NOW, THIS IS HOW YOU MANAGE A DUAL BATTERY SYSTEM
So you want to fit a dual battery. Should you just copy your mate’s layout? Is it a case of one system fits all.
Dual battery systems are not an exact science. It’s all about tailoring the specific system that works for you.
The best advice I can give is to work out what you want from the system first.
I will give you an example. Ed has a 79 Series with a superb Metal Form Industries canopy on the back. He wanted a system that would run two fridges – one a fridge, the other a freezer.
He was also going to spend most of his time up in the Top End where it’s nice and hot. Now we know from experience that running two fridges on a single battery up north – where it’s nice and hot, and the fridges run flat out – is a bit of a stretch.
He also really wanted a system that could be charged by 240V without the need to connect a separate charger. So I had to convince him that it was going to need two batteries and we were going to use the Redarc Manager Pro 30 Amp system.
Down here in Victoria, if you were spending most of your time in the High Country, running a single fridge, doing short trips with an older vehicle that uses a standard alternator, then maybe simply the Redarc SBI12 solenoid would be the perfect option for what is required.
If you had a 4WD that uses a smart alternator and you wanted to just sit back and relax in your favourite spot, with not much driving during the day, then maybe you would choose a Redarc BCDC 1225D with a solar panel. This system will use solar during the day to keep the battery charged while you just kick back around base camp.
You also need to know what kind of battery you are going to run and also where you are going to mount it.
AGM Batteries don’t like heat so if you’re mounting a battery under the bonnet then you may need to choose a Lead Acid Deep Cycle battery. But if you plan a battery fitment into the tub of your ute, or maybe into a rear draw system, then an AGM battery will be just the ticket.
The other thing with selecting which battery to use, is that it will also help to determine what size charger is best.
All batteries charge at different rates and will accept different amounts of charge so once you know what type of battery then you can choose either a 20, 25 or 40amp charger.
If you are using two batteries then maybe the 40amp charger is best suited. The newer technology lithium batteries are also brilliant but again they will require a special lithium capable charger.
If you are looking for a cheaper DC-DC charger, then Thunder do a nice simple-to-use system. It’s excellent value for money but they are not waterproof or dustproof.
So again, knowing where you are going to mount batteries and knowing what you want in the system you are designing is the key, ‘cause the Thunder DC-DC charger would work well mounted in the rear of a draw system or canopy.
There was another system that we designed for Glenn in his 200 Series. He wanted to split the batteries and run a central fuse box for all accessories that he was going to use.
So in this case we actually ended up using two Optima yellow top batteries just because he wanted massive cranking power but we used a Narva fuse block with two separate inputs for power.
One side we ran off the main battery through a circuit breaker and off that side of the fuse block we ran things like the spotlights and the UHF all off the main battery supply.
On the other side of the fuse block we ran all accessory powers. Things like the power for the fridge and some accessory power points to the rear of the vehicle. It was designed in this way because Glen wanted to have a central point for all his fuses and he wanted to keep unnecessary wires from the battery terminals.
If you are looking for portable power and something that you can literally take anywhere, then maybe a dual battery system inbuilt into the 4WD is not the answer for you.
Maybe you could look at a system that incorporates the ArkPak. It can also be used as a dual battery system in a 4WD set up but can then be taken out of the rig and put into a tent or even taken into a boat as a full portable power source.
There are so many different options out there now, so having realistic expectations of what you actually require is best.
Like everything, do some research, ask for advice, and then you’ll be able to come up with a plan that will work for you.