Battery Installation

The installation requirements for batteries are found in AS/NZS 3001.2 Section 5.4. Please study this section in your copy of the standard. Information about accessing standards is available via this link.

Batteries – General Requirements

These requirements apply to any connectable electrical installation battery, regardless of the battery chemistry/composition.

  1. The battery system must have fuse or circuit breaker protection. Clause 5.4.7.1
  2. Location of the protection device must be (Clause 5.4.7.2):
    • within 200mm of the battery or
    • directly outside the enclosure / compartment or
    • < 1.0 meter (only if cabling is suitably enclosed)
  3. Owner user instructions must be provided. Appendix C
  4. Minimum distances to service lines are mandated (eg gas, diesel, water piping). Clause 5.4.10.2
  5. A warning (with prescribed wording) must be provided that warns (Appendix C):
    • Any replacement battery must be with a battery of the same type as the original
    • Battery upgrades must only be undertaken by a competent person

If provision is made for a battery and the battery is not installed in the original installation, safety labels (with prescribed wording) and user instructions must be provided. Clause 5.4.8.

If there is no provision for a battery, instructions (with prescribed wording) must be provided.  Clause 5.8.9.

Lead acid batteries: (including GEL and AGM etc.)

The overlying principals of the battery installation are:

  1. A battery must be open to the environment or enclosed within a battery compartment.
  2. A battery compartment must vent to the outside. Clause 5.4.11.4
    Remember an Annex is deemed to be part of the living area and as such ventilation cannot be into an Annex
  3. Vents are typically required top and bottom. Clause 5.4.11.4
  4. The size of vent openings is now calculated via formula in Clause 5.4.11.5
  5. A battery enclosure must be sealed from the living area. (Known in the standard as the habitable area.)
  6. Spill trays must be provided that can hold at least 20% of the electrolyte capacity. Clause 5.4.11.3.3
  7. Owner user instructions must be provided. Appendix C

5.4.11.4 Battery box “sealed insert”  fitted to exterior wall – Example only

5.4.11.4 Battery using upper wall vent and lower wall vent – Example only

5.4.11.4 Battery using upper wall vent and lower floor vent – Example only

Lithium Batteries

It is essential the Caravan manufacturer familiarize themselves with the specific requirements of AS/NZS3001.2 in relation to lithium batteries.

The following guidance material has been developed taking into account recent concerns with lithium battery installations and advice from Electrical Regulators around how to implement the requirements of the new standard. Refer also to the Lithium Battery Industry Guidance Document.

Battery Compartments (see clause 5.4.12.1)

The battery compartment design and venting mechanism shall be provided to the installer by the Manufacturer and/or supplier of the lithium-ion battery.

Specifications/instructions that should be expected from the battery manufacturer/supplier are:

  • Compartment size
  • Construction material of the compartment.
    Eg: Batteries deemed to have effects of thermal runaway may be required to be installed in a compartment constructed of a non-combustible material.
  • Size and type of venting mechanism to the compartment to expel gasses to the atmosphere.

Additional information that is recommended to be considered is as follows:

  • Safe operating temperature range.
  • Where ventilation is required, consider using the ventilation requirements of clause 5.4.11.
  • Reduce the risk to occupants of a fire involving the battery by allowing time for the fire to be noticed and the occupants evacuated…
    There should be a non-combustible barrier between the battery and any occupied space, to slow the spread of fire (in either direction). For guidance on suitable non-combustible materials refer AS 1530 – Part 1.
  • Consider whether a battery storage solution can be identified that would be suitable for either lead-acid or lithium battery types to allow for future interchangeability.
  • Ensure that a Safety Data Sheet is available for the battery that addresses safe storage, handling and firefighting procedures. 

Lithium ion batteries shall (see clause 5.4.12.2):

  1. Be located externally (outside the living area of the vehicle) i.e. behind a partition, enclosure/compartment that prevents the migration of gases into the vehicle living area; (all areas inside the vehicle and annex) and:
  2. Not enter the living area of the vehicle (all areas inside the vehicle – including annex)
  3. Be installed to ensure operation occurs within the battery manufacturer’s specified operating temperatures and IP ratings.

