whats the go with generator/batteries

Submitted: Tuesday, Mar 24, 2009 at 16:25
ThreadID: 67150 Views:4071 Replies:8 FollowUps:7
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we are planning to travel around australia in our caravan but we need to be self suffient. we have a 240v fridge plus lights kettle toaster etc to run, can we use a battery to run the fridge with an inverter while we are driving and can we simply plug the van into a generator to run everything while we are stopped, do we need both, how big a generator or battery do we need etc. i am in desperate need of advise so anything will be helpful
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Reply By: Member - Troll 81 (QLD) - Tuesday, Mar 24, 2009 at 16:40

Tuesday, Mar 24, 2009 at 16:40

You will need to work out how much power all your appliances draw to work out the size of the generator and battery bank. If you have aircon you will need a big gennie to startup the aircon. Running a fridge of a inverter is probably not the smartest way to handle it. Normally a caravan fridge is 3 way and not just 240v? How long will you be stopped in one place for?

More info is needed
AnswerID: 355901

Follow Up By: ksterling - Tuesday, Mar 24, 2009 at 16:42

Tuesday, Mar 24, 2009 at 16:42
the frisge is 220L regular house fridge, we most probably wont be stopped without power for more than 24hours at a time i spose
FollowupID: 623903

Follow Up By: ross - Tuesday, Mar 24, 2009 at 21:30

Tuesday, Mar 24, 2009 at 21:30
Its unrealistic to try and move on every 24 hours.
Ditch the big fridge,get a small bar fridge for the caravan park and a 40-50 litre 12v fridge for the road.

Inverters are good but trying to run a house fridge will be very inefficent compared to running a good 12 volt fridge
FollowupID: 623970

Reply By: garrycol - Tuesday, Mar 24, 2009 at 16:50

Tuesday, Mar 24, 2009 at 16:50
You should not be driving with an inverter connected - if you have an accident and it remains on it could electrocute someone - paramedics have been zapped before attending accidents.

AnswerID: 355903

Follow Up By: ksterling - Tuesday, Mar 24, 2009 at 16:59

Tuesday, Mar 24, 2009 at 16:59
good to know thankyou. do you have any suggestions on how i can run the fridge while driving
FollowupID: 623907

Follow Up By: Maîneÿ [wa] - Tuesday, Mar 24, 2009 at 18:28

Tuesday, Mar 24, 2009 at 18:28
Any *flexible* 240v lead will be perfect, definitely don't use an orange or yellow lead, the blue ones are far superior because they are harder to see on the tar roads and the kids won't try and pick them up
-if you believe the above - you NEED serious electrical education-

A "220L regular house fridge" will ONLY run on 240 Volt

No number of 12v batteries will run it DIRECT on 240v

As mentioned above an INVERTER will run the 240v fridge, when driving and when stationary, HOWEVER, I will NOT endeavour to instruct you how to connect an Inverter, but advise you to go to a *competent* Auto elec and tell him what you want to do and he will (probably) supply and set it up for you!

You will need some large capacity DC batteries as well.
Many large Bus's run what your talking about.

Mainey . . .

FollowupID: 623926

Follow Up By: garrycol - Tuesday, Mar 24, 2009 at 18:58

Tuesday, Mar 24, 2009 at 18:58
Lose the current fridge and get something more appropriate to travelling in a vehicle.

FollowupID: 623938

Reply By: Member - Tour Boy ( Bundy QLD) - Tuesday, Mar 24, 2009 at 17:20

Tuesday, Mar 24, 2009 at 17:20
Personally I would be ditching the 240 volt fridge and replacing it with a 3 way of the same size. This way it can be run off the batteries (12v) whilst being charged by the car during driving and plugged into 240 mains at night with a charger to top up the batts at night as well. Then you have the gas option as well for emergencies or stops with no power.
This way you arent lugging a genny or the fuel to run it and best of all you aren't annoying everyone else with the noise.

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AnswerID: 355906

Reply By: Motherhen - Tuesday, Mar 24, 2009 at 17:45

Tuesday, Mar 24, 2009 at 17:45
Do you have gas for cooking in the caravan? Dispense with the electric kettle and toaster and use gas. Kettles and any appliance with heating elements pull a fair amount of power. Appliances for gas cooking are lighter to carry too. Then you only have to consider fridge and lights.

What we did when we purchased an old wind up caravan was threw out the old three way (i will not use a fridge on gas in a caravan), purchased a small upright 12/240 v Engel (Engel don't seem to make this model any more, but there are other brands), a 100 a/h deep cycle battery and controller, and an 80 w solar panel. It was six years ago, and the lot cost us less than $2,000. My husband made a frame and stand for the panel and we put it out to face the sun when we stopped. We also had trickle charge from the vehicle, but that put very little into the battery. Even late in the afternoon or at first morning light, the charge zoomed up. If we stopped all day, we could rest it on the roof. Being a small wind up, it was not suitable for roof mounting the panel, which is now roof mounted on our F250 and can still supply a battery and our car Engel and lights when camping out.


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AnswerID: 355911

Reply By: Member - Graham H (QLD) - Tuesday, Mar 24, 2009 at 18:40

Tuesday, Mar 24, 2009 at 18:40
you will also be the least popular person in the park running a gennie at night.

