Our dual battery setup

February 2019 | Words by Daniel

When planning the build for the Hilux there was one thing I really wanted to get right this time - our 12v system.

We’ve never really had a proper power setup in any of our previous trucks, we just used USB chargers for phones and cameras, and small LED lights in the back of the truck at night to read by. This worked well enough for the basics, though I didn’t like the waste of the AA batteries and it was pretty tricky to cook with that little light.

As the time we spend away from home has increased and the general duration of our trips has extended we were also looking for a way to eat better on the road - you can only eat two minute noodles so many nights in a row. As part of that we picked up a Waeco fridge and needed a way to keep it powered up overnight when the truck is off.

After doing a bunch of research on various systems we settled on the CTEK DC-DC charging system, knowing that the DC-DC charger and SmartPass together would give us heaps of room to grow our build in the future.

Now, while I can sort of do 12 volt stuff, I thought it would be best to get the pros to install the secondary battery and chargers so that it works 100% of the time. Enter Street Customs. Having done a bunch of work with them over the years I knew there wasn’t any other option when it came to getting the install looking “factory as” - which has become my motto with this build.

Getting to the workshop around lunchtime on a Saturday we started pulling bits and pieces out of the way and making a plan. The Hilux thankfully has a bit of space under the bonnet and there’s a perfect spot for a secondary battery, though we did have to move the injector computer to a custom bracket so the battery didn’t foul it. We built up a custom battery tray using the stock holes already in the guard, making sure to spread the weight out as wide as we could - deep cycle batteries are heavy beasts!

We chose to stick the DC-DC chargers up in the passenger footwell behind the glovebox for a couple of reasons - short wires, hidden well away and out of the weather. I was slightly worried about them getting a tad warm but so far I haven’t noticed any issues, the battery gets charged up quickly once we’re on the move again.

Because the majority of our electrical gear sits down the back of the truck, we ran two thick gauge wires to the rear - one to the back of the cab for the fridge and one into the tray for our lights, inverter and various phone and camera chargers. I built a toolbox for the back to hold random bits and bobs which also features a switch panel and whole bunch of waterproof plugs to run our lighting system for the tray and tent.

After three weeks down south our 12v system has had a full work out and everything worked perfectly. There’s nothing better than rocking up to camp after an awesome day knowing you have real food ready to cook and the ability to charge everything up again - I don’t know why we didn’t do it sooner!