For the purposes of this clause, the term “externally” will be understood to mean the following:

  • Open to the environment; (an open container on or under the vehicle) or:
  • Located in a battery compartment that is sealed to the enclosed space (habitable area) of vehicle.

A battery compartment that opens to the exterior should

  • Open outward (to the exterior of the connectable electrical installation) and
  • Be accessed from the exterior of the recreational vehicle.

If access to the battery compartment is obtained from within the habitable space of the recreational vehicle the compartment must have the following:

  • Fitted with openings that maintain a full seal from the enclosed habitable space of the recreational vehicle when in the closed/stored position.
  • Access to the compartment must only be possible by removing screws or using a prescribed tool.
  • An adequate seal from the enclosed habitable space of the recreational vehicle must be restored and maintained after removal and replacement of the compartment opening.

*Important Note:  The preceding paragraph, relating to internally accessed battery installations, is not universally accepted by Electrical Regulators – some jurisdictions have endorsed this approach, while others do not consider it suitable.  It is strongly recommended that you proceed with caution if following this method, considering both the place of manufacture as well as the final destination of your products. Consultation with the relevant State Regulator is also strongly recommended.

Note 1:  Open to the environment presents a problem if the IP rating is not high enough to protect the battery and / or management system from water ingress, which could be both dangerous and costly.

Note 2:  A battery mounted externally (most likely under the vehicle) may be more vulnerable to mechanical damage and even penetration by a foreign object. This would present a very dangerous situation.

Note 3:  It is recommended that wherever possible a battery compartment is designed to be accessed from outside the habitable area(s) of the recreational vehicle.

Note 4:  The annex area of a Recreational Vehicle forms part of the habitable area, so must be considered in relation to battery compartment access and ventilation.

Note 5:  It is recommended that a compartment be a of a non-combustible material.  The compartment should be safely vented to atmosphere (not annex) and all cable penetrations should be fitted with cable glands, bulkhead posts or another form of non-combustible sealing. This is to prevent migration of gasses.

Battery certification

All Lithium ion batteries shall comply with AS IEC 62619.

Battery management system and safety system

All Lithium batteries are required to have a Battery Management System. The BMS is often / usually part of the battery package and must control cell temperature, voltage, current, charge and cut out points . The clause requires the BMS to provide automatic disconnection for under and over voltage, under and over temperature and over current. Clause 5.4.12.3.3

Battery Monitoring

The standard calls for a monitoring device (specifically designed for managing Lithium batteries) to display State of Charge (SoC). The monitoring device may be hard wired or wireless. Clause : 5.4.12.3.4

Battery chargers must be compatible with your battery.  Confirm with the battery supplier.

Battery manufacturer’s instructions: Manufacturers instruction will give essential information such as charge and discharge temperature range. This should be supplied in your hand over document.

Safety Data Sheet

Safety Data Sheets (SDS) are normally available by download. As a “supplier” you must make the SDS available. As lithium is a dangerous substance, it is essential you present your customer with the Safety Data Sheet for the Lithium battery supplied. SDS are valid for 5 years and are specific to the product. A “general” Safety Data Sheet for a “similar” battery is not lawful. 

The SDS will stipulate first aid measures and fire fighting equipment procedures and equipment.

The SDS will stipulate first aid measures and fire fighting equipment procedures and equipment. Ensure any fire extinguisher recommendation is suitable for the lithium battery supplied.

Lithium battery compartment with external access – Example only

Remember an Annex is deemed to be part of the living area and as such ventilation cannot be into an Annex

Reminder

The final say on interpretation of these clauses rests with the Electrical Safety Regulator in each state/territory jurisdiction. While this information is provided as industry guidance, if there is any uncertainty advice should be sought within your local jurisdiction to confirm any proposed designs.