Optima has made some pretty solid batteries over the years. You pay a premium for their products and in return you get something unique and long lasting. We installed one of their Redtop batteries a few months back and have had great results. Since then, we have found the need for a battery charger and maintainer for some of our in house vehicles. In Akron, it is not uncommon for your Summer performance vehicle to sit until the snow clears. Basically from December to April, the garage is occupied.
The job at hand is my old faithful daily driver, track car, and friend - a 1998 Camaro SS with the LS1 and most importantly for this test, a 5 year old Optima Redtop Battery. The Optima has been giving me fits the past couple years as the Camaro sits in the off-season. Accessory draw while sitting is something I've always had to deal with. This was fixed with a trickle charger that was simple and effective. The next level tool though for Hoagies Garage, the Digital 1200.
Optima has a line of battery chargers that are super neat and super functional. We featured the Digital 400 in our '14 Holiday Gift Guide. This is the big brother that can maintain, recover, charge and also just look cool doing it.
The first story I have to report on, as Winter is finally over, my Camaro is out of the garage and being driven. The Digital 1200 initially read about 75% on the LCD gauge back in November. While hooked up all winter, the 1200 has the capability to maintain our Redtop, which was needed. I've been driving the Camaro now for about 3 weeks on this old battery, which seems to be working great. I'm always nervous when you get to that 4-5 year mark with an old battery, but I don't plan on taking the car on any major long trips so I should be fine for a little while. Either way though, it is very cool to see what exactly the charger is doing throughout the winter. Giving me the percentages, mode and all the other information was legit cool to see randomly during the off-season.
We got a surprise test last week for the Digital 1200. Last year, we did a story on the Redtop itself and installation into a Trailblazer SS. This battery worked great after the install. Even though in the TBSS it is totally hidden under some plastic covers, you'll find starting power and leak free design is top notch. The Trailblazer was stored all winter with a small and basic Battery Tender. The Battery Tender has one LED light, which shines green if everything is fine. All winter we saw green, then last week the TBSS was ready to be driven. Hitting the key resulted in a no start situation and of course this means our brand new battery is totally dead. In came the Digital 1200, which has the ability to recover a severely discharged battery. I set everything up, ran it through the initial tests and our gauge read 0%... The Battery Tender must have had some issues. So long story short, the Digital 1200 brought the Redtop back to 100% charge in around 7-8 hours. In the video below, I run through some of the features and how to operate the unit. Overall though, I am very impressed with this piece of hardware. Once again you are paying a little bit more because it says Optima, but this is one of the neatest battery chargers I've ever used.