It’s All About the Battery Box

After last week’s Ramble post, “So...What Is a Solar Generator” we received a lot of great feedback about our box and questions about how batteries could be mounted - and solar generators could be implemented - in other spaces.  We thought we’d take the opportunity to dive into the box itself.

When we were putting together our solar generator, we looked at quite a few boxes to house the unit.  Nothing was off the table.  We looked at traditional battery boxes, Pelican Cases, Plano boxes, Milwaukee Packout systems, simple storage totes, and more.  Ultimately, we landed on the Frontrunner Wolfpack box.

The Wolfpack box was optimal for us for three key reasons:

  1. Mark and I each already use Wolfpack boxes in our camping kit.  Since the Frontrunner boxes nest together very nicely, this made packing the truck/camper simple.  And when you’re camping, simple is good.
  2. The Wolfpack Box has square sides and smooth interior dimensions.  When mounting the hardware in the box, we didn’t need to do advanced geometry or work around a lot of structural ribbing to make things fit.  
  3. Perhaps most importantly, the size ended up being perfect for what we wanted to put in it.  We could fit everything from a Nicolet Power System, to an 300 watt pure sine wave AC Inverter, in the box with room for bus bars, Switch panel, and USB Chargers.

The other box solutions mentioned above would have worked, but the Wolfpack was more than serviceable and relatively affordable compared to some of the other boxes we considered.

Now, if your solar generator is a built-in unit in your rig or camping trailer, you will likely want something more streamlined for your system.  Perhaps your breaker panel and USB/12v/Allen Connectors (whatever your preference) is mounted remotely and you just need something to house batteries and run a cable to.  Maybe that’s where a simple battery box comes in.  Or, perhaps you’re looking for something more custom, but not necessarily bank-breaking.

If you’re looking to save space and maybe even modify the cell configuration of your Nomatic 4-Pack perhaps a simple plywood box is the best solution.  Mark runs a battery in 2x2 configuration in his jeep to power his Dometic Fridge.  The battery is housed in a homemade plywood box and lives under the back seat.  It doesn’t have to be sexy because it’s never seen.  It’s just there to provide a mounting point and to protect the battery from the jostle of things rolling around in a moving vehicle.  By all accounts, it’s a functional battery box...that was free, made from scrap wood in the garage from an old draw system in his Wrangler.

 

For those that aren’t looking to research parts and embark on a big DIY project, but you want a quality battery and a box that doesn’t come with a premium price tag.  That can be done.  There are a LOT of companies who build quality battery boxes that have all the connectors pre-installed (my Instagram feed is a testament to this).  The pricing on such units varies from moderate to extreme.  But, if you’re looking for something serviceable to get you started, let the internet be your guide.  For example, this Newport Vessels unit has everything you need to get you started for $65 and can be paired with a high quality LiFePo4 prismatic battery, such as the Nicolet Power System.   Full disclaimer, this is not an endorsement.  We’ve never used this box, but as of this writing, 1,835 Amazon customers give it 4.6 out of 5 stars.  For 65 bucks, you’re not going to be getting the highest quality components on the market, and I’m sure there are many reasons it hasn’t received 5 out of 5 stars.  But, I like to look at it as an upgradeable starting point. 

I hope this can be an inspiration for you to start thinking outside the box...about the box.  Make sure it's big enough to accomplish what you need it to, without being so big that it’s cumbersome or difficult to transport.

Let us know if we can help or be a resource in any way.

Cheers!

AJ

 

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