Dual batteries, multiple devices, and 12v outlets

Joined
Sep 26, 2012
Messages
42
I don’t think any of you here have been challenged enough with questions from the non-electrical-savvy masses (😎), so here goes:

I have always used the off-the-shelf DC outlets in my work trucks - ones that fail after a couple of years, usually. It was no big deal because after that amount of time, I’d be due for a new truck and - as an admitted gear whore - would look for a “newer/better” version, anyway.

Now I’m looking for one for my 200. I’d like it to last longer than the ones I’ve had in the past, all of which were essentially plug (into the existing DC outlet) and play, with three outlets. Are there any of these types that are more durable and long lasting, or is that territory that’s reserved for versions that are hard-wired to the battery?

Also, my work trucks were always set up with a kill switch to shut everything down at night. I’m a game warden and in addition to the stuff I listed above, the radios, siren, laptop, rifle rack and whatnot had their own power demands. Can a DC outlet unit be had with (possibly) a similar kill switch for each plug, individually?

Finally, at what point do you have too many devices plugged in and maybe need a second battery, especially if you don’t have the aforementioned kill switch? For now, I won’t be using my fridge, since the entire state of MN is about to become one gigantic fridge, anyway. But having flashlights, battery pack for the flashlights, phone, GPS, etc. can a single battery handle that?

Thanks and sorry for the multi-part question!
 
Joined
Oct 25, 2011
Messages
532
Location
Alabaster, Alabama
I’d look at Blue Sea Systems. From what I’ve used it has all been been good quality stuff…. It is marine grade components.

They make 12v panels like this. Or you can buy the blank version that comes with the switch but no sockets or volt meter and then buy the various sockets you want to install in the panel. This would give you a nice kill switch to shut off the panel. You’d also need some kind of fuse before the panel. Or a resettable breaker. Which would give you another kill switch.


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Joined
Sep 20, 2004
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X2 on the Blue Sea , I like the one pictured, but they have them with more outlets. Unless your accessories already have the barrel style cig plugs I would use the resettable brkrs and wire the accessories in with a terminal connection and put a discoonect inline if you need to remove the accessories periodically. The available inline disconnects are much better than the barrel/cig style pull out connections which as you mentioned can fall apart. I have found ones that last 20 years and ones that utterly fail the 2nd or 3rd time you try and remove them, then there is the question of voltage drop ? I find that periodically the barrel/cig style will come up lame in the contact on the power side, especially with large temp swings. They get hot under load and then cool, after alot of cycles I have seen voltage drop, unplug, plug back in and twist a bit and back to normal. I dont like connections that I have to twist a little every once in awhile, especially on my fridge hence the use of resetable brkrs and hard wired terminals with inline disconnects to allow removal of whatever.
 

e9999

Gotta get outta here...
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Joined
Sep 20, 2003
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18,382
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US
a bit unclear but sounds like you are plugging things into the cig lighter. If so, you're limited to whatever the fuse is, typically around 10A. That is a fair bit of current for small loads like you mention (aside from the fridge - typically around 5A). You would have noticed if the fuse blew or the battery was spent so you're probably OK there. If you want to add more, just add up all the currents and check the total against the fuse. You can also find out if the battery is big enough by multiplying the load current and time used (like 5A for 10 hours = 50 Ah and compare that to the battery capacity (say 100Ah)). But give yourself a big margin of error given subfreezing temperatures.
And, yes, cig lighter outlets aren't great IMO. A fuse box, switches and a panel would be much better but you will need to pull wires, remove the cab panels etc. If you want full separate control, there are distribution strips with several switches and Anderson Powerpoles connectors, very convenient. Or make your own if you want to learn a bit about all this. You could also make this a portable device in a junction box or case.
 
Joined
Sep 20, 2004
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I have been intriqued by the power boxes offered from some diff companys. Other than the space they take I like that you can wire a disconnect and be able to remove the unit to use elsewhere or to isolate problems. I found one that incorporated everything, dual batt control, solar control, outlets, inverter, usb, cig lighter, connection for jumper leads, really impresive but big. By dispersing all those systems it takes virtually no cargo space which is tight in a 40. The box can be had in various batt types, can power alot and perserve your start/vehicle batt, one stop shop, worth the $ if you got the space and wish to use say, in the tent, another vehicle, etc......
 
Joined
Sep 11, 2012
Messages
642
Location
Rossland, B.C.
I have the Blue Sea panel as pictured above, and a bunch of other Blue Sea stuff. Very well designed and made. So far I'm using the USB ports more than the cigarette lighter port, with no issues with either. Panel has its own little switch and is fused close to the battery. I run two fuse blocks, water system, fridge, winch, and that little panel off a separate second battery. That battery is run off a second alternator, completely separate from the starting battery.
 

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