If you’re thinking of leaving for a Big Lap, you will know how many things there are to consider. How much water do we need? Should we bring our flippers? Do we need more than two bowls? How are we going to fit everything in? So on and so forth. It seems that the small things to consider are endless. However, one of the most crucial, yet daunting, things to think about is a 12 Volt system for extended off-grid travel.
Now, just before Holly and I left for our big lap I was out of my depth and madly trying to put together a 12 Volt system on a budget. It included a myriad of different components to charge from the vehicle and solar. It had three AGM batteries with a combined weight of over 60 kilograms and a bulky, fold out, hard solar panel. It worked reasonably well for about 7 months, but after this, I noticed significant voltage drop and slowly things, like my fridge, stopped working. In under 9 months I had fried 3 AGM batteries, ouch. Charged correctly you can easily get a few years out of a good quality AGM battery, which mine were. So from this I had learnt my lesson, in the pursuit of being cheap, I had wasted money. As the old saying goes, “I’m too poor to buy cheap”.
When we started our next touring build, an old HJ47 Landcruiser Troop Carrier, I knew I wanted to nail the 12 Volt system from the start. Having seen a few REDARC systems in action and only hearing good things about their gear, I was keen to give it a go. After ringing and talking through my needs with a qualified auto electrician on their Technical Support Team, a service available to anyone wanting advice, I settled on a REDARC BCDC1250D for my charger, a REDARC 1000W pure sine wave inverter to run my 240V items for that extra camp comfort, and a REDARC 115W solar blanket to keep me topped up when stationary.
Again, running in the theme of getting my 12 volt system right the first time, I had it wired up by an auto electrician. I understood the system, but it is the crimping, soldering, and fusing that are the crucial steps in a 12 volt system that allow it to run correctly and safely and were something I wanted done right. Regardless, I was impressed with how exceptionally easy it was to wire up, an aspect the auto electrician said REDARC has nailed and makes them a pleasure to work with.
Living with the system for a few months on the road has been amazing. It takes the worry out of extended touring. I am no longer running my four wheel drive when stationary or turning my fridge off. For now I only have a 120AH AGM battery, but I am keen to move into Lithium soon. This is a feature supported by my BC-DC1250D, all I have to do is link two wires together, install the battery and it will automatically change its charging profile to suit Lithium. The 1000W pure sine wave inverter has been running a Nutri-Bullet like a dream for morning smoothies (go ahead call us soft) and the solar blanket is also fantastic. The BC-DC charger has an in built MPPT solar regulator which allows the solar blanket to connect easily via an anderson plug. With the solar blanket being so small and easy to set up I find myself getting it out more than my old hard foldable panel that was bulky and heavy. Also being so small is a massive bonus in our Troop Carrier where space is a premium.
So after doing a 12 volt system the “cheap” way, it not working very well, I can honestly say that nailing your 12 volt system for extended travel need not be complicated. The range of chargers REDARC offers to suit all budgets will not only give you peace of mind on the road, but save you money over its years of service. Don't be like me and discover the meaning of “Im too poor to buy cheap”. Nail it with peace of mind and get REDARC ready.