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Old 10-03-2012, 03:50 AM   #1
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Dual Batteries with 2012+ JK with 3.6L Engine - Finally!

Ever since I bought my '12 JK over a year now, I've been searching for a way to get setup with dual batteries. I was ripped off by now defunct Benchmark Designs, who I paid $475 in hopes of obtaining a full kit. I eventually received part of a dual battery tray, but it was incomplete. I had to fab a top clamp, and having both batteries stacked vertically was inconvenient, and so I never utilized them properly (isolation, etc) due to the space and placement.

Here is an image of what that looked like:

As you can see, it doesn't look so great. There was a big gap on the side of the batteries, and I had to insert a wooden spacer so that the batteries wouldn't move and short out the side posts with the clamp. But, it otherwise worked.

Now, enter Mountain Off-Road Enterprises (M.O.R.E), who took the time to come up with a solution for dual batteries for the 2012 and up JK with the 3.6L Pentatstar V6. As soon as they announced it, I put my order in. $135 for the tray alone, very reasonable. I finally received my order and got it installed.

Here is a picture of the M.O.R.E tray with 2 Optima Yellow Top D34/78 batteries, test fitting before install:


The batteries are held down by a strap that uses a buckle to secure them as shown here:


Not a big fan of this, since they don't look as secure as when a solid top clamp is used. I didn't like this gap:


But, I must admit, that once installed, I felt better about it. They looked like they were there to stay. So, overall, I think the strap use is okay and will get the job done. Wish I could get it a little tighter. But, I'll evaluate how it performs, and I see several ways to modify that, including making my own top clamp, if necessary in the future.

Here is the tray installed, the TIPM is still in pieces:


Install requires that you cut down the factory bolts, wasn't a fan of this step, it was hard to get my sawzall in there and make the cuts without scratching up the tray, as you can see.


The old tray had to be cut off (this whole assembly is one big plastic piece that has the TIPM box, the battery box, and the intake box. You essentially cut off the battery box + expand some of the holes originally used to move it over a bit. It was a pain, you have to really cut as much as possible on the TIPM side, eventually it all bolts up. This is necessary to buy yourself as much space as possible.


Once you get that all worked out, you can re-install the TIPM and intake.


There were 2 plastic pieces in the kit, I assume they are to protect the batteries from the factory bolts that you cut down. I took additional steps using clear silicone to make it stick and cover the full bolt. Otherwise, its almost guaranteed they will fall off. I highly recommend that you do this.


Finally, with all that worked out, you can install the batteries!

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Old 10-03-2012, 04:00 AM   #2
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The final step

Last, I wired in a Cole Hersee Smart Isolator (48530), a 200 AMP dual battery isolator. It will sense the voltage of both batteries and automatically connect your auxiliary battery to the charging system once the main starter battery is charged (actually, when either battery reaches abover 13.2V for at least 1 minute -- this ensures that if your main battery is going bad, you can still top off the aux). It will also automatically isolate the batteries when the charging system is off and both battery voltages are below 12.7V for 1 minute. It features a BOOST function, which you can use to jump start yourself, or otherwise connect the batteries in parallel via a switch to increase available current for things like winching. Also has a STATUS indicator, which will tell you what the status of the batteries is (connected, or isolated).

Neat system, and to connect it, you simply connect the Smart Isolator between the positive lead coming from the main battery to the aux battery. The two batteries are grounded directly to each other. Then some pigtail wires are used for the boost switch and status LED.

Here is what it looks like, mostly done, still have to clean up some of the wiring and add some more tubing in certain areas:


This is what my internal monitoring system looks like:


I basically used a double pole double throw with center off switch to wire the batteries to a digital multimeter (this one has compensation functions, so you can dial in an accurate reading using a potentiometer). The boost switch is there, and at the time of this picture, the status LED was not in.

