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Cheap Chinese charger


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I'm sure I read a thread some time back talking about the pros and cons of buying cheap chinese chargers, but blowed if I can find it now, so am asking direct.

After a swift look around at options I keep finding variants of this one on ebay for £70 or less.

 

Very cheap, and of course received wisdom is that, being cheap and chinese, it will soon fail, possibly disastrously, and possibly damage the batteries by not actually performing to spec.

 

OR... I've actually had a lot of very good stuff from China recently, and I have to wonder how bad this can be. Clearly if it IS as good as the spec says - and clearly it's been intelligently specced - it could be a very good budget charger for a boat. What does anyone else think - worth a punt...? Alternative views would be very welcome (especially from anyone with actual experience).

 

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If you're on shore power then you don't need a high power 30amp charger.  So spending similar amount of dosh on a decent charger but less amps probably better.   Victron do some nice chargers around the £120 range.

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6 minutes ago, Rickent said:

They are cheap for a reason.

Yes, but the reason could simply be that they are mass produced in factories run by robots supervised by highly skilled but very cheap human workforce, compared with other makes which rely on less automation and more expensive labour. It doesn't necessarily mean they are inferior.

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1 hour ago, Capnbob said:

Yes, but the reason could simply be that they are mass produced in factories run by robots supervised by highly skilled but very cheap human workforce, compared with other makes which rely on less automation and more expensive labour. It doesn't necessarily mean they are inferior.

It usually does.

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4 minutes ago, Capnbob said:

Yes, but the reason could simply be that they are mass produced in factories run by robots supervised by highly skilled but very cheap human workforce, compared with other makes which rely on less automation and more expensive labour. It doesn't necessarily mean they are inferior.

Robbo is right on the cheaper Victron units. Ive got the 30A IP22 and it is very good. I have total confidence it will not go on fire.

 

eta.... and my domestic bank is 660Ahrs. You dont need a huge charger.

Edited by Dr Bob
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With the one pictured, I would want sight of an instruction manual before purchase.

 

Apparently lacking any buttons other than maybe one in that rotating knob, I would imagine very little about it is configurable.

 

And what is the rotating knob for, and how do you know where to set it?

 

It may well be electrically fine, but if instructions are not clear on use and limitations it can be an issue.

 

(The "English" actually printed on the case hardly inspires confidence!)

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17 minutes ago, Capnbob said:

Yes, but the reason could simply be that they are mass produced in factories run by robots supervised by highly skilled but very cheap human workforce, compared with other makes which rely on less automation and more expensive labour. It doesn't necessarily mean they are inferior.

Well you asked the question and received the response that you probably expected even if it’s not the one you wanted. Go ahead and buy it and let us all know how you get on. 

9 minutes ago, alan_fincher said:

Apparently lacking any buttons other than maybe one in that rotating knob, I would imagine very little about it is configurable.

Indeed. So even if it doesn’t catch fire or inexplicably cease to function what’s it doing to your batteries? How would you know?

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20 minutes ago, Capnbob said:

Yes, but the reason could simply be that they are mass produced in factories run by robots supervised by highly skilled but very cheap human workforce, compared with other makes which rely on less automation and more expensive labour. It doesn't necessarily mean they are inferior.

Decent stuff may even be made out of the same factory, but quality of the components and QC will be different.

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Any one else noticed the add says four stage but the writing on the case says three stage? That inspires confidence - not. Anyway that forth stage is often a figment of the marketing department's imagination because it  often refers to supplying the power for (in this case up to 30 Amp) loads.

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4 hours ago, alan_fincher said:

And what is the rotating knob for, and how do you know where to set it?

on some similar (20A) chargers we had supplied with some other chinese equipment the knob on the front changed which tap on the primary of the transformer mains was fed into.

the internals were nothing short of lethal, non insulated mains wiring not fixed down, no earth connection, live mains on the control shaft of the knob (relying on the plastic knob for insulation).

circuit was the simplest possible
Mains in --> selector switch --> transformer --> rectifier (10A, not fixed down) --> output via ammeter + fan / leds

the first one failed with a lot of smoke after 3 hours (highest output seen 12A), opening it up revealed the above with a very burnt out rectifier and a transformer that was starting to burn its varnish off
the remaining 9 were gutted and the cases were kept as useful cases

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2 hours ago, Jess-- said:

on some similar (20A) chargers we had supplied with some other chinese equipment...

Now, that's the sort of personal experience I was hoping for. Thanks for that. Back to Plan A then.

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8 hours ago, Capnbob said:

Now, that's the sort of personal experience I was hoping for. Thanks for that. Back to Plan A then.

just because that's what my epower chargers were like doesn't mean your ipower chargers are the same.

 

 

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7 minutes ago, Jess-- said:

just because that's what my epower chargers were like doesn't mean your ipower chargers are the same.

