How to Add Electrical Accessories to a Motorcycle Without Power Issues

How to Add Electrical Accessories to a Motorcycle Without Power Issues

Let’s talk about adding electrical accessories to a motorcycle without causing power issues. I will explain in a simple and hopefully easy to understand way, exactly how to determine what can be added to you motorcycle without over drawing from your charging system.

Basics to follow along with video if you’d like.

◾ Section 1: Relationship of volts (v), amps (a) and watts (w).
V x A = W or W / V = A
Motorcycles operate at 12 volts so replace V with 12 like this:
12 x A = W or W / 12 = A
Example: My bikes output is 23A at idle so to convert to watts:
12 x 23 = W or 12 x 23 = 276w

◾ The three components of a charging system:
1) Battery – Starts the bike and stores power
2) Alternator – Charges the battery and powers components
3) Regulated/Rectifier – Converts VAC to VDC

◾Find available charging output for accessories by first finding total output and then subtracting the power draws that are constant when the motorcycle is running. This is your cushion.

◾ Now you know what you can add without charging issues. If you want to add more try these:
1) Convert light bulbs to LED to save wattage
2) Add a circuit to turn off your LO beams when you turn on your HI beams, if your motorcycle doesn’t already have this
3) Change your fuel filter as this can double the load of the fuel pump if its dirty

◾ Ah or amp hour rating of a battery: How long a battery will last when being drawn from at a specific rate. This is important to know if you are knowingly overloading the charging system so you don’t go too far with it.

◾ The risk of plugging directly to your battery:
1) It becomes messy if you are adding multiple wires. This can cause shorts and can cause the battery terminals to come loose.
2) There is nothing stopping the accessory from draining the battery when the bike is off.

◾ Use a relay (it’s just a switch) to make sure the accessory only has power when the ignition is on.

◾ Common causes of failure and malfunction when running wires:
1) Heat
2) Tension (poor wire routing choice)
3) Loose connections
4) Rust and oxidation
5) Moisture
6) Moving Parts
7) Cheap connectors
8) Pulling connectors apart by the wire

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A lifelong adventure enthusiast and a long time motorcycle traveler, I have spent the last few years honing my craft as a motorcycle adventure specialist. I am currently living full time on my motorcycle, a 2015 BMW R1200GS named Lupe.

Motorcycle travel and camping have become my largest passions in life. I have a meticulous nature that helps me analyze gear, technique and tactics in a way that is highly beneficial to anyone looking to embark on a motorcycle venture of any scope.

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Readers Comments (50)

  1. Not a mention of DOD , depth of discharge , and discharge cycles on a battery .

  2. not mentioned in comments/vid… do not use physical "connectors" , they cut into wires by snapping down on them, corrosion will set in and drain power (and horsepower, a little). Use only soldering, and then use shrink wrap stuff and a torch to heat it to seal out moisture (slide the shrink stuff up the wire, before soldering, so it’s possible to slide it over the work area and seal it down).

    Use direct to battery if possible, just shut off yer switches, will have less places to fail. And use an in line fuse (eg 20 for hand warmer, or 30 if she blows), 16ga wire should be ok, or 14. Thicker wire disburses heat build up from high watt applications like heated clothes or alternator or a couple phones charging.

  3. Excellent tutorial for noobs like me…….a big help thank you 👏

  4. Ankur Vashishtha February 12, 2021 @ 8:41 pm

    Full of answers, I have been looking for a while.

  5. Dude, you have THE video about this topic. 11/10

  6. No link for the BMW splitter you mentioned

  7. Great video. Your approach was easy to follow, and the side notes were a nice plus. Thanks!!!

  8. Top bananas that vid

  9. Alternator also charges the battery.

  10. This is why an electrician can make $100K a year . . . Good info!

  11. I’m sorry that was way too complicated

  12. Pierre-Armand Lalonde February 12, 2021 @ 8:53 pm

    Very well explained bravo and thanks for sharing.

  13. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu February 12, 2021 @ 8:53 pm

    I just wanted to see dude use a vampire connector to connect something.

  14. Lavante Broussard February 12, 2021 @ 8:53 pm

    what about the wattage needed to charge the battery

  15. Great video really useful tips , which make you mindful of areas you wouldn’t always think about . Thank you .

  16. Good stuff! A vid that breaks electrical component relationships down in laymen terms. Not treat it’s viewers like they’ve studied electrical engineering for two years.

