What is the best portable power? Yeti, ARK? Is there another?

john61ct

Adventurer
Both pretty solid companies, but the batt part so pricey.

If the box +gadgets suits your needs

could get the cells+BMS yourself to put inside.

Daisy chain a few, portable House bank even run a fridge / freezer.
 

4x4tripping

Adventurer
Thanks for another option! I Love these listings with different brands. Good too for users who are looking about!

Looks interessiting: https://powerwerx.com/cigarette-lighter-powerpole-adapter-18in also when 15A should kill many fuses in our vehicles?!

The 110V charging is poor, with 10A - but maybe enough for some of us.

Looking at the price - it is not the cheapie, but a box for building it as you need it. Has a Killswitch wat is nice for shipping.

Whery nice Adapters and Displays available, loove these at sample https://powerwerx.com/watt-meter-analyzer-inline-dc-mc4
Perfect for users of a Ctek 250 without Solar-Display...

Surfy
 
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Steve_P

Member
The 110V charging is poor, with 10A - but maybe enough for some of us.
Forget about their charger, it's too much extra cost anway. Get a charger with with a 14.6 volt max and up to .5 C of the battery you buy. Just don't let it go into float, no need for float on a LiFePo4. I would connect my Victron IP167 via the binding posts or one of the Anderson connectors and charge it myself.
 

67cj5

Man On a Mission
The PLB-40 charges fast enough, If you have it plugged in to the Cigar socket when you are traveling and put it on Solar when you make camp then a fridge is only going to use a small amount of power during the night and could be fully charged within an hour of being on the Solar.
 
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4x4tripping

Adventurer
My experiences to the Engel MF 17 during the Tranafrica: There is a optional Thermo-Bag available (something what you too can do at your own if you like) . We run one Box as Freezer, one as Fridge during our trip.

If both compressor coolingboxes are fully loaded, we was able to completely turn them off during the night, without to see to much defrosting after 7h.. Did not work if not full (tested)...
 

67cj5

Man On a Mission
My experiences to the Engel MF 17 during the Tranafrica: There is a optional Thermo-Bag available (something what you too can do at your own if you like) . We run one Box as Freezer, one as Fridge during our trip.

If both compressor coolingboxes are fully loaded, we was able to completely turn them off during the night, without to see to much defrosting after 7h.. Did not work if not full (tested)...
I tried that with the ARB78L when it was set to 2*c and I shut it off for 50 hours and the temp came up by 13*c which is not bad in a constant Ambient temp 24/7 of 23*c, Seem like the bigger fridges retain their Coolness a lot better than the smaller fridges, All I had was the bottom covered with cans of Coke.
 
After a lot of research and a good hard look at the 2020 model portable lithium units, I've decided that I am going to be building my own portable unit capable of running a 12 V fridge and other accessories. I took a good hard look at the Goal Zero Yeti 500X which runs around $700 with an additional $30 for the 10 Amp DC charger. The Dometic unit was another that I was interested in but it was even more expensive and out of stock. Here's what I'm planning :

- A 50 Ah LiFEPO4 battery (still deliberating b/w a Battleborn or Renogy)
- Renogy 20 Amp DC-DC charger (this would give a 50 Ah a good rate of charge and would save me a lot of $$ for wiring since I can tap this into a 30 Amp fused connection I already have at the back of my rig which wouldn't have worked for a 30 Amp or 40Amp DC-DC)
- A Noco Group 24 battery box
- Amazon special 12V and USB ports

I'll be using blue sea fuse block, terminal fuses and a circuit breaker for this set up and will be using anderson connectors for all the accessories. The aux lithium battery will augment my Group 34 Odyssey AGM starter battery that is wired to also support running the fridge and very same accessories if required. I'll add solar that is capable of supporting both at a later date.

My total budget for this set up is $750 or lower and the point is to keep it extremely simple and modular so that I can upgrade components over time as my needs evolve or as something better becomes available (without discarding all of the system). The 5-10 yr warranty for the battery, and the faster dc-dc charge rates finally convinced me to go an aux battery and a DIY instead of a portable lithium unit like a Jackery or Goal Zero. I really like those systems but feel that a a proper LiFEPO4 battery is going to be a more enduring solution especially from a reputable OEM that has reasonably good customer support.
 
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Do you need a BMS for the LIFEPO?


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Most LIFEPO4 batteries (branded) come with a BMS built in so no need for to buy one unless one is doing a DIY set up using lithium cells. The ones that I'm considering (Battleborn or Renogy) do come with it.
 
