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Wants v Needs in 12-volt set-ups in 2018

Wants v Needs in 12-volt set-ups in 2018

Setting up a new vehicle and installing 12V accessories is one of the key elements of the build process in modern 4WDing. But in 2018, what are the essential necessities and what are the nice to haves? Jed Currey from Explore WA breaks it down for us...


Wants vs Needs in 12volt setups in 2018


12V systems and products are a huge business, and with so much investment in all sorts of products we can attach to our vehicles, leaves the modern day 4wd’er with plenty of choices. Luckily, coming straight out of our original tour vehicle travelling across Western Australia, we not only have a fair bit of experience with 12V setups but the requirements, flaws and personal needs that come with operating a setup that suits our needs.

But was it ever perfect? Nothing ever is! We changed a few things in the new build and couldn’t be happier with the result. There is still a number of smaller bits and bobs to go on the electrical side of things, namely lights for the cabin cargo area, roof rack lamps and some more power accessory sockets, but for now, it’s ready to rock and roll.

Below we will take a look at our setup in the new Explore WA 4WD Adventures Tag-a-Long tour vehicle.


Battery Power


Onboard we have 2 lead acid crank batteries, enough to run the stereo at camp and start the car in the morning, in total there is 1500CCA / 170AH. We also have a 120AH Full River AGM Battery in the rear Cargo area powering fridge and lighting plus accessory power. 


Battery ManagementREDARC BCDC1240D Dual Battery Charger


Tough 12V electrical products are always needed where we go and inherent with what we do, we can’t afford for them to let us down when we need them most. It was a no-brainer. We went for REDARC's 40AMP In-vehicle Battery Charger with its compact size and the fact it handles direct solar input, making it the clear standout for battery management. With the unit mounted on our draw system, it’s tough as nails and takes care of the charging needs with Green Power Priority (Solar) always given first preference.


Keeping it neat and tidy




Atop our Tracklander Roof Rack, we have one of REDARC's Solar Panels, with mount brackets which fit a KT Cables 100W Solar Panel, remaining low profile and fully adjustable. 100W of power works for keeping our secondary battery charged at camp during the day and should we need to top-up the crank batteries, an Anderson plug and voltage regulator are tucked away if required. This provides us with a self-sufficient setup. KT has a number of panels but the 100W KT Cables panel makes the best use of the Tracklander mounting system. Previously we have used a folding solar blanket with great results.


Tracklander roof racks are built tough


Systems Indicator


One of the high priority items with the build was a new set of REDARC Gauges. Fitted in a pillar pod, we use 2 of these sleek looking gauges to monitor Boost Pressure, EGT (Exhaust Gas Temperature), Battery Voltage, Coolant Temperature and have the provision of adding a Hall Effect Sensor to gauge on Amp Draw.

Closely monitoring performance is made easy with these gauges offering a heap of functionality and customisation through the menu of each gauge. Should anything start to go wrong, the benefit of the aftermarket gauges provide more accuracy over and above factory gauges on the instrument cluster, to indicate the first signs of trouble.


Checking everything is in order




The 12V accessory market is huge, without a doubt the technology and development across the industry is, year after year, driving new ideas for vehicle fit-outs. But that also means people have a great amount of aftermarket 12V equipment installed these days and power demands are hungry. I would call our setup mid-range in the scheme of things. We have everything we need and a few little mod cons thrown in to make our extended time out-bush just that little bit more comfortable.

In the cab we have 2 GME two way units, overhead console, various LED lights, REDARC gauges, replacement LED courtesy lamps and constant power running to the B Pillar to power our awning lights via a weatherproof connector. These items all run off the main batteries and they have a negligible power draw. We also have 7 Core wire under the dash to tap into for any future additions to the cab.

Everything is taken care of with a KT Cables fuse block under the bonnet and twin 8mm cables run from the main batteries to the rear of the car for the BCDC charger, ARB twin compressor, circuit breakers and fuses to protect these items. Our heat exchanger hot water system runs a flowjet pump switchable direct off the fuel filter bracket and the stereo entertainment system is run off the main batteries. We also have our Qesta 9″ 150W Spotlights powered up front. You can read more about those here.


protecting the goods


At the rear of the cab, the fridge is powered off the 120A/H AGM battery fitted in a battery box and currently other than a couple small angel eye lights in the tailgate that is all that is run there. More lights and switches will be utilised in the future including some of the new KT Cables 12V indicator and power sockets that have just come on the market.


All packed and ready to go


The best thing about our setup is that it's robust, self-reliant and we have the confidence in the products utilised in the build to go the endless kilometres of tough outback touring we need. A massive thank you to our good mate Mark for doing absolutely everything electrical on this build from trailer plugs to the BCDC and solar install.


Wants & Needs


When you want to build a tourer, I’d recommend taking a chance to sit down and actually look at what it is you need to achieve with the setup, followed by what you want in a setup.

Some items will cover both categories in a typical setup such as a BCDC charger performing the function of distributing a charge load across multiple batteries in an efficient way as well as incorporating some want features like solar inputs or even 240V plug and play versatility.

Everyone will have different wants and needs and what suits me, might not necessarily be suitable for your intended use and setup.

What is applicable to everyone is the fact you need to be clear on your requirements to ensure you’re not disappointed or more importantly, not left stranded by a 12V system that’s not fit for purpose.

Happy touring from Jed – Explore WA

This blog has been republished with permission from Jed Curry from Explore WA.

This blog first appeared here.



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.


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