Ford Ranger PX2 Dual Battery System & Accessory Installation

We get asked a lot about Ford Rangers and the modifications we can do to them. So, here’s mine. I thought I’d give you a quick run through. It’s actually got a lot done so we’ll just plough through it front to rear.

So the first thing we’ll start off with, it’s got a full LLA, led headlight upgrade, so high, low, and park in the front are all converted to led and they’re amazing. They’re fantastically bright. And then, I’m not really a bull bar kind of guy. We’ve got that on our other vehicle. So, we fitted a Great Whites light bar down here in the gap. I like it. And we’ll show you a little bit later on, it’s also got a backlit, halo feature that comes on with my park lights, so that’s pretty cool.

Pretty much the rest to show you under the bonnet, and we’ll get you a close up here in a minute. It’s just my fuse panel and all my relays that control everything we’ll go through as we move down the vehicle.

Inside The Cab

So, here we are, we’re inside the cab now. We’ll move through. The first thing I’ve done is fit a light force fascia. You can get these for the PX2 Rangers and in that, we’ve managed to fit a dual volt meter, one for the front battery, one for the auxiliary, behind the seat battery. Switch for my rear light bar, a TowPro for my caravan, and then a switch for my front light bar. We also still retain the factory 12 volt outlet.

The other thing we’ve done that’s super cool, is this Polaris display unit. Basically, what that gives me is full Hema mapping, a front camera, and also it connects to, we’ve run an integration with my Safety Dave camera on my caravan. And so, while we’re driving along, that runs a full caravan rear cam.

Dual Battery System

So here we are behind the back seat. Obviously with a Ranger, with a dual cab, you don’t have much room so we’ve put an awful lot of stuff behind here. I’ve got my compressor that I’ve just mounted to a switch and my output here rather than plumbing it all over the vehicle. It just means you pop open the door, plug in there, it’s much easier. And then, obviously the elephant in the room, is our big dual battery system we’ve got here. So, this is 108 Amp hour, lead crystal battery. It’s got a Redarc 1240 DC-DC and basically a fuse box for all the outputs and the red plug that you’ll see on a close up. That is our solar input.

We’ve found these to be fantastic, we’re nearly on triple figures on the installs of them. The beauty of the lead crystal is that it charges up to three times faster than the AGM. So, what it means is I get three days out of my fridge and then I’ve really only got to go for an hour run and I’m charged up, ready to go for another three days. So, these have been fantastic and I can’t recommend them enough.

In The Tub

So here we are down in the tub, guys. First thing to show, Great Whites light bar, with the backlit halo. What we’ve done is we’ve wired up the halo backlighting to the factory tub lighting. What that means is when you open the door, it lights up the tub and gives you a nice white light at night, but when you close the doors and you start the vehicle, the light goes out so that’s really important so you don’t have any rear facing white lights.

The other thing we’ve done is, all my outputs for my dual battery system are down here. What I’ve done is, I’ve flush mounted them on. And that keeps it neat and tidy and means that anything can float and roll around in the ute and it’s not going to get damaged. We’ve installed a cigarette, dual USB, and then an Anderson in a fully enclosed space. I use an Anderson to run my fridge, just so I don’t get bad connections. I’ve found cigarette socket always comes loose.

Trailer Plugs

So here we are, last stop on the tour, down the back of the vehicle. We’ll start down here with just Anderson plug, standard Anderson plug through an isolator to charge the batteries in my caravan, factory 12 pin plug, and then the cool one is, this is a Safety Dave WOZA that we’ve retrofitted to the Polaris head unit. What that means is that the camera on my caravan, which is a Safety Dave, now integrates with the Polaris head unit we showed you on the dash. The Anderson plug is just an isolated Anderson plug and that charges the lithium batteries in my caravan.

If you’ve made it through to the end of this video, well done, but if you’ve got any questions, then give us a call, on 1300 227 353. You could e-mail us at [email protected] or leave us a comment below.

What Size Inverter Do I Need to Run 240V Appliances?

What Size Inverter Do I Need to Run 240V Appliances?

Don’t want to give up life’s little luxuries on your next caravan trip? If you are accustomed to the creature comforts of home and would to take them on the road with you when you travel, you should look at installing an inverter on your Caravan. But with so many options out there how do you know what size inverter you need to keep all your 240V appliances powered? 

We’re here to offer some suggestions. 

