Gladiator Pop-Up Pass Through Camper Build

dstefan

Active member
Honestly, this is my first experience w/ a house battery + DCDC charging. I had dual under hood AGMs before w/ an isolater. I went with the NL PowerPack to simplify things and be removable and switchable to my 4Runner. Also, it was the only off the shelf approach for the Battleborn, which was the best thing then when I was figuring the electronics out.

I spoke to Mario about a used FWC rig I was thinking about, and he said he used the NLs in his builds, which later influenced my direction. From what I can tell from lots of comments here Redarcs are well respected and more commonly used than the NL DCDCs. I had researched the Redarc and likely would have used that except for wanting to go with the contained/removable approach. Think either would be fine.

As to 25 vs 40 I think your 25amp for 100AHs and 40 for 200 sounds right. Big question is what are you gonna run off the battery? 200 AH is lot in a non RV environment, unless you have really demanding loads. I put a Victron smart shunt on my Battleborn to better see the draws and Im pretty amazed by how efficient things are.
 

Mules

Well-known member
Honestly, this is my first experience w/ a house battery + DCDC charging. I had dual under hood AGMs before w/ an isolater. I went with the NL PowerPack to simplify things and be removable and switchable to my 4Runner. Also, it was the only off the shelf approach for the Battleborn, which was the best thing then when I was figuring the electronics out.

I spoke to Mario about a used FWC rig I was thinking about, and he said he used the NLs in his builds, which later influenced my direction. From what I can tell from lots of comments here Redarcs are well respected and more commonly used than the NL DCDCs. I had researched the Redarc and likely would have used that except for wanting to go with the contained/removable approach. Think either would be fine.

As to 25 vs 40 I think your 25amp for 100AHs and 40 for 200 sounds right. Big question is what are you gonna run off the battery? 200 AH is lot in a non RV environment, unless you have really demanding loads. I put a Victron smart shunt on my Battleborn to better see the draws and Im pretty amazed by how efficient things are.
Thanks for the input. I tend to over research items before I buy, and I appreciate everyone's experience.

A 100AH LiPO battery with a DCDC charger to the truck's main battery/alternator (~ $800) is a nice starting point. This should run my fridge for a few days and has twice the capacity as a Jackery 1500 (60Ah) at half the price. I can always add an 120v inverter and/or solar later, and not give up my microwave or induction stove dreams. Or I can just use a propane stove which would be cheaper.
 

Mules

Well-known member
Looks like Renogy is cheaper than Redarc and National Luna for a DC DC charger that charges from both solar and alternator. This one says 50 amps, but in truth is 25 from alternator, and 25 from solar. Is Renogy a quality product?

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dstefan

Active member
I cant speak to the Renogy personally, but have heard of some issues. Generally, Victron, Redarc, and National Luna are well regarded and spec’d more often for offroad and more rugged use. Buy once, cry once 😁 I would have gone with Victron, due to the well integrated bluetooth app, if I hadnt wanted the PowerPack mobility. But you can always add a Victron shunt for detailed load monitoring. Highly recommended.

You might also ask on the ExPo 12v and Electronics subforum. Lots of good info there.
 

highwest

Active member
I favor Victron because they don’t integrate their chargers into one unit. If one charger fails, you can replace only what broke. The price for two Victron chargers (one solar and one DCDC) comes out similar to the combined Renogy and less than Redarc (I think, it’s been a while). That being said, I’ve never had an issue with Victron. The Renogy will charge your starter battery from solar, which the Victron won’t do conveniently. I can’t recall if the Redarc does that. Redarcs can be mounted under the hood, the other two can’t. I’ve never looked at National Luna.
 

Mules

Well-known member
Alright, we talked Lithium, solar, DC DC charging, and battery boxes vs. built in. I want to hear more about under hood dual battery systems. Any good or bad experiences. I still like the clean idea of keeping the batteries out of the way, under the hood. Only problem I've found is that I don't think you can use Lithium batteries in this setup. That means the old school batteries won't be as fast charging and pretty heavy.

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dstefan

Active member
I’ve had both; IMO they’re different horses for different courses.

Dual: Evolved to support heavy winching and high draw non-LED light use.
Pros: Can take the under hood heat and is right up there for winch and light connections. Does’t take up camper space. Can jump your dead starter. Maybe cheaper. Can charge below freezing.

Cons: Heavier, only half (at least) the house battery capacity. Long cable run to camper area. More tricky to shoehorn in place. Pretty much have to use AGM with attendent charging needs to ensure long life. Slower to charge deeply discharged battery. Typically involve switching wiring in your dash.

