Portable Power

Submitted: Tuesday, Jan 11, 2005 at 01:26
ThreadID: 19247 Views:2591 Replies:10 FollowUps:10
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G'day all,

I have a question about portable 12v power.

The jump start packs are getting pretty cheap now, around $80 or so for a pack with 800 amp hours or something like that. Has a nice convenient cigarette lighter plug too.

Is this a reasonable way to have some portable power for using air compressor, flouro light etc away from the car or has someone got a better idea? We camp where we are a bit away from the car, so it would be convenient.

My thinking is, that they are handy, with a handle etc, not as heavy as a big battery, can be charged by the car easy enough and will double as a real jump starter if I'm ever stuck.

Would appreciate some thoughts.



P.S. Heading down to Jervis Bay on the weekend if anyone is down that way.
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Reply By: Member - Smocky (NSW) - Tuesday, Jan 11, 2005 at 01:30

Tuesday, Jan 11, 2005 at 01:30
Ah correction, it's 900 AMP's (of course not amp hours). $79 at Autobarn. They have a 1200AMP one for $129 as well, but I reckon the 900 is all I need.


AnswerID: 92309

Reply By: Brew69(SA) - Tuesday, Jan 11, 2005 at 07:26

Tuesday, Jan 11, 2005 at 07:26
I got one from The Warehouse..........not sure if you have them in NSW but they are a discount variety store.they have the 900 with a 17amp hour battery for $59. I think they are definitely the way to go for portable 12v power however don't expect to get too long a running time for the fridge. A 11w fluro or the air compressor would see the battery last for a few days(nights). Just my thoughts.
AnswerID: 92317

Follow Up By: Member - Roachie (SA) - Tuesday, Jan 11, 2005 at 08:51

Tuesday, Jan 11, 2005 at 08:51
Brew's right on the money..............

You haven't mentioned needing to run a fridge, so a 17a/h unit would do okay. I a 7a/h I just use for the flouro around the campfire. It's really compact and runs the flouro for about 5 to 6 hours. Pesty also has a 17a/h like Brew and it is great too.....just a bit more bulky of course.
FollowupID: 351160

Follow Up By: Member - Smocky (NSW) - Wednesday, Jan 12, 2005 at 00:33

Wednesday, Jan 12, 2005 at 00:33
Thanks Brew,

thats exactly what I was talking about. I've got a 3-way fridge, so if I ever needed power it would be for say an hour while I fill a gas bottle. I was more thinking of the odd need for light, air etc rather than a constant need.

I'll definately check out the Warehouse. Got one 500m away. It also provides that extra nice security of having a crank battery if needed.

Anyway, that's what I was thinking.

FollowupID: 351450

Reply By: flappan - Tuesday, Jan 11, 2005 at 08:46

Tuesday, Jan 11, 2005 at 08:46
I've used a Supercheap one the same as you are intending. Works ok, especially for the money.

I mainly used it for running lights in the tents , but I have used it to power a 12v shower as well.

I have run my fridge off one , but I certainly wouldn't recommend that.
AnswerID: 92321

Reply By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Tuesday, Jan 11, 2005 at 11:02

Tuesday, Jan 11, 2005 at 11:02
Forget the cca number as its irrelevant.

But the "600amp" pack use a 7Ah gel cell - OK for fluoro lights and running a $30 shower.
The "900amp" packs use a 17Ah gel cell, which could almost run a Waeco or late series engel overnight.
The "1200amp" packs have a 24Ah gel cell.

the recharging system in them is pretty slow as they use a diode, and it drops the charging voltage. Full 14volt charging thru a alternative wiring setup will see them recharged in a couple of hours.

I run several of the 7Ah gel cells for these purposes - about $30 from Jaycar or the 17Ah are $44 from Jaycar.

AnswerID: 92351

Reply By: Member - Crazie (VIC) - Tuesday, Jan 11, 2005 at 12:40

Tuesday, Jan 11, 2005 at 12:40
Hi Smocky

I use one to run my shurflo pumps, dvd player etc. I find it to be a handy portable source of power. You can reacharge it as you driver as well.

