Written by Alan Betteridge:
Early in June, 2022 while halfway through an eight week caravanning trip of western NSW, I was awakened by the familiar sound of clicking in and out.
A quick check of the volt meter confirmed my suspicion – the voltage had dropped to a dismal 11V thus triggering the battery protection system. Yet another AGM deep cycle battery had expired.
This would be the third AGM battery in five years to have met its fate.
It was at this point I suggested to my wife that the time had come to invest in a lithium battery system. With her approval, the search was started for a suitable system.
After speaking to other caravanners and my local auto electrician, it was quickly ascertained that a system from iTechworld would meet my criteria, and the icing on the cake was that it was an Australian family-owned company which used Australian sourced lithium.
Due to its advanced BMS, I could have just dropped the iTECH120X directly in with no need to update any charging equipment but I decided to go the whole way and elected to use a complete iTechworld 40A system including the 240V mains power charger and the 40A DC/DC charger with its inbuilt MPPT solar controller coupled to an iTECH120X lithium battery.
Our van has a 200W solar panel on the roof which was more than enough to keep the battery fully charged but I decided to increase flexibility and get one of the new (at the time) 300W Raptor skin solar blankets.
The iTechworld solar blanket had two main advantages over the fixed solar panel:
- More charging power on days with limited sunshine and;
- You can park your van in the shade on hot days and still have the blanket in the sun.
Because iTechworld uses standard 50A connecters (coloured to make fitment easy) it was simple to connect a three-way connecter allowing you to plug the solar blanket directly to the MPPT regulator when needed.
Keep in mind to do this you don’t use the supplied PWM solar controller, you simply plug the solar blanket directly into the MPPT controller.
Because we like to camp off grid in National Parks and State Forrest Parks etc, where phone reception is limited or non-existent, I also decided to get a JS80 jump starter. Not only does that take the worry out of finding your tow vehicle has a flat battery but it can also be used to recharge your mobile devices. It even has an inbuilt torch.
So, how has the iTechworld system turned out?
Having just returned from a four-month trip from Queensland through NSW and on to SA, I can report that the iTechworld lithium system has worked faultlessly. At no time has the battery dropped below 13.3V and I have no worries if my wife wants to watch a bit more TV (VAST sat TV normally) and I now run the 12V/60L fridge freezer overnight directly from the van.
Have we used the JS80 yet? Yes, on three occasions – none of which were to start my car - but it has certainly been a lifesaver for three other hapless caravanners we came across. All three wandered over asking if I had some jumper leads they could borrow. Jumper leads! How very 20th century I thought.