As our budget build OVR Toyota Land Cruiser 100 Series vehicle project marches forward, it was inevitable that we installed a dual battery setup.

The benefits of having a dual battery system in your overland rig are many; if you’re not familiar with this popular mod, you can read up on it here.

Our plan was to still run high-draw accessories such as the winch and auxiliary bumper-mounted lights through the main starter battery. These types of accessories can easily wipe out a battery if not being powered by a running alternator anyway, so keeping them on the starter battery was the way to go.


We went with Optima’s Yellowtop AGM’s for both the starter and house batteries. Pictured here is the starter battery.

The secondary house battery would be setup to run everything else including our Dometic CFX3 fridge, Midland two-way radio, smaller auxiliary lights such as the KC Hilites Flex Era 1 ditch and chase lights, air compressor, as well as a Redarc power inverter.

We called in an electronics expert, Al Catolos of Sponsored by Wifey (SBW), for the system’s installation. Catolos is known for his impeccable work on bespoke campers and overland-style vehicles. We looked forward to him working his magic on the OVR LC100.


Buy Once, Cry Once
Although we call this project a budget build, we subscribe to the “buy once, cry once” mentality. That’s to say although we are trying to keep the Land Cruiser’s build affordable, we also want to do it with key quality components that have been proven in the field.

Having to replace subpar parts because they either don’t perform well or don’t last over time is a quick way of blowing through one’s budget. With that in mind, we ultimately landed on a system that includes a pair of Optima Yellowtop AGM batteries, a couple of Redarc electronic components, a solar panel from Zamp Solar and an sPOD electronics controller.


AGM Batteries
Although lithium batteries are quickly becoming the go-to battery for overland builds, there are certain limitations to them including their sensitivity to heat that made them not feasible for our setup under the hood of the OVR LC100.

Lithiums are very powerful, compact and lightweight but the price of lithium batteries are also considerably more than lead-acid and AGM batteries, so even though we’re buying once and crying once, lithiums would have made our wallet cry a bit too much. We decided Optima’s AGMs were the way to go for this setup.


The Optima Yellowtop peeking through all those accessories is the OVR LC100’s AGM house battery.

Deep-cycling AGM batteries are leak-proof, ultra-resistant to vibrations such as those found on corrugated roads, maintenance free and promises a long service life. Optima’s Yellowtop is a heavy-duty battery that features a low internal resistance that provides more consistent power output and faster recharge times. This makes it well-suited for a dual battery system, especially one that is located in the hot confines of the engine bay.


Power Management
Making sure that the power coming from the Land Cruiser’s alternator and our Zamp Solar roof-mounted 100w solar panel keeps the house battery topped off is a Redarc BCDC1225D in-vehicle dual battery charger.


Redarc’s BCDC1225D is an indispensable addition to the dual battery system. It gives us piece of mind by effortlessly keeping the house battery topped off.

Redarc’s BCDC1225D solar compatible DC-DC charger is engineered to charge secondary battery banks to a 100% state of charge while the vehicle is in motion and with solar panels when stationary. The charger can also be used with a variety of battery types, including lithium, AGM, GEL, standard lead acid, and calcium.


A Zamp Solar Obsidian Series 100w solar panel sits on top of the OVR LC100’s roof rack. It harnesses the sun’s rays and funnels solar power to the Redarc DC-DC charger.


The Redarc DC-DC charger has a compact form factor making it easy to tuck away in the smallest of spaces. This Redarc BCDC1225D is mounted to a Slee Off-Road auxiliary battery tray.

Choosing this DC-DC battery charger was an easy decision for us. Redarc has proven its reliability in various terrains, including deep water crossings and can withstand extreme heat up to 176°F. The charger is fully sealed to prevent water and dust infiltration, ensuring durability even when installed into the Land Cruiser’s engine compartment.


Accessory Control
Because the house battery powers a great number of accessories, we figured that we needed an easy way to hook them up and a good way of controlling them. The answer was the sPOD BantamX.


OVR LC100’s sPOD-BantamX unit is mounted atop the Land Cruiser’s factory fusebox in the engine bay.

The BantamX system, with its solid-state technology, delivers a continuous power flow of up to 100 amps and accommodates up to eight circuits, each rated at 30 amps. This capability allows the system to efficiently manage power for a wide range of accessories, making it ideal for the OVR LC100.

We also chose to incorporate an sPOD touch screen with this setup by using a Cruiser Garage bracket that’s made for the 100 Series. The mount replaces the Land Cruiser’s ash tray and places the touch screen within view and reach of the driver.


This sPOD Touch Screen is mounted on a Cruiser Garage mounting bracket that replaces the Land Cruiser’s ash tray.

The pressure sensative touchscreen is easily programmable and also works in conjunction with sPOD’s app via Bluetooth. In fact, you can even control your accessories directly from your smart device through the sPOD app too. Each “button” can be programed with switch activation options including output dimming, strobing, flashing and more. The screen also displays the BantamX’s real-time temperature under the hood and a battery voltage monitor too.


Routing the proper gauge wires throughout the truck and adding the correct size fuses to the setup, Catolos expertly installed the OVR LC100’s dual battery system. He’s a stickler for making sure that the system is not only done right, but it’s done in an aesthetically pleasing way too.

