Camp power

Gday everyone,

From May this year i will be on the road with my wife for a couple of months. I have read past threads on this but just want some simple suggestions on what i need to organise for power during our trip. We will be camping out of the 100 series, stopping at places for a few days at a time, on low budget so try and keep that in mind.

I will need to power -
a small fridge/freezer(which i havnt got yet)
probably a couple of fluros
a laptop
a camera charger & phone chargers

Would installing a dual battery system cover this? I am thinking of lashing out and scrounging up the money for a honda generator the E10i? would this be appropriate do you think? Any ideas with a rough associated cost would be appreciated

Thanks very much for your help to anyone in advance
cheers Matt
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Reply By: Mick O - Monday, Feb 21, 2011 at 12:20

Monday, Feb 21, 2011 at 12:20

start your reading here;

Electricity for camping

Cheers Mick
''We knew from the experience of well-known travelers that the
trip would doubtless be attended with much hardship.''
Richard Maurice - 1903

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Follow Up By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Monday, Feb 21, 2011 at 12:26

Monday, Feb 21, 2011 at 12:26
Great advice Mick. Perhaps some additional advice would be to finish your reading at the end of John & Val's article to avoid becoming confused? LOL


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Reply By: Member - TonBon (NSW) - Monday, Feb 21, 2011 at 12:26

Monday, Feb 21, 2011 at 12:26
Hi Matt,

Firstly, i would forget the fluro's, LED lamps/bar lights are much more efficient and produce better light in my opinion. There are so many around to choose from, just do a little research on what would best suit your setup, the Exploroz shop has some great ones.

Secondly, what you are talking about is pretty much the setup i have as far as power consumption devices, with the exception that i have a small laptop as well. I run the fridge (an 80litre Ebay special which is fantastc) and the lights off the dual battery tahts setup in the back of the ute and the chargeable devices i run out of the cab off the crank battery when driving.

I personally dont like generators as i like my peace and quiet when i get out and about. Plus the hassle of the room it takes up, the weight and the fuel to power it. Check my profile for the dual battery setup i have, works an absolute treat.

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Reply By: Robin Miller - Monday, Feb 21, 2011 at 13:12

Monday, Feb 21, 2011 at 13:12
Nothing wrong with an E10 matt, its a good bit of gear if you can afford it.

Nothing wrong with a dual batt setup or solar panels also.

But I guess, do you really need it in your situation ?
We find life easier with a more minimal setup.

All this stuff is hassles and something extra you need to carry, along with the accessories etc and if you don't have to play with 240vac 0 so much the better.

A alternate way is don't bother with it, we never have for all of the things you mention.
You are carrying an alternator anyway, so just budget for half an hour of charging you stuff up from the car each day that your not driving it.
With this type of operation things need managing - I.E. can't have your fridge on freezing all night or you may have a flat battery.

A worthwhile improvment to car charger is to have a form of fast idle operation
to save you holding the engine revs with foot (after few minutes Alt volts drop as things warm up, which slows re-charging).

As time an opportunity presents -->

Don't carry frozen food normally - so you can leave fridge off overnight.

When needing a new battery get a bigger more suitable one e.g. Century 80AH overlander.

Carry a small seperate gell cell - or one of those car jump starters, just in case.

We glued a super thin, always connected, flexible mono crystalline solar panel to roof such that you don't even know its there - keeps battery fresh and adds a bit of extra capacity.

Get a good fluro 12v light - despite claims otherwise they still put out more light per amp than your average LED ones, but still carry an LED based but independant latern as a backup and when away from car.
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Follow Up By: Member - TonBon (NSW) - Monday, Feb 21, 2011 at 14:50

Monday, Feb 21, 2011 at 14:50
Hope this isnt taken as thread hijacking but Robin, could you flick me some quick details on the solar panel? have been thinking of this as an option for awhile now. Cheers.
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Follow Up By: Jeffie - Monday, Feb 21, 2011 at 15:36

Monday, Feb 21, 2011 at 15:36
An alternative to a dual battery system is a Battery Power Pack as sold by Engel and Waeco for around the $300 mark. You can charge these up as you drive along and put the fridge on it overnight. They also should run a fridge for a couple of days whilst camped, depending on temperature.
The one I have is a Waeco which has a 36amp deap cycle battery and I have used it to run our Waeco Mobicool 40litre fridge/freezer for 2 days without charging, (but not on freeze).

Good idea for lighting is those little LED headlamps which cost from $10.00 upward from BCF, Rays, Anoconda, K Mart, etc they are great, we use them for eating by the campfire at night - leaves both hands free.

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Follow Up By: Robin Miller - Monday, Feb 21, 2011 at 16:00

Monday, Feb 21, 2011 at 16:00
This was mine TonBon , nice and small , fitted on flat part of patrols roof , however if I did in again (which i will) I would get 2 smaller panels because its cells on a flat 3mm alum plate , and this plate expands in heat making it hard to seal edges to car roof in a watertight way.

sunflex 60W monocrystal Flexible Solar Panel,12V Charge
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Follow Up By: Member - TonBon (NSW) - Monday, Feb 21, 2011 at 16:21

Monday, Feb 21, 2011 at 16:21
Thanks for that Robin, i will check that out, will also check out smaller ones as per your next project. The dual battery is great, but it still charges off the alternator so camped up for a couple of days still needs the car to be run to get it back up to charge.
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Reply By: Member - troy s (WA) - Monday, Feb 21, 2011 at 16:34

Monday, Feb 21, 2011 at 16:34
Hi there Matt,
We are currently travelling around Oz with our 2 kids, so have pretty much worked out our power needs (and wants).
I reckon for what it's worth, put in a dual battery system, it doesn't have to be fancy or expensive. I simply went for a redarc solenoid which was around $90, and then wired it in myself, it's actually a very simple instalation if you take time to read the wiring diagram and actually understand what is happening.
Once that's in, get a decent battery, I went for the biggest AGM deep cycle I could fit in. It was a 120Ah, and I think cost a tikkle over $200.
This battery is pretty much just used for the 40l Engel (which I also ran a dedicated feed and plug for, with good sized wiring) and will give me a comfortable 2 days on -10, sometimes even 3 days, but I try not to draw the battery down to far too often.

