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2014-159 HR in CT
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Previous discussions about portable battery packs plus some pretty good pricing have led me to building a juiceBOX.

Beginning design... (under construction)

Automotive lighting Musical instrument accessory Bumper Automotive exterior Wood


Wood Fruit Rectangle Hardwood Gas


Some context:
Recently, I upgraded my van's house batteries to a LiFePo design, with (3) 100Ah Renogy batteries... mission accomplished! As a Ham Radio Operator, I've always had a portable battery to power my radios in a power failures, but my last one (AGM) died after 10 years.
So, I decided, based on a good deal on a Renogy 100Ah battery ($397) to make a new portable box. But then I started thinking about how much I use it... not much. That lead me to another idea.
Suppose I could design a battery box that would be portable for Ham Radio use AND also be a modular add on to my van battery setup.

The result is the "juiceBOX"

It's not really a box, but more of a battery "wrapper" that protects the battery and connections, and fits like an add-on module with my van house battery. I found that adjacent to the space where my van batteries are, there was room for another battery but if I put it in a traditional box, it wouldn't fit. So the shape may be odd, but it fits right where I need it! (the perforated white area on the right is the cover for my 3 house batteries/inverter/B2B.)

Wood Audio equipment Cable Musical instrument accessory Electronic component


The red and black Powerpole connection will be connected to a wire from my van house batteries, effectively putting the juiceBOX in parallel with the house batteries. So, the van gets a 33% power upgrade to 400Ah, and the juiceBOX is charged and monitored along with the house batteries.

For portable or emergency use, I can unplug the connection and lift the juiceBOX out of the couch... pretty easy, and under 30 pounds. The lift strap on the battery lifts the battery and the juiceBOX "wrapper" together. An inverter can also be plugged into the Powerpole connection when in portable mode.

Next step: A cover for the wire connections (shown in pic 2) will be added to provide fused USB outlets and other features.... still working on it!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
What amperage is your Anderson connector rated for?
What size breaker?
You got me... I cheated! I'm using a 100A breaker and 75A Powerpoles.

But, there is some method to my madness. In a 4 battery configuration, my main ANL fuse from the battery bank is 200A. My reasoning is that with 4 identical batteries in parallel, if I were to draw 200A, each battery would only be feeding 50A toward the total. The 4 battery setup is designed to extend the length of use, not for providing 400A of current at one time. And Renogy says their BMS is designed to balance and equalize a set in parallel.

As a standalone battery, my biggest load would be a 1000W inverter. At full load it draws about 80A, so that 's pretty close. When I use it for my ham radio, the biggest 12V load is about 30A. In either van or portable application, wire lengths are pretty short.

Plan B: if I see smoke, I can always downsize the breaker or upsize the connectors, but I think I'll be OK.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
RD, It's your Wattbox +/- a few years of pricing drops... I figured, at 30 lbs, It's still portable enough. A battery monitor may be part of the design...there's not a lot of space for the shunt though. My fallback plan is that because the battery has Bluetooth, I can always use my phone to look at the power situation... the Bluetooth implementation on these batteries if good, but connecting is not perfect...

Prettiness? I made the top panel on my CNC, so it's easy to get stuff in the right spot and do a few curvy cuts... the end product is the 3rd version!. Still working on variations of the top panel cover.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Top Cover and Installation

A few items arrived from Amazon, so I was able to finish the top cover panel and get the juiceBOX installed in the van.

Here's the top...
Gas Musical instrument accessory Composite material Audio equipment Machine


I installed a fuse socket, dual USB outlet (with a touch switch to turn it off), and 2 sets of powerpole connectors (I use 'em on all my 12V stuff). Once wired, I attached the red and black to the battery terminals and screwed the cover down.

The installation went as planned...

Wood Audio equipment Gas Machine Hardwood


To remove I just unplug the big red/black Powerpole connector (that is parallel-connected to the buss bars from the other 3 batteries. Then, just lift and it's a portable power pack...

Updated my battery monitor to 400A and it looks like all is working well !

Yep, it looks like it has a few screws loose or missing... they've been saying that about me for years!
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
@proeddie Be aware of swapping the spare into the van with a large SOC difference from the house. That is likely to trip the BMS and cause some head scratching. Maybe a lightweight voltage meter on both sides of the Anderson so you don't connect a 13.2v pack to a 14.2 volt pack :)
I thought about that... batteries with some "smarts" needs a little more care. Before I connected the juiceBOX to my van pack, I decided to charge the van pack to 100% and did so for the portapack too.... no issue, no spark... I just had to change the battery monitor to 400A from 300A.

I think that going to be my plan... fill 'em up bafore plugging 'em together.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
Wow that looks great with the fancy woodworking 👌

Is there any risk of fire if the batteries get too hot? I'm not sure what temp causes wood to combust.
Thanks! During Covid, I got a CNC machine to "play with"... lots of time at home, and lots of info on the 'Net. I started with typical projects, but I've realized that I can use it as a smart woodworking tool. Things like drilling evenly spaced holes, bigger than drill-sized holes, drilling square holes, etc. are just easier to do... I draw it up, run it, and adjust if needed. So, for this project I made the top plate on the CNC... fancy looking cut, but a pretty quick and easy job.

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The battery contains a battery management system (BMS) that warns the user and protects the battery from overvoltage, undervoltage, overcurrent, short circuit, high temperature, and low temperature.

I'm confident that they will be OK and many websites say battery spacing is not an issue. Li Ion batteries can catch fire, explode, etc... LiFePo batteries are significantly safer, and with a BMS, even safer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Good plan. Now how about switching to the Renogy battery monitor so pack size is automatic? Are all four Bluetooth?
I do have the Renogy Battery Monitor, but you manually set the total AH of the batteries... don't think it's done automatically. All 4 are exactly the same, 100Ah each, with a Bluetooth module in each battery (which so far, works well MOST of the time). All purchased withinh a few weeks, so they should all "age" together nicely.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Advice appreciated! Just wondering... are breakers made in Mexico that much better than those made in China? About $90 for a 100A breaker ???

Before answering, remember our vans are made in Mexico, and their electrical is a bit short of spectacular... ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #21 ·
Good info, and I understand that delivering a product for customers needs some more stringent parameters.

My current thinking is that...

- when the juiceBOX is being battery 4, the most draw should be about 50A if the 4 batteries distribute the maximum fused 200A load evenly

- if I connect a 1000W inverter, load should be about 80A... might be the highest load I'd use.

- the cost of the name brand breaker is more than I spent on the whole JiuceBOX!

- I thought about an ANL fuse... have the parts already and it would fit well, but... I like the idea of using the breaker as an on/off switch too...

So, I may think about it a bit and decide about the Blue Sea/ Buss breaker... not sure that an 80A breaker (with it's built in time lag) wouldn't be OK for my application.

Hmmmmm.......
 
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