It’s no surprise that most of the best campsites in Australia are off the beaten track. We knew before we began on this trip, nearly two years ago, that it was important to have our rig set up to ensure we could get away from the hustle and bustle of towns and cities and live ‘off-grid’ as long as possible.
We started off with a very under powered system that couldn’t cope with more than a couple of days without driving or power. We knew we wanted to be fully self-sufficient and not have to rely on ever connecting to power.
We then ended up with 250 watts of solar (mounted permanently on the top of the rooftop tent), a 120 amp hour AGM battery, CTEK battery charger and 2 winch/crank batteries.
This system proved to work quite well when we were in the right conditions, however, when travelling through the Kimberley and Pilbara regions in Western Australia, the system could not keep up – even with full sun. Our fridge ran most of the time which was chewing through our power and often ended with our food (and beers) not being cold enough (but that’s another story altogether).
As we live out of our car, we have a fair few things that need power and to continually be charged. Some of these include:
- Phones, iPad, Kindle etc.
- Drone batteries
- 1000 watt inverter
- 65L fridge/freezer
- Water pump
- Electric rooftop tent
- 12v TV in the rooftop
- Battery powered tools (Milwaukee)
- 10 x LED lights on/in canopy, along the awning arms and in the rooftop tent
Considering we wanted to be able to camp off-grid for weeks on end and still charge all of our devices and use them when we wanted, we decided to upgrade our 12V system. We opted for nothing but the best – REDARC gear. We’ve started with the NEW BCDC1250D dc-dc battery charger. This charger puts out a whopping 50 amps! For those who are unfamiliar with dc-dc charging systems, this product is a great little tool and is a necessity if you have a variable voltage (smart) alternator and if you want to run battery chemistries such as AGM, Lithium and Lead Crystal. These are also handy when charging lead acid and calcium batteries, especially when mounted a long distance from the alternator (caravan, camper trailer etc.).
The REDARC BCDC1250D is one of the most powerful battery chargers on the market and the MOST powerful for it’s size. The charger has an in-built MPPT solar regulator for maximizing solar output. You can throw as much solar at this thing as you want, however, it will limit the input to 750 watt. However, putting 2kw into it won’t hurt it.
Another great feature is the ‘Green Power Priority’ which means the charger will take power from the solar and the alternator simultaneously. This means, it will take power from the solar over the alternator which, in-turn, means less load on the alternator (when solar is available).
The charger is built for Aussie conditions and will run up to 80 degrees, is waterproof and comes with a 2 year warranty. It’s also good to know that you’re running a reliable Australian designed and built product.
Knowing that our 250 watts of solar wasn’t quite enough for our electrical needs, we ended up with another 115 watts in a REDARC solar blanket. This is a very versatile blanket which packs up nice and small and is very light. The blanket is capable of 5.8 amps, which is spot-on for our needs.
Once again, REDARC have used nothing but the highest quality products, incorporating ‘Sun Power’ cells, genuine Anderson connectors and a scratch resistant ETFE coating.
We have opted for red Anderson plugs for the unregulated power input which means another coloured plug cannot physically be connected (AKA Naids can’t stuff up plugging in the wrong plugs). We have mounted this on the outside of the canopy for a quick connection when using the panel (and to avoid cables running everywhere).
Another awesome feature of the REDARC panel is that it also comes with a well-designed carry bag. This bag provides a bit of protection to the panel when it is folded up so it can handle a few dings inside your setup! These panels are definitely made tough to handle some tough conditions!
We are yet to make our final decision on batteries – this will be happening in the next week. We are leaning towards lithium at the moment. Stay tuned for Part 2 of our 12V set up, including Blaine’s recent little project.
If you’ve got any questions, feel free to contact us and have a chat! Or, jump on the REDARC Electronics website. They’ve even got a calculator tool where you can work out how much solar you would need for your exact setup.
Shenaid and Blaine 🙂