My power needs when camping aren’t huge as trips are typically overnighters with the occasional 2 to 3 night stays. I was previously using the 1500wh power station from PowerOak and have been super impressed with it. However, in many ways for what I need it’s actually overpowered. If I get the chance to do any extended trips in the future that power station is the ideal solution, but for general use a 500wh power station will be sufficient.
The main benefits for the Jimny camper build in my opinion are:
- Small size
- Recharge on the go
- Top up via solar
Size & weight
It may not come as a surprise that weight and size matters in a Jimny camper and a lot of the decisions I make and the restrictions I put on the build are driven by this fact. The Jimny is designed to be a lightweight, nimble vehicle. Overloading it with heavy gear and accessories is only going to massively hit your power and already mediocre fuel economy, not to mention the tiny 40L tank. Range isn’t such a big deal here in the UK as you’re never too far from a petrol station but for some owners in larger countries who venture into the wild this can be a challenging issue.
The way I see it, spending time to consider every piece of equipment and accessory you use is time well spent. I have been continually optimising my kit for my needs, right from choosing a smaller 26L fridge, lightweight multipurpose camping kit, reducing the weight of the roof tent and always ensuring I install lightweight accessories, such as the front bumper.
I can of course do a lot better, I still take way too much gear and I can optimise the roof tent set up even more (working on it!). After each trip I refine the kit I’ll take on the next and I’m always on the lookout for improvements.
Lithium power stations are a big piece of kit and as such they can become very heavy. The 1500wh pack weighs in at 17kg so on a 300kg max payload vehicle that’s a significant amount. If you have a normal car that’s not an issue but with a Jimny you need to try harder. By comparison the AC50S weighs in at only 6.2kg!
Size wise it can comfortably sit almost anywhere you want in your Jimny. I’m still working out how to rig up something more elegant for how the power station and fridge are stored and accessed, but for now the fridge easily bungees to the sides and the power station sits in the passenger rear footwell.
Here’s how looks in an empty boot to help you gauge the space requirements.
I ran a test on instagram to see how long the AC50S would last powering 3 LED strip lights, a Dometic CDF-26 fridge and charing an old broken iPhone 6 from almost empty to full. Then leaving the iPhone plugged in maintaining a full charge.
Things to note about the test:
- The iPhone battery is broke and completely loses its charge even with the phone powered off. I know that this device drained the most power but I do like to charge up a bunch of things at times including portable LED lights and obviously my normal iPhone that I shoot my videos on. So thought this battery inefficient device would be worth hooking up and not leaving my day to day phone out of action.
- I wouldn’t run the 3 LED strip lights continuously, perhaps 3-4 hours in an evening.
- Dometic fridges are so bloody efficient, it’s like magic.
It’s fair to say that this is far from a realistic test but all I need is an idea of how much time I can expect to get. View the result.
Ultimately once I combine the 2 recharging options available on the go I can’t see how I’ll encounter any power anxiety on almost any trip. Easily planning for 3 days of power with normal usage.
Recharging on the go
I have not yet tested the 120w solar panel so cannot offer any feedback on that, but with regards to it’s size and weight it’s a good fit for the Jimny. Slotting nicely behind the passenger seat.
The car recharge is pretty cool. Over 100w input while driving and it will recharge the unit and power your devices simultaneously. The only downside is the fans do fire up while charging. To me, it sounds similar to having the Jimny’s heater fans on half power. The engine noise in the cabin isn’t exactly muffled on these cars so it’s just another bit of white noise.
I’ll be sure to update this article after using it properly at camp. As soon as Boris opens the country up again, maybe after the Covid Christmas… who dares to wonder what 2021 will be like.
Cheers for reading this far, hope it helps.
p.s. I reached out to PowerOak to ask for a coupon code. I won’t get any kick backs if you use it but it will save you a few quid!
I’m just confirming these up so check back soon.