The Best Ways to Get Portable Power for Camping
Being in the great outdoors is what New Zealand is all about. But to make your camping trip more of a “relaxing escape” than a “survival experience”, you’ll probably want to have access to power. Whether it’s simply charging your phone during multi-day tramps in the wilderness or keeping your fridge running in your campervan, there are portable power supplies for all sorts of camping needs. In this guide, we go through several of the best ways to get electricity while camping in New Zealand.
5 Things to Consider Before Buying a Power Supply for Camping
Below, we offer a range of solutions for getting electricity for camping in New Zealand. As we all have very different camping needs, not all of the solutions are suitable for everyone. Therefore, there are five things you need to consider before buying a power supply for camping:
- How much power do you need? If you’re camping from your backpack, enough power to charge your phone might be all you need, while those in a motorhome may have living appliances and personal electronic devices such as phones and laptops. Consider everything!
- Size and weight. As a general rule, the size and weight of the power supply correlate with how much power you can get from it.
- Price. This also tends to correlate with how much power is able to be produced; the more power, the higher the price (that’s why we’ve included an amazing sale we’ve found in this article).
- Durability. Although portable generators and solar panels are designed for outdoor use, some portable power banks and batteries don’t like being left out in the rain. It might be worth a bigger upfront investment for a more durable power supply that can survive the outdoors.
- Charging and power outlets. What kind of power outlet do your appliances and devices need? Does the power supply you are considering have all those outlets available?
Now, let’s take a look at some of the best ways to get electricity when camping in New Zealand…
Providing a home-away-from-home experience when it comes to power, portable generators are the first thing that comes to mind on how to get electricity when camping in New Zealand. Now, you can go two routes with generators:
- traditional combustion engine generators that run off propane or gas or,
- electric generators that run off solar power and other electrical inputs.
As portable generators are by far the best way to enjoy an off-the-grid camping experience when camping close to your vehicle (otherwise, they are heavy to carry), we have a whole guide on how to choose the best type of generator, so check it out at How to Choose a Generator for Your Motorhome, Campervan or Tent. Plus, compare some of the best portable generators in the 5 Best Power Stations for Camping.
The Best Portable Generator + Bluetti EOFY Sale!
Just a heads up, one of our favourite clean, green electric generators for camping, Bluetti Portable Power Station Range, is on sale now! Taking free energy from the sun, their solar-powered generators are much more eco-friendly than propane or gas power that, as we all know, is rapidly destroying the beautiful world we love to camp in! We also like the fact that they are much quieter than traditional gas generators and have several ways to recharge including solar power, your vehicle’s power, dual AC and dual AC and solar.
The Bluetti EOFY Sale has up to A$1,000 off across a range of solar generators – check it out on bluettipower.com.au.
Portable Solar Panels
Free and clean energy for camping, portable solar panels are a win-win! There are solar panels available for all sorts of camping situations, from tiny portable ones that can keep your phone charged while hiking to larger set-ups that you can install on the roof of your campervan or car.
Of course, a disadvantage of solar panels is that when there’s no sun, there’s no charge. However, some solar panel set-ups for camping vehicles have a battery pack that can switch to recharging from your vehicle while you drive. Make sure your solar panels’ battery pack has an inverter to safely charge from your vehicle’s battery.
Portable Power Bank
The smallest type of power storage available is a portable power bank or “battery pack”. They are powered by lithium-ion batteries and come with USB ports to charge your devices, as well as an inlet power port to charge the power bank (which, of course, you need a power source to recharge – best to do it before you set off on your camping trip).
Power banks come with batteries that have different capacities. Generally, they only provide enough power to keep your phone charged for two to five days. Decent portable power banks for camping have a battery capacity of around 26 Ah. However, you can get some with a capacity as high as 100 Ah.
Being the smallest type of portable power supply for camping, portable power banks tend to be the best option for campers who are hiking New Zealand’s epic trails.
Car Battery (Power Inverter)
If travelling to New Zealand campsites by car or campervan, you can get electricity through your vehicle’s battery. To access this battery power, however, you’ll need a power inverter with a car adapter to connect to the cigarette lighter port. A power inverter converts direct current into alternating current so it is able to safely power/charge your devices.
The major drawback of this way of getting electricity while camping is that you can’t charge devices for too long or it will drain too much power from the battery and your vehicle won’t start. There is also a bit of a process and tools required to install a power inverter.
Motorhome / RV Battery
If you’re camping in a campervan or motorhome, consider installing a motorhome battery, also known as an RV battery. Motorhomes have 12-volt batteries that are separate from the battery that powers the vehicle. They are typically 30 or 50 Ah systems that power basic appliances in the campervan, such as lights, vent fans and the water pump, for example. While these batteries are powerful enough for small electronics, they are not suitable for microwaves and air conditioning.
Motorhome batteries can be charged at campgrounds (see “Campground Powered Sites” below) and/or by solar panels (see “Portable Solar Panels above). They can last for a few days with the aid of solar panels and/or a deep cycle marine battery.
If you’re kitting out your campervan or motorhome for a New Zealand camping road trip, make sure that it also qualifies for a self-containment certification that allows you to freedom camp legally in New Zealand. Find out more in How to Convert Your Van into a Self-Contained Campervan.
Campground Powered Sites
Segueing from the point above, one final way you can get electricity while camping in New Zealand is by hooking up to a power supply in a campground. In New Zealand holiday parks and campgrounds, these are known as “powered sites”.
Powered Sites for Motorhomes and Campervans
For those travelling in a motorhome or campervan, your vehicle will need a motorhome battery, a power input and a cable to connect it to a powered site’s electrical supply. These are included in almost all rental camping vehicles, so there’s nothing to worry about there. Being connected to a campground power supply means that you will also be able to power heavier appliances, such as a microwave, air conditioner, heater, etc.
Powered Sites for Tents
You don’t have to be in a motorhome or campervan with a battery to access electricity at a powered site in New Zealand! Just simply pick up a “camping lead” at any department, vehicle or outdoor store and you’ll have a long cable that connects to the campground power sites on one end (these are not your standard New Zealand power outlets) and has a standard New Zealand outlet on the other where you can connect your electronic device. Just make sure you have a New Zealand power adapter if you’re visiting from overseas.
More About Electricity When Camping in New Zealand
Now that you know how to get electricity when camping in New Zealand, here are more tips to make sure you’re prepared for your outdoor adventure!
- Camping Essentials Checklist for New Zealand
- New Zealand: Electrical Outlets & Power Plugs
- 10 Ways to Make Your Generator Quieter When Camping
Finally, make sure you haven’t forgotten anything for your campervan road trip using How to Plan a Campervan Trip in New Zealand or tent camping adventure by checking out The Complete Guide to Camping in New Zealand.