Excuse the ignorance- batteries and power

Submitted: Wednesday, Jul 25, 2012 at 09:35
ThreadID: 97074 Views:2330 Replies:10 FollowUps:3
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I am a single mum who is excited to be planning a 3month trip up the east coast and down the middle of Australia in 2013. So, I have 12months to learn all there is to learn and my first stop is power. We will be buying a pop top caravan and will probably be staying at caravan parks most of the time (due to safety) but I would like to have the option of a portable fridge in the car (probably sitting behind the drivers seat)- really, it'll just be for drinks and cold snacks and meat/cold stuff we may pick up on route.

What would be the best way to power this fridge/freezer?

I have a Toyota Aurion so the option of a 2nd battery is (from what I have read) not available.

If I use the power from the car, will it drain the battery?

How would you work this scenario?
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Reply By: Member - Broodie H3 - Wednesday, Jul 25, 2012 at 10:10

Wednesday, Jul 25, 2012 at 10:10
We have an Aurion and I have just checked under the bonnet and a second battery should fit in there, Also check with Toyota as I believe they do have a cradle for the battery, I believe they are the same as the one that goes into the Rav 4, not one hundred percent certain.
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AnswerID: 491623

Reply By: oldtrack123 - Wednesday, Jul 25, 2012 at 10:26

Wednesday, Jul 25, 2012 at 10:26
Hi Lee
I asume your are talking about a compressor fridge such as Engel or Waeco

A 2nd DEEP Cycle battery is the best option if one can be fitted
IT should be connected to the first battery by an isolator to protect the crank battery from being accidendently being discharged & leaving you stranded

To prevent damage to the 2nd battery, from overdischarging, it should have a low voltage cutout fitted between it & the fridge
The low voltage cut out sould be set for around 12v[11.75 the very lowest]

Things can start getting pretty hot in northern & central Aus by Nov, plan your trip carefuly to be back to cooler climes

AnswerID: 491625

Reply By: SDG - Wednesday, Jul 25, 2012 at 15:27

Wednesday, Jul 25, 2012 at 15:27
If you use your standard battery, for the bigger fridges, don't just plug ithe fridge into your cigarette lighter socket. Upgrade the wiring for it.
While it is possible to use one battery, you will find that if the vehicle is not running it will go flat fairly quickly. You might get a night out of it, but then you might not. I ran mine for 6months on a single battery before I got a second. Often had the fridge turn off from lack of battery power.

If you want just to have a small fridge for use while travelling only, and the caravan fridge for main storage, there are plenty of options availble that you just plug in to your cig socket. Usually these will drain battery fast if engine not turning, so be sure it only operates with motor.

Is the fridge in the van going to operate on 12v as well?
AnswerID: 491648

Reply By: mountainman - Wednesday, Jul 25, 2012 at 18:42

Wednesday, Jul 25, 2012 at 18:42
ill pick on the wanting to have the fridge behind the seat.

if you do go with this ensure the mounts to hold the fridge in place are strong enough, as in case of a crash... it would let go and pretty well be the end of you, even if you survive the front end hit.
a fridge loaded is a fair amount of weight, 80kg sitting behind you.

if possible try find a massive rated battery that could replace the stock one.

caterpillar sells many batteries, and extremely cheap, cheaper than the exide and others with better waranty.
12/240 vlt fridge engle, arb type as such, is best when permanently leaving in car, better on the battery than a 3 way fridge, these are efficient on gas, but not ideal in a enclosed vehicle like yours, and arent economical on 12vlt as youll be relying on.

my sister bought a poptop recently, previous owner put a suitable wall heater in, they thought what the??
ended up being one of the best things in it, i was with them.

hats off to you for going and showing the kids around this country, couldnt be a better way to grow up.
shame you have to stay in caravan parks, some of the best spots are just you and the elements.
AnswerID: 491669

Follow Up By: Member - RockyOne - Thursday, Jul 26, 2012 at 09:42

Thursday, Jul 26, 2012 at 09:42
You are indeed a wise man MM. I had not stopped to think through the end result of a collision where the front air (gas) bag has deployed and pushed the person back momentarily into the seat while the hurtling heavy missile (fridge) sandwiches the occupant from the rear. We must get back to Murphy's law. If it can happen, it will.Thanks. Your comment should get a lot of people thinking this one through.
FollowupID: 767236

Reply By: Member - Mark (Tamworth NSW) - Wednesday, Jul 25, 2012 at 21:04

Wednesday, Jul 25, 2012 at 21:04
Lee and EO members

It sounds like Lee will only need a portable fridge for a maximum of several hours at a time, between caravan parks.
Would something like a Thumper power pack not be a better option for her?

She simply recharges it when she gets to the CP. No need to have the hassle and auto electrician cost of fitting a 2nd battery etc?

Me I have a 2nd battery, but we remote camp for 2-3 days at a time and don't have a gas fridge in a pop top like Lee must have.

Lee depending on the size of your fridge, a large single battery in your vehicle should power the fridge comfortably for up to 12 hours and still be able to restart your car.
But the wiring to your cigarette lighter may not be adequate to power the fridge for that long with the ignition turned off (too much resistance in the wiring without the alternator going). That is what happens with Waeco 50L fridge anyway. A smaller sized fridge may be fine.

