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Wildside Information

Tow charger

There are simply so many applications for this product that we had to pick 2 key markets and cover them. As with any new product/concept there is a lot of explaining what the product is going to do for you and how you will benefit from the product.

Over the years modern vehicles’ ability to generate large quantities of surplus electrical power has increased. During this time frame the power required from the vehicle being towed as also grown at the same rate, however, the ability to transfer that power from where it’s being generated to where it is required (the towed vehicle) has simply not kept up with the times. The end result is a caravan which no longer gives the owner the freedom it was originally designed for, in the 50s there were no portable TVs, Playstations hair dryers and microwaves, like it or not today, there are. So, in order to recapture the essence of the caravan we must revisit the power system.

The problem, the main problem is thin copper cables causing massive voltage drops so when the power reaches the battery in the caravan there is little ability to deliver it. The standard 7 or 13 pin socket gives a 1.5 mm2 cable for the lights etc and a 2.5 mm2 to charge the battery and a 2.5 mm2 to run the fridge. The other problem is the fact that the vehicle’s alternator is a fixed voltage device, where as you know you need to increase the voltage to step

The new concept from Sterling is to allow a lot more power to be transmitted to the tow vehicle, not only in the form of many more amps but also increase the voltage offered to the tow battery banks to ensure a fast and full charge is given to the tow vehicle’s battery system. The more exotic battery chemistry needs are correctly dealt with, the end result is a product which can charge up to 5 times faster and increasing the available useful power by over 100 - 500% + against conventional tow charging methods, we also supply 10A auxiliary path to run other items such as a fridge or other 12V appliances on the tow vehicle.

Increase battery life, almost 100% of caravan batteries that are replaced are replaced because they are sulphated, and they are sulphated because they are never charged correctly, the tow charger ensures each battery type is charged according to its correct charging voltage requirements which in turn will extend the life of the battery.

This frees your caravan or boat from continual reliance on fixed camper sites to charge up your batteries giving you the freedom of the road to enjoy your ‘Wild side’ life style. This also removes the need to carry portable gen sets with dangerous petrol being kept inside the vehicle.

At Sterling we like to sell all our products based on facts and not fiction as facts speak louder than old wives tales. We commissioned tests to determine the advantages of using the Wildside tow charger over conventional charging systems under normal caravan towing conditions. This was not only to determine how much faster it charges the batteries but how much actual power it transmits into the battery.

Battery charging test: we will perform 2 main tests

The tests: The cables used were the standard 1.5 mm sq cable one would expect to see on a vehicle tow system, then repeated using 2.5 mm sq cables and 2.5 mm sq negative cables to see the effective performance difference. The final test was the Wildside tow product kit fitted with 16 mm sq cable, all information regarding voltages, amps, Ah, were logged and compared.

Test 1: The first test is a pure technical test to show the potential charging performance of the Wildside against the conventional charging systems, this test is assuming the worst case ( a flat battery ) and a 2 hour road journey to see how much faster and fuller the Wildside can charge your battery bank in that time frame.

Test 2: This test is a more real world realistic Wildside camper routine. With a  fully charged battery (20A, 3 stage charger left overnight for 16hours) we put a load on the battery for 1 hour (3 lights plus a TV = approx 300W of power or about 25 Ah). With the fully charged battery minus the approx. 25Ah we then simulated a 1 hour drive to attempt to return the charge back. The first attempt  we used a 1.5mm sq cable under charging, then the whole process was repeated (i.e. the battery was fully charged overnight etc) for the 2.5mm sq cable and finally repeated with the Wildside unit with 16 mm sq cable. This was in an attempt to see how much charge could be returned into the battery over 1 hour.

Things you should know about this test.

1) The Alternator, was a Bosch 90A with the regulator at 14.2V at the output of the alternator (the performance of the below graphs would improve the higher the output voltage of the alternator and decrease the lower the output voltage, some modern vehicle alternators start off at a high voltage ( approx 14.9V ) but then drop to a low voltage after an hour or so ( approx 13.5V ), however, the 14.2V we regard as a fair / average test voltage. 2) The wiring, this test is performed under near perfect wiring and connection conditions, the connectors are new, the plugs are new so the test would be the best test possible, the cable length from the alternator via the engine battery to the caravan battery was measured @ 8 meters ( for all tests ), the more real world  on an older installation. I would guarantee a lower performance on tests 1 and 2 than the test we have done here, we are therefore extremely confident that the tests provided are truthful and honest (and totally reproducible by anyone wishing to try) with no intent to deceive in anyway.

