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Choosing The Right Charger For Your Lithium Battery

In our last article, we discussed why you can’t charge your new lithium battery with any charger. Just like choosing a battery, there are plenty of options on the market when it comes to choosing a charger for your battery. Choosing a high-quality charger will prolong the life of your battery, and significantly increase the safety of your electrical system. When we refer to battery chargers, there are two main types; AC/DC and DC/DC chargers are for different uses, you would use an AC/DC charger to top up your battery at home, or at a caravan part. DC/DC chargers are used inside the vehicle or caravan, and can sometimes be mounted in the engine bay.

AC/DC chargers

Much like the name suggests, these chargers take the AC current from a wall outlet and provide charge to your batteries. Generally, these are used in large caravan systems where shore power is available at caravan parks. These chargers do not provide any power while the vehicle is moving, so they are often paired with a DC/DC charger. See our full range of AC/DC chargers here.

DC/DC chargers

This type of charger is the most common in 12v setups and will be present in almost every 4×4 and caravan auxiliary battery system. These chargers work by taking the current generated from your vehicle’s alternator and charging your auxiliary battery with it. However, your vehicle’s alternator isn’t designed to charge an auxiliary battery because it doesn’t provide the specific charging profile needed, therefore a DC/DC charger is required to convert the alternator’s output into a consistent & optimised charge tailored to your battery’s chemistry. The introduction of smart alternators in modern vehicles increases the need for a high-quality DC/DC charger to increase the life and efficiency of your battery.

Picking the right charger

Based on the information above, you may need both an AC/DC charger and a DC/DC charger. Different options on the market will provide a different voltage and current, so it’s important to choose the correct charger for your battery. The more current a charger provides, the faster your battery will charge.

In order to pick the correct size charger, first you need to know the size of your battery. We generally recommend that the charger you choose should be around 20% of the Ah rating of your battery. For a 200Ah battery, this would mean having a 40-50A charger. For our batteries with a similar Ah rating to our 400Ah RV Battery, this would mean a larger charger like the REDARC Alpha Manager range which is available in 50A, 75A and 100A charging options.

Different chargers will also come with different features, the most popular features you should look:

  • Inbuilt Solar Charger: Allows you to stay off-grid longer by regulating the current from external solar panels and topping up the battery when away from mains power, or when the vehicle is not running.
  • Bluetooth Connectivity: Enables you to monitor the charging status of your battery charger remotely.
  • Overcharge Protection: A high-quality charger will have an intelligent overcharge monitor to protect the battery from damage due to overcharging.

Pick the perfect charger for your setup?

See our full range of lithium battery chargers (click here). We understand that choosing the perfect battery or charger for your 12v setup can be complex, give the Custom Lithium team a call on (07) 3519 4220 to get the perfect Australian-made lithium battery setup for your 4×4 or caravan.

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Switching from AGM Deep Cycle to Lithium Batteries: Everything you need to know

Switching between AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat) Deep Cycle and Lithium (LiFePO4) is quite straightforward, with lithium now being far more common, most chargers and 12v systems can accommodate lithium batteries. In addition to being far lighter, lithium batteries boast a significantly longer life expectancy, reducing the long-term cost of your 12v system. Finally, lithium batteries can withstand deeper discharges compared to AGM, giving you more usable power when compared to the same-capacity AGM battery. If you’re looking to upgrade to lithium, here is what you need to know.

Battery charger

Check that your battery charger is capable of charging lithium batteries, as not all AGM battery chargers are suitable for lithium batteries. This is because AGM battery chargers generally have charge profiles that are not compatible with lithium batteries, which require specific charging parameters to ensure safe and efficient charging.

When you’re looking for a battery charger, it’s also worth getting a charger that can have direct solar input with an inbuilt solar regulator. For all of our installations, we recommend the REDARC BCDC Core DC to DC In-Cabin Battery Charger which is available in 25A and 40A, if you’re running a larger setup, we also recommend the REDARC Alpha Manager range which is available in 50A, 75A and 100A charging options.

Physical mounting and installation

As lithium batteries are generally lighter and more compact than traditional AGM batteries, you may need to purchase a new mounting kit for your vehicle. The compact form factor of lithium batteries means they can be installed in tight spaces like behind the seat, or under a false floor in the rear of your vehicle, without any compromise to space. See our range of vehicle-specific mounting kits to maximise your storage space. If space is a concern in your setup, we have a large range of Ultra-Slim Lithium Batteries available.

When mounting your lithium battery ensure you consider new AS/NZ 3001 Standards that require batteries to be mounted in a sealed & vented location if installed inside the living space of the vehicle. We have compliance kits available to ensure our RV range meets these standards.

Battery monitor

Not all battery monitors are equal! Most traditional battery monitors that display the battery voltage converted to a percentage, will not work with lithium batteries. This is a result of lithium batteries not having straightforward voltage-to-capacity indicators. Lithium batteries require more complex monitoring due to their different discharge characteristics. A high-quality battery monitor like the REDARC Smart Battery Monitor or Victron BMV-712 can monitor voltage and provide real-time power estimates, along with a time until the battery is depleted, ensuring that you won’t be stranded without power.

Ventilation and safety

With the introduction of the AS/NZ 3001 Standards, batteries are required to be mounted in a vented and sealed location, if they’re inside the living space of the vehicle. It’s important to keep your lithium battery away from any sources of liquid or heat to prolong the life of your battery.

Cell quality

When shopping for a lithium battery, you’ll notice a huge variation in price from extremely cheap, to expensive. Generally speaking, there is a difference between the quality of cells used inside the battery, and the construction of these cells. Much of this comes down to the manufacturing quality control, materials used and manufacturing processes. Buying from a reputable brand that backs its products with a strong warranty ensures your camping setup’s reliability, safety and longevity. Custom Lithium use only A-Grade Automotive Prismatic LiFePO4 Cells from reputable brands such as EVE, CATL and GFB.

We understand that choosing the perfect battery for your 12v setup can be complex, give the Custom Lithium team a call on (07) 3519 4220 to get the perfect Australian-made lithium battery setup for your 4×4 or caravan.