Upgrading to a Genesis Off-Road Dual Battery Kit

20140105_2113 If you’ve been driving for any number of years, chances are pretty good that you’ve already experienced a dead battery at least once in your life. Maybe you left your lights on, or maybe your battery was old and should’ve been replaced but you didn’t realize until it was a problem. Calling a friend, flagging down a stranger or waiting around for AAA to show up is a big inconvenience, but what if you’re alone and 50 miles from the nearest town? AAA can’t always go to the places we like to go off-road. I always preach to never go off-road alone, but let’s face it, I’m the biggest violator of my own rule and I know that I’m not the only one. There are many families who want to explore the back country but aren’t interested in spending time with 20 other Jeeps on a hardcore trail just to see who can survive with the least amount of damage. Some of us bought our Jeeps because we want to get away from it all, and some of us just enjoy a more low-key time on the trail. airing up tires The most important rule if you are going to head out on your own is to be self-sufficient, no matter what happens, and that often means redundant systems. I carry multiple ways to communicate, to navigate, to start a fire, and when I started plans to add yet another radio to my Jeep (HF this time), I realized it was past time to upgrade to a dual battery system. _MG_4344-Edit Dual battery systems aren’t just for the hard core off-roaders or solo adventurers, there are plenty of reasons why even the occasional off pavement explorer should consider making this upgrade:
  • If a buddy breaks down and you need to run your lights for a trail fix.
  • To maintain high voltage when winching; as voltage drops the winch can run hot and fail.
  • To run a refrigerator/freezer.
  • If you run a lot of electronic accessories – lights, stereo, radios, inverter – especially if you use them while parked in camp at night.
  • If you often play your stereo while tailgating at sporting events or your kid’s soccer game.
  • If you use tools on the trails like a welder or on-board air compressor.
  • Peace of mind when you are out in the back country without another vehicle.
When I started researching dual battery options, it quickly got confusing. There are lots of options out there, including a staggering number of instructions for building your own system, and a lot of confusing (and sometimes conflicting) information on the best way to do it. I wanted something that was simple, reliable and uncomplicated, something that didn’t require an Electrical Engineering degree to understand, and it needed to have a smart isolator that didn’t require manual intervention to protect my starting battery from power drain. I recently met someone at an event who had dual batteries but because of the way he had wired it, he wasn’t able to start his Jeep when his cranking battery died. I didn’t want to find out the hard way that I had made a similar mistake. 20150704_0859 After talking with some friends who had a dual battery system and taking a look at their set ups, I choose the Genesis Off-Road JK Dual Battery Kit for several reasons:
  • The kit is completely pre-wired straight out of the box, including the interface port for the G Screen monitoring system. It’s as close to plug-and-play as you can get.
  • From the powder coated battery tray to the power and bus bars, the severe duty wires, to the high quality terminal connections, the build quality of this kit is first class.
  • The smart isolator will continue to use both batteries when I am parked and running accessories. When the main cranking battery drops to 12.7 volts, the smart isolator will separate the batteries and use only the secondary battery. When I restart my Jeep, the smart isolator will first charge the main cranking battery to 13.2v before charging the secondary battery. This helps prevent putting too much strain on the alternator.
  • I could jump start my own battery with the push of a button if I needed to.
  • Because it was designed specifically for the Jeep Wrangler JK, I didn’t have to worry about making parts fit.
  • It would work with my Rugged Ridge snorkel. In fact it fits with most aftermarket snorkels (sorry River Raider fans, but you already know that many aftermarket parts won’t work with your snorkel).
20150704-_MG_0876 Next, I had to select the batteries. Any Group 34 battery will fit and you want to use a deep cycle battery for your secondary battery. Conventional wisdom is to use two identical batteries (ideally the same age) but some people choose to use one automotive starting battery and one deep cycle battery. Everyone has their favorite brands but I went with two Optima Yellow Top batteries. The Yellow Top is a maintenance-free dual purpose AGM battery that provides both deep-cycling and cranking power. I’ve used an Optima Yellow Top in my Jeep since I’ve owned it, often using it to power accessories in camp at night including an inverter, and it has never let me down. 20150704-_MG_0847 When you first compare the size of the Genesis battery tray with the engine compartment of your Jeep, you wonder how it is ever going to fit. The wires under my hood were a rat's nests of wires running everywhere from adding different accessories over the years. I’d like to show you prettier pictures but I actually use my Jeep; it’s not a pavement queen and my engine compartment is a filthy mess. 20150704-_MG_0852 I’m not going to go into details on the install because there are so many Youtube videos and write-ups available on the web. I will tell you that the toughest part was removing the stock battery tray because it takes up almost half of the engine compartment! It was a little tricky getting the fuse box out of the way enough to remove the stock tray and once it’s removed you’ll be surprised at how much room it took up. Once it was removed the rest of the kit went together easily.  It really is almost plug-and-play because everything is pre-wired. 20150704_0863-Edit You can jump start your own battery by pushing the boost button on the top cover plate, but the optional G Screen monitor takes it one step further by allowing you to jump start your battery without even leaving the vehicle cab. The G Screen is a nice plug-and-play upgrade, again everything is pre-wired for it and the only thing you need to do is cut a hole in your dash where you want to mount the 1x1” screen. 20150705-_MG_0881 The G Screen monitors the voltage of both batteries and changes the background color so you can check the status at a glance. 20150705-_MG_0882 If it’s green, both batteries are connected and fully charged. When yellow, at least one battery is below 12.7v and they are disconnected. It will also flash red a few times per minute if one of the batteries drops below 12.7v. 20150705-_MG_0878 Here’s the kit all installed. My wires are still a bit sloppy because I need to reroute many of them and neaten things up, but that’s all on me. 20150613_114208 Here’s how well the Genesis Off-Road Dual Battery Kit fits in a friend's JKU with a Sprintex Supercharger and a RIPP Cold Air Kit. The Genesis Off-Road Dual Battery kit made this project as easy as it could be, and the peace of mind it gives me when I’m out on the trail is priceless!

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