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Subject Topic: Allpowers portable power station and sola Post Reply Post New Topic
Message posted by foreversun8216/2/2021 at 10:57am
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Good Morning,

We have a Citroen Berlingo which slowly turns into a small campervan. We are looking for a power solution which keeps us a bit independent if necessary.

For what we need the power: LED lights, USB (phones), cooling box 12v, 40-50w and maybe laptop. Without the cooling box, it would be easy, but we need one.

Things we have already considered:

- Leisure battery and split charger. Not an option because doesn't feel safe about it, plus, it's not portable then.
- Hubi 10k, not enough power because of the cooling box.

So, we were thinking about getting an Allpowers portable power station and a solar panel. This would be the perfect solution for us, but:

During the day we will go hiking or visiting places and usually that means driving somewhere. And the idea of leaving the solar panel and the power station on the pitch doesn't feel very safe. The other option would be to fix the solar panels on the roof of the Berlingo but I don't want to do any drilling and the whole installation would probably cost a lot of money.

Do you have any suggestions? Or would you say it's safe to leave the power station and the solar panels on the camping ground?

Thank you so much for your answers.

Message posted by billy16/2/2021 at 1:20pm
Outfit:  Caravelair Alba 400     Location:  North Essex
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If you want to stop on a campsite then most have electric hookup so get a tent electric hookup lead & use that. I would not leave anything as portable & expensive as you describe unattended on a campsite.

A leisure battery & split charger properly installed with ventilation to outside is safe enough. You can get a plastic box to contain the battery with strap to fit it to floor so easy enough to install. Although not much room for it in a Berlingo particularly as a larger 110amp battery would be better for what you are doing. It would run a cheap pettier coolbox for about a day or so or if you paid out a lot more you could get a compressor coolbox which would probably run for a few days. You can buy a free standing solar panel to clip to leisure battery terminals that would probably be ok to leave unattended if you left van on site or otherwise it would charge while driving of course.

Post last edited on 16/02/2021 13:36:46

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Every day should be a holiday!

Message posted by Fiona W via mobile 16/2/2021 at 2:01pm
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Iím also wondering why not use a tent EHU. Stanchion plug one end, a block of 3 pin sockets at the other end. A friend with an ancient campervan uses one, she just puts the cable through the window.
Off grid, no suggestions. But you say youíre staying on sites.

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2022 - 1 site, 3 nights / 2021 - 11 sites, 29 nights / 2020 - 4 sites, 20 nights / 2019 - 13 sites, 35 nights / 2018 - 20 sites, 33 nights / 2017 - 10 sites, 22 nights / 2016 - 19 sites, 33 nights / 2015 - 15 sites, 27 nights.

Message posted by foreversun8216/2/2021 at 2:07pm
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Thank you for your answers. The reason why I asked for an off grid option is just because not all sites (especially smaller, remote ones) have an electric hookup. And, we might start on camp sites but who knows what the feature brings, so we might go on adventures off grid at some point.

Message posted by Colin2116/2/2021 at 2:43pm
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The cooling box is indeed the problem as they use huge amounts of power and often for very little effect. They are not a fridge and don't work very well at all on very hot days. They still use huge amounts of power though. One I once had on a boat absolutely flattened a 100ah leisure battery in a matter of hours. It was so flat it wouldn't even light a small cabin light, and it was a good battery.

It may well come down to a straight choice between mains power or a cooler box. Unless you go with the option of a compressor fridge, they are very good and the option I went for on my next boat. I did have 220ah of battery power on that though.


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Colin

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Message posted by billy16/2/2021 at 2:52pm
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As pointed out then. 110amp leisure battery with free standing solar panel for charging off grid would be much cheaper option. Should run your coolbox for a day. As suggested I would look into compressor fridge box though. A tent electric hookup cable is cheap enough & not large rolled up so gives you another option should you be on a campsite with ehu.

Itís what I do with my caravan. I use the ehu if available otherwise It has a 110amp leisure battery installed. Fridge can run on gas though. It is good to have several options to adapt to wherever you are.

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Message posted by Monty1516/2/2021 at 3:48pm
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I do feel you are pushing the bounds of possibility trying to run a Peltier/Thermoelectric coolbox from ANY vaguely portable/cost effective battery source.

Allpower suggest a 40w fridge (coolbox) will run only for 7 hours or so on a charge! That's not even a full night's use!

If you have a 100/120w solar panel (typically somewhere near upper end of portable panel size), that's a theoretical output under ideal conditions, reality expect only something in the region 30-50W in bright summer sun unless you constantly move panel to track the sun and it's angled perpendicular to sun to capture max energy which will get you maybe 55-60W. And then significant output will only be for 8 hours or so per day during peak sun. Out of mid summer sun, the output drops off considerably, right down to virtually nothing on a short dull grey winter day!

Your coolbox alone will use all of the output from solar panel, so the battery will get no or minimal charge, so after exhausting initial charge (presumably obtained from a mains charger before holiday), you'll have virtually no power available to run anything after sun down!