  17. I have a vn900c 2008 Vulcan, It is really hard to find the total use of voltage or wattage just for the bike? wondering if led’s would help? the bike is Lehman trike . rear is already led’s brake lights, licence plate light, and turn signal’s, No emergency flasher on it , but the front is all bulb’s? would led replacement be a good idea?

  18. I own an Alternator shop. Quick and easy. Connect a multimeter set it to DC Volts. Add shit to your bike until with everything on you start to see your voltage start to drop below 12.5 Volts. Done. Simple as that.

  19. Great video I want to replace my halogen headlight for an LED headlight but it is a 50watt headlight. How do I discover how many amps my motorcycle puts out at idle.

  20. Wait, CANbus on a motorcycle? Talk about unnecessary over-engineering…

  21. Hey I’ve a question. Will there be any problem if I convert my ac light to dc. I converted my whole electric system to dc. All lights run on dc power

  22. Aussie Adventurer February 12, 2021 @ 9:02 pm

    Hi 
    Thanks for the thorough information- something i really needed to know – priceless to me seeing your video congratulations and well done 👍

    I would love to get your opinion on something please.
    I was about to order the Cansmart Controllerfor my brand spanking new KTM 390 Adventure ( if Daneli has one for my KTM).
    I now have second thoughts after watching your video.

    So here is my problem…
    I want to connect 4 items
    1) A set of driving lights ( which i bought already but might need to change them as they are 60 watt with 6 LED’s – not sure if that is 60 watt each or not 🤷‍♂️ https://s.lazada.com.ph/s.1t630
    2) A bosh Dual Horn set (4A each) https://s.lazada.com.ph/s.1t6ek
    3) A secondary set of yellow fog lights ( not yet purchased and need ideas 😬 for decent but not to expensive set)
    4) A Visytec break light contoller.

    The KTM 390 Adventure (2020) has in the ass end 2 or 4 spare auxiliary ports ( there are 4 plugs but since i don’t know anything about electronics is the reason for me to write all this so you get a better understanding to the best of my very limited knowledge of what there is and where) and i think 1 or 2 additional 🤔 spare aux ports near the base of the headlight somewhere.

    I am located in the Philippines and getting a professional to do the wiring without screwing everything up is nearly impossible where I am.
    So the only hope i have is to find someone who can give me the right advise on how to go about all this and which components i should buy to simplify the installation and to make sure it is SAFE for the bike and doesn’t stuff up my electronics or void my warranty at worst case.

    I also considered to buy a Rowe Electronics PDM60 distribution box which might be the way to go but as said, since the bike already has at lest some aux ports i really am very confused and need someone who knows what they are talking about to give me some advice on how to get what i want in a very simple way that i can then do my own installation of everything.

    Note:
    The Cansmart was an attractive idea as i didn’t need additional switches, as everything was going through the stock switches of the bike.
    With the Rowe ( or similar) distribution box i guess i need relays and separate switches and that scares the crap out of me…but willing to do if i get the right guidance on what i need to be aware of and how to best install them and the type of switches i should buy.

    This is a long list of questions i know but i really hope you can help me with this.
    It is myfirst bike I buy brand new and can’t afford to screw this up.
    Thanks in advance and the info you provided was an eye opener for me. Explained a lot why my Duke 200 has so many issues 😬🥴 ( i am 3rd owner of that 6 year old bike ) and why i now decided to buy a brand new bike and start fresh and do it properly myself or with someone i can trust here.

    Cheers Jim

  23. Is there a way to increase electrical power output? Or watts?

  24. Legend 🙏🙌 🍺

  25. Tim, you are always a wealth of information.
    I hav e SAE connector Wired inside of one pannier, where I wanted to use to charge cameras, communicator, power bank etc.
    Unfortunately the input is coming directly from the battery ☹️.
    Need to change the battery connector to a relay.
    Any idea where can I find some info on that?
    Thanks in advance.
    Lucho.

  26. I just came here to see how to hard wire led strips to my battery but this shit got way too technical way too quick way too much 😂 left a like anyway. If i didnt have ADD i would learn this

  27. "Now we don’t need to factor in things like turn signals that aren’t always on" – Apparently you didn’t follow me around during my first year on a bike =)

  28. great presentation. keep them coming.

