Welcome to RV Lifestyle Express Newsletter #2.

There is a lot going on in the next issue of RV Travel Lifestyle issue #70, plenty of motorhome and caravan reviews, travel stories to inspire you, and competitions to be won, check out a sample below, on sale 7 May 2018.

Regards,
Robyn Dallimore
Publisher – Editor RV Travel Lifestyle magazine

Record sales at last month’s Covi SuperShow, the largest motorhome and caravan expo in New Zealand, is a clear indication the RV lifestyle is booming in New Zealand.  “The motorhoming lifestyle is seeing real growth as more and more kiwis discover the freedom of holidaying in motorhomes and caravans,” Covi SuperShow Managing Director David Culpan said. “Indications look like over 280 motorhomes and caravans were sold over the three days of the show which is just fantastic.”

This year’s Covi SuperShow was the biggest motorhome and caravan show ever held in New Zealand attracting almost 19,000 visitors that flocked to the ASB Showgrounds in Auckland. “The success of the show and the huge volume of sales made at the show and in the weeks following is also a reflection the effort exhibitors put in,” Culpan said. “It is testament to the great range and choice of vehicles and accessories in the market as more and more Kiwis take up the mobile holiday lifestyle.”

A feature of this year’s Covi Supershow was a $63,000 Bailey Pegasus caravan going under the hammer for no reserve. Warwick Jones and Gerarda Peeters from Hamilton were the lucky winners of auction after some fierce bidding. “You had to be in to win,” Warwick quipped. “We sold our motorhome before Christmas so were looking for a new one and the best way to do that was to go to the show.”

TrailLite Marketing Manager Ashlee Rose said it was great to see so many visitors coming to the show that were really well researched and enthusiastic about the motorhome lifestyle. “For us it was all about creating that dream lifestyle and helping people to realize what product is right for them,” she said. “So many turned up to the show knowing what they wanted. It was exciting to see so many great people entering the industry. It was a good showcase for the industry with large numbers of visitors over the three days.”

To meet the increasing demand for space the Covi SuperShow introduced two new Halls and a new marque for 2018 that featured a huge dedicated accessories area. “The new accessories hall was a real mecca for visitors wanting motorhome and caravan accessories,” Culpan said.  “Feedback from the accessory exhibitors has been positive. The huge change in floor plan worked well and we already have plans on how we can improve it further for next year.”

New Covi NZMCA Insurance Manager Matt Spiller was attending his first show, and was more than happy Covi were so invested in the event as its naming rights sponsor. “It was a great show and we had so many people through our stand who gave us such good feedback about the show as well. The Covi SuperShow is such a great opportunity to research and buy everything and anything in the motorhome industry.”

Show visitors had the opportunity to win back $10,000 on purchases worth over $30,000 and for the third year RV SuperCentre sponsored an outstanding Gate Prize, a four-week motorhome holiday in the UK and Europe that was won by a very happy Lynn Massie of Muriwai. “Wow it is just amazing, the best news we have had in ages and we are really looking forward to going to Europe,” Massie said. “Thanks so much RV SuperCentre and the Covi SuperShow.”

Helen Bailey from Otahuhu in Auckland was the winner of the Covi SuperShow Survey prize draw, winning a fantastic electric bike valued at $4,000 from Saints Cycles and the Covi SuperShow.

Next year’s Covi Supershow will be held between the 15th and 17th of March at Auckland’s ASB Showgrounds.

Country RV Has Moved

Country RV in Mt Maunganui has moved to a new location at 36G MacDonald Street Mt Maunganui. Check out the large indoor showroom, accessory shop, huge outside display area with NZ built and imported motorhomes and caravans, from compact to large units. The new six-bay workshop is offering winter servicing, repairs and upgrades, book in and get this done early to avoid disappointment later in the year.

E: info@countryrv.co.nz
P: 075750170
W: www.countryrv.co.nz

ACM Group Platinum

Spotted on the Kiwi Autohomes’ stand – big and beautiful, the first luxury 8.3-metre Platinum motorhome built by Auckland Coach and Motorhomes. Grant Wakerley recently joined the ACM design team, and this first Platinum model oozes luxury, design flair and innovation.

