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Wanderlost's Dual Battery System Build Thread

Discussion in 'General 4Runner Talk' started by WanderlostOverland, Dec 19, 2018.

  1. Dec 19, 2018 at 3:15 PM
    #1
    WanderlostOverland

    WanderlostOverland [OP] New Member

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    I started this thread to chronicle the dual battery system we’re currently putting together. It’s being installed in a ’17 Toyota 4Runner but can easily be adapted to just about any vehicle.

    I’ve got some experience in wiring lights and building fuse/relay panels, but for this project I’ve asked for help from a company that specializes in designing and installing dual battery systems. They’re helping with the more technical aspects to make certain everything does what it’s supposed to do, all the parts are compatible with one another, and it performs safely and efficiently.


    To begin I’ll list what our needs and wants are from our system.

    · Simplicity in design and function. This will reduce the chance of component/part failure and make field repairs simpler.

    · Must not jeopardize the starter battery’s charge. We often do solo vehicle trips into very remote places so having juice to start the engine in the morning is paramount. However, the second battery needs to have the capability to perform an emergency jump start via jumper cables in an emergency.

    · Posses the most current technology. We don’t want to invest in a system that’s already out of date, obsolete, or will be soon. It also needs to work best and most efficient with our vehicles charging system. Many of the older systems don’t work well with our “smart” alternator.

    · Our power needs are fairly typical; a fridge, some low amp LED works lights, and the ability to quickly charge camera batteries. We’ll remain using the starter battery to power auxiliary running lights and the winch.

    · The ability to easily add a solar panel to supplement the charging when the engine isn’t running. This we’ll likely be adding at a later date. When we do, we’d like to be able to simply plug the panel in with no need for additional components.


    All the pieces of the puzzle have been chosen and placed on order. As things progress I’ll be posting pictures, explaining the reasons why we chose the parts we did, basic specifications, and of course how everything goes together. When it’s all over and done with I’ll be producing a video detailing the actual nuts and bolts of the install.


    This is going to be a fun project! Merri and I hope you come along for the ride.

    insta_perched_on_cliff.jpg
     
  2. Dec 19, 2018 at 3:22 PM
    #2
    WanderlostOverland

    WanderlostOverland [OP] New Member

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    What started us down this path to dual batteries was the inconvenience of buying ice for the cooler almost every day. Forever our trips have been partially routed and planned according to where we could buy ice. We would often times drive many, many miles out of our way in order to keep our food from spoiling and our beer cold.

    Last fall we finally broke down and bought a fridge, a Dometic 75DZW. Yup, the big one. Now we need a way to power it!


    Our wants and needs that lead us to this particular unit is as follows:

    · We wanted a brand that’s known for its reliability, durability, and has an excellent reputation for standing behind their products.

    · A unit that was big enough to hold enough food for two people for up to seven days.

    · It needed to be as energy efficient as possible, compared to other brands its size.

    · It had to have a drain in the bottom to facilitate easy clean-ups, in case of an accidental spill and routine cleaning.

    · Both AC and DC capabilities. For times when we want to use it in our camping trailer.

    Additional features it has that are a bonus:

    · Split in to two compartments. One side can be used as a freezer. Just in case we need to make ice for someone we have along that has a cooler. J

    · Bluetooth controls and monitoring device. We’ll easily be able to keep an eye on it and make adjustments while we’re driving.

    · Although it came with an additional cost, an insulated cover. This will add to its efficiency but still provide easy access.

    DSC_0009.jpg
    DSC_0009.jpg DSC_0005.jpg
     
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  3. Dec 19, 2018 at 3:25 PM
    #3
    WanderlostOverland

    WanderlostOverland [OP] New Member

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    Battery, Battery Mount, and Position of Mount


    It's possible to pay a boat load of money for a battery if we wanted to. We didn't want to. After a lot of research we decided on a Duracell Ultra Platinum, AGM, BCI Group 34M, Deep Cycle, Dual Purpose battery from our local Batteries+ store. Just shy of $200 and It came with a four year free replacement warranty. We went with a dual-purpose or hybrid battery opposed to a deep-cell for the ability to use it for an emergency jump-start.


    For our 4Runner there's three likely positions for a second battery.

    1. Side by side with the starter battery.

    Pros-

    · Mounting them both there would leave plenty of room under the hood for other things, like a compressor. (We have ours mounted in the rear)

    · The cables connecting the two would be extremely short; less power drop, a tidy install.

    Cons-

    · To fit two batteries in that space it looks like we'd have to downsize them. We want to keep the starter battery the stock size and, since it's only a year old, we want to keep it.

    · That area next to the engine would be very cramped.

    2. Passenger side, up front near the radiator.

    Pros-

    · This spot provides a nice flat, sturdy spot for mounting a universal tray.

    · Cables would be short, just a radiator's width apart.

    Cons-

    · We would need a kit to relocate the air pump that's already in this position, adding to the overall cost.


