ULTIMATE Off-Grid/Free Camping Caravan Power System

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.

Original System

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.

New 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.

Solar Panels

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.

Batteries

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.

DC-DC Chargers

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.

Battery Monitor

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.

How Your Car’s Starting System Works

Hi there, Briohny here from Accelerate Auto Electrics & Air Conditioning on the Sunshine Coast. We don’t usually think much about how our car starts up every morning until the day it doesn’t. In today’s video, we’re going to look at your car’s starting system. We’ll also cover how the different components work together to get you up and running every day. Lastly we will give you some examples of common starting faults and how to identify them. 

Battery

We’ll start with the backbone of your vehicle’s electrical system, the battery.

Essentially, your battery is there to store power for your starting system. Your battery supplies power to the ignition and starting system. It also delivers extra power when the electrical load exceeds the supply of the alternator.

Alternator

The alternator, on the other hand, is your car’s electrical charger. Most people think that their car’s electrical energy comes from their battery, when in fact it’s the alternator that keeps everything powered up. The alternator takes mechanical energy of the car and turns it into electrical energy.

The various components of the alternator are contained in an aluminium housing and generate current for recharging your vehicle’s battery. It’s also responsible for powering the electrical engine components like your ignition coils, fans, lights and parts of the fuel injection system. It also keeps all the creature comforts in your car running, like your air con and radio.

Starter Motor

When it’s time to get your vehicle up and running this is where the starter motor comes in. The starter motor is usually located on the back of the engine or the front of the transmission, depending on your vehicle. In contrast to the alternator, the starter motor uses electrical energy of the car and turns it into mechanical energy.

This energy is used to trigger the ignition, starting the crankshaft to turn, which gets your vehicle up and running. If there’s a problem when any of these three main components of your starting system, chances are you won’t be getting very far.

Common Starting Faults

Some common signs that there is an issue with your starting system are:

  • The engine cranks but doesn’t start, it’s usually an ignition system or immobiliser.
  • You turn the key, and nothing happens, it can be a battery or starter motor.
  • If it takes a long time to crank over, it’s generally a battery or starter motor.
  • If the battery light is lit up on the dash, it’s generally alternator.
  • If the car loses power while you’re driving, or your radio or AC stops, it’s usually your alternator.
  • If you notice any of the signs we’ve mentioned, it’s best to take your vehicle into an auto electrician as soon as possible.

We have a great video that shows examples of these common faults. You can watch it here. 

Here at Accelerate Auto Electrics, we offer a free start and charge test which can identify which component of your car’s starting system is in need of repair or replacement.

If you have any questions about your car’s starting system or you want to find out why your car won’t start, give us a call on 1300 227 353, contact us online or comment below.

200 Series Toyota Landcruiser Dual Battery System Options

Hi, Andrew here from Accelerate Auto, Electrics and Air Conditioning. I just had a look down in my workshop and realised we’ve got five 200 Series Toyota Landcruisers getting fit outs today.

It’s actually not that uncommon for us at the moment. So I thought that we’d do a quick video, we’d do a runaround, and then this afternoon, we’ll show you what we’ve been busy doing today.

200 Series Toyota Landcruiser Dual Battery System – Install #1

This is one of the ones that we’ve finished today. This one’s had pretty much one of the most common jobs we do to these 200’s.

What we’ve done today is we’ve installed a second battery using a genuine second Toyota tray. This is actually the version that only came out with one battery, if you know. So we’ve used the genuine second tray in the other side.

And we generally end up installing some kind of light bar or spot lights.

We’ve done a few of them. I’ll show you them later, but this has got the Titan Light Bar on it. We’ve installed that today.

We’ve installed the REDARC BCDC1240. We’ll show you some close ups of that mounted behind the grill to help its cooling.

We’ve installed an RACQ Deep Cycle Battery on this one. The reason why is the customer’s a tourer, and obviously with RACQ, nationwide warranty, no better battery for a tourer out there. Doesn’t have all the bells and whistles, but will definitely do its job, and anywhere you are in Australia, you won’t have an issue.

