this charger is designed to be mobile but you'll see it does have screw mounting locations for permanent attachment. 

This charger is rated as 95% efficient. What does that mean, exactly? Practically speaking, it doesn't waste electricity and doesn't get nearly as hot when working hard. Less heat means the charger doesn't need a built-in fan, which enables it to be in a waterproof enclosure. If permanently mounted in an enclosed space, you don’t have to worry about ventilating it. When a battery is fully charged, there is almost no power (less than half a watt) consumed, meaning you don't need to unplug the battery charger when in long-term storage. 

If you need a fully waterproof battery charger that can be immersed in water, you might check out the Blue Smart IP67 Waterproof Charger. 

24 V and 12 V Victron Blue Smart IP65 battery chargers

Curious minds want to know...

What size battery charger do I need? 

There are different batteries for different applications and, likewise, various chargers for different battery sizes. While 15 amps is a lot of power for most applications, so long as you're not charging 100 amp/hr lithium batteries, a 10 amp charger is probably a good choice for most applications. 

Fun fact: The max current that you charge at is based on the size of the battery. But, say you have a small battery that you'd like to charge using the Blue Smart IP65 Charger. From the VictronConnect App, toggle to charge at a more tolerable 4 amps. Alternatively, press down on the 'Mode' button on the front interface for 5 seconds, and the battery charger will switch from 15 Amps to 4 amps. Even the 1.1 amp IP65 charger can be turned down to 0.5 amps. This keeps you from overcharging batteries, no matter the battery size, using the same charger.

Blue Smart IP65 Charing Guide

Let's look more closely at the 12 Volt Blue Smart IP65 charger options and common applications: 

  • 1.1 Amps would be an ideal, low-cost charger for small batteries that you want to keep on a charger (like a classic car or motorcycle kept in storage all winter). It's a little bit more expensive than a relatively good trickle charger with all the brains and customization of larger Victron battery charger models. It can also be turned by to .5 amps, making it more flexible than a typical trickle charger. 
  • The 5 Amp option would be a great charger to bring up a motorcycle or ATV battery. While we all want our batteries to charge as fast as possible, charging them slowly is better for the battery. 
  • 7 Amp and 10 Amp are two of the most common size chargers for a garage, able to charge anything from a 100 amp hour lithium battery in your adventure rig to a golf cart battery. The 7 Amp would be an ideal car battery charger or boat starter battery. 10 Amp may be quicker to charge but the 7 Amp is still a good size and offers a lower cost. You can easily toggle a 7 and 10 Amp charger down to 2 Amps in the VictronConnect app to trickle charge a motorcycle, powersport battery, lawnmower, etc. 
  • A 15 Amp is a pretty powerful charger for most applications. It's ideal for charging up a 100 amp hour Lithium battery that wants all the power you can give it. If you need more power than this, there are other Victron battery chargers that easily get into the 30 amp or 50 range. But for most applications in the automotive world, a 15 Amp charger will have your back in almost any situation. 

Related: Victron makes a lot of different battery chargers and they make them differently on purpose. As you look at the variant name for each product on our website, here's an explanation of the Victron product naming convention used.

Is a 'Smart' Battery Charger worth the extra cost? 

If a Victron battery charger has 'Smart' in the product name, it is Bluetooth enabled. Of course, many other Victron products come in a 'Smart' and non-smart version (the Smart BatteryProtect and the BatteryProtect). Built-in Bluetooth means you can remote access the charger with your phone and program it using the VictronConnect app. It's much easier to use and see what's going on, monitor the state of charge, and adjust the settings of the charger at any time. The non-smart version of the same Victron product will be cheaper but much harder to program. 

Pro Tip: If you're an original equipment manufacturer, spending thousands of dollars a month on batteries, the cost of boiling batteries and killing them prematurely is not a cost anyone wants to bear when a good battery charger could have protected the battery. If you're looking to install these chargers, program them once and never touch them again, there are two options. One is to program them to your specifications and then change the 6-digit password. The second is to turn off the charger's Bluetooth feature but note that once disabled, you can't turn it back on again in this device as that's the only way to communicate with them, via Bluetooth. Once programmed to your specifications, however, the charger will chug away day-in, day-out, doing exactly what you've set it up to do. Victron also makes a non-Bluetooth version of the IP65 charger that works a little bit differently but would still be a reliable charger for a mass-production application. 

