The advent of the portable fridge is a blessing to many campers, but you need power to run them. Long gone are the days of simply running off the car battery. A well designed and installed dual battery system is almost essential these days if you wish to run a portable fridge or charge many of your other electronic devices.
Some of the many devices that need batteries re-charged
A dual battery system allows you to charge a second battery, either portable or installed in your vehicle, via the car’s alternator, or an added solar panel, allowing your batteries to charge and operate independently. These installations involve the use of controllers and solenoids and other equipment to operate efficiently.
Battery World specialise in the design and installation of such systems, ensuring your car battery is always protected but still allow enough charge in the second battery to run all your items.
What is a Dual Battery System?
A Dual Battery System is a setup of two or more batteries in a vehicle that are used to power accessories whilst the vehicle is not running. There are many possible setups of Dual Battery Systems from the simplest to complex.
In the basic setup some type of automatic switch, most commonly a Voltage Sensitive Relay, is used between the starter battery and the second battery. When the car is running the alternator charges both batteries and when the engine is turned off both batteries are isolated. In this way, any load on the second battery doesn’t also drain the start battery ensuring that the vehicle will always have a charged starter battery.
An example of a Voltage Sensitive Relay
In the more complex setups various other charging sources are used. In most of the newer DC to DC chargers as with 240-volt AC chargers they are designed to be a better charging solution for the Dual or second battery relying in part to feedback from the battery to best charge it. This type of system may also include solar and maybe also a 240-volt AC charger for both charging at powered locations and to maintain and condition the battery when at home.
An example of a more complex dual battery system
Where to place a second battery?
As a second battery is required for a dual system, the question arises as to where it should be located within the vehicle. The locations for these second or house batteries has changed over time because of various reasons including available space traditionally under the bonnet. Quite a few of the new models don’t have sufficient space under the bonnet, and may offer better locations such as behind seats in vehicle or canopy areas. For example, the current Ford Ranger and Mazda BT50 have a space behind its rear passenger seat.
In many cases the second battery does not have to be fixed permanently to the vehicle, as it can be configured as a portable or removable battery box. This method has grown in popularity due to the battery being able to go from the vehicle to the tent or camping area with the fridge or any other powered items used around the campsite.
Portable battery packs are popular and ideal with dual setups
As you can see there are many variables when it comes to setting up a correct dual battery system, from the types of vehicles to the different types of batteries, and this will all depend on the personal requirements of the user.
This is where Battery World can assist. All Battery World staff are extensively trained Batteryologists i.e., specialists when it comes to batteries. Most shops offer a fitting service with quality components at an affordable price. They have the expertise and the full technical support of the companies whose products they use as many of the components used require specific setups for the type of battery or equipment connected to them.
Battery World offer a full range of products for Dual Battery Systems
For example, Bainbridge Technologies have a unit called a Powertop. It has all of the basics in one unit. Others are made to the user’s particular needs by shops like Battery World and other recreational dealers. Some may contain DC to DC Charging units that also have high quality solar regulators and this alone can improve the input of power from your existing solar kit as many of the regulators on these kits are cheap and very inefficient.
The Baintech Powertop
The battery types used for dual battery systems has also grown over the past few years. Once the Marine Battery was the mainstay in this area but now, we look past this to batteries that are designed particularly for these demanding applications. The most common type of battery now used is the VRLA (Valve Regulated Lead Acid) or AGM for short. These are available from the entry level manufacturers to military quality specs made in the USA. Prices vary greatly and for most people a quality mid-range product with the right care will last many years.
A sample of a Deep Cycle AGM battery
Another thing to consider with your batteries, and often overlooked is, What to do with your battery when you get back from camping? If it’s in the vehicle and used the vehicles charging system will mostly look after it. However, if it’s a portable solution that’s been used and put aside recharging it on a quality multi stage charger is extremely important, even the battery under the bonnet will improve and last longer if its charged and maintained regularly. Battery world offer advise about this, and also have a full range of suitable battery chargers to keep your batteries in optimum condition.
Battery Charger & Maintainer
We hope this short article has explained the basics of a Dual Battery System, but for a full explanation and find out more about a dual system that will meet your needs, please feel free to call into any Battery World outlet across Australia. You can find all Battery World stores listing in the FRC App. And don’t forget to mention you are a Free Range Camping member to receive your Premium Club Member Discount.
Article Courtesy: Dave Atkinson @ Battery World, Lawnton