Traveling and camping… where your only priority is enjoying the calm of nature, the wood, the mountain or the sea. Without taking anything away any creature comforts, your phone, camera and laptop all have batteries that will need to be recharged if you’re going to stay away from civilization for several days. You will save yourself time and energy if you prepare how and where to get power right ?
Firstly, make sure to investigate in advance by consulting the camping location website, sending an email or making a quick call in order to find out costs, availability and facilities (If the camp site provides electricity, ask them what kind of power outlet there is etc…)
Before you choose any option to get power during your trip, ask yourself a few questions:
-Type of travel – Are you backpacking, car camping or boondocking? Backpacking requires a small, lightweight portable power device outlet while boondocking has few size/weight limits.
–Power Output – How much power do you need?
–Kind of devices – What kind of device do you need to charge, laptop – cameras – phones?
-Frequency – How often do you camp? Are you gonna need electricity every time etc).
–Camping Location – You need some hot sunny weather for a solar panel for instance and yet it is not right for every location.
Here are 5 different options to stay recharged during your trips:
1. Camping with electricity
Most commercial and club campsites will offer electric hook-ups on some or all of their pitches. However, campsites tend to have restricted supplies (they are generally rated at 16A or 10A, sometimes as low as 5A on campsites broad), so you need to be careful what you use to avoid tripping the electrical supply, which can make you unpopular on site. The least you will need to do is contact the site manager to ask him to reset the system.
If you do not book your own electric spot, at the few campsites that have electricity provided, there is usually a post at the end of the site’s parking area near the access road, with a standard outdoor electrical outlet.
Some of the bigger campgrounds have central shower and toilet buildings, and possibly these may have electrical outlets for hair appliances etc., BUT you may need to wait your time at few outlets that are available.
2. 12-Volt Car Battery
One option for accessing electricity while camping is to plug in to the cigarette lighter outlet and use the car battery. This will work for charging cell phones and one or two small appliances, it is highly recommended to use a power inverter to plug into the 12-volt outlet so it does not fry your electronics. Inverters can convert 12-volt outlet to 240 volt power outets, most also have USB ports to cater for small devices, remember to start the car once in a while so the battery can recharge otherwise you may not have enough charge in reserve to start your car.
3. 12-Volt Portable Battery or Compact Portable Battery
If you are planning to keep the same camping spot for several days buy a portable 12-volt power source. These come with their own converters and outlets, and they often have panels that indicate how much charge is left. Some 12-volt power packs can also be used to jump-start your car’s battery.
If you are always on the go, a portable power supply might be your best bet, it is an affordable solution for keeping smartphones, tablets, laptops, and other devices up and running during your camping trip. Rather than lug a heavy battery backup or use your car for power, you can fit one of these portable battery packs in a laptop bag. From the basics models to the more powerful compact portable batteries, they all include USB ports.
Small petrol-powered generators are easily available today and for just a couple of hundred dollars you can bring your own power station to your camping pitch.
However, most generators are noisy and there is no better way of annoying your fellow campers on a quiet summer’s evening than to start up your generator so you can watch Game of Thrones. For that reason, many campsites ban generators or limit their use to certain hours of the day.
4. Solar Panels.
A solar panel can charge a 12V battery and keep it charged on those long bright summer days. The panels can be fitted to the roof of a caravan or motorhome or even just on the top of your tent and there are plenty of portable panels designed for camping use.
Solar power is a win-win solution, it is clean, quiet energy and, once you have purchased a solar setup, it is free. Portable solar panels can be set up in the sunniest area of your camp to take the best advantage of the available sunlight.
Of course, you have to rely on sunny days for electricity, and that is why you need battery storage as part of your solar electricity camping kit.
Most solar power camping setups include a portable battery pack. For outdoors, you will want a kit that is rugged, waterproof and lightweight. When the sun decides to play peek-a-boo, your battery pack should have an attachment allowing it to be recharged from your vehicle as well. You will need an inverter so that the power pack can be safely charged without damaging your vehicle’s battery. Charging without one is a safety hazard and can destroy the battery.
Benefits of solar kits include easy setup and little effort to keep going. They also need little or no maintenance.