Portable Power Packs For Camping - What to Look For March 23, 2014 23:30
You've got your tents, your canteen, and sleeping bag all packed and ready to go for your next camping trip...but aren't you forgetting something? If you are setting up a basic tent campsite, RV, or caravan, you can enjoy the auxiliary power offered by portable power packs without sacrificing your enjoyment of the great outdoors, or compromising the enjoyment of others. Power packs are generally cheaper and more user-friendly than other options and have many different features that campers will appreciate.
They can also come in handy when you'd least expect it (find out how).
Battery Packs Versus Generators
Most people think of generators first when they need portable power, but they aren't really so great for camping. Apart from the fact that you have to buy and carry fuel for them, you may have already run into problems with generators because of campground rules.
Most campsites either outright prohibit the use of generators, or have a cutoff hour for them. This is because they emit fumes and are generally noisy, so noisy that they can ruin the outdoors experience for everyone in the vicinity. So even if you plan on using one outboard while you're in an RV, your fellow campers are going to have to listen to them while they're trying to relax.
What you will find when you're camping is that you will probably need power the most during the evenings, the same time generators must be turned off at campsites. Even if you aren't at a campsite, generators are usually sufficiently loud, and the campsite sufficiently quiet, that you'll probably find your own sleep interrupted by them!
This poses a major problem if you need to charge devices, blow up an air mattress, or use important equipment like sleep apnea masks while you slumber. So the good news is that portable power packs are so quiet and powerful, that you can use them overnight without drowning out mother nature -- and if you do decide to use a generator, a power pack can come in handy giving them an extra starting boost after being cut off all night.
Ideal Portable Power Pack Characteristics
While all power packs are quiet compared to generators, don't require fuel and can be operated inside your caravan, RV or tent, that's not the only feature that matters. Additionally, any power pack you use for camping should have the following features.
Solar charging compatibility - With solar panels, you can catch the sun during the day, store that energy in your power pack, and then use it to power your campsite quietly at night. Unless you're camping in very bad weather conditions, a properly sized solar panel system can sustain your campsite indefinitely...which makes it not only a great feature for a camping power pack, but also a great feature for a survival/emergency power pack.
Connections for various devices - You can never have too many plug-ins! The ideal power pack will have USB charging points, 12V "cigarette-lighter" style power sockets, as well as a 120VAC plug that can be used to power TVs, laptops, etc.
Big Battery Capacity - Unless you're only planning to use your power pack to recharge a cell phone or two, you want a power pack that can hold some serious power. After all, campsite appliances like lights, refrigerators, coffee pots or tea kettles, slow cookers, hot plates...they all require considerable amounts of power. If, for example, you're going to be camping for a few days and you plan on making coffee each morning:
- A typical 12VDC coffee pot draws about 100 watts of power, or 8 amps
- If you make a pot of coffee for you and a fellow camper, and it takes you about an hour to drink all the coffee, then that's about 8ah of energy you're need each morning
- After 3 days, you'll use 24ah of energy at 12VDC. After a week, you'll use 56ah.
- Throw in power you may need for keeping cell phones or tablet devices charged, keeping lights on at night, etc., and you're going to need a pretty big battery
What's more, most power packs can only discharge a percentage of their maximum capacity. A power pack with a lead-acid battery may say that it has 48ah capacity at 12VDC (for example), but in the real world only about 24ah of that capacity can be used before the voltage drops too low to be useful.
How the ArkPak Stacks Up
Most powerpacks on the market have a maximum battery capacity of 40ah or less. Whereas the ArkPak offers up to 130aH of battery capacity - it's based on whatever battery you decide to install. If you install a quality deep-cycle battery (AGM is good), you'll be able to use 75% of this power without voltage dropping to unusable levels or without concern about damaging your battery.
With built-in USB, 12VDC, and 120VAC power connections, the ArkPak has all the hookups you need for powering or recharging your gear.
With power terminals on the side of the ArkPak, hooking up a solar panel array with charge controller is no problem. You can easily use the ArkPak to power a camp site with solar for days and days.
Regardless of the purpose, be it living and survival off the grid, prolonged outdoor stays, or just a week long camping trip, the ArkPak portable pack has you covered. When you compare the ArkPak to other low capacity battery-powered portable power packs, you'll find that its' combination of features and capacity simply can't be beat.