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My Idea of the Perfect Truck Camper Electrical System

lifepo4 redarc battle born solar dc to dc isolator charging all terrain bobcat truckfridge

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#1 Texota

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Posted 29 May 2019 - 02:13 AM

Hello! Long time lurker, I thought I would share the upgrades I've done to my Bobcat's electrical system as this info could be useful to someone else.

 

I purchased an All Terrain Bobcat Shell model last year and had it installed on my 2015 Chevy Colorado at the ATC shop in Reno in September. It was a very pleasant experience and we have been enjoying our camper tremendously!

 

Our shell model was equipped with a furnace and a fan-tastic roof fan as well as a couple USB charging ports. This was it for electrical draw. To power these items the camper came with a 74Ah Deka AGM battery that was connected to my truck through a simple battery isolator and 10 awg wire. This was good enough until this year when we decided we'd like to install a Truckfridge refrigerator for convenience over the cooler we had been using. I measured and thought that the TruckFridge TF-65 would fit perfectly in the Bobcat Shell underneath the pullout bed, and it did fit perfectly with a very simple mounting solution consisting of a couple 2x4's.

 

Unfortunately with the fridge, furnace, and vent running overnight it would lead to discharging the house battery well beyond what I thought was comfortable so I started down the path of looking into upgrading the battery to something that would be able to keep up with our demands even if parked for more than a day. This lead my obsessive personality to reading these forums and many others way too long until I decided I had came up with the perfect plan. The downside of this is I uninstalled the battery, battery isolator, and wiring, that came installed in our camper. That's basically money down the drain except for a little bit I was able to recoup by selling used.

 

I wanted my new electrical system to perform flawlessly without hiccup for a very long time without needing to be upgraded further. I justified going with some very nice pieces of equipment and ended up installing a 100 Ah LifePo4 battery powered by a DC-DC charger connected to the truck as well as a 200 Watt solar panel on the roof.

 

The new components I installed are:

Battery: 100 Ah Battle Born LifePo4

DC-DC Charger: Redarc BCDC1240D

Fridge: TruckFridge TF-65

Battery Monitor: Victron BMV-712

Solar Panel: HighTec Solar 200 + 25% watt solar panel

 

I have completed a write up of everything I've installed including pictures on my blog which you can see at: https://overthelandw...-battery-setup/

 

To me this is the perfect setup and I hope putting all the components of the system into one post and the reasoning why is helpful to someone. I try to do my best to explain why I think the components I chose are the best for my application. If anyone has any feedback or would like me to explain further why I chose something I did then please leave a reply and I will gladly respond!

 


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#2 Old Crow

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Posted 01 June 2019 - 04:11 AM

This is great!  Nicely done on the write up-- both here and on your blog.

 

I've been hoping someone would try the combination of a Redarc DC-to-DC charger and a Battleborn LiFePO4 battery as I've been thinking I might do that when my camper's battery dies.

 

I was also interested to read about your use of the low-voltage trigger lead and it got me reading up on the Colorado's charging system.  I was going to ask whether your battery has a sensor like Redarc shows in this How do I know if I have a variable voltage (smart) alternator web page but I think I found it's not quite so obvious on the Colorado.  If I understand correctly, its battery current sensor is in the wire off the negative battery post, not right on the post.

 

The other thing I'd like to ask about is whether you have a Tow/Haul mode button and if so whether it boosts system voltage as described in the second paragraph of this 2015 Chevy Colorado won't charge our camper battery! post.

 

I'll also be interested to see how the clear solar panel works out for you.  Very interesting!


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'01 FWC Hawk shell on a '13 Tundra Double-Cab  + '94 Econoline sport-top campervan


#3 craig333

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Posted 01 June 2019 - 10:22 PM

My bet is the  redarc won't get much use. Your solar setup will most likely handle things just fine all by itself.


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Craig KK6AUI _________________________ 2004 2500 CTD 4X4 FWC HAWK 1960 CJ5

#4 LAWNMOWERMAN

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Posted 02 June 2019 - 05:14 AM

I have used a Dc-Dc charger for 9 years now and loved it with my AGM batteries when moving down the road.Since I upgraded to 2 Battleborn 100 ah batteries and a Victron 100-30 mppt charge controller(six months now) I have not needed it.With 200 watts of solar I have been running my ARB 50qt chest freezer at 2 degrees for the last month and have not seen the batteries drop below 13.2 volts in the morning.I suppose 1 battery would have been sufficient but 2 is always better than one.
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#5 Texota

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Posted 02 June 2019 - 02:58 PM

This is great!  Nicely done on the write up-- both here and on your blog.

 

I've been hoping someone would try the combination of a Redarc DC-to-DC charger and a Battleborn LiFePO4 battery as I've been thinking I might do that when my camper's battery dies.

 

I was also interested to read about your use of the low-voltage trigger lead and it got me reading up on the Colorado's charging system.  I was going to ask whether your battery has a sensor like Redarc shows in this How do I know if I have a variable voltage (smart) alternator web page but I think I found it's not quite so obvious on the Colorado.  If I understand correctly, its battery current sensor is in the wire off the negative battery post, not right on the post.

 

The other thing I'd like to ask about is whether you have a Tow/Haul mode button and if so whether it boosts system voltage as described in the second paragraph of this 2015 Chevy Colorado won't charge our camper battery! post.

 

I'll also be interested to see how the clear solar panel works out for you.  Very interesting!

 

Thanks for the kind words.

 

You're correct that the Colorado's battery does not have an obvious sensor like what is referenced in that article. I came to the conclusion that the low voltage trigger was needed just by monitoring the battery voltage as well as reading some other peoples opinions of how the Colorado alternator works when used in dual battery situations.

 

Your question on tow/haul mode I'm not sure about and I probably should have tested this more. I also came across this bit of info while doing my research but I have not tested it out much at all to form an opinion. My Colorado with camper on it is my daily driver and I admittedly forget to turn tow/haul mode on about 100% of the time. Another bit of info is that my 3.6L has been tuned , so I'm not sure if that would affect the voltage setting at all. I have recently tried turning on tow/haul mode after I've noticed the voltage drop to 12.6 volts while driving and it has had no effect on the voltage, but maybe if it would have been turned on earlier it would have sustained a higher voltage.


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#6 Texota

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Posted 02 June 2019 - 03:07 PM

My bet is the  redarc won't get much use. Your solar setup will most likely handle things just fine all by itself.

 

 

I have used a Dc-Dc charger for 9 years now and loved it with my AGM batteries when moving down the road.Since I upgraded to 2 Battleborn 100 ah batteries and a Victron 100-30 mppt charge controller(six months now) I have not needed it.With 200 watts of solar I have been running my ARB 50qt chest freezer at 2 degrees for the last month and have not seen the batteries drop below 13.2 volts in the morning.I suppose 1 battery would have been sufficient but 2 is always better than one.

 

Interesting to see your opinions on the solar! I sure hope it works as well as you both think it will. This is my first solar panel, so I'm not really sure what to expect from it. I have a trip coming up in a couple weeks to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan so we shall see how it performs. I do like having the Redarc as a fairly quick charging source just in case its needed. A lot of the camping opportunities close to home here in eastern South Dakota are shaded by trees and we do have a couple trips every year where we sit in one shaded spot for several days.


Edited by Texota, 02 June 2019 - 03:10 PM.

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Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: lifepo4, redarc, battle born, solar, dc to dc, isolator, charging, all terrain, bobcat, truckfridge

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