Baby boomers in Australia, New Zealand, and around the world are packing up and hitting the road, leaving the family home to set out and make the most of their hard-earned retirement years. Like many, Mary and John packed up their home in Hervey Bay, Queensland, Australia to move into their new caravan in search of adventure and a new lifestyle on the road. Criss-crossing the country, from the far northern tip of Australia to the bottom south-west of Western Australia, this couple has seen a lot, but there is so much more to see of the vast Australian continent.
Self-sufficiency in a caravan is a feature integral to the majority of those who live on the road these days. Many caravans are fully self-sufficient as not only a lifestyle preference but also to save money where possible. Caravans water and power systems are often capable of providing a comfortable few days living off-the-grid with modern luxuries. These luxuries include a fridge, microwave, air-conditioning, TV and modern kitchen appliances - just to name a few. The power system configuration operates both a 12v DC system (fridge, lighting, kettle, tv, communications) and a 240v AC system (Air-cond, microwave) when grid power is available.
The tricky thing is when the couple free camp, they want to extend their time off-the-grid for as long as possible, while also ensuring they are not sacrificing the health of their lead-acid battery system. A careful balance to be managed, which if not managed correctly, can mean after a day of poor solar production or a hot night (the fridge needs to work harder) they are not only left with no power in the morning, but the lead-acid batteries health has really suffered as a consequence.
After careful research into battery technologies and balancing the pros and cons, John (let's face it who is the most interested in this technical stuff) felt their caravan needed the new battery technology. Lithium-Ion first got John's attention after discussing with other caravaners the couple met on their travels. What John found was that replacing his existing lead-acid battery bank with a lithium-ion battery of equal capacity was going to cost a small fortune, while also wasting what, for the moment, is still a useful lead-acid battery. "Wouldn't it be good if we could combine the benefits of lithium and lead-acid together?" John asked. Cycle and deep-discharge resistant lithium-ion, together with cheap lead-acid technology for autonomy. However, lithium and lead-acid require different charging sources due to the differences in these battery chemistries, so standard lithium batteries couldn't just be connected to the system.
That is when John came across the LE300 lithium extension battery from BOS-ag in Germany. A 12v lithium-ion battery designed and built for the very purpose of increasing the capacity of 12v lead-acid battery systems, with the benefits of the latest lithium technology. What this meant is 2 x LE300 (656Wh) lithium extension batteries would be sufficient for Mary and John's average nightly battery discharge, leaving the lead-acid relatively untouched and available for extra backup battery power when needed while extending the original batteries life-expectancy. In addition, the LE300 assisted when high power discharge was needed from the battery system. John had experienced events when the kettle or other high-powered appliances would switch off the system, this was caused by the 12v lead-acid voltage temporarily dropping below safety protection levels and the system tripped to prevent battery damage. The 2 x LE300 reduced the impact of these high power loads by simultaneously providing output power with the lead-acid battery. Below is a photo of the 2 x LE300 lithium batteries installed with the existing 12v lead-acid battery in the caravans underfloor utility compartment.
The setup was so simple that John could complete it himself with only a few tools and by being very cautious (electricity even at 12v is dangerous!). The 2 x LE300's positive and negative outputs (cables included with each order) are connected to the positive and negative battery terminals of the lead-acid batteries. The LE300's automatically activate once connected and begin supporting the lead-acid system immediately! An LCD display add-on is available to view the LE300 status from inside the caravan too.
The result is Mary and John can free camp confidently, knowing they won't experience power outages when they wake up and make their morning coffee while the sun is still rising. The peace of mind knowing that their lead-acid battery should now last them long into the future without needing regular replacement made the investment in the LE300 an easy choice.
The LE300 can be purchased through buildsolar.com.au for Australian customers. International orders can be placed through BOS distribution partners or BOS directly. Build Solar is available to help if you are outside of Australia looking for LE supply.