Sick of having your sausages floating around in ice slushy water at the bottom of the esky?

Me too!

That’s why when we started camping one of the first things we bought was a 12 volt camping fridge.

At most campsites, you can buy bags of ice to keep the food and drinks in the esky cold, but now you have a 12 volt camping fridge how on earth do you keep the power running so the beers (and sausages) are icy cold?

You have a few options, but like everything in life, there are pros and cons to all of them.

Using your Starting Battery

Note: We do not recommend this type of setup.

Your Starting or Cranking Battery is generally located under the bonnet of your car, its sole purpose in life is to start your car.  Starting Batteries are great for starting a car, as these batteries deliver a big burst of energy for only a few seconds.

You can run a cable from the starting battery to your 12 volt camping fridge and voilà the beers will get cold. However, starting batteries are not designed for powering a fridge where a low output is required for an extended period.

Also, you will need to install an extra cigarette socket or Anderson plug in your car. The cigarette socket that comes standard from the factory will only provide power when the car is running. So when you are stopped overnight and the car is off it won’t power the fridge. This means you will need to install an extra outlet that is set up to power the fridge when the car is turned off.

Low Battery Cut-Out Feature

Most 12 volt camping fridges these days have a low battery cut-out feature. Basically, the fridge will turn off when the battery reaches a set voltage. The theory is if you go to bed with your fridge running from your starting battery, the low battery cut-out will turn the fridge off when the battery gets to a certain voltage. This will ensure there is sufficient power in your starting battery to start the vehicle the next day.

Let’s just say, with the low battery cut-out you are skating on thin ice. If a light is left on in the car or you leave the door open for a few minutes you run the risk (and I speak from experience) that the car won’t start when you are in the middle of NOWHERE.

Pro’s

  • Lowest Setup Cost
  • Quick to install

Con’s

  • Run risk of flattening start battery and car not starting
  • If you flatten the start battery multiple times it will need replacing
  • Will only power the fridge for a short period of time (usually less than 24hrs)

Dual Battery System

The best way to ensure your fridge will stay cold overnight and your car will start in the morning is with a Dual Battery System.

As the name suggest’s when you have a dual battery system installed you will have two batteries in your vehicle. The original starting battery and a 2nd auxiliary battery which can be used to power your 12 volt camping fridge and other 12 volt accessories.

We generally recommend a dedicated deep cycle battery. Deep Cycle batteries are designed to consistently deliver small amounts of power, for much longer and to allow a much deeper discharge, reducing damage.

You can read about the different types of deep cycle batteries here

The type of dual battery system you choose will depend on numerous things.

  1. How much you want to spend
  2. Where you are installing it (Under Bonnet, in cab or in tray or in caravan/camper trailer)
  3. How long you need to run the fridge
  4. How long you can go in between charges

Like everything in life, there are lots of options.

We’ve created a quick summary of common Dual Battery System options below:

Keeping your dual battery charged

If like us, you have decided the dual battery is the best option to power your 12 volt camping fridge, you will need to look at ways to charge the battery.

As we mentioned above, you can use your car’s starting battery to charge your auxiliary battery with quite a simple set up. However, if you want to go camping for longer than 2-3 days and driving around waiting for your auxiliary battery to charge doesn’t seem like a nice way to spend your relaxing trip, here are some other options for charging.

 

The two most common charging options are:
  1. Solar
  2. Generator

Solar

In South East Queensland the sun shines on average 2,884 hours a year. So it makes sense to harness this free energy source to power your dual battery and fridge. There are lots of types of solar panels available to suit your needs as well as multiple sizes to ensure you have enough power to keep your fridge and gadgets charged.

Our portable solar panel kits are the most simple, when your battery is running low you can easily put the solar panel out in the sun, plug it into the auxiliary battery and it will easily recharge your battery in a matter of hours. As the sun is shining you will be self-sufficient.

We recommend as a minimum to have the “Auxiliary Battery with Vehicle Charge via Isolator” above.

 

Pros

  • Recharges battery when not driving
  • Free Power (after initial outlay)
  • Maintenance Free

Cons

  • Weather dependent
  • If portable – Security

Generator

Oh the old Solar vs Generator debate (read our blog here on the great debate). I personally do prefer Solar due to the serenity. However generator’s are great if you want to stay off the grid without a huge setup cost. We do see a lot of people with bigger caravans that need to power lots of things like TV, Fridge, Washing Machine and do not have the room for multiple solar panels on the roof.

 

Pros

  • For a cheaper initial outlay, the generator will make more power than solar

Cons

  • Requires Maintenance
  • Requires Fuel
  • Noisey & Smelly
  • Some camping places will not allow them
We hope this information helps you find a solution to power your 12 volt camping fridge. If you are looking to get a dual battery system installed in your vehicle, the team at Accelerate Auto Electrics can come up with a system to suit your need. For a custom quote or more information, give us a call on 07 5479 6652 or contact us online. 

Not sure what kind of Dual Battery System is going to suit your needs?

Want to learn more about powering your 12 Volt Accessories?

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