Powering up

Submitted: Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010 at 12:38
ThreadID: 76513 Views:4029 Replies:5 FollowUps:13
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We just bought a Caravan,( 20’ x 8’).
It is only operating on 240 volts = Fridge, freezer and Air conditioner.
12 / 240 volt lights are wired.
We need to re-power the system to allowing us the benefit of off road camping.
Fridge and Freezer
Air conditioner
Flat screen 22” T.V. (Small all in one stereo, DVD and CD)
Laptop (touch screen), printer, Mobile charger, Camera Charger...
Toaster, Iron, frying pan... Not all will run at once
What do we really need – Help Jo
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Reply By: Member - Barry (NT) - Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010 at 12:47

Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010 at 12:47

without trying to put you off you may, just may, be talking big $.

Please give us more info ie how long will you be camping ie 1 night then plugged into caravan park or 7 or 10 dyas straight.

Also consider 12 v fridge/freezer (one unit) OR 3 way. Do you have a preference.

Frying pan is easy use wood camp fire (where possible) ie get outside with camp oven also, and this saves cooking smell/heat inside OR use gas outside or inside

Iron?????? you can camp with us if you like it that much,,, lol

Other items above don't present any real problems.

Some Options at face value are solar panels and AGM batteries and/or genny.

Also what type of camping do you like home comforts (we like some too so don't be shy) OR rough it a bit?

I you could provide some more info we could seek to help

cheers Baz
AnswerID: 407069

Follow Up By: Joanne and Mark - Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010 at 13:18

Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010 at 13:18
LOL , thanks for the reply... the picture is herewith...
Love the comforts but can ruff it. I work from home and intend to do the same on the road. Mobile office/ linked to H/Office.
We would like to stay away from caravan parks for as long a period as possible and or an indefinite time.
It works out that the cost to replace both fridge and freezer would be near the cost of an extra power sources.
We have a quote as follows (help)
1 x 3000 watt / 65 AMP powerstar inverter chargers
3 thumper 120 ah redback AGM
1 power tech 20 amp LCD
4 Blue Apple 80 watt solar panel
Apart from the internals
1 read arc isolator
2 prodigy brake controller
3 Fittings and work included.
Break way cable


Plus Honda EU generator / inverter equipped... $1990
FollowupID: 676895

Follow Up By: Member - Barry (NT) - Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010 at 14:01

Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010 at 14:01
Ok Jo

lets look at this from a practical point of view based on your info above.

When camping consider NOT using microwave and aircon. This simplifies things. If weather is that bad ie constant wet/raining as it is now in norhtern NSW we are holed up in CP OR if it's a heatwave head for beach or CP. You have 240 v on tap. The number of times you need to do this will probably be minimal.

As an example we have 4 X 120W solar panels and 4 X 100 Ah AGM batteries and this puts up to 30A back in batteries in sunshine and less on cloudy days obviously. We make do with this by using a 400 modified (read square wave) inverter which powers either:

- laptop and external Bigpond modem and drwas 5v DC fro batteries OR
- Strong satellite box and LCD TV (see thread 76446 for more info)

If we wan't to run all together we use 1000W pure sine wave inverter and current draw is about 12 A DC from batteries.

So you can see that we draw power from batteries and use 2 inverters to suit the application.

IMHO the inverter you mention above will draw too much power DC from batteries to be useful on a regular basis as even on a bright sunny day you may not be charging your batteries throgh solar panels. This hypothetical as I don't know loads ect but beware before buying anything. Drwaing up to 65A Dc from batteries will IMHO again murder them and reduce their life considerably.

OK this brings us to the generator. Honda 2000 is very good, we have one and no problems. The price you have above is very good.

Questions to ask yourself;

- do I really want to start a generator to run XXXX (ie get it out & refuel every 5 hours under full load etc etc)????
- what do I NEED to run on generator???.

Then see how you will do your business - check

- wattage of your work laptop, printer (doesn't need to run all the time) and work out what size inverter will run it CONTINUOUSLY and what DC current will be drawn from your batteries.

