TESTED: OPTIMA Digital 1200 Battery Charger


“The charging process shatters the crystals on the lead plates and allows the exposed lead to begin contributing to the battery again,” say Parkhurst.  “However, the shorted message you saw on the Black and Decker charger is related to the deeply discharged, low-voltage state the battery was in,” says Parkhurst.  “The voltage was too low for that charger to even ‘see’.  It couldn’t tell the difference between positive and negative, so the charger itself is now useless.”
It should be noted that the voltage at the time for this battery was registering only 5.8 volts.  “The OPTIMA charger is sensitive down to 1.25 volts.  That’s an industry-leading level of sensitivity for a consumer market charger, and it’s superior to anything most pro-level shops have now,” claims Parkhurst.


The Digital 1200 is a microprocessor-controlled charger that features a digital battery charging gauge and quick-set selections for easy operation.  Most importantly, it recovers deeply discharged batteries when other batteries cannot.  Also nice is its weight, which comes in at a paltry 4.8 lb.

On the right hand side you can select from two different auxiliary battery maintenance programs (with ring connectors or DC clamps), battery pre-charge status (which tells you the voltage and how full the charge is to begin with), and an LED backlight option for dark situations.  On the left side you select the type of battery, whether it’s a conventional motorcycle or automobile/marine battery, or an OPTIMA engine start or deep cycle battery.

The middle gauge indicates how full the charge is, along with the stored voltage and the amperage coming out of the charger.  During charging, when the battery gets full, the amperage goes down to a nearly insignificant 0.1 amps, at which point you know the process is near completion.


While the other chargers would either not charge this otherwise dead battery past 7 volts, or even start charging all together, within minutes the OPTIMA REDTOP 35 had surpassed 9 volts and steadily climbed.  After an overnight charge we were left with a full and healthy 12.6 volts that stayed for days.  Considering each of the six cells in an OPTIMA battery holds 2.1 volts (2.2 volts for their deep cycle YELLOWTOP and BLUETOP batteries), 12.6 is the number we wanted to see.

Some other cool features of the OPTIMA Digital 1200 include battery maintenance cables with ring terminals that can be charged from the side port, as well as a USB charging station to rejuice your cell phone or computer.

Of course the Digital 1200 will charge conventional 12 volt batteries as well.  Just press the appropriate button.  Here, we’re charging an OE-style battery that came with our Project E46 BMW M3 when it was purchased (but that battery weighs 47-lb, as compared to the 33-lb REDTOP 35).  Notice the charger’s screen, which can be lit for working in the dark.

The OPTIMA Digital 1200 battery charger also has a feature that will keep a battery fully maintained when not in use by giving it a recharge every 30 days for 3 hours.  This is an especally nice feature for those enthusiasts who store cars over the winter, or any other long period of time, and it guarantees many years of service from your car battery.


Check out this quick video showing our own OPTIMA Digital 1200’s features and charging process.  Plus you’ll see the battery that was once dead is now able to fire up our Project E46 M3 with ease.

Keeping a battery maintained has its obvious benefits.  You won’t be late to work when the car doesn’t start in the morning.  Even better, you won’t have to worry about being stranded at a location other than your home, waiting for a tow.  There are other benefits however.  For instance, a well maintained battery will also put less strain on the electrical components like starters, alternators, halogen lights and other electronic components.  This means less maintenance costs over time.

The OPTIMA Digital 1200 charger not only does this, but we were impressed with its ability to rescue batteries we thought had no chance.  As a MotoIQ reader, you deserve to know that just for the month of April (yes, this offer expires April 30!), OPTIMA is offering a free Digital 400 charger or 50% off a Digital 1200 like the one we featured here, with a purchase of any OPTIMA battery!

“The pairing of the battery and charger offer the consumer the best one-two punch out there for confidence when they turn the key in their hobby cars, trucks and boats,” says Parkhurst.  “If they keep their OPTIMA charger hooked up to their OPTIMA battery when the vehicle is not in use, they’ll have full power ready whenever they’d like to use it, and their OPTIMA will be reliable for many years.  That’s what they expect when they choose OPTIMA in the first place, and we can assure satisfaction with the use of this charger to maintain the product.”


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