How on earth does one endure a camping trip without a TV, coffee machine, phone, tablet, fridge, hair curler, etc etc etc. Well if you use more power than the Vivid Sydney Festival when you go camping, you’ll need to carefully work out just how much you’ll need, and how to best manage it. Our Sydney based 4WD workshop are experts when it comes to power upgrades on your 4WD, so we'll breakdown the basics of what you need to consider.
What power is in my 4wd right now?
If you’re building your dream 4wd, chances are there has been no additional power storage installed as yet. Most modern 4x4’s have a single battery which has enough power to start your vehicle on a cold morning. If you were to head out camping for the night and use the existing power to even run a camp light, you’ll be pulling out the jumper leads the next morning to get going again. And it’s hard to get NRMA to come and meet you in the middle of the bush!
Modern vehicles have additional cig plugs (what we call ‘DC power’) installed in the rear so you can plug various 12v appliances in whilst on the move. These plugs will likely be connected to your main battery and only provide power when your engine is running, so you limit your chances of draining your main battery. Some modern 4wd’s have a 240v plug (AC power) as well which will let your run small 240v powered appliances. Hot tip: Don’t plug your vacuum cleaner or blender into these plugs. Appliances with a heavy power draw will damage your vehicle.
Image Credit: Michael Lendrum - Standard rear DC outlet. Powered from the vehicle’s main battery.
How much extra power do I really need?
Remember this when you are working out how much power a product consumes:
Volts x Amps = Watts - ie. If a car fridge, on average, draws 2.0 Amps per hour at 12 volts, it will use 24 watts per hour which equals 576 watts per day. Simples.
Let’s have a look at how much power, in watts, a typical camping couple, consumes over a 24 hour period by breaking down the various products in use.
40L Car Fridge: 576 watts
3 x 5 Watt LED Lights: 60 watts (Assuming you are running the lights for 4 hours)
2 x Mobile Phones: 20 watts (1 full charge per day each)
Camera: 20 watts (1 full charge)
Laptop: 200 watts (1 full charge)
Total: 876 watts used per day
Based on this particular example, you would need a battery able to supply at least this amount of usable power to be safe from running out. Referring to our aforementioned equation, a 100 amp battery holds 1200 watts. A quality battery of this size would be suffice for this couple’s power needs.
How do I store all this required power?
Easy as bro. We just add more batteries….right? Not so fast, tiger. There’s a couple of options to consider when it comes to adding more power.
Portable Power Units: There are lots of options for portable power units on the market, each with their own advantages. Some have 240v power outputs, some can be charged via 12v as well as solar, some have lead acid batteries and some are lithium. (We’ll dive into battery types in future blogs). The list of features is endendlessless and the right solution will vary from customer to customer.
In Vehicle Power: This usually consists of an additional battery, an isolator and charging system, additional 12v & USB outputs and an inverter to supply 240v power. As custom 4wd builders, Adventure Merchants can put together a power solution more specific to your needs. If you want to take your blender to make your fancy green smoothies on the go, we’ll install an inverter with the right specifications to power it up. Having the additional power installed in your vehicle means you’ll be taking it everywhere you go with the confidence that you have enough power stored to get through your trip.
How do I keep the additional battery charged?
Modern technology allows us to easily keep additional batteries charged from multiple sources. Standard with any in vehicle system, you will be adding charge to the additional battery whenever your vehicle is running. A battery isolator is used to connect your second battery with your starter battery when the engine is running, and then it will separate the batteries when you switch the engine off. This ensures no matter how much power you consume, your main battery will always be able to start your vehicle.
Solar is fast becoming a popular solution for charging. We can recommend vehicle mounted solar panels, or portable panels. If you are going to be stationed somewhere for a period of time, the ability to charge via the sun is a great option to consider.
Speaking of modern technology, a product such as a DC to DC charger from Enerdrive is capable of charging additional batteries via 240v, solar and 12v. All without you having to even think about it. Now that’s “Easy as, bro.”
Image: We, Adventure Merchants installing a 4WD power system in our Sydney workshop.
Each individual is going to have alternative requirements when it comes to how much extra power is needed. You are welcome to contact us or drop in to our showroom to discuss your specific power requirements and we’ll recommend the best way to store, charge and operate your gear so you’ll never run out of juice. (Power I mean, not the smoothie...well that too 😉). And remember that if you do run out of power, put away the phone, whack another log on, sit back and look up at the stars. Sometimes it’s just better that way.
Our workshop is capable of handling the most demanding 4wd fitouts. We recommend and use modern technologies and parts from reputable companies. We have expertise in accessory fitting and auto electrical so you can be assured you’re pride and joy is being looked after by the best in the business.