Regardless of what type of caravan you have, we all want peace of mind when it comes to power and knowing you have enough of it to enjoy your holiday. The last thing anyone wants is the fridge running out of power halfway through the night and waking up to spoiled food and hot beers.
When it comes to caravan power systems, they can quickly get complicated and difficult for the average traveller to understand. With so many different components and wires running all over the place, it can be a bit daunting to navigate. So how do you determine how much power you really need in your caravan?
The first step is to determine what type of traveller you are. A couple of questions to ask yourself are:
How long do you plan to stay in your caravan?
Will you be taking multiple small trips away on weekends or are you planning to travel for months at a time.
Where you want to stay?
Will you want to stay in caravan parks with access to 240V power or will you be ‘free-camping’ and need to be more self sufficient.
What appliances/devices do you want to use?
Will you just need to power a few lights and maybe a TV or will you need to power a coffee machine, toaster and hair dryer?
High Draw vs Low Draw Appliances
One factor greatly influences how much power you need in your caravan is whether or not you want to run high draw appliances like coffee machines, hair driers, washing machines or even air-conditioning.
Common appliances like LED lighting, TVs and fans are quite simple to manage as they have a relatively low power draw. They come standard with many caravans and can be easily managed with a basic power system. As a general rule of thumb, anything with a heating element e.g toaster, coffee machine, microwave or hairdryer, will consume a lot more power. If you are wanting to run appliances like these, you can either run them when only connected to 240V power (e.g at a caravan park) or you will have to ensure your battery system has the capacity and charging equipment to handle the draw of these appliances.
Another item that is becoming increasingly popular is Air-Conditioning systems. These are probably of the highest draw appliance you can get and if you are wanting to run one ‘off-grid’ you will need a very large and well-equipped battery system to run it. Check out a 600Ah off-grid caravan power system we installed here.
When it comes to fridges, it is correct to say these are also very high draw appliances. However, most caravan specific fridges also have the ability to run off gas, which drastically reduces the power consumption.
Know Where Your Power is Going
So you’ve got your list of appliances and you’ve figured how much power you really need for your caravan. But how will you keep track of where your power is going?
This is where a battery monitoring system comes in.
Modern battery monitors will show you a range of stats on your battery system. Not all battery monitors are the same but almost all will show the status of the battery in Volts and Amps/Amp Hours.
However, to really understand the status of your battery system it is recommended to install a battery monitor that can tell you more information such as the charge and discharge rates of the battery as well as other helpful information like temperature and the status of power inputs.
More advanced battery monitoring systems (like the BMPRO Trek) can determine a surprising amount of information. Not only will it tell you calculations of the volts and amps available, what is being consumed, combined with temperature and the status of input sources, but they can also give highly accurate estimates of your battery’s capability and how much time you have remaining at your current load.
Once you have access to all this information it is easy to determine if your existing system is handling your levels power consumption or if you might need to look at making a few upgrades. In most cases adding in some more batteries or a few solar panels can make a world of difference when it comes to the capacity of your caravan’s power system.
Hopefully, this information has helped you to determine how much power you really need in your caravan. If you do have any further questions about caravan power systems, feel free to give us a call, contact us online or comment below.