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12.06.2015
Self drive cars take over the road Modify tyres and suspension legally Part 2 ARB Fridge-Freezer and Battery Life – How long will it last? Over the past few months, I’ve gradually been collecting all the gear I need to install a RedArc Dual Battery System into my Mitsubishi PB Challenger. I wanted a dual battery system that is robust and reliable when in the vehicle, but also one that was somewhat portable. If I want to be able to remove my first aux battery then I need an additional Anderson plug connecting to my first Auxiliary battery. 100 AH AGM Battery to go in my boot (See my un-scientific test on Battery life and my ARB 78L Fridge). From there, I decided to start with what I thought was the easy bits; Finding a location for, and installing the RedArc SBI Isolator. Once that was installed, I started making up the cable I needed to connect it to the cranking battery.
Firstly, to get from the engine bay to the passenger compartment, I had to run a cable through the firewall.
I’d been advised that running the earth cable all the way back to the cranking battery was a good idea. After some playing around with the multimeter which didn’t really help, I decided to pull it all off again and see what was what. This time, when I turned the engine on, the RedArc behaved as it should and the whole system started working. Lesson 4: So I was reading through the warranty information for the RedArc Dual Battery Isolator and I noticed that is says that the warranty is void if it’s purchased from an online auction site from a non-authorised reseller! Looks like a really neat installation and im trying to figure out a way to do something like this myself. The only other additional thing that I have in my car at the moment is my UHF CB Radio and that’s wired to the cranking battery. If you had other devices attached to your secondary battery circuit with the 2nd battery detached then they wouldn’t be powered when the isolator is isolating. For me the ultimate is to have your setup (removable aux battery) with a way to have all accessories run from the aux battery when its plugged in. What about if you had a manual switch in your dash that allowed you to chose which battery your accessories get power from? Have you had any issues with the challenger having a smart alternator and there you requiring a dc charger? Good info guys, I too am after a system that offers flexibility, I want to able to remove the aux battery at camp or when not on 4wd trips and have it at home on the charge.
Y’know, when I initially set mine up I had the same thought… If all my accessories are attached to the removable battery then what happens to them when I remove the battery? I am thinking that with the (soon) addition of a second winch to the Power Wagon, a dual battery setup would be advisable. I've got a yellow top tucked away in the bed with a solenoid under the hood coming off the main battery. I used a Painless Performance weatherproof solenoid kit, switched from a toggle on the dash. And, despite what accessory shops tell us, you can kit yourself out reasonably cheaply, because you don’t have to use their profit-margin-included assembled kits. Plus, there are ways to compromise on wire gauge, if you don’t intend to use one of the two batteries for starting, and plan to just use it for accessories, like camp lighting. If you’re on a budget, you can build the project over time, commencing with the battery only, and then progressing to a full, up the yin yang, install.
Additionally, you can incorporate solar panels, which not only allow for extended stays, but allow you to use smaller-capacity, lighter and cheaper batteries. In this article, I’ll explain the various options, and the best way, I found, to approach the job. If an LED lamp is 2 Amps (check the factory data panel), and you run it for one hour, it’s used up 2 Ah of the battery storage.
Battery tech is pretty simple, and most of what we need to know is that the lighter the battery the more expensive it is.
Unlike lead, lithium batteries can be discharged below 50%, and indeed they are more high-tech, so are more seductive, and will appeal to the more geek-oriented gear-heads—you know who you are.
AGM, or advanced glass mat is probably the best automotive accessory battery in my opinion because it can handle multiple deep discharges without getting knackered; and its gel construction means it can be mounted at angles. AGM is used in marine environments, and doesn’t fume when charging, unlike regular automotive wet cell lead batteries—so it can be installed in a passenger compartment. If you want to install a second battery in that beast, you need to re-locate the air filter, and then install an after-market tray. Well it isn’t, because what happens, is that you think, that while you’re moving the air filter, you might as well install a snorkel; then the scope of the job rapidly rises, because you’re going to have to cut a hole, and waterproof the vehicle electrics—you’ll be newly ponding remember.
Before you know it, you are your dollar-sign-in-eyes, accessory shop’s best customer and broke—again. I have refused, so far, to go this route, and will explain what I did, as a stop gap, later in the article. The best DIY tutorial on solenoids is by Evidave at Expedition Portal’s forum, who reckons you can do the job for around AUD$60.
