What Size Inverter Do I Need to Run 240V Appliances?

What Size Inverter Do I Need to Run 240V Appliances?

Don’t want to give up life’s little luxuries on your next caravan trip? If you are accustomed to the creature comforts of home and would to take them on the road with you when you travel, you should look at installing an inverter on your Caravan. But with so many options out there how do you know what size inverter you need to keep all your 240V appliances powered? 

We’re here to offer some suggestions. 

In this post, we are assuming you already have solar panels or battery system installed in your caravan or vehicle. If you haven’t, we suggest also checking out some of our other blog posts and videos here: 4WD & Caravan Electrics Posts

The size of the inverter you will need is dependent on a few factors:
  • The number of appliances you will be powering
  • The type of devices you will be powering
  • The size of your batteries

If you are wanting to run low-draw 240V devices like TVs, laptops and lights, a 300W – 600W size inverter should be enough.

However, if you are looking to run higher powered devices such as kettles, toasters, coffee machines or even Air Conditioning there are a few more things to consider. 

So what are you going to need if you are committed to being completely self-sufficient and avoiding mains power entirely? 

To power these high draw appliances, you will need to ensure you have a large inverter. You will also need a large bank of batteries that have enough capacity to power these devices. A decent set of solar panels is also recommended to keep the batteries charged.

As a minimum for running these high draw appliances, we would suggest a 250Ah 12V battery bank with a 2000W inverter. This would be enough to run most pod coffee machines and some microwaves for a short burst.

If you were wanting to power anything more than this (for example an AC system), you would need to look at a battery bank of at LEAST 300-600Ah and a 3000W inverter.

As you can probably understand the more you want to run on 240V power the bigger, and more expensive, the system gets.

Space and weight are often obstacles when it comes to installing these larger systems in caravans. However, new technologies are constantly being developed to combat this issue. Alternate battery options such as lithium becoming increasingly popular for this reason. There are more options than ever on the market for anyone wanting to be more self-sufficient when travelling. It is important to do plenty of research or consult a professional when considering what is the best solution for you. 

If you are looking at setting up your caravan to run 240V appliances, or if you just want to give yourself more options to free camp, give us a call on 1300 227 353, contact us online or comment below.

How to Maintain Your Car’s AC System

Most people don’t appreciate their Car’s AC System, until the day it stops running of course! To keep your AC running at peak performance for longer, there are a few things you can do to maintain your car’s AC system. 

It is important to note, that although there are some things you can do yourself to look after your AC, we always recommend that any work on your AC system should be carried out by a licenced technician with the correct AC equipment. 

Regular Use

Switching on your car’s AC for a few minutes every week will help keep the system lubricated. We recommend running your air conditioning for at least 10 minutes at full power (on cold). This is especially important to do in Winter. If the system sits for long periods of time without use, this increases the risk of seals and hoses hardening or breaking, potentially causing leaks in the system. 

Keep It Clean

A simple way to help prolong the performance of your AC System is to regularly replace your cabin filter. This seemingly minor part is your evaporator’s first line of defence against the elements. It filters out the dust, dirt, leaves and other debris from outside, preventing it from entering the AC system and clogging up major components. Due to the nature of their function, they can become breeding grounds for bacteria and mildew. This is why we recommend getting them replaced every few years. 

It is important to note that in many vehicles, the cabin filter will only be filtering the air that is entering the vehicle from outside. If your AC System is on re-circulate is it pulling air from the cabin straight through to the evaporator. For this reason, we also recommend keeping the inside of your car free of pet hair, dirt and other debris (in particular the front seats).  

Should your system start to present some unusual smells or restricted airflow, this could be a sign of bacteria or mould in the system. Thankfully there are inexpensive Anti-Bacterial treatments that can be used to eliminate these contaminants. These treatments are great for keeping your AC system smelling fresh and free of allergens and other nasties. 

Dry the Evaporator

If you’ve been running the AC system non-stop this can cause moisture build up in the evaporator core. This can lead to a build-up of bacteria, mould or mildew. To prevent this, we recommend drying out the evaporator regularly by running the AC in defrost mode for 5-10 minutes. Another option is to turn the AC off (with the fan still running) a few minutes before you reach your destination. This gives the evaporator time to dry off excess moisture using the hot air from the engine.

Monitor for Changes

It is important to monitor your AC system for any changes in performance. This could be a change in how the system sounds when its running, or a strange smell coming from the vents, or a change in the air flow temperature. Noises can be a sign of mechanical fault, smells can be caused by bacteria build up and air flow can be affected by any number of things.

