RV Books

Proven & Unbiased Information from Collyn Rivers

♦ caravans ♦ motorhomes ♦ camper trailers ♦ solar ♦

Important News

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is investigating the Caravan Industry

A media release was issued on 12 November seeking information about the industry in relation to Australian Consumer Law. The ACCC has received over 1300 complaints about the industry over the last 5 year, and they've finally decided to act.  RV Books has been active in pointing out the shortcomings of the industry, particularly in the area of caravan safety, and we applaud their efforts.

The ACCC have set up two surveys - one for purchasers and the other for retailers.  We encourage everyone caravan owner to respond.  The survey is easy to complete and will only take a few minutes.

Click here to read the media release: https://www.accc.gov.au/media-release/views-sought-on-caravan-industry

Click here to go straight to the survey: https://consultation.accc.gov.au/accc/new-caravan-survey-consumers/

As information becomes available regarding this investigation we will report it here.  Discussion of the issues raised by this investigation can be found in our forum: https://rvbooks.com.au/forum/

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Between 1959 and 1961 Collyn Rivers and Antony Fleming drove a Bedford QLR off-road truck twice the length and breadth of Africa studying road surface conditions.

A 43 minute film about their adventure, produced and narrated by Antony Fleming, has been viewed on YouTube more than 1.6 million  times!

Picture from africa journey. Caravan and motorhome electrics by collyn rivers

To view the film, and also read Collyn's telling of the tale, just click the button below.

Africa 

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The Camper Trailer Book.  Free!

Not currently available as an eBook or paperback, RV Books is publishing The Camper Trailer Book on this site.  Every week new sections will be released until the complete, fully revised, version is available.

Read It Here

Solar Success

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Collyn Rivers is the author of Solar Success. Previously only available on a different website (solarbooks.com.au),  you'll now find this book and a large selection of exclusive articles by Collyn Rivers dealing with the intricacies of setting up and using solar power to run your home, cabin, caravan or motorhome.  Over the next few weeks all of the content from Collyn's second site will be brought over to RV Books to provide a more comprehensive coverage of a wider range of topics. 

Solar Success

Featured article

RV Batteries

by Collyn Rivers - Updated 2020

How to optimise RV batteries

This article shows you how to optimise RV batteries. It also shows how you can make RV batteries charge faster. It shows you how RV batteries store energy from your RV's or tow vehicle's alternator, solar, grid or generator power.

Flooded lead-acid batteries

Flooded lead-acid batteries need ongoing topping up with distilled water. If well-maintained, they have a long lifespan. They emit corrosive gasses. They are not suited as RV batteries.

Valve-regulated lead-acid batteries

Most RVs use valve-regulated lead-acid batteries. They are similar to flooded batteries. That sealing, however, is only nominal. There are vents that release hydrogen gas in the event pressure. RV batteries necessitate you housing them in a well-ventilated enclosure.

All lead-acid batteries dislike deep discharging. Doing so reduces their working lives. These batteries are relatively cheap. They are ideal for a quick 'around Australia'. They are less suited to occasional RV use.

Gel batteries

Now rarely used, gel batteries cost more than lead-acid batteries. Gel batteries can be discharged slightly more deeply. They cost more than valve regulated batteries. Gel batteries had a loyal following. AGM batteries, however, are more rugged.

AGM batteries

Rv batteries. Agm battery.

AGM batteries were designed for military use. They are sealed, rugged and maintenance-free. AGM batteries, however, are bulky. A 12 volt 100 amp-hour AGM battery weighs about 33 kg (73 lb).

RV Battery basics dictate that routinely discharging AGM batteries below 50% shortens their life. They retain much of their charge, however, if unused for a year or so.

AGM batteries dislike temperatures above 40 degrees C. Do not locate close them to an engine. Furthermore, they are damaged by overcharging. Their self-discharge is tiny. Unless used routinely, charge them only every 6-12 months. Never leave an AGM battery on 'trickle charge'.

AGMs cost you more than basic batteries. They are a good buy as RV batteries. Moreover, this is even more so if travelling extensively off-road. Furthermore, for RVs used infrequently.

For more about AGM batteries see AGM batteries for caravans.

Crystal Batteries

These are a relatively new form of RV lead-acid battery. They are (so far) made by one company. Their main claimed benefit is 18 years, This may be so but is yet to be proven.

Lithium batteries

Rv batteries. Lithium battery.

