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Electricity concerns on camping trip

Daisy / 2013-07-13

Unlike staying with comfort at home, on the trip of camping, you should take consideration of every gear for yourself survival.
Electricity of example, you need to run the fridge, lighting, run the hot water system, charge for your laptop, camera.
Here we have a bill calculation for power usage per day on your camping trip.

Electrical appliance Current draw per hour Running hour per day Total
Fridge 4 8 32
Laptop 4 2 8
Charging camera 2 1 2
LED Lighting 1 3 3
Cooking 42 1 42
Total     87

How to read the label?
Most package of the electrical equipment will be labeled with a maximum power usage. How can you understanding the information on the label? Here is a brief introduction.
“Amps” is the measure unit of the electricity current.
Current needs a force to bring the electricity current to flow, which introduces the concept of Voltage.
As the voltage, you should keep in mind that, normal vehicle electric system operated at 12V- 15V.
Wattage represents the amount of power needed to run the electricity appliance.

If you still have no concept of how many current a specified electrical equipment draw, you can add a multi-meter, which will give you clear data.

What is backing my power usage during the trip of camping?
In all case, we bring a battery to store electricity which has been fully recharged from 240V mains supply, from solar panels or other source in advance.

Usually, it is recommended to bring a double battery system, one cranking battery and one auxiliary battery. One reason is, the critically important function of the cranking battery is to start the vehicle’s engine. If the power of the cranking battery has been run down to a certain point, the engine will be “go on a strike”.

Electrical appliances power consumption discussion
The fridge and the heat device can not large power costing. But you can take some measure to manage its power consumption. Put the food, or drink with low temperature into to the fridge instead of high temperature. For example, at summer, the insides temperature of a drink will rise at the afternoon, so why not put it in to the fridge in the morning beforehand. Avoid open the fridge frequently which will prevent the cool air escaping. Actually when the fridge start-up, it will cost most of the current to create cool air to fill the space, after that, when its inside temperature become stable, its power charging will be decrease. So avoid opening the fridge too frequently is an efficient method for power saving purpose.
Heat device, like microwave oven, heater, dryer, cooker are also the majority power costing during the camping trip. You can take another power sourcing for this heat device. Cooker for example, why not try a gas powered cooker. You can save a lot at heat device power consumption if you choose a proper food menu, for example avoid too many foods that needs boiled.

Lighting can be power hungry if you have not chosen a proper lighting source. To create 150 lumens lighting, a traditional G4 halogen bulb costs 10W, while a LED light cost 2.5W, which means a LED light can provides 4 times longer continuous illumination compare to halogen bulbs. Actually LED lights are placing good penetration on Australian market, so when you need to replace a bulb, consider a LED light.

Power resupply on the trip
If considering you have no opportunity to access 240V mains to recharge your battery on the trip, better bring a solar panel with you.

Solar panel is now a kind of affordable method for battery recharging on the trip of camping. Given enough sunshine, a 100W solar panel can give 4 to 5 hours continuous power usage for your laptop, lighting, hot water supply. Solar panels with higher wattage are common at the market.
If you are newly in using solar panel, remember to purchase a controller with you. The solar panel actually operates at 17-20V, but the voltage requirement of a car battery is 12-15V. So the supply voltage from a solar panel has exceeded the level a car battery can tolerate. Under this condition, a controller is used to manage the power charging.

This article is writen for LED Camping Light series supplymentary reading materials. If you want to share with us about any electricity concerns on camping trip, please welcome to write a comment. Any of your feedback will be appreciate.

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