power option for camping extended remote stays

Submitted: Monday, Feb 08, 2010 at 21:26
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Im new to all this stuff, Im packing up the wife and kids and travelling OZ next year, I love 4 wheel driving and intend to stay at very remot places, this raises the question of power supplies, In my novice mind I thought that the camper trailer could have two deep cycle battereis fitted, this would be plugged in via an Anderson plug to the car and charge the battereis whilst travelling, however we are expecting to stay at some remote places ie Step Point WA more then 2 weeks. Can any one shed some light on my options or have a better plan of attack or am I deluded in my thinking?? I dont mean to be rude but I would like idears from people who have experience first hand not just people theories.
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Reply By: Motherhen - Monday, Feb 08, 2010 at 21:32

Monday, Feb 08, 2010 at 21:32
Check out the many threads on Solar. To me, that is the only way to go.

Motherhen
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Follow Up By: Hairy (NT) - Monday, Feb 08, 2010 at 21:52

Monday, Feb 08, 2010 at 21:52
Yep I second that!
There are quite a few people here who can give you some great advice on solar.
Cheers
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Reply By: stumbly1 - Monday, Feb 08, 2010 at 21:36

Monday, Feb 08, 2010 at 21:36
Type in "solar panel" and "generator" in the search bar and all your questions will be answered.
Maybe.........
There is a huge amount of discussion on this subject and most people have either or both.

Keith
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Reply By: Member - ross m (WA) - Monday, Feb 08, 2010 at 21:39

Monday, Feb 08, 2010 at 21:39
You only have 2 real options,a small generator or solar panels.
You need to work out much power you will need for your fridge and lighting
It also depends on how big your batteries are.
.
if you are really thrifty on your power usage,you will not need need much with 2 good size batteries.

I use a few metres of thick cable and anderson plug to recharge my singe deep cycle battery and can get 4 days without starting the engine running a wacko 50
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Reply By: Member - John and Val - Monday, Feb 08, 2010 at 22:05

Monday, Feb 08, 2010 at 22:05
Antdeb,

Have a look for our experiencehere in our blog. A quick look at some of our other blogs will show that our ideas about electricity have been well tested in remote areas.

Have a great trip

Cheers,

Val.
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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Monday, Feb 08, 2010 at 23:54

Monday, Feb 08, 2010 at 23:54
Hi Val

I was going to refer antdeb to you blog in my initial reply to them, but noticed they are a non member so cannot access member blogs.

Mh
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Follow Up By: Member - John and Val - Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 08:17

Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 08:17
Hi Motherhen,

You've got me thinking now! I know that we have referred family members who are not members to our blog and they have been able to get access. I know that non members cant leave blog comments.

Perhaps someone can enlighten me?

Cheers,

Val
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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 11:46

Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 11:46
Hi Val

It may be an option to allow members only or everyone to see them; I am not sure. I am in favour of blogs here being a members only feature.

For that reason, i am thinking of starting my own web blog like so many others do, but have been unsure of where to start.

Cheers

Mh
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Follow Up By: ExplorOz - David & Michelle - Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 13:22

Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 13:22
Just to clarify any confusion over blogs - only Members can create blogs. Anyone can view them (so that we don't force your family and friends to join as members of course), however ONLY members can make comments in blogs.

If you do have any feedback regarding refinements to our member offering regarding blogs, please send this to us via the Feedback from located in the Contact tab of the site.

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MM
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Follow Up By: Member - John and Val - Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 14:34

Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 14:34
Thanks Michelle for that clarification.

Cheers,

Val
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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 14:37

Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 14:37
Thanks Michelle

I have had several people not able to view mine when not members. Is this because i have chosen not to let them view?

Mh

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Follow Up By: ExplorOz - David & Michelle - Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 18:32

Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 18:32
Mh - there is nothing in the system that restricts anyone from VIEWING your blogs, so their reason would not be related to something in our system, or of your doing. I find I give family members the link to our blog index and they subscribe to the RSS feed so they get any update alerts we make.
David (DM) & Michelle (MM)
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Follow Up By: PradOz - Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 19:39

Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 19:39
Hi MH

I just clicked on BLOGS up at the top, then FIND BLOGS BY MEMBER and this is what comes up Motherhen

I have always easily accessed the blogs to rad at will but cannot comment on them. One day when my financial situation changes i will be in a better position to address that. cheers....
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Reply By: Member - Serendipity(WA) - Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 01:11

Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 01:11
If you are intending to stay at Steep Point make sure you have booked in at least a year in advance otherwise it is a long trip in only to be told to get out again.