There are various types of lithium batteries. Those used in RVs are LiFePO4. This is their chemical make-up. They are often, but wrongly, marketed as lithium-ion in RV batteries.

LiFePO4s are a third the size and weight of conventional batteries. If fully charged, about 80% of their capacity is usable. This is about 40% more than most batteries. They supply and charge at massively high rates. Their output is 13-12.9 volts. This precludes lights flickering as fridges cycle on and off.

LiFePO4s are commonly used as RV batteries. Their main benefit as RV batteries is their low size and weight. An otherwise comparable AGM is a third of the price. LiFePO4 batteries, however, suit smaller and lighter RVs.

These batteries have individual cell monitoring and need specialised charging. They need specialised knowledge to buy, install and charge. Auto-electricians can assist.

It is not possible to forecast LiFePO4s' future as RV batteries. Other batteries with similar specifications are under development.

For more about lithium batteries see Lithium batteries in caravans and motorhomes.

RV battery location

If used in a caravan (for stability) locate batteries close to (ideally just in front of) the axle/s. Never at its rear nor on its A-frame.

RV batteries are such that it is advisable to use a specialised alternator charger. To optimise charging locate that unit as close to the batteries as possible. Preferably not in the same compartment.

Battery makers advise that you vent the top and bottom of the battery compartment. There are, however, no industry standards. RV batteries dictate you have 25-50 mm holes at the compartment's top and bottom. Or for you to use the stainless steel vents sold by boat chandlers.

An external battery compartment door should be of a light colour. It also needs heat insulation.

RVs need batteries close to the alternator but protected from exhaust heat. Connect them to the alternator via at least 10 square mm cable. It is advisable to use a dc-dc alternator charger. LiFePO4 batteries need a specialised low-voltage version.

RV battery capacity

Battery capacity is expressed in amp-hours. For 12 volt batteries, to convert amp-hours to watt-hours multiply by 12. For 24 volt systems multiply by 24.

RV batteries can be seen as (fee-charged) bank accounts. They hold energy paid in and release energy drawn out. In doing so, they lose energy internally. That lost is 15%-20% for lead-acid battery, but only 1%-2% for LiFePO4s.

As with bank accounts, RV batteries preclude you from storing or using more than you pay in. You incur overhead fees if you add another account (i.e. another battery).

Unless increasing energy to store, do not increase battery capacity. Doing so is like adding a further bank account for the same income. That second battery increases storage losses. Many RV owners misunderstand this. RVs owners who run out of 12-volt power typically buy a new battery. Some add another. Doing this only works if there is excess energy for charging.

Limit battery capacity such that they fully charge on most days by noon. This typically requires about 250 watts of solar per 100 amp-hour battery capacity.

Overcharging

There is next to no risk of you overcharging. Alternator regulators and solar regulators control charging voltage. Moreover, LiFePO4 batteries accept far higher charge currents than your RV can supply.

Use batteries that suit your pocket, weight carrying ability and needs. Maximise solar capacity. Doing so enables you to charge them even via light cloud.

You should never mix battery types. Furthermore, do not add batteries unless they are of identical capacity, age and type.

A few RV owners use a generator to run a CPAP (sleep apnoea) machine. Instead, use a generator or solar to charge a truly reliable battery during the day. Furthermore, run the CPAP from that at night.

Further information about how you can optimise RV batteries

Optimising RV batteries is covered in-depth in our book Caravan & Motorhome Electrics.

Recently updated articles

Electric Vehicle Batteries

The market for quickly-rechargeable, light and compact batteries is huge. One or another battery will eventually evolve. When it does, electric-only vehicles are likely to have a range unthinkable using fossil-fuels. Moreover, in the meantime, hybrids are an excellent compromise. Furthermore, see also Electric Vehicles – Hybrids.

read more

Electric Vehicle Home Charging

Many existing home grid-connect solar systems have excess capacity outside peak periods. Solar energy fed in during the day can be re-drawn during off-peak periods, for much the same price, to charge an electric car. This is because many grid networks have excess capacity outside peak periods. Furthermore, such charging extends battery life: all dislike ongoing deep discharges.

read more

Electric Vehicle Motors

Updated 2020 Electric vehicle motors AC/DC Electric vehicle motors use one or other of the two main kinds of electricity: alternating current and direct current. Both are effective as electric vehicle motors. Alternating Current (AC) is where electric current...

read more

Electric and Hybrid Vehicles

Globally, there is move to electric vehicles. Apart from minor rubber tyre particles they are virtually emission free.They are also about 80% efficient. If, however, their electricity is from fossil-fuelled power stations, their emissions are similar to year 2020 petrol-fuelled (or hybrid) vehicles.

read more

Articles by Category

Electrical (general)
Batteries & Battery Charging
General
Travel
The Camper Trailer Book

Want to find out more? Our books cover all these topics and a lot more. 

