camper-trailer-electricscamper-trailer-power A few trips out in the camper trailer and we realised that the little head lamps and lanterns weren’t quite going to cut it in terms of convenience. A brief look around at what other people were doing and we were, well …gob smacked. inverters, dual car lead acid batteries seem to be the norm…and come with a complexity and price tag to boot.

So we set out for something a little more modest for our needs which were basically to have a bit of light to see by a night.  A lot came from junk lying around the workshop and a few trips to ebay (who’s got time to shop anyway)Outside PicturHere’s what we came up with

– old plastic tool box for portable power

– A 12vdc sealed gel cell  (7Ah capacity,  more than enough to run a few lights)

– some LED strip lights from ebay  (can get 10m of lights for $10 or so)

– A 12VDC accessory 4 socket outlet (i picked this as the standard connection system cause its common, not as expensive as those anderson plugs)

– some switches

– a solar panel charger (paid less than $20 for this one from supercheap)


Top opening panels reveals

main power switch – which when the lid shuts it shuts off the power…gotta be fool proff

– 12V accessory sockets to plug lights in,

– swithces for a night light (essential for small kiddies)

–  some on box lights from the LED strip  (just peel and stick)

– USB charger for electronics bits

– a $2 accessory socket volt meter (tried to buy a panel meter but they are $12 go figure )


Gel cell, 7Ah

Strip lights on a wooden stick i can hang from roof of tent using velcro

Solar cell as charger (I added a shotkey diode so it wouldn’t drain the battery when the sun isn’t out and I forget to unplug it). NOTE its a slow enough charger than its a trickle charger so no need to worry about a charge controller

Power budget

Lights draw anything from 10mA to 100mA which is 0.01 or 0.1A. Given the battery is rated to 7Ah it means I have at least 70hrs running time before a charge is needed…depending on how many lights I want to plug in and for how long. The solar cell is rated at 4w and charges up from 12.3v to 13.2v in a morning so that seems OK