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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm really just starting the process of modding my xterra, and making plans for the overlanding/offroading mods I intend to include. Among these are:
  • 1000W inverter, wired to only receive power when the alternator is running
  • Front Winch, perhaps wired through a high-amp breaker for safety
  • Accessory lights, and similar fused accessories
  • under-hood air compressor, maybe
My primary question is: How do other people handle multiple high-draw connections to their battery, without making their hood a rat's nest of wires?

  • Do you just bolt all the connections to the battery terminal and use creative wire bundling?
  • Do you route the battery terminal to a mounted terminal block, and connect the starter and all accessories to that?
  • Do you keep the starter connected to the battery, and run a single additional 0 gauge wire to some sort of mounted terminal block?
  • Are there other options?
The fused accessories seem easy enough, since they can all share a low gauge connection to the battery and I can just run a bus bar down the common side of the fuse panel, but it seems like a bad idea to make multiple high-draw accessories share wiring, even if they will likely never be used at the same time. Not to mention, I can't even find an insulated terminal block that's rated for the sort of peak amps that a winch can draw.
 

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Suggestions for discussion and debate
  • Do the battery post conversion some of us have done. There are a couple post's here somewhere that cover it. Don't run everything to them. Run a single large gauge wire to an aux distribution box from it. Put inline circuit protection at the beginning of that wire, at the battery, to protect the circuit. The aux panel may have it's own master. I highly recommend Blue Sea Systems products. Run your high draw items directly from the battery posts, definitely winch, inverter, OBA. Run aux lights, radios, mood lighting, smoke machine, disco ball from aux panel.
  • How I also disseminated my connections to keep from turning my battery into a meme is this. I run a high output alternator. You may want to consider this. The appropriate wire size for my alternator negated using the alternator input into that horrid thing on our positive battery terminals. This also required use of the marine multi stud post fittings I use to input the larger cable size to the battery. I have a large fuse mount block for 250a circuit protection, which entails more lovely stud and nut connections to tap into, cleanly.
  • I have not messed with my starter cable connections, in addition to keeping that fusible link thing on my positive post mostly intact. Except for alternator input that now runs into one of the other pos studs.
  • Winches commonly run directly to the battery. I'm not sure I've ever heard of a fuse protected winch. I'm not saying it's not out there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for the advice on the terminals those seem like a solid option.

I also highly recommend using a dedicated ground cable to the battery for that inverter. Chassis grounding may be questionable or become insufficient.
From what I've read, connecting high-draw accessories directly to the negative battery terminal can cause problems for the battery current sensor that's wrapped around the ground cable. I suppose I could run to the grounding lug on the battery tray, if needed, but can you expand a little on why chassis grounding would be insufficient? my understanding is that it's at play throughout the stock electrical system, so if I couldn't get a sufficient ground that way, it seems like I would see other electrical issues.
 

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From what I've read, connecting high-draw accessories directly to the negative battery terminal can cause problems for the battery current sensor that's wrapped around the ground cable.
I am super curious about this. I could see it being applicable to a specific type model of vehicle and it's electronics. I can say that, historically, Gen II X's / Fronty's / Gen I Titans have had extra stuff slapped onto their batteries since inception with no big issues cropping up in the forums. I can say that with both cooling fans running (80 total amps bussed directly off battery, pos and neg, I'm all electric fans) while winching (Warn M8000, direct off battery, pos and neg), interior blower running wide open (it was hot) I had zero electrical performance issues with the computer controlling my alternator in 105 degree weather. In my aviation experience, also, high draw appliances (such as inverters) rely on a robust grounding path as much as an adequate supply path. They don't rely on chassis contact grounding to the airframes. They have dedicated ground cables to solid structure. You need to a good return path for all that current. It's a round trip. Plus, that much return current from a 1000w (75 amps at 13.5vdc plus inverter penalty) may wreck havoc with native systems if ran through the chassis. If this vehicle was way less electrically dependent on sensors and had properly isolated systems, aerospace style, I wouldn't give it a second thought. Also, I believe the ground cable sensor just helps the computer keep you smoothly on target voltage, insuring no wavering that actual voltage gauge we have. If I suddenly turn on all my native lighting, inside and out, my radio, and my blower to high, it barely even registers movement. When I hit my aux stuff, low or high current, the voltage will drop a bit and come back up as the alternator has to catch up to a load it didn't see coming. At least that's my take.

I'm not telling you not to do it. I'm am stating you may experience issues from it. Give it a try with a good body ground with a like size conductor as your power and see what happens. :)
 

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I have 150 amp fuses near each battery (fuse blocks are showing in upper left, clear plastic housing). Top one goes to the stereo amp (under the hood), lower goes through passenger firewall and under passenger seat. That’s where electronics connect to the 8 gauge. Fridge, gps, 3x400 watt power inverters under seats (no single point of failure, they can take more load if one goes down, they have in the past… about 4 died after years or a few month. Minor splitting right after the top fuse, 2x2 gauge.

Automotive battery Hood Motor vehicle Car Personal luxury car


Direct to battery wires show battery voltages.
Motor vehicle Automotive lighting Fixture Gauge Gas


central command center (other than lights center above) with master switch up top (turns all off), section master follows, dashcam, gps, 3 inverter switches, gauges (voltage/transmission/engine bay). The 8 gauge is just inches away.
Camera accessory Cameras & optics Grey Camera lens Digital camera


Lights center, winch switch would go here.Thin control wires going to relays for actusl
Power delivery. Spot lights are 2x2 amps, next driving is unused, backup/camping white light button coming shortly, right side is LEDs low draw controls. Winch control would go here. Small round button sharing space since I am running out of room. Spot lights have secondary button by rear brake so I can turn it On/off quickly

Vehicle Motor vehicle Fixture Gas Auto part
 

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I would stay away from the 4-8 way terminal splitters myself, some trap moisture, corrode inside and you never see it. I would keep it all open. Those $50 terminal blocks are beautifully machined, but Amazon reviews show issues with corrosion inside.

fuse a lot, after my 150amp fuse there are ones for each inverter inside, they use relays inside too. Accidents when wiring happen.