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I was strongly considering the powerwerx and the ArkPak 715 because both were LiFePo4 compatible, and both came in a very decent form factor. What turned me away from a lot of these "drop in" systems was the slow DC charging. I get that many folks are just designing and developing what is now days termed as a "solar generator" so DC charging isn't a big deal for them, however since my application is going to be predominately vehicle based travel, I wanted to be able to charge up to 0.5C with easy to install systems.

All of the above coupled with the battery chemistry, warranty (12-24 months) and "marketed" cycles (500-800 for most) was what turned me away from cheaper, and smaller off-the shelf ready to go units like a Goal Zero and Jackery. While these were cheaper (in the $400 - $800 range for a 32-40 Ah system), you had to chuck the whole unit when the battery goes bad or if a component fails post the warranty. After thinking long and hard about my future needs, and how long I would like my investment to last, I eliminated the Goal Zero 400X from one possible option (it was right up there in this "class" of systems because it had the best DC charge rate @ 10 A). The only unit that I really liked was the Dometic PLB-40. Compact, light and excellent reviews. Unfortunately, it too suffered from low DC charge rates, and was out-of-stock around the time I wanted to make the investment (it's since back in stock in the US and is now even discounted). In my research, I found it to be the best for vehicle based overland usage amongst the off-the-shelf options (integrated battery) out there.

In the end, my solution was to just build my own. I did this primarily because of the freedom it gave me in terms of using some of the components I already had, components that I understood, and things that I could easily add later because of the custom DIY nature of this simple set up. I briefly considered building my own LiFePO4 battery using cells and BMS sourced but rejected this due to the complexity of safely building it (this would have stretched my own technical abilities) and the associated hassle of following up with warranty claims with parts coming from China. I chose a 50Ah Battle Born LiFePO4 battery given the reputation and a decade long warranty and because the size was perfect for my current and planned needs.

@cruxarche and I partnered and began designing our systems (both of just happened to be needing something similar at the same time and connected through this forum) based on the Milwaukee Packout compact system. I chose this because it was a strong, sturdy, ammo style box (as opposed to a suitcase) and had a well established eco-system that would support future expansion leveraging the packout locking mechanism and the base plate. I chose to order a custom steel base plate since what Milwaukee sells (plastic base plate) is the larger unit that supports two boxes side by side. The base plate essentially makes this a snap on snap off unit that sits atop my storage drawers and right next to my fridge. I decided to put the DC-DC charger outside the unit, in my vehicle, because the one I already had (Renogy 20A) was too big to fit inside. The box could very easily accommodate a a Victron 18 or 30 Amp DC-DC charger inside the battery by re-orienting some of my components and by re-wiring so that could be a future project if my needs evolve to where I need to take it on multiple vehicles. In the future, I plan on fabricating an aluminium plate on the top surface of the packout lid, and mounting a 200W inverter. I may also mount struts to keep the lid from falling down when I'm working on it. It can accommodate a small AC charger in the unit (again through reorienting systems, or choosing to build with different components) but since I use my NOCO Genius across multiple batteries, hard mounting it inside the box was not very practical.

Sorry for the lengthy post, but the forum and many members here have been extremely generous with their time and have helped answer some of my 12V build questions so I think it was important that I too posted details on this thread in case someone were to encounter a similar set of choices or faced a similar need. This was a fairly simple, and straightforward build and I feel that it is a legitimate alternative to the ArkPak's and National Luna portable systems of the world. All equipped (with the battery), it weighs 26.4 lb (could have saved some weight but I chose the heaviest battery in this class and also 4 and 8 AWG wiring etc) which is about 1 lb lighter than what the Ark Pak would have weighed with the same battery (I concede that the ArkPak has a DC-DC built in but I don't often need DC-DC charger when I remove the box from my vehicle for outdoor usage (YMMV).

Still waiting on some stuff that would improve aesthetics (like black screws and some more loom to tie wiring into harnesses) but here are some pics from the test run.
 

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MagicMtnDan

JT Rubicon Launch Edition & 2017 Raptor (#2)
I was strongly considering the powerwerx and the ArkPak 715 because both were LiFePo4 compatible, and both came in a very decent form factor. What turned me away from a lot of these "drop in" systems was the slow DC charging. I get that many folks are just designing and developing what is now days termed as a "solar generator" so DC charging isn't a big deal for them, however since my application is going to be predominately vehicle based travel, I wanted to be able to charge up to 0.5C with easy to install systems.

