advice on use of extra battery or generator

Submitted: Wednesday, May 28, 2008 at 10:51
ThreadID: 58084 Views:2841 Replies:7 FollowUps:2
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We are fairly new to caravaning and are wondering about what to use to power our van should we decide to overnight somewhere that has no access to electricity.
Our van has provision for a second battery in the front boot.
We need something that is very simple to use and maintain as we are both pretty clueless about these type of things!!!
Would appreciate any straight forward advice.
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Reply By: Redback - Wednesday, May 28, 2008 at 11:23

Wednesday, May 28, 2008 at 11:23
Does your van have 12volt accessories and is it setup and all you need is the battery and then connect it up?

Baz.
AnswerID: 306286

Follow Up By: belfastgirl - Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 09:27

Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 09:27
Thanks everyone for your replies. We are just buying a new van. A Newlands 18ft with a small bathroom and air conditioning. The review of the van in RV Point states - the Newlands models come without any battery systems (to keep costs down) but they come wired to accept the battery/smart charger of your choice. Hope this information helps.

Cheers
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Reply By: Scoof - Wednesday, May 28, 2008 at 12:02

Wednesday, May 28, 2008 at 12:02
If you have air con in the van maybe a generator.
But if no air con and only for a short time 1 or 2 nights stick with the 2nd battery and maybe solar panel.Keep it simple.

Cheers Scoof
AnswerID: 306293

Reply By: Motherhen - Wednesday, May 28, 2008 at 12:05

Wednesday, May 28, 2008 at 12:05
Hi belfastgirl

In 2003 we purchased a rather old little wind up caravan. The fridge needed replacing, so we got a 12/240 v upright Engel, 80 w solar panel, a deep cycle battery and digital monitor. Made frame and stand for the panel, and put it out when we stopped in the afternoon, and faced it east ready for the dawn. It ran the fridge and a couple of lights. We also had trickle charge from the tow vehicle, but that made little difference - the panel and dusk and dawn did better and was what we relied on.

Now we have a bigger caravan on solar power, we have the panel on the roof of the F250, and it runs and Engel or two and lights when we go camping. More than adequate.

Back in 2003, the whole lot including the fridge cost us around $2,000. Well worth it.

Motherhen
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AnswerID: 306294

Reply By: Member - Phillip S (WA) - Wednesday, May 28, 2008 at 12:27

Wednesday, May 28, 2008 at 12:27
Hi....we have a 100 amphour deep cycle battery and a honda E20 generator in our Jayco heritage which does all we need for short two to five day stays in the bush...it is our water carrying capacity that catches us up in the end and that generally will get us moving back to civilisation for a chance to refill and to do other things like shop etc etc.....our van came with a three stage charger as well and most of the electrics are 12 volt except the microwave, aircond and t.v./ dvd plaver...hope this helps
AnswerID: 306298

Reply By: Nomadic Navara - Wednesday, May 28, 2008 at 20:49

Wednesday, May 28, 2008 at 20:49
belfastgirl

If you are only going to stop for one night you need neither a generator or battery. Caravans are wired so that they have lights that will operate from the tow vehicles battery. Just get an auto electrician to connect a wire from the battery to the appropriate connector in the tugs socket. Unless the tugs battery is on its way out you will still be able to start the motor after having stopped for one night. Ask someone near you in a caravan park how it is done - you should be able to find someone in a park that will know (or age in touch with your vans supplier.)

What type of van do you have? Is there a 12 V power supply of some type in it? If you put a battery in your van you you will need some way of charging the battery. Supply us with more details and we can assist you some more.

PeterD
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AnswerID: 306373

Reply By: Crackles - Wednesday, May 28, 2008 at 21:28

Wednesday, May 28, 2008 at 21:28
Normally most vans have a 12 volt supply from the tow vehicle through the 7 pin plug to the fridge & sometimes a couple of lights. Obviously your car needs to be wired accordingly for this to work. This gives you the basic power for running the fridge when travelling & a couple of lights when parked overnight.
Unfortunately caravan construction normally dictates that any 12 volt wiring be done when originally built & makes fitting additional power outlets & lights difficult to install but not impossible.
The next step of installing a battery as you suggest in the front box then requires some way of charging. A common system is to run a 16mm charge cable from the car through Anderson plugs to the Battery (Min 100ah). A 40 watt solar panel on the roof could also be used to trickle charge when standing alone. This would give sufficient power to run several lights, power an exhaust vent for the stove & charge your torches etc for week stays away from mains power.
The obvious progression from this is to then go for more solar panels & bigger batteries (possibly a standby generator) coupled with a mains battery charger & an inverter to run a TV, pumps, 240v appliances etc.
Suggest you speak with an auto elect specializing in mobile power systems to gauge your exact power needs & recommend a system that can deliver what you require. Once set up correctly they are fairly easy to use.
Cheers Craig...............
AnswerID: 306386

Reply By: Gazal Champion - Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 21:21

Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 21:21
Hi Belfastgirl,

Or should I say Hello Colleen,

We have a similar van to you (size and set up) and we have fitted a second battery and connected a CTEK 25000 XS smart battery charger to them so that as soon as we connect to shore power, the 240 volt in van parks or at home, the charger is pumping power into the batteries straight away.

The CTEKs are available from Repco and are not cheap ($495) but they are cheaper than installing solar but of course solar power, as well, is the ultimate way to go. That way you have the best of all worlds.

Regards,
Bruce.
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Follow Up By: Gazal Champion - Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 21:23

Thursday, May 29, 2008 at 21:23
Should have added that the CTEKs can be left connected to the batteries permanently.

Bruce.
At home and at ease on a track that I know not and
restless and lost on a track that I know. HL.

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