If you want to go to places like that you could hook up a wind generator as it will blow 20knts 2 days out of 3.

In my extended travel I have found a combination of solar and generator is how it has to be.

Solar on its own is just not enough some days. You can go a week or more under cloud and get no charge at all. Of course this means carrying petrol and oil.

On the other hand camping with generators running all the time is just not relaxing. Find a nice quiet camps site and it will be peaceful with solar.

David



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Reply By: disco driver - Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 01:57

Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 01:57
antdeb,
While I am the first to admit that solar and/or generators and big battery banks is the best way to go, there is a cheaper option .

It is to run everything on gas; gas stove, 240v-12v-gas fridge and a gas lantern or two and/or a couple of LED battery torches.

OK it's not the bestest option but it is practical and cheaper to set up..
The fridge can run on 12v whenever the car is travelling (Do NOT ever run it on gas while travelling), and the gas lanterns provide plenty of light (and a bit of heat too).

I used that set up with my original 1960's work caravan until it was written off through old age in the late 80's.

The replacement caravan relied on a noisy genset for all power except cooking but as I was always camped in isolated and remote areas it didn't upset anyone with the noise.

Just another slant on your problem, hope it helps.

Disco.
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Reply By: Robin Miller - Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 08:26

Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 08:26
Hi AntDeb

So much depends on the style of camping and areas you go to.

We do a lot of 4wding generally in rougher areas sometimes with trail bikes and have never felt the need for even the camper trailer.

Its easy to get into the trailer/big fridge senario and consequently it needs more support and also dragging the trailer limits your 4wd access options.

Rather we use tents of appropriate size for the occasion, and work at reducing our power requirements.

We find we need very little , usually a small light or two , small fridge which stays in the car and use gas cannister based cooking.

The above can only work over the long term if you have food solutions that don't require freezing etc.


In the above senario - we don't need anything other than the cars battery and run the car to charge things up etc, we can idle the car up to increase the charging rate.
On days when not driving a couple of 20 min periods a day is enough of a re-charge for us.

Most of those we travel with do have a second battery, in the car or in a portable pack.

Its much more efficent to charge these second batteries from the car with a step up voltage charger and I would reccomend this where ever your second battery is located.
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Follow Up By: keviny6 - Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 15:15

Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 15:15
step up battery charger ?
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Follow Up By: Robin Miller - Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 15:48

Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 15:48
Hi Kevin

Rather than rely on good connections and thick cable and a full car battery , chargers like arrid twin charge are commonly used , these can step up the voltage from your car battery which may be at 12v and deliver the correct charge for the second battery which may need 14 etc.

Hence they can fully charge a second battery even if the cars alternator has warmed up and dropped its voltage.


http://www.arrid.com.au/?act=products&sub=twin_charge
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Follow Up By: keviny6 - Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 17:52

Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 17:52
i checked the other one out --not what i wanted exactly --- the arrid ---will invesigate more---do you know the price ?
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Reply By: Honky - Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 11:29

Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 11:29
Has anyone done a test of what a car alternator in amph will put out in say 1 hour at idle?
IMO when we are comparing solar to generator we should also factor in running the car for 1 hour each day.
This way we are not classed as unsociable by running a generator and when it is to overcast for solar.

Honky
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Follow Up By: Robin Miller - Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 16:28

Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 16:28
Usually not enough at idle after warming up Honky - hence use fast idle or step up charger - also you need to have a quiet petrol car so as not to annoy the neighbours.
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Follow Up By: Pete Jackman (SA) - Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 17:18

Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 17:18
I agree with Robin - my generator at full load is a lot quieter than the Jack at fast idle - and a lot chepaer to run!

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Reply By: OzTroopy - Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 11:41

Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 11:41
To all those dependant on powered devices for camping ... and using solar and minimal use of small generators for battery charging ......

I thank you.
AnswerID: 403401

Reply By: Maîneÿ . . .- Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 11:44

Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 11:44
antdeb,
There's only ONE way it can be done continuously in *REMOTE AREAS*

-> SOLAR POWER

No requirement to: go and refill gas bottles
No requirement to: go get extra genni fuel
No requirement to: even start the vehicle

I am fortunate, in that I've been using Solar power since mid 1996 and for many times a year I've camped on desolate beaches for months at a time, so I can say I do have the personal experience to understand the situation from personal experience, also was ('PAST' tense) selling/installing the stuff too :)

Maîneÿ . . .
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Reply By: Mandrake's Solar Power- Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 12:27

Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 12:27
Antdeb ,
As you are not a member you won't be able to access the member's fileswap area where there are spreadsheets that will help wotrk out your requirements -
If you go to my website as shown below there is a free download Solar Calculator which will help in working out what equipment you need .. It is only a guide not the absolute answer but a good starting point .