This is a stunning large motorhome, completely spec’d and styled to the client’s requirements. The teak flooring, dark sexy interior, and real quality leather seating is obvious; less obvious is the 600 watts of solar, 500-amp-hour batteries, 260L fresh and grey water. And to really get you guys going at the push of a button, the hydraulic pump system kicks in for automatic, individual leg levelling. Based on the IVECO 70 cab chassis this model is around the $305K mark.  Find out more about this motorhome in the next issue RV70.

W: www.aklmotorhomes.co.nz

Leisure Line AUTOHAUS RV two-berth camper

Leading Hamilton caravan manufacturer Leisure Line respond to customer demand for a two-berth camper with this prototype Auto Haus model, and developments are underway for a second model. A prototype model from well-known Hamilton caravan manufacturer Leisure Line, this two-berth camper van, based on a Ford Transit model was on display recently.

Being still under development on internal layout and fitting in a separate shower/toilet space, didn’t stop the orders coming in for the company – at under $115K, an interesting option for those looking for a two-berth vehicle for ease of driving, parking and living. Show price $118,990K. AutoHaus Enquires to:
E: sales@leisureline.co.nz
W: www.leisureline.co.nz

Coastal Grandelier 2018

The latest bespoke 8.2m Coastal motorhome exudes luxury with its craftsman finish. Coastal Grandelier 2018 Custom build four-berth based on the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter 519 Seven-Speed Auto RWD 142kW chassis base. Spec’s L-W-H 8.2 x 2.35 x 3.2m; GVM 4250kg payload 1050kg; water fresh/grey 235L, black 120L; power 450W solar, lithium 125Ah battery.

The use of industry-leading installations by a small company like Coastal is impressive. Everything inside this vehicle is evidence of its craftsman-like finish, from the rosewood highlights to the heritage stone-composite sink, and the contrasting stitched soft-fabric upholstery throughout. We particularly loved some of the small details like the recessed range-hood, and the purpose-built glass holders in the wine cupboard. It’s the small things like the functional, ergonomic, but deliciously elegant entry-door wooden handrail that set a vehicle apart.
The finish throughout this one is fantastic. The whole of this classy custom build has that relaxed appeal you would hope to achieve in your bach; a place where guests could really put their feet up, while the owner revels in the secure knowledge that the integrity is there in the construction. This model $282,000. Full review in RV Travel Lifestyle Issue 70 in shops May 7, 2018.
W: www.coastalmotorhomes.co.nz

Leisure Line Hi-Rider caravan

The latest design in Leisure Line caravans is built to please, with extra ground clearance and increased internal floor space, light interior finishes, and the latest Camec four-season wind-out roof vents with built in LED lights.

Another innovation in the Leisure Line caravan range – a redesign of the chassis giving increased ground clearance and eliminating the interior wheel arch. The new design promises to be a winner with excellent towing capability, and the extended off-road access capability and the light modern new interior finishes will satisfy the most demanding caravan connoisseur. So for those consumers who look to Australian models for the higher off-the-ground clearance you can now look to our own New Zealand caravan manufacturer, who has been in the caravan manufacturing industry since the early 1970s. Price: this model $87K
W: www.leisureline.co.nz

Gallipoli to the Somme:
Recollections of a New Zealand Infantryman

Alexander Aitken. Edited and introduced by Alex Calder
Alexander Aitken was an ordinary soldier with an extraordinary mind. The student who enlisted in 1915 was a mathematical genius who could multiply nine-digit numbers in his head. He took a violin with him to Gallipoli (where field telephone wire substituted for an E-string) and practiced Bach on the Western Front. Aitken also loved poetry and knew the Aeneid and Paradise Lost by heart. His powers of memory were dazzling. When a vital roll-book was lost with the dead, he was able to dictate the full name, regimental number, next of kin and address of next of kin for every member of his former platoon—a total of fifty-six men. Everything he saw, he could remember.