I get pro installer help when needed, especially for thick wire, someone who does it for 25+ years every day has some insights you won’t. They don’t buy their 50ft spools of gauge 2 or gauge 0 wire on Amazon. They cut them to length and crimp them, heat shrink the exposed ends and loom wire cover. Things will be protected and look good for years.
 

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I have 150 amp fuses near each battery (fuse blocks are showing in upper left, clear plastic housing). Top one goes to the stereo amp (under the hood), lower goes through passenger firewall and under passenger seat. That’s where electronics connect to the 8 gauge. Fridge, gps, 3x400 watt power inverters under seats (no single point of failure, they can take more load if one goes down, they have in the past… about 4 died after years or a few month. Minor splitting right after the top fuse, 2x2 gauge.

View attachment 141472

Direct to battery wires show battery voltages.
View attachment 141471

central command center (other than lights center above) with master switch up top (turns all off), section master follows, dashcam, gps, 3 inverter switches, gauges (voltage/transmission/engine bay). The 8 gauge is just inches away.
View attachment 141474

Lights center, winch switch would go here.Thin control wires going to relays for actusl
Power delivery. Spot lights are 2x2 amps, next driving is unused, backup/camping white light button coming shortly, right side is LEDs low draw controls. Winch control would go here. Small round button sharing space since I am running out of room. Spot lights have secondary button by rear brake so I can turn it On/off quickly

View attachment 141475
Very clean
 

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Does anyone have any experience with something like this


I like how you only have to bring one wire into the cab.


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@eighty i looked at that box and $600 US made ones. I looked at it for days. High cost at $600. Some let you change labels.

looking back, I prefer mine. At most 1 of my 10 switches will fail and I can change the switch myself. For $200 (prices vary) a pro place (hard to find the right one) can wire it. Probably less $. Parts? $11 each for my switches ($8 switch and $3 harness). You can wire most yourself if you have 8 gauge under the seat. User serviceable mostly.

that $200 install would include running wires which you still have to do with an all in one box like in your link. Which has wires too long, things too bulky. At same price I will take a proper custom install that can be done how I want it.

If something goes bad, you go back, fixed in minutes. Or you change the switch yourself. Lift bar, loosen nut, pull through.

it’s an all in one issue. Simple purchase, but good luck if something goes wrong. Someone unfamiliar with it will take longer to diagnose than the person who built it. There are always things unserviceable, black boxes. Or you mail it for service? Or keep calling to diagnose?
 

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@roXterra you have a really nice setup. So do you run power/ground/signal to every switch you have? That's why I'm eyeing the kit in the link -- all the power lives in the engine bay and you only have a single cable going into the cab. Much simpler.

You're right that if things go wrong they might be hard to diagnose. If something like that happens, I'd likely just replace the whole system. The relays would just plug into the new "brain", since they are all standard.
 

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@eighty I have an 8 gauge red wire coming in through firewall and under front passenger seat. 8 or a 4. Could be 4. It is taped up, under carpet, no bulges. I think ground comes from frame.

it’sa simple concept with 1 or 2 wires from engine bay but when it comes time to change and grow, all takes time and redoing something sticky from old electrical tape gets messy. If I feel I can’t do it right I have an installer I know do it. Sometimes it’s a 4 hour job for him. But there will be not be issues, just about never. Revising a mess is terrible. Maybe poor light, cold, accidents, blown fuses, melted plastic.

I like the look of minimal length wires, tucked together with mini zip ties, soldered, Deutsch connectors if I want to disconnect and reconnect in the future.

the Amazon “aftermarket” with 1 size fits all is not my style. I have a lot of wires going on in different places and I can’t add the bulk of 10ft of extra wire bulges because of 1 size fits all wires.

a “good ground” is a connection to the chassis. When you get into 50 amp and above draw and direct wires preferred, I don’t know the answer to that. I just know there are many ways to mess up, so if you break a few things on the same project, even help that is not hands on can be helpful.

last night I had an Oh #%^* moment putting switches together…at night…straining back. Easy to disconnect. Reconnecting after moving… give up and all electronics are unusable (not stereo). Break a pin (5 per switch, 10 switches) and lose that device. Eventually it worked, but I should not do this at night and rushing.

Automotive parking light Tire Automotive tail & brake light Wheel Car


there is a better way than a random upwards hole inside. Power from air compressor can be reused, just a single trigger wire needs to go to cabin, sharing ground. I prefer to leave this to the installer and make it neatly wired the first time. I have messed things up before so I try to avoid stuff that is permanently important.

And adding a switch for white light here too. Primary switch inside.
Vehicle Automotive exterior Water Vehicle door Fixture
 

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@roXterra you have a really nice setup. So do you run power/ground/signal to every switch you have? That's why I'm eyeing the kit in the link -- all the power lives in the engine bay and you only have a single cable going into the cab. Much simpler.

You're right that if things go wrong they might be hard to diagnose. If something like that happens, I'd likely just replace the whole system. The relays would just plug into the new "brain", since they are all standard.
My buddy Mark has one of these:

I'll likely eventually get this or even just the Trigger 4 Plus. Just have to keep an eye out for when they go on sale
 

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My buddy Mark has one of these:

I'll likely eventually get this or even just the Trigger 4 Plus. Just have to keep an eye out for when they go on sale
Whoa that's slick. I want it! Lemme know if you see a deal on it. My wiring is a mess and I wanna clean it up.
 
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