We currently use portable batteries for charging our phones but with solar being installed I wanted to have easier access to power. Here’s an easy project to add some USB power to the v-birth.

I looked at various options and decided on the Blue Sea 4363 Below Deck 12v Charging Center (binnacle.com) for the following reasons:

  • a power button to stop phantom power drain
  • two USB slots, one for Lori’s phone, one for mine
  • a generic cigarette lighter outlet to power other devices, i.e. 12v fan
  • appears to be well made with circuit breaker and fuse
  • the charging ports can be changed out individually

Opening the box, it was indeed well made and solid.

Very happy I bought this over the cheaper options found online. The packaging also offered a template for the cutout.

I used this template to cut out a spot on the shelf wall on the port side of our v-birth. There were wires already running back there connected to the port lighting circuit which I thought was perfect, and easy to connect to.

I used two crimp on connectors to connect to the existing, attaching two separate wires and then crimped spades onto the end of each wire that then attached to the charging station.

So far, it looks and works great. When turned on, the switch lights up with a faint red light. There’s also a separate small white light next to the USB port that turns on when it’s in use. Both are bright enough to see but not bright enough to notice when sleeping.

Blue seas offers a wider charging station that includes a voltage indicator. I thought this would be interesting but our Victron battery monitor is Bluetooth so I can get a better idea of battery status connecting to that.

I’m thinking a few more of these USB ports on board would be useful!

Storing extra power

Here’s something I’m going to play with this summer. Using this USB charging port with an Anker 26,800 mAH battery that I can connect when we have excess power from our solar.

Until we get better batteries on board this will provide some extra power for running my laptop and other devices.