Batteries are a vital component for self sufficiency in a modern caravan and there are a few basic considerations all caravanners should be aware of if they intend to use their caravan independent of external mains hook-ups. In this context, the use of KS Energy lithium caravan leisure batteries provide several key benefits.
Caravan batteries are quite different to car batteries, and it was traditionally important to know how to charge and maintain them properly to get the best use and life from them. With the advent of lithium leisure batteries, this is no longer a critical consideration since lithium batteries solve many of the drawbacks of older caravan battery technologies. A lithium leisure battery can meet several days’ basic habitation needs between charges and can exceed over a decade of seasons of good service before replacement.
Lithium caravan batteries are designed to supply currents of several amps or more for long periods and to be discharged and recharged many times. Battery life is not enhanced if kept well charged, so there is no vital requirement for frequent charge or seeking a constant mains hook-up source.
The battery is used to power the caravan’s 12-volt systems that includes the lighting, water pump. Additional appliances can be run off the 12-volt system such as a TV, but some items need the use of an inverter in order to work which will increase the rate that power is demanded from the caravan leisure battery. It's important to know your general power usage consumed in the caravan in order to estimate the typical usage your lithium battery will provide between charges.
Battery capacity is quoted in both amp hours (Ah) and watt hours and the size of battery needed can be estimated from a combination of the length of time that the caravan may be used between charges, the amount of equipment in use and the time that equipment is used.
To work out the capacity of battery required, estimate the number of watt hours your equipment requires over, say, 24 hours e.g. four 5-watt fluorescent lights used for 5 hours equals 100 watt hours. Divide the watt hours by 12 to give ampere hours - 100 divided by 12 = 8.3 Ah per day. So a 100 Ah battery will power four lights for twelve days before complete discharge (100 divided by 8.3). Do not forget to include everything in your calculation, including water pump and electrical appliances.
Maximum discharge current
There may be high current demands placed on a caravan leisure battery. Some caravan owners like to fit remotely controlled motor movers to the wheels to allow easy handling and parking of the caravan both on and off site, Others like to run high current equipment through inverters. It is important to ensure the lithium caravan battery can provide this high current demand. The range of KS Energy lithium super series batteries of 120Ah and over provide a constant current supply of 150 Amps which is enough for most single and twin axle motor movers and inverters up to at least 1600 watts. Two batteries can be paralleled to provide in excess of 3000 watts.
Charging lithium caravan batteries
The KS energy range of lithium leisure batteries have an integral battery management system that ensures the batteries cannot be damaged by overcharging with incorrect chargers. However, this does not mean that the use of an incorrect charger is fine since it can adversely reduce the life of the battery over time. Particularly chargers that were designed to try to combat failing lead batteries with so called battery rejuvenation or de-sulphurisation settings, or those designed to fast charge lead batteries. In addition, users should be aware that those chargers that were designed to permanently float charge lead batteries in storage (including solar chargers), should be avoided. Lithium batteries do not require frequent charging when not in use, since they do not self-discharge in the way lead batteries do, moreover they do not degrade in the way lead batteries do in the absence of charge.
Maintaining lithium batteries
When storing lithium caravan batteries over a season or more, ensure all loads are disconnected and that there is a minimum of 50% charge or better in the battery and store in a relatively cool place out of direct sunlight. There is then no burdensome requirement, nor benefit checking and recharging the battery over its storage. It is good practice when returning to service to then discharge and recharge your lithium battery before using again.
Some caravanners like to leave the leisure battery in situ and allow it to be continuously charged during winter, sometimes making use of the fridge as an overflow for the kitchen. This is not appropriate for a lithium battery and a specific lithium leisure charger/power supply should be installed if the caravan is to be left with permanent mains-hook-up.
This is not a consideration with lithium caravan batteries since they are far more efficient than older lead battery technologies.