New to camping wondering about power systems

Hi guys recently bought a 2008 Customline camper trailer and so far only used at powered caravan park sites. Next step for us is to go bush and looking at different power supply systems that would provide power for 7days. Have looked at the Ark Pak in stores but not sure if this is the way to go.....wondering about solar panel systems and deep cycle battery recommendations. We will need to be powering an engel fridge 40ltr and lights and various small appliances. Any advice would be much appreciated as this is all new to us!
Back Expand Un-Read 0 Moderator

Reply By: Member - John and Val - Sunday, Dec 08, 2013 at 19:52

Sunday, Dec 08, 2013 at 19:52
Hi Geoff,

Suggest have a look at Electricity for Camping . It covers lots of the questions that you haven't yet asked!

I'd also suggest that you don't get too enthused about any particular way (eg Ark Pak) of meeting your requirements before those requirements are better defined. The simple facts are that you will need a suitable amount of deep cycle battery capacity and charging capacity to handle a load of about 30 to 40 amphours per day. Your travel patterns and usage patterns determine the extent to which you can rely on the vehicle for charging and how much solar or generator power you'll need. Questions about dc-dc chargers, solar and solar controllers will need to be addressed - please read Electricity for Camping and get back to us with questions that arise. ( Our own requirements are very similar to yours and our solutions may be too. I wrote Electricity for Camping to cover most of the field and it uses our rig as an example.)

Cheers

John
J and V
"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."
- Albert Einstein

Lifetime Member
My Profile  My Blog  Send Message

AnswerID: 522762

Follow Up By: Peter T9 - Monday, Dec 09, 2013 at 11:56

Monday, Dec 09, 2013 at 11:56
Hi John

I am in a similar situation to Geoff and are about to instal a dual battery system. In my instance I have a 100 series landcruiser td which has the duel start batteries.

Haven't decided whether to isolate the batteries or install a separate box in the back yet.

Have read your article and found it interesting, particularly comments regarding use of the dc to dc chargers.

What I am a little uncertain of is if using a charger is it possible to supply excess voltages which may damage the fridge?

I have just bought a gold Engel and the users guide advises not to use "quick chargers with excess voltage in performing their intended function" at the same time as the fridge. Maybe this is different type of charger than what you are talking about?

The other question is whether it is recommended there there be an easy way to disconnect the charger and charge directly from the alternator in the event the charger fails?

Thanks

Peter
0
FollowupID: 803956

Follow Up By: Member - John and Val - Monday, Dec 09, 2013 at 15:21

Monday, Dec 09, 2013 at 15:21
Hi Peter,

Certainly some people do separate the two batteries in the 100 series, retaining one for the engine and vehicle electrics, and using the other as a deep cycle battery for household purposes. I hope someone who’s done this will comment here. My personal suspicion is that Toyota had good reasons to provide that second battery. My other thought is that it would be better if the battery powering the fridge was closer to the fridge. If in a trailer or van, then certainly I’d opt to have the battery there too.

Re dc-dc chargers. These chargers provide the charging regime required for the battery – initially a constant current stage during which the battery (and fridge) voltage rises to a preset value set by the user to suit the battery type. This is followed by a phase where the voltage remains fixed at that preset level and as the battery approaches fully charged, the charging current drops. Once the current has dropped to a low value the charger switches to a lower “float”voltage to maintain a trickle of current into the battery. The critical factor is that preset voltage, which will typically be set at 14.4 volts for most deep cycle batteries, a little less for gel types, and maybe up to 15V for calcium doped batteries. (These voltages are roughly what your alternator will supply to the starting battery/s.) Most dc-dc chargers also offer the facility to act as a simple power supply delivering up to their rated current at about 13.4 (usually) volts. All these voltages are within the normal range to be found in a vehicle.

The quick chargers that Engel refers to are probably the big mains powered ones that use higher voltages to force charge rapidly into the battery – best avoided in my opinion. The Engel site doesn’t give voltage specs for their fridges, so might be worth asking them just what they mean by “excess voltage”. I would not consider the voltages supplied by a dc-dc charger to be “excess”, but for the sake of your warranty best to ask Engel just what they mean. (FWIW, our Waeco is quite happy to run from the dc-dc charger.)

Is there an easy way of bypassing a dc-dc charger and charging directly from the alternator. Yes! On one trip our alternator failed and I turned the charger around 180 degrees (electrically that is) so as to charge the starting/vehicle battery from the house batteries and roof-mounted solar panels! (Our Troopy is petrol powered, so no electricity means no ignition.) How? Anderson plugs. The line to/from batteries and the line to/from alternator are both fitted with anderson plugs, so can be connected together to provide direct charging. The dc-dc charger is fitted with anderson plugs on input and output and inserted (electrically speaking) between the alternator and battery anderson plugs. (In speaking of connecting to the alternator here in fact the connection is via a circuit breaker and voltage sensitive relay to the vehicle battery, which in turn is connected to the alternator. )

Hope that makes sense!

