one challenge we faced when camping off-grid – which is e.g. what you do pretty much all along the gibb – was to keep all our batteries charged. the van is actually not the issue: since we changed our batteries to lithiums we are really never in much danger of running out of power. we can even keep the van in the shade, and as long as we then either drive for a few hours and let the car charge the van (the redarc 1240 dc-dc charger can pull more than 30 amps from the car) or plug into mains.

the car is a different story: even a few hours’ driving does not appear to always fully charge both batteries in the car. however, those batteries, being agm, should not be depleted too far or too often to avoid damaging them. we’ve bought a 100w solar blanket a while ago and it has served us well. however, we had to keep swapping the blanket between the car and the van, topping up the vehicle most in need of a little charge.

we recently added a 200w blanket to our inventory, so now we don’t need to switch any more. that offered another opportunity to improve our setup: these solar blankets generally come with fairly cheap (and not too sophisticated) solar controllers. these controllers are also located on the wrong side of a five meter lead. the dc-dc charger we use to connect to the van to the car also includes a maximum power point tracking (mppt) solar controller. therefore all i needed was another anderson plug close to the controller, which meant drilling through the multibox.

i hate drilling holes in perfectly good and dust / water sealed compartments. enter a little bit of corrugated pipe and some rubber grommets – that should ensure there is no dust ingress. the plug should also be a bit out of the way, to avoid damage from flying rocks, and drain well so there won’t be any corrosion issues on the contacts. so much to consider …

i think it’s turned out rather neat, and it works, too. the plug is also very close to the controller which sits right next to the batteries, so the high-current circuit is pretty short and i can plug in the solar blankets ‘unregulated’.

i think kk should have built it like that …

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