Critique on my plans for truck mounted 100ah system

amartin

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Feb 8, 2022
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9
Hello, I've been trying to plan a small 12V system for use in my truck when off the grid. Found this place thanks to Will's great videos which have now sent me down the rabbit hole of building my first setup. Looking for some feedback/critique from DIY Solar on my plans to help find issues.

My current plan: I keep going back & forth on this but as of now here is the general idea:
  • Battery: TBD but only 100ah capacity - more on this below...
  • DC-DC and MPPT via Redarc BCDC1225D
  • Solar: 100w panel on camper shell roof to start; after verifying real-world performance will expand.
  • Monitoring through Victron Smart Shunt 500A via bluetooth
Main needs are charging 4 drone batteries (Mavic 2) and various small camera batteries for GoPro and 4/3 DSLR. Much later on I may add a fridge but at that stage would be upgrading the entire system and moving this "v1" configuration to another vehicle.

Now, on to the questions:
  • Battery: I've watched all of Will's videos and even more on the Tube for battery tear downs. I need something 12V 100ah with working low temp protection (I'm in Wisconsin). If I can find one with Bluetooth to monitor SoC and see how fast my solar is working that's really all I want. If I could buy the SOK with Bluetooth already working without upgrading the BMS myself I'd do that. Don't like the aolithium one design based on teardown. Not many others have built-in bluetooth which isn't bad but then I need the Victron shunt. HQST has come up in searches which seems to be a re-branded Renogy but I can't find a teardown to see the guts. I need either something cheap & non-serviceable but good quality cells, or something better that is serviceable. Don't really care about parallel/series limitations as it won't be expanded. Thoughts?
  • Redarc: I'm going this route not because I like it best, but because it is a very small package to install in my limited space. Would prefer a Victron Orion + SmartSolar but there's just no space to put them. Open to other suggestions but it needs to be pretty slim to fit behind the seat area in a Toyota Tacoma (quad cab behind rear seat with all the stuff gutted behind it). Anything better that I'm missing?
Appreciate any info or help, cheers!

EDIT: Adding sample image of what the seat area looks like so you can understand what I am working with. Those plastic storage bins can be removed and the battery should fit at the bottom. Going to build a panel to mount up the Redarc/Victron/wiring/etc that go vertically on that back wall.

i6IXleV.jpg
 
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amartin

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Feb 8, 2022
Messages
9
Here is a alternative combo unit
Interesting thanks, I'll put that on my list of things to research. Price is better than the Redarc and of course more output but physical size is larger. I'll have to get more precise measurements of my seat area soon (waiting for weather to warm up, it's freezing right now).
 

TEV

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Joined
Jan 20, 2022
Messages
158
If I can find one with Bluetooth to monitor SoC and see how fast my solar is working that's really all I want.

i6IXleV.jpg
Will this work?

 

amartin

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Feb 8, 2022
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9
Will this work?

I've seen EG4 mentioned several times but more for the rack battery that Will tested. Haven't seen a teardown on that 100ah version though, does something like that exist so I can see the insides? Screenshots for that bluetooth app don't look very robust but I can't find any more about that either. Searching this forum it seems Signature Solar is US-based so the sourcing would be better/faster which is a positive. Adding to my list for consideration, thanks!
 

TEV

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Joined
Jan 20, 2022
Messages
158
I've seen EG4 mentioned several times but more for the rack battery that Will tested. Haven't seen a teardown on that 100ah version though, does something like that exist so I can see the insides? Screenshots for that bluetooth app don't look very robust but I can't find any more about that either. Searching this forum it seems Signature Solar is US-based so the sourcing would be better/faster which is a positive. Adding to my list for consideration, thanks!
I have the EG4-LL 48V/100A and it has the LCD screen, that gave you all the info from the BMS, on it. For some reason, the 12V one doesn't show the LCD in the picture, but I will check with them, maybe is just the wrong picture.
Edit: It seems that they're waterproof and Bluetooth, like the 100A one.
 

amartin

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Feb 8, 2022
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Thanks for checking. Since I'm only doing a single 12V 100ah the LCD screen isn't a feature I need or want. But I do need the Bluetooth (either built-in or via the Victron BMS) to mitigate having no screen.

Also I just saw on the Signature Solar site they have some form of a teardown video. Not complete but it shows the cells laying horizontally. I know some of them can do that but not sure on these. Also still skeptical on whatever app they are using for the bluetooth - screenshots are lacking to say it nicely. It's on my list of options but I'd be lying if I said it was an ideal choice versus others.

