OUR 12V & SOLAR SETUP - NZ
Obviously the possibilities are endless when it comes to powering your camping setup and a lot of it depends on two main factors; how you camp and how much you want to spend!
We may be a little different from most weekend and holiday campers but the principals and products are the same. So hopefully we can give you an idea of exactly how we make everything work and why we did things a certain way.
The Caravan - Fully renovated 16ft 1972 Oxford Crystal Deluxe.
Video of our caravan's electrical setup below.
We wanted to be able to power all the items we felt we needed while being completely self sufficient with our power needs. We hope that we'll never actually need a powered site on our NZ travels, and so far it's all running perfectly so we're very happy with the whole setup.
Nathan did absolutely all of the 12v himself, with only the 240v sections completed and signed off by a qualified electrician. He's done an absolutely fantastic job and I'm super proud of him. When we left home to travel 4 years ago he had none of the skills required to do this, but over the years of various diy & improvements he's become a bit of a pro!
Look out for cameos from Rosie, Ryan, and Ryan's art wall in the video. Plus you'll get a bit of a sneak peek on the progress of the rest of the caravan.
And just to reiterate what Nathan covers in the video (& maybe a few things he forgot) our van has:
- An 80L upright 12/240v fridge/freezer
- A rangehood with light
- LED lights above kitchen, master bed, and in both bunks. All 4 lights have regular white lights + a blue night light.
- strip LED lighting in the kitchen
- USB charging ports by the master bed, in both bunks, and in the seating area
- 240v plugs by the master bed, in the kitchen, and in the seating area
- A 700w Redarc Electronics pure sine wave inverter for using 240v appliances when off grid. We mainly use it for our stick mixer, and to charge electronics like our laptop & drone. We had this particular inverter in our car when travelling in Australia, so it came over to NZ with us when the car did and we decided to move it into the caravan.
- A 12v water pump for our tap/sink - A water gauge for our fresh & grey water tanks
All of which is powered by:
- 2 x 150w Redarc solar panels permanently mounted to the roof
- 2 x 120ah AGM batteries
- Managed by a fantastic Redarc Battery Management System (the Manager 30). We had one of these in our Cub Camper in Aus and love not only how well it works, but how easy it is to see the state of your overall system.
We've been lucky enough to partner with the guys at Redarc for a number of years now and we genuinely can't speak highly enough of them. Not only are their products top notch, but they have a fantastic technical support team. If you've got any questions about how much solar you need, what products you need, or help with installation/after care just give them a call - in our experience they've always been super helpful and extremely knowledgeable.
Setting yourself up with a fantastic battery/solar/12v system to be totally off grid isn't particularly easy, and it isn't cheap. But for us it is completely worth it not only in the saved cost of not needing to stay in caravan parks on powered sites, but more so for the complete freedom of being able to camp absolutely anywhere and not have to worry about your batteries going flat and your fridge getting hot. Oh and not annoying the neighbours with a noisy generator 😉
We're by no means experts, every part of this build has been a huge learning curve, but we're really happy with how this aspect of the reno has gone. So as usual if you've got any questions, just ask!
The Car – 2011 Mitsubishi Pajero
We bought this car in Australia, travelled in it there, and then shipped it New Zealand with us when we moved across. It was still factory standard when we bought it meaning it needed a fair bit of work to get it ready for touring. Nathan installed the entire 12v/duel battery/solar set up in the car himself, saving us a fair bit in Auto electrician fees!
The main item that needs a power supply in our vehicle is a 65l Techni-ice fridge/freezer that we run solely as a fridge, but we also have a couple of USB ports in the back that we can use for charging things on the go.
To make all this work we have a 100AH battery in the rear well of the car. This is charged while the car is running but also through a solar panel fixed permanently to the roof. The best thing we did was get a Redarc BCDC charger which takes charge from the alternator and the roof mounted 120W solar panel simultaneously to charge the battery to 100%. We can also plug in other solar panels through an Anderson plug at the rear of the car if needed, but this is rarity.
See video of our cars 12v setup below
(note: since making this video we have moved the inverter from the car into the caravan)