LiFePo in camper:
Pros: Double or more the capacity at half the weight per AH. Easier to install (DIY). Very fast to charge, No in dash switching or monitoring needed. Can support more high draw devices. Less fussy about charging than AGMs. Can get 10 year warranty. Can be solar only (technically so could an under hood AGM, but in practice usually never done). Charging from the starter/alternator is as simple as running a cable to DCDC charger at battery, no complicated underhood install. Arguably lower lifetime battery per AH cost.

Cons: Maybe slightly higher initial battery and charger cost (but not much). Cant be charged at really low temps (Battleborns BMS cuts charging at 25° IIRC), but newer ones have heaters built in. Takes up space in camper.

I put a dual solenoid system in my Tacoma for backup and winch support before I had a fridge I later changed it out to a solid state IBS system that I liked better, but both worked fine. Once I got a fridge, I was always worrying about my charge and use of the ~35 available AH. I had to drive or portable solar charge daily. Basically, I could run the fridge 24 hrs at most. Still beats ice in a cooler.

In my new rig w/camper w/ 100AH Battleborn after some initial monitoring, I just dont have to worry about it. I would not go back to a dual system for any reason with a camper. Even if I later add a winch, my 95AH AGM Northstar starter can handle it.
 

Mules

Well-known member
I’ve had both; IMO they’re different horses for different courses.

Dual: Evolved to support heavy winching and high draw non-LED light use.
Pros: Can take the under hood heat and is right up there for winch and light connections. Does’t take up camper space. Can jump your dead starter. Maybe cheaper. Can charge below freezing.

Cons: Heavier, only half (at least) the house battery capacity. Long cable run to camper area. More tricky to shoehorn in place. Pretty much have to use AGM with attendent charging needs to ensure long life. Slower to charge deeply discharged battery. Typically involve switching wiring in your dash.

LiFePo in camper:
Pros: Double or more the capacity at half the weight per AH. Easier to install (DIY). Very fast to charge, No in dash switching or monitoring needed. Can support more high draw devices. Less fussy about charging than AGMs. Can get 10 year warranty. Can be solar only (technically so could an under hood AGM, but in practice usually never done). Charging from the starter/alternator is as simple as running a cable to DCDC charger at battery, no complicated underhood install. Arguably lower lifetime battery per AH cost.

Cons: Maybe slightly higher initial battery and charger cost (but not much). Cant be charged at really low temps (Battleborns BMS cuts charging at 25° IIRC), but newer ones have heaters built in. Takes up space in camper.

I put a dual solenoid system in my Tacoma for backup and winch support before I had a fridge I later changed it out to a solid state IBS system that I liked better, but both worked fine. Once I got a fridge, I was always worrying about my charge and use of the ~35 available AH. I had to drive or portable solar charge daily. Basically, I could run the fridge 24 hrs at most. Still beats ice in a cooler.

In my new rig w/camper w/ 100AH Battleborn after some initial monitoring, I just dont have to worry about it. I would not go back to a dual system for any reason with a camper. Even if I later add a winch, my 95AH AGM Northstar starter can handle it.
This is a great response from someone that has had both setups. Thanks.
 

1000arms

Well-known member
Does anyone have experience with the cheap 100AH LiPo batteries out there? ($300 to $400 on Amazon)

What does the BMS (Battery Management System) on some batteries do for you?

How cold will LiPo batteries work? I've even seen some with heaters built in.

I was thinking about an inexpensive DIY 12v 100Ah system using the battery box below.

What are your thoughts?

View attachment 719732
Check the specifications for the batteries and make sure you can use the batteries in the temperatures you want. Depending on where you camp, it might be an issue unless you keep the battery warm enough.
 

llamalander

Active member
I've had a dual battery setup for a few years and it works well for what I do, which is mostly desert camping or at least trips with plenty of sunshine.
The 2nd battery is a 110ah AGM mounted sideways inside the frame-rails below the driver's seat--not sure if you would have room for something like that.
The inputs are a basic Blue Sea 30-amp combiner and a Victron MPPT with a 295 watt (nominal 40-volt) solar panel, which is not small, but has proven very durable.

The Blue Sea combines the batteries after it detects charging voltage for 30+ seconds, so the solar and the alternator charge both batteries if either (or both) are on.
I use the Victron BVM with bluetooth that can show the solar input, history, battery charge and draws and temp, which is really useful.
The two batteries are connected with heavy 2/0 cables, positive fused at both ends, all camper grounds to a shunt then back to the starter negative, which means more wire, but fewer mysteries.
This powers a big fridge, water pump, bed heater, a (350-watt) inverter and lots of charging points, including an 18-volt tool battery charger, without issue.