Aitken began to write about his experiences in 1917 as a wounded out-patient in Dunedin Hospital. Every few years, when the war trauma caught up with him, he revisited the manuscript, which was eventually published as Gallipoli to the Somme in 1963.  Aitken writes with a unique combination of restraint, subtlety, and an almost photographic vividness. He was elected fellow of the Royal Society of Literature on the strength of this single work—a book recognised by its first reviewers as a literary memoir of the Great War to put alongside those by Graves, Blunden and Sassoon.

Long out of print, this is by some distance the most perceptive memoir of the First World War by a New Zealand soldier. For this edition, Alex Calder has written a new introduction, annotated the text, compiled a selection of images, and added a commemorative index identifying the soldiers with whom Aitken served RRP $39.99 available in e-Book. Published by Auckland University Press.

Click here to go into the draw to win a free copy!

Win a $250 InterIslander Ferry Voucher

Send us your top RV ‘Winter Storage Tip’ and go in the draw to win with Interislander and RV Lifestyle Express.

Click here to go into the draw!

Italian – Ci Motorhomes Triaca 32XT

Ci Motorhomes Triaca 32XT four-berth model stood out from all the rest and, at under six metres, is RV editor’s  ‘best small RV’ at the Covi show in March. This Fiat 2.3L diesel turbo, Euro 6130hp six-speed comformatic is packed with features: stunning Italian styling, innovative floor plan, luxury interior finishes  with eco leather upholstery, superb Fenix stone bench tops, a large 32-inch TV, large 160L compressor fridge/freezer unit and plenty of storage – this vehicle has it all. The main bed is an electric drop-down ceiling bed over the dining area, a good size at 1.9×1.36×1.27m, and the second dining conversion bed is 2.12×1.46×1.22m – brilliant. Fresh/grey water 100L, two 100Ah AGM batteries, 220W solar panels and an Alden auto aerial are just some of the features. Price $144K at the show, this model.
W: www.cimotorhomes.co.nz

French – RnRV Rapido four-berth

Newly arrived on RnRV Silverdale yard in April this French-built Rapido offers luxury, innovation, a king-size island bed and more. The latest arrival in the range of Carthago, Malibu and Rapido motorhomes that Paul and Rochelle Cook import at RnRV. Built on the Fiat Ducato heavy chassis with 180hp, 2.3L Fiat turbocharged common road, six-speed auto box, the GVM is 4400kg, payload 700kg. Length 7.49m, 2.35m wide and 2.89m height.

The king-sized island bed in the rear is electrically height adjusted, and the pull-down over-cab bed is large at 1.91m x 1.40m. Power from 240V and minimum 200W solar, two 6V AGM 50% duty cycle batteries for house power. A three-way 160L fridge/freezer for the kitchen, 130L + 20L separate fresh and 110L grey water and cassette toilet for washing and ablutions – ample for three days or so. If you like having friends around you can seat six comfortably around the luxury twin facing bench seats in the lounge. If you have plenty of toys for the garage you can adjust the height to fit bigger objects in. This model viewed, $214,990.

W: www.RnRV.co.nz

Australian – Road Life Sunliner Olantas 531

The Olantas 531 is a new addition to the Olantas range of Sunliner motorhomes. The Mercedes chassis signals that the buyer can expect a superior level of sophistication and class throughout. Offering two options with Sprinter 516 2.2L TD or 3.0L V6 TD RWD chassis, both GVM 4490/5000kg. Spec’s – 7.8m length, 2.45m width and 3.30m height.

Features include three-way auto 165L fridge/freezer, 100Ah battery, 150W solar, 1000W inverter, 100L fresh water, 55L grey water capacity.
Where the Olantas 531 differs from others in the series is in the rear bathroom and the adjacent bedroom with dual slide-out. This practical arrangement offers a large ensuite bathroom, with spacious stand-alone shower cubicle. The use of black fitments throughout adds a touch of sophistication to what is a well-designed vehicle overall. Another theme is the wall recess shelves, which are not only stylish but immensely practical ways to add extra storage. Practical, classy and with all the extras you can expect from this Aussie manufacturer, the Olantas 531 is a welcome addition to the Sunliner fleet. Price this model $229,990.