Evidave’s solenoid solution is slightly compromised, compared to some of the commercial options, because the batteries can’t be switched.
If Evidave’s DIY setup is a bit too wacky, you can purchase gear designed for marine environments.


Its dual-circuit system ($249 at Whitworths) is a full-featured dual battery setup, with a combine battery function.
But be careful with Blue Sea, if you don’t want to go bust—the stuff is extremely seductive, and there are some fabulous add-ons, like thirty-dollar USB charger sockets. One tip, in any commercial marine, or automotive solution is to match your alternator’s output to any automatic charging relay. I’ve pitched it loose in the back of my truck in a plastic battery box, and I’ve built a cigarette-lighter to battery terminal alligator clip cable with 14-gauge wire.
Now, when my engine is running, and I’m on a drive of a few hours or more, I can charge the Optima off the vehicle’s accessory cigarette-lighter circuit.
But the system does work—when driving distances only—and it allowed me to get into dual batteries for a few dollars. Next: In a future article, I’ll explain how I’ve hooked-up a solar panel and charge controller to my simple battery-box power-rig. Patrick Nelson is a long-time overlander who specializes in exploring historic trails--including sometimes barely-visible wagon train routes, and ancient spring source-defined tracks. You must have JavaScript enabled in your browser to utilize the functionality of this website. Allan and Donna Alamango opened Active Batteries in 2002, with Allan being in the industry for 15 years. We also specialise in the Solar industry - from small caravan systems up to Grid-connect or Stand-alone systems.
Whatever you need to power - golf buggies, motor homes, house boats or your home solar power. All the major brand chargers, invertors, generators and other battery associated equipment.
Many recreational boat owners have found that a dual battery system is practically a must-have in order to enjoy their watercraft to the fullest. But here's the thing: For a lot of recreational boaters (eg people who aren't traveling the ocean) a dedicated and permanent dual battery system is a waste of money. Portable battery pack systems offer a lot of advantages over permanent dual battery setups, and reduced cost is one of the biggest. Purchase an expensive relay and battery switch, as well as all the wiring you'll need to install these parts in line with your current system (and the wiring isn't cheap, as it's often 8 gauge wiring). Purchase a dual battery mounting kit for your specific boat, which can cost as little as $20 and as much as $200, depending on which kit you choose to install (manufacturer provided or not). When you're all done, you'll have spent a couple hours and at least a couple hundred dollars, AND you'll have increased the amount of work you have to do to maintain your boat. A portable battery pack like the ArkPak makes a whole lot more sense than installing a permanent dual battery system in your boat, at least if you're a recreational boater who doesn't hit the water every day. To charge the ArkPak, you just plug it into the wall at home before you go boating, or you can charge it from the boat's electrical system using a standard 12VDC plug. To use the ArkPak to power things like your fishfinder, your stereo, your fridge, etc., you don't have to worry about disconnecting batteries or turning switches or whatever.
Since the ArkPak can accommodate a group 31 deep cycle battery, you can mount up to 130ah of battery capacity. While it's important to note that the ArkPak isn't a replacement for a dual battery system on a larger vessel, it is a smart alternative to dedicated battery systems on recreational boats that are used on weekends.
So my dual battery system installation will need to be expandable to extend to a trailer as well. But this is a very, very minor change to the overall design and shouldn’t cause me any real problems at all. The wiring guide recommends 100 amp fuses so I may change these to 100 amp breakers at a later date. Looking under my bonnet, there isn’t very much room and every surface seems to already have something on it! This was simply a matter of measuring the correct lengths, using the swaging tool to crimp the lugs on when needed, and installing the circuit breaker.
Not because the electrics were going to be harder, but because I had no idea about how to get cables from the engine bay to the boot.
When I put it back in again, I resprayed the area where my earth wire was with my anti-rust spray and carried on installing.
When I pulled it off, I noticed that the anti-rust spray paint had got down between my earth cable and the body work.
I’m seriously considering permanently mounting the battery behind there at some stage.
With your engine turned off, as the cranking battery drops below a certain voltage, then it isolates that battery. And I’ve just got myself a camper trailer so I’ll be able to extend the system into there now! I want a good, reliable dual battery setup and I would like it to come as close to a plug and play kit as possible as I get very nervous dealing with electrical stuff. At ignition it trips the solenoid to charge the rear battery and when ignition is off, disconnects the charge. This is almost identical to my set up, I have breakers at both batteries and breakers or fuses at all accessories.
