As Benjamin Franklin said, “by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” To have the best caravaning experience, you need the right equipment. Whether you’re wanting the rustic experience of camping or you’re looking to “glamp”, there is a range of accessories that will benefit from an electrical setup for your caravan. Utilising your 4WD as the electrical hub of your camping experience is a practical solution. By rigging your vehicle with extra electrical capacity, you can enjoy luxuries such as refrigerators, lighting and many other accessories without the need to connect your caravan to a powered campsite. Read on for tips on how to take your caravan trip off the grid.
The first thing you need will be a dual battery setup for your vehicle. Deep cycle batteries are different to your ordinary vehicle battery and are needed to power external equipment. Deep cycle batteries last much longer than your vehicle battery. Vehicle batteries are designed for a short high output used to operate your vehicle starter motor, followed by a period of charge from the alternator. Deep cycle batteries are designed to operate lights and appliances for extended periods of time before needing to be recharged. And let’s face it, we don’t want a flat vehicle battery when you go to drive away in the morning.
Fridges, lights and fans can all be run from a dual battery setup. As well as anything else that is normally powered through a USB port. The convenience of always having chilled food and drinks without the need to purchase ice is irreplaceable when caravaning. With LED lighting setups, you can have internal and external lights for your caravan with minimal power draw. Firelight is great but it’s not really enough in the evening when preparing food or socialising with friends. Camping fans also have low power consumption and will help you survive the hot days and sleep through those balmy nights.
Solar panels help to keep you get off-grid by charging your batteries without the need to burn fuel on a generator or your vehicle. And the best part is that is completely silent. Nothing ruins the serenity of nature more than a generator cranking away during your R’n’R. An array of solar panels are also lighter in weight than a petrol-powered generator meaning ease of transport.
Solar panels are affected by blocking direct sunlight, such as when in shade or on cloudy days. You can choose to either have solar panels fitted to the roof of your caravan. Or, you can carry around a portable array of panels with an extension lead. For ultimate convenience, you could have both; solar panels fitted to your caravan that can charge your battery as you drive, while portable arrays will allow you to stay connected for days that your caravan is parked in the shade. When considering your battery/solar setup, it is important to factor in extra available power in case you’re not able to charge your batteries as much as you planned.
Electric Brake Controllers
These are a must in Australia for any vehicle towing over 750kg. But did you know that there are different types of brake controllers available on the market? Depending on your needs and budget, there is a setup to suit your caravan. The latest brake controllers work wirelessly through a portable remote control in your vehicle and your smartphone and require minimal installation. This means that you can use any vehicle to tow your caravan without worrying if there is an electric brake controller unit fitted in the vehicle.
Other units are either time delay or motion-sensing. Ultimately, it is the motion-sensing units that are more precise and therefore offer higher levels of safety. If you are upgrading your caravan, it may be time to upgrade your brake control unit along with it.
Spotlights and Light Bars
Spotlights and light bars don’t just need to be for driving. While they offer increased safety while driving by increasing visibility along dark roads, they are also convenient when your campsite needs illumination. You can also fit these to your caravan to light up your outdoor space. Consider including them in with your side awning set up to offer around the clock use of the outdoors for cooking and entertaining. Modern LED lighting units have low power draw so are perfect for your dual battery setup. And they are built tough to withstand any weather conditions.
Need Advice? Contact Access Auto Electrics for a Quote and a Fitting
To give you an idea of the setup you may need, you can calculate your expected power consumption based on the equipment that you plan to use. Alternatively, we can help you through it. At Access Auto Electrics, we are experts at off the grid systems for your vehicle or caravan and are happy to talk you through any desired setup. Contact us today on 07 3366 8585 to answer any questions or book in your vehicle.