In almost all cases, the sooner the fault is identified the easier (and often cheaper) it is to repair. If faulty or damages components are left unattended to, they run the risk of damaging more components down the track. Consequential damage is all too common in AC systems. This is why we always recommend getting your vehicle assessed by a qualified technician as soon as you notice any changes in the performance of your AC system.   

Regular Servicing

Just like your car’s engine, the best way to keep your AC system at peak performance is to have it serviced regularly. Having your system thoroughly tested and inspected by qualified and licenced technicians is the best way to ensure its longevity. Regular servicing also helps to catch any issues or faults early, usually making it cheaper and easier to fix. 

Here at Accelerate Auto Electrics and Air Conditioning we offer a vide range of vehicle Air Conditioning services and repairs. Whether you are due for your next service, or have an existing problem with your car’s AC system, our licenced technicians can help. Give our team a call on 07 5479 6652 or contact us online here. 

Where Can I Fit a Dual Battery System?

Depending on your vehicle, there are a few options when it comes to where you can fit a dual battery system. Today we’re gonna run you through the most popular options to fit a dual battery system and which common vehicles they are best suited to.

Under Bonnet

So, first up, let’s chat about an under bonnet dual battery system. This option involves fitting two batteries under the bonnet of your vehicle. In some cases, the vehicle actually comes with two starting batteries as standard. In this situation, we’d replace both batteries, one would be replaced with a high-powered starting battery and the other would be replaced with an auxiliary or dual battery.

In other cases, if the vehicle comes standard with one starting battery and an empty space somewhere for a second battery, we would leave the starting battery and fit an auxiliary or dual battery in an empty space under the bonnet.

Under bonnet has to use a deep cycle usually calcium type of battery. For most people, the under bonnet is an ideal dual battery solution as it keeps the auxiliary battery out of the way without having to take up space somewhere in the vehicle.

Under bonnet systems can be fitted to a number of popular four-wheel drives including the Toyota Landcruiser Prado, or Hilux, a Nissan Navara, a Ford Ranger PJ or PK, the Holden Colorado and Rodeo the Isuzu D-MAX and MU-X, some Jeep Wranglers and Cherokees and VW Amaroks.

Under Tray or Canopy

Next up is a great solution for a ute. The under tray or canopy setup. This is quite a popular option for people who have a ute with canopies or under tray storage as it keeps your battery locked away without taking up space in the cab of the vehicle.

The versatility of this option is what makes it so popular. With so many options for sizes and types of batteries on the market today, there are very few limits to what type of system we can install under the tray or in a canopy.

The main downside of this setup is that you will lose some storage space in your canopy or in your tray. This is where our next and newest option comes in.

In-Cab

We have recently developed an in-cab dual battery solution for utes and dual cab vehicles that is our best space saver yet.

This system involves fitting a lead crystal battery behind the rear seats of dual cab utes. This frees up the entire canopy or tray and allows for a more secure and protected dual battery system. We can customise the location of plugs and sockets, put them anywhere in the vehicle and also fit anything else that you may need.

Due to the design and size requirements, this type of system is limited to a select group of vehicles. At the moment we can put this in the Ford Ranger and Mazda BT-50s.

If you have a different vehicle, get in touch, we’ll do some measurements and see if it’s a suitable option for you. If you want to know a bit more about our in-cab dual battery solutions, check out another video here:

Portable Battery Box

As awesome as these three in-vehicle systems are, they do have one major drawback, you need have the vehicle close by to power everything. This isn’t so bad when you’re parked up in one spot for a while but if you want a bit more freedom, this is where our final option comes in.

The portable battery box.

There are so many variations of portable battery boxes on the market. There are pre-made boxes with all the outlets and sockets you will ever need and maybe some that you never actually will use. However, if you’re after something a little bit more suited to your specific needs, we have a range of custom portable battery boxes available.

We have four standard options available that are assembled in house. Or you can choose to have one made that is completely customised with the sockets and plugs that you need and the isolator or DC-to-DC charger of your choice. The main benefit of a portable battery box is that it’s portable.

You can remove the box from your vehicle and set it up in camp to run a fridge or lights. Perfect for those who like to venture further off the beaten track.

So, these are the most common options available for where you can fit a dual battery system.

Which one do you prefer?

Let us know in the comments below. If you’ve got any other questions, you can give us a call, 1300 227 353 or contact us online.

ULTIMATE Off-Grid/Free Camping Caravan Power System

Want to run your air conditioning overnight in your caravan while camping off the grid? You heard it right, running air con without 240 power. Keep watching and we’ll show you how with a Free Camping Caravan Power System.

