We are now at the pointy end of our preparation for getting ready for a life on the road. We've sold the house and all our possessions and we're making some upgrades to our rig and our equipment. A big part of that is upgrading our caravan's 12 volt electrical system from AGM to Lithium Phosphate batteries.
We've been considering this upgrade for some time and done quite a bit of research into what is available on the market. We wanted to make the upgrade as simple as possible so that we would have a system that is easy to maintain while were in remote areas.
Its not that we had any trouble with the existing AGM based system. In fact, it has performed extremely well and never really given us any concern. That said, our 12v power needs are quite high. We have a large 12v compressor fridge and I use a C-Pap machine every night. These combine to take a lot of power out of the 200ah AGM batteries.
We also have to consider the weight of our rig, especially now that we will be carrying additional items necessary for living full time in the van. Moving to Lithium Phosphate batteries has the potential to reduce our load by a significant amount.
So thanks to our partner organisations, we've now got all the gear necessary.
Redarc Australia have supplied us a their top of the range BMS1230S2 30 amp battery management system. This amazing piece of technology combines power from the solar panels, 240v mains and 12v supply from the tow vehicle into a single charge output to the batteries. Best of all it has multiple charging profiles for different types of batteries including Lithium Phosphate batteries.
OziMall.com supplied a single Pro Power 200ah Lithium Battery. This battery looks enormous and it is. Its about ½ a meter long but surprisingly its weighs just 32kgs. That's half what the existing 2 x 100ah AGM batteries weigh and, thanks to the advanced design, the Lithium battery can safely be discharged to much lower levels, effectively doubling our capacity.
The Pro Power batteries feature internal cell balancing so they can be used with older chargers that don't have a lithium charging profile. However, we've opted to upgrade the charger as well to ensure this expensive battery has long life.
Normally I would do the installation of this sort of equipment myself however, given the value of the components involved, we will have the system professionally installed by Chris Emmerson from CJE Caravan Repairs.
While we have the van in the hands of an expert, we will also be installing the WiTi system that will eliminate the need for trailer light connections, instead utilising a wireless system. The caravan module of the WITi system has the added bonus of a security alarm for the caravan, just for a little extra peace of mind.
The aim of the project is to showcase what is available to caravanners and also show how easy it is to install a similar system themselves. Long term we will report on how well the system works under a wide variety of conditions.