Power options for camping?

#1
Hi All,

I am looking for some advice on a power setup for my travels / camping.

I am based in Brisbane and most of our camping involves driving 2-3 hours to our destination, camping for 2-3 days, then driving home.

I have a 2007 Nissan patrol, which currently only has a single battery, however, there is space available under the bonnet for a 2nd battery.

We currently have a 50-56l eskey, which seems to do the job ok, however, its not very space efficient (inside and out)and usually only keeps things cold for 2 days before becoming a watery mess.

Given my situation, does it actually justify getting a fridge and dual battery?

I also like the idea of using solar to power a portable battery which can run a fridge (and other things i.e. lighting, charging phone ), but not sure of the cost of a very basic setup.

Interested to hear your thoughts?

Cheers,
Robbie
 
Last edited:

Tink

Well-Known Member
#2
For a cost of battery, battery box, solar and fridge jump on the Kickass website, will give you an idea. There are other alternatives but their gear seems OK and lower to middle of the range price.
https://www.australiandirect.com.au/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI4eiJ2NLh3gIViIaPCh2aXAz_EAAYASAAEgIuWvD_BwE
To run a 50 litre fridge as a fridge for 3 days without any input from vehicle or solar you will need at least a 120 amp AGM battery. Lots of variables, how much hot stuff you add to the fridge, how often you open it, where it is sitting, ambient temperature, fridge quality, etc etc
Tink
 

RBJET

Active Member
#4
In your case, if you don't plan anything long distance and it's just short trips, I'd go for a basic dual battery, cheapish fridge and a solar panel however, this probably still equates to around $2000 unless you could find some second hand gear or buy the cheapest possible.

I know not everyone likes 4wd supercentre but if you did decide to go with them as a one stop shop you could pick up a fridge, solar blanket and second battery + wiring and VSR for around $1250.

It really depends on how often you camp and if you can justify it. In my opinion, I'd find it very difficult to camp for more than 2 days without a fridge again.
 

Triton14

Well-Known Member
#5
Hi Robbie, I am in a similar situation to you & have been for some time now.
I think inevitably a duel battery system is a must if your off the beaten track, apart from being able to provide power to accessories etc its also there in case your primary starter fails so it covers you in both instances.
There is a lot of different info out there on the actual systems used to run these like just a simple isolation switch to full monitors & DC-DC charging, this is the confusing part for me.
I am looking at a 150ah AGM & fitting it in the rear tray as I don't have the under bonnet space for such a large battery.
If Im going to the trouble to do this I would be definitely looking at a solar panel or blanket, probably a minimum of 150w & I would prefer a blanket to save space but some people do permanently fit large panels to their roofs which I am not interested in doing.

There are of course the battery boxes like red ark that are all in one units that would eliminate a lot of wiring etc but they are pretty exy.

Also interested in what people come up with but there is also a lot of existing info on here if you do a search!
 

Tink

Well-Known Member
#6
Hi Robbie, I am in a similar situation to you & have been for some time now.
I think inevitably a duel battery system is a must if your off the beaten track, apart from being able to provide power to accessories etc its also there in case your primary starter fails so it covers you in both instances.
There is a lot of different info out there on the actual systems used to run these like just a simple isolation switch to full monitors & DC-DC charging, this is the confusing part for me.
I am looking at a 150ah AGM & fitting it in the rear tray as I don't have the under bonnet space for such a large battery.
If Im going to the trouble to do this I would be definitely looking at a solar panel or blanket, probably a minimum of 150w & I would prefer a blanket to save space but some people do permanently fit large panels to their roofs which I am not interested in doing.

There are of course the battery boxes like red ark that are all in one units that would eliminate a lot of wiring etc but they are pretty exy.

Also interested in what people come up with but there is also a lot of existing info on here if you do a search!
Don’t confuse him. He has a 2007 Patrol, a simple $90 VSR is all he will need if he wants a dual battery.
Tink
 

Albynsw

Well-Known Member
#7
Step one for anyone considering an electrical system is to determine if your vehicle needs a standard VSR or a DC DC system and then go from there with all the other requirements
 

Ditch

Well-Known Member
#9
VSR (Voltage Sensitive Relay). Switches charging to your Aux Battery when the Main battery reaches a certain charge, usually around 13.6 volts.

Might leave the DC-DC system to someone else as I have no experience with them.

Having a dual battery system that can be used for emergency cranking will give you peace of mind if you are travelling solo. Even though I have never had to use it, just knowing it`s there in case I need it, I`m more confident in going to remote places on my own. I went with a VSR (Surepower 1315) & ARB tray in my Patrol.
My 80 watt Solar Panel will keep my 60L Engel running all day as well as charging phone, laptop & camera batteries & keep the AUX battery full for use over night.
The advantage that a VSR has is that it only takes a short time to put in a decent charge if there isn`t enough sunlight for the solar to do the job, just start the vehicle & let it idle for a while or go for a drive.
 