Peltier/Thermoelectric coolboxes are really the worst of all worlds, they don't cool very well, only to around 14C below ambient (certainly not to 4C or below necessary for safe storage of perishable foods in normal summer temps), so if ambient is 28C, coolbox will only get down to 14C, don't forget, if it's inside a vehicle, ambient will likely be hitting 40C or more in the sun! They are also very inefficient, consuming a lot of power for a minimal cooling effect. They also run constantly, as they don't have a thermostat, so their 40-50W (3.5-4.5A) load is constantly drawn from battery 24 hours a day. They are best regarded as a conventional coolbox with a bit of assistance in extending the iceblock life, certainly not a substitute for a fridge.

If you want/need a fridge, maybe you should consider a 12/240v camping compressor fridge, which is far more efficient and has a thermostat so that it is only running occasionally, you should get days of use out of even a modest leisure battery before recharging is necessary, but far more within the scope of a solar panel being able to maintain battery charge. Alternatively, a 3-way (12v/240v/Gas) camping fridge run off a gas cylinder on site (needs to be outside your vehicle - a utility/toilet tent or drive away awning is ideal. Both will give you true fridge performance. Like the coolbox, the 3-way fridge consumes too much power on 12V to be run off a battery, but can be run inside the vehicle with it's engine running OK. Both obviously can be run off 240v EHU if available, but also have scope for off grid use.

IMHO, I do feel your budget for a Allpowers portable power station, could be better spent on a better fridge solution.

Trying to run various fridge options on/off grid is a common enough question, try searching the forum for previous debates/advice.

As to security of expensive equipment on site, out of site/out of mind is the first rule generally, but obviously anything that is not secured is potentially vulnerable. Commercial/club camp sites tend to be pretty good, mostly due to honesty of fellow campers rather than any on site security measures. When you think about it, most people are leaving assorted camping equipment worth many hundreds of pounds every time they leave their pitch!

Message posted by Francais16/2/2021 at 6:31pm
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Firstly OP do you really need an inverter as all your requirements appear to be low voltage.

The Allpower unit seems to be 30ah equivalent at best, so seems expensive for what it is.

A 120ah SFLA battery will give you 60ah of usable capacity, not bad for well under £100, of course you may not get many years use from a SFLA unless you treat very nicely, also they weigh over 20kg

As for the fridge, well nothing beats a portable compressor fridge it has to be said.

Message posted by daveyboy4416/2/2021 at 7:46pm
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The coolbox is going to be your biggest drain on power,have you considered investing in an Icey-Tek coolbox which requires no power yet still keeps the contents really cool for a realistic 5-7 days.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ffLo5qolY3o

Message posted by fleck2 via mobile 16/2/2021 at 8:25pm
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We've got a 150w panel. It charges the battery at over 9 amps in the summer. Our compressor coolbox uses 3 amps (when running) so it can easily run the coolbox and recharge the battery at the same time. We can stay off grid indefinitely, in fact we do stay off grid for 8 weeks in Benidorm as they charge 40c/kwh for hook up. Does tend to be rather sunny there though 😎

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Message posted by foreversun8217/2/2021 at 10:23am
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I think we go for the Icey-Tek coolbox. Why? Because a good compressor coolbox is way over our budget and with a passive coolbox we can do with a less powerful power station.

Message posted by Francais17/2/2021 at 1:10pm
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Personally for the faff that a passive cool box involves I simply could not be bothered.

We bought our compressor fridge new in 2008, Waeco CF25, probably the best £150 that I have ever spent, although I had to pay an additional £20 for shipping.

Check out the Mobicool MCF40 well worth the £300 if the budget can stretch that far, which is about half the price of a Waeco equivalent.

Message posted by fleck2 via mobile 17/2/2021 at 5:22pm
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Quote: Originally posted by foreversun82 on 17/2/2021
I think we go for the Icey-Tek coolbox. Why? Because a good compressor coolbox is way over our budget and with a passive coolbox we can do with a less powerful power station.



Yes we had a passive Coleman Xtreme box for years, very good, another advantage is that it's super lightweight. Just buy a bag of supermarket ice cubes every other day and drain out the water (there's a bung it won't dribble) and everything inside is teeth shattering cold

Message posted by fleck2 via mobile 17/2/2021 at 5:30pm
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Wow those Icey-tek are expensive, look good quality though. Last box we bought was in Albir, Ä10 keeps the ice cubes solid for the day after shopping

Message posted by Kuppenbender19/2/2021 at 9:01am
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Icey-Tek are pricey (PrIcey-Tek?), but think of them as cut-price Yeti cooler boxes, and it wonít feel so bad.

As mentioned above, Coleman Xtreme can be cheaper still, and in a few weeks Iím sure Costco will be all stocked up with bargain priced Igloo cooler boxes, some of which are at least good enough for a long weekend before switching freezer packs or topping up with ice.


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