Can this Redarc 12v electrical system reliably power induction cooking?

By Mark Allen 7 Min Read

Technology – ain’t it grand!

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I reflected on my two-year trip around Australia from 1992 to 94. I had a single 100amphour deep cycle lead acid battery, a 40-litre fridge and a fluoro lantern. No other 12 or 240-volt appliances, fancy battery-powered tools or laptop computers that needed recharging and the only other light source I had needed regular battery changes to keep my handheld flashlight beaming. 

Life was simple and easy.

Fast forward to 2023, and my latest outback touring machine, a 4×4 converted HiAce campervan, has a whole host of inbuilt electrical gear, plus carts many 12 and 240-volt cooking appliances, various rechargeable torches and lamps, plus a host of rechargeable tools. 

Life is more complicated, but easier – I think! 

The REDARC system

My HiAce is fitted with the latest REDARC system comprising two 200-amp hour lithium batteries (400-amp hours all up), a 2000-watt inverter, the RedArc TVMS Rogue, the Manager 30, and the RedVision display. The display provides all the information relating to the system’s workings, as well as complete control of all components by allowing individual switching on or off. 

The phone app also allows me to access the entire system from outside the van.

We also used a 240-watt REDARC solar blanket and the 270-watt roof-mounted solar system to help recharge the system as quickly as possible.

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Induction cooking

Compared to how I cooked those few decades ago – an LPG 2-burner cooker and the fire that saw my basic cooking ability shine, the new setup is straightforward, convenient and predictable. Having an induction cooker that supplies near-instant heat and works just as well on windy days as it does calm helps with all forms of “stove top” type meals with easily controlled heat settings. 

The 240-volt kettle and Nutri Bullet were the only other appliances we took. The kettle was used at least twice daily for our early morning cuppas and, at times, to quickly boil up a small amount of water as needed.

Our reliance on 240-volt cooking was somewhat of a trial run for this first trip in our camper. Given that we drove a lot, the REDARC system was easily recharged daily. The times we stayed put for multiple days, our solar system took over and never saw us totally out of power.

The other power consumers

Having the ability to recharge laptops, torches and battery-operated power tools made life cushy. Take, for instance, cutting of firewood. My old self would start swinging the axe or perhaps heaving on the bow saw for just enough wood for a small fire to cook on, plus a little extra to sit around afterwards. Now, the recipro saw eats up the firewood duties, especially as I use a 12-inch pruning blade, allowing plenty of large enough diameter logs to be blocked. Not that we had massive roaring fires, but our love of staring into the flames and coals long after dinner saw many a late night around the campfire. Recharging the tool batteries via the 240-volt charger and 2000-watt inverter was always done while driving, which didn’t deplete the onboard REDARC lithium batteries. The same goes for recharging our torches, phones and camera batteries.

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While our REDARC inverter has its own 240-volt socket, we had extra 240-volt sockets added to the HiAce to charge multiple devices at a time.

We also used a 96-litre MYCOOLMAN fridge-freezer. Wow, didn’t that allow us to take a huge stock of food and drinks! As well as being a large fridge, utilising one half as a freezer uses much more power than a smaller fridge or even both sides of the large fridge as just a fridge. The lower the fridge temperatures, the more power it’ll use. 

We never ran out of battery power to keep the fridge-freezer running 24/7 for nine weeks on the road.

Would I change anything?

While the REDARC system worked a treat, if we were to stay put in one camping place for a more extended period, we’d eventually run out of battery power if we used the high-draw appliances regularly. The main reason is that the system recharges much faster via the alternator while driving than solar input charging. While we had the two solar panels working while camping, it’s still not enough to replenish the batteries after hitting them hard with the kitchen appliances we use for cooking and preparing food. 

The solar blanket works and does its job, I just find it a little fiddley to keep it aimed at the sun compared to other portable solar fold-up panels that incorporate fold-out legs. Laying the solar blanket on the ground, awning or roof or hanging it on the edge of the van or off the awning rarely provides the ideal aiming solution. If it could be set on the ground with legs to allow it to be aimed at the sun to take full advantage of the solar input, it would make a difference, albeit not enough to make a huge advantage. Other than that, another portable solar panel would be needed to help pump up the batteries, as I’d rather not be running the vehicle’s engine or a generator while at camp.

Our 2000-watt inverter was adequate to handle a single high-draw appliance, but trying to utilise the kettle and the induction cooker simultaneously would overload and trip the safety switch. Two ways around this: a larger inverter or use LPG for some of our cooking. Initially, I was hell-bent on not taking LPG on board, but I am now considering externally mounting a bottle and a BBQ for some of our cooking – slow-cooked roasts and BBQ meat are hard to beat!


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