In this post, we are assuming you already have solar panels or battery system installed in your caravan or vehicle. If you haven’t, we suggest also checking out some of our other blog posts and videos here: 4WD & Caravan Electrics Posts

The size of the inverter you will need is dependent on a few factors:
  • The number of appliances you will be powering
  • The type of devices you will be powering
  • The size of your batteries

If you are wanting to run low-draw 240V devices like TVs, laptops and lights, a 300W – 600W size inverter should be enough.

However, if you are looking to run higher powered devices such as kettles, toasters, coffee machines or even Air Conditioning there are a few more things to consider. 

So what are you going to need if you are committed to being completely self-sufficient and avoiding mains power entirely? 

To power these high draw appliances, you will need to ensure you have a large inverter. You will also need a large bank of batteries that have enough capacity to power these devices. A decent set of solar panels is also recommended to keep the batteries charged.

As a minimum for running these high draw appliances, we would suggest a 250Ah 12V battery bank with a 2000W inverter. This would be enough to run most pod coffee machines and some microwaves for a short burst.

If you were wanting to power anything more than this (for example an AC system), you would need to look at a battery bank of at LEAST 300-600Ah and a 3000W inverter.

As you can probably understand the more you want to run on 240V power the bigger, and more expensive, the system gets.

Space and weight are often obstacles when it comes to installing these larger systems in caravans. However, new technologies are constantly being developed to combat this issue. Alternate battery options such as lithium becoming increasingly popular for this reason. There are more options than ever on the market for anyone wanting to be more self-sufficient when travelling. It is important to do plenty of research or consult a professional when considering what is the best solution for you. 

If you are looking at setting up your caravan to run 240V appliances, or if you just want to give yourself more options to free camp, give us a call on 1300 227 353, contact us online or comment below.

All About Anderson Plugs – Colours, Sizes & Uses Explained

If you’re looking to get a dual battery system in your vehicle or you’re towing a caravan or camper trailer, chances are you have probably heard all about Anderson plugs. Put simply, an Anderson plug is a specialised plug we use to connect devices that use high-current circuits.

Sizes & Colours

Anderson plugs come in a range of sizes and colours, the most common being the grey and the red 50-amp ones. You can get up to a 350-amp. The bigger the current, the bigger the Anderson plug we need.

A red Anderson plug will only fit into a red Anderson plug. We can’t connect, basically, a red and a grey. The only real reason you’ll have the different colours is so that you always remember to connect the right accessory into the right accessory on your caravan circuit or car.

When to Use an Anderson Plug

Charging Circuits

The Anderson plug is designed to handle a high, continuous load, so this makes it ideal to use in charging circuits. The most common use that we install Anderson plugs for is charging the auxiliary battery in your caravan or camper trailer when driving.

It’s fitted to the rear of the vehicle like this one here. This is the ideal alternative to running a charge feed through your 12-pin plug. Too much current charging through a 12-pin plug can cause the pins to melt as they’re not large enough to handle the current from most modern alternators. Having an Anderson plugs means you can safely pass more charge through to your caravan’s battery charge system, keeping the caravan batteries charged up while you travel to your next destination.

Solar Panel Connection

Another common use for Anderson plugs is to connect a solar panel via a regulator to top up your batteries. We often fit these to four-wheel drives and caravans with dual battery systems in an easy to access location so they could easily top up their auxiliary batteries via the solar panel without having to run your vehicle.

Powering ESC (Electronic Stability Control)

We’ll also regularly fit another Anderson plug to your tow bar if you’ve got a caravan that requires power to ESC, which is electronic stability control. Although your ESC can be run through a 12-pin if necessary, we recommend using an Anderson plug because it’s a more secure connection when driving, and ease of disconnection if you’re going off-road. It’s common practice to use a red Anderson plug for ESC and a grey one for your charge feed on the back of your car so you can easily identify them.

12 Volt Accessory Power Alternative

Due to their secure locking design, Anderson plugs also make great alternatives for powering high-draw 12-volt accessories such as fridges and air compressors. Anderson plugs are much more robust and hold a more secure connection than the standard 12-volt cigarette socket. They’re particularly good for those of us who like to venture off the beaten track.

I hope this video has given you a bit more information about what Anderson plugs are and why we recommend installing them as part of a dual battery system in your four-wheel drive, caravan, or camper trailer.

If you have any further questions about Anderson plugs, give us a call on 1300 227 353, contact us online or comment below.

Battle of the Deep Cycle Batteries: Calcium, AGM, Lead Crystal or Lithium

Its one of the most common questions when installing auxiliary batteries and 12 Volt power systems in vehicles and caravans…

Which type of deep cycle battery is the best?