W: www.roadlife.co.nz

German Dethleff Nomad 530 caravan

With its impeccable pedigree of great design and construction this Dethleff Nomad 53four-berth caravan is a perfect entry-level price with big caravan style. The Nomad 530 is a single-axle caravan on an AL-KO chassis with all the AL-KO AAA-AKS-ATC trimmings underneath. At 7.88m long overall, body length 6.50m, 2.30m wide and a gross weight of 1800kg offering a 390kg payload, this is a medium-sized weight and tow vehicle.

The large U-shaped lounge seating with hydraulic adjustable table allows for plenty of entertaining space, storage and cupboards galore. A separate shower in the ensuite area is great. Overhead lockers have open shelves as well. The kitchen has three large storage drawers, a pull-out pantry, range-hood and gas hob. The large fridge is even fitted with matching panelling to suit the interior styling. A range of models, floor plans and prices to suit all budgets, families, and couples alike, in the $60 to $70K price bracket.

W: www.centralrv.co.nz

The Outer Fringes of the Kingdom of Waitaki

Six months ago, the Navigator and I camped on the shores of Lake Ohau in the Ruataniwha Conservation Park, and last Friday, with the temperature hovering in the mid-20s, we decided to head back to the same spot for a night under the stars. Unfortunately it was raining by the time we arrived, so we headed to Ohau Lodge for some sustenance. The place was chocka – bursting at the seams, because of a wedding the next day – but the waitress checked with the chef and they managed to squeeze us in.

In the almost empty bar we shared a full three-course meal and had just finished the pannacotta dessert when the lights went out!
They brought us a big fat candle, but after 15 minutes or so the lights flickered back on when the diesel generator kicked in. But the cash register wouldn’t work, so we left a credit card and promised to return in the morning.

Back at our campsite we opened a bottle of red wine, listened to the light rain and the slap of the waves of the gravel shore, and watched the lightning show at the top end of the lake. Next morning dawned fine and clear in Godzone. We went back to the Lodge, paid our dinner bill, and headed up to the gate at the end of the WDC road. The road continues for another 30-odd kilometres deep into the Southern Alps, but we’ll save that for next time.

We headed back to Omarama for lunch at the Wrinkly Rams, where the Wellington branch of the Jaguar Owners Club was passing through, and I had a yarn with some of them before we set off for the Lindis Pass and turned off into the Ahuriri Conservation Park.

If Ohau was an 8, this was a 9.5! Breathtaking, stunning, awesome.

We drove in for about an hour to a hut set in beech forest where I’d been once before, three or four years ago, and always wanted to go back. Again, the road continues deeper into the mountains and one of these days I’ll give the Pathfinder a workout and explore a bit further.

But it was time to head for home. A brief stop at the new i-Site at Omarama, and another in Kurow for an excellent date scone and a coffee at Waitaki Braids Café, then it was home again, jiggity jig.

Can barely wait for the next trip.
Allan Dick

Porridge

Porridge is always a wonderful winter warmer to start the day. Try this tasty quinoa power porridge from Eat Happy by Melissa Hemsley.

Quinoa power porridge

Choose from three different quinoa options and play around with flavours. There are seven here, one for every day of the week! I’m a fan of porridge in a flask for an easy warming breakfast on the go. If I have people over, I make a huge pan of porridge and put small bowls out with a selection of flavours and toppings to let everyone help themselves. Serves 2

400–500mL any milk
500mL hot water
2 teaspoons coconut oil or butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons maple syrup or raw honey (optional)

QUINOA OPTIONS
200g quinoa flakes
Quinoa flakes: Toast the quinoa flakes in a dry pan on a medium heat for one minute, stirring frequently to prevent them from burning. This reduces any bitterness and gives a nice nutty flavour. Add 400mL of milk and all the other ingredients, give everything a stir, and bring to a medium simmer. Cook for four minutes, then add your choice of flavourings.

250g cooked quinoa
Cooked quinoa: Place the cooked quinoa in a saucepan, add 400mL of milk and all the other ingredients. Bring to a medium simmer and cook for four minutes, then add your choice of flavourings.