All of the above coupled with the battery chemistry, warranty (12-24 months) and "marketed" cycles (500-800 for most) was what turned me away from cheaper, and smaller off-the shelf ready to go units like a Goal Zero and Jackery. While these were cheaper (in the $400 - $800 range for a 32-40 Ah system), you had to chuck the whole unit when the battery goes bad or if a component fails post the warranty. After thinking long and hard about my future needs, and how long I would like my investment to last, I eliminated the Goal Zero 400X from one possible option (it was right up there in this "class" of systems because it had the best DC charge rate @ 10 A). The only unit that I really liked was the Dometic PLB-40. Compact, light and excellent reviews. Unfortunately, it too suffered from low DC charge rates, and was out-of-stock around the time I wanted to make the investment (it's since back in stock in the US and is now even discounted). In my research, I found it to be the best for vehicle based overland usage amongst the off-the-shelf options (integrated battery) out there.

In the end, my solution was to just build my own. I did this primarily because of the freedom it gave me in terms of using some of the components I already had, components that I understood, and things that I could easily add later because of the custom DIY nature of this simple set up. I briefly considered building my own LiFePO4 battery using cells and BMS sourced but rejected this due to the complexity of safely building it (this would have stretched my own technical abilities) and the associated hassle of following up with warranty claims with parts coming from China. I chose a 50Ah Battle Born LiFePO4 battery given the reputation and a decade long warranty and because the size was perfect for my current and planned needs.

@cruxarche and I partnered and began designing our systems (both of just happened to be needing something similar at the same time and connected through this forum) based on the Milwaukee Packout compact system. I chose this because it was a strong, sturdy, ammo style box (as opposed to a suitcase) and had a well established eco-system that would support future expansion leveraging the packout locking mechanism and the base plate. I chose to order a custom steel base plate since what Milwaukee sells (plastic base plate) is the larger unit that supports two boxes side by side. The base plate essentially makes this a snap on snap off unit that sits atop my storage drawers and right next to my fridge. I decided to put the DC-DC charger outside the unit, in my vehicle, because the one I already had (Renogy 20A) was too big to fit inside. The box could very easily accommodate a a Victron 18 or 30 Amp DC-DC charger inside the battery by re-orienting some of my components and by re-wiring so that could be a future project if my needs evolve to where I need to take it on multiple vehicles. In the future, I plan on fabricating an aluminium plate on the top surface of the packout lid, and mounting a 200W inverter. I may also mount struts to keep the lid from falling down when I'm working on it. It can accommodate a small AC charger in the unit (again through reorienting systems, or choosing to build with different components) but since I use my NOCO Genius across multiple batteries, hard mounting it inside the box was not very practical.

Sorry for the lengthy post, but the forum and many members here have been extremely generous with their time and have helped answer some of my 12V build questions so I think it was important that I too posted details on this thread in case someone were to encounter a similar set of choices or faced a similar need. This was a fairly simple, and straightforward build and I feel that it is a legitimate alternative to the ArkPak's and National Luna portable systems of the world. All equipped (with the battery), it weighs 26.4 lb (could have saved some weight but I chose the heaviest battery in this class and also 4 and 8 AWG wiring etc) which is about 1 lb lighter than what the Ark Pak would have weighed with the same battery (I concede that the ArkPak has a DC-DC built in but I don't often need DC-DC charger when I remove the box from my vehicle for outdoor usage (YMMV).

Still waiting on some stuff that would improve aesthetics (like black screws and some more loom to tie wiring into harnesses) but here are some pics from the test run.
This is great! Thanks for posting. Do you have more details/plans/layout you can share?

I am especially interested in your comments about the DC-to-DC charger and if/how I could fit the Renogy 20A unit in it (sounds like it won't fit) as I need to build one of these that will work with both my vehicles.

Would you explain a bit more about ordering a custom steel base plate - why you did that and what you're using it for? I'm not very familiar with the Milwaukee Packout system except for seeing them on teh shelves at Home Depot.

Thanks again
 

john61ct

Adventurer
In the end, my solution was to just build my own. I did this primarily because of the freedom it gave me
Ding ding ding, Bingo! we have a winner!

A step further would be bare cells, test a few BMS save a lot of money and/or get better quality.

What is the maximum C-rate charging on the BB?