Unfortunately, there is no straight answer. With so many battery options available on the market, it can be difficult to know which type would be best suited to your needs. In most cases, it will depend on what it is being installed into, where you want to put it, and how you want to use it.

In saying that however, there are four types of auxiliary batteries we recommend if you are looking for a 12-volt power solution.

Types of Batteries 

To help you decide which one is going to be best suited to your setup, we’re going to break down each option.

First up, let’s explain the difference between each type of battery’s design.

Calcium 

Calcium replaces antimony in the plates of the battery, giving it some advantages including improved resistance to corrosion, no excessive gassing, less water usage and lower self-discharge. This makes calcium the ideal option for under bonnet dual battery systems. If used in a deep cycle situation it is recommended to use a charger that has a calcium charging mode to get the maximum life out of the battery.

AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat)

AGM is traditionally the most common option for auxiliary battery systems. In the internal construction of the battery, there’s a fibreglass mat between each of the internal plates. The purpose of this mat is to absorb the acid in the battery, so there is no chance of leaks if any damage occurs to the battery.  

Lead Crystal

Lead Crystal Batteries first came on the scene in 2009 so they are a relatively new deep cycle battery option. The technology found in lead crystal batteries uses an advanced patented formula, a type of composite SiO2 electrolyte developed to completely replace traditional acid battery solutions. 

Lithium (LiFePO4)

The ultimate lightweight power solution. Lithium-iron-phosphate (LiFePO4) is the safest of the mainstream li-ion battery types. Lithium Batteries can have up to 60% more usable power than their lead-acid equivalent. Add in the fact that they are approx 50% lighter and 30% smaller makes Lithium a superior alternative for caravan, camper trailers, boats or any other application where weight/space saving is a priority.

Now let’s look at the specs.

NOTE: Due to its limited application options we have not included Calcium in our comparisons below. 

Each battery has its own pros and cons. We’ve included some of the most important stats in the table below for comparison.

 

 AGMLead CrystalLithium
Temperature-18°C to +45°C-45°C to +65°C-20°C to +65°C
Usage Life2-3 years8-12 years5-6 years
80% Discharge Cycle @ 25°C500 – 8001300 – 1500> 2000
80% Discharge Cycle @ 40°C250 – 4001000 – 1200> 2000
Weight of 100Ah Battery28kg28kg16kg
Shelf Life (No Top Up)12 months24 months12 months

If you like crunching the numbers, you might enjoy these cost estimations from the team at Big Red Caravan Parts.

Please note: The prices and figures in the table are a guide for demonstration purposes only and do not reflect the actual price of the batteries. For more information on these figures visit the Big Red Caravan Parts website.  

AGM COST:

Given that a AGM battery should only be taken to 50% of DOD to optimise battery life the actual cost of this battery is:

100Ah x 50% DOD = 50Ah

Power Cost = $245/50 = $4.90 / usable Ah

Cycle Life at 50% DOD (@ 25°C) = 500 cycles which equates to 1.4 years of daily use

Cycle Cost = $245/500 = $0.49 / 50% DOD cycle

LEAD CRYSTAL COST:

Given that a lead crystal battery should only be taken to 75% of DOD to optomise battery life the actual cost of this battery is:

100Ah x 75% DOD = 75Ah

Power Cost = $515/75 = $6.87 / usable Ah

Cycles Life at 75% DOD (@ 25°C) =1695 cycles which equates to 4.6 years of daily use

Cycle Cost = $515/1695 = $0.30 / 75% DOD cycle

LITHIUM COST:

Given that a Lithium battery should only be taken to 80% of DOD to optimise battery life the actual cost of this battery is:

100Ah x 80% DOD = 80Ah

Power Cost = $1715/80 = $21.43 / usable Ah

Cycles Life at 80% DOD (@ 25°C) = 2500 cycles which equates to 6.8 years of daily use

Cycle Cost = $1715/2500 = $0.67 / 80% DOD cycle

So, what’s the best option?

As always, it depends on how often you want to use it, what you want to run and your budget.

We’ve put together a couple of example scenarios/lifestyles to give you an idea of what option suits best in certain situations…

The Weekend EscaperYou get away a couple of times a year, usually on long weekends and not too far from home. 

Recommended Battery: AGM or Calcium

For those who don’t get away too often, cost efficiency is usually top of mind when it comes to choosing a battery. AGM is usually the most affordable and reliable option for the occasional adventurer. Calcium is also suitable for under bonnet vehicle dual battery systems. Provided your AGM batteries are maintained correctly when not in use, they should see you through a few years of weekend escapes.