Also in a lot of places such as National parks they are prohibited.

What sort of a van have you got with a house fridge and no gas ?????????????????????????????????????????????????????
AnswerID: 355918

Follow Up By: ksterling - Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 07:53

Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 07:53
it has gas for the stove but the fridge has been replaced, its a 21ft jayco an 1986 model
FollowupID: 624016

Reply By: whale - Tuesday, Mar 24, 2009 at 20:04

Tuesday, Mar 24, 2009 at 20:04
we left adelaide and travelled through to darwin then acroos to broome down to perth with our old caravan, it only had 240 volt fridge. the answer we came up with was to buy a 80 litre 12 volt fridge which we fitted to the car with a duel battery.
the only problem was wifey couldnt get into the back of the old cruiser so i was fridge boy.
we only turned on the fridge in the van when in caravan parks.
we carry in all of the vans both 240 volt toaster, kettle, frypan and also the same in gas.
when in the caravan parks we use their power oout bush we use our gas.
we bush camped 5 out 7 of the 4 1/2 months we were on the road. we ran the car for about an hour a day out bush to recharge the second battery for the 80 litre if we were out bush. did this around lunch.
nothing more annoying than rude a******* running generators all night, usually with the exhaust pointed away from themselves.
have seen some arguements with people running genies not nice for those around.
we have had a instance where i spoke to a older gent running his 3kva genie at 11pm on the nullarbor, told me only in a caravan park could he be made to be quiet, as i walked past the back of his han pulled the cord out of his genie. he got the message.
we had van years ago all electric just to hard to travel around with fine in caravan parks but not out bush, just to hard to deal with.
AnswerID: 355938

Follow Up By: meandet - Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 10:08

Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 10:08
We have also seen some very heated blues over generators, the worst was where one guy threatened the gen user with a .303 rifle.
FollowupID: 624047

Reply By: Member - Netnut (VIC) - Tuesday, Mar 24, 2009 at 22:20

Tuesday, Mar 24, 2009 at 22:20
A fine Exploroz greeting to you, KS.

I second the suggestion that you install a second battery (deep cycle) and a 12V/240V fridge in your vehicle. A set up such as this gives you way more flexibility for keeping food and drink cool when you are away from your van. Nowadays you can even purchase a car fridge with an inbuilt deep-cycle battery. Either option will allow you to easily overcome the problem you face with powering the 240V fridge in your van as you travel.

If you don't want to install a fridge in your vehicle, perhaps go with the suggestion that you replace the 240V fridge in your van with a 3-way or 12/240V fridge. Selling off the 240V fridge is unlikely to be a problem ! Any reputable caravan sales/repair business could help you with modifications required.

Your van probably already has a gas installation for the stove. Connecting the gas supply to a 3-way fridge should be easily done by an authorised gas installer. Most caravan sales/repair shops have such a person on staff.

If you install a deep-cycle battery in your van to power your fridge, an auto electrician can install it and connect it to your vehicle so that it gets a top up as you travel. Maybe you already have a battery in your van for the 12V lights !

There are plenty of places where you can use a generator, however national parks are not among them. Nor are those close by other travellers ! You need to make sure that you have the correct outlet on the generator - usually 15amp - to be able to use your caravan lead. Simply plug the 15amp lead into the external 240V socket of your van just as you do when you are in a caravan park.

If you go for a generator, be sure to get one that will power several items at the same time. A lot of vanners buy the 2000W model as it will run several appliances at once, but definitely not the toaster, microwave and hairdryer at the same time. I know from ownership and experience that the Honda and Yamaha generators are much quieter than the really cheap units and they run (rev) according to the load on them.

By using a medium to high capacity multiphase battery charger, you can use your generator to quickly charge up a deep-cycle battery. However, if you are frequently on the move, topping up the second battery will not be a problem. In a correctly set up installation, the vehicle alternator will do it for you once it has topped up your vehicle's starter battery.

A solar panel can be connected to the deep-cycle battery - via a regulator - to top it up if you stay in a secure place for a while. The speed of charge will depend on the size/capacity of the panel/s and how much you are prepared to spend. An 80W solar kit seems to be popular. I bought a 120W unit for $1350 as it gives me the option of expanding my use/dependence on batteries. As well, it gives a greater charge over a shorter period .... when the sun's shining !

Further suggestions:
1) Do a search of the Forum Archive. Plenty of folk have responded to a plea such as yours in the past and you'll find many responses worth reading. Scroll through the threads and look for those with highlighted words.
2) Read up via the Articles tab (above); you should find valuable information.
3) Ambush a traveller with a set up such as yours.
4) Attend a camping/caravan expo.
5) Use Google and search for the information you require. I found the following this way: Ray's Caravan, Campervan & Motorhomes web site at http://home.iprimus.com.au/rfh/index.htm. Scroll to the bottom of his home page and click on Continue to access the plethora of experience-based information.

Happy travels,

AnswerID: 355977

Reply By: ksterling - Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 08:27

Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009 at 08:27
thanks for all your help guys. alot of useful info. i have decided to can the generator and the fridge and go 12v with batteries sounds like a much safer and more efficent reliable option, and wont bleep anyone off in the process lol. thanks heaps
AnswerID: 356030

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