AnswerID: 92383

Reply By: Wok - Tuesday, Jan 11, 2005 at 13:10

Tuesday, Jan 11, 2005 at 13:10

I had no luck with either the Jaycar and GNB sealed lead acid 18Ah batts. I charged them direct from alt and killed them in 2 yrs....turned out the max current is only a couple of amps [should have read the label]. I use a current-limiter now, so far no problems.

AnswerID: 92401

Reply By: Member - 'Lucy' - Tuesday, Jan 11, 2005 at 13:26

Tuesday, Jan 11, 2005 at 13:26
Mate! to crank a diesel successfully you need a minimum of 900CCA's.

Keep this in mind as your No.1 priority for the battery/aux power source and everything else as a flow on.

Also, the 1200CCA model is only marginaly bigger than the 900CCA.

I have a 900CCA and use it for all sorts of things, however its primary job is as an emergency crank battery if I need it.

Yes! I have a dual battery setup. Its just a cheap 'insurance' thing that lets me sleep well at night when crossing the Simpson and like places.

I mainly use it for lighting away from the vehicle.


Ken Robinson
AnswerID: 92410

Follow Up By: Member - Davoe (WA) - Tuesday, Jan 11, 2005 at 13:40

Tuesday, Jan 11, 2005 at 13:40
no you dont. most of the vehicles I have driven (1hz) have 6-700 cca batterys which are fine my current vehicle has 550cca batterys which is a bit sluggish when starting on 1 battery. I do suspect however that the capabilitys of those battery packs are overstated
FollowupID: 351258

Follow Up By: Member - 'Lucy' - Tuesday, Jan 11, 2005 at 20:11

Tuesday, Jan 11, 2005 at 20:11
Now Davoe - Look at Moi, Look at Moi Davoe and repeat after me.

I WILL listen to the nice man writing this follow up.

Firstly - you will have noticed that other responses to this post have cast doubts as to the accuracy of the capacity claims for these batteries. Yep! I agree they are a bit hazy. In reality 900CCA could be 800CCA, 600CCA could end up being 522CCA etc etc., who knows.

Secondly - I have 1HZ Troopy that I have tested 600CCA batteries of this type on to start same from a cold start, and the success rate has been P I S S poor to say the least.

Thirdly - the 900CCA handles the 1HZ with ease 100% of the starts I have tried it with and other diesels that have had battery problems.

Fourthly - Size wise and cost wise, there isn't all that much difference between a 600 and 900CCA. So cost and size shouldn't be that much of a consideration problem or if it is, then maybe the traveller and their rig isn't really up to it in the first place.

Ffithly - the 900 is a versatile utility that may be used for/with many other applications .

Have a nice one


Ken Robinson

FollowupID: 351404

Follow Up By: Member - 'Lucy' - Tuesday, Jan 11, 2005 at 22:35

Tuesday, Jan 11, 2005 at 22:35

How remiss of me, I forgot sixthly.

Sixthly - You cannot compare your vehicle cranking battery with one of these portable jobs.

That would be like comparing a Morris Minor with a HSV Holden - They are both cars and they both transport people, however their performance outputs are like chalk and cheese.

Just remember what a Porta-Pack power source is and what your needs are, then buy accordingly and everything will be sweet.

Have a good one mate.
FollowupID: 351433

Follow Up By: Member - Smocky (NSW) - Wednesday, Jan 12, 2005 at 00:37

Wednesday, Jan 12, 2005 at 00:37

My Rodeo's actually a Petrol anyway.

I just got to thinkin' that for 70-odd bucks, it would be useful to have a) a crank battery, b) a portable power supply for running a flouro for a short time or an air compressor to blow up the airbeds etc.

I'm off to buy a 900 by the way.

Thanks for the advice.

