Whether you’re towing a teardrop or a multi-story tiny home, you’re likely to appreciate having access to electricity in the middle of whatever isolated forest. More often than not, that means installing a secondary battery next to the primary battery under your hood or to be towed around in front of the camper.

This can cause a lot of confusing, mysterious, and potentially very dangerous electrical problems for you unless you take the proper precautions. Step one? Install a continuous duty 12 volt direct current solenoid or relay to protect your vehicle’s primary battery from needless (and often perilous) draining. A solenoid makes it possible for your secondary battery to receive charge from the primary battery when the engine is running, but not to sap energy from the primary battery when it runs out of juice. That means you don’t have to risk needing to jump your car all alone in a desert or difficult terrain where few people pass by.

taco buikdHow do solenoids work? Solenoids disconnect the charge line between the primary and auxiliary batteries when a car’s ignition is turned on. If possible, it’s a good idea to power your solenoid using your car’s fuse panel, which is generally located under the hood or behind a plastic lid under the dashboard. You can use a test light to figure out which fuses are energized then the ignition is on but are not energized when it’s not.

When you’ve found one like that, you can use the male end of a spade terminal to wire 12 volts of power to your solenoid with 16 AWG wire; it should plug into any vacant fuse slot in most vehicles. Want a simpler option? You could use a standalone 12 volt power socket that is only energized with the engine running.

If your vehicle doesn’t have extra 12 volt power sockets, you can probably get away with wiring directly to the fuse panel.

Once you’ve got your start battery safely protected from your house batteries, you’re set to saux2tart focusing on exactly how you’d like to wire your home. It’s nice to have two batteries for your living quarters. You’ll also probably appreciate having an inverter rated to at least 1,500 watts, potentially rated to 2,000. That way you can change the 12 V direct current from the batteries to 110 V alternating current, and then you can start to use standard appliances in your home like water boilers, blenders, toasters, microwaves, egg beaters, air conditioners, and whatever else you deem necessary in your mobile paradise.

As for a brief overview of what all the wiring will look like, you start from the positive end of the vehicle start battery, connect it to a circuit breaker, and then to the solenoid. The solenoid is connected to the ground and to the automobile’s fuse box, in addition to one of two secondary batteries. These secondary batteries are connected to each other, and each is connected to a 1,500 to 2,000 watt inverter. This creates 120 V of alternating current, prime for usage by your appliances in your home.

 

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