We’ve also installed Anderson Plug that we’ll show you down the rear, and various outlets in the back.

As I said before, we’ve used the factory Toyota tray. We do this ’cause one thing that’s very important with these systems is to use at least 105 amp hour battery.

There are other systems around where they fit a smaller battery up in the back corner. You just do not get the fridge run time that everybody’s looking for. With 105, you’ll get at least two to three days, and it’s really what you need in a system.

So whenever you’re looking at any different 200 Series dual-battery system, always ensure that you’re gonna get at least 100 or 105 amp hour battery, and then it’s very important with them. We have a lot of customers who are disappointed with the performance when they use a smaller battery.

Okay, so here we are down the back of the car. The main reason why we installed this dual-battery system is so the customer can run his fridge and charge various things at the back here. So the reason why we’ve got four outlets is we’ve got a cigarette socket, and Engel and a USB socket, and a volt meter to top it off.

Okay, so one other thing we’ve done on this vehicle is they come out with a factory cigarette lighter that’s obviously wired to ignition.

We’ve replaced that cigarette lighter with a dual-USB port that’s actually wired to the auxiliary battery permanent power, so that means you can charge your iPads and so on with the ignition switched off, or anybody in the back has constant power to running any sort of devices like that while you’re travelling.

We’ve also run an Anderson Plug. The reason why I’m showing you this one is we actually use the Trailer Vision Anderson cover. It’s really neat. We don’t see many people using these, but we think it’s pretty much a necessity on the back of such a good-looking car.

200 Series Toyota Landcruiser Dual Battery System – Install #2

I’m gonna show you yet another 200 Series Toyota Landcruiser Dual Battery System fit out we’ve done today.

This one, we’ve used the Supercharge All Rounder 105 amp hour battery.  So again, that’ll give you two to three days running with your fridge in the rear. We’ve also fitted some King Spotlights.

Always a challenge, but they’re going on quite well. And this one, we’ve used the REDARC 1225 BCDC in the front. And that’s really most of it.

We’ll show you some close ups of what we’ve done in the bonnet.

Okay, and here we are down the back of the vehicle. Now, it seems to be our standard, but we keep having our customers want to do it this way and see it this way, and we keep doing it.

So what we end up doing is cigarette socket, Engel socket and then dual USB socket with a volt meter, as well. Seems to work quite well. Give customers all the options.

One thing we do a bit differently is we run a couple of separate feeds down here. You’ll find sometimes it’s easy just to run one feed and loop it all up.

What that means is if you have a problem in one circuit, everything goes, so you’ll notice up the front, there was a couple of different fuses. And that fuses this all individually.

Okay, and another touch that we’ve added to it, even though we fitted the Kings Spotlights, we actually have fitted a factory looking switch, rather than using the one supplied with the kit.

We used this and it makes it a much more professional install and actually fits in with the other switches quite well.

If you want any more information on 200 Series Toyota Landcruiser dual battery systems, light bar installations, or you have any questions in general that need to be answered, feel free to comment below, contact us online or give us a call on 1300-227-353.

Battle of the Deep Cycle Batteries: Calcium, AGM, Lead Crystal or Lithium

Its one of the most common questions when installing auxiliary batteries and 12 Volt power systems in vehicles and caravans…

Which type of deep cycle battery is the best?

Unfortunately, there is no straight answer. With so many battery options available on the market, it can be difficult to know which type would be best suited to your needs. In most cases, it will depend on what it is being installed into, where you want to put it, and how you want to use it.

In saying that however, there are four types of auxiliary batteries we recommend if you are looking for a 12-volt power solution.

Types of Batteries 

To help you decide which one is going to be best suited to your setup, we’re going to break down each option.

First up, let’s explain the difference between each type of battery’s design.

Calcium 

Calcium replaces antimony in the plates of the battery, giving it some advantages including improved resistance to corrosion, no excessive gassing, less water usage and lower self-discharge. This makes calcium the ideal option for under bonnet dual battery systems. If used in a deep cycle situation it is recommended to use a charger that has a calcium charging mode to get the maximum life out of the battery.

AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat)

AGM is traditionally the most common option for auxiliary battery systems. In the internal construction of the battery, there’s a fibreglass mat between each of the internal plates. The purpose of this mat is to absorb the acid in the battery, so there is no chance of leaks if any damage occurs to the battery.  

Lead Crystal

Lead Crystal Batteries first came on the scene in 2009 so they are a relatively new deep cycle battery option. The technology found in lead crystal batteries uses an advanced patented formula, a type of composite SiO2 electrolyte developed to completely replace traditional acid battery solutions. 

Lithium (LiFePO4)

The ultimate lightweight power solution. Lithium-iron-phosphate (LiFePO4) is the safest of the mainstream li-ion battery types. Lithium Batteries can have up to 60% more usable power than their lead-acid equivalent. Add in the fact that they are approx 50% lighter and 30% smaller makes Lithium a superior alternative for caravan, camper trailers, boats or any other application where weight/space saving is a priority.

Now let’s look at the specs.

NOTE: Due to its limited application options we have not included Calcium in our comparisons below. 

Each battery has its own pros and cons. We’ve included some of the most important stats in the table below for comparison.

 

 AGMLead CrystalLithium
Temperature-18°C to +45°C-45°C to +65°C-20°C to +65°C
Usage Life2-3 years8-12 years5-6 years
80% Discharge Cycle @ 25°C500 – 8001300 – 1500> 2000
80% Discharge Cycle @ 40°C250 – 4001000 – 1200> 2000
Weight of 100Ah Battery28kg28kg16kg
Shelf Life (No Top Up)12 months24 months12 months

If you like crunching the numbers, you might enjoy these cost estimations from the team at Big Red Caravan Parts.

Please note: The prices and figures in the table are a guide for demonstration purposes only and do not reflect the actual price of the batteries. For more information on these figures visit the Big Red Caravan Parts website.  

AGM COST:

Given that a AGM battery should only be taken to 50% of DOD to optimise battery life the actual cost of this battery is:

100Ah x 50% DOD = 50Ah

Power Cost = $245/50 = $4.90 / usable Ah

Cycle Life at 50% DOD (@ 25°C) = 500 cycles which equates to 1.4 years of daily use

Cycle Cost = $245/500 = $0.49 / 50% DOD cycle

LEAD CRYSTAL COST:

Given that a lead crystal battery should only be taken to 75% of DOD to optomise battery life the actual cost of this battery is:

100Ah x 75% DOD = 75Ah

Power Cost = $515/75 = $6.87 / usable Ah

Cycles Life at 75% DOD (@ 25°C) =1695 cycles which equates to 4.6 years of daily use

Cycle Cost = $515/1695 = $0.30 / 75% DOD cycle

LITHIUM COST:

Given that a Lithium battery should only be taken to 80% of DOD to optimise battery life the actual cost of this battery is:

100Ah x 80% DOD = 80Ah

Power Cost = $1715/80 = $21.43 / usable Ah

Cycles Life at 80% DOD (@ 25°C) = 2500 cycles which equates to 6.8 years of daily use

Cycle Cost = $1715/2500 = $0.67 / 80% DOD cycle

So, what’s the best option?

As always, it depends on how often you want to use it, what you want to run and your budget.

We’ve put together a couple of example scenarios/lifestyles to give you an idea of what option suits best in certain situations…

The Weekend EscaperYou get away a couple of times a year, usually on long weekends and not too far from home. 

Recommended Battery: AGM or Calcium

For those who don’t get away too often, cost efficiency is usually top of mind when it comes to choosing a battery. AGM is usually the most affordable and reliable option for the occasional adventurer. Calcium is also suitable for under bonnet vehicle dual battery systems. Provided your AGM batteries are maintained correctly when not in use, they should see you through a few years of weekend escapes.

The ‘Whenever-I-Can’ AdventurerYou spend every available moment adventuring off the beaten track, often travelling for a week or so at a time. 