The search continues, thanks for the ideas so far, this is great to see ideas I wouldn't have found otherwise!
 

KTM-Guy

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Aug 24, 2021
Messages
15
Why not build a battery? With Overkill BMS, then you would know what you have. I am in a rental Tacoma right now and just checked the room behind the seat. Not sure there will be enough room for a battery there after removing the plastic. I can check when I get home and have a screwdriver.

I am building a battery for my Jeep now. My V2, I started with a 125 AH AGM and it was to small for my Fridge/freezer. I also charge camera batteries like you. The Mavic batteries take more power than you would think.

I was going to go with the Victron battery monitor but too many bad reviews, one review had a link to the Thornwave Labs monitor and I went that way. I have two and they have been Solid. Bluetooth works great.

I also have the same Redarc, BCDC1225 and it just works. Just make sure you run big enough wires from the battery. I went with 4awg but probably could have used 6’s. I first had a CTEC and it was problems. If you are only going 100AH battery the 1225 would be fine, but the 1240 would give you some future proofing if you might go more capacity.

I carry two portable 100 watt solar panels, I don’t have room for permanently mounting them. I find the panels more of a Hassle. That is why I’m redoing my batteries so I don’t need to rely on solar. I should be able to go 4 days without running the Jeep. And we have a teardrop camper we should be good over a week with that. I will put a controller in the teardrop but I don’t think it will get used much. I live in the southwest and get good sun, I don’t know how the northern people deal with the low sun angles. We were at the Grand Canyon in Nov and had to babysit the two panels all day to try to keep them in the sun. We couldn’t replace what we used overnight. That is when we decided to replace everything.

This is my setup.65D7F451-7708-4423-A403-CA2FDF6E3231.jpeg
 

amartin

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Feb 8, 2022
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Wow thanks for all the great info. Will try to answer why I planned the things I did:

Why not build a battery? With Overkill BMS, then you would know what you have.

I am still 100% considering that route. That was my first thought after watching Will's videos, Like you said I would know "what I have" and I live by that motto for other parts of my life like vehicle maintenance so it fits. However it will depend how fast I need to get this up & running come springtime - still working that part out in my head. Might have to buy something pre-made for this year as I gather some tools & materials that I would need for a DIY build later.

was going to go with the Victron battery monitor but too many bad reviews, one review had a link to the Thornwave Labs monitor and I went that way. I have two and they have been Solid. Bluetooth works great.

VERY interesting - I also read many reports about bluetooth issues on the Victron. Never even heard of that Thornwave before now and just searched it. Their 5S shunt is out of stock, but that PowerMon battery monitor looks quite interesting, need to read about it a bit more and dig into the phone app. Appreciate the suggestion!

I also have the same Redarc, BCDC1225 and it just works. Just make sure you run big enough wires from the battery. I went with 4awg but probably could have used 6’s. I first had a CTEC and it was problems. If you are only going 100AH battery the 1225 would be fine, but the 1240 would give you some future proofing if you might go more capacity.

Definitely torn 50/50 between the 1225 and 1240. I chose to use the 1225 in this exercise as the lowest output option and to keep it simple. I need to research more on my Tacoma alternator & other electronics first but if that checks out 1240 is for sure the way to go.

I carry two portable 100 watt solar panels, I don’t have room for permanently mounting them. I find the panels more of a Hassle. That is why I’m redoing my batteries so I don’t need to rely on solar. I should be able to go 4 days without running the Jeep. And we have a teardrop camper we should be good over a week with that. I will put a controller in the teardrop but I don’t think it will get used much. I live in the southwest and get good sun, I don’t know how the northern people deal with the low sun angles. We were at the Grand Canyon in Nov and had to babysit the two panels all day to try to keep them in the sun. We couldn’t replace what we used overnight. That is when we decided to replace everything.

Yeah I'm deciding between folding or fixed panels. Not expecting huge sun up north here and that's part of the reason I want to start at 100w and play with it a bit. Might be the case where I do solar only when travelling out West or South but I need my own real world data to know for sure. But all great info to think about.

PS - Dig the Jeep rig, I'd love to have a teardrop like that someday!
 

