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.

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.

How to Stay Safe When Camping in a Storm

How to Stay Safe When Camping in a Storm

Summer is the perfect time to get out and about exploring this great state of ours. But as glorious as the long sunny days are, with the warmer weather comes those wild Summer storms.

Do Your Research

If there are storms predicted you may want to cancel or postpone your trip. Now, this isn’t always possible or necessary. Some extended camping holidays are planned months in advance and it may not be worth it to cancel just for a day or two of bad weather.

However, if you are planning a quick weekend away and the weather is predicted to be less than favourable, it would be a good idea to postpone your trip for another time. No one is going to enjoy a camping trip stuck in a tent or caravan the whole time. Wait for some better weather and try again.

A reliable weather app (or two) on your phone is a must-have when you are getting ready for your camping trip. The weather can change so quickly so it is important to stay up to date. There are a few that we highly recommend:

If there has been recent rain in the area you are travelling to it is also a good idea to check for any park or road closures. This information is updated regularly on the Queensland National Parks website.

Before You Leave

If a storm or rain is predicted for your trip (or if you’re camping in Summer storm season) it is essential you take extra precautions before you leave. This will ensure you are ready for whatever the weather throws at you.

Pack additional equipment like heavy duty tarps, ropes, strong tent pegs, towels, plastic bags and dry bags. A shovel will also come in handy if you have to dig any trenches for draining water away. Make sure you also pack your weatherproof gear, most importantly, a good jacket and shoes. A rain poncho and gumboots would suffice at the very least, but investing in some quality waterproof clothing/footwear is a great idea if you plan on doing quite a bit of camping. Also, always pack extra socks, cold wet feet are not fun!

Make sure you also have some food options that do not require a campfire for cooking. If you end up getting stuck in the rain for a few days, a campfire is not really going to be an option. A good camping stove is essential in this situation. But remember, NEVER cook in your tent. This is where the extra tarp comes in handy providing a sheltered area to cook with sufficient room and ventilation. Just make sure there is a decent amount of space between your stove and the overhead shelter.

Preparing Your Site

Before setting up your tent, camper or caravan, think about what will happen if it does rain/storm during your stay.

  • Where will the water run? Is there a slope to the site?
  • Can you direct the water away from your site (preferably not into someone else’s site either)?
  • Are you at risk of falling branches if there are severe winds?

If you are putting a tarp under your tent, make sure the edges are not sticking out from under the tarp. This will cause the water to pool on the tarp and run under your tent. Make sure the edges of your tent fully cover the tarp underneath.

If you are setting up in the rain, where possible, set up a large, high, tarp or gazebo first, this will give you a dry place to store your gear and set up underneath. If you don’t have room to set up under the gazebo or tarp, it looks you will be getting wet. In this case, pop on your weatherproof gear and move through setting up your gear quickly and purposefully. Familiarity and confidence with your camping gear will come in handy in this situation. If you can, set up part of your tent or camper under shelter to make your time in the rain as brief as possible.

Have plenty of towels and plastic bags on hand to keep your gear as dry as you can. Get all your outside tasks completed before moving to inside tasks, you don’t want to be taking your wet gear on and off repeatedly. Once inside its now just about waiting out the weather.

When the weather gets wild

As we know all too well, those Summer rainstorms usually come with spectacular lighting shows. As impressive as these are from the safety of your own home, they can be a little more intimidating when you are slightly more exposed to the elements.

If you do get caught in a lightning storm, the safest place is in a building or established structure (not in your tent or under a gazebo). The next best place is your vehicle. Remember to keep your hands off the car doors and turn off all equipment.

If you don’t have access to your car, find a low place and get into a crouch position, head low and balance on your heels. Avoid too much contact with the ground. Do not seek shelter under trees or small caves, the risk of a lightning strike is greater in these areas.

For more tips on what to do when caught outside in a lightning storm check out this blog post from Go Camping Australia. 

Relax and Wait It Out

In most cases, Summer storms do not last long. Most are over and done with after a couple of hours. Once you have a safe place established, stay there until the storm is over. Remember to wait at least 30 mins after the last lightning strike before going out in the open.

Rain doesn’t have to ruin your trip if you are well prepared. It all just becomes part of the Summer camping experience.

What’s your go-to tip for being prepared and staying safe when camping in a storm? Let us know in the comments below.

Campsite Review: Habitat Noosa Everglades Ecocamp

Campsite Review: Habitat Noosa Everglades Ecocamp

Hey guys! Bridie here from Accelerate Auto Electrics, hope you’re ready for this rollercoaster camping trip. This campsite review will be a little different as I’m a rookie camper. But nonetheless, I’m excited to share my first camping experience with everyone!