Cheers

John
J and V
"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."
- Albert Einstein

Lifetime Member
My Profile  My Blog  Send Message

0
FollowupID: 803968

Follow Up By: Peter T9 - Monday, Dec 09, 2013 at 16:34

Monday, Dec 09, 2013 at 16:34
John

Thankyou very much for your comprehensive reply.

Have contacted Engel and they were very non committal on whether a smart charger could be used or not. Interestingly they do sell a battery box with inbuilt smart charger and when questioned about this advised of course there would be no problem with their own product.

What I am thinking of doing if I install the battery in the back of the wagon is to instal a conventional solenoid or vsr under the bonnet run appropriate cable to the rear to a anderson plug. I could then plug directly into a battery box or intalll a dc to dc charger in between if so desired.

I can even run the fridge of the existing rear power outlet whilst battery is charging to avoid any issues.

Peter
0
FollowupID: 803972

Follow Up By: Member - John and Val - Tuesday, Dec 10, 2013 at 08:05

Tuesday, Dec 10, 2013 at 08:05
Hi Peter,

As you propose would make for a good flexible setup. Suggest run a good heavy twin cable (at least 8 SWG, 6SWG better, bigger) from the engine bay to the back of the vehicle for this purpose. If you can minimise losses in this way, you may find a dc-dc charger unnecessary.

Engel gear has a good reputation, but it's disappointing that they don't publish proper specs. The unwillingness of their people to comment on the suitability of smart chargers is unsatisfactory - implies ignorance, possibly due to the lack of published information by Engel - not the sort of support we expect from a reputable manufacturer.

Cheers

John
J and V
"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."
- Albert Einstein

Lifetime Member
My Profile  My Blog  Send Message

1
FollowupID: 804007

Reply By: LIFE MEMBER-snailbait - Tuesday, Dec 10, 2013 at 15:54

Tuesday, Dec 10, 2013 at 15:54
hi guys
When you put in a battery or dual battery system with Solar Panels you must put in a voltage regulator this is part of the kit you require
Where ever you buy the panels they will sell a regulator to stop the voltage to high for your fridge
have a look a the 12 volt shop
Terry
Life MEMBER snailbait Oberon HF RADIO CLUB VKE237 mobile 7661

Lifetime Member
My Profile  Send Message

AnswerID: 522852

Follow Up By: Peter T9 - Thursday, Dec 12, 2013 at 10:33

Thursday, Dec 12, 2013 at 10:33
Thanks Terry

I have now purchased a CTEK D250S dc to dc charger which will regulate solar voltage.

My main worry is whether the smart charge functions ie various different pulse voltages and amps will affect the operation of the fridge.
0
FollowupID: 804163

Follow Up By: Nomadic Navara - Thursday, Dec 12, 2013 at 10:42

Thursday, Dec 12, 2013 at 10:42
Don't Waeco and Engel fridges work on 12 & 24 V without having to select which voltage you are using? If that is the case then they will handle more voltage than a 12 V system will supply.

PeterD
Retired radio and electronics technician

Lifetime Member
My Profile  Send Message

0
FollowupID: 804165

Follow Up By: Peter T9 - Thursday, Dec 12, 2013 at 17:03

Thursday, Dec 12, 2013 at 17:03
My Engel definitely is 12 or 24 volt however does that mean it is happy to run on 14.5 volt?

I am thinking it should be ok as the alternator is pretty close to this anyway.
0
FollowupID: 804194

Follow Up By: Member - John and Val - Thursday, Dec 12, 2013 at 17:22

Thursday, Dec 12, 2013 at 17:22
Guys,

Some of these fridges work off EITHER nominal 12V or nominal 24V, but not both and not in between. There is a big range of voltages found in 12V vehicles from up to 14.6 (sometimes higher depending on the type of battery) when charging, and down below 11V when pretty flat. (And double those for 24V systems.) Dunno about current fridges, but older ones were often straight 24V, with an internal voltage doubler to handle 12V vehicle systems. The awful radio interference they generate is due to that voltage doubler.

Peter, in direct response to your question "My Engel definitely is 12 or 24 volt however does that mean it is happy to run on 14.5 volt?"

The answer should be yes. 14.5V should be fine as it is within the normal range in a vehicle. 16,18,20 volts will NOT be fine though as the the beast won't be able to decide whether to regard it as excessive 12V or inadequate 24V.

Cheers

John


J and V
"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."
- Albert Einstein

Lifetime Member
My Profile  My Blog  Send Message

0
FollowupID: 804196

Follow Up By: Member - John and Val - Thursday, Dec 12, 2013 at 17:26

Thursday, Dec 12, 2013 at 17:26
OOOPs! Finger and brain got out of synch!

"Some of these fridges work off EITHER nominal 12V or nominal 24V, but not both and not in between." WRONG - of course they'll work off both 12V and 24V, but obviously not at the same time!......

Cheers

John
J and V
"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."
- Albert Einstein

Lifetime Member
My Profile  My Blog  Send Message

0
FollowupID: 804199

Sponsored Links

Popular Products (13)