TEV

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Jan 20, 2022
Messages
158
Yeah I'm deciding between folding or fixed panels. Not expecting huge sun up north here and that's part of the reason I want to start at 100w and play with it a bit.
Please be aware that the orientation and the tilt angle of the panels is making a big difference in the power output. There are websites and mobile apps that can give the precise tilt angle for your location and day for the best power output. Direct sunlight, or cloudy sky is another huge difference in solar production.
 

amartin

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Feb 8, 2022
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Please be aware that the orientation and the tilt angle of the panels is making a big difference in the power output. There are websites and mobile apps that can give the precise tilt angle for your location and day for the best power output. Direct sunlight, or cloudy sky is another huge difference in solar production.
Most definitely and great points, I will be testing angles/orientations more once I finish the build.
 

KTM-Guy

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Aug 24, 2021
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I check the Tacoma when I got home and it doesn’t look like you will gain much mote space. But I checked my 230AH cells and they fit fine with room to spare. With room for a Redarc and BMS and solar controller on the sides. This the passenger side. I don’t think you could go with a taller battery. I bought the cells from a Chinese company that has US warehouse. I got the cells in two days once they were in stock.

I do have the PowerMon. It can pass up to 60amps I believe. Way more than what I’ll need.

Todd

CB177A97-60EB-400C-A5B3-174E45A01B33.jpeg
 

amartin

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Feb 8, 2022
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I check the Tacoma when I got home and it doesn’t look like you will gain much mote space. But I checked my 230AH cells and they fit fine with room to spare. With room for a Redarc and BMS and solar controller on the sides. This the passenger side. I don’t think you could go with a taller battery. I bought the cells from a Chinese company that has US warehouse. I got the cells in two days once they were in stock.

I do have the PowerMon. It can pass up to 60amps I believe. Way more than what I’ll need.

Todd
Awesome thanks Todd, that's way more effort than I expected but great to see those 230Ah would fit! Lots of room for the smaller 100Ah I'm planning to go with. You are correct there isn't much height to gain by removing bins, however there is unusable space on top & sides from all that plastic. Minimal space to be gained but still enough to reclaim that I feel worth the effort.

For the shunt I agree the 60A should be enough, but other threads (like this one) discuss sizing and I'll be following that line of practice of oversizing it a bit. Also want something slightly bigger so it's more "future proof" in case I go bigger. But that's assuming I go with shunt instead of DIY build (or off-the-shelf something with bluetooth). Decisions, decisions...

Wish the SOK 100Ah had bluetooth. I searched this forum and see they offer a new BMS including bluetooth but if I go that route I'm better off going DIY with the Overkill BMS. Has anyone retro-fitted the current non-Bluetooth SOK to add Bluetooth back on? Seems odd I can't find anyone doing that if it's the same Jiabada or whatever BMS that everyone is using. Figure if the boards/chip firmwares are the same it would only need soldering on some headers and buying the BT dongle off Aliexpress... [Edit: found out that upgrading SOK with BT is a no-go (it's a "non-manageable" version of the BMS). Maybe I wait until SOK upgrades their ready-to-use batteries with the new BT BMS, or go DIY route.]
 
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HRTKD

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The Victron BMV-712 has no problems with Bluetooth range. The Victron SmartShunt can have issues with range. My BMV-712 has been bulletproof. Great little unit.

With regard to your installation location, all I can say is that more room is a lot easier to work with. The space may look OK when measuring for the batteries, but when you take into the cabling and a method to secure the batteries against movement the space may be insufficient.
 

TacoMeg

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Joined
Aug 24, 2021
Messages
7
Hello, I've been trying to plan a small 12V system for use in my truck when off the grid. Found this place thanks to Will's great videos which have now sent me down the rabbit hole of building my first setup. Looking for some feedback/critique from DIY Solar on my plans to help find issues.

My current plan: I keep going back & forth on this but as of now here is the general idea:
  • Battery: TBD but only 100ah capacity - more on this below...
  • DC-DC and MPPT via Redarc BCDC1225D
  • Solar: 100w panel on camper shell roof to start; after verifying real-world performance will expand.
  • Monitoring through Victron Smart Shunt 500A via bluetooth
Main needs are charging 4 drone batteries (Mavic 2) and various small camera batteries for GoPro and 4/3 DSLR. Much later on I may add a fridge but at that stage would be upgrading the entire system and moving this "v1" configuration to another vehicle.