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Old 10-03-2012, 04:07 AM   #3
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WORD OF CAUTION: Use locktite or some kind of thread locker when installing the tray. When I removed the old benchmark tray, I found that the bolts were no longer tight, all of them were loose. So, this time around, I made sure to use thread lock on all the bolts. This is not in the instructions, but those bolts will rattle loose in my opinion. I properly torqued them last time, and was surprised to find them a bit loose, one almost off. Its cheap insurance that this won't happen. It really shouldn't be that huge of a deal if it does, since it is such a tight fit, but if you're going to do it, just do it right the first time
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Old 10-03-2012, 06:54 AM   #4
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Great write up! I'm looking to do this soon.
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Old 10-03-2012, 06:58 AM   #5
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Nice job.

Sticky?
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Old 10-03-2012, 07:35 AM   #6
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Very nice! I still need to add a couple of voltmeters to my set up. May I suggest a couple of pairs of Marine Terminals? I think they are like ten bucks a pair and will help clean up the wiring alot.

How do you have the Smart Solenoid mounted?
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Old 10-03-2012, 07:38 AM   #7
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Nice job.

Sticky?
x2 this should be a sticky. great write up that I plan on using

Thanks man!
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Old 10-03-2012, 07:56 AM   #8
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I only have one of those in my '12 lol I know it's good to have more but why do you need another one? Audio system?
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Old 10-03-2012, 11:17 AM   #9
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I only have one of those in my '12 lol I know it's good to have more but why do you need another one? Audio system?
You carry a spare tire, right?
Same idea. NASA type thinking. Redundancy.
We're running winches, extra lights, compressors, sat-nav, laptops, fridges, and the occassional espresso machine.
A spare battery is cheaper than a tow from the middle of nowhere...
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Old 10-03-2012, 11:34 AM   #10
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You carry a spare tire, right?
Same idea. NASA type thinking. Redundancy.
We're running winches, extra lights, compressors, sat-nav, laptops, fridges, and the occassional espresso machine.
A spare battery is cheaper than a tow from the middle of nowhere...
Good try with the NASA thinking.. But your not that smart.
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Old 10-03-2012, 12:55 PM   #11
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Good try with the NASA thinking.. But your not that smart.
You meant you're not that smart...
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Old 10-03-2012, 01:15 PM   #12
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You meant you're not that smart...
you caught it nice
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Old 10-03-2012, 01:18 PM   #13
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Hey that's pretty neat. But do you NEED an additional battery for a winch and all that other stuff? More power? Or is it "just in case?"

Sincerely,

Very enthusiastic Jeep owner that is still researching really good ideas.

Thanks!
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Old 10-03-2012, 01:18 PM   #14
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Fail


Good right up
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Old 10-03-2012, 01:39 PM   #15
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Lol I thought the same thing
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Old 10-03-2012, 01:49 PM   #16
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Hey that's pretty neat. But do you NEED an additional battery for a winch and all that other stuff? More power? Or is it "just in case?"

Sincerely,

Very enthusiastic Jeep owner that is still researching really good ideas.

Thanks!
Maybe.

Do you need a lot of what we carry? Not always, and not for every trip.

I needed 11 rope-style tire plugs the other day on my way home from work; I picked up a huge bushing in my tire and put a hole in it over 3/4" wide ---- was in a spot where jacking was a bad idea and didn't want to ruin my $700 wheel...
So I needed my tire repair kit and my compressor; was glad to have them.

Your build and your budget have to suit your needs and desires. If you want a spare battery and can't afford this sort of set-up, carry a spare in a box. Charge it once in a while; an Optima won't mind.
But if you're on a vehicle-dependant overland-style journey, self sufficient, self-reliant, and away from civilization for a few weeks, you'll be wanting that battery. I know people who've spent the better part of 3 days in a winchfest to get themselves through a sticky spot. It's hell on a single battery and you'd be walking.
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Old 10-03-2012, 03:47 PM   #17
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Very nice! I still need to add a couple of voltmeters to my set up. May I suggest a couple of pairs of Marine Terminals? I think they are like ten bucks a pair and will help clean up the wiring alot.

How do you have the Smart Solenoid mounted?
Yes, thanks, I did purchase some marine terminals, but didn't find them until after I'd taken the time to make the cables. Since I'd adhesive lined shrink tubed them and pressed them in all nice, I decided not to upgrade and do it all over again. Aside from the 2 voltmeter cables, nothing else is going to get connected to the batteries, so things should stay neat (hopefully, otherwise, will have to swap out the terminals). I ran a 4 AWG wire to a 150 amp circuit breaker that feeds into one of those Blue Seas fuse boxes. So, all aux wiring will end up at the box away from the battery. But, as you mention, the marine terminals are definitely the way to go for someone starting off from scratch.