    3. Passenger side, near firewall.

    Pros-

    · More than enough room for a large battery.

    · No modifications needed to existing components.

    Cons-

    · Takes a special, somewhat elaborate battery tray to securely hold battery.

    · Connecting cables would be at their longest of the three choices.


    For us choice #3 was the best choice. Now how to mount it there.

    Choice of well made battery trays for this location is limited. We went with one from C4 Fab. primarily for the lower cost but after receiving it we were impressed by its ruggedness. There's no worries about it failing or bending! It does come only in bare steel but that's easily handled with some good surface prep and a rattle can of flat black.

    Bolting it in is a quick and easy job, two bolts at the bottom, bolt a bracket to the firewall, then two bolts sideways into the fenderwell.

    battery2.jpg battery_tray.jpg
     
  4. Dec 19, 2018 at 3:29 PM
    #4
    WanderlostOverland

    WanderlostOverland [OP] New Member

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    Not much is going to happen with the install until after the Holidays. After New Years we're going to hit the ground running and get this all done and behind us. We'll just leave this pic here as a small window into what's coming next;

    DSC_0025.jpg
     
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  5. Dec 19, 2018 at 4:43 PM
    #5
    4X4Runner

    4X4Runner The Anti Pro, Pro! Staff Member

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    The left coast
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    Nice! I’m considering a dual battery setup myself and will like utilize the Off Grid Engineering Kit for ($849). Batteries, I haven’t decided on just yet but I need something to keep the ARB fridge running. Good enough too is Dometic makes the ARB fridges.
     
    Strandskov likes this.
  6. Dec 19, 2018 at 6:02 PM
    #6
    Crusifix

    Crusifix New Member

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    3.5 lift all around. King in the front OME in the rear.. Other stuff..ya know, 4runner stuff...
    Is a higher output alternator necessary?
     
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  7. Dec 19, 2018 at 6:56 PM
    #7
    Kyblack76

    Kyblack76 New Member

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    Dope. I will be doing this. I'll do over on the past side as well. Rad spot made just for it. Great stuff guys.
     
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  8. Dec 19, 2018 at 7:44 PM
    #8
    4X4Runner

    4X4Runner The Anti Pro, Pro! Staff Member

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    The left coast
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    Mad driver mod. OME Suspension. 285/70R17 BFG AT KO2
    I love it! It is big and I do have the slide for it but when I’m home I keep it stowed in the house and run it once a month if it’s a while before trips. It is big but it’s really nice on road trips and camping
     
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  9. Dec 19, 2018 at 7:46 PM
    #9
    WallyT4R

    WallyT4R New Member

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    Glad you posted this over here Mark. :thumbsup: I was wondering where/how you were going to mount the fuse block. After considering the C4fab battery tray myself, I was thinking of adding a block of wood in the C4Fab brace that holds the battery down, then screw a piece of thick plastic down onto the wood to mount the fuse block. But I like what you did here and am looking forward to the rest of the story.
     
  10. Dec 19, 2018 at 7:51 PM
    #10
    WallyT4R

    WallyT4R New Member

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    It depends, but as far as I can tell if you do it right you won't have to. You can spends months reading about these things. At least I have and I still don't know shit. We have "smart" alternators on the 4 and that also requires certain considerations. At this point I think my best plan would be to just copy someone else's build as long as that build checks out. I do believe @WanderlostOverland will put together a solid build that will be done right with the right components for long term durability and reliability.
     
  11. Dec 20, 2018 at 4:26 PM
    #11
    AsianAnts

    AsianAnts New Member

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  12. Dec 29, 2018 at 12:42 AM
    #12
    AND

    AND New Member

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    Haha found this only because you WanderlostOverland liked my comment on the thread with all the people switching to this forum.
    Great job so far, cant wait to see the rest and to see it on your youtube channel.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2019
  13. Jan 13, 2019 at 5:36 AM
    #13
    Grey Ghost

    Grey Ghost New Member

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    Looking forward to seeing the video, and the rest of the write up looks good so far
     
  14. Jan 22, 2019 at 9:09 AM
    #14
    blackoutt

    blackoutt New Member

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  15. Jan 24, 2019 at 2:43 AM
    #15
    WanderlostOverland

    WanderlostOverland [OP] New Member

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    Well, this project has taken longer than we expected but as they say, good things come to those who wait. :)
    Most all the parts are sitting on the bench. There's a little wiring to do on the outlet panel. Should be up and running soon!

    DSC_0976.jpg
     
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  16. Jan 24, 2019 at 5:12 AM
    #16
    blackoutt

    blackoutt New Member

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    You guys switch over from t4r.org? That site's really gone down hill.


    Also in response to this thread.... the suspense! Looks like a dc-dc system in the works.
     
  17. Jan 24, 2019 at 6:18 AM
    #17
    SlvrSlug

    SlvrSlug New Member

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    I switched over quite awhile ago, i do not even go there anymore. My handle over there is (RedSled).
     
