Toyota Hilux Under Bonnet Dual Battery System

Toyota Hilux Under Bonnet Dual Battery System

Hi guys, Andrew here from Accelerate Auto Electrics & Air Conditioning with Josh, one of our dual battery experts.

One of the questions we get asked a lot is where should I put my dual battery or my auxiliary battery? Should it go under the bonnet or in a box in the back?

This is actually Josh’s Toyota Hilux. We’re here looking at it and he’s put his under the bonnet. We’re gonna let him tell us why he thinks it’s better under the bonnet, in his vehicle. Take it away Josh.

Josh: So, I went under the bonnet mainly to save space in my tub. A lot of the battery boxes are big and bulky and take up a lot of room.

The Toyota Hilux’s are good for that because you can get an under bonnet battery tray that still fits nice and tidy out of the way. You can get a 105 amp hour battery under the bonnet. This is ample to run your fridges and accessories for a couple of days. In conjunction with that, with the Toyota Hilux’s, you have to use a DCDC charger.

I have used the Redarc BCDC1225D, which is solar capable, and also maintains my battery to a hundred percent. A lot of these new cars have computer controlled alternators and smart alternators, so they need a correct charging profile. Otherwise your battery will never charge correctly and the computers don’t agree with it.

Andrew: So, how many days do you get outta your fridge Josh?

Josh: I get about three days without solar, before I have to start my vehicle and run and charge my battery back up.

Andrew:  Good, and what size solar panel have you got?

Josh: I use a 120 watt portable, little solar panel that I throw out in the sun. That way I can keep my car parked in the shade.

Andrew: Okay, cool. Anything else you’ve put on it for us, just quickly?

Josh: So, I’ve done LED upgrades in my headlights. I’ve got a slim line light bar mounted in my grill, because I haven’t got to the point where I want a bull bar.  I quite like the look of the slim factory body lines. I’ve got built in work lights in the back, that again run off my auxiliary battery. I also run my UHF and all that, which is all inside the cab as well.

Andrew: So any regrets putting it under the bonnet?

Josh: No, I don’t regret putting it under the bonnet. Mainly because, if it’s possible to go under the bonnet, I think it’s the best, most easiest way to do a dual battery system. As yeah, you save a lot of space.

Andrew: What we’ll do is we’ll take you inside and will give you a quick look at Josh’s dash. He’s used the factory switches that we use on our light bars and so on, so you can get a good look at that.

Inside The Cab

Josh: So inside my cab, I run the factory fit Toyota style blanks, so they replace the factory blanks. In this one here, I have a voltmeter and USB, which runs off my second battery to keep all my devices and phones, and tablets charged on the move.

Next to it I run the factory fit UHF plug. In a lot of these vehicles there is nowhere to mount the hand pieces. I didn’t wanna drill holes all through my dash to mount a hand piece. So I run the Uniden unit with all the controls and speaker, built into the hand piece. And when I don’t want it in use, I can just unplug that and put it away in my glove box. That way I don’t have cables and things dangling all over the place.

On the driver side of my vehicle I have the factory fit Toyota switches, that runs my auxiliary work lights, my fog lights, and my driving lights on the front. Now, we’re gonna go to the back and I’ll show you my work lights and the set up I have in my tray.

In The Ute Tub

So in the back of my Ute, I run just an Anderson plug in the side, which mainly runs my fridge. If I need to when I’m out camping, I then plug in a junction box. On this I run another voltmeter, some USB Chargers, and some cig sockets to run camp lights and stuff like that.

Also, I have my UHF aerial mounted in the back here. It’s a 6.5 DBI Uniden aerial. Once again, I didn’t have a bull bar, so I found an alternative place to mount it, and it’s quite tidy in the back.

At the top I run two LED work lights. These mostly come in use when I’m backing my boat down the boat ramps at night. Just to give me a bit more light and also when I’m camping, to find those campsites.

Andrew: So that was a quick run through of Josh’s Toyota Hilux, with his under bonnet dual battery system and a few other mods he’s done. If you have any questions give us a call on 1300 227 353 Email us at [email protected] or feel free to 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.

Where Can I Fit a Dual Battery System?

Depending on your vehicle, there are a few options when it comes to where you can fit a dual battery system. Today we’re gonna run you through the most popular options to fit a dual battery system and which common vehicles they are best suited to.

Under Bonnet

So, first up, let’s chat about an under bonnet dual battery system. This option involves fitting two batteries under the bonnet of your vehicle. In some cases, the vehicle actually comes with two starting batteries as standard. In this situation, we’d replace both batteries, one would be replaced with a high-powered starting battery and the other would be replaced with an auxiliary or dual battery.