Cheers

Steve

AnswerID: 403411

Reply By: JR - Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 14:52

Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 14:52
Using cars altenator isnt that easy either I dont think.
Even if is a say 80 Amp altenator it wont charge your second battery at this rate especially when second battery is "parralleled" to main starter battery
You actually transfer heaps of power from main bat to aux bat then eventually charge both as one unit. THIS TAKES TIME, much more than 30min to an hour.
Altenator senses battery draw and adjusts output to suit so if you connect 1 full battery and one empty one altenator charges at rate to suit the average of two or more likely the quickly delpleting main one.

Only way to get the altentor to charge at full rate is to connect it to each battery separately and then you can get full capacity into batteries.

As expected theres "Independant" battery controllers which sort all this out but they are expensive, so you are in the same $$ place as solar and generator.
Good part about these battery charge controllers is you can really use full power of your altenator and put back in 50-80 amp/hours in 1 hours running, and can do it any time even @ night
Solar is great just needs to be done well and limitations accepted.
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Follow Up By: Maîneÿ . . .- Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 15:02

Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 15:02
JR,
if solar is "done well" as you say, then what are the "limitations" ??

Please don't use the ususal excuse 'overcast conditions' as it's been shown overcast conditions are not limitations when the system is "done well" anyway.

Maîneÿ . . .
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Follow Up By: JR - Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 15:45

Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 15:45
Panels are large, expensive, fragile and produces no power when sun isnt out ie Night. To work well need to be moved regularly or mounted on roof, portable setup can fall over etc etc. None of this is insurmountable (except maybe night time thing) they are just limitations.
And yes overcast conditions and shade have big impact on the specs of a solar setup, also in southern areas availiable sun hours is significantly reduced especially in winter
You can overcome shade etc by upsizing or using other panels but price goes up from the often discussed and sold 80 - 100 watt portable setup

Im not trying to talk down Solar, in fact the opposite. Ive got some (a lot) and a part of the whole package they work really well but like everything have good and not so good aspects.
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Follow Up By: Maîneÿ . . .- Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 16:21

Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 16:21
Remember this post is about:
-> "power option for camping *EXTENDED REMOTE* stays" <-

Expensive, I've found Quality panels cost no more than a quality generator and they don't have the various charging disadvantages of the genni either, where you will have to be there to monitor the battery system and replace fuel in the genni for it to work.

Fragile, if you break your widscreen is it then also considered as 'fragile' ?
Neither of my two panels have been damaged in 13 years.

As for shade, if your aware the solar panel has to be out in the sun to work why would you put them in the shade anyway ??

A quality solar panel won't work at night, your correct, however it does not have to work at night anyway.
Reason is because at nightfall the battery system is fully charged, and it will then power the load connected to the battery system for at least the next few days.

So having no power going to the battery 24/7 is not a requirement, just as a genni is not running 24/7, the solar system does not need to be connected 24/7 either.

I ony have 2 x solar panels, ~2OO Watts and I've never seen the ~2OO ah AGM battery system below 12 Volts ( never - ever )

Maîneÿ . . .
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Follow Up By: JR - Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 17:18

Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 17:18
Yep windscreens are fragile and solar panels arent even close to being as strong as a windscreen either. Windscreens are also relatively cheap too so no one cares too much when they break or crack.
Shade - Many like to park trailer/van etc in shade, and shade moves around during the day.
2 x 100w panel cost more than gennie, possibly nearly double in fact and double the cost of independant charging setup.
You have a great setup with full replacement Amps being produced, but 200W of panels is way more than most would entertain, especially if they plan on packing them up and moving them around at 10-12kg each
WA on average has more sunlight hours than eastern Aus too so you get more power produced
Have a look here and youll see working on 7+ hours sunlight is too much for much of Aus population. Winter sees around 5 for many areas.
http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/averages/climatology/sunshine_hours/map_gifs/annual.shtml


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Follow Up By: Maîneÿ . . .- Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 19:13

Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 19:13
That link information is ok if you use cheaper inadequate solar panels, I get my battery fully charged by 10.30Am daily in what it claims is a 7 hour sun area.

Yes, mine are not inefficient or elcheapo panels, but that's the point, if you buy crap then you must expect crap results like not working in overcast conditions etc.
The Honda EU20i is more expensive than both my panels combined, but there are still plenty of Honda generators out there with their owners watching their battery systems, knowing they have to be there to turn on the generator when the battery gets low.