FollowupID: 351451

Follow Up By: Member - Davoe (WA) - Wednesday, Jan 12, 2005 at 10:07

Wednesday, Jan 12, 2005 at 10:07
Lucy heres the facts I have driven well over 30 different 1hz powered cruisers and including my own camper without exception all have 6-700cca batterys. this has included exploration vehicles which rely on their batterys for fridges sat phones hf etc etc as well as mining vehicles. My current work vehicle runs century 600cca jobs and I can assure you that on a freezing cold (water tanks frozen, washer bottle frozen etc etc) goldfields morning they well exceed what is required to runn acc overnight and still start easily and whats more I have never had reason to doubt their capacity to do the job. Were you listening - that is over 30 vehicles with 6-700cca batteries of varying brands = no problems. That is where my info comes from and not just some wild guess but thorough personell experience
FollowupID: 351482

Follow Up By: Member - 'Lucy' - Wednesday, Jan 12, 2005 at 17:19

Wednesday, Jan 12, 2005 at 17:19
Guess what Davoe

My mother was born in Boulder City when it still existed.

I was born in Southern Cross in 1950 and grew up with prospecting, mining and farming as my after 'school entertainment, with camping, bush bashing, recoveries, repairs etc as side serves that I thought was everyday life until leaving that 'haven'.

Guess what? I'll take a 900CCA port-a-pack over a 600CCA one anytime.

Also you are talking about vehicle batteries as opposed to Porta -a-power backs where AH'S are the consideration.

i.e. horses for courses
FollowupID: 351544

Follow Up By: Member - Davoe (WA) - Wednesday, Jan 12, 2005 at 17:24

Wednesday, Jan 12, 2005 at 17:24
I read a bit more closely we are on different tracks you are talking batt packs and I am talking batterys. I would take a 600cca battery over a 900 cca batt pack and a 900cca batt pack over a 600cca batt pack
FollowupID: 351547

Follow Up By: Member - 'Lucy' - Wednesday, Jan 12, 2005 at 21:57

Wednesday, Jan 12, 2005 at 21:57
Could not agree more
FollowupID: 351587

Reply By: Taize - Tuesday, Jan 11, 2005 at 14:54

Tuesday, Jan 11, 2005 at 14:54
Another option is to pick up a small (20Ahr) battery from a solar shop and make your own power pack. If you wanted to pay a little extra you could also get a voltage sensitive relay, some heavy duty cable and rig it up so the little battery charges while you drive along. The battery you get from a solar store is likely to be better quaility than what you get in the powerpacks from supercheep

AnswerID: 92431

Reply By: Member - Melissa - Friday, Jan 14, 2005 at 00:11

Friday, Jan 14, 2005 at 00:11

Hubby came home one day last year saying "I've bought you a present" - it was a 600Amp power pack from Supacheap, on special cost $45. Know before you start thinking strange present to give a lady ;-) I have to fess up to having a bad habit of leaving the car headlights on during winter days. Finish work and hop in the car and find the battery is flat...damn! So now the power pack stays in the car and has proven well worth the relatively few $. First use was to help out some fellow campers who'd run their car battery flat, second time I left the headlights on again (oops) and recently kidlet turned the headlights/spotties on unbeknown to us. This little power pack turns over our petrol Patrol in seconds. Of course, you'd need something gutsier to turn over a diesel. And yes, you can run all sorts of 12V appliances off it which we have tested but only out of interest sake. How long it would run say a fridge for would depend on make, model, internal and external temp etc. BTW, our power pack has a handy built in light. For $45, very car should have one!

:o) Melissa
AnswerID: 92907

Reply By: Member - Smocky (NSW) - Friday, Jan 14, 2005 at 01:12

Friday, Jan 14, 2005 at 01:12
OK, just for your information, I purchased a 900CCA unit from The Warehouse in Castle Hill. Seems a reasonable design, but a bit plasticy. You can't be picky though for $60.

It has 2 cigarette lighter sockets, can be trickle charged by a cigarette lighter or charged on 240v. The charging leads store inside the unit and the jump start leads are tucked up under protective plastic covers. There's also a very useful OFF switch on it which you can use to leave devives plugged in but not running. This unit has no light, but not sure I need another torch.

I liked the super cheap ones as well and would have been happy with that, but this was around the corner and $20 cheaper.

This will be very useful when camping, as we often camp away from the car. I'll be able to run that new 12v flouro hanging light I bought and charge the spotty.

cheers all,

AnswerID: 92920

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