Ability to bypass the BMS would give you a 30-40min full refill time if you have the amps

in hot weather you'd never notice the lost cycles 10+ years later.
 

kwill

Observer
This is great! Thanks for posting. Do you have more details/plans/layout you can share?

I am especially interested in your comments about the DC-to-DC charger and if/how I could fit the Renogy 20A unit in it (sounds like it won't fit) as I need to build one of these that will work with both my vehicles.

Would you explain a bit more about ordering a custom steel base plate - why you did that and what you're using it for? I'm not very familiar with the Milwaukee Packout system except for seeing them on teh shelves at Home Depot.

Thanks again
I, too, would like to see a parts list and schematic to replicate what you've done. Nice job!
 
This is great! Thanks for posting. Do you have more details/plans/layout you can share?

I am especially interested in your comments about the DC-to-DC charger and if/how I could fit the Renogy 20A unit in it (sounds like it won't fit) as I need to build one of these that will work with both my vehicles.

Would you explain a bit more about ordering a custom steel base plate - why you did that and what you're using it for? I'm not very familiar with the Milwaukee Packout system except for seeing them on teh shelves at Home Depot.

Thanks again
I don't have layouts but can try to do a drawing of how I wired it. Here's a picture of the internals that I wired up for a test run. I've since added loom to the bare wires and paired some of them up together using cable ties to clean up the aesthetics and make it slightly easier to add/remove things. I also plan on labeling wires in the future just to make it easy to identify and trace faults etc.

I used a coupon and got a great deal on the Renogy 20A DC-DC charger and actually bought it before I decided to pursue this particular battery box design. I paid around $100 for it so it offered great value that I didn't want to pass on. In hindsight, I'd probably not go for it again because it is big and loud though with its DIP switches I can set LiFePO4 voltage anywhere between 14.2 and 14.6 and an ignition wire allows me to not worry about the smart voltage sense etc. I have it wired to a switch and I turn it on when I want to use DC-DC instead of it always turning on with the ignition. Right now it is doing its job, but I may replace it at a later date with a Victron 30 Amp in case I need to utilize the space for something else.

If you are interested in an integrated dc-dc charger within this form factor, then hit up @cruxarche as he has installed an 18 Amp Victron smart DC-DC charger inside the very same Milwaukee packout box and it just fits with almost the same components that I've used. We both needed a similar solution around the same time and build our systems together over private messages on this froum and via text..lol..His set up came out really nice and he used the same battery and has an MPPT and DC-DC charger, Anderson powerpole and SB-50 connectors and USB charging etc.

The Milwaukee packout family of tool boxes and other hardware comes with an integrated lockable feet design that lock into a mounting plate that they also sell. These can be horizontally or vertically mounted and tool boxes can be secured on them up to the weight rating of these boxes . It is a very sturdy latch and folks have demonstrated this by hanging off of it. The problem with the Milwaukee branded mounting plates is that they only come in a particular size that accommodates two of these packout tool boxes (this is the medium sized / 10" tool box) side by side. Since I only had one and didn't have use for the second, I wanted to see if I could get a "half plate" instead that has just large enough a footprint to accommodate one of these boxes. This would save some space. Milwaukee doesn't make a half plate. I did a bit of digging and found that there is an Instagram user ("rainbowlanespeed") who sells half-plates in both steel and aluminum. You can see the half plate that I chose (steel) in the second picture, and it attached to my drawer system where the aux battery will live right next to my fridge. I like the plate as it is one less thing that I have to worry about strapping down.

Ding ding ding, Bingo! we have a winner!

A step further would be bare cells, test a few BMS save a lot of money and/or get better quality.

What is the maximum C-rate charging on the BB?
Yeah I can totally see me trying that out in the near-mid term and trying to see if I can squeeze in more capacity in the same form factor. For now though this is more than plenty for our needs. The 50 Ah Battle Born can discharge at 60 A continuous but I think BB still holds the 0.5C recommendation for most optimal charging with longevity in mind. I currently use a 20A charger but the max that I'll ever think of putting into mine is 30A which should be fine. 30A is also the upper limit of what my current vehicle wiring and alternator will comfortably handle given everything else that I've used so its probably a good max for me at the moment. Coming from LA though these things are nearly magical in terms of how fast they are capable of charging. I currently have a 10 A AC-DC charger but will probably upgrade to a 25 or 30 Amp option for fast Ac charging when plugged in. We don't often plug into a camp site so rapid AC-DC charging when on the go is not that appealing compared to DC-DC and solar charging.
 

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