Click here for the complete article on how to build your own 12-volt battery bank!
Complete List to set up your own 12-volt Emergency Power Battery Bank!
If you are looking to set up a battery bank just like mine, you can check out my full video tutorial on how to set it up and operate it here.
With the exception of the batteries, nearly everything can be found on Amazon. I am providing you with direct links to the products I use and recommend to keep it super simple.
The items on the top half of the article are the critical elements, and the ones later on down the list are the accessories that tie everything together (and become essential once you incorporate them into your system).
In my honest opinion, you’ll be looking to spend (counting the batteries that you’ll have to source locally) around $400-$500 to bring this whole thing to life.
$220-$250 for the batteries (or $120 for a single marine deep-cycle battery), $60-$70 for a charger, $40-$100 for an inverter (or two), $100 for accessories (some of which you may already have at home — like extension cords, 4-6 watt LED light bulbs, etc.)
The prices make it ridiculous to purchase batteries currently from Amazon, so I recommend buying locally. I can’t really blame the delivery driver for not wanting to deal with 65-pound bricks!
A specialty battery store (Batteries + Bulbs, for example) will likely have golf cart batteries if you’d like to take the route that I have taken. They’ll also be able to supply you with a deep cycle marine battery as well if you’d like the cheaper route.
Make sure with the Golf Cart batteries that you get 2 of the 6-volt ones and connect them in series. Golf cart batteries can come in 8-volt and 12-volt as well. It’s not cost effective to buy the 12-volt golf cart battery when you compare it to the amp hours you’d get from 2 x 6-volt batteries or even a single 100AH marine battery. 8-Volt batteries cannot be used in a 12-volt system.
I provided the links above so that you can get an idea of prices, but a rough estimate would be $100-$110 per deep-cycle marine battery (plus core charge), or $110-$125 per 6-volt golf cart battery (plus core charge, and yes, you’ll need at least 2 of these). It’s worth it though if you really want a robust and reliable system that will take care of you for days and days!
If you buy two or more batteries, make sure they are the same (sticker date, volts, Amp Hours).
My recommendation is this 5-amp charger seen here on Amazon.
- Not outrageously expensive but also not shockingly cheap in price (or quality). A very solid “middle of the road” option.
- Lower amp rating to reduce the risk of overcharging (and gasing) indoors
- No automatic (without your consent) overcharging process to desulfate or equalize the batteries
- Perfect for float charging
- Set it and forget it
- Lower amp rating which will take longer (Days if you are at a full discharge) to recharge your batteries if you are running it off of a generator in a long-term grid-down situation. I’m not so much worried about that based on my experiences in my region, but you might be. A higher amp rating on a smart charger might be best for you if that is the case.
- Cannot perform an equalization/desulfation process if that was something you wanted to do at some point for battery maintenance.
There are many to choose from on the market and I would just read the reviews before you make a purchase but realize that many of the negative reviews on any brand or any model will come from people who have absolutely no idea on how to use an inverter or what its purpose is.
Some will buy a 400-watt inverter and try to run a 1,500-watt hair dryer and wonder why it doesn’t work. Better yet, they try to power that hairdryer with the inverter off of the cigarette lighter port in their car which only provides 150 watts and they blow a fuse and can’t figure it out. Rant over!
These two models have never let me down, actually come with the hook-up cords (yes, some inverters don’t!), and buying both (or 2 of the same model) is a solid option since it is critical to have a backup.
Cords to hook Batteries in Series or Parallel
You can’t really go wrong with this set on Amazon of 2 AWG wires. You’ll get 2 wires (one red, one black) of any length desired. 1 foot (12 inches) should be all you need. If you are hooking two 12-volt deep-cycle batteries in parallel, you’ll use both (red from positive to positive, and black from negative to negative).
If you’re only hooking up 2 x 6-volt golf cart batteries in series, you’ll only end up using one (black or red, doesn’t matter) but having a backup never hurts.
DC (Direct Current) Adapter with Alligator Clips
To hook directly to battery terminals.Gives you the option to plug things into a “cigarette lighter” socket.
DC (Direct Current) Voltmeter
To plug into the adapter above.
DC Adapter Splitter (to give you more cigarette lighter sockets)
I use this more often on road trips (for plugging in phone chargers and the kids’ DVD players), but it is a nice addition to the battery bank setup (though it might not be critical for you).
A newer model on the market that I will buy if my current one ever gives up the ghost would be something like this which also has a digital display of volts and USB ports.
Battery Carrier – To lift those 60 pound bricks of energy and save your back!
3-Way Splitters – To allow you to run extension cords in multiple directions around the house from your battery bank. I keep 2 of these around, just in case.
Plug in light sockets – to allow you to simply screw in a 5 watt LED light bulb and move it where you need it. You can place these LED lights anywhere and even hold them by the bulb when on. They barely give off any warmth and are certainly not hot like incandescent light bulbs. The base of the bulb near where it screws in still gets hot though.
6 Watt LED Light Bulbs – keeping energy usage to a minimum is critical to stretching out the life of your battery bank as long as possible. If I were to run only 6 of these 6-watt lights in the evenings and at night throughout my house with my 215 amp hour battery bank, I would have a total of 71.666 hours → [(215amps x 12 volts) / (6 x 6 watt bulbs)]. Break that up into 8 hour nights, and I would have 9 nights (8.95) without needing any form of a recharge!
In truth, if you consider the that my batteries are rated at 215 AH when being drained at 10.75 amps, I’ll probably get far more than 9 nights (10 or 11 at least) with only 6 lightbulbs since they only draw a total of 3 amps. They are much less strain on the battery than the battery is rated for.
Of course, I’ll be using more than just light bulbs, but you can see the potential.
Hydrometer – It’s worth reading the first review on Amazon to make sure you use this correctly if you’re new to hydrometers.
Battery Terminal Kits – Give yourself more to clamp onto. These also have wingnuts to tighten down any cables with eyelets if you prefer to not use the alligator clamps.
Power Strip – This will be able to handle anything you want to run off of a battery bank like the one I’ve shown. It also has 4 x 2.4 amp USB ports for device charging!
Safety Glasses / Safety Goggles – It really doesn’t matter what type you buy, but make sure you have them!