I mounted the smart isolator to the battery strap using zip ties, and applied some hot glue to the bottom to secure it further. It won't move, and can actually pretty much stay that way, but I plan to get some plexiglass and make a bracket for it. Choosing plexiglass because its not conductive, but metal can work too. I didn't like the idea of using metal, which I had, and I'd cut to hold the isolator, but decided against it. It seemed that if for some reason, the bolt holding the bracket to the side of the Jeep came off, I'd have a big metal solid piece that could bridge the + and - terminals and start a fire. If plexiglass came loose, at least it wouldn't short the terminals. I tried to minimize the risk of shorting anything out. I think it might have been you who suggested to add liquid electrical tape to the isolator terminals in a different thread, which I ended up doing, for added protection . Will try to get that plexiglass tonight and hope its rigid enough not to vibrate when installed. Otherwise, I might have to go with the metal piece. I suppose I can plastidip the metal piece to reduce risk of shorting... hmmm... light bulb...
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Old 10-03-2012, 03:54 PM   #18
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Well done! I vote sticky.
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Old 10-03-2012, 03:58 PM   #19
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I only have one of those in my '12 lol I know it's good to have more but why do you need another one? Audio system?
In my specific case, mostly to be able to run the refrigerator and night time lighting + creature comfort items (on the trailer) while stationary without having to worry about killing the battery. I almost always travel with my wife and our 18 month old. Must keep them happy, and that usually requires something battery powered. I found myself idling the Jeep to charge up my battery when stationary, and I hear that's not so great on the engine to just idle for 30 minutes. I also travel away from home often, and camp in very off the path areas, so a low voltage cut-off + bigger battery wasn't as attractive of a solution because a battery failure could still leave you stranded. While, with 2 batteries, even if one completely fails and won't charge, you still have a good battery left to get going.
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Old 10-03-2012, 04:20 PM   #20
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Hey that's pretty neat. But do you NEED an additional battery for a winch and all that other stuff? More power? Or is it "just in case?"

Sincerely,

Very enthusiastic Jeep owner that is still researching really good ideas.

Thanks!
In my case, it was strictly redundancy due to heavy use. I think most people won't need dual batteries. It certainly is not a requirement for winching or anything. As Hilldweller said, NASA... I've had more than one battery fail, and batteries are a single point failure for an automatic. So is a starter... which I plan to purchase a spare soon so I don't ever find myself hundreds of miles from civilization and stranded.
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Old 10-03-2012, 04:34 PM   #21
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I needed 11 rope-style tire plugs the other day on my way home from work; I picked up a huge bushing in my tire and put a hole in it over 3/4" wide ---- was in a spot where jacking was a bad idea and didn't want to ruin my $700 wheel...
So I needed my tire repair kit and my compressor; was glad to have them.
Wow! That's terrible, but cool at the same time. It makes a great story at the expense of a tire. 11 plugs...

I learned my lesson recently with plugs. I had a huge rivet like bolt make about 1/4" hole puncture. I plugged it (figured I'd do it now, in case I ended up needing a spare, being that we were 500 miles from home) and mounted my existing spare. When I took it to my local Firestone Tires, they wouldn't patch it because of the plug! I wasn't aware that a plug would be an issue, they said because it likely resulted in breaking the steel belt. But, I'm certain that the big hole broke the steel belt to begin with, As the plugs went right in. Had to take it to a mom and pop tire shop to remove the plug and apply a proper patch. Lesson learned... only plug if necessary...
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Old 10-03-2012, 04:36 PM   #22
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x2 this should be a sticky. great write up that I plan on using

