Let’s talk about what vanners most commonly get wrong when it comes to free-camping solar setups. It doesn’t matter whether you’re heading off on that dream around Australia trip, have a three month Top End escape panned or you’re just wanting to use your van more and visit your local hotspots. Solar is so essential to a comfortable free camping experience, especially when you consider you’re actually helping the environment by powering your campsite in a clean, green way with solar power!
12V TECH WITH BAINBRIDGE TECHNOLOGIES
Power In Vs Power Out
You’re going to use a certain amount of power every day, depending on what electrical accessories you want to run. To maintain healthy batteries, you have to be able to replace the power you’ve drawn. Starting with fully-charged batteries after your drive to camp will definitely help here, but being conscious of your power draw throughout the day is essential to avoid killing your batteries.
How much solar do you need?
First, consider how long you’ll want to stay at the campsite. If it’s for more than a day or two at a time, you need more solar capacity. Then you need to think about what you want to run. Someone with low power requirements might simply want to run a couple of LED lights, a small 12v fridge and a small 12v fan, and may only need to replenish 20Ah of capacity a day. If you’re running bigger fridges, a TV with satellite dish, multiple fans and lights you may find yourself using three or four times that amount.
Where a lot of vanners go wrong is not accounting for cloudy weather. The BainTuff Solar Panels range in size from 80W to 200W, and the BainTuff Solar Blanket is rated at 180W. In almost all cases it’s always better to have more solar power on hand than you think you’ll need. When the sun’s shining, you want to pump as much power into your batteries as possible!
Other factors to consider
- Solar requirements will differ whether you’re heading away for a quick trip and want to keep your batteries topped up, or whether you’re relying on solar to power your whole campsite for weeks on end.
- The size of your battery bank is also vitally important, because you need to be able to store power for when the sun’s not shining.
- Solar blankets are quickly gaining popularity for their light weight compared to folding panels, and when setting up your system you should always place your regulator as close to your batteries as possible for maximum efficiency.