caravan set up for the Kimberley

This is my first time on the forum. Wife and i are planning to travel thru the Kimberley in June 2012 in a 20ft van and wonder if its worth setting my van up for free camping. My main concern is keeping the van battery charged and the best way to go about it. I'm considering
1- charging the battery from my 4WD via an Anderson plug. I already have this set up on the car, not on the van yet, but the van battery will be flat if i stay put a few days.
2- Solar panel say a 120W panel, NOT permanent fixed to the van, any reports of them being nicked.
3 Generator.
4 A combination of above, but starts to get a bit pricey.
Also can anyone advise us on what the daytime temperatures are in the kimberley in June as a genie will give us Air Cond if its hot enough to need it.
Ta, Peter K11
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Reply By: Member - nick b - Wednesday, Feb 29, 2012 at 22:41

Wednesday, Feb 29, 2012 at 22:41
Welcome Peter & co ; I am also going ,might see you there ..I'm thinking the same regards power set up .... what is best !!!! regards temp 29/30 I think ...BOM web site ,

good luck nick
Cheers Nick b
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Follow Up By: Peter K11 - Saturday, Mar 03, 2012 at 09:32

Saturday, Mar 03, 2012 at 09:32
hi Nick, We're looking forward to escape the rat race and see our great country. Powering my van's house battery more complicated than i thought, but I'll work it out and maybe see you on the road, Cheers, Peter
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Reply By: Motherhen - Wednesday, Feb 29, 2012 at 22:45

Wednesday, Feb 29, 2012 at 22:45
Hi Peter

If tackling the Gibb River Road, which i do not recommend with anything but a quality off road caravan, you will find most campgrounds and even some station stays are unpowered. If just following the highway, the main rest areas can get pretty crowded.

A generator will not endear you to your neighbours. We shared campgrounds occasionally with people running Honda 1 or 2 kva gennies and they were fairly quiet. In other places we have camped with noisy gennies and it is very different.

I love solar, but depending on how much you plan to run from power, a caution that solar is not as effective in the heat of the far north. We had no security worries when we used a panel as a portable with a previous camper. In large towns it MAY be a different story, but you would have to be very unlucky to have it stolen.

We did not use our air conditioner in the Kimberley in June/July/August even though we carrry a genny that will run it.

You are welcome to check My Blogs of our nine weeks in the Kimberley in 2008. It was the best of many wonderful places we have visited.

Motherhen
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Follow Up By: Peter K11 - Saturday, Mar 03, 2012 at 09:39

Saturday, Mar 03, 2012 at 09:39
Hi motherhen, thanks for the advice. Interesting wot you said about solar not working as well when hot, i've heard this too. Charging the vans battery from the car's more complicated than I thought, sparky tells me there's a lot of load on the car's alternator when charging the 2 batteries and van fridge. Maybe solar will get me by if i top the battery up staying in caravan parks a couple of times per week.
I'll check out your blogs, cheers, Peter
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Follow Up By: Motherhen - Saturday, Mar 03, 2012 at 11:55

Saturday, Mar 03, 2012 at 11:55
What are you running from power Peter? Compressor or three way fridge? If power input is low, unless you have a compressor fridge (we do and i wouldn't use a gas one), just use minimal power. We used to manage to enjoy camping before all this stuff became available.

Mh
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Follow Up By: Isuzumu - Saturday, Mar 03, 2012 at 11:57

Saturday, Mar 03, 2012 at 11:57
I've been charging two batteries off the same alternator for around 8 years now (that was the last time I put a new alternator in the vehicle). Also when we going camping I am charging two more batteries in the camper trailer. Some times I do not know where these so called experts get their knowledge from.
Cheers Bruce
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Reply By: 4X4Treker - Thursday, Mar 01, 2012 at 00:06

Thursday, Mar 01, 2012 at 00:06
Peter
You are on the right track Anderson plug from the car to the caravan great for while on the move but when you pull up rather than having to disconnect the Anderson plug you need to have a heavy duty relay (at least 50 amp) on the feed from the car that disconnects the caravan from the car, that way the caravan will not flatten the car battery, I run a triple battery setup in my 4X4 and a twin battery setup in my caravan (200amp hour) with two 110 watt solar panels on the roof of the caravan, could only fit 110watt panels because of the air con and hatches etc still got room for one more 110watt though if needed.
My caravan is also a 20ft off road and with the solar setup up that I run I can sit for as long as I want and not have any power problems, I do carry a Honda 2kva just in case we want to use the Air con.
I run a 120watt solar panel on the 4X4 to keep the car fridge running and same deal never run out or low on power, it is a split fold panel that I put out when we are stationary and works well. 120 watt solar panels on ebay are around $200 all my panels have all come from ebay and I am very happy with the quality.
I am a sparky by trade and have a lot of experience with Solar and you will need to look at what your total load (discharge) per night would be and what the solar panel is capable of delivering over the whole day. My night time load is very low as my caravan is total LED lighting so my discharge is fairly low over night but the solar panel set is capable of delivering approx 14 amps in full sun, you should always have a solar panel system that is capable of delivering more than your discharge that way you will get max life out of you batteries as they will not get discharged to a harmful level.
Kimberley is great we loved the whole region and free camped almost the whole time you will love it.
Happy Travels
Treker
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Follow Up By: Bush Wanderer - Thursday, Mar 01, 2012 at 01:39

Thursday, Mar 01, 2012 at 01:39
G'day Peter,

My setup is similar to 4x4 treker, but also have a dc to dc charger in the poptop. I have a gennie but with the solar and dc to dc 25 amp charger while traveling, I have never had to use it. Now leave it a home as no need to use Aircon.

Led lights throughout really make a massive difference to current draw.

Our expanda outback with simplicity suspension has been most places. GRR, up to kalumburu, Kings Canyon (ranger was not too impressed initially but was more surprised), GCR, mereenie loop, Chambers pillar, Cape Leveque, Gnaraloo, Mt Augustus and the shortcut to Tom price.......take it easy (you are on holidays), lower tyre pressures, and dust proof, and GRR will present no issues. I have come across more hardcore vans, that have let their owners down, but I suggest speed and tyre pressures were their downfall.

Have fun.
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