Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Upgrading vehicle

I've always had a concern that running the truck, radio and everything else on a single battery would eventually catch up with me and leave me stranded somewhere. So this spring I finally went ahead and updated the 4runner to a dual battery system.

While that may not seem like a big deal, 4runners are not designed to have dual batteries so it took a little bit of creative engineering to make things happen. I had a lot of help putting this together from various people.

Here are some photos of the engine compartment:

I went with a dual Optima battery setup because the battery sizes made it easier to fit two batteries with minor modification to the existing battery area. A new tray was welded from angle iron made to exactly the width of the batteries. A flat piece of iron with an L bend at one end that sticks up under the fender edge was made to secure the batteries to the tray. They are very secured.

This however meant the coolant reservoir had to find a new home. Right now it is wedged between the air filter box and the washer fluid reservoir, with an additional piece of hose added.

What runs the whole setup is the Luna Intelligent Solenoid, it allows both batteries to charge at the same time and isolates the auxiliary battery from the engine battery when the vehicle is not running. The really nice feature of the Intelligent Solenoid is the ability to override the isolation and jump start the vehicle if the main battery should be dead.

From the auxiliary battery to the back of the truck I ran 1 gauge wielding wire to a auxiliary fuse panel. From the fuse panel I have several plugs and a very super bright dual LED light that can turn on or off a single side at a time or run both at the same time. For the variety of plugs I went with 2 standard 12V socket plugs with covers and 2 sets of 30A Anderson Power Poles. All of my radio gear is setup to use Anderson Power Poles, so this gives a super nice and easy way to hook up a radio and operate from the back of the 4runner.

At some point in the future I will run the red wire behind the panel and have it come out at the top and reposition the black wire so that the installation is neater. I put this in literally hours before deploying for the weekend.

With a tarp draped out from the back it makes for a good sun shelter or light rain. For more inclement weather I have a 12 x 12 shelter with side walls that can be completely closed off or with the use of the tarp and the side wall the back of the 4runner can be placed in the shelter.

Over all I am pleased with the setup, it was not cheap to do. At about $460 for both batteries, $120 for wire, $400 for the Intelligent Solenoid kit, and about another $200 for connectors, fuse box and other things the grand total for this upgrade was  $1180. I could have done this cheaper with different batteries, a Chinese solenoid that may or may not work when you need it too and not put in any of the accessories in the cargo area. But I wanted it done right and I wanted something that would work every time you need it too, so when possible I used the best parts I could afford.

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