I’ll even share with you what went wrong! Hopefully, you learn from my mistakes and get a laugh out of it.

Getting There

Getting there was a breeze! I was coming from Caloundra which is about an hour away, but keep in mind travel time will depend on traffic and roadworks. The campsite is located 20 Minutes out of Noosa at Lake Cootharaba. No need to go off the beaten track until you arrive at the campgrounds. There you drive along a dirt road, but nothing my little car (a 2wd) couldn’t tackle!

Accommodation Options

Habitat Noosa Everglades Ecocamp has all the accommodation options covered

 

Camping

What we loved

  • Location, Location, Location – We grabbed a beautiful spot right on the lake, surrounded by nature and the beach is close by.
  • Bar and Bistro – Great for families and relaxing with some friends!
  • Amenities – modern and clean
  • Accommodation options – There are plenty of accommodation options for all kinds of campers, even glamping!
  • Walking tracks – There are heaps of walking tracks to choose from. Although I didn’t personally do one because I spent all my time at the beach, I did see a lot of people putting on their hiking shoes and heading into the bush.
  • Kid Friendly – There was a lot of kids riding around on their bikes, kicking a soccer ball or running around the campsite!
  • Watercraft Hire – You can hire out watercraft for the day and jump in the lake to cool down.

Room for improvement

  • Signage – Getting there in the night was difficult as we couldn’t see any signs to say where the campsite was, we couldn’t even see the entrance. We just took a wild guess and drove down a dirt road and luckily it turned out to be the right one! There were limited signs at the campsite which made it difficult to find our way around. Note: There is a big Habitat Noosa sign on entrance, but due to its colour, you may not be able to see this at night.
  • Showers – Not so much a ‘room for improvement’ but just to note, the showers are solar powered. This means you will not get any hot water until the sun starts coming in. Best to shower at night or late in the afternoon.

Things to do

There are plenty of things you can do down at the Habitat Noosa! Check out the list below

  1. Historical Nature Walks! There’s a range of great walking tracks easily accessible from the eco-camp.  Click here for more information
  2. Free shuttle bus to Noosa – Noosa is the perfect location to sit back and relax, you may as well get a free ride in.
  3. The CootharaBAR bistro & bar – Enjoy an uninterrupted view of Lake Cootharaba with a cold beer!
  4. 65 Acres of Land – There’s plenty of room for the kids to ride their bikes, bring a soccer ball, cricket set or a frisbee.

Tours & Hire

  1. bar-b-canoe – Enjoy a canoe along the tropical rainforest waterways! Click here for more information!
  2. eco-cruise – Enjoy a historical cruiser along the river with Morning Tea and Lunch Provided! Book Here  
  3. Hire out watercraft! You can hire out Fiberglass and plastic canoes, One person and tandem sea kayaks, Waveskis, SUPs, Sailboat, Windsurfers, Motorboats (one-day advance booking required).

My Experience

Upon arrival, we struggled to find our way around the camp and find a place to pitch the tent. Thankfully, we eventually pitched up next to some amazing people who spoiled us with chocolates! WIN!

We set up our little pop-up tent (which was embarrassingly small next to campers with huge caravan setups) and then set up the gazebo. That was the hardest part because it was broken and not clicking into place. Eventually, we just stuck pegs in the holes and duct taped them up which, thankfully, actually worked.

Starting a fire was another challenge. We found that the wood we brought with us burned through very quickly and our fire didn’t last. So that made the first night pretty difficult.

Speaking generally, we didn’t have too many problems after that. We headed to Noosa the next morning and spent all day down at the beach, relaxing in the sun and window shopping. We then came back with long-burn firewood and made a great fire that burned all night!

All-in-all my first camping trip was something to remember, we made some memories, learned some lessons, and it was something we can laugh about in the future. I would have loved to stay longer because it took us a day to really get into it, so camping for only 2 nights was not enough.

My favourite part was probably the local ducks. We woke up thinking people were walking around on our tarp outside the tent but it was just some friendly ducks and they were always wandering around the campsite!

