Wants & Needs in 12V Vehicle Fit out
Words by Jed Currey
Setting up a new vehicle and installing 12V accessories is one of the key elements to the build process in modern 4wding. 12V systems & products are huge business & with so much investment in all sorts of products we can attach to our vehicles leaves the modern day 4wd’er with plenty of choice. Luckily, coming straight out of our original tour vehicle travelling across Western Australia, we not only have a fair bit of experience with 12V set ups, but the requirements, flaws & personal needs that come with operating a set up that suits our requirements.
But was it ever perfect? Nothing ever is! We changed a few things in the new build & couldn’t be happier with the result. There is still a number of smaller “bits & bobs” to go on the electrical side of things, namely lights for the cabin cargo area, roof rack lamps & some more power accessory sockets, but for now it’s ready to rock & roll.
Below we will take a look at our set up in the new Explore Wa 4wd Adventures Tag-a-Long tour vehicle
2 lead acid crank batteries – enough to run the stereo at camp & start the car in the morning. Total 1500CCA & 170AH
120AH Full River AGM Battery in rear Cargo area powering fridge & lighting plus accessory power.
Redarc BCDC1240D Solar Smart Unit
Tough 12V electrical products are always needed where we go & inherent with what we do, we can’t afford them to let us down where we need them most. It was a no brainer we went for Redarc’s 40AMP solar charger with its compact size & 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.
Atop our Tracklander Roof Rack, we have one of their solar panel mount brackets which fits a KT Cables 100W Solar Panel, remaining low profile & fully adjustable. 100W of power works for keeping our secondary battery charged at camp during the day & 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 set up. KT has a number of panels but the 100W KT Cables panel makes best use of the Tracklander mounting system. Previously we have used a folding solar blanket with great results.
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 & have the provision of adding a Hall Effect Sensor to gauge on Amp Draw.
Closely monitoring performance particulars is made easy with these gauges offering a heap of functionality & customisation through the menu of each gauge. Should anything start to go wrong the benefit of the aftermarket gauges provide much more accuracy over and above factory gauges on the instrument cluster, to indicate the first signs of trouble.
The 12V accessory market is huge, without a doubt the technology & 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 set up mid-range in the scheme of things. We have everything we need & 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, & constant power run 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 in cab.
Everything is taken care of with a KT Cables fuse block under the bonnet & twin 8mm cables run from the main batteries to the rear of car for BCDC charger ARB twin compressor. Circuit breakers & fuses protect these items. Our heat exchanger hot water system runs a flowjet pump switchable direct off the fuel filter bracket & 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
At the rear of the cab, the Fridge is powered off the 120A/H AGM battery fitted in a battery box & currently other than a couple small angel eye lights in the tailgate that is all that is run there. More lights & switches will be utilised in the future including some of the new KT Cables 12V indicator & power sockets that have just come on the market.
The best thing about our set up is its robust, self-reliant & we have the confidence in the products utilised in the build to go the endless kilometres of tough outback touring we need. A massive thankyou to our good mate Mark for doing absolutely everything electrical on this build from trailer plugs to the BCDC & 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 set up followed by what you want in a set up.
Some items will cover both categories in a typical set up 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 & play versatility.
Everyone will have different wants & needs and what suits me, might not necessarily be suitable to your intended use & set up.
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