Written by Brett Kinross
Monday, 01 September 2008 23:30
Note this is intended to be basic starting information to free/independent camping.
To be set up for free camping does not have to be expensive or difficult. In effect there are three things to consider when free camping (or perhaps the better term 'Independent Camping') over going to caravan parks.
- Knowing where to go. That's one of the reasons for creating this site so we can all share and help one another out. Camps 4 is an extremely helpful resource which includes over 3,100 sites around Australia. I highly recommend the version with Camp Snaps (photos of the sites) which retails for around $80 and can be ordered from their website or through RACV.
- Water. This is one of the main limitations for how long you can free camp. One of the most important things is to know how much water is in your tank(s). Water gauges are relatively simple to install as a DIY project and cost around $70. Here is some instructions on installation. This means that you can judge if you need to ration your usage or not for the time that you are camping. If you do not have the ability to refill with water then short showers are a must. Also you could look at boiling water from rivers etc to use for dishes.
Currently my family (wife, two kids aged 6 and 7 and myself) can get about 5 days usage out of two 90 litre water tanks. When using another water source for dishes and showers this can increase significantly.
- What I am probably going to do at the end of the year is to modify my van so that an external hose can be connected that the water pump will then suck through. This means that if I am close enough to a river I can just suck the water directly from there for shower and sink use. Even if I can't get the hose to reach I could then use external containers to suck the water from.
UPDATE (25/11/08): What I ended up doing with water is buying a second hand Shurflo 12 volt water pump. I then used this connected to an old 75 amp/Hr battery to pump water from a creek directly to the van. Note the pump has to be close to the water as it is much easier for pumps to push water than to draw up, especially from a height. If the van is too high from the water you will struggle to get sufficient pressure. For those cases I have a large collapsable bin which I put a large garbage bag liner (as bin is not waterproof) - I then use the pump to fill this container up near the van and then move the pump so I can pump from this container. I had to make sure I secured the collapsable bin to make sure it didn't collapse when it got too full.
- Power. Along with water power is the limiter for the duration of your stay. However power requirements can be fairly basic. I have free camped for a week with our old Jayco Swan which was powered by connection to the car - though important to use the car daily to avoid battery drain.
Most important is to replace all incandescent globes as these are very inefficient. I have installed the Coronet Fluorescent lights by Hybalec instead of the default incandescent Jayco roof lights. Other globes I have replaced with the 28 LED from Deal Extreme (free postage); these can be put into existing light fittings, though a bit of a blue light. Just by doing this our energy consumption has dropped markedly.
Now days I have a 100 amp/H Fullriver AGM battery in my Jayco Expanda. Important to have a 12 volt gauge to measure batter. I use the ARRID Expanded Voltmeter from the 12 Volt shop. I have a very small (20 watts) solar panel which I attach when camping for more than a few days and this provides enough power to run my fluorescent lights for an extra couple of hours a day. Also use an inverter for basic use (i.e. kids DVD player, charging Laptop, charging AA batteries) but don't have TV installed in van. My fridge is a three way fridge that I run on gas. With this I can survive for around 7 days in the bush.
So my setup is quite cheap however I don't really feel the need for anything extra. Now at the other end of the scale are those who go heavily into solar power. My uncle even runs a microwave and hairdryer from his setup . A common setup to be self sufficient would include two 80 watt solar panels which would allow you to use lights, TV, washing machine etc. If you have a fridge that runs off 12 volt and not gas then you will probably have to have an 80 watt solar panel just for this alone. You can calculate your usage here to see what setup you may require. Just bear in mind that you will get a lot less energy in winter, especially down south.
So the cost for me to be able to camp around a week:
- $80 for Camps 4 so I know where to go
- $70 for water gauge (though still to put one in )
- 2 x Fluorescent lights = $110
- 5 x 28 LED globes = $55
- 20 watt solar panel = was a gift but less than $200 on ebay
- Votmeter = $40 plus postage
- Fullriver 100 amp/H AGM battery = $280 (from Carac in Dandenong)
All up around $835.
Please post your setups in the comments section.
Last Updated ( Friday, 12 August 2011 04:12 )