The system is independent of the camper shell on the back, so the truck can be loaded for work or camping and the electrical does not move, which is handy.
My jumper cable is now a 12" piece of wire to wedge between the starter and the Blue Sea, which I have used once or twice.
A cold night with some heater use will use 40-50% of my capacity which is usually restored with a few hours of sun or driving.

The biggest plus is that it runs by itself and I don't have to think about it. The Victron App is easy and informative, but basically a curiosity now that I can trust it to do what I need.
A second bonus is that the solar panel and the rack in front of it keep a lot of sun off my roof and keeps the cab and shell temps lower because both sit a small way above the roof.
Parked with the windows cracked and a small fan running is tolerable and the fridge is not taxed.

The battery is probably 90 lbs with its' mount, and the panel may weigh 30 lbs, with wire, shunt & breakers etc. maybe 140 lbs all told, which is not light, but forgivable for the utility and reliability.
 
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dstefan

Active member
Check the specifications for the batteries and make sure you can use the batteries in the temperatures you want. Depending on where you camp, it might be an issue unless you keep the battery warm enough.
+1 on this. Not all LiFePo batteries are the same, especially how the BMS is implemented. You can check out Will Prowse’s YouTube channel for very informative comparisons including tear downs. I learned a lot from him when I was making my decision.
 

Mules

Well-known member
I've had a dual battery setup for a few years and it works well for what I do, which is mostly desert camping or at least trips with plenty of sunshine.
The 2nd battery is a 110ah AGM mounted sideways inside the frame-rails below the driver's seat--not sure if you would have room for something like that.
The inputs are a basic Blue Sea 30-amp combiner and a Victron MPPT with a 295 watt (nominal 40-volt) solar panel, which is not small, but has proven very durable.

The Blue Sea combines the batteries after it detects charging voltage for 30+ seconds, so the solar and the alternator charge both batteries if either (or both) are on.
I use the Victron BVM with bluetooth that can show the solar input, history, battery charge and draws and temp, which is really useful.
The two batteries are connected with heavy 2/0 cables, positive fused at both ends, all camper grounds to a shunt then back to the starter negative, which means more wire, but fewer mysteries.
This powers a big fridge, water pump, bed heater, a (350-watt) inverter and lots of charging points, including an 18-volt tool battery charger, without issue.

The system is independent of the camper shell on the back, so the truck can be loaded for work or camping and the electrical does not move, which is handy.
My jumper cable is now a 12" piece of wire to wedge between the starter and the Blue Sea, which I have used once or twice.
A cold night with some heater use will use 40-50% of my capacity which is usually restored with a few hours of sun or driving.

The biggest plus is that it runs by itself and I don't have to think about it. The Victron App is easy and informative, but basically a curiosity now that I can trust it to do what I need.
A second bonus is that the solar panel and the rack in front of it keep a lot of sun off my roof and keeps the cab and shell temps lower because both sit a small way above the roof.
Parked with the windows cracked and a small fan running is tolerable and the fridge is not taxed.

The battery is probably 90 lbs with its' mount, and the panel may weigh 30 lbs, with wire, shunt & breakers etc. maybe 140 lbs all told, which is not light, but forgivable for the utility and reliability.
Great idea to keep the battery under the front seats, and batteries come in a lot of sizes. This slim 170AH battery almost fits behind my rear seat. I'll have to look to see if there are some slim 100Ah Lithium batteries available. Below is a picture of two Optimas under a JK rear seat.
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86scotty

Explorer
I would run lithium and place them somewhere in the camper/truck, not under the hood. The JL/JT hood is plenty busy as is.

I did the Renogy DC/DC in my current Oversleeper build and would not recommend using it. It works fine most of the time but the phone app is clunky and in my JLU I have no good place for a display panel. I really hate not having battery info displayed clearly in any camper.
 

Mules

Well-known member
Sorry if I'm Geeking out a bit on batteries. But hey, I'm an Engineer.

Now, here's a really cool option, if it will work. Dakota Lithium has a 135Ah Group 24 Starter Battery (smaller in size than my Gladiator's battery). The biggest complaint I've heard about Lithium Starter batteries is that they don't like the cold/heat. Dakota says theirs works from -20F to 150F.

How cool would it be to have 135Ah of power available for my accessories, in my truck's starter battery! I'll have to check charging rates, but my 240 amp alternator might be able to fully charge it in about 40 minutes. All that power, and no second battery, no DC DC charger, or solar setup. Change the battery and go.

It can't be that easy? Anybody try Dakota Lithium Starter batteries yet?

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