100g uncooked quinoa, rinsed well (ideally soaked first)
Uncooked quinoa: Place the uncooked quinoa in a saucepan, add 500mL of milk and all the other ingredients. Bring to a medium simmer and cook, covered, until the liquid has been absorbed and the quinoa is tender – about 15 minutes (or 12 minutes if the quinoa has been soaked), then add your choice of flavourings.

Topping Suggestion: Fig, Pistachio and Pomegranate:

1 sliced large ripe fig
1 tablespoon of pistachios
1 tablespoon of pomegranate seeds and a drizzle of raw honey

TIP: If you need to toast any nuts or seeds, dry-toast them in the pan first, on a medium heat for a minute or so, then set aside before you add the quinoa. This avoids using more than one pan.

Extracted from Eat Happy: 30-minute Feelgood Food by Melissa Hemsley, published by Ebury Press, RRP $55.00. Photography by Issy Croker.

Melissa Hemsley is one half of Hemsley + Hemsley – the best-selling authors of The Art of Eating Well and Good + Simple with their own café at Selfridges London. Melissa is committed to fast, simple, healthy feel-good food based around accessible ingredients, leftovers and innovative recipes that everyone can cook and enjoy.

Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley established their family food business, Hemsley + Hemsley in 2010, supplying homemade, wholesome and nutrient-filled food to private clients, including celebrities, who want to live healthier and more energised lives. They are food writers for Vogue and Sous Style and contribute regularly to newspapers and magazines including the Guardian Cook magazine.

To win a copy of Eat Happy: 30-minute Feelgood Food by Melissa Hemsley, email subs@rvmagazine.co.nz  Subject line: Win Eat Happy. Tell us the name of the author, your name, address, phone details.  Competition is open to April newsletter and Issue 70 magazine readers, closes 30 July 2018.  Winners announced following issue RV Travel Lifestyle magazine.

It could be said that vintage-caravan owners John and Pauline Murray like the look of a Lilliput. After all, they have owned two of these unbelievably cute and coveted little Kiwi caravans. And having secured a very rare 12′6″ model this time around, they have no plans to sell.

John and Pauline are camping converts who spent many happy summers in their pup tent at a favourite coastal spot. Everything changed one year when their much-anticipated break from their busy lives was a washout. “We went home and bought a caravan,” says Pauline.

Their first foray into the vintage-caravan world came in 2008 when they bought a 10′6″ Lilliput Gazelle which they spent a few years refurbishing, before deciding they would like a slightly larger space that could accommodate a small fridge.

From the start, the couple has enjoyed the advice and companionship of fellow Lilliput owners through the Lilliput Caravan Club of New Zealand, of which Pauline is now secretary. The club meets regularly at rallies throughout the country. Earlier this year they celebrated their 30th anniversary at a rally in Taupo to mark the occasion.

The rally was attended by 90 members and it was a fitting occasion for the launch of a book to celebrate all that is Lilliput. One Man’s Dream: the unique world of Lilliput caravans is a 445–page hardcover book which covers the 55-year history of the iconic brand established in the early 1960s by the late Bruce Webster.

Mr Webster was an ex-pat. British coach builder who had become so frustrated by the heavy vehicles owned by his clients that he decided to see if he could design and build a lighter caravan. Naturally, he wanted to ensure that the new build lacked none of the strength of its heavier predecessors and so he chose fibreglass as his construction material.

The use of fibreglass also allowed for the introduction of a seamless moulded shell that emphasises the clean lines of the Lilliput shape. The integrity of the build is clearly apparent in the classic caravan’s longevity. Inside the traditional Lilliput visitors might be surprised to find full headroom. This was cleverly achieved by a step down which is said to have come about due to the lack of headroom in the basement of the Webster’s home, where the first models were built.

Club members (the late) Margaret and Roy Larsen from Tauranga owned their 12′6″ Lilliput for around 40 years. During that time they changed stoves twice, replaced upholstery, changed curtains and painted the outside three times. Their caravan was towed by seven different vehicles over the years, and yet it is likely that Mr Webster would still see little difference between the caravan today and the one he sold new. This is quite an achievement.