  29. Wtf!! Why can’t other videos on YouTube be this simple and clear? Total thanks dude.

  30. ,👍🏿👍🏿👍🏿👍🏿

  31. I killed a 12 pack

  32. Mariyan Himselff February 12, 2021 @ 9:13 pm

    Can I put extra battery in my speaker box and conect it to the battery

  33. Aftermarket accessory overloads are always a concern for me. I use a fused circuit distribution box that is controlled by a relay. As soon as the key is on, the circuits are energized and naturally key off, shuts power down to all the accessories. I purchased LED driving lights, heated grips, and vest a GPS, USB Charger, and a J&M (made for motorcycle) CB radio. It sounds like a lot but considering not all of it will be on at the same time I am still well beneath maxing out my available power. The newer Suzuki Vstrom 1000 (2014 and newer) has a larger capacity (490 watts @ 41 amps) than the 2012 and older which had 400 watts @ 33.3 amps. In addition to the standard systems on the newer model V-Strom, traction control and ABS systems were added to the load, so the increase in capacity was necessary to support these. By far, the heated grips and vest are big power consumers @ around 35 watts each. That means I need to be aware of the load they create on the electrical system and shut down anything else that is running when using these to accessories.

  34. Hmmmm Microwave … Hot-pockets only on the HWY at 80 mph – Excellent tip indeed 🙂

  35. Bartosz Szremski February 12, 2021 @ 9:18 pm

    Great channel, a lot of useful information, and also motivating! On the subject of this video, I am trying to find some information wether you can somehow either upgrade or modify the charging system to allow adding more accessories without frying the battery… Would you be able to help and share your opinion and knowledge?

  36. if you need to run all that shit when you are out buy a f**king car

  37. Why is my music on my harley road king cuts in and out only when I ride it

  38. That was a SOLID video! Way to do your research and convey info clearly. Really excellent work.

  39. Faith Based Ministries February 12, 2021 @ 9:20 pm

    Thank you for this. It was great to watch. I am in the process of doing some upgrades to my 2015 V Star. I am adding a speaker system, wireless and USB holder and charger, some aux spotlights on the bike. should I use a six was fuse block with relays or just the fuse block?

  40. Okay, I’ll just ask here for the heck of it. So, I have a new digital LCD clock and voltmeter. Small size, three wires (red, black, blue) I have it mounted right below the speedometer gauge, as it was a perfect fit. Its fairly small. Red goes to positive, black goes to negative, blue goes to "power switch". I assume by power switch, that would be suitable for the ignition switch. Which has three wires. Green for ground, which is also connected to negative battery, red positive, and black with white stripe which is the on / off. I have verified that the red and black receives constant power, but, Its still not working. I’m to believe that the clock is not faulty, as it does flash briefly when wires are.touched, but, I’m in doubt that black with white stripe wire is a correct power switch. Despite me getting zapped while holding my bare hand on it. Any ideas anyone?

  41. When riding at night i always turn on my hazard signals. It increases your visibility at night especially to drunk drivers.

  42. Excellent overview.

  43. I have a gsx 750 f and when sold had Oxford grips, I was surprise to see no relay and the console that operates the grips was faulty, I bought a new one and now will like to install , however I will also like to install a usb charging plug . My question is : what size relay do I need ? And where do I pinch the relay to get the signal to go ? Thanks

  44. You mentioned a radar detector – do you have on the BMW 1200GS? If so which one and how you set it up?

  45. Wow. Great video. Thanks.

  46. Good information! Thanks for the video.

  47. Very informative & easy to understand…
    Talented..

  48. Raptor Pack RVing & Moto Adventures February 12, 2021 @ 9:36 pm

    OMG, my head hurts now. 😝 Excellent video but I really feel that I was in an Electrical Engineering class. I think I’ll just leave my Beemer alone. 😉

  49. I just bought a new 790 Adventure. KTM has provided 2 switched power leads in front and 2 in the rear. Not to exceed 10 amps according to the book. Pretty handy. I hear they are hidden but if to dig them out your set. By the way, i am going to the springs up north of Horseshoe lake once i get my kit together. I am using your links to big A. 3 items so far. Be safe.

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