Review of the Redarc Manager30 RV Battery Management System

When it comes to enjoying all the benefits that today’s truck camper offers, having enough electrical power is important. Power is needed to run everything from lights, water pumps, and fans to refrigerators, furnaces, and DC air conditioners. The heart of a truck camper’s 12 volt electrical system is the battery bank consisting of one or more deep cycle 12 volt batteries. Recharging the battery bank is needed to keep up with the demands of daily use. In today’s campers, several sources are used to recharge the battery bank. These include solar power, vehicle alternators, generators, and shore power. Wouldn’t it be nice if somebody sold a battery charging system that did all of these things with a battery monitor to provide the State of Charge (SOC) to boot? Fortunately, somebody does. The device is called the Manager30 Battery Management System and is made by Redarc, a 40-year-old company based in South Australia.

The Redarc Manager30 is a superb battery management system. The Manager30 installation kit includes nearly everything needed for a complete installation. Each kit comes with the main unit, a battery sensor, the remote monitor, the output connector, 16 feet of CANBus cable, and a 110 volt power cable. Unlike most chargers that perform only one function, the Redarc Manager30 performs six, thus making it a terrific value. It functions as an DC-DC battery charger, a 120 volt AC battery charger, a Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) solar charge controller, a dual battery isolator, a load disconnect controller, and comes with remote battery monitor to boot. Most truck campers today have three to five chargers and devices, which makes the benefit of owning the Manager30 apparent. Unfortunately, at $1,476 the Redarc Manager30 is also expensive, meaning your wallet will take a major hit buying one.

Redarc Manager30 installation in our Four Wheel Camper Grandby.
The Dakota lithium batteries in our Four Wheel Camper.

The Redarc Manager30 looks big and heavy, but it isn’t. The unit weighs 10.8 pounds and measures 17.5 inches long, 7.3 inches wide, and 3.1 inches high, about the same size as an inverter. Our Manager30 is mounted underneath the driver side dinette seat in our camper (our installation was done at the Four Wheel Camper factory, and as you can see in the photo, the company did an outstanding job). The Redarc Manager30 can recharge all types of batteries including standard lead-acid, calcium, gel, AGM, or lithium (LiFePO4) with an input voltage between 110 volts AC and 9 to 30 volts DC. We use it to recharge our two Dakota 135 amp hour lithium batteries. As you’d expect by the name, the Manager30 is rated for 30 amps with an adjustable output charging voltage between 14.4 and 16 volts. It can operate in temperatures between -40F and 176F and comes with a two-year warranty, making it suitable for use in all climates and regions on the planet.

The Redarc Manager30 maintains an optimal charge using a multi-stage charging profile and operates in two modes: Touring and Storage. In the default Touring Mode, the Manager30 employs a three-stage charging profile. This keeps your battery topped off either on the road or when boondocking. In the Storage Mode, it provides an eight-stage charging profile (or six-stage for lithium batteries). This keeps the house battery in optimal condition when it’s not being used. This mode needs to be selected manually from the Manager30’s Remote Monitor. Like we said earlier, the Manager30 incorporates charging from 12 volts solar, 110 volts AC from either shore power or a generator, and 12 volts DC-DC via the starting battery.

The benefits of charging with your truck’s alternator are particularly noteworthy. If you’re not currently charging your camper’s battery bank using the alternator/battery in your truck, you’re really missing out on a terrific charging source. Most trucks are equipped with a 180 amp to 220 amp alternator and a lot of this amperage isn’t used. The battery management system takes the DC input voltage from your truck’s starter battery and charges the battery bank in your camper. This means you should be able to pull 30 amps while driving either day or night, rain or shine, something that solar power can’t come close to providing.

While DC-DC charging is an important capability, the heart of the Manager30 charging system is solar power. The Manager30 uses Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) charging, which is the best type of charging for solar. Instead of connecting the solar panel directly to the battery like a PWM controller, the MPPT controller uses a DC to DC “buck converter” stage before the PWM charging stage. The buck converter ingests the solar panel voltage and transforms it to the optimum battery voltage or “Maximum Power Point.” Secondly, the MPPT charge controller uses an embedded microprocessor driven algorithm to scan or track the solar panel for where the voltage and current are optimized between the solar panel and the battery (the Tracking portion of Maximum Power Point). The Manager30 is rated for a maximum input of 520 watts, which is a decent amount of solar for most truck campers and vans. The benefit of solar power, of course, is that it can be used while your rig is either stationary or on the road.

Redarc Manager30 Inputs and outputs

Aside from charging, the Redarc Manager30 can perform other functions as well. Like any DC-DC charger worth its salt, the unit has a built-in battery isolator to prevent draining your truck’s starter battery while camped. This sounds basic, but is pretty important, especially if you’ve ever turned the ignition key in your truck only to discover that your truck’s battery is totally dead. The Manager30 also features a load disconnect controller. This can be used to turn off individual loads like the DC refrigerator or trigger a total disconnect if the battery bank’s State of Charge (SOC) fails below a certain percentage, say 10 percent.

The Redarc Manager30 has other features worth mentioning as well. The Manager30 has a built-in “green power priority.” This means that if solar power is available, solar will be used over other charging inputs like shore power and DC-DC charging. The unit has no fan, which makes it super quiet. Instead, cooling is accomplished by cooling fins located on the outside of the unit. The unit can be mounted in any horizontal or vertical position except upside down, meaning it can accommodate all types and sizes of rigs. The remote display also goes dark at night, allowing you to get a good night’s sleep without blinding lights. Lastly, the Redarc Manager30 is compatible with state-of-the-art smart alternators, which as we all know, vary their output voltage based on power consumption and other factors.