For John and Pauline, retaining the integrity of the design while accommodating some creature comforts like the aforementioned fridge, is a given. The public certainly appreciated their retro flair when they visited the vintage caravans at the Covi show.

The old and new have been seamlessly accommodated in the upgraded vehicle that now boasts a larger bench, along with a discreetly hidden fridge under the wallpaper exterior. All gas appliances have been removed and replaced with a 12/240V electrical system complete with solar panels. The couple also has installed hot- and cold-water tanks and are aiming for full self–containment in the near future.

The foldout bed looks a little on the cosy side, but they both agree that the convertible couch is so comfortable that they both experience a better night’s sleep when they are on the road. In fact Pauline says she still finds it hard to believe the magic the little Lilliput can work on her husband. “It’s total transformation. He becomes so relaxed.”

Sitting inside their gorgeous home on the road, I can see why. And as I reluctantly head off to review some more contemporary vehicles at the show, I leave a little piece of my heart behind.

Words Peta Stavelli.

Battery problems always show themselves when cooler weather kicks in – we look at the ‘why’s and ‘what-to-do’s on your vehicle battery.

Have the battery and charging system checked for optimum performance. Cold weather is hard on batteries, and these statistics from Battery Council International paint the picture perfectly.

• When the outside temperature is 26°C, a fully charged battery has 100 per cent of its power available to start the vehicle.
• When the temperature drops to 0°C, a fully charged battery only has approximately 66 per cent of its power available.

Ask your technician to test your battery. This can be performed quickly at most automotive service centres. What will they look at? More than you might think – charge life in the battery, connections, terminals, water, corrosion and cracks.

Cracks: Check the battery case for cracks, and the battery cables and clamps need the once over, as well as the terminals, for damage. Secure loose cables so they don’t flop around. Any problems you find, replace the part, or replace the battery if applicable.

Water: If you have a conventional vented wet-cell battery, the type with screw-in caps for topping up the electrolyte with water, check the water level regularly.

Corrosion: On all batteries look for corrosion on the battery terminals, and make sure all connections are clean and tight. The problem arises more often if you don’t drive your vehicle regularly. If the battery is sitting idle, the terminals oxidise at a faster rate, so you need to check them more regularly. Corrosion appears as a white, ashy deposit, sometimes a bit of colour mixed in, located around one or both battery posts. These deposits are the result of one of several possible chemical exchanges involving vapours and the battery post. Use eye protection, gloves and even a mask when cleaning.

To clean away the corrosion, use a mix of baking soda and water on the disconnected battery terminal posts of lead-acid batteries. Dry everything off well, lube with petroleum jelly on all exposed metal surfaces on the posts, battery cables and clamps, then reconnect it.

Things to be aware of: Always remove the cable clamp from the negative (-) terminal first, when reconnecting do the positive (+) cable first. Be careful you don’t short any tools against the vehicle when in contact with the battery.

• Ideally, park the vehicle in a garage at night, providing some insulation against low temperatures, ice and snow.
• Try to avoid frequent stops and starts over a short period of time – in cold temperatures you need to make certain you drive the vehicle long enough to recharge the battery. Turn off unnecessary electrical loads such as the radio, rear window and windshield defrosters, and try not to use electric windows and extra lights.

Lithium Batteries – Will they Work in your RV?

Latest technology batteries are on the market; we ask why we should upgrade; are lithium batteries compatible with our existing technology; what are the power comparisons.

We asked Greg Mitchell from REDARC for his advice.

Batteries are one of the components in your RV or caravan’s setup that are a necessary evil. You need them – to start the vehicle and allow the electrical system to work effectively – so you can escape into remote bliss beyond the reaches of the mains-power grid, whilst maintaining essential comforts. But they take up large amounts of space that could be utilised in other ways, they weigh so much that structural strength of their mountings can be a problem, and in larger systems they can even play havoc with the balance of the vehicle – especially in caravans.

In the last 10 years, lead-acid battery technology has come a long way, with improved designs having better tolerance of the harsh environments experienced in RVs, and greater ability to accept, store and deliver larger amounts of power in smaller packages. These batteries have tolerated our abuse – over vibrations, through the heat and cold, from full to flat and back again, more regularly and faster than is really best for them – but they have kept powering on and done the job.

