Off-Grid Power Battle: Generator vs Battery

Heading away on an off-grid caravan or camping trip and want to stay connected to civilisation? You need the right power set-up. But how do you choose generator vs battery?

Don’t worry - we’ve got you covered.

In this article we weigh up the pros and cons of a generator vs battery in this off-grid power battle.

 

Why Choose A Generator:

There’s a lot to like about generators for your camping and caravan trips. Take a look:

  • Generators run on fuel. If you have fuel, you have instant power. No need to wait for things to charge up.

  • You can run your favourite devices. You can run 240V appliances/electronics from the generator, which means you’ll have no troubles keeping everything cool in your camping fridge. Plug your appliances straight into the generator - no problem.

  • That means sensitive electronics too. Inverter generators can run sensitive appliances and electronics, such as laptops and camera gear. No need to worry about the risk of power surges that can damage equipment. 

  • AND high-current drawing appliances. Generators can run high current drawing appliances and electronics such as microwaves and power tools.

  • Generators are super portable. Move your generator between vehicles and to different places on the campsite. The advantage of a camping generator is that it is designed to be moved around easily. Some generators come with handles and wheel kits, and can weigh as little as 25kg (depending on fuel).

 

 

Cons Of Generators:

Generators come with a few drawbacks that can be a dealbreaker for some. Weigh them up below:

  • Generators can be noisy. We can’t deny that generators make noise. There are some great quieter options on the market (like the Briggs & Stratton P2400W Inverter Generator) , but even the quietest generator will make some noise. So, if you’re after absolute tranquility, you might want to rethink.

  • Some locations restrict generators. Because of the noise, some national parks, camping grounds and public places do not allow generators or they put a curfew on usage. So having a generator could restrict your travel plans.

  • Generators have emissions. Generators run on fuel and that means they give off toxic fumes, so you can’t say they are the most eco-friendly option for camping trips.

  • You always need fuel. Generators are fuel dependent, so you need to ensure you always carry enough fuel for the generator. This means you’re also paying for the ongoing fuel costs.

  • Generators can be bulky. Not all generators are big and heavy, but some definitely are. They can be difficult to move around and take up a lot of space.

  • You need to do maintenance. Generators need maintenance if they’re going to keep running smoothly and efficiently. That means you need to budget for ongoing maintenance costs.

 

Why Choose A Battery:

Free to run, silent and efficient - batteries offer lots of benefits for Australian adventures. It all depends on your budget and the type you choose:

  • Batteries are silent. They don’t make any noise. Nada.

  • Batteries are compact. These days most batteries are designed to be compact and lightweight, so you can transport them easily. Realistically, AGM lead batteries are still a heavy choice (the clue is in the name) and lithium batteries are the best choice for lightweight design.

  • Batteries are free to run. Pair your battery with solar panels, and you are literally enjoying free energy. No need to pay for fuel or oil to keep them running. 

  • You can find batteries for even the tightest budget. While it’s true the best batteries are lithium, there are cheap options available, such as AGM batteries, that will still do a good job, especially if you only need a basic set up.

  • Batteries are super-efficient. If you choose a reputable lithium battery brand like Enerdrive, you get all the benefits of a super efficient power set up.

 

Cons Of Batteries:

Batteries are not perfect for everyone! Check out these drawbacks:

  • You might need installation. If you choose a non-portable battery, you need to install the battery to ensure your power is set up properly and won’t damage your gear. Compared to generators, this can be confusing if you haven’t done it before, as there’s a level of wiring required. But top battery brands like Enerdrive have made it easier with pre-wired kits that you can simply plug and play.

  • You can’t power everything. Batteries have a limited supply of power, which means you can’t run everything you want at the same time. You’ll need to work out which devices you want to power and the best size of battery to accommodate this.

  • Batteries need to be re-charged. Either you need to recharge batteries via a DC to DC charger on the move or using solar panels.

  • You need to keep an eye on battery discharge. Batteries should never be 100% discharged, so you need to monitor your battery carefully to ensure it isn’t damaged.

  • Batteries can be expensive. If you want the best efficiency in a lightweight package, it won’t come cheap. You’ll have to pay a premium for good quality lithium batteries. The good news is that the price of lithium batteries is dropping!

 

Generator VS Battery: Our Verdict

With so many advantages to both generators and batteries, we figure why choose? You can enjoy a setup that includes both!

If you’re heading off on a longer camping trip in a big group, an inverter generator is a must-have to power all your fridges, freezers and lighting, while also topping up battery power throughout the trip.

The same goes for a caravan. You should have a battery and solar set-up, ideally with a lithium battery for better performance. Then top up your power with a small inverter generator, so you can always top up batteries, run high power draw appliances like air con and power tools, and be confident you won’t run out of power in bad weather.


DISCLAIMER* Please note, this advice is general in nature and we strongly recommend consulting the product manual and where relevant, a professional installer.