Hi there, Andrew here from Accelerate Auto Electrics & Air Conditioning on the Sunshine Coast. Today we’re very excited to show you through, this On The Move, No Limits caravan that we have just finished installing a power packed, Enerdrive Lithium power system in.

Original System

This caravan came to us with 3x 125Ah AGM batteries in it, and Enerdrive Combo 1600W charger inverter, and a Projecta DCDC charger. It was only wired up and capable of running a microwave and a couple of power points. The batteries, inverter, and DCDC charger were all too small to run the air con system.

New System

This new setup is a custom free camping caravan power system that is built by us, and Enerdrive, and includes two 300Ah compact lithium batteries, an Enerdrive Combi 2000W inverter charger.

The custom Enerdrive base plate. Two 40A DC-DC chargers. And an Enerdrive ePRO Plus battery monitor. The other thing we’ve done, is we’ve fitted 890 watts of solar on the roof and a Dometic Harrier Inverter air conditioner.

Let’s take a closer look at all of the components inside.

Solar Panels

We’ll start up top with the solar panel. The caravan already had two 120 watt panels on the roof, it also had the air con unit, satellite dish, couple of TV antennas, so we had to play Tetris to get all the panels there.

It now has nine separate panels including the two existing ones, totaling 890 watts. The nine solar panels flow into the Morning Star 60 Amp controller. The whole system is installed under these seats in the rear of the van.

Batteries

We’ve installed two 300Ah compact lithium batteries, giving the caravan a whopping 600Ah of lithium. That is equivalent to 850Ah of AGM batteries. So there’s a few reasons why we use these lithium batteries in these type of fit outs. Lithium-ion batteries have a high energy density and are perfect for cyclic applications.

They offer savings of up to 70% in volume and weight compared to traditional lead acid or AGM batteries. Lithium-ion batteries also offer fast charging and discharging, high efficiency and three times as many charging cycles, up to 1500 cycles compared to traditional AGM lead acid batteries.

To give you an example of the weight saving, you would need to have seven 125Ah AGM batteries installed in a caravan to get the equivalent run time for the air con system. The weight of that many AGM batteries, would be 241 kilos, in comparison, these two lithium batteries, weigh less than a hundred kilos. Don’t forget about the space saving too, I don’t know many caravans that could fit  all these AGM batteries underneath the seat.

Active Cell Balancing

A feature that these lithium batteries have that is exclusive to Enerdrive is the Active Cell Balancing. In layman’s terms, the battery is made up of individual cells, and over time, these cells get out of balance with each other.

Enerdrive has a magic black box, that allows for automatic balancing of the cells during charging, discharging, and storage. Any cells with high voltage density will transfer energy to the lower cells in the pack, which will increase longevity of the batteries and limit the waste of stored energy.

Combi Inverter Charger

Down here, we have the Enerdrive ePRO Combi 2000 Watt Charger Inverter. It is an all in one combination of a DC to AC pure sine wave inverter, and advanced multi-stage charger, and a high-speed AC transfer switch.

The main task of the ePRO Combi Inverter Charger is to act as an uninterruptible AC power supply or UPS. In case of disconnecting the van from 240 volt, the ePRO Combi immediately stops charging the battery, releases the AC transfer switch, and activates an inverter to take over supply of all the connected loads.

Basically, this inverter is what runs all the 240 volt appliances like the air conditioning system, the microwave and the power points. So you could pretty much plug anything into this thing, like kettle, toaster, coffee maker, hair straightener, even the washing machine.

So basically this charger will charge the batteries even when it’s connecting power supply into 240 volt, so it’s got load sharing. When free camping and you’re not plugged into 240 power, the inverter takes the power stored in the batteries, turns it into 240 volt, to run the appliances.

DC-DC Chargers

Next up, we’ll take a closer look at these two 40A DC to DC chargers. The Enerdrive DC to DC battery charger is a fully automatic multi-stage, multi-input battery charger with the ability to charge from either alternator link to a battery, or via the solar panel.

In this instance, we’re only using it as a DCDC charger, because we’re gonna use a separate Morning Star solar regulator. The reason for that is, so when you’re driving, we can charge from both the Anderson plug alternator, and from the solar panels. The reason why we’ve got two of these DCDC chargers is ’cause, we’ve packed them parallel together, we can get up to 80A of charging, while driving. So basically, these batteries can take a lotta hit, and these chargers can give it to ’em. The Anderson plug connects straight to these DCDC chargers, and they manage the whole lithium profile.

