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Watercraft Electronics Review


It just keeps going and going...XPS Onboard charger makes trolling life easier
 

Date: 9/23/04
Tackle type: Watercraft Electronics
Manufacturer: Bass Pro Shops
Reviewer: Zander






Total Score: 8.75

Introduction: Its happened to all trolling motor owners, at one time or another you run short on power, and as you try and squeeze every last ounce of juice out of those batteries it's hard not to curse the fact that you didn't charge them to 100% or blame the old batteries themselves. Anglers depend on batteries to start the main engine, and deliver reliable trolling power to perfectly position the boat, and onboard battery chargers like the Bass Pro XPS are intended to reduce the headaches of charging and maintaining multiple cores, both on and off the water.
  

Bass Pro XPS 3 Bank Charger Specifications

Housing Material Aluminum
Dimensions 8.5" x 7.25" x 2.5"
AC in 90-135
Banks 3
AMPs per bank 5/5/5 = 15 AMP total
Volts 12/24/36
Cable Size 6'/6'/6'
Weight 11lbs
Status lights Yes (2)
Waterproof Yes
Additional Features Sealed, shock resistant, transfer on demand
Warranty 2 Years
Price $129.99

    
Impressions: Our Nitro Bass boat has on many occasions completely run out of trolling power. Long days of fishing in rough water demand constant corrections, and with a 24 volt trolling motor it seems like there is just never enough juice to get through the whole day. It's possible to add extra batteries to the system, but the increased weight can be dangerous at times. In addition one part of the whole fishing experience I could certainly do without is having to remember to run outside and connect the trickle charger to each battery individually the day before we go out.

 

The Bass Pro XPS 3 Bank charger comes in a medium sized box and instructions but no mounting hardware

 

Yes, the time had come to install an onboard charger. We decided to select the attractively styled Bass Pro XPS charger. The unit comes in a nice box and comes with detailed instructions. The unit itself felt solid and comes with just about everything necessary to install and operate. Right out of the box the Charger comes pre-wired with all cables and fuses. Some competing chargers require you to connect wires at both ends. This has its plusses and minuses. The ability to install your own wiring allows you to neatly arrange all the wiring in the boat, and any damage to the wire is easily fixed. In the case of fixed wiring customization or repair is more of a challenge.
 

While branded as a Bass Pro XPS charger the guts of this unit are all ProMariner

   
Design:
Unlike many plain "black box" styled chargers the XPS is packaged in a very hi-tech looking "amplifier" style housing. Protruding aluminum fins on the unit are designed to help cool the unit. Upon closer inspection the unit looked very similar to ProMariner's ProSport onboard charger, and sure enough, the unit turned out to be a cleverly repackaged ProMariner unit. ProMariner is a giant when it comes to chargers, and it is no surprise that Bass Pro Shops would team up with them to OEM a XPS branded unit. The unit is sealed on all sides, and appeared quite durable in design. One of the things I liked best about the unit right off the bat was the inline safety fuses found on each wire.

 

For protection each connection has its own fuse

  

Real World Test: After successfully draining both trolling batteries completely I proceeded to go through the entire process of installing, charging, and operating the XPS charger.

 

Installation: To mount the charger you will require a pencil, two screws, and a drill/driver. It takes more time to decide exactly where to mount the charger in your boat than it does to actually install the unit. Depending on the size and layout of your boat there may or may not be a perfect place for the unit. The directions call for a cool place that is away from the fuel system in your boat, but this is no easy task considering most boats put both the fuel tank and batteries in the back of the boat.
 

The entire top of the charger is covered with amplifier style aluminum cooling fins, and a red and green light indicate power and charging status


Do your best to find a dry spot as far from the fuel system as possible. The distance you can mount the charger from your batteries is roughly 3 feet, taking into consideration that this unit is pre-wired and needs to reach all 3 batteries. Once you have located a suitable flat place to mount the XPS charger you can mark with a pencil two spots to pre-drill. The charger actually has four holes to mount the unit but with this unit two screws are more than sufficient, and the less drilling you need to do on the boat the better. After checking to make sure the area you have chosen is safe to drill and free of wiring go ahead and mark and pre-drill. Then place the charger in position and put one screw in opposite corners, at this point the charger should be secure. All you need to do now is connect the positive and negative wiring to each battery terminal. The only thing you need to be careful of is to connect the bank 1 wires to the starter battery and the other two banks to the trolling batteries. From start to finish the installation took less than 15 minutes, with the bulk of the time spent deciding exactly where to mount the unit.
 