  18. Jan 24, 2019 at 1:28 PM
    #18
    WanderlostOverland

    WanderlostOverland [OP] New Member

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    Thank you!
     
  19. Feb 3, 2019 at 1:50 PM
    #19
    WanderlostOverland

    WanderlostOverland [OP] New Member

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    We're making progress! In fact we have the system installed and tested. Now to run the wires back to our outlet panel. The video will be slightly delayed due to me being off on the measurement of the cables going to the rear. So, we need to splice in another 18" using an Anderson plug. That should be on our doorstep tomorrow.

    dual_battery.jpg
     
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  20. Feb 3, 2019 at 10:23 PM
    #20
    WallyT4R

    WallyT4R New Member

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    You look like you are having so much fun. :D
     
  21. Feb 4, 2019 at 1:59 AM
    #21
    WanderlostOverland

    WanderlostOverland [OP] New Member

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    LOL, Merri bugging me for a photo.
     
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  22. Feb 11, 2019 at 8:52 AM
    #22
    WanderlostOverland

    WanderlostOverland [OP] New Member

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    It's finally done and so far we're extremely happy with the whole setup!

    This was a difficult project to do. Not the install and custom fab work, but the research and choosing of the components. The method of charging and battery type to be precise. It seemed that as soon as I made a choice I'd read in a post somewhere that there's something better, or the one I picked had flaws. It turns out there's a lot of misinformation and biased opinions out here on the interwebs. Crazy I know! That's why when it came to finally pulling the trigger we enlisted the help of professionals. They steered us towards trail proven, high quality components that will likely outlast our 4Runner.

    The system we put together is not inexpensive. In fact, it cost more then what a lot of folks are willing to spend on a quality 3" lift. Some dollars can be shaved off by going with big fuses instead of the breakers, a simpler fuse hub for the outlet panel, and omitting the monitoring gauge.

    We chose the AGM deepcell battery we did primarily for cost. We saw no sense in paying $400 when a $200 battery will do the same job and have the same life expectancy.

    We chose the DC-DC charger over the relay/solenoid method for the health and efficiency of our battery. It turns out the AGM batteries are very finicky when it comes to charging and discharging them.
    And, come to find out, alternators in our 5th Gens suck at charging one battery, let alone two.

    Here's the install video. We hope you enjoy watching it:


    https://youtu.be/1JkH8sH_uK0
     
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  23. Feb 11, 2019 at 9:20 AM
    #23
    HoBoDanny

    HoBoDanny Dude...

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    Very nice! Very helpful build. :bowdown:
     
  24. Feb 11, 2019 at 9:36 AM
    #24
    4X4Runner

    4X4Runner The Anti Pro, Pro! Staff Member

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    I’m curious if the Tacoma heavy duty alt is a direct bolt on.

    I’ll watch the video later on at home as this is something I’m extremely interested in.
     
  25. Feb 11, 2019 at 11:57 AM
    #25
    WanderlostOverland

    WanderlostOverland [OP] New Member

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    I believe the Taco alt. will bolt right in. We're going to test everything out for awhile then maybe look into it further.
     
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  26. Feb 11, 2019 at 12:54 PM
    #26
    4X4Runner

    4X4Runner The Anti Pro, Pro! Staff Member

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    @WanderlostOverland ive been considering the offgrid engineering dual better set up and I’m curious to learn about the DC to dC charger as opposed to the Blue Sea 500amp relay.
     
  27. Feb 11, 2019 at 1:17 PM
    #27
    WallyT4R

    WallyT4R New Member

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    I think the DC to DC makes better sense if you don't need to link the batteries for say heavy winching. I would go DC to DC if/when I need dual batteries. With our "smart" alternators, the DC charger will make those batteries last a long time. The fact you can plug in a solar panel easily is a huge bonus also. That system you guys built Mark is very nice. What size cable did you run to the back? It looks huge. What do you plan on running to need such a large cable going back there?
     
  28. Feb 11, 2019 at 1:55 PM
    #28
    WanderlostOverland

    WanderlostOverland [OP] New Member

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    The cables going to the rear are 4g. We wanted heavy cables to have the option of also charging a trailer battery.
     
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  29. Feb 11, 2019 at 2:26 PM
    #29
    WallyT4R

    WallyT4R New Member

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    Dang I didn't even think about that...I just ordered 6 awg to run back there right before you posted the video. Ugh
     
  30. Jun 9, 2020 at 2:34 PM
    #30
    TXVoodoo

    TXVoodoo New Member

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    I know this thread is a little old but I am wondering how the Duracell AGM battery you installed has held up? I am ready to install my dual battery system and am considering batteries, I like the Odyssey buy I don’t like its price, the Duracell with a 48 month warranty seems like a good deal. Any information is greatly appreciated. Great videos by the way!
     

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