By combining a few REDARC components, you can go off the grid indefinitely. Learn how Andrew and Peta Murray run their online outback travel website Top Wire Traveller, powered by REDARC.
An Unusual Challenge
Running an online business on the road poses a unique set of challenges. When Peta and I started travelling, we had two goals. The first was being able to camp at remote locations and not have to worry about power. The second goal was a bigger challenge.
Plugged into power in the middle of nowhere!
We have two online businesses, a remote and outback travel website, Top Wire Travel and a web content writing business, Top Wire Copy. So we need two essentials; the first is the best possible mobile reception, with the knowledge we’ll have poor or nil reception in many places, and we can work around this limitation. The second is power… unlimited power!
Two Separate Systems
Our Wedgetail Camper has its own self-contained battery system. It uses a to manage solar input from a 200W solar panel, 240 volts from power when available and 24-volts from the truck. So electrically, the Wedgetail Camper looks after itself… with the assistance of a Manager30.
We also needed a dual battery system in the truck to run all the essentials like a large capacity air compressor, small portable water pump, Pure Sine Wave Inverter in the cab, 2.4A USB outlets, internal cab lights and a mobile phone signal booster inside the cab. We never run all of these simultaneously, so a 100Ah AGM battery is more than enough.
The truck system also has a REDARC Manager30. It manages 240 volts from mains power, regulates solar input and 24 volts from the truck. Interestingly, we’ve never needed to use the 240-volt input.
Let’s focus on the truck dual battery system.
We already had a small 60W portable solar panel, wired into the REDARC Manager30 via an Anderson plug. I mounted this on top of the truck storage boxes, planning to replace it with something bigger.
Then I discovered REDARC’s range of solar blankets. By using a , we have maximum flexibility. We use it for the truck’s dual battery system or occasionally to power the Wedgetail Camper. The Manager30 regulates the solar input, so there’s no need for an additional regulator.
These ducks received extensive training as solar blanket endurance testers
And the best part? The solar blanket folds up into a small bag which is so easy to pack away. No more struggles with a heavy solar panel!
Solar blanket hanging off the truck’s bullbar, to catch the late afternoon sun. With 6 eyelets, you can attach the solar blanket to the roof of your tent, awning, vehicle bonnet and so on.
With solar sorted, our thoughts turned to what inverter would best suit our needs.
Protecting Your Batteries
Lithium-ion batteries are everywhere. Phones, laptops and so on all use rechargeable lithium-ion. Older style power inverters generate a modified sine wave, which shortens the life of lithium-ion batteries considerably.
However, all REDARC inverters generate a pure sine wave, identical to what you get from your 240-volt power point at home. We chose a . We figured this would more than cover our power needs, and we’ve found this to be true.
The inverter sits behind the two front seats, conveniently located within reach. When we’re travelling we use an iPad as a GPS, mounted using . So the inverter is used to provide power to the iPad. When we’re stationary and hard at work, we use the inverter mainly to charge our laptops and to power a printer. Oh and, most importantly, it powers our small coffee grinder!
The RS Series Inverter can also be remotely switched on and off with an . This allows you to hide the inverter away, then run the output to a power point or similar. We have the remote but haven’t installed it yet. Our inverter is right where we can easily access it, so that’s a project for another day…
Your Dream Life
So if you’re considering extended travels away from caravan parks and powered campgrounds, consider solar power as a serious option. With just a few components, you can easily set yourself up to be self-sufficient.