Battery Management System

We’ve worked closely with the team in Enerdrive in Brisbane to have this system fully customised to suit this caravan and customer’s needs. Prior to the van coming in, all the measurements are sent to Enerdrive and they build a battery management system connection plate, in their factory, in Brisbane. This is basically a plate that is built in the factory and shipped to us for installation. All the individual circuits are fused and clearly labelled and that this handles all the charging, discharging, and fusing for the system.

Battery Monitor

Over here on the wall, we’ve mounted the ePRO Plus battery monitor and alarm. The battery monitor shows you the true state of charge of your system, it’s like a fuel gauge for your battery, telling you how long until the system shuts down, the hours and minutes, and also the current load going in and out.

The ePRO Plus can monitor up to three battery banks. We also have set up two alarms, the first will shut the system down at 24% capacity, the second, is to shut the AC off when the batteries get down to 35% capacity. That allows the fridges and all the other important things to keep running overnight, once the air con shuts down, so that no problems happen. We can expand it up to another three alarms, so for example we could turn the washing machine off at 30%, or lights at 28% or something like that.

So all in all, this is a pretty epic system, it’s not often I geek out. And one for the serious tourers out there who want the creature comforts, powered appliances like you’d have in your home. If you are interested in upgrading to a lithium system for your caravan, or have any questions about getting a free camping caravan power system, feel free to comment below, send us an email, or give us a call on 1300 227 353.

Farm Style Camping on the Sunshine Coast

Farm Style Camping on the Sunshine Coast

1. Cobb & Co Nine Mile Camping Grounds

Cobb and Co Nile Mile Camping Grounds is the perfect family getaway. The 50 lush acres is situated on the Six Mile Creek just south of Gympie. Set on the site of the old Cobb and Co Horse Change Stables at Six Mile Creek, this campground offers luxury tents.

Check out our review here.

Facilities

  • Kitchen area with barbeque and dining tables
  • Kiosk
  • Campfires are permitted in all sites (BYO wood or buy from kiosk)

Click here for information and to book

Activities 

  • Playgrounds
  • Walking tracks
  • Kids’ activities

2. Kenilworth Camping 

A working dairy farm located 2 km from Kenilworth, the campground has lots of shallow sandy swimming holes and big shady camp areas.

Check out our review here.

Facilities

  • Toilets
  • Campfires
  • Dogs
  • No showers
  • No Powered Sites

    Click here for more information and to book

    campgrounds within 1 hour of sunshine coast

    Activities

    • Swimming
    • Canoeing
    • Bicycle riding
    • Dairy farm tours

    3. Imbil Camping Retreat

    Formerly the Island Reach Camping Resort, this beautiful property is now under new management. This family friendly retreat boasts 12 acres of stunning camping spots including some great creek-side spots.

    Facilities

    • Hot Showers
    • Toilets
    • Campfires
    • Pet Friendly
    • Camp Kitchen
    • Powered and Unpowered Sites

    Click here for more information and to book

    campgrounds within 1 hour of sunshine coast

    Activities

    • Swimming
    • Kayaking/Canoeing
    • Stand Up Paddle Board
    • Bicycle riding

    4. Bluff Creek Camping Kenilworth 

    Another hinterland favourite, the privately owned Bluff Creek Campgrounds in Kenilworth are a fantastic spot for a long weekend escape. There are campsites suitable for couples, families and larger groups with each being located nearby the beautiful clear creek with swimming holes and plenty of fish.

    Facilities

    • Hot Showers
    • Laundry
    • Camp Kitchen
    • Free Bbq’s

    Click here for more information and to book 

    campgrounds within 1 hour of sunshine coast

    Activities

    • Swimming
    • Canoeing
    • Fishing

    5. Nerum Creek Bush Retreat

    Bordering the Mt Mee State Forest, Nerum Creek Bush Retreat is a privately owned dog-friendly campground. The grounds are spacious with bike riding, canoeing and hiking available. In addition to the standard amenities such as hot water and toilets, there is also tent and camping equipment hire.

    Facilities

    • Hot water
    • Toilets
    • Tent and camping equipment hire

    Click here for more information and to book 

    campgrounds within 1 hour of sunshine coast

    Activities

    • Bike riding
    • Canoeing
    • Hiking

    Honourable Mentions: 

    Hangar O – https://www.hangaro.com.au/

    We haven’t stayed here ourselves, but have heard great things about this new location. 

    Borumba Deer Park – http://www.borumbadeerpark.com/

    Always a favourite with locals for a family friendly camping trip. 

    Kenilworth Homestead – https://www.kenilworthhomestead.com.au/ 

    An absolutely stunning property with plenty of options for a wide variety of campers. 

    Looking for more places to camp on the Sunshine Coast?

    Check out our downloadable camping guide for all things Sunshine Coast!