Thanks man!
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Great write up! I'm looking to do this soon.
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Good right up
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Well done! I vote sticky.
Thanks!
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Old 10-03-2012, 06:15 PM   #23
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LBrito - do you plan to upgrade the alternator?
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Old 10-03-2012, 09:44 PM   #24
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In my specific case, mostly to be able to run the refrigerator and night time lighting + creature comfort items (on the trailer) while stationary without having to worry about killing the battery. I almost always travel with my wife and our 18 month old. Must keep them happy, and that usually requires something battery powered. I found myself idling the Jeep to charge up my battery when stationary, and I hear that's not so great on the engine to just idle for 30 minutes. I also travel away from home often, and camp in very off the path areas, so a low voltage cut-off + bigger battery wasn't as attractive of a solution because a battery failure could still leave you stranded. While, with 2 batteries, even if one completely fails and won't charge, you still have a good battery left to get going.
How long can you have the Jeep on for without running/starting it? Have you tested it yet?
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Old 10-03-2012, 10:50 PM   #25
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I understand this mod is classified top secret, but if you get a chance would you mind posting pics of the circuit breaker, fuse box, etc?
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Old 10-03-2012, 11:08 PM   #26
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This is what my internal monitoring system looks like:


I basically used a double pole double throw with center off switch to wire the batteries to a digital multimeter (this one has compensation functions, so you can dial in an accurate reading using a potentiometer). The boost switch is there, and at the time of this picture, the status LED was not in.
Could you explain this in "amature weekend wrench turner" terms? I think you were in my thread when I asked about 2 analog voltmeters in an A pillar mount. Well the A pillar crapped out, so I was thinkning about a Rugged Ridge A pillar switch panel, and the very same voltmeter you used. I was going to use 2 taking up two spots each of the 4 switch A pillar mount, but I was wondering if the voltmeters stay on all the time, or can you rig it that they only light up with the ignition.
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Old 10-04-2012, 03:25 AM   #27
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Could you explain this in "amature weekend wrench turner" terms? I think you were in my thread when I asked about 2 analog voltmeters in an A pillar mount. Well the A pillar crapped out, so I was thinkning about a Rugged Ridge A pillar switch panel, and the very same voltmeter you used. I was going to use 2 taking up two spots each of the 4 switch A pillar mount, but I was wondering if the voltmeters stay on all the time, or can you rig it that they only light up with the ignition.
This voltmeter has 3 wires:
1: Voltmeter Power
2: Positive side of measuring load (Battery +)
3: Negative side of measuring load (Battery -)

So, yes, you can wire it so that it comes on only with the ignition if you connect the Voltmeter power to an ignition hot source. I personally like to keep it off, and only turn it on when I want to check on things or when I'd like to be aware of it like on a trip. But, normally, I can quickly switch it on and check that the alternator is putting out 14+ volts (meaning its healthy), and toggle between the batteries, if they're both at 14+, both are charging. If only 1 is at 14, the I know one is isolated, if both are at 12, then the vehicle better be off, or the alternator is not working properly. But, really, determining isolation comes from the status LED from the isolator.

Anyway, I digressed there....back to business.

In my case, I used the DPDT switch, which has 6 terminals, and 3 possible states, its hard to put in words, so I'll draw a picture. But, basically, the switch allows you to connect 2 different sets of cables to a common terminal pair (in this case, the + and - measurement leads of the voltmeter). The 2 different sets of cables you want to connect are the +/- of the Main battery, and the +/- of the Aux battery. And the center position on the switch, leaves the voltmeter connected to nothing (off in my case).

The key difference in my case is that I tied the units power source to the + side of the measurement load (cable 1 and 2 are connected together), so basically, when you are measuring one of the batteries, that battery is also powering the device itself, and as a result, if you are not measuring something, it will be off. Now, if I had used the ignition switch to make it come on with the ignition, this wouldn't work out, because the center position would still leave the device on, but with nothing being measured, so it would show --.

Now, a picture:


This shows how the switch works, and how I wired it to measure both batteries only when I switch it up, or down, for main and aux respectively.

The green line shows which terminals on the switch are connected together at each of the 3 configurations. The first being Center, which is the OFF position in my case, or no wires connected to the voltmeter (sorry, I drew DMM for Digital Multimeter, but this is just a DVM). So, in center position, no green lines, none of the terminals are connected together.

