Diesel trucks. We love these things. Daily drivers, weekend toys, sled pullers, drag racing machines, or just full restorations. The bottom line, we can’t get enough of them. One thing these all have in common is the batteries they use. They utilize large, expensive batteries, and maintaining them is critical.
Per Optima Batteries, their Digital 1200 battery charger is what every diesel truck enthusiast needs. With capabilities of trickle charging, super charging, and starting, no matter what you do with your truck, your battery will be ready to go. What’s the idea? The idea behind this was the dreaded winter weather.
The cold weather that I get here in Southeast Missouri is quite cold; single digits some nights, as of now. Those temperatures are hell on batteries especially if they aren’t being used. For Project DeadSpool, battery maintenance is critical because, during the winter months, that is exactly what is happening – it’s just sitting.
The truck is literally set up to do one thing and one thing only: Go fast. During the winter months, it, unfortunately, has to sit, which isn’t good for the battery. Luckily, this Digital 1200 charger is going to charge up and maintain this battery for a few months until it’s time to hit the track again.
Unboxing The Charger
Peeling back the lid to the battery charger, I saw that this unit is nothing but quality. Its construction is made of durable material, but it isn’t too bulky that it takes up a ton of room. I can see the big screen that will allow me to monitor what the charger is doing to my battery, but I noticed something was missing.
Where were my leads? Where were the cords that connected them to the charger? Then, it hit me. It’s all concealed. This makes it perfect for when I’m done with it and I want to store it. There is nothing worse than putting something back on the shelf and the cords are flopping all over the place.
With this little convenient side lid that opens, I could stow away the cords. For someone like me who would take this to the race track and space is something I want to save, this was great.
On the “dash,” there was a lot to look at. On the left, I saw the Charging Quick Set Selector. Here, I could make a selection of Engine Start mode, Deep Cycle Battery, Automotive and Marine, or Motorcycle battery. On the right, I had options to select what I wanted to do with the battery. These included Battery Maintainer, Aux Maintainer (something I would use the supplied aux cords with), Battery Pre-Charge Status, and an on/off button for the LCD backlit screen.
After plugging in the unit and using the LCD backlit screen, I can say it was definitely bright. Whether I was using it in a dark garage, at nighttime, or in any dark area, this charger would still be easily visible and ready to go. Where I’m using this, it isn’t the brightest of areas, so it panned out great. Now that I’ve got the charger unboxed, the only question I have now is: what can the Digital 1200 do?
Capabilities Of the Digital 1200
The Digital 1200 can charge any 12-volt lead-acid battery, but it does have specific settings to maximize the performance and increase the lifespan of OPTIMA and other AGM batteries. Being microprocessor-controlled, it will only charge your battery to the extent that it needs. It will not overcharge or cook your batteries like older chargers. Back in the day, the chargers would just keep feeding it juice until an inevitable boom.
“If you’ve got a battery that is super low on power, discharged below 1.25 volts to be exact, this charger can recover it,” said Jim McIlvaine, eCare Manager of OPTIMA Batteries. “This is a charger you can connect to your battery and then forget it indefinitely.” After recharging your battery, it will automatically go into maintenance mode and continue charging the battery as needed.
Project DeadSpool has been sitting for a few months and as I figured, the battery was stone cold dead. I unboxed this charger and threw it on my non-OPTIMA battery, just to see how it worked for off-brand batteries. The Digital 1200 began to analyze the battery. After showing below 25-percent power, it began charging the battery. 30-45 minutes of charging went by. I saw the battery now showed 75-percent power, which was enough to get it to fire.
Now with it running, I could allow the alternator to do the charging because I was actually going to take it out on some back roads for some cruising. After the drive, I brought the truck back into the shop where I could reapply the 1200 charger where it began its maintenance mode. Now, I have no issues with going down to the shop, regardless of the temperature, and firing this truck off.
Recovering really dead batteries is a huge sell for me because most people will say it’s too far gone and they’re on their way to get a new $125+ battery. Per McIlvaine, most chargers will not deliver current to batteries that have been discharged below 10.5 volts.
These capabilities are great, but I also wanted to approach this review from the standpoint of someone that isn’t super-technical. You don’t need to be an electrical engineer to manage this charger either. The Digital 1200 is super easy to use. All you have to do is give this charger power, select an amperage rate, and pick the icon that best matches your battery.
Another cool option I noticed is the integrated cord management system like I mentioned earlier. Instead of having cords and cables all over the place, there is a nice area to tuck them into when they aren’t in use. It just makes for a cleaner operation. Continuing on, it has a USB charging port that allows you to charge your cellphone and a LED light in the positive clamp that allows you to find good ground in dark situations.
For more information about the Digital 1200 charger, be sure and head over to the Optima Batteries website here. For more part reviews, truck features, and event coverage, stay tuned right here to Diesel Army. Be sure to like us on Facebook and give us a follow on Instagram. What charger do you use? Let us know in the comments below.