Redarc Manager30 display with a 100 percent SOC.

The Redarc Manager30 is controlled using the Manager 30 Remote Battery Monitor. The standard Redarc Manager30 features a monochome display, while a deluxe version with a full color display can also be ordered for $300 more. Navigating the Manager30 display is simple once you get the hang of it and uses the four arrow displays on the face of the unit. Most displays have one or more labeled arrows providing the user with an easy way to navigate to additional screens for more information. If you ever get lost or stuck while navigating, hitting the left arrow takes you to the Home Screen where you can start fresh.

The Redarc Manager30 remote provides real-world status of your house batteries such as SOC, current, voltage, and other critical information related to your battery’s health including battery temperature. You can check the status of battery charging, estimated charge time, and SOC per hour over a day and per day over a month, which is nice. It also allows you to select charging profiles specific to the battery type and size and provides faults and alerts regarding the Manager30 itself and the house batteries being charged. You can even use the monitor to adjust the brightness and contrast of the display.

Aside from the essential SOC display, the Output Status display is probably the most important. In it, the graphic shows basic current flow, including current flow from the Manager30, current flow into or out of the battery, and current flow to the loads in your camper. The direction of the current flow is indicated by the arrows and a moving white dot. In the example below, the Redarc Manager30 shows 3.3 amps being used by the loads. Since the load use is greater than the charge rate of only 1.8 amps, the battery has to compensate for the difference by providing 1.5 amps (1.8 + 1.5 = 3.3), thus drawing down the battery. If we increased the charge rate to say, 10 amps, there would be a positive or net increase of 6.7 amps for battery charging and a direction change for the arrow going to the battery. How cool is that?

Redarc Manager30 Output Display

Additional Redarc Manager30 displays are provided for the Charge Per Hour, Charge Per Day, Input Status (from solar, shore, and alternator), Solar Information, and Charge Status.

If you’re a solar geek—and most of us are—you’ll really like the Solar Information screen. In it, you’ll find information on the power and voltage output of the solar panels (in comparison, most controllers show only the wattage and amperage). From this screen you can access a log of daily power generation measured in watt hours. The log will store up to seven days of data and will overwrite, storing on the last seven days at any one time. We have one minor quibble with the data provided on this screen: having the unregulated voltage prominently displayed seems kind of trivial. Who cares? What we would prefer to see instead is the real time amperage rate for battery charging along with the wattage. Sure you can calculate that by hand, but who really has time for that? Shouldn’t that info be provided by the Manager 30? Every other make of solar charge controller here in the U.S. market does.

The Input Status screen displays a summary of the inputs to the Manager30. The solar input is the priority, providing as much usable input power as possible. If another source is present and the solar input is not providing maximum (30 amps) input, the other source will attempt to make up the remainder. The screen provides input voltage level as well as percent in the form of a bar graph. Only two charging sources are used at any one time. If a source is not detected, a circle with a diagonal line through it will display indicating that the source isn’t present (see the photo below for an example).

Important. The manual has a note about the Storage Mode and it’s important enough to be repeated here. When using the Manager30 in Storage Mode, make sure that all loads are disconnected from the house battery under charge. Failure to do so may cause the house battery to be under charged, provide false readings on the SOC indicator, and cause possible damage to any loads connected.

The Verdict

The Redarc Manager30 is probably the best battery management system that money can buy. It performs multiple functions in an easy-to-control way without a lot of complexity. About the only thing the Manager30 lacks is an inverter. Sure, the limited, 30 amp output can turn-off those looking for a more robust charging system, though the biggest negative with the Redarc Manager30 is, of course, its exorbitant, $1,500 cost. That’s a lot of coinage, but when you think about it, it really isn’t. Sure you can probably buy a MPPT solar charge controller, a DC-DC charger, a quality battery monitor, and a converter-charger for a little less, yet all of this equipment comes with greater complexity to say nothing of the additional space needed for all of this extra equipment. The Redarc Manager30 can perform all of these tasks and more in one relatively simple installation.

So is the Redarc Manager30 for everyone? Not really. Only if you are building or restoring a van or truck camper or overhauling the electrical system completely. It doesn’t make a lot of sense buying the Manager30 for the DC-DC Charger functionality alone if your RV already has a solar charge controller and a converter-charger. It comes down to simple economics (you can buy a DC-DC Charger or an MPPT controller for a lot less than $1,500). Indeed, in order to capitalize on all that the Redarc Manager30 offers, it’s best to use it when building an electrical system from scratch. Van and truck camper manufacturers, in particular, should take a hard look at this system if they haven’t already. The only additional thing needed is a 110 volt AC/12 volt breaker/fuse panel.

Would we recommend the Redarc Manager30? Absolutely! As a matter of fact, we like the system so much that we are planning to install one during the restoration of our 1967 Avion C-10 truck camper, which will feature a complete overhaul of the outdated electrical system. What rating would we give the Redarc Manager30? One a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being the lowest and 5 the highest, we give the Manager30 a rating of 5 stars in spite of its cost. It’s a terrific product.

About Mello Mike 907 Articles
Mello Mike is an Arizona native, author, and the founder of Truck Camper Adventure. He's been RV'ing since 2002, is a certified RVIA Level 1 RV Technician, and has restored several Airstream travel trailers. A communications expert and licensed ham radio operator (KK7TCA), he retired from the U.S. Navy in 2004 as a CWO3 after 24 years, holds a BS degree, and now runs Truck Camper Adventure full-time. He also does some RV consulting, repairs, and inspections on the side. He currently rolls in a 4WD Ram 3500 outfitted with a SherpTek truck bed with a Bundutec Roadrunner mounted on top.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply (You Must Be Logged In)