I am an adventurer. Constantly seeking the best camping, fishing, kayaking, hiking and mountain biking spots. It is not just a short holiday. For a year, it is a way of life, leaving the daily grind to explore. Another thing I love is food – especially ice-cream, which I enjoy eating year-round. The problem is, Australia is a hot, arid place, which doesn’t bode well for my sweet tooth.
I rely a lot on my 4WD tourer and don’t want to worry about not having sufficient power to charge my gadgets or having my ice-cream melt.
So when I built up my car, I decided that three batteries were the way to go for me. It would allow me to stay longer off the grid and keep everything running. I have two batteries in the bonnet (starter and aux). These keep charged whilst driving thanks to my REDARC BCDC In-vehicle battery charger.
The AGM battery in the canopy requires an alternative form of energy. I have never been a big fan of generators. I understand the need but they are in my opinion very noisy and inefficient. A much better solution is solar energy.
Solar energy makes a lot of sense to me as it is a free form of energy that is available for many hours during the day. Nowadays, portable solar panels are so efficient that they even generate energy on cloudy days. So using solar energy was simply a no-brainer.
For a long time, portable solar panels were bulky and heavy. That time has passed as now a lightweight and portable solution exists in the form of Solar Blankets. Recently, I have been using REDARC’s Solar Blanket to keep my batteries charged and prevent my ice-cream from melting.
REDARC has three Solar Blankets to choose from, ranging from 115 to 190 Watts. These are very compact (31x31x65-90mm). They weigh only between 4.5 and 7.2kg, making them much lighter than equivalent glass folding panels. This is great as most 4WD tourers struggle to keep their 4WD within their GVM. A lighter and more compact alternative to glass folding panels leaves you with more space and weight for other items.
But what about the power? Well, the other great thing is that the weight reduction does not influence the power output. Yes, you read that right. It is not only smaller and lighter, but it will still generate as much power as the heavy and bulky portable solar panel setups. Using the blanket gives you plenty of flexibility. As it is a blanket, you can easily lay it on the bonnet, windscreen or ground. It has reinforced eyelets on the corners and sides as well. This makes it possible to use the blanket to provide shade.
It is super easy to connect the REDARC solar blanket. It has an industry standard Anderson connector. As you can buy the blanket on its own, it is easy to integrate this solar blanket in your existing power setup. All you need to do is to connect it to your existing solar regulator or REDARC's dc to dc battery charger which has an in-built MPPT solar regulator.
I like to use it on-demand for any of my batteries and therefore connect it to my existing 30A solar regulator. This is a simple, portable regulator which I made semi-waterproof by placing it in a Tupperware container. It has two USB ports, making it easy to charge my phone/tablet. A three meter Anderson cable allows me to use my solar blanket away from the car and connect it to any of my batteries.
The REDARC solar blanket is the perfect compact and lightweight solution for the off-grid life. So now I never have to worry about my ice-cream melting ever again.