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JUNK - FOR GOODNESS SAKE READ MY UPDATES!!!
on July 19, 2013
Okay, so what is the problem with on-board chargers? I have owned at least 3 portable battery chargers and never had a single problem with one of them. I have one that is 40 years old and it still works fine. They are cheap too - literally half the cost of a comparable on-board one. And yet this NOCO is the third expensive on-board charger I've bought in five years for my simple 16 foot aluminum fishing boat with just two batteries. I have therefore reached the conclusion that on-board chargers in general are not very durable. I admit that the previous two chargers were nothing fancy, though they were both popular, trusted brands with better than average reviews. I had originally reasoned that it didn't make sense to purchase a Rolls Royce charger for a Pinto boat, but having two of them clap out in five years has left me bitter. Besides the cost, these things are A ROYAL PAIN to replace, (at least in my particular boat), so I had really only wanted to do it one time, not three! UGHHH!!! Anyway, this time, with little regard to cost, I set out to try and buy an on board charger that would last, if indeed such a thing exists.
A little research lead me to the NOCO Genius. So far all I can say is that this one is definitely a lot bigger and heavier. It is easily twice the weight of the heaviest previous one, which is encouraging. It actually 'feels' heavy duty. I also like that it is advertised as being "completely waterproof", not merely "water resistant", just in case moisture had anything to do with the earlier failures. I could see glue around cords, seams, and even over the 4 LED's that signal operation. This has to be a good thing.
On a negative note, it is bigger and heavier, which makes it harder to hide and means that it needs a sturdier mounting place. In my case that made this install exponentially more difficult. Also, the wires that go to the batteries were way too short, same as with the two previous on-board chargers, and my boat is perfectly normal in every way. I guess the extra cost of this premium NOCO unit still wasn't enough to get you 4 more feet of wire. BTW... why not just charge $3 more and include TEN more feet of wire since it is EASY to coil up the extra and hide it, while having to splice in more wire is hard and requires special tools and hardware. Not to mention that having to do so also VOIDS YOUR WARRANTY! (I think I might have just answered that last question.) Think about it, I have now bought three chargers in five years, but have never enjoyed a single day of warranty on any of them because of wires that are too short from the factory and must be lengthened at my cost, inconvenience, and detriment. Folks, we all might be in the wrong business.
I do like the way the NOCO charger lights up very brightly compared to the others. NOCO didn't cheap out on the LED's, that's for sure. They actually light up the entire carport. There is a red and a green LED for each battery. These light and/or flash in several different ways to indicate several different things from "bad battery" to "fully charged". The manual explains it all thoroughly, but it just isn't possible to remember every scenario when it doesn't happen often. Therefore you should always hang onto the manual in case the lights send you a signal you aren't familiar with.
Anyway, warranty or not, the charger is installed and seems to be working. It is supposed to be very quick and powerful, which I could care less about. I'm just a weekend warrior. I don't use my boat to make a living. All I ever wanted was to install ONE simple charger that would work for many years. So much for that. The only important thing to me now is to never have to do this again. The NOCO Genius charger has a lot going for it. It does inspire confidence. It MIGHT be a great product. Only time will tell. I will update this review and raise the rating in a year or so if it proves to be durable. Until then, experience has taught me that NO on-board charger is worth more than 3 stars in the first year. Sorry.
In the mean time, I would like to hear from someone who has experience with one of these over the long haul. Most anything will work great for a month or two.
UPDATE: This so-called "Genius" charger is proving to be as dumb as a bag of hammers, and it has taken control of my boating life. It will refuse to charge any battery with any problem what-so-ever, no matter how tiny and insignificant that problem might be.
I can't please it with a battery. It happens like this - every time I plug it in, it comes on like its charging fine. But then, after I have walked away, it reverts to to a signal that indicates "bad battery" according to the manual and shuts down. It always happened on the starter battery so I replaced it even though it was working fine since the NOCO obviously didn't like it. HOWEVER, since then it has also forced me to replace 2 new ones, only to have the charger work fine for a month or so and then revert back to not working at all and signalling "bad battery".
I temporarily switched the batteries and the charger started doing it on the other circuit, so in it's infinite wisdom it truly believes there is someting "bad" about all these batteries though they tested good at Autozone - not PERFECT mind you, but PLENTY good enough - 99% good. Autozone sold them to me and have tried their level best to please the NOCO Genius. They replaced the first one for free but they just can't keep doing it, and I can't blame them. These batteries were not reconditioned. They were all bought brand new and did their jobs well, they can't be THAT bad. NOBODY could say they weren't "good" batteries. My 20 year old "dumb" charger thinks they are fantastic. They were all expensive batteries intended for their specific marine purposes too.
UUUUUGH!!! HEY, NOCO... JUST CHARGE THE FREAKING BATTERIES PLEASE AND LET MY DUMB SELF DECIDE WHEN ONE IS BAD!!!
I would return this miserable POC if NOCO hadn't covered themselves against it with the automatic warranty void mentioned above in the 3rd paragraph. Do yourself a favor and read it. I am currently having to drag the before mentioned "dumb" charger to the boat for that one battery... if I want to go fishing or anything.
UPDATE: Another reviewer has informed me that lengthening the leads didn't automatically void the warranty. You can read his explanation in the comments section. And though I appreciate his taking the time to help, I'm too frustrated to give a toot. Besides, there is no warranty issue with my charger per se. I simply believe it is designed to refuse any battery with any little bitty loss in performance, no matter how insignificant that loss in performance is. I do believe my batteries had a tiny problem of some sort. Autozone's tester measured a slight loss in something. I just don't believe I should be forced to scrap them when they still work fine as far as I tell.
I just wanted to be completely fair to NOCO and clear the air in case something I said about their warranty isn't 100% right.
UPDATE: It has been over a year since I posted this review, and my latest "bad" battery (according to the Noco Genius) is still working like a champ. I mean, the Energizer bunny has nothing on this battery. As long as I charge it with anything besides the NOCO Genius it will run a trolling motor ALL DAY and still show very little sign of weakness. It just keeps going and going and going. I have a portable "smart" charger by Shumacher and it never complains. Go figure.