Winter Camping Tips With Steve Pizzati

Winter Camping Tips With Steve Pizzati

Despite what many people would think, camping in the wintertime, especially around the snowier areas of Australia, can be a total delight. Seeing snow-capped peaks reveal themselves on a crystal-clear morning is truly one of life’s great pleasures.

But the joy of the winter majesty can turn sour very quickly if you’re cold, dark and missing the ability to brew a coffee, so keeping your electrical equipment (especially your heating equipment) in tip-top shape whilst winter camping becomes even more important.

Now, if you’ve read any of our previous articles on setting up camping electrics, you’d know that running your electrical equipment off your car’s starter battery is a really bad idea. It might be fine for charging your mobile phone whilst driving, but it’s absolutely not adapted to the sustained power outputs needed over a long period of time like when camping.

Think of it this way - a car’s lead-acid starter battery is a bit like a camera flash – great for short intense bursts of light, but awful for lighting a room over the course of a night. It’s not made for that need and neither is your car’s starter battery.

What you do need is a battery suited to long periods of sustained output, a deep-cycle battery. They’re designed to give a steady flow of power but they’re not suited to starting a car engine so that is where a dual battery setup comes into play, so the two batteries give you best of both worlds.

Once you have a second, dedicating camping battery, you’ll need something to control the setup like a computerised battery management system. That’ll control all your charging needs as well as telling you the current state of your batteries and how much power is left in your system as well as how much input you are getting from your solar panels.

If you’ve decided to go truly off-grid and run with solar panels to recharge the system (good idea) you’ll also need a solar regulator to manage that side of the equation and prevent overcharging once the batteries are topped up.

But bear in mind, that solar charging does present a few additional challenges in winter…

The days are shorter and the sun less intense so there’s less charging time. The longer nights also means you’ll run the lights and heater longer so that’ll be a bigger drain as well. Plus it’s obviously colder so you’ll run the heater harder. The sun is also lower so solar panels need to be tilted towards the low winter sun and they may get more readily blocked by trees or hills.

None of these challenges are anything that your local Battery World expert hasn’t seen and dealt with before, so if you’re anything like me and love the idea of seeing a cool, crisp winter’s morning from the great outdoors, head to your nearest store and get the right advice to experience the winter majesty now.

Steve Pizzati
Auto Expert and Battery World Advisor