Campsite Power and Lighting

A well thought out power and lighting set-up makes your campsite much safer and more practical. Let’s take a closer look at the available options!

To put things simply, the more solar power you have the better! Generators these days have some impressively low fuel consumption figures.

It’s no secret. With the right power supply and charging system, you can kick your camping game to the next level in terms of comfort and convenience. The big question is what options are available and which of those options is best suited to your typical style of camping escape. You’ll also need to know how much power you will actually need. Now, to work that out you’ll need to acquire a basic understanding of how things work, and well, that’s where we come in.

Learning the Lingo 

The world of electronics is home to some of the most confusing jargon around. So, before we dive into the deep end, lets break this alien language down into simpler terms.
In order to determine how much energy our electrical accessories will require in total we need to work out how much current each accessory actually draws. Now, current is usually measured in amps (A), which basically describes the volume of electricity flowing through the circuit. This information is often displayed on the appliance’s information label or under its specifications at the point of sale.

Next up, we have the term amp-hour (Ah), which is often used to describe the charge in a battery. In a nutshell, this is a measure of how much current a device draws in one hour. Another important unit of measurement is watts (W), which measures power, the rate at which energy is used or generated.

To put all that into real world perspective, if your camp light draws 2A and you use it continuously for one hour, it will use 2Ah of power from your battery.

Scaling your System

In a nutshell, scaling your system basically means to determine how much power all of your appliances with consume in total. So, you would start by determining the current draw of each individual appliance per hour, you can calculate its power consumption over a 24-hour period. However, there is a curve ball to be careful of. You see, not all appliances run permanently for the entire hour. Take your 12V fridge for example, it usually only has to cycle intermittently to maintain the desired internal temperature. So, you might find it only runs for 30miniutes over the course of an hour. If the fridge draws 4Ah when used continuously over an hour, it will draw 2Ah if it only has to run half the time.
The table below demonstrates the amp-hour consumption of several typical camping accessories to help you figure out your daily amp-hour consumption.

Crunching Numbers 

A simple equation to help you keep track of your current draw is Power = Current x Voltage. As long as you know two out of the three figures you can always work out the third. For example, most vehicles and camper trailers are powered by 12V batteries, so you only need to know the current draw to determine power consumption. So, if you were using a 24W light with 12V battery, you simply divide 24W by 12V to get a 2A.

Power Sources

For us campers, we need a way of storing power to be used remotely and that comes in the form of a battery. The type and size of battery will determine how effective it will be to power up your camping appliances. Now, it’s worth saying you don’t want to use your vehicles main starting (cranking) battery to power up your campsite. They’re designed to release short bursts of high current sparingly and then receive charge straight away, which is completely different to the requirements of camping accessories. Deep cycle batteries are designed to released smaller currents over a longer period of time, making them ideal for powering up things like fridges and lighting. However, the decision making doesn’t stop there. You see there are a heap of different options when it comes to choosing a deep cycle battery, but these days Absorbed Glass matt (AGM) batteries and lithium batteries are the popular choices.