The ‘Whenever-I-Can’ AdventurerYou spend every available moment adventuring off the beaten track, often travelling for a week or so at a time. 

Recommended Battery: Lead Crystal 

If you enjoy the work-to-live kinda lifestyle, and you are willing to spend a little more on your set up, Lead Crystal is the way to go. The fast charging capabilities and resilience to deep discharging make Lead Crystal an ideal option for those extended trips off the beaten track. These batteries can be even be discharged all the way down to zero without causing damage to the battery (though it is not recommended to do this too often).

The Full-Time TourerYou love the caravan life on the road travelling around the country in your little slice of luxury. 

Recommended Battery: Lithium 

When touring full time in the van, every kilogram counts! This is where Lithium Batteries truly are a cut above the rest when it comes to saving on weight and space. Thanks to the weight/space savings, you can fit a much larger system, allowing you to run more high draw appliances in your van. With a powerful enough system, you could potentially run a washing machine, coffee machine and even Air Conditioning!

As you can see, all the options out there for deep cycle batteries have their advantages and disadvantages depending on your situation, lifestyle and budget.

If you do have any further questions about the various battery options available on the market our technicians are on ready to help. Give us a call on 07 5479 6652 or contact us online.

How to Get the Most Out of Your AGM Battery

Want to get the most out of your deep cycle AGM battery?

Hi guys, Andrew here from Accelerate Auto Electrics & Air Conditioning on the Sunshine Coast.

Knowing how to correctly charge and look after your deep cycle AGM battery is crucial for optimising its performance and life span. In today’s video, we’re gonna run you through few of our tips on how to correctly use and maintain your deep cycle AGM battery.

Now just to clarify, these tips only apply to the AGM deep cycle and not your starting battery. Starting batteries are a completely different composition and are design to be used or maintained in a very different way.

So now that we’ve got the disclaimer out of the way, let’s get into the good stuff.

Discharging

Okay, so let’s get into discharging, first up. If you want this guy to live a while, the last thing you want to do is discharge it too much or run it too flat. Basically, the lower the depth of discharge you take it to, the shorter its life span is gonna be.

We recommend trying not to go below 11 volts. Anything below 11 volts and you’re really causing damage to the battery. Any sort of dual battery system we wire up, we’ll always recommend using a low volt, some sort of low voltage cut out or protection system to stop this guy getting discharged too much.

Storage

Now that we’ve covered discharging, a second thing really is storage. When you store the battery, you always want to store it at a fully charged state. If you leave the AGM battery stored for a long period of time, say anything over a month in a discharged state, sulphation will always occur.

We’ll go into sulphation a bit later, but just remember, if you want this guy to last a long time, fully charge it before you store it for any amount of time.

Charging

Okay, we covered discharging, we’ve covered storage, let’s talk about charging. An AGM battery has a different internal resistance to your old school battery and it also requires a different charging method.

Whenever you charge an AGM battery, you really need a late model multistage charger. A charger that will go through an absorption, bulk and float phase.

The old charger you got, the old Arlec one that you’ve probably got in the back, will just cook this guy and destroy it and turn it into a balloon. So, whenever you charge this guy, you want to look for a modern battery charger that has an AGM setting or will detect an AGM, and shows a multistage curve. You’ll generally see five, seven to 11 stages are normally covered by your good brand chargers.

When it’s in the vehicle, it’s a different chemistry to your normal starting battery. So, your alternator isn’t really designed to charge this style of battery. Whenever you fit an AGM deep cycle battery to a vehicle, we always recommend using a DC-DC charger that again, either detects the AGM battery or can be modified to suit the AGM battery.

It requires a different charge rate your normal start battery. A DC-DC charger generally will always protect the start battery against any discharge on the AGM battery. So, the old VSR solenoid that people used to use, not such a good idea. These guys, DCDC charger, and you’ll get a much longer life span out of them.

Sulphation – Enemy of the AGM Battery

Sulphation occurs when sulfuric acid within the lead acid battery reacts to a lead sulphate on the battery’s negative plates. This reduces the surface area of the acid on the plate and makes it difficult for the battery to hold charge. The best way to prevent sulphation, once again, is to leave this guy fully charged.

We hope these tips have helped you understand how to correctly use and maintain your deep cycle AGM battery.

If you have any further questions about battery care and maintenance, give us a call on 1300 227 353, or email us at [email protected] or you can even comment below.