The Magazine for LCV Fleet Operators
Onboard power - don’t leave home without it. SM UK’s managing director Steve MacDonald guides customers through this potential minefield. Onboard Power

Onboard power – don’t leave home without it. SM UK’s managing director Steve MacDonald guides customers through this potential minefield.

Onboard power’ was once considered a dirty phrase, as it meant powering your appliances by leaving your van running. It was noisy, diesel fumes were either pumped out of the van’s exhaust or from the onboard diesel generator and carbon emissions were as you can imagine, off the scale.

As Steve MacDonald MD from SM UK explains: “Two of the most fundamental questions to ask at the outset are, what do you use the power for? How long do you need the power to run for? These are the options.”


An all-in-one power unit can provide power to your 240V AC and 12V DC appliances, without the complexities of additional equipment. Even when the vehicle is switched off, the power unit we recommend will still provide ample power to your equipment.

• Compact

• Rapidly recharging 0-80% in 48 minutes

• Jump start function in case of a flat battery.

More specifically this type of unit will hold extra power when you need it! Reducing your CO emissions and helping reduce fuel consumption.


Another option is to use a split charging kit which is a control unit that safely charges a secondary battery in the van for you to draw from when using power tools or other electrically power-driven appliances. One of the primary reasons for using a split is that it will protect the starter battery, by isolating it from the main battery when the engine is off, and resumes charging only when the engine is running.


A power inverter gives you 110V, 240V power so you can charge or power on the go or when on site directly from the vehicle. That said ,the inverter may work best with an extra battery or charger in your vehicle if you are using more than one machine or power tool.


Another great option is to have a solar panel mounted on the roof of the van, which could charge a secondary battery without the engine running. Reducing engine wear, oil use, and perfect for sites where engine idling (engine running whist the vehicle is stationary) is prohibited and of course, further reducing your carbon footprint.


Landline charging gives you the option to charge your onboard power back at base, so irrespective of the distance you are travelling, the batteries will be fully charged and ready to go.










Don’t try this at home!

Whatever your options, its worth speaking with SM UK, as it’s not just a case of one size fits all. Let’s face it, most of us at some time will be working in a remote location, with no access to mains-fed power. And so the need to power a compressor, angle grinder and/or welding equipment or indeed those essential cordless drill batteries and other cordless appliances is a given, right? It therefore makes sense that you may need more than one option, or a suite of options, which collectively will support your need for power whilst on the road.

As MacDonald explained: “At SM UK we aim to dispense an engineering solution and as part of the install we can also provide a solution for your onboard power, with a view to make it work ready.”

For more advice contact:

Tom Fenton or Matt Banks 0845 388 3816 or email

You can also find further information on our website