After you do these things I think you be able to see something emerging ie

- the solar panels and batteries MAY not be suitable ie the inveter current draw may ruin your batteries
- if you can run your office with say a 1000 or even 1500w inverter your solar/batteries may cope
- generators are good but a pain in the bum generally to use all the time (plus fuel costs) are can't be run in many places
- you need to look at the power consumption 12V DC that you would typically need and work out Ah per day draw from batteries (typical only as each day is different and you can start genny on occassions when needed).

One of my longest posts but please look carefully at your needs before you shell out the $. Get other experts to assess for you, ie give forum your starte/area and other may know where to get other expert advice. Met WA couple who shelled our $4000 for useless set up and they ran genny every day for 11 days straight - we didn't start ours.

Solar / genny back up with right inverters is IMHO the best way to go for a long term solution and this also ensures business continuity with is so important.

Hope this is not too complex and points you in the right direction.

Cheers Baz
FollowupID: 676901

Follow Up By: Joanne and Mark - Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010 at 14:37

Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010 at 14:37
Great and thank you for your help, Baz.
I will do some more home work and let you know the final result.
Cheers Jo
FollowupID: 676907

Reply By: Notso - Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010 at 12:56

Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010 at 12:56
A generator is really you only solution to do all you want.

a Honda 20i will power most Air Cons but with all the other stuff you may want to run you'd be best to get something a bit larger. Or two of the Honda 20i and link them together.

AnswerID: 407071

Follow Up By: Joanne and Mark - Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010 at 13:21

Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010 at 13:21
Thank you, I will follow up on the cost. you could be onto something...
FollowupID: 676896

Follow Up By: Member - Jeff M (WA) - Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010 at 14:02

Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010 at 14:02
Yamaha 2.4 Inverter and the job is done. About $1800 but you can get them cheaper if you sniff around. Saw one at one of the camping shows last year for $1400 and am kicking myself that I didn't buy it.

Good luck.
FollowupID: 676902

Follow Up By: Notso - Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010 at 14:23

Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010 at 14:23
The yamaha would start and run the AirCon OK but if you try to run a toaster, Jug or microwave at the same time it would probably not start it.

Microwaves these days while they may only output 750 watts they usually draw around 1200 watts, A jug is usually around 2000 watts and a toaster about 1000. These are only approx but you can see that if the Air Con uses 2000 watts to start and about 1000 when running it doesn't take too much to exceed the generators capacity. As well as this you may have lights on, the fridge drawing 120 watts, the telly another 60 watts or so.

Realistically, even a 3KVA would have problems keeping up.

FollowupID: 676906

Follow Up By: Joanne and Mark - Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010 at 14:45

Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010 at 14:45
Thank you, I will take a look at the inverters and genny.
Cheers Jo
FollowupID: 676909

Reply By: _gmd_pps - Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010 at 14:40

Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010 at 14:40
well, well, well
another funny quote rofl
because your inverter does not match your battery capacity and lots of
bits missing, like solar regulator or decent battery charger because your solar
panels will not do enough for permanent use. Also you probably have a crappy caravan aircondition.

Here a few consumption figures from the devices in my truck camper:

Figures in 12V Primary Power using a Xantrex 1800 Pure Sinewave

PC With 30" Apple Cinema Display 2560x1600 12A
5.1 Stereo with sub 3-5A
Toaster 80A
Microwave 90-110A
Espresso Machine 130A when in use 70A when heating
Towel dryer 8A
Splitsystem Aircon 2.6 KW 75A when cooling

Vitrifrigo Compressor Fridge 120L 4.8A
Waeco 35L Freezer 3.5A
Laptop with 12V Power supply 4.5A (17" HiRes Screen)
Halogen light 1.5A
LED lights 0.2A
Water pump 4A

and various other gadgets, chargers

I have 2 banks of 440Ah AGMs - a total of 880AH (8x 6V 30Kg)
1800 pure sinewave inverter (175 Amp max draw)
2 x 200 Watt solar panels
Outback MP60 MPPT solar controller
Xantrex 3 bank 50Amp battery charger

Normal Caravan airconditioner and 3 way fridges need too much power
to run from battery effetively. The 3 way fridges use well up to 15amp
continuous which is ludicrous.