However with an efficient solar systems the battery never gets low because the solar system is working silently in the background 24/7
Image Could Not Be FoundMaîneÿ . . .
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Follow Up By: PradOz - Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 19:35

Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 19:35
Hi Maîneÿ

Could you tell me (the solar uneducated) what the (approx) cost would be for a setup like yours? Thanks....
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Follow Up By: Maîneÿ . . .- Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 20:01

Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 20:01
$1,100 Sharp 123 watt panel { ND-L3EJEA - now hard to find }
$750 BP 80 watt panel
$170 Steca PR1515 Solar regulator
$60 Cable and assorted lugs
$300 Roof mounted racking

$2,38O gets you ~12 Amps - if you need it

Maîneÿ . . .

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Follow Up By: JR - Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 20:04

Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 20:04
Why would you need a 2000W generator?
EU10 is around $1300, still charges direct @ 8Amps, and should (although i dont know) be good enough to run a big AC charger.
There are direct 12v generators supposably able to do 70 Amps for under $800

Let Mainy say his prices but my setup would be approx

100W panels are around $800 to $1000 each,
good regulator say Steco or PL20 ~ $300
plus cabling, frames, and connectors - guess $100
250 Ahr battery x 100A/hr AG batteries @ $400-$500 each

I recommend an independnt charge setup in vehicle (~ $1500 installed) and solar setup of as large as you can afford
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Follow Up By: Maîneÿ . . .- Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 20:21

Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 20:21
Max of just 8 Amps from the Honda, but I get 12 Amps :-)

With an efficient solar system you don't need any other form of battery charging, so that's a saving of $1,500

Maîneÿ . . .
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Follow Up By: PradOz - Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 20:38

Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 20:38
Thanks Maîneÿ - like i said - i am solar uneducated so i was wanting an idea of what it would cost to be set up like yours. so i will stick it in the memory bank for when i need it and can use it.

JR - thanks anyway, but not what i wanted. I just wanted a good idea what a system like Maîneÿ's would actually cost.

To JR and Maîneÿ - this post is beginning to read as though you both want to get one up on the other. I appreciate your info and opinions but think you are just starting to think you should "take it outside" (as they say) ;) just kidding. I appreciate everyones opinion on here and like others we all enjoy reading what people think, but not when its starting to look like a personal battle though to get their opinion through.

Meant to be constructive criticism, not meant to be taken personal in anyway. Thanks for the answer to my question, may need your advice again one day Maîneÿ for a setup like yours, but its likely to be a way off yet. Cheers guys....
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Follow Up By: Maîneÿ . . .- Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 21:00

Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 21:00
Yes, when I re-read the thread it looks a bit that way, major difference is my postings are solely based on my own system performance, which can readily be verified by the pictures on my 'profile' page.

As they say, 'Oils aren’t ...' and same can be said about solar panels too :)

Maîneÿ . . .
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Follow Up By: JR - Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 21:28

Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 21:28
Yeah Im not trying to out do Mainey, in fact we have nearly the same solar setup, Ive just spent some of my money elsewhere. I also have high power requirements for work from the vehicle too so that swayed my descision too.

Another clarifying comment is that my comments regarding panels fragility relates to NON mounted panels as would be usually found in a camper trailer (original post) setup. Roof mounting changes things alot as they are fixed and out of the way.

We both agree gennys arent the best solution and solar needs to be done right to work properly.

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Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 17:27

Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 17:27
There are some "strange" responses here...
Solar panels are as tough as ........
Tilting, moving and mucking about will get a max of 20% more charge compared to leaving them flat. Less than that up north.
We camp months at a time. We have no generator.
In an "emergency" our RedArc VSR will charge our house batteries at 70A from the 85A alternator. FACT.

You just need to do it right.

Cheers,
Peter
OKA196 Motorhome
AnswerID: 403447

Reply By: Willem - Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 18:10

Tuesday, Feb 09, 2010 at 18:10
The longer in the tooth I get the less I want to rely on a fridge. Bought my first fridge in 1985 and still have it in working condition. I run a more modern one in the wagon these days though.

I cryovac all my meat and keep the fridge running at minimum cycle and switch it off at night. Carry as much as I can that does not need refrigeration. If camped at a place for a few days I have run the alternator for an hour and a half per day in three or four sessions to keep things cool. Having got by all these years without solar panels I am not inclined to buy one now. But you never know......:-)

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