12 volt lighting

Submitted: Saturday, Feb 01, 2003 at 13:38
ThreadID: 3196 Views:7522 Replies:13 FollowUps:4
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I am a first time 4WD camper, mainly use to off road adventures on bikes).
I drive a 2002 model Pathfinder and cannot fault it thus far... bit heavy on the petrol but picked her up new for $38K (new) with bullbar, towbar, tint, driving lights etc etc.

My query relates to 12 Volt lighting and how i can run a cheap and effective system without going over the top.

The paramenters/queries are
1. The use is for mostly 2 night durations 90% of the time (longer would require anothre "form " of set up I assume)
2. I have a substitute gas lantern but it is a bit old and ALL the camping outlets say the fluro lights are "now" so much superior to gas lanterns it is beyond a joke, they suggest the use of a Primus Powerlight HL12?.
3. Can i simply run it off the cigarette lighter, but will this lead to a dead battery in the morning?
4. Could I simply purchase a second battery, charge it up before I leave (I have a camper trailer) clip on the 12 Volt light and be in business?.

I would like it kept as simple as possible as i am a self confessed fool when it comes to batteries and electrics.
I do not wont to blow up the kids/wife, well..... maybe the wife.

This site is full of excellent ideas and would appreciatte any feedback with open arms. :)

PS anyone in Brisbane looking for a place that manuf's excellent offroad trilers give us a call.... looked EVERYWHERE and eventually found a good person that is NOT unreasonable in price/service.

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Reply By: PeteG - Saturday, Feb 01, 2003 at 19:07

Saturday, Feb 01, 2003 at 19:07
Have been down a similar path to you.
Personally I have used a gas light with disposable cylinder (only the full screw on type not the twist on type or piercing type). These are self sealing when you remove the lantern. I know that this is perhaps somewhat expensive for gas, however it is lightweight. Recently I have found an adaptor & hose to the stove from one of these cylinders. This way I can carry some spare gas for cooking.
The cylinders come in 100g, 250g & 750g. The 750g one will last about 5 nights for me.

Back to the electrics - personally wires to a light are something to trip over and I dont like to use the vehicle battery for the same reasons you have given.
The high quality camping fluoro's are supposed to draw one amp. One nights use of 4-5hrs should not present a problem as long as the vehicle is run each day to charge the battery. Beware of some of the cheaper versions - they can draw upto 4 amps.

Some options & thoughts to consider
1) There is a rechargeable Coleman for about $95 (12v & 240v). I have
not used one of these, however they are well made. There is also a
smaller one that runs on batteries for about $45.
2) The personal headlamps are worth considering especially for cooking
as both hands are left free
3) There are some excellent torches about which are reasonably good
on batteries. For about $50 - $80 you can get a 12v charger and run
NiCd or NiMh batteries. Some torches are a dual function and you can
easily have room for a couple. (It is funny how the one light is always
needed in several places at once).
These can range from small 2AA hand held upto Dolphin lanterns
(there is an adaptor for these to allow use of 4xD cells in place of the
Lantern battery. www.jaycar.com.au , www.batteryworld.com.au and
www.eveready.com are a starting point.
4) The Rainbow Power Company www.rpc.com.au is a good site to have
a look at. If wanting the ultimate they do a lighting system which is
totally solar for about $385 panel, battery & 3 x LED Lights.

All said and done it is really a matter of what works for you and what you want to carry around. I

I am interested in the Trailer details - could you please forward a contact.

Pete G
AnswerID: 12353

Follow Up By: Brian - Monday, Feb 03, 2003 at 08:57

Monday, Feb 03, 2003 at 08:57
You can purchace the LED cluster light on it own fro RPC for about $45.
FollowupID: 7226

Reply By: KTM 520 - Saturday, Feb 01, 2003 at 19:32

Saturday, Feb 01, 2003 at 19:32
Peter G,
Thanks for the detailed response .

Must give it some thought.

Love the idea of the head torches , but really do need to have a permanent light particularly, as it is always neede in "several places at once".

The camper trailer is best suited to contact me via my mobile phone no and i can text the message the details to you.
He is somewat private in his dealings i believe but well worth a look at.

I can be contacted on 0418 159 288.

Thanks for the response.

