Why repurposed electric car batteries could be a boon for the camping scene

Electric vehicles! They’re up and coming! And they are pretty cool.

From the time that QANTAS towed a plane with a Tesla Model X to the much awaited release of the Rivian R1T and Rivian R1S as well as the Tesla Cybertruck, electric off road vehicles are coming, and we here at 4WD DIY cannot wait to see what the future has in store for electric offroading.

Do we think it’s viable, yeah sure, for the casual weekender. Do we think it will replace long distance touring? Not yet.

However, we do think that electric vehicle technology has a place in the long distance camping scene, and we 100% think that there is potential here!

You see, the electric vehicle scene was founded on the idea of renewable resources, renewable energy, and the idea that recycling and helping the environment is cool. I mean, there was that time when I lost my absolute shit when people trashed Flea Creek Camping area in the Brindabella ranges, or that time we went to McIntyre’s hut and found it trashed. We are all for sustainable offroading and we don’t like seeing the environment trashed.

So things like electric 4WD’s that have torque vectoring wheels, and hill climb and hill descent assistance, and correct use of lockers and sand tracks and such are really good news to us, we like to see that stuff. There’s really no need to destroy tracks and destroy the environment to have a good time. As such, we think that now that there are a heap of Electric Vehicle Batteries hitting the market, there is a use for them in Camping.

Take your average camper tray setup, you install 100-200AH in your camper for a good weekend getaway, however, look at this Tesla Model S Battery Module:

Now it looks like a pretty big battery, until you take a look at the specs of it:

Width280-300mm
Depth685mm
Height75mm
Weight25kg
Voltage24v
Capacity (kWh)5.3
Capacity (Ah)220.83
12v Capacity (Ah)441.66

That’s right, 441.66Ah, in a very compact, 25kg battery that is flat, perfect to fit under your drawers, or in the bottom of your drawers in your 4WD.

It’s designed for automotive use, has its own in-built BMS, has its own mounting holes, and you know it’s pretty damn tough. This is pretty damn perfect for your next project, or to upgrade the existing battery setup in your 4WD or camper trailer. Plus it can be fast charged.

What is this fast charging I hear you say?

Well, Tesla batteries are designed for DC fast charging, that means that you can fit a CCS or a Type 2 plug to your vehicle/Trailer, and go to any commercial DC fast charger, or really, any electric car charger and charge your batteries.

CCS Plug vs Type 2 Plug

What do I mean you can charge for free? Well there are a number of cheap, or free, chargers that you can find around for electric vehicles, ranging from 6kW through to 150kW to charge your vehicle, this means that if you fit a 5.3kW or even a 10.6kW battery system to your vehicle, you can charge up your camper, caravan, or vehicle in a fraction of time it takes to have a coffee.

So just have a think how many days you can go camping for if you devote even 50kg of your payload to 2 x Tesla Model S modules? We here at 4WD DIY are running a 75L Brass Monkey dual zone fridge in our camper that we got from Jaycar. This fridge pulls 10A, which means that over an hour, it requires 10Ah.

So based on this we come to:

5.3kWh1.8 Days
10.6kWh3.6 Days

Keeping in mind we are currently running 12V 100Ah Deep Cycle SLA Battery in our camper which weighs in at 31kg! So we can run 400 odd amp hours for less weight, which means that we can have more room in our camper for more gear if we need to, we could even mount this under the camper and clean up a lot more room for activities if we need to!


Edit: So we have had a few comments sent to us over social media and via email regarding how the battery we currently run, albeit heavier, is a lot cheaper than the battery we have suggested out of a Tesla Model S, however we would also like to remind you that the Tesla battery is designed with long term, high current drains in mind, and for this Tesla gives a 10 year battery warranty. For use in a caravan, camper, or RV, the current draw is insignificant for what the battery is designed for.

Further, we have compared this to a SLA type Gel battery, which is a completely different chemistry to Lithium based batteries, a good comparison would be the Enerdrive 300Ah Slim Lithium Battery 12V which is 300Ah @ 12v which we found online at one retailer for over $6,000 making the approx $2,500 for a used Tesla Module much more attractive.


So what was the point of this article? This article is encouraging you to think outside the box on your next build, to think about how you might be able to help the environment and incorporate an old Electric Vehicle battery into your next camping build and help save the environment by going out and not buying a new battery for your camper, but to maybe look at the wreckers and seeing if there is an old Tesla, old Prius, or old Nissan Leaf, and maybe go and salvage the batteries from it to power your next adventure. Keep that crap out of landfill, and use it to your advantage. Keeping the beers cold!

Cheers!

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