LITHIUM BATTERY Lithium batteries are all the rage and for good reason. They weigh less than half as much as an equivalent amp hour-rated AGM battery, they can be discharged to low levels without suffering any damage, and they give a nearconstant voltage output, meaning all your 12V appliances work at peak performance. Unfortunately, a few cheap and inferior brands have appeared on the market, making the purchasing decision more difficult. We installed a 200Ah ProPower lithium battery over two years ago and it has performed beyond our expectations. It has delivered consistent performance regardless of the conditions and has shown absolutely no signs of degradation, which is more than I can say for some expensive AGM batteries I’ve owned previously. Lithium batteries for RVs are much more expensive at the outset than any AGM battery; however, there is the potential to save you money in the long-run. Buy a quality battery, with a warranty, and you’ll never look back. The author of this article uses a Pro Power lithium battery. BATTERY MANAGEMENT SYSTEM Regardless of the type of battery you have in your van, you need it to perform at peak capacity, especially when free-camping. Normal battery chargers and solar controllers cannot accurately monitor all the power going in and out of your batteries. This is why you need a proper battery management system. The Redarc Battery Manager 30, which is what I use in my van, is extremely useful. It manages power from three sources: solar, 240V and 12V DC to DC, and ensures your batteries get the maximum charge available. It also provides an instant, accurate indication of the battery’s state of charge, and will show how much solar watts are being generated by your solar panels and chart this over time. The load indicator reveals how much power your 12V appliances are drawing, as well as how many amps are going into the battery from the charging sources. This enables you to reduce power consumption and maximise charging. The Redarc 30 is a popular BMS. There are a range of other battery management systems, including from BMPRO, that are also well-regarded, so shop around to ensure you find the one that best suits your needs and budget.