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Adding an auxiliary power source to my PacHy Limited camper -- step by step w/pix

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Nearing completion of a camper build for my 2021 PacHy Limited, I wanted power to run a small fridge, lights or fan, charge devices, etc, for 2-3 day campouts.

Power from the PacHy's 16 kWh high-voltage traction battery isn't accessible because there's no option to conserve it; if your trip exceeds 30 miles, it's depleted. While the PacHy's 12 V battery power is accessible on a couple of jacks with the ignition off, it's risky to rely on it because the 12V battery is smaller than conventional auto batteries and it's not meant for deep-discharge. And I didn't want to be running the ICE engine at a campsite.

The solution was an independent battery power source. I picked up a 300 watt-hour Jackery unit on Amazon Prime day and mounted it under one of the sleeping decks as shown here:


This Jackery model has two AC outlets, a 12 VDC outlet (i.e. a cigar lighter socket), and several USB jacks. It can be charged in several ways: AC power, solar power, or 12 VDC from a cigar lighter socket in the car.

On our first trip, I just used a 10 foot cigar lighter extension and plugged it into the 12 VDC outlet in the console, under the sliding tambour door. It worked, but the result was ugly! The tambour had to stay open, and there was the risk of tangling the cord when the seat was moved.


Clearly, I needed to "hardwire" it, and I'm going to share how it was done in case that helps others.

As a general rule, always make sure circuits you're working on are de-energized. You aren't going to get electrocuted from 12 V, but you can blow a fuse -- or with extreme bad luck, start a fire, as I did when I was 15 years old, pulling out the radio on my Chrysler 300F. Expensive lesson learned. Open the Power Distribution box under the hood, find the Cigar Lighter fuse, and use the fuse puller to extract it.

The first part was running the wiring from the Jackery under my camper deck, forward to the area behind the console. Since my camper design includes some special flooring features -- a platform base with runners and carpeting on top -- the wiring will be hidden by carpet. But you could also tuck the wiring under the doorsill trim. In any case use some protective plastic shielding over the wires, either the split-corrugated kind or the spiral wrap.


Now we have to figure out how the wire to get to that power outlet in the tambour compartment. Let's take things apart!

Step 1: Using a soft plastic tool pry up the bezel that surrounds the tambour door. Work your way around slowly and the eight clips will release. Don't tilt the bezel very much; it needs to lift straight up.


Step 2: With the bezel removed, you can see the compartment is held in with 4 ordinary phillips-head screws. Unscrew them.


Step 3: Lift the compartment out, exposing the connections to the two outlets. Don't try to just yank these out! There's a plastic locking tab that must be squeezed in to release each connector. Set the compartment aside and release the cables from the clips molded into the console there.


Step 4: The console in the Limited has a long drawer, and we have to find a way to snake our wiring from floor-level up to the tambour compartment area without interfering with the drawer. There's not enough clearance on the sides of the drawer to get up there, so I decided to route the wire first to the front, then up over the drawer.

I used a short length of rigid cable as my snake. You can use most anything, but if it's metal, be sure it's insulated!

There's a plastic trim piece below the drawer. Use the soft plastic prying tool to pop it off, directly toward the rear of the van. That will provide plenty of clearance to pass the "snake" in under the console as shown below.


Step 5: Crawl into the driver's footwell, remove the rubber mat from the "pass-through" floor-level bin, and use a flat-blade screwdriver to pop the curved plastic cover off the back of that bin. In the photo below, you can see my "snake" has arrived and I've been able to pull through the power cable to this bin area.


Step 6: You can remove the "snake" from the cable but keep any wire ends taped up. Open the drawer and pull it all the way back to provide ease of access inside the console. If you're right-handed, crawl into the front passenger footwell and use your right hand to pass the end of the cable up into the cavity where the tambour compartment was. (If you're left-handed, you might make a better baseball pitcher than automotive electrician.)

Using two tie-wrap cable ties, and stick-on anchors, secure the cable so it runs up the driver side of the console just behind the floor bin, then over to the center of the console's "roof". Run the drawer in and out and make sure it doesn't touch the cable at any point. Here a pic of how I did it:


Step 7: With the acrobatics completed, it's time to don your electrician's cap. I can solder, but I'm not about to stick a hot soldering iron into a console made with meltable plastic, so I obtained some solderless Posi-Tap connectors by Lockitt (blue size for 14 - 18 ga wire).

From the cigar lighter cable, peel back the stick black fabric harness wrapping for an inch to allow space for a tap. Determine the length for your new wires to reach the taps, and strip 3/8" from the ends of the new wires.


Step 7: Follow the Posi-Tap instructions to make your connections, black to black, and red to red/yellow. Stagger the locations so the taps aren't right next to each other. I added some electrical tape to the new wires where they enter the taps.

The forum software won't let me add any more pix, but the steps are obvious. Plug the connectors back into the receptacles on the tambour compartment, clip the wires back into their plastic clips. I added a tie-wrap to secure the new wire too. Re-install the tambour compartment and tighten the screws. Replace the bezel. Snap the cover back onto the back of the pass-through bin, and reinstall the rubber mat. Reinstall the trim below the drawer. Make sure the wiring's secure and not being rubbed anywhere. Reinsert the fuse. Test it out!

I always start our trip with the Jackery fully charged. When camping, the PacHy can be left in the OFF state while you draw power from the Jackery for the fridge and other accessories. The return drive is generally enough to fully recharge the Jackery and you're ready to go again!

I'm happy to respond to questions! Happy power-camping!
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