Today's visit to the Miami Boat Show brought yet another home run in. Charles Industries has introduced a new series of battery chargers that changes everything, their new IMC series, shown below:

These new chargers bring new meaning to the catch phrase "smart charger", and provide the functionality needed on modern boats. In fact these units are so sophisticated, they will serve owners well for years to come. Here's why. many boats today are using combined 12 / 24 volt systems to accomodate larger engine starters and some systems are beginning to be at least partially 24 volt. No problem since the IMC series offers four battery bank programability at either 12 or 24 volts and each bank can be programmed to different parameters with precision levels down to 0.10 of a volt. This is important stuff in today's market as batteries become more sophistcated and different vendors dictate varying charge levels at each phase of battery charging to maximize battery cycle life. Batteries aren't getting any less expensive either, so maximizing cycle life is important.

In terms of amperage, the series is available in 20-120 amp configurations depending on your boat's capacity requirements. The 40 amp and above units have an integrated limp home mode that would enable the battery charger to function, albeit at a lower output level, in the event of a power module failure within the device. Further it includes a "smart alarm" function that tells you if there is a complete failure (no output), high and low voltage and battery failure via an audible alarm. Optional temperature sensors are also available to further enhance the precision level of charging.

The signifigance of all of this is perhaps best explained with a real world example of how it may be applied. A typical boat today will have a bow thruster with its own battery(s) nearby and engine and house battery banks mounted furter aft in the boat. You may decide that you want extra large capacity flooded cell batteries to run house loads, but a smaller AGM type battery up front to run the bow thruster. In this example you have two different battery technologies employed, each with very different charging needs. No problem with the IMC series. Program each bank exactly as the battery vendors want and you're all set.

How about the future? Battery technology is changing almost yearly. Who knows exactly what's around the corner? With the functionality available in the IMC software, you'll be ready for whatever comes at us because no matter what the next great thing in batteries evolves to, recharging is still going to be a function of amps and volts. You'll be able to re-program an IMC to whatever comes at you in new battery technology.

Going on a world cruise? Not a problem as these chargers have universal AC input at either 50 or 60 Hz and a voltage input range from 90 to 265 VAC.

Of course coming from Charles the units are Marine UL listed with ABS, FCC abd CE certifications pending.

The Charles IMC series chargers were my home run of the day. Hats off to the Charles design team. They really had their eye on the market and the needs of modern boaters with this one.

Written by: Ed Sherman
Ed Sherman is a regular contributor to, as well as to Professional Boatbuilder and Cruising World, where he previously was electronics editor. He also is the curriculum director for the American Boat and Yacht Council. Previously, Ed was chairman of the Marine Technology Department at the New England Institute of Technology. Ed’s blog posts appear courtesy of his website, EdsBoatTips.