Portable 12v Power source for Camping

Hoping someone can find me a bargain or have some input.

I have a 12v camp fridge (Komodo 45L Kogan brand) and want to stay in unpowered camp sites with it plugged into a portable battery source (think battery in a box style).

I'd like to charge it at home on 240v, plug into 12v while driving and have solar input when still.

It'll mainly run the fridge while still, but also some basic LED lights etc.

To run a small coffee machine would be a luxury.

Edited for clarity



    Do you mean you essentially want a solar powered fridge?

    I think you would need too many solar panels.

    • +1 vote

      I think they mean battery?

    • +1 vote

      I want a battery that can be topped up with solar.


        Have you done the calculations to see if its worth it?

        For the cost of going solar, you could probably get a small battery that would be more then everything you could receive from the sun from a small solar panel.

        But really depends on what you want to spend, you could get something big and lay it over your car in the hot sun, but then your car needs to be in the sun instead of in some shade.


          I don't want the fridge to solo run the fridge, I have panels that can trickle charge the battery in a box through the day.


    Work out all the watts you want to use and for how long and then we can look at required battery size. budget would also be helpful.

  • +1 vote

    Have a look at some 4wd/camping forums. The standard way to do it is to install an auxiliary battery in your car (can be removable depending on type) and have it charged via the alternator while driving and by solar while camped up. This can all be pretty expensive, base setup starts at $500-$1000 for a deep cycle battery + all the other bits and pieces you need, assuming you will be installing yourself, and double that for a lithium battery.


      Leaning away from a aux battery, leaning towards an AGM or lithium in a box setup.


        I would still call that an auxiliary battery if it’s wired in to the alternator, but you do you.

  • +2 votes

    Here you go. https://www.4wdsupacentre.com.au/products/battery-charger/ba...

    That's everything you need to off-grid the fridge. I personally don't bother with using the car's alternator to charge the battery, the sun is plenty.

    To run the coffee machine you'll need an inverter, something like:



      120W seems a little low for the panel if you're planning on running a fridge. Would be great for just lights/speakers/phones etc.


        You're right, I think I linked the wrong one.

        Personally I run 250W


        Have run our fridge on 80w panels and a 100ah battery for several days, but not in high heat of summer and was sun chasing with the panel. Now have a 120w and it works well if you get good sun most of the day.


          Have run our fridge on 80w panels and a 100ah battery for several days, but not in high heat of summer and was sun chasing with the panel.

          A small 12V fridge can use as little as 20-30Ah a day, so doesn't surprise me that you could easily get 2-3 days out of a 100Ah battery since you could do that even without a solar panel. Although I definitely wouldn't want my battery discharging that low

          Where you live also can make a big difference. Melbourne vs Darwin is going to give you different experiences in both temperature, but also how much real world output you'll get from your panel. Lookup how latitude effects solar energy.

          it works well if you get good sun most of the day.

          Most people would probably still want to get a decent charge on an overcast day though, so that's when a larger panel comes in handy. One overcast day with a small panel means you are going to go 30+ hours without a proper charge, and you'll end up discharging the battery further than recommended for decent longevity.


            @sheamas88: Yep. It’s all about sizing your system for what you use. My experience is that 80w is doable, but has compromises.

            How long OP wants to be off grid for also comes into it. Also if the set up camp, but go for day trips and take the fridge in the car could be an opportunity to recharge the battery back at camp with no load on it.

            Our current setup (120w, might actually be 160w) wasn’t enough for a week when a few days in i realised that the panel was getting shade for about 1/3 the day. I’ll be adding extra input for a portable panel soon.


    What fridge manufacturer and fridge model number…

  • +3 votes

    You'll want to get a deep-cycle battery, a battery charger, and a solar panel. There are a few different types of deep-cycle batteries available, all with their own pros and cons.