A 2nd battery is cheap, the wiring & solenoids professionally done will cost a lot more than the battery.

Get some costs, talk to who ever sells Thumper style power packs.


AnswerID: 491675

Reply By: Member - Old Girl - Wednesday, Jul 25, 2012 at 21:56

Wednesday, Jul 25, 2012 at 21:56
I wouldnt put a fridge on the back seat. We have ours in the back of the wagon tied down to correct anchor points and it still seems to move a bit. There is no way you can secure it enough in the case of a crash. You times by two your current speed in a sudden stop. Thats the speed your fridge will move.
We travel with three children and pull over if they want a drink from the caravan fridge, they enjoy the stretch anyhow.
AnswerID: 491678

Follow Up By: fisho64 - Thursday, Jul 26, 2012 at 07:35

Thursday, Jul 26, 2012 at 07:35
fully agree with the dangers of an unsecured or poorly secured fridge.
But why "You times by two your current speed in a sudden stop"? If a car is going 40kph and hits a brick wall the fridge will try to continue at 40kph, not 80kph?
FollowupID: 767226

Reply By: Member - John and Val - Thursday, Jul 26, 2012 at 09:14

Thursday, Jul 26, 2012 at 09:14
Hi Lee,

A couple of points -

1) Sounds a great trip with a sensible time frame - go for it and enjoy!! As suggested already, if you're a southerner, avoid being too far north in the hotter months.

2) Safety - certainly there are places I wouldn't stop overnight, but generally, in sparsely populated areas we don't hesitate to simply drive off and get out of sight of the road for an overnight stop. If you're concerned about feral humans, there are far more of them in "civilised" places than in less populated areas. Security is a very personal thing and you should follow your own instincts so as to stay in your comfort zone, but I'm sure you will be pleasantly surprised by the open friendliness you meet when you go bush. As is so often the case, the response you get from others mirrors the image you project of yourself too.

3) The fridge - You'll have a fridge, almost certainly a 3 way one, in the van. This is good because it can run on gas or electricity, bad because you can't run on gas while moving, and it will draw power from the vehicle while the engine is running. I would avoid having a fridge inside the vehicle if you can because of the possible dangers others have referred to. You don't need continual access to a fridge, so using the one in the van should meet your needs and save you $1000+.

4) You mention a fridge/freezer. That's opening up a whole lot of new considerations, as a freezer draws much more battery power than a fridge. You will most certainly need extra battery power for a fridge, even more for a fridge/freezer. If you do add a fridge or fridge/freezer to the rig, I'd suggest it should be carried in the van, where you will also have space to easily accommodate battery/s.

5) Little thermoelectric car fridges are available to keep the drinks and the lunch sandwiches cool, but are very inefficient and I'd suggest are best avoided. (For the sort of use you're thinking of, you need a compressor style fridge.)

6) Suggest you will find Electricity for Camping a useful read.



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AnswerID: 491691

Reply By: mountainman - Thursday, Jul 26, 2012 at 19:22

Thursday, Jul 26, 2012 at 19:22
biggest piece of advice is buy the pop top NOW.
in 12mnths youll have it set up the way you like it.
know whats involved, packing, storing of things.
where best for this and that.
have the setup times down to a couple of minutes. quicker the more often you go, a system or routine.
and then you will have the confidence of hitting the road, and have a MORE enjoyable trip.

and other things that wont do, will pop up before your long trip. problems, repairs...
soo you can sort them out at home, with companies youve used previously than have to sort it out on the next town down the road. and find new businesses to deal with.

yup i do worry with people putting fridges in behind front seats.
not knowing if the anchor points are factory fitted or shell be right..wont happen to me.

just buy the poptop, get out there!!
youll sort yourself out.
no powerpack battery set up in car! please
hydrogen is leaked from battery when charging.

no battery is worth relying on its a sealed battery....from the saleman, or shop!
AnswerID: 491727

Follow Up By: AlbyNSW - Thursday, Jul 26, 2012 at 20:57

Thursday, Jul 26, 2012 at 20:57
Great advice. A few short trips before the big one and you will soon work out what things are important to you and how best to carry them.

If you plan on staying in powered van sites I don't see the need to spend big $$ on a fitted second battery unit. Get a portable unit that can get charged by a 240v charger every night or two
FollowupID: 767283

Reply By: get outmore - Friday, Jul 27, 2012 at 03:49

Friday, Jul 27, 2012 at 03:49
put the biggest meanest mutha of a battery you can fit in the battery craddle

if you can fit a 700cc hybrid 4wd battery in there you shouldnt need much more
AnswerID: 491746

Reply By: LeeJ - Friday, Jul 27, 2012 at 08:36

Friday, Jul 27, 2012 at 08:36
Great advice- thanks everyone.

I appreciate the safety aspect of putting a fridge behind the front seat. I think for this reason (and asking the question of whether it is truly needed or just desired) I am going to opt for just a small fridge/esky to keep drinks and snacks cool while on the road.

Ah, if only money wasn't an issue and I could buy a 4wd. A girl can dream right? :)
AnswerID: 491755

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