In other cases, if the vehicle comes standard with one starting battery and an empty space somewhere for a second battery, we would leave the starting battery and fit an auxiliary or dual battery in an empty space under the bonnet.

Under bonnet has to use a deep cycle usually calcium type of battery. For most people, the under bonnet is an ideal dual battery solution as it keeps the auxiliary battery out of the way without having to take up space somewhere in the vehicle.

Under bonnet systems can be fitted to a number of popular four-wheel drives including the Toyota Landcruiser Prado, or Hilux, a Nissan Navara, a Ford Ranger PJ or PK, the Holden Colorado and Rodeo the Isuzu D-MAX and MU-X, some Jeep Wranglers and Cherokees and VW Amaroks.

Under Tray or Canopy

Next up is a great solution for a ute. The under tray or canopy setup. This is quite a popular option for people who have a ute with canopies or under tray storage as it keeps your battery locked away without taking up space in the cab of the vehicle.

The versatility of this option is what makes it so popular. With so many options for sizes and types of batteries on the market today, there are very few limits to what type of system we can install under the tray or in a canopy.

The main downside of this setup is that you will lose some storage space in your canopy or in your tray. This is where our next and newest option comes in.

In-Cab

We have recently developed an in-cab dual battery solution for utes and dual cab vehicles that is our best space saver yet.

This system involves fitting a lead crystal battery behind the rear seats of dual cab utes. This frees up the entire canopy or tray and allows for a more secure and protected dual battery system. We can customise the location of plugs and sockets, put them anywhere in the vehicle and also fit anything else that you may need.

Due to the design and size requirements, this type of system is limited to a select group of vehicles. At the moment we can put this in the Ford Ranger and Mazda BT-50s.

If you have a different vehicle, get in touch, we’ll do some measurements and see if it’s a suitable option for you. If you want to know a bit more about our in-cab dual battery solutions, check out another video here:

Portable Battery Box

As awesome as these three in-vehicle systems are, they do have one major drawback, you need have the vehicle close by to power everything. This isn’t so bad when you’re parked up in one spot for a while but if you want a bit more freedom, this is where our final option comes in.

The portable battery box.

There are so many variations of portable battery boxes on the market. There are pre-made boxes with all the outlets and sockets you will ever need and maybe some that you never actually will use. However, if you’re after something a little bit more suited to your specific needs, we have a range of custom portable battery boxes available.

We have four standard options available that are assembled in house. Or you can choose to have one made that is completely customised with the sockets and plugs that you need and the isolator or DC-to-DC charger of your choice. The main benefit of a portable battery box is that it’s portable.

You can remove the box from your vehicle and set it up in camp to run a fridge or lights. Perfect for those who like to venture further off the beaten track.

So, these are the most common options available for where you can fit a dual battery system.

Which one do you prefer?

Let us know in the comments below. If you’ve got any other questions, you can give us a call, 1300 227 353 or contact us online.

ULTIMATE Off-Grid/Free Camping Caravan Power System

Want to run your air conditioning overnight in your caravan while camping off the grid? You heard it right, running air con without 240 power. Keep watching and we’ll show you how with a Free Camping Caravan Power System.

Hi there, Andrew here from Accelerate Auto Electrics & Air Conditioning on the Sunshine Coast. Today we’re very excited to show you through, this On The Move, No Limits caravan that we have just finished installing a power packed, Enerdrive Lithium power system in.

Original System

This caravan came to us with 3x 125Ah AGM batteries in it, and Enerdrive Combo 1600W charger inverter, and a Projecta DCDC charger. It was only wired up and capable of running a microwave and a couple of power points. The batteries, inverter, and DCDC charger were all too small to run the air con system.

New System

This new setup is a custom free camping caravan power system that is built by us, and Enerdrive, and includes two 300Ah compact lithium batteries, an Enerdrive Combi 2000W inverter charger.

The custom Enerdrive base plate. Two 40A DC-DC chargers. And an Enerdrive ePRO Plus battery monitor. The other thing we’ve done, is we’ve fitted 890 watts of solar on the roof and a Dometic Harrier Inverter air conditioner.

Let’s take a closer look at all of the components inside.

Solar Panels

We’ll start up top with the solar panel. The caravan already had two 120 watt panels on the roof, it also had the air con unit, satellite dish, couple of TV antennas, so we had to play Tetris to get all the panels there.

It now has nine separate panels including the two existing ones, totaling 890 watts. The nine solar panels flow into the Morning Star 60 Amp controller. The whole system is installed under these seats in the rear of the van.