3) The battery used was a so called “Leisure battery” ( Alphaline , marked as 115
Ah at a 20 hour rate), chosen at random and mentioned for disclosure purposes
only and not a promotion for this battery or battery type, just readily available in this market. We have no reason to believe this battery is any better or any worse than any other battery of this type.

We used the battery for a few cycles to take the new edge of the battery (new batteries on the first few cycles give great performances, however, this quickly disappears ) then we fully charge the battery with a top quality charger for 24 hours to ensure maximum charge, then we connected a 300W inverter with a 200W load (approx 18A draw) and discharged the battery until the inverter stopped working (about 10.5V), the time to achieve this was logged (this established the max performance one could get from the fully charged battery and also established the technically “flat / empty” state of the battery). The vehicle was then run for 2 hrs while we monitored the recharging of the battery under different conditions using a standard tow bar 7 pin connector. The first charge curve was with the 1.5 mm sq negative and positive pin being used then we used the 2.5 mm sq negative and positive and finally the Wildside with 16 mm sq cable to see what the difference was.

Tow charger graph 1

Tow charger graph 2


Conclusion for test 1: Charging an empty battery on a 2 hr journey: from the charging graph (1st graph page 14) you can see that on an empty battery the tow kit will replace over 6 times more current than a 1.5 mm charge cable and about 3 times more than a standard 2.5 mm sq cable. Similarly, with the Wildside, you are charging at a higher voltage (refer to 2nd graph (charging voltage) page 14) which significantly increases the power delivery into the battery this shows when we come to drain the batteries (3rd graph (load) page 14). After only 2 hours of charging the battery lasted 3h15m which is 4.5 times longer than the 2.5mm sq cable charging and 6.3 times longer than the 1.5mm sq cable. As you can see from the graphs that after 1 hour most of the Wildside’s work was done, the second hour was spent tapering off. Had the battery bank been larger the Wildside’s performance would not have tapered off so seemingly prematurely and would have sustained that 45A charging for a lot longer and would have been even more impressive. So, even with the 500%+ performance improvement there was lots of potential power which could have been delivered, leaving huge scope to increase your battery bank to take full advantage of this extra power delivering ability. To take full advantage of the Wildside you should triple/quadruple your battery bank size to 350-450Ah and you would, indeed, be well catered for.

Conclusion for test 2: Charging a battery that has been flattened by 300Wh (300W for 1 hour) from fully charged. With the Wildside unit attached we see 35Ah of charge entering the battery which will more than replenish the 27A (max) drained over the 1hour period. The 2.5mm sq cable only replenishes 9Ah over the 1 hour period. Thus, the Wildside product provides a 4 times improvement over the standard setup.

Other benefits: Due to the fact that up to now caravans have been unable to effectively charge batteries. Similarly, attempting to store power in large battery bank was pointless, as such they have notoriously small batteries on board, i.e as low as 50Ah, with this device all this can change, now you can have a serious battery bank as the Wildside will give you the ability to charge it, there is simply no reason why you cannot have 2-300Ah battery bank, fit an inverter and have an active microwave, hair dryer etc. on board. Wildside camping need not mean roughing it.

Other key market applications

Bass Boat fishing (USA, Australia)

Bass boat fishing

This product runs in conjunction with the a on board Sterling 12-24 or 12-36Vbattery to battery charger and gives the Bass Boat Fisherman the ability to ensure their onboard trawler motor batteries are fully charged in situ when they arrive at any event and are also re-charged in the transit journey between events. The tow charger maximises the power delivery to the boat and the onboard battery to battery chargers delivers it to the trawler motor batteries. The waterproof onboard Sterling 12-24V or 12-36V battery to battery charger ( not included in this kit, sold as a separate product ) is also used to keep the trawling motor battery topped up as you move from fishing spot to another fishing spot. The same product would be automatically activated when the engine starter batteries receives the charge from the Tow Kit. The tow kit can deliver 40Aat 12V which is about 20Aat 24V, so a 24V / 100Abattery bank could be charged in a few hours of driving ensuring that your batteries are in good operational condition as you move from event to event.

Please note, the products requires you to run a 16 mm sq (AWG 6) positive and negative direct from the alternator or the vehicle starter battery to ensure that enough power is delivered to the product to enable it to do its job correctly, we estimate in the region of 10 meters positive and 10 meters negative will be required. Due to the cost and weight of cable there is simply no logic in supplying it in the Kit, however, failure to fit this cable will result in dramatic performance drop of this product.

