Portable Solar Panel Review

Dometic Waeco 120w Portable Solar Panel Review 

Model PS120

best portable solar panel
With more and more free camping options becoming available around Australia, our thoughts turn to how we are going to charge our caravan batteries when we are discounted from electricity for a long period of time. 

The Dometic Waeco 120W Solar Panel is a portable unit which has become very popular amoung caravaners wanting to make use of RV friendly towns who provide areas to free camp.

These local council areas often provide basic amenities for the travelling public such as a 'bush' or 'long drop' toilets, a water source (not always drinkable), and sometimes a dump point for emptying our portable toilets which is always appreciated.

There is usually a time limit of 24 or 48 hrs that you can stay, but occaisionally you will come across others which have a longer time limit. Some allow up to 2 weeks.

So with that in mind, we'll take a closer look at a portable solar panel that can offer the daily charging capacity that you'll need.

Firstly the Dometic Waeco brand is second to none in Australia. It is a widely recognised brand, and this particular unit has a 2 year warranty period which is why it can claim to be one of the highest selling and most popular portable solar panels on the market.

Here are some of the features:
  • 10amp heavy duty voltage regulator (12 volt)
  • monocrystalline silicon panels for high performance
  • sensor for battery temperature
  • 5 metre lead with aligator clips and Anderson plug connector
  • adjustable feet to allow for capturing the sun to your best advantage - (optomised for Southern Hemisphere) 
  • compact design  
  • easy to fold up
  • carry bag supplied
Dimensions:Wide 534 x Height 810 x Depth 70mm (Folded)
Overall Weight:14kg  

Read the customer reviews of the Dometic Waeco 120W Solar Panel

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How to Avoid Crashing Your Caravan

Why caravan weight distribution is so important.

Safety is such an important factor while towing your caravan and Australian road conditions can vary dramatically around the country. Keeping alert is not always enough as accidents can happen in an instant and leave us wondering what went wrong.

I think it's fair to say that few of us give much of a thought to loading or packing our caravans correctly, or perhaps we just don't know how to do it safely.  It can literally mean the difference between life and death on the road and far too many holidays that involve towing a caravan can end in disaster.

In the following video we look at how packing your caravan can change how it behaves while towing. The effects of moving weight within the caravan or adding jerry cans for example, to the outside of the caravan can drastically alter how it follows behind your car.

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Tribunal Orders Jayco Replacement

Civil & Administrative Tribunal Orders Jayco to Replace Faulty Caravan Worth $70,000

After only 2 years of ownership, over 90 reported faults and 10 warranty repairs, Junette Nicholson had her case ruled in her favour.

In regard to the Jayco Silverline 24.7 purchased from Watson's Caravans in Coffs Harbour  the Tribunal concluded that 'a reasonable consumer being fully acquanted with these circumstances would not have acquired the caravan' and therefore ordered Jayco Australia to replace the caravan.

During the course of the hearing the caravan dealer stated that the caravan could still be used for it's intended purpose, that there was little evidence of a major defect, and it wasn't unsafe or unfit for purpose.

However Ms Nicholson had claimed a full refund or a replacement to the same value.

Tribunal General Member Mr Mark Gilson agreed that many defects still existed and Ms Nicholsdon was entitled to a replacement.

Concerns were raised on a number of issues, some of which included:
  • supply of gas to the stove and operation of stove
  • squeaks in floor
  • bulges and deformations in areas of external walls
  • cracks to the corners of perspex side windows
  • material used to stabilise table is of insufficient quality
  • perishing seals to slide out
  • drawer under sink slides out whilst travelling
  • misalignment of shade over slide out
  • faulty operation of front window cover
  • a curve in roll out awning rail

The tribunal ruled that Jayco must supply a replacement caravan of the same type and of similar value on or before July 18 and that Ms Nicholson must return her existing caravan within a week of receiving it from Watson's Caravans in Coffs Harbour.

Caravan Annexes

Caravan Annexes

Unfortunately no new caravans on the market in Australia come complete with an annexe, although most will have a roll out awning fitted for sun shade, and most dealers will have an annexe manufacturer that they can recommend. Some even have a display annexe available with colour choices for you to browse.

A complete annexe for your caravan allows you and your family to enjoy the comfort of a private and spacious additional living area. Walls can be added to most awnings to form the complete annexe and are manufactured from a variety of materials including canvas, vinyl, and rip-stop nylon.

Canvas Annexes

Lets look at the canvas annexes first. Most of you will be familiar with this material if you have been camping before, especially as a child. In those days canvas left a lot to be desired as a waterproof material but in all fairness it has come a long way since then, and modern canvas annexes of all shapes and sizes can be seen attached to anything from a camper trailer to the larger caravans touring Australia. It is an extremely heavy duty, plain weave cloth mad from cotton, and is particularly sturdy. It's a good choice for long lasting durability under somewhat harsh conditions.

Vinyl Annexes

Secondly there are vinyl annexes to consider. Vinyl is a unique and special form of plastic which is made from a combination of natural gas and salt. It can be enhanced to give the qualities we look for in a soft annex material or modified to become rigid as seen in plumbing pipes. It has been proven through numerous studies that vinyl is a completely safe to humans. It is easy to clean, more environmentally friendly than other plastics in the manufacturing process and is extremely durable and 100% completely recyclable.

Rip-Stop Nylon Annexes

Known primarily as a light-weight nylon fabric, ripstop nylon caravan annexes have inter-woven reinforcement threads in a crosshatch pattern integrated into its design for strength and durability, so that tears will not spread. These annexes are popular due to their extremely light weight, ease of putting up and taking down, and are usually much less expensive than their traditional rivals.

When purchasing any annexe it is advisable to check:
  • waterproof or water resistant capabilities 
  • fire resistance or rating 
  • porosity (will not allow air or water through) 
  • light, medium and heavy weight 
  • warranty or guarantee 
  • location of service or repair centres 
  • availability of spare parts 
  • ease of putting up and taking down 
  • is a floor provided / or sewn in
  • overall weight including any poles, ropes and ground pegs 
  • does it have a 'mud skirt' at the bottom so the fabric doesn't come into contact with the ground 
  • does it come with a weather proof skirt for the caravan 
  • does it have a quick zip system for opening doors and windows 
There are many, many different styles of Caravan Annexes available on the market in Australia. With this in mind it can often be a good idea to ask other caravanners what their experience has been with the annex that they purchased and would they recommend it to others. This will give you a great insight into the advantages and disadvantages of particular manufacturers and their products before you buy, and a great way to meet your neighbours in the caravan park!