 

Camping Rookie Lessons Learned: 

  • LIGHTS – Unfortunately, we didn’t take any lights because we couldn’t find them when packing and wanted to leave because it was getting late. So this meant we spent the entire time using our phone lights to get around during the night.
  • TABLE – We didn’t have a table, which would have made eating and cooking 10x easier!
  • FOOD –  This was huge for us, we didn’t plan what we were going to eat and wasted a lot of good food. Mainly because we were nervous about using the gas cooker as we had never used it before. Now that we are confident using it though we will definitely be making use of it and cooking bacon and eggs for breakfast!
  • GOOD FIREWOOD – We grabbed a few blocks of wood and chucked them in the car and then threw in heaps of sticks and bark which we expected to burn all night, however, it only lasted about an hour. The second night however we went and bought long burn firewood and had a great fire all night!
  • CLOTHES – (THIS TIP IS ONLY FOR FIRST TIME CAMPERS LIKE MYSELF WHO DONT KNOW WHAT THEY’RE DOING.) Take camping appropriate clothes! You need warm clothes for the night time, which was fine, I had plenty of warm clothes, but the days were warm and I wish I had shorts and better shirt options but I only had a skirt for the two days. Also, very importantly, take thongs for the shower. I had to walk around barefoot in the showers, although they were very modern facilities, it wasn’t very nice. Would not recommend it.

If you also struggle with remembering all the items you need for camping, we recommend you download our free E-Book here!

It includes a checklist that every camper (especially the rookies) should read to avoid these silly mistakes. It also lists great camping sites on the Sunshine Coast, I definitely recommend giving this a read!

We will be going back to Habitat Noosa soon – is there anything else you would recommend we check out?

View our Top 10 Places to Camp Within 1hr of the Sunshine Coast

2 Top Reasons to get a Rear Vision Camera for Towing

If you are looking for a little more safety and peace of mind when you’re on the road travelling, we recommend installing a Rear Vision Camera for towing. The more visibility you have whilst reversing and driving, especially when towing a caravan or trailer, the safer it is for you, your passengers and other road users. This is why we recommend rear vision cameras for anyone that is looking to tow a caravan, camper trailer, horse float or any other trailer with their vehicle.

Rear vision or reversing cameras are becoming more common as a standard feature in modern vehicles. In fact, America has just recently introduced legislation to make reversing cameras a mandatory safety feature in all new vehicles.

When towing in particular, we recommend setting up dual rear vision camera’s. One on the rear of the car. This is great to use when you are hooking up the caravan or trailer as it allows you to see the tow ball/hitch. We recommend a second (dual) camera installed on the back of your caravan.

IMPORTANT NOTE ON DRIVER AWARENESS: It is possible for drivers to become over-reliant on reverse technology. while technology will greatly improve reversing and road safety, it should not replace active supervision!

Having a rear vision camera for towing can help in two main ways:

1. Increased visibility when driving

Now that you have your caravan hooked up, the total length of vehicle and caravan is usually more than double the vehicle. Which means you now have bigger blind spots. With a rear vision camera fitted to your caravan, you can leave the camera on while driving. This majorly improves visibility when merging or overtaking, very useful for highway driving!

2. Assistance for tight manoeuvring.

We’ve all been there – trying to get the caravan into a tight spot at a caravan park before the sun sets, narrowly avoiding a disagreement between driver and spotter. Well, with a camera on the rear of the caravan, this allows you to see behind the van and reverse it into that tight spot easily. Hopefully saving a few arguments in the process. 😉

Bonus Tips for Reversing Your Caravan

If you have recently purchased a caravan and don’t have much experience towing or manoeuvring, here are some quick tips for reversing. 

1. Take it Slow

If you are moving at a slower pace, you will have more time to make minor steering adjustments before you get yourself in an undesirable situation. Patience is critical, especially if you are new to the whole experience.

2. Use Your Mirrors 

Use your left and right mirrors to monitor the rear corners of the trailer, this will give you an indication of any trailer change in direction. If you see too much of the trailer on one side, turn the wheel towards that mirror to straighten up.

4. Shift Your Hands to Turn

Move your hands from the top of the steering wheel to the bottom. Moving your hands to the left will now move the caravan to the left and vice versa. Once you have established the right amount of turn, straighten up to the point where the vehicle follows the caravan on the same arc.

 

5. Getting out of a jackknife: 

If you end up in a jackknife position, there are a few things to do to get out of it.

  1. Stop immediately before you cause any damage.
  2. Turn the steering full lock away from the angle of the jackknife.
  3. Move forward slowly and this will straight the combination very quickly.

6. Reversing into a Caravan Site: 

When reverse parking, take it slow and if you can, set up markers to simplify your parking.

  1.     Remove your Weight Distribution Bars prior to reversing into the parking bay.
  2.     Identify any hazards in or around your site.
  3.     Take it slowly and use a spotter (or rear vision camera) to stop you from hitting anything or cause damage.

For more tips on Reversing a Caravan, check out this great article from Caravanning with Kids >> Caravan Reversing Tips for Newbies <<

For more information on Rear Vision Cameras for towing, click here

The specialised team at Accelerate Auto Electrics are more than happy to assist with any inquiries that you may have regarding Rear Vision cameras for towing your caravan or camper trailer. Get in touch with us on 07 5479 6652 or contact us here!