Interview with REDARC - Powering Your Every Need
With the many types of power sources out there for camping and 4WDing, it can be daunting to know where to start without becoming overwhelmed. So, we spoke with Cameron Bleakley, REDARC Customer Service Manager and trained automotive electrician, to discuss the essentials.
For campers just getting into the lifestyle, how would you suggest they choose the best 12V system for their camping trip?
Many people will start by thinking about the dual battery system; however, we recommend campers start by considering the gear they want to power first and work back from there.
Think about the total power requirements of the gear and how long you want to spend away. This will determine what type and capacity your system needs to be.
Another factor to consider is what space is available in your vehicle? This will have an impact on where in the vehicle your equipment can be installed, and the size of the battery used. If they’re wanting to bring equipment from home with 240V (AC) power, they may also need to consider adding an inverter to their system.
What power options would you recommend for short-term campers compared to long-term campers?
Smaller battery capacities and charging from the vehicle while on the move is usually sufficient for shorter trips. REDARC’s BCDC charger range is perfect for such trips.
When considering longer trips, solar is a great solution. Get the balance right and you can stay as long as you like!
If drawing from their vehicle, what can campers do to keep their vehicle’s battery healthy?
We don’t recommend running accessories from the vehicle’s main start battery while the vehicle is not running. Using the starting battery to power accessories at camp is risky and can cause premature battery failure.
Instead, we suggest that travellers run their accessories from a secondary (auxiliary) battery. This ensures that the start battery stays fully charged and ready to go.
What about with battery chargers? What should campers do when they’re low on power or their battery is dead?
If set up correct and especially when combined with solar, running the auxiliary battery flat should be a very rare occurrence. If this does happen however, the simplest solution is to either get the solar panels out or start the main vehicle to get charging.
If it’s the starter battery that’s flat, REDARC has systems available that allow the auxiliary battery to jump the starter battery. Having one of these systems installed will get you out of trouble should you get stuck.
For those wanting to utilise the sun, how much solar power do they need for camping?
This is the ultimate question! The main factors to consider are those that we touched on in the first question. How long are you travelling for, how much power are you consuming and what capacity are your batteries?
Simply put though, higher capacity solar panels will allow campers to charge their equipment faster, minimising downtime.
REDARC’s BCDC range and TheManager30 all include MPPT solar regulators — this will ensure that whatever solar system you decide on, you’re getting the maximum efficiency from it, no matter the conditions.
How can travellers remain safe when drawing on their different types of power during camping?
We recommend travellers have their REDARC 12V system installed by a qualified automotive electrician. When installed and set up correctly, you’ll have peace of mind that your system is working as intended and is safe to use.
What's the most important thing that you think the average camper doesn't know about power systems?
Investing in a quality dual battery system will ensure you get the most life out of your batteries — a poor performing charger can often mean premature wear on your batteries.
Are there any other essential ideas about power that we haven't discussed?
REDARC have a range of resources available at redarc.com.au, including dual battery and solar calculators to help travellers make an informed decision on how to best get off-grid.