Updated November 2017
Lithium ion battery safety in caravans is tainted by a fire-prone technology of differing kind. The LiFePO4s used in caravans are far safer – here’s why.
Lithium ion batteries pack a lot of energy in a small volume. As with weight lifters they can release energy very fast. They may even set on fire. This demands you protect them in everyday use, and whilst transporting. In particular, you must never overcharged.
GenZ 100 Ah LiFePO4 battery has full battery management inbuilt. Pic: Radlink Communications
Ensuring lithium ion battery safety in caravans
LifePO4 lithium ion batteries in RVs are usually 12 volts. They have four series-connected (3.2 volt) cells). Unlike others, these batteries need a management system. It monitors each cell, ensures they equally balance and never exceed maximum charge voltage. Further, it ensures they do not discharge below that advised – typically 10% to 20% of remaining charge. It also protects against excess continuous current and excess heat.
This system is not always supplied. Unless sure of your needs, buy batteries with the system inbuilt, or supplied. Advise the vendor of the intended use. Obtain written assurance of suitability for that use.
To ensure your lithium ion batteries are safe, you must protect them against mechanical damage, particularly against piercing by sharp objects.
If you find this information of value, consider buying the author’s books in this area. They are the Caravan & Motorhome Book, The Camper Trailer Book, and Caravan & Motorhome Electrics. For solar: Solar That Really Works (for cabins and RVs) and Solar Success (for homes and property systems.
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(The author acknowledges the advice given in preparing this article by Simon Chan, Chief Engineer, Radlink Communications.)