Paul N
AnswerID: 12355

Reply By: Darian - Saturday, Feb 01, 2003 at 20:23

Saturday, Feb 01, 2003 at 20:23
KTM - I use the Piranha 12 volt fluoro - another one I think is the Versalite. They are excellent - probably the best camping light option full stop - start around $100 now I think (have had mine 10 years) - you can sit under one of these and read the paper/books with comfort at night.
The extra battery is good but as discussed above, if you drive around each day, no worries for the main battery. I take a cylinder and gas lamp as back up - use both sometimes, but the 12 volt is easy to store, light and reliable....just remembered....one potential snag is that they put out some radio interference....can be annoying on broadcast radios at times....depends on local conditions....cheers....dp
AnswerID: 12361

Follow Up By: Sean - Monday, Feb 03, 2003 at 23:10

Monday, Feb 03, 2003 at 23:10
I have the Piranha and the versalite - they are the same and are excellent lights - but the bushlite?? made in QLD is even better.

I run mine in a sealed 17ah lead acid battery. Works great. I would not do it any other way.

FollowupID: 7258

Reply By: paul - Saturday, Feb 01, 2003 at 20:47

Saturday, Feb 01, 2003 at 20:47

I have the primus flouro. There are about 4 idential versions on the market, the primus being good value cause of the hook set up it comes with.

It has a 5m chord, on/off swith and carry bag. It does actually put out excellent light and i now leave the gas lantern at home. I actually carry a sealed 33 ah deep cycle battery for music, light, air pump etc. Small and effective but i do have the capacity to recharge it at a campsite.

As they say it is about equivalent lumens output to a 75w 240v bulb. After say ten minutes you can't actually stare at the light it is that effective.

I am even thinking of getting another one - one to hook up inside the tent and one to run off the car battery to the central cooking/relaxation area in the campsite.

I have left it out all night in the rain and no problems (don't recommend that though).

Strongly recommend this style of lighting. Will also enable me to move down to a smaller gas cylinder in the future for the gas stove.

good luck

AnswerID: 12364

Reply By: steveh - Saturday, Feb 01, 2003 at 21:03

Saturday, Feb 01, 2003 at 21:03
I use a 12v inverter that simply plugs into the lighter socket in the car and plug in an adjustable work bench light with a clamp on the base so i can have it on the trailer / table or tent pole and run a 7 watt cool white fluro lamp . The best part about it is it uses very little power (7 w)and during the day you can charge camcorder batteries . We used this for about four hours per night for four nights and charged cam every day with no problem starting the car in the end .

AnswerID: 12366

Reply By: Darryl - Saturday, Feb 01, 2003 at 23:06

Saturday, Feb 01, 2003 at 23:06
Paul , i have a fluro light which i plug into my camper trailer battery and it has a inverter that plugs into standard clipsal 501 lampholder ,then a d shape fluro lamp clips into inverter.It comes with a reflector shaped like a pyramid .Hoist you lead over a tree branch ,hall it up high and you have the whole campsite lit.Or you can clip it under your tent awning etc. Lamp comes with 16 watt ,but i opted for 10 watt .7 amps draw according to my solar regulator.They are avalable through wa solar supplies in Osborne Park in Perth


AnswerID: 12375

Reply By: peter - Sunday, Feb 02, 2003 at 08:40

Sunday, Feb 02, 2003 at 08:40
i used gas for many years but when i saw a vesalite in use i got one. gas puts out a yellowish light whereas a fluoro has brilliant white light. versalite aust made, about $1oo equal to 75w globe, pirahna very simmilar both draw 1amp so no prob with battery. this is the cheapest, best and less complicated sollution for you.
regards peter
AnswerID: 12385

Reply By: KTM 520 - Sunday, Feb 02, 2003 at 12:43

Sunday, Feb 02, 2003 at 12:43
To all that respnded,

I am stoked at such "independent" info from people that have been there and done that.

Next time you go camping think of KTM 520 when you turn that fluro on as i will by then have swapped over from gas to the mighty fluro.

Thanks a million

Paul(KTM 520)
AnswerID: 12395

Reply By: Phil G - Sunday, Feb 02, 2003 at 14:28

Sunday, Feb 02, 2003 at 14:28
Best value fluoro is the Jaycar fuoro that has the same globe and electronics as the Versalite and only costs $16.75. I've had two of them over the past year - only problem being the cig plug which I had to resolder. It pulls 1.1 amp and has the same light output as the versalite. Cheaper plastic housing of course, and not waterproof.

As far as power usage, after cooking turn it off - much nicer with moonlight and a campfire.

