Want to run your air conditioning overnight in your caravan while camping off the grid? You heard it right, running air con without 240 power. Keep watching and we’ll show you how with a Free Camping Caravan Power System.
Hi there, Andrew here from Accelerate Auto Electrics & Air Conditioning on the Sunshine Coast. Today we’re very excited to show you through, this On The Move, No Limits caravan that we have just finished installing a power packed, Enerdrive Lithium power system in.
This caravan came to us with 3x 125Ah AGM batteries in it, and Enerdrive Combo 1600W charger inverter, and a Projecta DCDC charger. It was only wired up and capable of running a microwave and a couple of power points. The batteries, inverter, and DCDC charger were all too small to run the air con system.
This new setup is a custom free camping caravan power system that is built by us, and Enerdrive, and includes two 300Ah compact lithium batteries, an Enerdrive Combi 2000W inverter charger.
The custom Enerdrive base plate. Two 40A DC-DC chargers. And an Enerdrive ePRO Plus battery monitor. The other thing we’ve done, is we’ve fitted 890 watts of solar on the roof and a Dometic Harrier Inverter air conditioner.
Let’s take a closer look at all of the components inside.
We’ll start up top with the solar panel. The caravan already had two 120 watt panels on the roof, it also had the air con unit, satellite dish, couple of TV antennas, so we had to play Tetris to get all the panels there.
It now has nine separate panels including the two existing ones, totaling 890 watts. The nine solar panels flow into the Morning Star 60 Amp controller. The whole system is installed under these seats in the rear of the van.
We’ve installed two 300Ah compact lithium batteries, giving the caravan a whopping 600Ah of lithium. That is equivalent to 850Ah of AGM batteries. So there’s a few reasons why we use these lithium batteries in these type of fit outs. Lithium-ion batteries have a high energy density and are perfect for cyclic applications.
They offer savings of up to 70% in volume and weight compared to traditional lead acid or AGM batteries. Lithium-ion batteries also offer fast charging and discharging, high efficiency and three times as many charging cycles, up to 1500 cycles compared to traditional AGM lead acid batteries.
To give you an example of the weight saving, you would need to have seven 125Ah AGM batteries installed in a caravan to get the equivalent run time for the air con system. The weight of that many AGM batteries, would be 241 kilos, in comparison, these two lithium batteries, weigh less than a hundred kilos. Don’t forget about the space saving too, I don’t know many caravans that could fit all these AGM batteries underneath the seat.
Active Cell Balancing
A feature that these lithium batteries have that is exclusive to Enerdrive is the Active Cell Balancing. In layman’s terms, the battery is made up of individual cells, and over time, these cells get out of balance with each other.
Enerdrive has a magic black box, that allows for automatic balancing of the cells during charging, discharging, and storage. Any cells with high voltage density will transfer energy to the lower cells in the pack, which will increase longevity of the batteries and limit the waste of stored energy.
Combi Inverter Charger
Down here, we have the Enerdrive ePRO Combi 2000 Watt Charger Inverter. It is an all in one combination of a DC to AC pure sine wave inverter, and advanced multi-stage charger, and a high-speed AC transfer switch.
The main task of the ePRO Combi Inverter Charger is to act as an uninterruptible AC power supply or UPS. In case of disconnecting the van from 240 volt, the ePRO Combi immediately stops charging the battery, releases the AC transfer switch, and activates an inverter to take over supply of all the connected loads.
Basically, this inverter is what runs all the 240 volt appliances like the air conditioning system, the microwave and the power points. So you could pretty much plug anything into this thing, like kettle, toaster, coffee maker, hair straightener, even the washing machine.
So basically this charger will charge the batteries even when it’s connecting power supply into 240 volt, so it’s got load sharing. When free camping and you’re not plugged into 240 power, the inverter takes the power stored in the batteries, turns it into 240 volt, to run the appliances.
Next up, we’ll take a closer look at these two 40A DC to DC chargers. The Enerdrive DC to DC battery charger is a fully automatic multi-stage, multi-input battery charger with the ability to charge from either alternator link to a battery, or via the solar panel.
In this instance, we’re only using it as a DCDC charger, because we’re gonna use a separate Morning Star solar regulator. The reason for that is, so when you’re driving, we can charge from both the Anderson plug alternator, and from the solar panels. The reason why we’ve got two of these DCDC chargers is ’cause, we’ve packed them parallel together, we can get up to 80A of charging, while driving. So basically, these batteries can take a lotta hit, and these chargers can give it to ’em. The Anderson plug connects straight to these DCDC chargers, and they manage the whole lithium profile.
Battery Management System
We’ve worked closely with the team in Enerdrive in Brisbane to have this system fully customised to suit this caravan and customer’s needs. Prior to the van coming in, all the measurements are sent to Enerdrive and they build a battery management system connection plate, in their factory, in Brisbane. This is basically a plate that is built in the factory and shipped to us for installation. All the individual circuits are fused and clearly labelled and that this handles all the charging, discharging, and fusing for the system.
Over here on the wall, we’ve mounted the ePRO Plus battery monitor and alarm. The battery monitor shows you the true state of charge of your system, it’s like a fuel gauge for your battery, telling you how long until the system shuts down, the hours and minutes, and also the current load going in and out.
The ePRO Plus can monitor up to three battery banks. We also have set up two alarms, the first will shut the system down at 24% capacity, the second, is to shut the AC off when the batteries get down to 35% capacity. That allows the fridges and all the other important things to keep running overnight, once the air con shuts down, so that no problems happen. We can expand it up to another three alarms, so for example we could turn the washing machine off at 30%, or lights at 28% or something like that.
So all in all, this is a pretty epic system, it’s not often I geek out. And one for the serious tourers out there who want the creature comforts, powered appliances like you’d have in your home. If you are interested in upgrading to a lithium system for your caravan, or have any questions about getting a free camping caravan power system, feel free to comment below, send us an email, or give us a call on 1300 227 353.
Hi guys. We are looking at delivery date of March next year of a new jayco 19 ft caravan. We live in Perth but this will be our home for a couple of years. We’d like to bring the Jura coffee machine and free camp as much as possible. Can we get some info on options and who can install here in Perth?
Hi Lyndon, unfortunately, we do not have any installers in Perth. We would suggest contacting a reputable Auto Electrician or 12 Volt expert in your local area for assistance. If you would like further information on the options available, we would suggest giving us a call on 1300 227 353 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.