WE'LL SHOW YOU WHAT IT IS, WHAT IT DOES AND WHY YOU NEED IT!
In the last decade, there have been more advances in 12V technology than in any other area in the 4WDing world. Some of the products that are available cheaply these days would have either cost a mint, or flat out did not exist not too long ago. Both input (batteries and charging systems) and output (lights, in-car entertainment, GPS) accessories have absolutely exploded in the last few years and these days you'd be hard pressed to find a touring 4WD that doesn't have at least a few 12V upgrades.
However with so much choice now available, it can be difficult to know where to start. Over the next few pages we'll show you what it is, what it does and why you need it!
If you do any sort of driving after dark, your 4WD's stock headlights will come up short in terms of distance and lighting up the sides of the track where animals seem to always lie in wait for the very last moment they can before jumping out in front of your bullbar. You need a set of spotties or a lightbar. In terms of spread of light, it's hard to go past an LED lightbar, but if you're chasing distance – a set of HIDs will light up the track for kilometers in front of you. If you're after the ultimate set-up, you could always run both …
Having a 12V panel with a few different outlets is a fantastic way to keep things neat and allow you to run your cabling to a single location. This one is set up on the headboard of a ute tray and can run just about everything from this one spot.
Most of us will go for some sort of performance module or aftermarket engine management on the quest for more power in our 4WDs. Deciding on where you fit the module is an important part of this process, as if they're prone to damage from heat and debris that can find its way into the engine bay.
There's probably no better piece of recovery gear than a Domin8r X winch. These days quality winches with good solenoids and synthetic rope are available for a few hundred bucks, making them one of the best investments you can make in your fourby. They must be wired to a cranking (not deep cycle).
The availability of 12V accessories is simply going nuts in the 4WD industry right now so plenty of people fit up a second or even third adventure Kings AGM battery to keep up with the demand for amps from their camp lighting, fridges, winches and entertainment systems.
Illuminator LED strip lights are fantastic ways to light up your campsite or interior as they will give an excellent spread of light and use next to no power. For a mod that you'll appreciate every time you use them, look no further!
$ 500 – $ 1200
$ 350 – $ 1,800
$ 100 – $ 1200
If you buy a complete kit with battery tray and all associated wiring then it's definitely doable at home. If you don't know your way around a soldering iron, leave it to the pros
Wiring a winch in is not overly difficult, but if you have to remove your front bar, expect to wrestle with it for the best part of a day. The time might be better spent elsewhere while a workshop handles it
If you can read a wiring diagram and know how to drive a soldering iron then go for it!
There are a few different types of management systems, from marine switches to DC-DC chargers, so do your research. Also, keep in mind that batteries are fairly large so make sure you have enough real estate set aside for it
Mounting the control box on the front bar means that anyone with a controller can activate your winch. Wiring in a cut-off switch or mounting the box under the bonnet is the go. Also, be sure to unspool your winch after it's installed and spool it back in under load
Check with your state's laws before mounting lights up on the roof or on top of your bullbar. Also, forget about 'twisting-n-taping' wires together. These'll be subject to a fair amount of vibration so a good solder it's the only way to join them up
YOU WANT THIS IF …
… you're going to be relying on your 12V gear when out in the bush. If you're running a fridge then it's almost essential to have it wired up to a good deep cycle battery.
… you often travel alone or over tracks that can change quickly depending on the weather or time of year. If you need a means of getting out of just about any situation, then a winch is for you.
… you don't want to hit an animal! We're not saying good lights will prevent it from happening, but they'll give you a much better chance of seeing them and let you get off the loud pedal
12V – THE NEXT LEVEL
CHOOSING THE RIGHT BATTERY
Should I get a deep cycle or cranking auxiliary battery? It really comes down to what you're using it for. High draw accessories like winches and halogen lights should be wired up to your cranking battery while lower draw items like LED lights should be hooked up to the deep cycle units, which are designed to be repeatedly drained and recharged. When it comes to choosing your battery, go for the highest CCA (cold cranking amps) you can get for a cranking battery, and the highest a / h (amp-hour) rating you can afford on deep cycle batteries.
It's no secret that fully loaded up 4WD wagons and utes aren't exactly easy to see out the back of. By fitting up a camera or two you're making reversing and towing heaps safer and easier. You will need a screen mounted up to the dash, but we're yet to hear of anyone regretting fitting one of these up.
TABLETS AND LAPTOPS
Many 4WDers are turning to laptops and tablets to run their GPS software. Not only do these have much larger screens than dedicated GPS units, they also have a heap of other customisable features, and you can run plenty of other programs through them, including using it as a screen for your reverse cameras, making them a much more versatile option.
Keeping an eye on how much charge your Adventure Kings AGM Batteries have holds a heap of obvious advantages. These things are relatively cheap and easy to wire in.
An Adventure Kings 1500W Inverter takes a 12V input and turn it in to 240V output, so you can run your household electronics through them. This is especially handy for things like chargers and the kid's gaming systems, and on top of that, you now have the excuse you were looking for to bring your massaging foot spa camping with you …
Solar panels are great for running accessories while you're at camp without draining your vehicle's batteries. Their ability to provide power essentially comes down to the type of regulator they use, so spend a little extra on one with an MPPT (maximum power point tracking) regulator, as they work much more efficiently.
DC-DC chargers like the CTEK D250SA are a great way to oversee your dual-battery set-up as they can be plugged in to all DC power sources such as alternators and solar panels, plus they automatically adjust the charging voltage in line with the battery's state of charge.