Forget the headlights. I use the old snakelight and wind it around the neck (loosely of course :-)). B&D used to make them (and I've bought two from Cash Converters) but some other brands are out now. Leaves both hands free and you don't have to move your hhead around to get it in the right position or shine a light in the face of people you talk to. Great to read and eat by.
AnswerID: 12398

Follow Up By: Peter - Sunday, Feb 02, 2003 at 21:40

Sunday, Feb 02, 2003 at 21:40
havent heard of jaycar fluoro. who distributes or stocks them please?
regards peter
FollowupID: 7218

Follow Up By: Phil G - Sunday, Feb 02, 2003 at 22:04

Sunday, Feb 02, 2003 at 22:04

Do a search and find it. They are all over australia.

FollowupID: 7220

Reply By: Mick - Sunday, Feb 02, 2003 at 21:41

Sunday, Feb 02, 2003 at 21:41
I have a Versalite and it is the best lighting I have ever had. I often use it from one of those jump Start kits which also has two 12 volt outlets. Mine has a small (!7 amp) battery and I've used the light for several nights. I also use the power outlets on the vehicle at times but the portable battery pack is very convenient - take it to the camp fire, into the tent without nedding the vehicle close to it etc. As a guide to battery usage, I use a CPAP machine (All night) and run the light and the little battery will do at least two nights. I imagine the car battery would be good for at least a week if you only used the versalite.
AnswerID: 12411

Reply By: Des - Tuesday, Feb 04, 2003 at 13:36

Tuesday, Feb 04, 2003 at 13:36
We also have a small jump-start battery pack. Got a reconditioned one from Projecta (www.projecta.com.au) in Melbourne for $80; it's compact and weighs about 6kg. Won't run a compressor fridge (not for long anyway) but great for small appliances like lights, tyre compressor, GPS, shower/water pump and airbed pump that can run from 12v, and for charging mobile phone and such things. Since we travel solo it also provides peace of mind in case of car battery failure - it will jump start a vehicle (maybe not a Mack truck) and can be used as a battery charger.

The power pack has another advantage over running items from the car cigarette lighter - you can use it away from the vehicle: e.g. to shower away from the river. The unit recharges quickly while driving, and also comes with AC charger. Best $80 we ever spent.

There are bigger and more expensive versions of the same thing - e.g. Bushranger, Waeco, etc. See recent thread about these.

We also have a Coleman rechargeable lantern. Can be charged from 12v socket or AC. Cost about $90. Arlec make a cheaper imitation. Supplies good light and doesn't need anywhere to hang up.

I have a Black Diamond Gemini head-torch (about $100 from Paddy Pallin). It has one LED and one Xenon globe. (LED lights are less bright, but use little power.) Runs from 3xAA batteries. Another very useful item, especially for bushwalking. Don't see it as an alternative to a fixed light - they serve a different function. Very handy in the bush at night - e.g. spotlighting, toilet trips, setting up camp, etc - and also for caving. There are cheap versions of these too - e.g. Jaycar unit on special for about $35.

One way or another, you have a brilliant future.

AnswerID: 12477

Reply By: KTM 520 - Tuesday, Feb 04, 2003 at 13:59

Tuesday, Feb 04, 2003 at 13:59

invaluable info from those in teh know.

i will folow your recommendations and think of getting one of these battery packs i think.

AnswerID: 12478

Reply By: Member - Rohan - Monday, Feb 17, 2003 at 14:51

Monday, Feb 17, 2003 at 14:51
Paul, like some of the other folk, above, we ditched gas and went for a pair of Coleman rechargeable fluro's. Brilliant lights! They require a really good charge before you use them (each time) and if they've been stored away for very long. We forgot, once, and stuffed the tubes (they warn you about this) but I haven't replaced them and still get excellent light. You have the option of running one or two tubes. Fully charged they'll give about 7 hours or so continuously on 2 tubes and 9 on one tube. We actually get longer and enjoy about 5 nights usage before we need to recharge. After that, you need to charge them (from the vehicle) for 1 hour for every hour usage you want, so that means charging 2-3 hours each day. They are lead-acid batteries so, like car batteries shouldn't be fully discharged. We also use a couple of LED headlights that run 3 diodes on 3 AAA batteries. These claim up to 80 hours usage but we've used ours for at least 100 hours without a battery change (and there's plenty life/light in the batteries yet).

However, since we "base-camp" for long stretches, I'm investigating some LED options (current draw is miniscule) for more longer-term general camping lights (instead of constantly using the Coleman's). I've been given some good info in this Forum. Do a search for "LED" from 01/02/2003.

BTW, I picked one Coleman up from a camping supplier (Kangaroo tent City) for $78 and then the second at K-mart for $69.

AnswerID: 13303

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