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  • Mike F

An important note if you camp using battery power and solar panels!

Camping in SEQ is becoming more and more popular in recent years. Families are trading in their Holden Commodore wagons for new (or used) 4wd's, to visit parts of our fantastic country and 'get away' from life stresses. Most of us utilise a battery or multiple batteries to provide power for lights, fridges and accessories whilst on the road. One thing that has caught drivers out when heading out and about for a period of time is the battery capacity and or vehicles recharging capability once batteries are discharged. New vehicles are often fitted with a variable rate alternator (standard battery recharger on every vehicle) and what drivers are quickly finding is that if their secondary battery in their vehicle is substantially discharged (below 11volts) the new variable rate alternators do not have the ability to recharge these second batteries to full charge. This in tern can damage the battery requiring replacement. Yes Mike, its ok, I have a solar panel, I keep it charged when I'm camping! But wait theres more... Most solar panels on offer and commonly used today, have a relatively low amperage output, lets say 3.3amps. The solar panels only operate at full function with direct sunlight, meaning unless you move the panel every 10 mins or so, the panel will have significantly less output. If you have a fridge (in our case we have two) these can draw in excess of 6 amps.... Much higher than than the input of the solar panel. Yes fridges do cycle on and off, but they do this ALL day AND ALL night when there is no sun to be seen. This results in the gradual drop of charge during some parts of the day and a complete drop at night. So, what do we do? There are car chargers we can now fit (wired into vehicles) such as the REDARC 25 amp DCDC charger. This ramps up the output of the vehicles alternator and replenishes our 2 batteries in the vehicle in no time! We also have one installed in the camper for our 3 batteries, in this case we used a 40amp model. We have completely charged batteries in both our camper and car in as little as 20 mins and have enough battery power to last multiple days once they are at full charge. So the story is

1- Ensure your vehicles batteries are the correct size and functioning well,

2- Ensure you have multiple solar panels or x1 high output panel and

3- Vehicle chargers are a must with todays vehicles.


For more info. Don't hesitate to send us an email or call. Happy camping!

Mike - ViewMyCar mobile mechanics Sunshine Coast.


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