In the vehicle I have a second 160Amp external regulated alternator
with a Balmar Maxcharge for the house batteries.

And a 2000is Yamaha inverter generator.

I call this a balanced system which gives us all the comfort we want.

I also have a Honda 30is but I do not take it away anymore.
Too heavy and we need it at home .. too many power fails.

good luck

AnswerID: 407099

Follow Up By: Joanne and Mark - Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010 at 15:18

Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010 at 15:18
Thank you, gmd

I am about to chat with the suppliers and run everything by them... see how I go.

FollowupID: 676915

Follow Up By: Member - Barry (NT) - Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010 at 16:01

Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010 at 16:01

I assume your comments re another funny quote were directed at me

If so please clarify exactly what is the error of my ways,, as a courtesy to me.

I didn't include a lot of things, but was showing some examples and how Jo could get a handle on everything

I look forward to your response
FollowupID: 676920

Follow Up By: _gmd_pps - Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010 at 17:14

Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010 at 17:14
No Barry, not at all ...
I was referring to the QUOTE (Prices) the OP "quoted"
and it's not very logical nature ..
sorry for misunderstanding ...
FollowupID: 676945

Follow Up By: Member - Barry (NT) - Thursday, Mar 04, 2010 at 10:10

Thursday, Mar 04, 2010 at 10:10
OK no probs here

FollowupID: 677077

Reply By: Motherhen - Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010 at 17:23

Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010 at 17:23
Hi Joanne and Mark

May i suggest you leave the bulky and heavy Microwave, Toaster, Fry pan etc at home and cook on gas. As little as one solar panel and a battery or two will run a 12 v compressor fridge and a few LED lights.

When bush camping, enjoy the great outdoors and sky star show and forget the telly.

If you are desperate to run an air con in the bush you will need a genny, otherwise sit outside on the shady side of the van and you will find it acceptable unless in extreme heat.

We have four 130 w panels and four 110 a/h batteries, and could practically power a lighthouse.

Our laptops and battery chargers use next to no power, and we also have a 12 v fan for hot nights and that makes no noticeable drop to the battery levels either.


Red desert dreaming

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AnswerID: 407123

Follow Up By: Baz&Pud (Tassie) - Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010 at 17:49

Wednesday, Mar 03, 2010 at 17:49
Spot on as usual, couldn't agree with you more.
Go caravaning, life is so much shorter than death.

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Follow Up By: John and Lynne - Sunday, Mar 07, 2010 at 12:50

Sunday, Mar 07, 2010 at 12:50
As Motherhen said, the easiest approach is to reduce your use of electricity. A kettle. a toaster and a frying pan to use on gas can all be bought for under $50! and gas is cheap. We carry two 9kg bottles and have never run out of gas. We get about 3 months out of a bottle bush camping about 50% of the time.

For bush camping, a camp oven cooks beautifully and provides so much entertainment looking after the fire etc, that you don't need a television (perhaps a bottle of red!). Our three-way fridge runs beautifully on gas even in Darwin. Books and star gazing require little electricty.

If you run a generator for hours, you will not make many friends! In fact you will have to find very isolated places to camp. It is generally accepted as polite to turn generators off after 9pm if other people are around. So not much good for running your fridge at night.

We have one 130w solar panel and 100ah battery. This runs our lights(tungstn fliament), radio, CD, water pump and stove extraction fan with no problem.

The biggest problem with bush camping is carrying enough water. You will probably find that weight of water you will need for extended camping will be your limiting factor. We carry 140 litres of water in the van plus a jerry can in the car.

With our mimimum set up we camp for a week comfortably. However, we do not use the laptop continuously and go into a CP at intervals to charge this up and do the washing.

Good luck

Lynne and John

John & Lynne

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Reply By: Member - Barry (NT) - Sunday, Mar 14, 2010 at 12:15

Sunday, Mar 14, 2010 at 12:15

how is the research coming along???

Cheers Baz
AnswerID: 408765

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