Essentials For Travelling Off The Grid

Getting your caravan or rig ready for off-grid travelling? Don’t leave home without these off grid essentials!

From lighting your camp at nightfall to keeping cool in the outback, our experts have tested the gear you need to transform your vehicle into a haven for off grid adventures.

Check out these off grid essentials:

Solar Panels

Solar panels are top of the list of off grid essentials. Why? Because they are the easiest way to charge your batteries and keep your lights, fridge, appliances and electronics powered up.

There are lots of solar panel types that can help you create a setup that allows you to be powered by the sun. Solar creates no noise, no fumes, requires no fuel, and is environmentally sustainable. Depending on your preferences, you can opt for folding solar panels, a solar blanket or fixed solar panels on your caravan rooftop.

Our pick? A solar blanket or folding panels mean you can move them to chase the sun throughout the day, rather than having to park your caravan in the hot sun.

My Generator recommends…

  • Bushman 200-watt folding solar panel kit – Great for keeping your battery bank or second battery charged for long periods of time. Comes with 5-metre extension cable, solar charge controller, Anderson plug connections and 3-year warranty.
  • Evakool 160W – Two hinged 80w panels create a cheaper option than the blanket and provides enough charge to run your fridge and top up your battery. Comes with a solar regulator and charge controller.
  • Baintuff 180W Folding Solar Blanket – If you’re looking for convenience a folding solar blanket is the option for you! The Baintuff 180W Blanket weighs under 5kg, folds up to less than 40cm and it is one of the most powerful solar power options on the market! Plus it comes standard with a BlueSolar PWM-Light Charge Controller 12/24v 20A and Anderson Plug Connectors!
Off Grid Essentials
Bushman 200 Watt Folding Solar Panel Kit

  

Portable Generator

For power you can rely on no matter the weather, put a portable generator on your off grid essentials list. Forget the fuel guzzling, noisy generators of yesteryear. Today, you can get a portable inverter generator that is whisper quiet and produces ultra clean power for running sensitive electronic equipment, such as laptops, mobile phones, tablets, camera equipment etc. They can also act as a back up option to power your camping batteries if the weather is great for harnessing solar power.

For the ultimate power solution, you can combine a generator and solar panels to stay unplugged from the grid for as long as you need.

My Generator recommends…

Go for a 2400-watt portable inverter generator, like the Cromtech 2400w or the Yamaha 2400w. Both feature super-quiet operation, compact lightweight design, and super efficiency. The 2400w size is the most popular because it will be able to run caravan air-con units, which is a hugely popular appliance for free camping caravan owners.

Deep cycle battery

The way you store power is a critical issue for all vanners. That’s why you need to consider a deep cycle battery in your off grid essentials.

A deep cycle battery allows you to use stored energy to run your appliances. The better your battery, the longer you can go without the need to capture more energy.

There are two types of battery to consider: lead acid or lithium. Lithium batteries offer greater efficiency in a smaller and lighter unit than their lead acid equivalents – which is a big deal when you consider that batteries can be the heaviest item your van carries. The fast recharge means a lithium battery works well with solar power and will rarely need a generator to top it up.

The downside? They’re more expensive than lead acid (AGM) batteries.

My Generator recommends…

Depending on how much you want to spend, check out these off grid essentials:

  • Camec AGM Battery – This 120AH Sealed Lead Acid (SLA) Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) deep cycle battery is ideal for caravans and RVs. No fuss, tried and tested.
  • Enerdrive ePOWER lithium batteries – Available in 12v 200Ah, 125Ah & 105Ah capacities. The ePOWER B-TEC battery provides 60% more usable power than its equivalent lead acid battery, while being nearly 50% lighter and 30% smaller. Very quickly becoming the most sort after caravan battery for those who can afford it…

DC2DC charger

There’s no point having a battery if you can’t keep it charged! That’s why a DC2DC charger is on our list of off grid essentials. A DC to DC battery charger ensures your second or auxiliary battery stays at its correct voltage and 100% charged all the time. You can also use a DC-DC unit to isolate your second battery from your vehicle’s main battery, which ensures the battery doesn’t run flat from all the power-hungry appliances (such as a fridge or air con).

My Generator recommends…

The Enerdrive 40A battery charger delivers multiple source charging for DC systems, including either an alternator linked to a battery or solar power. Build tough, there are no Aussie conditions it can’t manage.

Enerdrive ePOWER 12V 40A DC to DC Battery Charger

AC2DC charger

If you want to charge your battery from a generator or mains power, you’ll need an AC2DC battery charger. Plug it into the generator or 240V outlet for faster charging and less wasted fuel – a huge bonus when you’re travelling far from the beaten track!

My Generator recommends…

We can’t go past Thunder’s selection of AC2DC chargers, including the Thunder 12Amp and Thunder 20Amp. These chargers operate on an 8-phase charging program, which helps preserve your battery live and ensures maximum charge. They also operate a soft start to make sure the empty battery isn’t flooded with charge and become overloaded.

Portable Fridge or Caravan Fridge

You knew it was coming…a caravan fridge is one of the absolute off grid essentials. How else will you keep your food and drinks cold? Sure, an ice box will keep you going for a couple of days, but it’s not going to cut it for a longer off grid trip.

You’ve got lots of options here. Will it be a portable fridge or an upright fridge like you have at home? A 3-way, gas or electric powered fridge? How big? Do you need a freezer too?

We’re the first to admit that the choices can be overwhelming. So, before you get out your wallet, we highly recommend you weigh up your options by reading the following guides:

My Generator recommends…

Please note, all models mentioned above come in various capacities for your convenience.

Lights

There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to cook by the failing light of a dodgy lamp or headtorch. That’s why vehicle lights are an off grid essential. With the convenience of a light bar or round driving light, you can travel off grid without having to hit the sack as soon as the sun goes down.

There are a few things to look for before you invest in lights. Are they weatherproof? Do they provide enough light to see what you’re doing? Are they easy to install and use?

My Generator recommends…

You can’t go wrong with anything made by Narva and Great White. There are too many to list here, so check out the wide range of lights here.

What off grid essentials would you put on the list? Tell us in the comments!

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