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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
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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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
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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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
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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Great write up! I'm looking to do this soon.
 

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Nice job.

Sticky?
 

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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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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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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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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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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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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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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
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 :thumb:. 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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Well done! I vote sticky.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
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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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
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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