I use battery 2 for the house and switch it to battery one for starting and running when camping. But, the solution when hanging-out in one place or camp, for one-night or more, as with the beer analogy, is pack more of it.


If the battery has a 55 Ah capacity, and it’s full, then you could run the light for 22.5 hours before the battery is dead. Now, those fridges don’t run all the time, but it’s still unsatisfactory, and you run the risk of your rig not starting in the morning. Very rough rules of thumb are that lithium chemistry will cost about double a lead solution and weigh half. In fact, it won’t leak inverted, as I found recently, when checking mine, after a rock-crawling incident, when it was indeed upside-down for a lot of that day. So, if your budget allows you to replace your primary battery too, you may find two AGMs fit at 90-degrees with a bit of hacking. But, you can do it yourself, by following along in forums, with overlanding enthusiasts, who have done it already.
Marine gear is always great for off-road applications, and dual-battery electronics are no exception.
They are light-weight, and the in-built water resistance, is also suitable for the dust and mud, that we encounter on the tracks. Vendors have the added advantage of being able to flog you everything else at the same time.
It is simply too easy to find a cozy place to drop anchor, kill the engines, have someone crank up the music, and then realize the engine will not restart after a few hours have passed. After all, you can't just let your dual battery system sit for days or weeks at a time when your boat is not in use. You're going to want to hook up a trickle charger to keep your new dual battery system conditioned. If you wanted a portable power system to use while camping or tailgating, for example, you're out of luck. You just unplug the ArkPak from the boat's electrical system (if it was plugged in) and you're isolated. That's more than enough power to run a portable refrigerator, a fish finder, a stereo system, charge a couple cell phones, etc. Campers and overlanders love to use the ArkPak to run a portable fridge, or to make sure tablets and cell phones are charged without draining vehicle batteries. If you've got a boat you use a few times a year and you're thinking about installing a dedicated dual battery system, don't. I want to be able to remove the battery from my vehicle when I arrive at a destination so that I can lug the battery and the fridge away from my car if I need to.
So if you were to use the override button and start your vehicle from the second battery, you’d have more chance of success.
When it was all done, I turned the engine on expecting the RedArc to light up as it always had before.
Either you have them wired to your main battery in which case your isolator will not orotect your starting in the morning or you have them wired to your auxilliary battery which will only work when the auxilliary battery is in place. Majority of the time when my aux battery is in my vehicle the three way switch would be in the aux position ensuring all accessary load would be off the aux battery. I set it to 1 & 2 when using boat and running the motor I never use battery 2 alone as that is the house battery and is never used for starting or running the boat only for the house circuits.
Therefore, if you start sipping on that juice, with accessories—the power will become depleted, eventually.
Only, you can’t, because you shouldn’t run the kind of batteries we use in this type of install, below 50%.
Not worth it in a vehicular situation, because, although weight is our nemesis, it isn’t like we’re going walkabout. Piranha Off Road Products, is one such vendor, and they’ll sell you the whole kit, including battery trays, dual battery management, solar, fridges, battery accessories and even the battery. I’ve spent my money on the Optima D34 Deep Cycle 55 Ah battery ($295 at Piranha) which is light enough to lug around. In other words, the battery with the higher charge flows, into the one with the lower charge. To get a really good earth, I used a grinding drill bit to grind back to bare metal then popped a screw in and sprayed over it with some rust preventing paint.
Once the main cranking battery was fully charged (which didn’t take long) the RedArc isolator turned on. So this means that if I had a fridge attached to the 2nd battery, the RedArc isolator would have cut the connection back to the main cranking battery, leaving the fridge to run only off the second battery. When it reaches a certain voltage then the solenoid allows the charge to travel back to your second battery and that also starts to charge. Though when I switch the other way to the main battery I can still run my accessories e.g driving lights without my aux battery present.
I've got an inverter connected to it and I've never been for want of power on the aux battery (although I never draw much; lights, fan, phones, computers, Wynter 65 qt.
You can draw an analogy with the beer you’re drinking, in that however slowly you drink it, eventually, it’ll still be drunk. And also reduce the weight that my vehicle will need to lug around when driving around the city. Do you have a waiting period before the solenoid kicks in and the auxilliaries fire up or have i missed something?
The switch can handle the current when winching, and our winches really like to have those extra amps on tap.



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