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Electricity, how best to keep batteries


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well charged.


I haven't been very far in my new-to-me 'van, but I take lots of photos so need a way of recharging my batteries & laptop.


I have seen articles in the mags about generators, solar panels, and those fuel cell thingys.


But what do you experts use? Is running a generator in a campsite with no hook-up facilities likely to upset everyone around me? Or should I pay out a fortune for a fuel cell? Or maybe just buy a bigger battery?


So many queries, but I don't want to start on the wrong foot. Any advice welcome. *-) (lol)

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Thank you for your replies.


But what I wanted to have advice on was how to get the electricity in the first place. I have used inverters in the past.


I have just given up sailing, where we had a generator, 440 A/H of batteries, a 1500 kw pure sine inverter, mains hook-up whenever we were in a marina, in fact enough spare leccy to support the national grid.


Now I only have a 85 A/H battery. :'(


So... would I be better off with a little generator, or solar panels, or one of those extremely expensive fuel cells?


I have checked out the sort of sites I find attractive and lots don't have hook-ups. Which means that if I don't go out for the day, maybe the leisure battery will be too low in the second evening to power anything much.


I don't know; so any advice would be welcome.

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I'm guessing those sites you like are quiet sites? just like we like. If so a generator wouldn't be very popular, even some of the so called quiet generators can be intrusive to others esp. if they are in tents.

Fuel cells at moment are pretty expensive.

Extra batteries are ok if you are driving enough to recharge.

Solar panels (which we use), cheaper than fuel cells but still quieter than using generator, for us this is the best compromise, helped by fact our biggest power use is 12v fridge, so we use more power in hot weather

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Since last summer we have used a 100 watt solar panel to charge 2 x 100 amp hour leisure batteries to power the 12 volt systems and a 700 watt inverter for low consumption mains equipment including an electric bicycle in the garage. We camped every other weekend throughout the winter and the panel always recharged the batteries sufficiently that we never ran out of power even when parked on site for a four-day period. We avoid hook-ups and almost always use Cls/CS's. Any deficiency on return was always made up by the panel during the following week or two whilst parked at home. The system provides charge for the bicycle for use at home.


Where possible we park facing South on site to maximise the charge from the panel but when this has not been possible the kit we fitted has still matched our requirements. We were out walking everyday when on site, regardless of weather, so the heating has only drawn power in the evenings and overnight. I suspect that 24-hour a day use for several days might exceed the capacity of our system but so far that has not happened.


The kit was quite expensive but we like the flexibility self-sufficiency gives us, we have a small, but steady pay-back though not paying for hook ups (where possible) and there is the slightly warm green feeling if you like that kind of thing. The electric bicycle has been adequate for heavy grocery shopping when on site and has enabled me not to buy the petrol scooter for which I had originally budgeted, so that has more than paid for the solar panel and associated kit.






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