All you need to install the XPS charger is a pencil, drill, and two screws


Features: Once installed all the headaches of having to charge each battery individually instantly disappear. Once you return home simply plug the boat in and the XPS Charger is fully automated. Multi stage charging will charge the batteries full and continually condition the batteries for long and short term usage. During charging and conditioning cycles the system will hold the batteries at 14.6 VDC, after a extended period the charging light will actually turn off but the charger continues to monitor the batteries and hold them at 13.3 volts ensuring they do not overcharge. You don't need to worry about damaging your batteries, and after 5 days plugged in I checked the batteries with a separate meter and all were at 100%. Worry free charging is just one of the many benefits of installing the onboard charger.

 

Find a place on your boat to mount the charger, preferably a open area that isn't tightly packed or directly next to fuel lines

 

Transfer on demand technology automatically senses and distributes 100% of available charging amps to any one bank or combination of banks during operation. All unused charging amps are transferred to batteries and devices requiring additional amps. This essentially means longer more reliable trolling power.

There are nice safety features on the XPS charger as well. The unit has a built in reverse polarity, ignition, and temperature protection sensors. Making sure you do not overload your batteries when cranking. This not only protects your batteries but your entire boat's electrical system.

 

Position, mark, drill, and mount

  

Performance & Applications: The XPS charger while very stable isn't the fastest charger on the market. With 5amps per bank it does take a day to bring all your batteries back up to 100%. There is a larger more powerful model which delivers 10amps per bank for a total of 30 amps, and costs 249.99. The more powerful charger can bring your batteries to a full charge much faster, and can still do it safely.

Taking extended trips have never been easier. In the past I have had to charge each battery in the middle of the night to prepare for the next day, which is extremely annoying when on road trips. Now all I need to do is bring a long extension cord and the charger does all the work. I have also noticed extended trolling time. Not only are the batteries at a healthy 100% but the system regulates the batteries as if they are one unit to ensure a more steady flow of power.
 

Once installed all you need to do is plug in one cord to charge and maintain all you batteries

 

Durability and Maintenance: While I don't recommend this test, we decided to stress test the charger with both fresh and simulated saltwater splashing while in operation. The unit was indeed waterproof an experienced no impairment. The unit is rated for saltwater, and as long as it is housed in a dry place it should provide a long life of worry free charging. The only things that you need to check are the terminals on all your batteries, and to inspect the inline fuses once in a while. Even though the battery connections should be sandwiched under bolts, any acid leakage or corrosion can possibly impair performance. It is always a good idea to maintain clean terminals with a course brush irregardless.
 

Properly maintained batteries, a full charge, and power balancing all translate into more fishing and the ability to stay out until sundown


Warranty: The Bass Pro XPS Charger comes backed with a 2 year warranty that actually goes through ProMariner directly. This is a respectable warranty but many competitors are offering more. Minn Kota and Dual Pro chargers offer 3 year warrantees while the new Bassmaster branded chargers (which are more expensive at 299.88 MSRP for a 3 bank) offer a lifetime repair warrantee with one year replacement.
  

Ratings:

Bass Pro XPS 3 Bank Charger Ratings(?/10)

Construction/Quality The Bass Pro XPS charger is built by ProMariner and delivers reliable performance in a more attractive housing. The amplifier like cooling fins are functional and the unit looks and feels high quality 9
Performance The transfer on demand technology is excellent and enables anglers to get the most out of their existing batteries. The ability to just plug in one unit makes it so much easier to make sure your batteries are ready for long days of fishing. the only complaint would be that this is not as fast as some competing chargers, as it only delivers a total of 5amps per bank 8
Price The Bass Pro XPS charger is very affordable as far as three back chargers go! It looks much more expensive than it is, and feature wise it easily matches the competition at a lower price 9.5
Features Plenty of features including balancing, safety, and monitoring make this charger reasonably equipped. Some competitors offer enhance monitoring including temperature sensors 8
Design (Ergonomics) The design is excellent, and it is easy to install and use. With a total installation time of under 15 minutes this charger is simple to effectively deploy. It looks like a million bucks too 9
Application The XPS charger keeps you going and takes the headache out of having to monitor your batteries 9

Total Score

8.75

  
Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Reliable and waterproof L A 3 year warrantee would match the main competition
J Transfer on demand technology L Not the fastest charger
J Easy to install  
J Attractive & affordable price  

    
Conclusion: Ease of use is what the XPS charger is all about. With a installation under 15 minutes this is just about the fastest upgrade you can make on your watercraft. While quick to install, the benefits are long lasting. You will enjoy a simple plug and forget experience in which the charger will take care of all the charging and battery maintenance. The result is healthier longer lasting batteries, and supplementary trolling time on the water for you. Overall the Bass Pro XPS charger is a solid value, and while it may not deliver the fastest charging or the most features, it is very aggressively priced and durable enough to take any shocks and splashes your boat may encounter with those longer days on the water.



 

 

 

 

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