Electricity is the lifeblood of any overland build. It keeps us in touch with the outside world, our camps lit at night, our fresh food cold, and all our devices charged and ready.
We've covered some of the main aspects of designing an on-board electrical set up for your rig in previous articles here on the Overlander Notebook. However, from inputs like solar panels and chargers, to battery controllers, isolators, and distribution systems, building a dedicated secondary electrical system can seem like a daunting task.
What if you're looking for a simpler solution that offers all the power of a permanent parallel dual-battery set up, but with more flexibility? Some overland vehicles are short on room, some of us want to carry less weight, and others have multiple rigs in the garage that could all benefit from some auxiliary power.
In some ways, there's no substitute for the convenience and "set it and forget it" nature of an on-board dual battery system run by a power management system like Redarc's RedVision.
But not all of us have the budget, space, or expertise for that level of install. Maybe you're looking to get started on this overlanding thing, and you just need a way to keep a handful of tablets and a navigation device charged up. Want to run a mobile fridge, but without damaging your car's primary battery? A portable battery charger may be the answer.
A portable battery charger is a stand-alone power station with multiple functions. They offer 12 volt DC power outputs via car ports (the old cigarette lighter jacks), 6mm jacks, and USB style ports, as well as inverters for three prong 110 volt AC power. In turn, they can be charged by DC 12 volt inputs on the go, or from a wall socket. And, adding a portable solar panel or two means you can go fully off the grid for long periods and still keep the electrons flowing.
A great example is Goal Zero's Yeti 150 Portable Power Station. Compact, light weight and fast charging, the Yeti is an affordable AGM 12 pound powerhouse that offers 168Wh of peak capacity. Perfect for long weekend getaways and easy to throw in the back seat, its internal battery management hardware ensures long service life and protection for your sensitive electronics.
Maybe you need a little more juice? Goal Zero's lithium battery technology in its Portable Power Stations offers hours and hours of uninterrupted power supply through multiple outputs, including a pure sine wave inverter, and can handle up to 360W of solar charging input. Great for big crews with lots of devices and diverse electricity demands, Power Stations are capable of running not just your overland rig, but your entire fishing cabin as well.
In fact, that's one of the direct benefits of portable battery chargers. They're not just for your overland rig. Like the name says, they're portable, so they can be deployed in many different kinds of situations. The campsite, the off-the-grid getaway, and even during power outages and severe weather situations.
Duracell's Power Source is a surprisingly compact and affordable battery station that provides 1800 watts of peak power and 660Ah of capacity. It can be daisy chained together with additional external batteries, and it features an uninterrupted power supply to keep your devices and equipment going during breaks in power.
Duracell Power Source
Even if your rig is equipped with a dedicated dual battery system, a portable battery charger is also a great piece of equipment to increase the versatility of your set up. Goal Zero's Lithium Ion Sherpa weighs only two pounds. Throw it in your pack for an overnight in the backcountry, or in your carry-on for that red-eye, and it will keep your phone, tablet, and even your power-hungry laptop all topped up for hours on end.
Goal Zero Sherpa
Questions about portable battery chargers? Reach out to Overlander's expert team to chat details, or drop us a line in the comments below!
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We don’t like to get too hung up on labels here at Overlander, but, well… it’s in our name so we thought we’d take some time to think about what overland travel means to us and for you.