Camper Trailer Power Upgrade

The Misses has been nagging me for the past 6 months about the lack of power provided by the solar panels to the batteries fitted to our camper trailer and I must admit that the nagging was justified. We had noticed that the batteries were not holding their charge as well as they should have been. Heaven help me if I mentioned the G (generator) word, divorce was on the horizon.

The Misses – “Like seriously… we couldn’t go 24 hours without needing to start the generator!”.

Having a few days to spare and no schedule, we decided to head to Broome after we
left Halls Creek. A good friend put in a great word for a company called Allvolts Power Solutions in Broome. He told us to go see Roger and the Team – “They’ll sort you out”. So we gave them a call before we left Halls Creek on the Friday and had the trailer booked in first thing Monday morning.

shop-front ALLVOLTS
Allvolts Power Solutions – Blackman St & Haynes St, Broome WA 6725 Phone: (08) 9193 7799  Web: http://www.allvolts.com.au

Roger took stock of all our current equipment, ran a check on everything and came up with an upgrade that would suit our power requirements far better than we currently had.

Our current solar panel was attached to the back of the trailer a couple of years ago – A good idea at the time but a rock decided to smash the tempered glass on the first outing. We’d done a quick fix by using a 2 pack resin which we poured over the glass to seal it again – intending to replace it but never got around to it….you know the story. This resin decided to crack as well after several trips.

20180609_122906-800x600
Our old panel and frame work were quickly removed

The first thing Roger recommended was to get rid of the old inefficient 260 watt Solar Panel on the back of the trailer and replace it with a more durable but smaller 160 watt Portable Solar Panel that can be packed up and put in the back of the Ute.

solar panels
Portable Solar Panels

We only needed the one because we already had a spare 160 watt Portable Solar Panel as part of our kit – we were using it to charge our Engel Battery Box (Arkpak). Roger and Keem suggested we change the configuration so both panels are supplying power to the trailer while the Engel Battery Box now gets charged by the Ute when we need to use it.

Anderson Plugs
Both solar panels are connected to the rear of the trailer via twin Anderson plugs. Keem even made sure there were dust covers for the Anderson Plugs fitted.
solar panel regulator
Bypassed Regulator

 

 

The regulators on the back of the solar panels were bypassed as the power generated goes straight to the Powertech MPPT Solar Charger Controller now mounted in a position that I can actually read it – Oh happy days!!!

Powertech MPPT Controller
Powertech MPPT Solar Charger Controller

The Batteries

The trailer was originally fitted with three 100 AH AGM batteries and after testing Roger advised us that two of them needed replacing and the third one was on it’s way out. – time for new batteries. Roger and Keem replaced all three of them with 120 AH Fusion AGM batteries and he also fitted an inline 30 Amp fuse in case the Anderson plugs were damaged and shorted to the body – The team at Allvolts really think things through.

New Batteries

To recharge the batteries while travelling we had set up the trailer to recharge through the Anderson plug from the Ute which is only live once the engine is started, however the Anderson plug on the trailer was previously damaged and had to be replaced – Yep Roger…. another one of those jobs we always meant to do.

Another problem was with the MDC (Repco) 240 Volt AC Recharging Unit for the batteries.  He said that although the Redarc BCDC1240 In Vehicle Battery Charger was fine the MDC (Repco) 240 Volt AC Recharging Unit is only suitable to “TOP UP” the batteries if they are marginally low in charge. He advised there are correct sized chargers for the capacity of our batteries which we can use to replace the current charger with sometime in the future so we can get a longer life from our new batteries.

battery-chargers-e1536240032707.jpg
The Black Box is the Redarc in Vehicle Battery Charger – charging the trailer batteries when traveling. The Red Box is the MDC (Repco) 240 Volt AC Recharging Unit used to charge the batteries when hooked up to mains.

Roger also checked the configuration we had previously set up for the fridge and freezer for when we are hooked up to the Generator or Mains power with 240 Volts.

We had set it up so the 17 Lt Engel Freezer and the 80 Lt Engel Fridge would run directly from 240 Volts when plugged in to 240 Volts instead of the 12 Volt system, ensuring the batteries were charged quicker without the fridge and freezer drawing the load from the batteries first. Roger gave it the all Ok…..It was nice that something was still working as it should.

Power Control Panel

Just after we got to Halls Creek the month prior we had one of the Rocker Switches broke. We replaced it with a new one purchased in Halls Creek – it wasn’t cheap but we were just happy there was one in stock.

At the time the rest of the Rocker Switches on the Control Panel look Ok – but at least two more needed replacing as they fell apart when Roger and Keem took them out for inspection.

The guys then went out of their way to find replacement switches for us as they didn’t have any in-stock at the time. They could have got us some in the next day if we wanted to wait for the correct switches but we declined. Instead they used two switches which they removed from a new marine control panel they had in-store – they were the only similar ones with red led’s in town. We didn’t mind that it didn’t match – just thankful that Roger was willing to do this.

Control Panel
The switch that states ON/Interior/OFF was the replacement brought at Halls Creek.

The last problem to fix was the twin USB outlet. The original one was the standard 1.0 Amp & 2.1 Amp combination. We have found that the 1.0 Amp outlet is useless to us so we opted for the twin 2.1 Amp outlet to replace it.USB Outlet It had the added benefit of displaying the current voltage of the battery it was connected to.

As you can see there was quite a few things that needed to be fixed, tweaked or replaced with the power system. I can’t thank Roger and Keem enough for all their hard work. I can highly recommend Allvolts Power Solutions to everyone who needs advice, service or repairs. Allvolts also has an extensive range of products available online that can be sent anywhere in Australia. Have a look at their catalogue and web page at http://www.allvolts.com.au

Oh…. and the Misses is really, REALLY happy… its been 4 days and still no generator.

Till next time the Misses Naggs

Enjoy your day

The Hubbie.

 

 

2 comments

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s