12V Guru – Basic Setup For Off The Grid Travel
Question to 12V Guru
I want to venture into off road touring but I want to make sure I have all the power I need for spending up to a week off the grid.
What would your suggestions be for my basic setup, and
perhaps a little extra?
Thanks, Allan Gayle
12V Guru answers:
Sounds like you are getting ready to join the growing number of adventurers who want to experience life beyond the bitumen and really get to know some of what Australian offroad touring can offer.
Understand your power needs
In regards to setting yourself up with a power management system that suits your requirements, the first thing to understand is what do you expect your power needs to be.
Matching these and then adding a buffer margin of energy storage is critical to ensure you’re not disappointed and ‘left in the dark’, quite literally. Most offroaders are savvy with their power management requirements and are happy to leave behind or minimise the usage of the microwave and hairdryer until they are back on the ‘blacktop’, so let’s start with this premise.
DC-DC charger for driving
The next thing to consider is whether you will be travelling each day or staying in the one campsite. Both have different options for charging up the batteries after the drain of overnight power needs.
If you are on the road you should consider getting a quality DC-DC charger such as the BMPRO Miniboost, which will charge up your offroader’s batteries in transit from the tow vehicle, and when combined with systems such as the BMPRO BP35 range, it will blend the energy from solar panels and the car to maximise your battery charging.
Alternatively, if you have found a great spot and are deciding to stay for several days, I would suggest a set of folding solar panels which have a stand at the back or a solar blanket at around 100-120W.
The advantage of folding panels is that unless you have a perfectly clear roof for the sun’s movement throughout the day (and also clear of tree shadows), the portable panels enable you to move appropriately to maximise the sun’s energy.
If you are camping with no chance of shade, put two to three panels on the roof of your offroader (as pictured above). We took the Jayco Adventurer up to the Pilbara last month and were easily getting 12-14A continuously, even with red dust and a few clouds.
We had this matched with two 100Ah AGM batteries and it provided us with plenty of power to do everything from lights, radio/TV, recharging phones and technology each night, and not running past the 50 per cent depth of discharge recommended.
High energy requirements
Obviously, if you can’t resist the temptation to have all the modern conveniences (including if you need AC for the Top End to escape the heat), then you may need to invest in a generator and inverter – but be mindful of others and keep the noise to a minimum.
Another consideration would be to invest in Lithium batteries. They cost more but at onethird the weight of AGM, they charge much faster and have more than double the capacity per day of AGM alternatives.
So, in summary, consider your power needs, how you intend to recharge each day, ditch energy hungry devices (no to microwave but yes to LED lighting), and invest in quality solar panels and a power management system.
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