    I'd recommend a AGM battery as long as you don't have any weight limitations. They are good value for the amount of power storage they offer, but will be quite heavy (~30kg). They need to be kept on trickle charge when not in use, so you'll also need a good quality charger that has multiple stages. If you don't keep it trickle charging while not in use, expect to replace the battery more often.

    For solar panels, you'll probably want a 200W one, depending on the 12V fridge you have. With that size panel, you should easily be able to keep the battery charged whilst running the fridge, plus lights, speakers, phones and other things charged (as long as it's not too overcast). Make sure the panel has a charge controller for the battery when you buy it, otherwise you'll need to buy that separately. Most panels made for camping will come with the charger controller, but some people buy used household panels of Gumtree or eBay and use their own charge controller. That is always an option to save a few dollars as long as you can fit a non-folding solar panel in your vehicle (camping ones will usually fold to be a bit smaller for transport)

    • +2 votes

      This is all pretty right.
      If you buy the bits on EBay, you might get it done for under $400.
      If you go to a 4WD supplier, expect more like $1000.
      With a 100Ah battery, you can power a fridge for approx 3 days.
      This will give you indefinite power while the sun shines, and enough to get by several days of rainy weather.
      If you go very hot places, or places with poor sun access, you will need a bigger battery (I would actually suggest 2, so you have some redundancy).

      If I was going remote, I’d still plan to get by if the fridge failed - lots more to go wrong compared to any esky.


    I would check out Jaycar/Road Tech Marine or Altronics or a 4WD centre to see what they have available. Jaycar and RTM are retail companies owned by Electus distribution and sell allot of the the product with he same part numbers and RRP.


    The relatively easy bit is the solar panel. The hardest bit will b the electronics to make sure you do NOT cook the battery and that it supports multiple battery chemistry as you do not want to be on a trip and need a new battery that is not available where you are, but you can get a cheap car battery as a stop gap until you get to a bigger town. The battery will be a deep-cycle, but as for capacity when you go into the store take in the specs for ALL of the equipment you want to run on the battery and they will be able to calculate how many AH you need.


    Focus on the fridge power consumption. LED lights draw diddly squat.

    Is this for installation to a camper/caravan or tenting?

    Minimum 100ah deep cycle battery. Minimum 100w solar, but you need to sun track with that. 150-200w would be better. Suitable solar controller for your panel and battery. It won’t be cheap


    I know that it wouldn't be suitable for this, but I saw a Ryobi 150W Inverter at Bunnings that maybe of interest to some campers, that own Ryobi 18+ tools.


    How often do you go? I go regularly and my first system was cheap and it constantly had niggling electrical issues which are not great in the bush during summer when your fridge turns off. If you want good quality then get a:

    • Century AGM deep cycle battery. Whatever you can fit in your engine bay or 120amp will be plenty.
    • Redarc BCDC1220. This is a smart charger that has solar input as well.
    • For a coffee machine you need an inverter. Unless you can buy a 12v coffee machine. I have never looked into this.

    The other thing to consider is if you only go on weekends away, you won’t need solar for a 120amp battery. Similarly if you are changing locations every day or two and have a few hours drive between each location. Once again you may not need solar.

    There are plenty of YouTube guides on Dual Battery Systems. Ronny Dahl, 4xoverland, Redarc, Australian Direct etc


      OP appears to want a portable setup - ie not under the bonut thingy. Your suggestion seems to be for an in car install. Also not a lot of 4x4s have extra space in the engine bay anymore. Second battery often ends up in the back somewhere.


        Fair enough I didn’t read the post properly. Same principles apply though, battery box usually has a DCDC charger and deep cycle battery.


    I just started testing one of these https://www.cppower.com.au/collections/power-stations/produc... - great unit. Has the advantage of running up to 600w devices at full voltage, and even better, higher wattage devices (kettle, induction cooktop, microwave etc) but at a lower voltage. Charges within a couple of hours on mains, can charge with solar or car charger also. Has 2 regular house plugs, 100w USB connector, 3 other USB, etc. This is the mid range item, there is smaller and bigger models.