Having worked in the outdoor industry for many years, Andrew Jenour started Campers Pantry just over a year ago after he saw an opportunity to develop an Australian outdoor food brand which offers quality, lightweight, nutritious meals, veggies and other food items. They first launched their venture with a range of freeze-dried vegetables and have since expanded to include a range of meals. In this blog Andrew details the equipment he uses to run a business on the road as he creates new and exciting recipes off the grid.
Deciding to pack up and hit the road for 6 or so months was a big decision, even though it a dream come true opportunity. The plan for us was to travel around as much of Australia while working on our new business, Campers Pantry.
To run a business from the road we needed to kit out the Silver Fox with a second battery and dc to dc battery charger, Pure Sine Wave Inverter and portable solar panels. For us, these additions needed to be of excellent quality, reliable and compact (as we aren’t towing).
Essentially, we needed to power, without failure, a 65lt fridge/freezer, 12volt strip light and charge a Laptop, GoPro, phones and iPads etc. To do this effectively we decided on a 350W Pure Sine Wave Inverter, BCDC 1225 dual battery charger and 115-watt portable solar blanket.
We talked to our friends about what they were using as well as people in the know who all highly recommended REDARC. Not only did people say their products were top quality, but that their Tech Support team was excellent as well. Let’s face it, although we like to think we know it all, sometimes we need to ask questions!
So, here is our verdict about REDARC products. Essentially, we’ve found them to be reliable and easy to use.
Powering with Solar
The ease of setup with a solar blanket means it's at the ready for every stop. We've had our fridge/freezer set to -15 degrees which meant more juice pulled from the second battery. We've kept our solar blanket under the front passenger seat and rigged up an Anderson on the bull-bar to reduce setup times i.e. lifting up the hood to plug in. The cable we use is also a REDARC product. It’s a 5 metre Anderson to Anderson and almost as thick as your arm - you could mistake it for your snatch strap. The thickness of these cables is to reduce voltage drop between the solar panel and the dual battery charger.
Over the first month, we played with different angles and places to position the blanket using tent cord and carabiners. The obvious places like bonnet and windscreen work if you can't find a shady spot to park. If you do manage to jag a nice bit of shade then it's time to improvise. We carry some spare cord and use tent pegs to create an angle of pitch to catch as much sun as possible.
There are many distractions when camping, especially when you have a 3-year-old (threenager). Parents out there will agree with us, you do what you can when you can. So we haven’t been pedantic about closing the fridge lid quickly nor making sure the fridge is full all the time to economise power usage. Our fridge/freezer will run for 2 to 3 days, relying on the BCDC unit to fill up the second battery while driving. However, when you’ve found the perfect place to relax and enjoy for a few days you need the solar blanket to keep it running. We’ve had many days where the fridge drops out the night before we are leaving and the morning sunlight gives us enough juice to keep the fridge/freezer powered during pack-up.
Never missing a beat
We have clocked up thousands of kilometres since leaving Sydney. We’ve crossed deep rivers, drowned headlamps, broken front and rear cameras, blown a power steering unit, cracked the windscreen in two places, cracked the bull bar spotlight mount on corrugations, busted the viscous fan hub, shorted out the car alarm and indicator relays with water yet our REDARC gear hasn’t missed a beat.
Our biggest concern setting off was about ensuring we could get enough charge to power our work laptop for a few hours each day. It turns out the biggest challenge was finding campsites with sufficient phone coverage to be able to access the Internet. In our case, we are more than impressed with REDARC’s products which have proved to be reliable in the most remote of places.