It is, however, in our nature to improve on what we have and what we know, and when it comes to batteries for the RV market, there are a few manufacturers taking that next step. Lithium-battery technology has been around for a number of years already, in various different forms; most of your power tools and portable devices now use lithium batteries. The type specifically being used in automotive and marine applications is known as Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4), or LFP. Automotive LFP batteries consist of (four) 3.2V cells connected together in series to make a 12V battery (or whatever battery voltage you need), then a number of these groups are paralleled together to give the required capacity. LFP batteries need to have inbuilt protection devices, or battery management systems (BMSs), to ensure that the internal cells aren’t subject to under or over voltage, imbalanced charge, or excessive charge or discharge currents. If this protection does not exist, the cells may fail and no longer be usable. Contrary to popular belief in New Zealand, LFP batteries with inbuilt protection and cell management are no more volatile than a lead-acid equivalent. A lot of people confuse Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries with Lithium Iron Cobalt, Lithium Polymer and many other Lithium-type batteries, which have a completely different chemical composition and can be volatile if not charged correctly.

The biggest advantage for those of us wanting a top-end auxiliary battery system is that an LFP battery can be one-third the weight and physical size of a lead-acid battery of comparable storage capacity; plus, their cycle life can be up to 10 times more cycles than a lead-acid battery. Another functional advantage is that they are capable of delivering more usable amp-hours, nearly double that of a lead-acid, by allowing deeper discharge at a usable voltage. In fact the voltage curve of an LFP battery remains relatively flat in comparison to a lead-acid. A lead-acid battery’s voltage gradually falls from 12.6V at 100% charge, to around 12.2V at 50% charge, and 11.8V at 0% charge – or dead flat. An LFP on the other hand would remain close to 12.8V between 100% charge and as low as 20% charge; the voltage then tends to decrease rapidly below this level. This means that your loads run better – brighter lighting, more efficient cooling/heating, etc. throughout the operating range of the battery. Not only do they deliver power better, but they accept it better too. Lead-acid batteries are generally around 70% efficient when charging – meaning when you put 100Ah in, only 70Ah is actually stored as usable power. LFPs on the other hand are better than 90% efficient, and can accept their maximum recharge current limit until nearly full, meaning faster recharge times. So what’s the catch? All these great advantages must come at some cost – and that they do: LFP batteries are much more expensive than lead-acid batteries. A top-quality AGM 100Ah battery would cost around $400, whereas an LFP 100Ah would be closer to $2000. Sounds like a big jump, but when you consider that it will take up one-third less space and weight, deliver nearly twice the usable amp-hours, last up to 10 times longer, and operate more efficiently throughout its life – it sounds like good value for money for high-demand auxiliary battery systems.

One thing that is no different between an LFP and a lead-acid battery is that you only get out what you put in, and so you need to charge them correctly to reap their full potential. The internal protection BMS plays a part in this with its cell balancing, but mostly it is about applying the correct voltage and current levels to the battery to bring it to full charge. You can’t charge an LFP battery from a standard lead-acid charge profile; not only will you not get the maximum run time of loads, but you will also severely shorten the life cycle of the battery. Thus it is vital that your charging system is matched to the LFP battery. If it’s not, you are buying false economy.
Being at the forefront of emerging technologies and a leader in battery charging, REDARC has been working with LFP battery companies to develop charging products that are suitable for LiFePO4 batteries. The award-winning REDARC BCDC In-Vehicle Dual-Input Battery Chargers (BCDC1225D 25amp and BCDC1240D 40amp) as well as the Manager range (BMS1215S3 15amp and BMS1230S2 30amp), have the ability to charge LiFePO4 batteries, and range from $699 to $2199 RRP.

The good old lead-acid battery still has a home in many RV setups, particularly when LFP batteries may not fit the budget, but for those needing the next step up in auxiliary power storage they are definitely worth a look. For more information on REDARC Battery Chargers visit www.redarc.com.au/battery-chargers