Can I charge a lithium battery with a normal charger?

Charing a Victron LiFePO4 battery with the Blue Smart IP65 battery charger

The short answer is "no." The more sarcastic answer is "while we all have to die at some point, who among us wants to be cooked to death by a battery charger."

The main difference between a lead-acid and a lithium battery is that lithium does not require desulfation or equalization stages. Many lead-acid chargers have an auto-equalization mode which will cause most lithium batteries with a battery management system (BMS) to go into over-voltage protection. Lithium batteries are sensitive to under-voltage and over-voltage when being charged, and therefore need a custom bulk and absorption charging profile. 

Batteries, especially lithium batteries, can be the most expensive part of an energy system. It's more than worth it to protect them and to monitor their health over time, ensuring a longer life expectancy. If you have a lithium battery charger for your RV or boat plugged into a shore power source you can't control, a good LiFePO4 battery charger such as the Blue Smart IP65 charger, will ensure that the batteries are safely and appropriately charged while protecting them from overcharging or overheating.

Did you say 'Accessories'?  

Carry Case for Victron Blue Smart IP65 battery charger

Now for the fun part. There are several add-ons designed for the Blue Smart IP65 Charger that quickly make it the best looking guy on the dance floor.

M8 eyelet ring terminals

A good electrical connection between the battery and the battery charter is obviously important for battery performance. The Blue Smart IP65 Battery Charger comes with M8 eyelet ring terminals in addition to alligator clips which allow you to easily, securely attach it to a battery. Having this option for ring terminals and quick disconnect allow you to charge your batteries with a quality connection every time. 

If you need extra ring terminal adaptors to quickly plug into different vehicles, they come in two varieties: 6M and 8M eyelet connectors. Each has a 30A inline fuse. 

Battery indicator panel 

When using a regular battery charger, you would need to attach it in order to learn the status of your battery and whether it needs to be charged.  

If you have 20 boats and you don't have 20 chargers, the battery indicator panel can tell you your battery's status before you plug in the actual charger. It's also an excellent way to make a clean mounting location for the auxiliary charger. Let's say you have traffic control trailers and want to store them and plug them into an auxiliary trickle charger when in storage. Mount this battery indicator panel right on the battery and it will light up to tell you the status of your battery. A green light on the panel indicates that the battery is 80%-100% charged all the way to no light, meaning the battery is less than 40% charged and you should charge it immediately to prevent sulfation. 

Extension Cable

Victron makes a 6' extension cable for this charger, which is handy if you often find yourself looking for an extension cord. Victron also makes a 12 Volt cigarette lighter plug adapter that will fit into a standard cigarette port on your vehicle or boat. 

Carrying Case

If you're the type of person who likes to iron your bed sheets and organize your socks by color, you'll appreciate the carry case for the Blue Smart IP65 Charger. It snaps shut to stow away and protect your charger, its input/output cables, and any battery-clamp/eyelet cable accessories. If you're hitting the road and want to bring your charger along, it's helpful for keeping things together, clean, and organized. 

Rubber bumper and wall mount  

This inexpensive rubber bumper gives the Blue Smart IP65 Charger extra protection from accidental drops and knocks. Its rubber, easy-carry handle can be used to hang the charger from a hook to get it off the ground. An optional wall mount is also super handy if you want to keep the charger somewhere you can reach and grab it, like on your garage wall or above a workbench. 

Conclusion

If you're like me, you have a lot of tools that do the same thing. Case in point: 12 Philips head #2 screwdrivers. But you probably have a favorite. And that's probably the only one you use.

This battery charger will replace all the standard battery chargers in your shop, up to 15 amps. It's nice to have backups, but the only reason why you're going to use those old boys is that you let your dad borrow your IP65 charger once, and then it miraculously beamed itself to his shop. (Didn't know it could do that too? Now we've both learned something new.)

If you are unsure which Victron battery charger is right for you, we are here to help. Get in touch with via our contact form or shoot me a message at jack@icmontana.com

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