Indeed not. The problem with the cheap Chinese tat is that until you buy one and dismantle it you have no idea what’s inside. 

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Despite all of the generalisations about 'cheep Chinese' the issue is more about knowing what you are getting.

I buy loads of stuff from China and am generally happy with it. Most of this is however low cost items (less than a fiver) so any problems I know to avoid next time.

There are many people in this country buying 'cheep chinese' and marking it up to sell on. They have over time discovered the sources to avoid because quality is poor. Unless you know someone who has actually bought this item then you are on a solo voyage into the unknown.

Bottom line;- Probably not worth the risk.  :-)

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3 minutes ago, Floating Male said:

Despite all of the generalisations about 'cheep Chinese' the issue is more about knowing what you are getting.

Perfect summary of my own views and experience, and why I posted the original enquiry. I saved £750 a few years back buying cheap Chinese solar tubes in the face of everyone on the relevant forum telling me they'd be rubbish - they've actually performed impeccably.

 

If I had got 4 or 5 "well we've had one for years and it's been great" replies I'd have taken the chance, but just one "I took one like that apart and it was rubbish inside" is enough for a rethink.

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49 minutes ago, Capnbob said:

Perfect summary of my own views and experience, and why I posted the original enquiry. I saved £750 a few years back buying cheap Chinese solar tubes in the face of everyone on the relevant forum telling me they'd be rubbish - they've actually performed impeccably.

 

If I had got 4 or 5 "well we've had one for years and it's been great" replies I'd have taken the chance, but just one "I took one like that apart and it was rubbish inside" is enough for a rethink.

If it's plugged in and switched on 24/7 then cutting corners and going cheap isn't particularly the best.   Electrical fires are a good percentage of the overall causes of boat fires.   If your Chinese solar tubes had a build fault then your roof probably just get wet.

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Its no coincidence that this and the fake CO alarm threads are running together. Sorry to repeat myself but when will governments get a  grip on these "shopping" sites and ensure they are responsible for ensuring the products they facilitate the sale of meet national standards AND face very stiff penalties if they do not.

  • Greenie 1
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So it comes back to what I said earlier. If you don't know the product, you don't know what's going to happen. If you buy a Victron charger, it is not going to go on fire.

It's bloomin obvious which one to choose.

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5 minutes ago, Dr Bob said:

So it comes back to what I said earlier. If you don't know the product, you don't know what's going to happen. If you buy a Victron charger, it is not going to go on fire.

It's bloomin obvious which one to choose.

Well any device can have a fault so there is no guarantee that any electrical device won’t be a cause of a fire, but good installation and decent make reduces the risk.

Edited by Robbo
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  • 2 weeks later...

£70 sounds a bit too pricy, they usually go for around £30-40.

 

A much better option could well be the tried and tested Electoquest twin output 30A charger for £125:

 

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/FULLY-AUTOMATIC-5-STAGE-MARINE-BATTERY-CHARGER-12V-30A-TWIN-OUTPUT-/132377426875

 

Pretty much plug and play, but has a gajillion options if you really want to play with them.

Edited by smileypete
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On 28/06/2018 at 16:18, Capnbob said:

I'm sure I read a thread some time back talking about the pros and cons of buying cheap chinese chargers, but blowed if I can find it now, so am asking direct.

After a swift look around at options I keep finding variants of this one on ebay for £70 or less.

 

Very cheap, and of course received wisdom is that, being cheap and chinese, it will soon fail, possibly disastrously, and possibly damage the batteries by not actually performing to spec.

 

OR... I've actually had a lot of very good stuff from China recently, and I have to wonder how bad this can be. Clearly if it IS as good as the spec says - and clearly it's been intelligently specced - it could be a very good budget charger for a boat. What does anyone else think - worth a punt...? Alternative views would be very welcome (especially from anyone with actual experience).

 

I love buying cheap stuff from China, but I'm always wary of electrical stuff. Especially anything with 240V!

Even though the spec SAYS something is in there doesn't mean the Chinese factory has added/connected it. There are numerous cases of people buying things like solar panel battery banks to find that either the solar panel isn't actually connected to anything, or the solar panel is fake and does hee-haw.

Maybe check YouTube for reviews of that particular model?

I do like the Chinglish manuals you get with some of these things though. They're worth reading just for the entertainment value.

 

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On 12/07/2018 at 19:44, smileypete said:

£70 sounds a bit too pricy, they usually go for around £30-40.

 

A much better option could well be the tried and tested Electoquest twin output 30A charger for £125:

 

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/FULLY-AUTOMATIC-5-STAGE-MARINE-BATTERY-CHARGER-12V-30A-TWIN-OUTPUT-/132377426875

 

Pretty much plug and play, but has a gajillion options if you really want to play with them.

Have that (or V similar)Charger , now in it's 4th Year of Service.

 

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