Now, when you go to the Up, or Top, position, you can see the green lines connect the + on the AUX with the + on the DMM, and the - on the AUX, with the - on the DMM. Also, not shown, but implied, the + and the DMM power lead are combined, so when you switch it upward, the unit turns on and makes the measurement. So, now you can measure your aux battery. When you're done, you can switch the switch back to the middle position, and the DMM disconnects from that battery and shuts off.

Next, you do the same, but push the switch to the down position. You can see that in that position, the MAIN + is connected to the DMM +, and the MAIN - is connected to the DMM -, so again, it powers on, and measures the main battery.

So, ultimately, the switch just lets you connect the +/- of the meter to the +/- of both batteries by just toggling between them. So, you can use 1 meter to measure both only when you want.

It sounds like you are interested in using 2 meters, and have them on at all times that the vehicle is on. In your case, you don't even need a switch, since 1 will go to the main battery, one to the aux.
The first Voltmeter, you connect the 1) cable, unit power, to an ignition source (you can splice in to something, its low power). Then, this meter will come on with the ignition. Then, you would just connect the other two cables + and - to the Main battery positive and negative. So now anytime you turn on the vehicle, you will get the battery voltage.
The same thing with the 2nd Voltmeter, you connect it to that same ignition source, and it will also turn on with the vehicle. For this one, you will connect the 2 remaining cables to the positive and negative of the AUX battery (negative is common to both batteries, which they both end up tied to the vehicle chasis by the ground strap that comes from the alternator cable, so all those negative leads can go straight to any ground point on the vehicle). Now, you'll get a reading for the aux battery on that second meter when the vehicle is powered on.

Does that make sense, I think I went off on too many tangents. Let me know if you need a better picture or if you were thinking a different application.
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* Military M416 Trailer in Olive Drab - Custom Aluminum Lid - Mombasa RTT on lid - ARB Awning w/privacy room on custom low sitting extension arms - Custom Rear Swing-out Tire Carrier - Custom Fuel Carrier on Tongue...
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Old 10-04-2012, 03:44 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by SilverSport View Post
I understand this mod is classified top secret, but if you get a chance would you mind posting pics of the circuit breaker, fuse box, etc?
No classified data here. I will post pictures as soon as I get a chance. The Jeep is spending the night at the dealer getting serviced, and we're taking a trip Friday - Monday, so I might not get to it till Tuesday or so. But, meanwhile, I used this:
Bussmann Hi-Amp Circuit Breaker - 150 Amps : Amazon.com : Automotive for a circuit breaker, 150 amp Bussman. In the picture on my post that shows the isolator on the batteries, the big red cable at the far left slides right onto the side of the batteries. That Bussman breaker is mounted to the side of the Jeep there and that cable connects to one side of it. The other side of the breaker has a big cable that I routed along with the factory wires, so its no longer visible, but it runs along the top with that wire loom that runs on the top of the fire wall, all the way to the other side of the Jeep where there is a lot more space. I made a little bracket to hold the Blue Sea Systems Fuse Box in place. It is this one: Amazon.com: Blue Sea Systems Fuse Block Ato 6 Circuit with Ground: Sports & Outdoors
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* Military M416 Trailer in Olive Drab - Custom Aluminum Lid - Mombasa RTT on lid - ARB Awning w/privacy room on custom low sitting extension arms - Custom Rear Swing-out Tire Carrier - Custom Fuel Carrier on Tongue...
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Old 10-04-2012, 07:52 AM   #29
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Thanks, LB. That's what I thought you said, but the switch terminology always gets me. You should have seen when I tried asking the OTRATHW guy about the switch I used for the dual battery set. After he nicely went through a very detailed explaination as to how the switch worked, I was like, "I just need it to work with my Smart Isolator to connect the batteries, and I need an LED that will light when the batteries are connected and fit in an sPod."
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Old 10-04-2012, 09:06 AM   #30
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I trust Blue Sea switch materials; used that on my Conqueror trailer.

What kind of trailer do you have?

BTW, I run 3 huge batteries when I'm overlanding. The big main and two remote Optima D31Ms. I carry a genny, just in case, but the PW has always been able to charge things back up.
I just love my ARB fridge...

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2012 jk , dual batteries , dual battery 3.6 , dual optima , m.o.r.e. dual

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