Whether you’re out camping in extremely remote areas for days at a time, or exploring the Australian wilderness and returning home just in time for work, you’ll need a dedicated power setup to feed all the appliances when you’re off the grid. Things like fridges, lights, mobile devices and even electric stoves come in handy, as you wouldn’t want to be stranded in pitch darkness, jugging warm beer on an empty stomach and not being able to capture the experience on your phone. To avoid the hassle and safety issues of using your car battery or the 12V cigarette outlet, a solar setup including a deep cycle battery safely housed in a battery box, along with some accessories and a few panels will bring all the creature comforts when away from home.
So, what are battery boxes? Battery boxes are storage solutions that help keep your auxiliary battery in a secure location in your vehicle, while also protecting it from potential damage if left exposed. This includes damage from rain and excessive heat, but also accidental knocks that can cause acid spills, which could get you in deeper troubles, like fires. Having a durable and resistant housing of ABS plastic for a backup battery means these risks are greatly reduced or non-existent, ensuring you get the much-needed power to comfortably go on with your adventure.
Battery boxes are available for all deep-cycle battery types, including Lithium, AGM, Calcium, Wet and Gel batteries, with enough space to house even the largest types. Most boxes will include outlet points in the form of 12V sockets and USB charging points to safely charge any devices. Another feature is the provided accessory ports for Anderson plugs, which can be used both as inputs for charging the battery via a solar panel or as outlets for things like portable fridges. Quality battery boxes have heavy-duty internal wiring that is adequately insulated, including circuit breakers and fuses, meaning no nasty shocks. High-end variants also have digital voltage readings, telling you how much power is left.
Battery Box Accessories
To get the most out of your battery and battery box, there is a range of battery box accessories that raise functionality and safety. These include Anderson plug covers, jump start leads, DC-DC chargers, trickle chargers, wiring kits for connecting and charging, voltage-sensitive relay kits and remote battery monitors.
Anderson plugs are electrical connectors providing durable, high electric current transfer. Anderson plugs integrated with the battery box will charge more demanding devices, while a higher rated Anderson outlet can be used to jump-start your or other vehicles from the housed battery. Leads connecting to the battery box terminals have Anderson plugs that can be used to charge the battery from an appropriate lead cable of solar panels. Anderson plug covers shield these inputs and outlets from the elements, providing water and dust protection when not in use. Some battery boxes will have plug covers built-in.
Jump Start Leads are another battery box accessory that will get vehicles with flat batteries up and running, useful when you’re miles from the nearest town. Jump start leads are connected to the Anderson plug outlet on the battery box and the clamps with the appropriate poles on the battery of the vehicle. With the turn of the ignition key, your car battery starts charging.
DC-DC chargers are used to charge the battery in the battery box from the car battery. DC-DC chargers allow for fast and safe charging times if you’ve used up all the remaining power, or don’t have a set of solar panels. ‘Smart’ features on DC-DC chargers provide reliable charging regardless of the output of the car alternator, meaning even newer cars will be able to charge any auxiliary battery. Batteries in the battery box can also be recharged by trickle chargers, connected to such power supplies as small portable panels. The chargers include smart features that turn off once the battery is fully charged.
DC-DC chargers are connected to the battery box by a set of wiring kits. Alternately, when connecting two batteries in a dual battery setup, the kit will be the only thing you need. Consisting of a 6-metre cable and an integrated fuse, the wiring kits are connected with terminals and Anderson plugs at opposite ends.
Voltage-Sensitive Relay or VSR Kits are also used in a dual battery setup and act as an isolator. This allows you to charge the battery inside the battery box directly from the crank battery while the car is still running. Good for situations when you’re just about to set up camp.
A remote battery monitor, suitable for all battery types, gives precise readings of the battery voltage, live current draw or amperage, and the charge level in Ampere hours. This can be used for the battery in the battery box, and all other batteries.
Other battery box accessories include trays that have either thick plastic or steel bases and are affixed to the floor of your 4WD or trailer by way of screws. Foam padding on the tray smoothens out vibrations. Trays are available for various makes and models and are the ideal solution when transporting your battery box.
Battery boxes and battery box accessories are sold by specialised camping and 4WD retailers throughout Australia. Most have online stores providing quick shipping.