I also ran a seperate lead and plug to the back end, and use this to power an inverter, this also runs off the second battery, and we use it to charge the laptop and whatever else.

We also have a yamaha 1000, pretty much same as the honda. We only really take this out when we camp for more than a couple days, like a week or more, and are sitting still. However if you're keen on saving yourself about $1500, use your alternator to keep your batteries charged. I find it's not as economical, but I think a generator is a long term investment, cheap to run, but very costly to buy.

I found, once our generator was destroyed in the floods 2 months ago, we were forced to live without it, and did manage to do so. We were forced to run the cruiser a bit more, but our shower system works on the heating system of the car, so we crank it up for a while every night or morning anyway.

Which ever way you go, just enjoy the trip! But the less you take will be less you have to worry about, especially when you wake up in the middle of the night to your gear being washed down the hill :)

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Follow Up By: Member - troy s (WA) - Monday, Feb 21, 2011 at 16:39

Monday, Feb 21, 2011 at 16:39
Sorry Matt,
for the dual battery system, excluding the battery, look for some kits on ebay, or allow atleast $300 to cover the battery tray, solenoid, wirring and fuses.
I got some used cable and and bits on ebay from an auto sparky, saved about half the cost.
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Follow Up By: Matt100series - Monday, Feb 21, 2011 at 16:57

Monday, Feb 21, 2011 at 16:57
Thanks heaps troy really great info i think youve sold me on the dual system, i may even have a go at wiring it myself.
Good on you for getting out there with the kids they will have the experience of a lifetime
Sorry to hear about the flood damage, happy and safe travels
thanks again
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Reply By: Matt100series - Monday, Feb 21, 2011 at 16:44

Monday, Feb 21, 2011 at 16:44
Thanks very much for your replies everyone muchly appreciated. I will check out the battery packs as another option as i havn't considered them at all so far. Would a battery pack like this support an engel 32L fridge/ freezer? i think instead of saving for a generator i will save for an engel. This still dosn't solve my power needs but at least i will have the capacity to keep meat cold for days at a time! So many choices and not enough money hah
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Reply By: Sand Man (SA) - Monday, Feb 21, 2011 at 18:44

Monday, Feb 21, 2011 at 18:44

I can recommend the Flyer battery pack system from
This unit comes with a built-in Isolator and cable to connect to the starter battery, then you put in any size battery you wish.
A good choice for your needs would be an 80Ah or 100Ah AGM battery which will supply sufficient power for 2 days at least and the battery pack will be recharged when the engine is running. An AGM battery is safe to use inside the vehicle and will not spill if tipped over.
Perhaps one minor thing to consider, is the lack of multiple sockets on the Flyer, but this can be overcome with a multi-socket box.

(P.S. Derek, perhaps you could whip up a solution for folk unable to make their own?)

The problem with the more common type of vehicle dual battery system is that it is mounted in the engine bay and depending on available room, may only accept a small cradle and therefore a small battery.

The Flyer is portable (although a 100Ah AGM battery will make it quite heavy) and can be taken out of the vehicle if required.


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Follow Up By: Member - Jorgen S (QLD) - Wednesday, Feb 23, 2011 at 15:03

Wednesday, Feb 23, 2011 at 15:03
I think too much trouble and money is spent on different electrical setups.
I did it the "cheap way"
I have my dual battery setup, and when travelling i keep my fridge running on 12V from the car.
As soon as i stop i switch the fridge to gas and therefor only need power for a couple of lights ( led) and my shower pump. to keep my batteries charged i have bought 2 solar panels from K-Mart at
$ 119 each and that keeps me self sufficient for about 4 weeks. K-Mart still has those solar panels.


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Follow Up By: Sand Man (SA) - Wednesday, Feb 23, 2011 at 19:21

Wednesday, Feb 23, 2011 at 19:21

That's OK mate, but 3 way fridges are not all that popular for many of us.
Most folk prefer a compressor type fridge, purely based on cooling performance and efficiency.

A compressor fridge does not run on gas and therefore 12 volt power and a means of keeping the battery(s) charged becomes the driving factor.
It then becomes a matter of what suits different people.
Vehicle alternator charging -
Solar panel charging -
Generator charging -
A combination of some of the above solutions.

All methods are valid for different folk, although I personally avoid generators (and campers that use them) like the plague. They are just not environmentally friendly, regardless of the type used. Even an inverter type genny like the Honda or Yamaha can still be heard by other campers.

The amount one invests in battery capacity, the method of keeping them charged and the cost of doing so, is directly proportional to the amount of funds available and
how big the fridge is and how much current it draws.

If you are happy with your 3 way fridge solution, that's great.
I have used one many years ago in a campervan and they are nowhere near as good as a quality compressor type fridge.



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Follow Up By: Member - Jorgen S (QLD) - Wednesday, Feb 23, 2011 at 20:04

Wednesday, Feb 23, 2011 at 20:04
Sorry Sand Man.
I don't agree with you, like i said when i run my fridge on 12v. I know it is not very efficient long time, but for driving , say max 8 hours it is not a problem. you just think and do not keep the door open for too long and often.
Running the fridge on gas is just as good as 240v so i have no problem keeping my beers cold.
But you are right you spend what you can afford or see sense in


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