It’s getting beyond a joke the number of people I meet at campsites around the country putting up with a dodgy 12V system. They find themselves tracing wires back, looking for fuses and basically pulling their 4WD apart at campsites trying to get their batteries to charge. I’m usually the guy kicking back at the campsite, maybe reaching for the odd cold beer because my 12V system just works each and every time. For some reason or another people seem to skimp on 12V charging systems, cut a corner where they can and turn around and scratch their head, puzzled that their fridge isn’t working and their batteries are flat. You’ve heard the old adage, ‘the poor man pays twice’ and this couldn’t be further from the truth when it comes to setting your 12V system up.
You don’t need to go and spend a fortune, but you need a system that is going to work every time and under the toughest conditions, us 4WDers put our vehicles through. I practically spend 7 months of the year living out of my old LandCruiser and it’s had the same 12V system in the tray since I made it a ute around 4 years ago. It’s a simple setup consisting of 2x 100amp AGM batteries, charged via a REDARC 40amp BCDC dual battery charger. This gives me plenty of power to run a fridge and camp lights at a campsite for around four days without turning the vehicle on. If I add portable solar panels, well the sky is the limit, I wouldn’t need to move for a month or more. The bonus about adding portable solar panels is that my new BCDC unit can recognise solar input automatically and even prioritises solar. That’s especially great when you have a solar powered battery charger on your roof, for instance, your solar power will be used first and your alternator power fills in whatever amps is left over from solar. This takes the strain off your alternator
When 4WDers ask me what to look for in a dual battery charger, I tell them they need to pick one that will suit the auxiliary batteries they plan on putting in their vehicle. A good quality dual battery charger like mine will suit every kind of battery including lithium ones. For most simple setups, 1 x auxiliary battery will suffice along with a 25amp BCDC dual battery charger. The charger will then take charge from your alternator and throw 25amps at your auxiliary battery to charge it while you drive. This fast charging is what you want when you’re 4WDing as well as a system that can recognise different batteries and protect and charge them safely so you can maximise their life.
When it comes to mounting your charger, the ideal place is somewhere as close as possible to your auxiliary battery and ideally in an area away from heat. For those wanting to mount a unit in their engine bay, this is fine assuming you look for a cool place around a guard and away from exhaust manifolds etc. Another big tip I can give is to of course over engineer the cabling you run to and from your charger and use a quality fuse holder. I use MIDI fuses with holders that use nylock nuts to clamp down terminals for a solid connection. I’ve made the mistake before and used the basic waterproof inline blade fuse holders you readily find in engine bays. The problem with these fuse holders and running big current through them is that they melt out fuses even if you use a bigger blade fuse than your system requires. There’s nothing worse than arriving at your favourite campsite only to realise you’ve blown a cheap fuse and your system hasn’t been charging properly and your beer is warm.
Cheers until next time!
Shaun has recently been using the BCDC1225D dc to dc charger , watch his review below!
Looking to start your 4x4, camper trailer or caravan upgrade but not sure what products will allow you to travel the way you want? Take the REDARC Hilux product tour to find out what products are best for your power management and towing needs.