It’s easy for complicated wiring jobs to end up looking like a bird’s nest, but Catolos was meticulous and patient, looming and securing the wires neatly throughout the rig. We can see why his services are in such high demand; we really like how it turned out.


Monitoring the Charge
In order to keep an eye on the power consumption and charge directly from the driver’s seat, we added a Redarc Dual Voltage Gauge. This gauge monitors the charging performance of both the main starter and auxiliary house batteries on its 52mm diameter LCD/LED display.

A neat detail about this gauge is that its backlit face can be switched to as many as 13 different colors. It also has multiple alert levels with amber or red backlight and an audible beep when voltage drops below 11V or exceeds 16V.


The Redarc Dual Voltage Gauge was mounted to the A-pillar thanks to an AutoMeter mount.

We chose to add an optional Redarc Hall Effect Current Sensor to activate its 100A rated current display, which is located at the bottom of the gauge. This gives us the ability to monitor the amount of current to or from your main or auxiliary battery.

This gauge is mounted in an AutoMeter A-pillar gauge pod. We were pleasantly surprised to find out that AutoMeter offers a mount that is specifically made for the lefthand drive 100 Series. All the other A-pillar mounting options that we saw were made for righthand drive Land Cruisers.


Fuel Gauge For Electricity 
An age-old problem with dual battery systems is knowing just how much power you have left before the house battery runs out of juice.

Call it power anxiety. Do you have enough power to run your fridge and other electronics at the campsite for the entire weekend without having to start up your engine to recharge? Is your solar panel or blanket getting enough sunlight to replenish your battery? How long will your house battery last running both the bare minimum and all-out maximum accessories? Wonder no more.


The Redarc Smart Battery Monitor has changed the way we monitor battery power levels and removes some battery power anxiety too. Its small size makes it easy to mount.

Say goodbye to power anxiety and know exactly how much power is left in your house battery with Redarc’s Smart Battery Monitor. Redarc’s Smart Battery Monitor provides accurate and real-time tracking of your battery levels. With information such as state of charge, time remaining, and current flow easily accessible, you can stay informed and prepared.


Redarc Revision Configurator is a separate app that you use to setup the Smart Battery Monitor. It’s easy to use and allowed us to set the monitor up in just a couple of minutes.

The unit features Bluetooth 5.1 connectivity so you can stay connected no matter where you are at camp. This technology ensures reliability over longer distances, which makes access to battery information that much easier. Redarc’s RedVision app makes it easy to monitor the battery status.


Here are screen shots of Redarc’s RedVision app when running our Smart Battery Monitor. From left to right, 1) the battery is being charged from the alternator, 2) the battery is now full at 100% charge, 3) engine off with no solar, OVR LC100 is showing a slow 0.1A draw that gives 94% battery level a runtime of 26 days, 4) engine off, no solar, running the Dometic fridge at 3.5A shows the house battery will last 10 hours before running out of power.


For those wondering, according to the Smart Battery Monitor, our Zamp Solar Obsidian pulled about 5.0A into the battery under full sunlight. That’s enough to power our Dometic fridge while still charging the house battery, all without the help of the alternator.


Redarc Customer Service
A quick shout out to Redarc’s amazing customer service. We had questions about the operation of our Smart Battery Monitor and filled out a form on Redarc’s website to ask some questions. We received a comprehensive answer only a few hours later from Mark Bruce, Redarc’s International Training & Development Manager. Simply amazing!

Bruce was genuinely helpful and retuned our follow up questions quickly. We’ve reached out to other companys’ customer service before with disappointing results. We can see why Redarc’s service is held in such high regard by so many fellow off-roaders.


Final Thoughts
We’ve been using this dual battery system for a couple of months now and have nothing but great things to report. Choosing quality electronic components, even if they may cost a bit more, is definitely the way to go. They’ll save you money and headaches in the long run. 

We’ll follow up with detailed reviews and go more in-depth with many of the accessories outlined in this article, so be sure to stay tuned and continue following along with the OVR LC 100 vehicle project series of articles. You can access them in the link below.

OVR LC100 Dual Battery System (Scroll Down The Table To See The Full List)
 Installation  Al Catolos, Sponsored by Wifey
 Optima Batteries  Yellowtop D27F (Starter)
   Yellowtop D75/25 (House)
 Redarc  BCDC Classic 25A In-Vehicle DC Battery Charger
   Dual Voltage 52mm Gauge with Optional Current Display
   Hall Effective Current Sensor
   Smart Battery Monitor
  sPOD  BantamX Touchscreen – Universal
 Dometic Zamp Solar  Obsidian Series 100 Watt Expansion Kit
 AutoMeter  A-Pillar Pod, Single, Toyota Land Cruiser 98-00
 Cruiser Garage  100-Series Ash Tray Mount
 Slee Off-Road  Main Battery Upgrade Tray – ’98-07 Land Cruiser / LX470
   2nd Battery Tray / ARB Compressor Mount – ’98-07 Land Cruiser / LX470
   Short OE Replacement Billet Battery Terminals (on starter) and Billet Battery Terminals (on house)
   Billet Battery Terminal Cover – Positive (on house)

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