Why leave the noisy generator home?
Because it is so easy to keep 12v batteries recharged with Solar-Panels when traveling. So why cart a heavy smelly generator around with you to keep the 12v batteries recharged. When traveling in a caravan being overweight not only costs you more in fuel it could result in you being uninsured. If you are overloaded and you have an accident, did you know that you are not covered by your insurance company?
How many times have you seen holiday makers with boats loaded onto their vehicle roof racks and even fuel and spare tires hidden beneath it as well?
But that is not all then they have a tool box on the draw bar of their caravan loaded with bits and pieces and on top of that their front boot of the caravan is full of gas bottles, barbecues, hoses, and if lucky they fit the table and chairs in as well. No most of them leave the kitchen sink inside the caravan. Are you starting to see that you should rethink the way you pack for your holiday?
Yes the lighter your load the less your trip will cost and the safer you and your family will be. And an overloaded caravan going down a steep hill definitely needs reliable brakes to allow for the extra weight. Make sure your caravan is not heavier than the tow rate of your vehicle. If you are not sure about the correct legal towing weights; then take your caravan and vehicle and weigh them at a weighbridge.
Benefits of using generators
Yes I know they come in handy if you really cannot cook without using the microwave or need to use your hairdryer when you are out free camping.
And you can use the air conditioner too
Disadvantages of using generators
- Generators are heavy
- They are smelly
- Need to cart extra fuel and containers and have to continually refill
- Need to carry them away from your van so you don't hear or smell them. Instead the noise upsets other campers.
- The majority of people spend around $1000 to $1500 for a reliable quieter one.
Why buy Solar-Panels to recharge 12v Batteries?
Solar-Panels are a great way to recharge your 12v Batteries because once you buy them they do not cost you anymore. These can be installed on the roof of your caravan or car with ease. So there is no need to move or carry them anywhere once installed.
Benefits of using Solar-Panels
Once installed with the correct regulator (comes with the panel) you can forget them. They will continue to recharge your car or extra batteries in your van. Contrary to some beliefs, Solar-Panels still recharge even on overcast days although not as efficiently as with full sun. Also they will still recharge when mounted flat on the roof of a car or caravan. They do not need to be elevated.
- Install and forget
- Nothing else to buy
- No noisy operation
- No containers or fuel to cart
- Saves space
- You can buy these from $300 to $1500 depending on the watts
Disadvantages of using Solar-Panels
Unless you buy a very high voltage Solar-Panel you cannot use a microwave or air conditioner for any length of time when free camping.
Types of 12v Solar-Panels to recharge your batteries
Amazon has a Tektrum 80w Solar-Panel which comes with battery charger clamps and terminal, Blocking diode cable. This Solar-Panel generates free electricity from the sunlight during the day even on overcast days. It is suitable to be used for caravans, boats, or freestanding out in the sun next to your tent or caravan.
It can also charge up your phone, laptop or torches. After charging up the battery it will also allow you to run the lights, television or any 12v equipment.
Portable fold up Solar-Panels
This 30w folding Solar-Panel will charge up your batteries and use on your boat, caravan or even charge up electric fence batteries. This is made with a durable aluminum frame and has an amorphous solar cell.
I can highly recommend Solar-Panels for charging our batteries as we have an 8Ow Solar-Panel fixed onto the roof racks on our Nissan which is powered with a 6.5 Chevy. This Solar-Panel is setup to charge up the vehicle battery, the spare battery under the bonnet and also the battery in the drawers in the back this also keeps our food frozen in our Bushman fridge. And has so far not let us down during a 50,000 kilometer trip around Australia a year ago. We also had another 8O w one on our caravan.
Our new van now has a 240w Solar-Panel on the roof so we should have even more power this trip.
The size and voltage of Solar-Panels will vary for travelers.
You can buy Solar-Panels these days for virtually anything:
- Small roll up ones to charge phones, laptops, and torches
- Solar-Panels that fit on the backpackers backpack
- Outside Solar Garden lights are handy when traveling to save you using your outside lights, stand in sun in back of vehicle while traveling so they can recharge from the sun.
Solar-Panels can also be fitted onto the top of your caravan to charge up your spare battery. This battery is often installed under a seat or the bed. It is recommended to use at least a 6mm electrical cable for this purpose. In most cases the installer will fit a gauge to let you see how much charge you have left in your battery. If you have been rained out for several days the charge will not be as effective as on sunny days so you need to keep an eye on the charge level otherwise you could be left out in the dark.
You need to remember the larger the wattage of your Solar-Panel the more power you can generate and run more lights etc.