This can also be used on smaller camper vans where the cable requirements are not as demanding as a towed vehicle, larger battery to battery chargers are available for the larger motor homes.

Combined Battery to Battery Charger, MPPT Solar Regulator and Twin Solar Output

The Wildside range is a unique total package integrating the best MPPT solar regulator with a Sterling Battery to Battery Charger ensuring not only the maximum charge into your batteries when mobile (Battery to Battery charger) but harvesting the maximum power from your solar cells when stationary. Where required, both power sources will also seamlessly integrate when the total power can be used with extremely low quiescent current. Other benefits include the fact that the solar cell is diverted from the engine battery bank (when full) to your secondary battery bank with the engine battery set as the priority (not applicable if fitted to a caravan), also if there is a battery charger on your secondary battery bank it will also charger your primary battery bank through the system. It is also extremely easy to install and set up. This unit has all the battery type selection and adjustments as per the standard batt. to batt. and MPPT solar regs.

Battery to Battery charger. Find out about the advantages of a battery to battery charger.

Solar regulator: (Type MPPT) If you do not know what advantages a Maximum Power Point Solar regulator offers you over a conventional solar regulator please go to the previous pages marked solar regulators to see what this has to offer. The unit will charge both the engine start battery (as the primary) so it covers all engine management losses during the winter and long lay ups. Any surplus power is directed into the secondary/domestic battery bank as and when the primary battery is taken care off. The engine starter battery is regarded as the primary for obvious reasons. This product is ideal for the caravan, camper van and yacht market where solar cells are regularly used and where a high performance solar regulator is required along with a battery to battery charger.

This unique product saves a lot of time and money on installation and duplication of technology.

Note the maximum continuous refers to the current the unit will process, i.e. if you fitted a 16 amp unit with a 50 amp alternator or battery charger the unit would only process 15 amps, no damage would be done to the unit as the product is current limiting and would simply not allow more current through (not a wise choice).

Note that the minimum solar cell power refers to the maximum power the system will process, the cell array can be larger without damaging the product, as it is very unlikely that a solar cell will achieve the full power on a normal installation. If, for example, you had 300 watts on a 180 watt unit on a perfect day we would only process 180 watts maximum. However, on a less than perfect day and the power generated drops below 180 watts then that would be processed. 

Which product suits your needs?

This is a little daunting, however, bear in mind getting it wrong will not result in damage to our product as it is current limiting. To match the product against your requirements you need to take various factors into consideration:

  • What is the maximum power of your alternator in amps? We will use 90 amps for this example.
  • What is the size of your secondary battery bank, we will use 200 amp hrs for this example.
  • What is the size of the solar cells. (if the solar cell’s power is lower than the product rating then the solar cell power does not matter, i.e. If we conclude that we need a 60 amp Wildside (based on alternator size and battery bank size) which can support up to a 700 watt solar array then the solar cell size, if below that, is okay or even a little above it. However, if the solar cell array is 1000 watts + then the 60 amp model would not maximise this and it would be best to use the 100 amp version as the solar power is so great as to make the alternator size not the primary / predominate power supply.

Things to bear in mind:

  • There is only so much you can fast charge into a battery, an open lead acid allows a fast recharge, gel, not so much. so, for a fast recharge, of say a 100 amp hr battery, there is not much point in trying to put more than about 30 amps into it (you could try 500 amps if you had it but the battery would simply not accept this current and reduce to 30 amps within a second or two). Therefore, with a 200 amp hr battery there is no point having much more than about a 60 amp unit as it would simply be wasted even if you had a 150 amp alternator. However, if, in the future you saw the time when you might put on a larger battery bank then it would be prudent to fit the 90 amp version as when the larger battery bank was installed then this unit would deliver that extra power effectively etc .
  • Downsizing is okay, for example: if you only have a 50 amp alternator on a vehicle or boat there is no point fitting a 100 amp unit as the most you will process is the 50 amps from the alternator as that is the limiting factor. In order to save money we would recommend rating the unit you require at a lower rating than the alternator output. Simply because you may, for example, have an 80 amp alternator, but at cruising speed or low RPM you may only produce 40 amps so the 60 amp model would be great for that size. However, you may only have 1 x 80 amp battery bank to charge, in which case the 60 amp would be too big to utilise that power, thus, a 16 A or 30 A would be ok. 

I accept the above is somewhat confusing, however, if in doubt and the budget is not a problem biggest is usually best. 

Wildside diagram

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