ONE OF the first accessories 4X4 Australia recommends to anyone outfitting their 4x4 vehicle is a dual-battery system. Whether you’re running a 12-volt fridge, camp lights, or anything else that might draw on your vehicle’s battery, you will want a secondary power source to ensure power remains should you drain the primary battery. A secondary battery is usually a back-up and it needs a means to manage its state of charge.
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Piranha Off Road Products has been manufacturing and supplying dual-battery systems for 4x4 vehicles since the days when the only electrics on a car were the starter motor, lights and an AM wireless. Since then, vehicles have progressed to the modern cars and 4x4s which are now loaded with enough electronics to power the space shuttle, and Piranha has developed its battery systems to keep up with the latest technology.
Piranha not only manufactures the management system, but it also supplies a range of trays on which to solidly mount a second, or third, battery in your vehicle, and all the ancillary hardware required to make the most of the power that comes from it.
While our 2010 giveaway HiLux mightn’t represent the latest in vehicle technology, there’s enough wiring in there to confuse any bloke who’s handy with a shifter and a set of pliers. So, we went straight to Piranha for a dual-battery solution.
Allan, Denis and the crew at Piranha came up with a package based around a DBE140S management system, an in-cab battery charge monitor and all the associated hardware, including a power outlet in the tub of the Lux.
Piranha has done hundreds of such installs in this model HiLux and could probably do the job blindfolded, but installing the battery in our car threw up a small challenge. The bracket used to mount the Flashlube secondary diesel filter appeared to leave space for a second battery, but it didn’t take into account relocating a few OE components that have to move to fit the extra battery in. That posed no problem for a competent shop like Piranha, as they simply modified another bracket to accommodate the fuel filter, battery and the moved Toyota parts.
The modified battery tray is securely mounted to the inner ’guard at numerous points for strength and durability in harsh off-road conditions. It includes a bracket that mounts the DBE140S unit, the relocated Toyota parts, and an auxiliary fuse panel for any accessories that will be powered off the second battery. It all sits neat and tidy on the passenger side of the engine bay, along with the new battery.
The job of the management system is to ensure main and auxiliary batteries maintain charge from the vehicle alternator. The system also isolates the main starter battery from the accessories when the engine isn’t running and the alternator isn’t charging.
Picture this: You’re camped at your favourite spot by the river for a few days and running your 12-volt fridge, lights and other items off your auxiliary battery. Your auxiliary battery is the one that gets drained while the management system, in this case the DBE140S, isolates the main battery from the current draw of the accessories. Then when it’s time to go home and you turn the key to start your 4x4, the main battery still has the power to fire your engine and get you on your way. The Piranha management system then recharges both the main and auxiliary batteries as you drive along.
The DBE140S is sealed from water, dust and mud, allowing it to be mounted in any position in the vehicle – in our case, on the Piranha bracket. Piranha believes it’s the best value system on the market. It comes with a two-year warranty, or five years if fitted by an authorised Piranha agent (as ours has been).
The DBM3D monitor has been mounted in the cabin just ahead of the gearshift, where it is easily seen by the driver to keep an eye on the voltage and charging in both batteries. The digital display dims with headlights on and shows a warning for when voltage gets above 15-volts or below 10-volts. Neato!
The Piranha fuse box makes it safe and easy to power your accessories off the auxiliary battery. The first we fitted was wire a lead down to the back of the car where there are now two 12-volt outlets – one Engel-type plug and one ciggie plug, positioned where we’ll use them. Perfect for powering that fridge or lead light.
All up, the work done by Piranha Off Road and the parts supplied for the HiLux add up to around $1500 worth of kit. But with the 12-volt power needs now sorted, it’s just one more step to creating our awesome adventure vehicle.
Piranha Off Road Products
Ph: (03) 9762 1200
Factory 4, 383 Dorset Road, Boronia, Victoria
Want to see more of our Project HiLux build? Check out the below:
Part 1 of our Project Hilux build
Part 2 of our Project Hilux build
Part 3 of our Project Hilux build
Part 4 of our Project Hilux build
Part 5 of our Project Hilux build