Now, on to the questions:
  • Battery: I've watched all of Will's videos and even more on the Tube for battery tear downs. I need something 12V 100ah with working low temp protection (I'm in Wisconsin). If I can find one with Bluetooth to monitor SoC and see how fast my solar is working that's really all I want. If I could buy the SOK with Bluetooth already working without upgrading the BMS myself I'd do that. Don't like the aolithium one design based on teardown. Not many others have built-in bluetooth which isn't bad but then I need the Victron shunt. HQST has come up in searches which seems to be a re-branded Renogy but I can't find a teardown to see the guts. I need either something cheap & non-serviceable but good quality cells, or something better that is serviceable. Don't really care about parallel/series limitations as it won't be expanded. Thoughts?
  • Redarc: I'm going this route not because I like it best, but because it is a very small package to install in my limited space. Would prefer a Victron Orion + SmartSolar but there's just no space to put them. Open to other suggestions but it needs to be pretty slim to fit behind the seat area in a Toyota Tacoma (quad cab behind rear seat with all the stuff gutted behind it). Anything better that I'm missing?
Appreciate any info or help, cheers!

EDIT: Adding sample image of what the seat area looks like so you can understand what I am working with. Those plastic storage bins can be removed and the battery should fit at the bottom. Going to build a panel to mount up the Redarc/Victron/wiring/etc that go vertically on that back wall.

i6IXleV.jpg
Here's how I did it in my Tacoma. I had never done any projects like this before, so take my advice with a grain of salt. It seems to be working fine though.I have a 100ah Battleborn and Ctek DC-DC charger on the driver's side. I had to cut the bottom and the rear of the plastic cubby to get the battery to fit. It was tricky to fit with the wiring and I haven't added the solar and Victron shunt yet. Post yours when you finish!
 

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S Davis

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I thought about going with an off the shelf LifeP04 for my truck project but after seeing some of the tear down vids decided against it. I work on off grid projects in NW WA and deal with rough forest service/ logging roads, with all the bouncing and vibration I didn’t trust the battery cells not to move around and impact the buss bars and connections.

I have put together three 12volt 280ah batteries so far and have 16 more cells for four more. I also run a Redarc 50 amp and will be adding one or two more, two in the truck for 100amp charging for two 280ah and one in the work cap for one more 280ah.

I clamped my cells and they are mounted on vibration dampers.
 

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amartin

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Here's how I did it in my Tacoma. I had never done any projects like this before, so take my advice with a grain of salt. It seems to be working fine though.I have a 100ah Battleborn and Ctek DC-DC charger on the driver's side. I had to cut the bottom and the rear of the plastic cubby to get the battery to fit. It was tricky to fit with the wiring and I haven't added the solar and Victron shunt yet. Post yours when you finish!
Nice thanks for sharing the photo, gives perspective how small those factory cubbies are! I'm still planning to remove the behind seat cubbies and build my own back wall rack to hard mount everything. Changed my thinking now and probably will go Victron instead of Redarc. I have too many projects going on so still just reading & making plans so this helps! Will definitely post back when I finish but going to be a while.
I thought about going with an off the shelf LifeP04 for my truck project but after seeing some of the tear down vids decided against it. I work on off grid projects in NW WA and deal with rough forest service/ logging roads, with all the bouncing and vibration I didn’t trust the battery cells not to move around and impact the buss bars and connections.

I have put together three 12volt 280ah batteries so far and have 16 more cells for four more. I also run a Redarc 50 amp and will be adding one or two more, two in the truck for 100amp charging for two 280ah and one in the work cap for one more 280ah.

I clamped my cells and they are mounted on vibration dampers.
Wow very nice! Yeah I'm definitely going to solid mount everything for same reasons. Sometimes I will drive across country and go up into the mountains so also critical that I make sure nothing moves when offroad. I'll probably go the 280ah route now that I've searched prices more. Makes more and more sense to also get a fridge, smarter plan versus coolers for long-term.

Anyone want to buy a slightly used kidney so I can fund all this gear?
 

S Davis

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Joined
Sep 25, 2021
Messages
184
Nice thanks for sharing the photo, gives perspective how small those factory cubbies are! I'm still planning to remove the behind seat cubbies and build my own back wall rack to hard mount everything. Changed my thinking now and probably will go Victron instead of Redarc. I have too many projects going on so still just reading & making plans so this helps! Will definitely post back when I finish but going to be a while.

Wow very nice! Yeah I'm definitely going to solid mount everything for same reasons. Sometimes I will drive across country and go up into the mountains so also critical that I make sure nothing moves when offroad. I'll probably go the 280ah route now that I've searched prices more. Makes more and more sense to also get a fridge, smarter plan versus coolers for long-term.

Anyone want to buy a slightly used kidney so I can fund all this gear?
I am running a ARB 50qt frig on one 280ah and can go over a week before needing to charge, I am alternating between the two. After I add the larger inverter they will be paralleled.
 
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