New Caravan Industry Electrical Standards November 2023

New Caravan Industry Electrical Standards November 2023

As the caravan industry gears up for a transformative shift, all eyes are on the impending arrival of brand-new standards that take effect November 2023. Titled AS/NZS3001.2:2022, these changes promise to revolutionise the way we approach portable connectable electrical installations, particularly in the realm of lithium battery standards. The standard is a detailed document and covers electrical installations in RVs as well as other connectable installation used for accommodation, habitation or commercial.

This blog will highlight a few of the changes around battery standards, specifically focusing on portable connectable electrical installations (Caravans, Motorhomes and Camper Trailers).

What is a portable connectable electrical installation? Put simply, any vehicle that has a 240V inlet plug fitted on the outside for mains power connection. These plugs are usually 15 Amp and connect to a battery management system within the van. At time of writing, vehicles without the hard wired 240V inlet are exempt from the latest standards changes.

While these changes may seem significant, they are indeed achievable and not overly complex. Let's delve into what these upcoming regulations mean for every caravan enthusiast.

 

Existing Power Installations:

Before we get into it, it’s worth mentioning that if you already have a caravan with lithium batteries or inverters installed, and it was delivered before these new standards come into effect, there's no need to worry. The new caravan industry standards are not retrospectively enforceable. Only if you're upgrading your existing system from, say, AGM batteries to lithium, should you carefully consider the standard requirements.

 

Battery Fitment Standards:

Perhaps the most critical aspect of the new caravan industry standards is battery fitment. Contrary to some misconceptions, you don't need to mount your batteries outside the caravan. They can be safely installed internally in non-habitable areas such as storage locations, tunnel boots, and under beds. It's essential to follow the battery manufacturer's guide for proper installation, securing, and ventilation.

If you already have a power system installed before November 18, 2023, but want to make sure your system is still complying to the new rules one simple step is segregating the lithium batteries from the rest of the system with a wall and a secured lid as well as a gasket seal to ensure the portion of the build is gas proof. This compartment can be made from any materials as long as it is sealed and secure. Another step is a single ventilation point, 20mm to the external of the caravan.

 

Solar Compliance:

For parallel connections of 3 or more solar panels, compliance with the new caravan industry standard also requires individual fusing for each panel before they are connected. This additional layer of safety ensures that a short circuit in one panel won't disrupt the entire system. Another new addition to the rules is the need for a fuse, circuit breaker, or a single point of isolation prior to the controller on the solar side. This isolation point is required regardless of the number of panels in the system and allows you to troubleshoot or test any issues you may be having with your panels or something else in the system.

 

 

In conclusion, the new lithium battery laws in the caravan industry represent a positive step towards enhanced safety and compliance. If you have any questions or concerns, simply reach out to your battery manufacturer, or don't hesitate to reach out to us and we can point you in the right direction. Always consult your installing electrician for clarity on the latest standards for your installation in your state.

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DISCLAIMER* Please note, this advice is general in nature and we strongly recommend consulting the product manual and where relevant, a professional installer.


Comments (11)

'Smart' Lithium batteries to replace existing AGM

My 6yo caravan is fitted with a 100Ah AGM battery and solar panel and 240V charger to suit. I'll likely need to replace the battery quite soon. I note that there are now a number of vendors offering 'Smart' lithium batteries which appear to be a standard lithium battery with some interface circuitry and posts/connections and are offered as a suitable replacement for an AGM battery. These batteries seem to offer the best of both worlds - less weight and greater capacity while eliminating the need to replace solar controllers and 240V chargers. I imagine that the installation of such a lithium battery will need to be segregated as per your original article and the new rules. Do you have any comments or concerns with this middle-way approach?
By: Ron Hoskin on


www.caravanrvcamping.com.au Response
Hi Ron, upgrading to lithium is a very easy thing to do with just a couple of slight changes to the installation. I have sent you an email on this for you to have a look at. Please feel free to reach out to us on 1800 787 278 if you have any further questions.

'Smart' Lithium batteries to replace existing AGM

My 6yo caravan is fitted with a 100Ah AGM battery and solar panel and 240V charger to suit. I'll likely need to replace the battery quite soon. I note that there are now a number of vendors offering 'Smart' lithium batteries which appear to be a standard lithium battery with some interface circuitry and posts/connections and are offered as a suitable replacement for an AGM battery. These batteries seem to offer the best of both worlds - less weight and greater capacity while eliminating the need to replace solar controllers and 240V chargers. I imagine that the installation of such a lithium battery will need to be segregated as per your original article and the new rules. Do you have any comments or concerns with this middle-way approach?
By: Ron Hoskin on


www.caravanrvcamping.com.au Response
Hi Ron, first and foremost I would check the compatibility of your existing chargers to ensure they are suitable for lithium profiles. Some lithium batteries do offer a bluetooth function for wireless monitoring. Swapping out lithium is quite easy so please feel free to contact us on 1800 787 278 to discuss the range we have available. You can also jump on our live chat directly on our website during business hours

Lithium Battery Ventilation

I note that there needs to be a single ventilation point for lithium batteries. It states there has to be a single ventilation point for the batteries 20mm to the external wall of the caravan. Does this point have to be at least a 20mm hole? Hoping you can clarify this issue for me.
By: Ron Jardine on


www.caravanrvcamping.com.au Response
Hi Ron, the ventilation hole needs to be a minimum of 20mm

Lithium and Agm batteries

Hi I have a Mazda t3500 bus with batteries mounted underneath, can I have a lithium battery and a Agm battery stored side by side?. Also regarding the new solar laws I have 2 panels to my lithium battery BMS and one panel to my starter BMS both with circuit breakers so I can switch from charging with solar or alternator. Do I still need to put a fuse between each panel? Thanks for your time.
By: Boyd Thompson on


www.caravanrvcamping.com.au Response
Hi Boyd, first and foremost lithium batteries need to be stored in a dry and cool location. If this isn't possible underneath your bus then you will have to come up with an alternative location. Simply storing a lithium battery and an AGM battery side-by-side without any electrical connection does not pose an inherent safety risk. However, there are still some potential downsides to consider: Temperature extremes: While both lithium and AGM batteries can handle a wide range of temperatures, their optimal storage temperatures differ. Ensure both batteries are stored within their recommended temperature range to avoid compromising their lifespan. Accidental contact: Although unlikely, accidental contact between terminals or exposed wires could lead to a short circuit, especially if the batteries are stored in a confined space. Take precautions to prevent any possibility of contact. Acid leaks: AGM batteries, though sealed, can still leak electrolyte if damaged. Spilled electrolyte can damage the lithium battery casing and pose environmental hazards. Store both batteries on sturdy, non-conductive surfaces and ensure leak-proof containment for the AGM battery. Overall, while simply storing the batteries separately is not unsafe, following best practices for battery storage and handling will further minimize any potential risks and ensure optimal performance for both types of batteries. Regarding the solar panels the requirements for the new standard ask for Individual fusing per panel prior to those panels being joined in parallel. So you would need to have a fuse between the 2 panels to your lithium battery if they are connected in parallel. This information serves as guidance, and the suggestions made do not assure compliance with your system. It is advisable to thoroughly review and comprehend AS/NZS 3001.2:2022 to ensure the adherence of your system to the specified standards.

Solar and lithium systems

Thank you for a very informative description of the the above . Glad these standards have been brought in. Let's hope caravan owners can go to a professional installer with peace of mind.
By: John laoumtzis on

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