If it happens to turn the key in the ignition and nothing happens, thoughts of adding extra automotive battery capacity to your vehicle certainly pass through your mind! But is it safe? And do you really need it? Or you just need to replace the existing battery? Recor offers you the answers to these questions and even more:
Although a battery that won’t hold a charge is a clear indicator that it’s time for a replacement, you probably have some kind of issue that needs to be dealt with before you start worrying about installing an auxiliary battery. It’s perfectly safe to install a second battery, provided that you follow the right procedures for wiring and battery placement, but it won’t necessarily fix your problem.
The main reason to install a second battery is to provide an “engine off” power source for devices like inverters, coolers, portable refrigerators, aftermarket radios, headrest DVD players, lighting, etc. – all of which are operated when the vehicle’s engine is not running. A second battery will power these accessories without draining the primary battery, which your vehicle relies upon at start-up. Thus, if you run a lot of electronics when your car is off (i.e. high performance audio, camping, tailgating entertainment, etc), then installing a high capacity battery or a second battery might be the end of it. If not, then you’ll want to check for a parasitic drain (and fix it) before you do anything else.
Another reason to install an extra battery is in case you’re operating a heavy-duty electrical device (like an electric winch) that pulls an incredible amount of power. Winches can often require 300-400 amps of current when they’re pulling as hard as they can, which can quickly overwhelm a stock battery (even if the engine is revving). If you’re winching a lot, a 2nd battery is a nice insurance policy (only an upgraded alternator is a good idea too – see below).
If you have a high performance audio system that you enter in competitions, or you just like to use it when your car isn’t running, then you may want to add a second battery. This is perfectly safe, although it’s important to follow wiring and installation best practices. The second battery should be wired in parallel with the original battery, and most car audio competition experts will suggest that you buy “matched” batteries instead of wiring a high performance battery into a configuration that includes an existing battery that’s already old and tired.
The battery cables should be the thickest gauge you can reasonably use, and you need to be really careful if you place the second battery inside the passenger compartment of your vehicle.
Since batteries can and do explode, the battery should either be placed in the engine compartment, the trunk, or inside a solidly built speaker box if it has to be inside the passenger compartment. Of course, you’ll typically want to locate it as close as possible to your amplifier.
In some cases, you’ll be better off with a single, high capacity battery than two lower capacity batteries wired in series. You may also be better off with a stiffening cap located close to your amplifier. If you have a problem with your headlights dimming when your music is turned up, then a capacitor will usually do the trick.
However, more reserve capacity in your battery (or batteries) is what you’re typically looking for if you’re entering your system in competitions.
The other main reason to add a second battery is if you spend a lot of time tailgating or dry camping. In those cases, you’ll typically want to install one or more deep cycle batteries. Unlike regular car batteries, deep cycle batteries are designed to be ran down into a state of “deep discharge” without being damaged. That means you can use your electronic devices all you want without any fear of damaging your battery.
If you do add a second battery for either camping or tailgating, the battery should still be wired in parallel with your original battery. However, you may want to install one or more switches that will allow you to isolate the batteries depending on whether you’re driving or parked. When you’re parked, you’ll want to have it set up so that you only draw power from the deep cycle battery, and when your engine is running, you’ll want to have to option to isolate the deep cycle battery from the charging system. Recreational vehicles are all wired like this with “house” and “chassis” batteries, but you can DIY the same type of setup yourself if you know what you’re doing.
Don’t forget though, it’s all about whether or not you’re experiencing battery problems (i.e. your battery isn’t providing enough power to get your vehicle cranking at start-up). Don’t rush! First be sure that you don’t face any battery issues and then you’ll make the right decision about adding or not extra automotive battery capacity to your vehicle!
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Source: lifewire.com, projectlm.com