We were in the middle of the Mokolodi Nature Reserve, near Gaborone, Botswana. It was a hot and dusty afternoon. I had sliced open my index finger with a knife. Our First Aid kit was somewhere at home. Our baby was tired and crying. And the battery on our 4x4 was dead...
Just a typical trip for the #RBOF gang it would seem. Rarely do we travel somewhere, near or far, without something out of the ordinary happening or something going wrong. Not being able to start your 4x4 while in the middle of the bush is (trust me) one of the most disheartening things that can happen. As I turned the key and heard the futile "click-click" of the starter motor (without the follow-up roaring to life of the engine), my heart sank right down to the bottom of my dusty shoes.
We had been sitting in a semi-shaded spot for nearly two hours with our small thermo-electric fridge running in the boot which was keeping our drinks relatively cold and slowly but surely draining the life out of our already-old battery. After managing to get a hold of the Mokolodi reception (while balancing on a tree stump trying to get cellphone signal) and asking them to kindly send a ranger with a vehicle to jump-start us, we were back on the road and eagerly heading home within the hour.
On the way home, as we sat in silence and I clutched the wet baby wipes around my bleeding finger, I thought about how I could have prevented the day's events from unfurling, at least the ones regarding the dead battery. A couple of weeks later, as luck would have it, I was chatting to a buddy of mine who told me about a nifty little gadget called the "Battery Sense" from CTEK, which monitors the status of your battery at all times and displays all the necessary information, via bluetooth on your smart phone! My prayers were answered!
The following weekend I was busy installing, or rather fitting the compact little black box to the battery in the Prado's engine bay (it's IP67 rated by the way, so it should withstand the occasional water crossing). I say "fitting", as there is basically no installation required. The unit is roughly about 6x5x2cm in size, has one cable sticking out, with two terminal connectors on the end (one black and one red) which you connect to your vehicle's battery and "hey presto", it's done!
The Battery Sense comes in a stylish black box with a small user manual, cable ties and double-sided tape (you can choose how to fit it) and that's it. There is no fiddling with metres of cable, drilling, running wires all over the show - it's literally a five minute job (or less, for the more experienced of you out there) to fit the Battery Sense to your vehicle.
You then download the app from the App Store for iPhone or the Google Play store for Android, install it, follow the prompts to pair the app with your Battery Sense (you can install multiple devices for multiple batteries and pair them all to one phone), set up the info for your battery and you're good to go.
The CTEK Battery Sense allows you to choose the capacity of your battery - from 5Ah to 200Ah - name your device (we labelled ours "RBOF PRADO") and on the display of your smart phone you can see the status of the battery (or batteries, if you have an auxiliary battery installed as well) in percentages, the voltage, the temperature and even a battery icon that will be green when your battery is charged, yellow if you need to charge it soon, or red (obviously) if you need to "Charge now". There's even a handy graph that shows the power of your battery as it dips and rises over time for up to 3 months at a time.
For the affordable price of P695 (about US$62 / €53) and a 5-minute fitment time, the CTEK Battery Sense is one of the cheapest and most practical and handy gadgets for your vehicle that you can buy. We got ours from Bundutec Botswana and you can order yours through their online store or call (+267)74725211 or (+267)75955577 to find out more!
On our most recent trip back to the Mokolodi Nature Reserve, running the same fridge in a picnic spot for about two hours again, I could easily and quickly check the status of my car's battery from the comfort of my camping chair with peace of mind!
Check out our video review of the CTEK Battery Sense below:
Monitor your battery/batteries at all times from the convenience of your smart phone and never be stuck out in the bush with a dead battery ever again!
CTEK Battery Sense
Cables Not Too Long
Only IP67 Water Rating
Easy to Install
We Didn't Know About it Sooner ;)
Always Up To Date Info
"We are a Botswana-based family of 3, with a passion for going out into nature and the bush any chance we get!"