For the budget minded buyer in 2021 the NOCO Genius Gen3 3-bank marine battery charger is a good choice. Made in the USA, the Gen3 is a 10 amp per bank, 30 total amp smart charger. One which is also compact and a fairly lightweight unit.
This NOCO Gen3 has 100% sealed construction and rated at IP68, so it’s a submersible onboard marine charger. As a result, you won’t have to worry about this model operating in the harshest environments. Likewise, it’s versatile, because it’s compatible with many types of battery chemistry. Including Wet Cell, AGM, Gel, Calcium, and Enhanced Wet Cell (up to 230 amp hours).
With safety being a crucial buying factor, I like that NOCO provides so much protection in this unit. Including short circuit, reverse polarity, open circuit, spark, overheating, over-current, and overcharge protection.
NOCO also has a special mode known as “Abnormality protection.” This mode will turn off the charger if it is in bulk charge mode for an extended period of time. Although, I still find the same complaints that this mode doesn’t function as intended. In these instances users say their batteries have “boiled off.” This is an unfortunate factor to consider when looking at the NOCO Gen3.
NOCO Smart 8 Stage Charging
Inside the Genius Gen3 is an advanced VosFX microprocessor system for intuitive smart charging. This monitors the inputs to diagnose, recover, charge, and maintain batteries. It does this by running through an eight stage charging process. NOCOs’ intended result is to provide the best battery performance and longevity possible. A description of the eight stage process is below.
- Stages 1 & 2 – Diagnose and Test
Checks the battery voltage to make sure battery connections are good and battery is in a stable condition.
Begins battery charging process with a gentle charge.
Starts Bulk battery charging process, returns 80% of battery capacity and voltage to 14.0 volt.
- 5th Stage – Absorption Charge
Switches to a constant current charge rate to bring your batteries close to 90% charge.
Charges at low current levels until battery has reached 95% of its capacity
- 7th Stage – Top-Off Charge
Charger initiates top-off charge to bring the battery to 100% charge.
- 8th Final Stage – 24 Hour (Abnormality protection)
Shuts off, but will monitor the battery by providing a gentle charge every 24 hours for maximum battery life.
Downsides of the NOCO Genius Gen3
I did find some downsides to the Genius Gen3, one such complaint happens when using it as a battery maintainer. The Gen3 only wakes up or tests a battery once every 24 hours. Don’t assume that the Genius Gen3 will check and recharge batteries throughout the day, it won’t.
The next downside is my attempt to correct some confusion when it comes to the term “battery bank.” Most times a “battery bank” means more than one battery wired in series or parallel. But this isn’t NOCOs’ definition, they define it as one 12 volt battery equals one bank for this charger. Keep this in mind when choosing which charger is best for you.
Another concern I found is that the Gen3 isn’t capable of charging some AGM deep cycle batteries. These include, Odyssey and Northstar group 31 batteries. The reason for this is that NOCO uses pulse charging which can damage certain deep cycle AGMs.
One last possible annoyance for boaters in sunny locales is the LED lights. It uses green lights to state a full charge, but this color of green is almost impossible to see in direct sunlight. It is a pain in the butt to see the color to check status. Using red LED charging lights is a better choice to be able to see in the sunlight. For me, this is an added nuisance when using the NOCO Gen3 boat charger.
Buy the NOCO Genius Gen3 charger if you want a budget friendly, 3-bank onboard charger. It’s capable of charging most batteries well, except certain deep cycle brands. The big bonus is its inexpensive and waterproof but realize this lower price comes with downsides.