Batteries

We’ve installed two 300Ah compact lithium batteries, giving the caravan a whopping 600Ah of lithium. That is equivalent to 850Ah of AGM batteries. So there’s a few reasons why we use these lithium batteries in these type of fit outs. Lithium-ion batteries have a high energy density and are perfect for cyclic applications.

They offer savings of up to 70% in volume and weight compared to traditional lead acid or AGM batteries. Lithium-ion batteries also offer fast charging and discharging, high efficiency and three times as many charging cycles, up to 1500 cycles compared to traditional AGM lead acid batteries.

To give you an example of the weight saving, you would need to have seven 125Ah AGM batteries installed in a caravan to get the equivalent run time for the air con system. The weight of that many AGM batteries, would be 241 kilos, in comparison, these two lithium batteries, weigh less than a hundred kilos. Don’t forget about the space saving too, I don’t know many caravans that could fit  all these AGM batteries underneath the seat.

Active Cell Balancing

A feature that these lithium batteries have that is exclusive to Enerdrive is the Active Cell Balancing. In layman’s terms, the battery is made up of individual cells, and over time, these cells get out of balance with each other.

Enerdrive has a magic black box, that allows for automatic balancing of the cells during charging, discharging, and storage. Any cells with high voltage density will transfer energy to the lower cells in the pack, which will increase longevity of the batteries and limit the waste of stored energy.

Combi Inverter Charger

Down here, we have the Enerdrive ePRO Combi 2000 Watt Charger Inverter. It is an all in one combination of a DC to AC pure sine wave inverter, and advanced multi-stage charger, and a high-speed AC transfer switch.

The main task of the ePRO Combi Inverter Charger is to act as an uninterruptible AC power supply or UPS. In case of disconnecting the van from 240 volt, the ePRO Combi immediately stops charging the battery, releases the AC transfer switch, and activates an inverter to take over supply of all the connected loads.

Basically, this inverter is what runs all the 240 volt appliances like the air conditioning system, the microwave and the power points. So you could pretty much plug anything into this thing, like kettle, toaster, coffee maker, hair straightener, even the washing machine.

So basically this charger will charge the batteries even when it’s connecting power supply into 240 volt, so it’s got load sharing. When free camping and you’re not plugged into 240 power, the inverter takes the power stored in the batteries, turns it into 240 volt, to run the appliances.

DC-DC Chargers

Next up, we’ll take a closer look at these two 40A DC to DC chargers. The Enerdrive DC to DC battery charger is a fully automatic multi-stage, multi-input battery charger with the ability to charge from either alternator link to a battery, or via the solar panel.

In this instance, we’re only using it as a DCDC charger, because we’re gonna use a separate Morning Star solar regulator. The reason for that is, so when you’re driving, we can charge from both the Anderson plug alternator, and from the solar panels. The reason why we’ve got two of these DCDC chargers is ’cause, we’ve packed them parallel together, we can get up to 80A of charging, while driving. So basically, these batteries can take a lotta hit, and these chargers can give it to ’em. The Anderson plug connects straight to these DCDC chargers, and they manage the whole lithium profile.

Battery Management System

We’ve worked closely with the team in Enerdrive in Brisbane to have this system fully customised to suit this caravan and customer’s needs. Prior to the van coming in, all the measurements are sent to Enerdrive and they build a battery management system connection plate, in their factory, in Brisbane. This is basically a plate that is built in the factory and shipped to us for installation. All the individual circuits are fused and clearly labelled and that this handles all the charging, discharging, and fusing for the system.

Battery Monitor

Over here on the wall, we’ve mounted the ePRO Plus battery monitor and alarm. The battery monitor shows you the true state of charge of your system, it’s like a fuel gauge for your battery, telling you how long until the system shuts down, the hours and minutes, and also the current load going in and out.

The ePRO Plus can monitor up to three battery banks. We also have set up two alarms, the first will shut the system down at 24% capacity, the second, is to shut the AC off when the batteries get down to 35% capacity. That allows the fridges and all the other important things to keep running overnight, once the air con shuts down, so that no problems happen. We can expand it up to another three alarms, so for example we could turn the washing machine off at 30%, or lights at 28% or something like that.

So all in all, this is a pretty epic system, it’s not often I geek out. And one for the serious tourers out there who want the creature comforts, powered appliances like you’d have in your home. If you are interested in upgrading to a lithium system for your caravan, or have any questions about getting a free camping caravan power system, feel free to comment below, send us an email, or give us a call on 1300 227 353.

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.