#12
Moving from an esky to a fridge is a great move in terms of practicality, but it does come at a cost.

The cheapest system you could get away with would be a voltage sensitive relay, secondary battery (or portable battery pack), wiring between it and then a fridge. If you are going to stay in one spot for more than a day or so you will want a solar panel - a cheap folding panel with an inbuilt regulator will do the job just fine, or you could mount one on your roof racks.

You should be able to fit an N70 size deep cycle battery in the engine bay, or most arc packs are around 100 amp hour and would sit in the rear of your vehicle (tie it down very well!)

Aaron
 

Paddler Ed

Well-Known Member
#13
I built my own battery box using a Bunnings Tool box, a set of power sockets (Merit, 12V and USB) and voltmeter in a pod from Supercheap and a Projecta DC to DC box to manage the solar feed with a 130Ah battery in it. This supplies us with power for the fridge and any charging I need to do.

I've got the option to connect it to the car, but so far haven't set it up to do that yet - at the moment I run it off a 90W solar panel.

Basically, it's my own version of the power boxes that are available, but I've built it myself.

Because it's a self contained box, I can move it between my two vehicles (4Runner and Land Cruiser) without a problem; at the moment I've got it sitting in the carport being run off the solar panel. I use it for charging my worklights and phone when I'm working outside to just keep the battery cycling a bit.
 
#14
If its only occasionally and only 2-3 days I,d save my money and buy a decent techni-ice esky. Various sizes and if you get the premium 60-70 litre model the ice will easily last 4 days. Easy to look after and 1/4 the price of even a good 12 volt system
 
#15
I personally have a projecta powerhub and an engle. I think this combo is great because I can pull the engle and battery out of the car and leave it at the camp-site while I go off exploring. The powerhub can then power other stuff at camp. I started with a high end esky but I have much more control over the temp of the engle. Depending if I have fish or salad or meat or drinks or both or all or cheeses or whatever. I went all out with redarc dcdc, proper engle, 120ah, solar etc so It was an expensive upgrade but well worth it for us as it lasts a week of camping. Im sure you can do it cheaper.
 

Colly18

Active Member
#16
Hi Robbie et al
Thought I'd add my 'two bob's worth' as well.
As others have hinted at, whether you continue with an esky or go for an additional power set-up depends on several factors. I.M.O. Apart from how regularly you go camping and your capacity to put up with melting ice, it really boils down to how financially flushed you are or what your financial priorities are (?) + how handy you are at D.I.Y.
My experience is that if only camping 2-3 days at a time and if I've better things to do with $1,000 -$2,000, then an esky is fine. However party ice is pretty useless. Over the years I've preferred to make my own 'block ice' using water in 2 or 4 litre ice-cream containers in the home chest freezer. Great money saver and works well. Sure, a decent esky wastes a little space with thick walls and ice taking up internal capacity.
Next option I'd consider - based on what a couple of local 4WD Club members do, there are some pretty 'fancy' high capacity vehicle batteries around these days, that probably have the capacity to not only function as your vehicle battery, but also will adequately power a modern low power use car fridge for a couple days (or longer if you also drive your vehicle when on a camping trip?). So maybe look at buying a car fridge + vehicle battery upgrade (and keep your existing battery as a second battery to use in case you flatten your main battery?) + carry around a set of jumper leads.
If you are handy with D.I.Y. you can pull together an adequate camping power system (depending on your needs) for under $550, if you hunt around for specials (second battery $250; wiring $50; 120 watt solar panel(s) $150; circuit breakers, isolator switch, 12V sockets, etc. $60, sundries $40). But you have the car-fridge cost to add to that.
And if you have to pass the project to someone else to implement, with decent 50 litre plus fridge, dual battery system, solar panels and installation, I'd figure $2,000 +. (I'm glad I like doing things things myself.)
A.D.
 

Petunia

Active Member
#17
Tiptoes in, throws the wild card on the table. Chescold 3 way fridge :eek: up to 21 days from a 8.5kg cyl, doubles as a magic ice box, cylinders were 21$ at buntings [I hear they are now 25$?] If one wanted to run it for only 3 days? a 4kg cyl would suffice.

The amount of hatred for the fridge, one could no doubt pick a second handy up cheap?

I bought one back in early 1990's, today it is still in use, never had a compressor fridge, yet.
12volt/solar .... mild or wild, how deep are your pockets.
 
#18
Hey Robbie, for what it's worth, I bought a cheap ($500) 60L fridge over a year ago off eBay. Still going strong. I've also noticed the prices have come down a fair bit now. The brand I bought is Coolio.
 

itlldoo

Well-Known Member
#20
There are of course the battery boxes like red ark that are all in one units that would eliminate a lot of wiring etc but they are pretty exy.
my red ark has covered its initial cost by being able to go from my cruiser to my boat to my wife's market ute, all within a week with no electrician required and is transferable to any future vehicle if we sell or destroy any of the above. :cool:
 
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