Recommended Battery: Lead Crystal 

If you enjoy the work-to-live kinda lifestyle, and you are willing to spend a little more on your set up, Lead Crystal is the way to go. The fast charging capabilities and resilience to deep discharging make Lead Crystal an ideal option for those extended trips off the beaten track. These batteries can be even be discharged all the way down to zero without causing damage to the battery (though it is not recommended to do this too often).

The Full-Time TourerYou love the caravan life on the road travelling around the country in your little slice of luxury. 

Recommended Battery: Lithium 

When touring full time in the van, every kilogram counts! This is where Lithium Batteries truly are a cut above the rest when it comes to saving on weight and space. Thanks to the weight/space savings, you can fit a much larger system, allowing you to run more high draw appliances in your van. With a powerful enough system, you could potentially run a washing machine, coffee machine and even Air Conditioning!

As you can see, all the options out there for deep cycle batteries have their advantages and disadvantages depending on your situation, lifestyle and budget.

If you do have any further questions about the various battery options available on the market our technicians are on ready to help. Give us a call on 07 5479 6652 or contact us online.

How to Get the Most Out of Your AGM Battery

Want to get the most out of your deep cycle AGM battery?

Hi guys, Andrew here from Accelerate Auto Electrics & Air Conditioning on the Sunshine Coast.

Knowing how to correctly charge and look after your deep cycle AGM battery is crucial for optimising its performance and life span. In today’s video, we’re gonna run you through few of our tips on how to correctly use and maintain your deep cycle AGM battery.

Now just to clarify, these tips only apply to the AGM deep cycle and not your starting battery. Starting batteries are a completely different composition and are design to be used or maintained in a very different way.

So now that we’ve got the disclaimer out of the way, let’s get into the good stuff.

Discharging

Okay, so let’s get into discharging, first up. If you want this guy to live a while, the last thing you want to do is discharge it too much or run it too flat. Basically, the lower the depth of discharge you take it to, the shorter its life span is gonna be.

We recommend trying not to go below 11 volts. Anything below 11 volts and you’re really causing damage to the battery. Any sort of dual battery system we wire up, we’ll always recommend using a low volt, some sort of low voltage cut out or protection system to stop this guy getting discharged too much.

Storage

Now that we’ve covered discharging, a second thing really is storage. When you store the battery, you always want to store it at a fully charged state. If you leave the AGM battery stored for a long period of time, say anything over a month in a discharged state, sulphation will always occur.

We’ll go into sulphation a bit later, but just remember, if you want this guy to last a long time, fully charge it before you store it for any amount of time.

Charging

Okay, we covered discharging, we’ve covered storage, let’s talk about charging. An AGM battery has a different internal resistance to your old school battery and it also requires a different charging method.

Whenever you charge an AGM battery, you really need a late model multistage charger. A charger that will go through an absorption, bulk and float phase.

The old charger you got, the old Arlec one that you’ve probably got in the back, will just cook this guy and destroy it and turn it into a balloon. So, whenever you charge this guy, you want to look for a modern battery charger that has an AGM setting or will detect an AGM, and shows a multistage curve. You’ll generally see five, seven to 11 stages are normally covered by your good brand chargers.

When it’s in the vehicle, it’s a different chemistry to your normal starting battery. So, your alternator isn’t really designed to charge this style of battery. Whenever you fit an AGM deep cycle battery to a vehicle, we always recommend using a DC-DC charger that again, either detects the AGM battery or can be modified to suit the AGM battery.

It requires a different charge rate your normal start battery. A DC-DC charger generally will always protect the start battery against any discharge on the AGM battery. So, the old VSR solenoid that people used to use, not such a good idea. These guys, DCDC charger, and you’ll get a much longer life span out of them.

Sulphation – Enemy of the AGM Battery

Sulphation occurs when sulfuric acid within the lead acid battery reacts to a lead sulphate on the battery’s negative plates. This reduces the surface area of the acid on the plate and makes it difficult for the battery to hold charge. The best way to prevent sulphation, once again, is to leave this guy fully charged.

We hope these tips have helped you understand how to correctly use and maintain your deep cycle AGM battery.

If you have any further questions about battery care and maintenance, give us a call on 1300 227 353, or email us at [email protected] or you can even comment below.