Cover of how to choose and buy an rv by collyn rivers

Whether you’re buying your first RV or updating to a bigger, more comfortable rig, there are a great many things you need to know and consider. How to Choose and Buy an RV breaks things down so that you can decide what you want and whether or not what you’ve found is right for you.

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Cover of solar that really works by collyn riversSolar That Really Works! explains every detail of designing and installing solar in boats, camper trailers, caravans and motorhomes.

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Cover of caravan and motorhome electrics by collyn riversCaravan & Motorhome Electrics covers every aspect of designing, installing and fault finding of the electrics in fifth wheel and conventional caravans, camper trailers and motorhomes.

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Cover of the caravan and motorhome book by collyn riversThe Caravan & Motorhome Book covers every conceivable aspect of camper trailer, caravan and fifth wheel caravan, campervan and motorhome usage.

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Cover of why caravans roll over by collyn riversCaravans and their tow vehicles rarely jack-knife and roll over - but when they do the results are catastrophic. The cause, and how to prevent it, is explained here. Why Caravans Roll Over offers solid advice for keeping yourself safe on the road.
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Cover of solar success by collyn riversSolar Success explains how to design and build home and property systems that ensures affordable solar success first and every time.

 

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Cover of how to choose and buy an rv by collyn riversWhether you're buying your first RV or updating to a bigger, more comfortable rig, there are a great many things you need to know and consider.  This book breaks things down so that you can decide what you want and whether or not what you've found is right for you. It's technically sound and comprehensive so that you can proceed with complete confidence.  How to Choose and Buy an RV is the ultimate guide for those times when you want to, well, choose and buy an RV.

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Cover of why caravans roll over by collyn riversCaravans and their tow vehicles rarely jack-knife and roll over - but when they do the results are catastrophic. The cause, and how to prevent it, is explained here.  Why Caravans Roll Over offers solid advice for keeping yourself safe on the road.

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Cover of caravan and motorhome electrics by collyn riversCaravan & Motorhome Electrics is the totally rewritten successor to the original globally selling Motorhome Electrics. The book's content now also covers every aspect of designing, installing and fault finding of the electrics in fifth wheel and conventional caravans, camper trailers and motorhomes.

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Cover of solar success by collyn riversSolar Success explains how to design and build home and property systems that ensures affordable solar success first and every time.

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Cover of the caravan and motorhome book by collyn riversThe Caravan & Motorhome Book covers every conceivable aspect of camper trailer, caravan and fifth wheel caravan, campervan and motorhome usage. Like all of Collyn Rivers' books it is technically sound yet written in plain English.

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Cover of solar that really works by collyn riversSolar That Really Works! explains, in clear English, every detail of designing and installing solar in boats, camper trailers, caravans and motorhomes. It is up-to-date, valid globally and technically accurate. It is clear, concise and easy to follow without sacrificing important detail.

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How to Choose and Buy an RV

This is Collyn Rivers' newest book.  Building on his years of experience and extensive knowledge of engineering and all things caravan and RV, this is the book you need with you when shopping for an RV.

Caravan & Motorhome Electrics

Collyn Rivers has done it again! – if you need to know anything about motorhome electrics, then this book is for you... Collyn must be, without doubt, the foremost authority in Australia on this subject.

The Wanderer (Campervan & Motorhome Club of Australia Ltd)

Why Caravans Roll Over....and How to Prevent It​

Should be compulsory reading for everyone involved with Caravans: Design / Engineering, Marketing, Journalism (print & electronic), Regulations, Inspections, Driver-Training, Caravan Clubs, Towing and Modifications.

Colin Young

Founder and CEO, Caravan Council of Australia

Solar that Really Works!

Collyn is an accomplished engineer who knows how to design and build successful systems. It is refreshing to see practical advice written in plain language when there is so little solar information around. . . this is an essential text . . . you won’t find a better guide.

Alan T. Gray

Earth Garden Magazine

The Caravan & Motorhome Book

Without doubt, this is the best book we have ever read . . . it will be treasured, and read on a regular basis.

The Wanderer (Campervan & Motorhome Club of Australia Ltd)