Thin Solar and Lithium Batteries save 75% Weight in Off Road Caravans

Posted by Cameron Johnston

Apr 4, 2013 10:10:00 AM

off road caravan solar panels lithium batteries Kimberley Smart Weight saving is all about reducing weight on your off-road camper trailer, off-road caravan. You can achieve up to 287kgs weight savings using super thin solar panels and lithium batteries on the Kimberley Kruiser full size off road caravan. To learn more about Kimberley Smart Weight saving watch the short video below. Bruce Loxton, owner of Kimberley Group, takes you on a quick tour overview of the super thin solar panels and lithium batteries you can use to achieve significant weight savings.


KIMBERLEY believes in investing in technology and letting its customers experience the shock of the new.

The goal is that customers should always be able to find new and exciting technology in every model, every year. The surprise is a better experience!

New technology yields lower weight, better finish, better storage, lower maintenance, faster set-up or better energy use, thus a better experience for you!

The Super-Thin Solar Panel technology is actually developed from scratch by Kimberley who have 8 years experience in solar camping systems and understand the requirements here.

Using free power from the sun lets you enjoy more efficient 12V technology and avoid having LPG inside the van! Its also renewable and charges while you are driving eliminating the need for modifying vehicles.

A new technology that Kimberley has added to RV’s is 12V air-conditioning. These air-conditioners can run without a generator and thus can be used in the increasing number of National Parks where generator use is prohibited.

It’s our culture as a company to do things that surprise customers. We know our customers like these surprises, so we invest in it, and we will continue to do so. It’s important to stay in front of the pack. To that end, we have more than 20 items in the Kruiser applying new technology. New technology yields lower weight, better finish, better storage, lower maintenance, faster set-up or better energy use, thus a better experience for you! Some of these are world wide innovations that will surprise you. The surprise is a better experience! Bruce Loxton

Replace AGM with Lithium batteries and Achieve significant weights savings
lithium batteries vs AGM batteriesMost modern off-road camper trailers and caravans use AGM batteries. These batteries are a good choice for your average application as they are compact, sealed, low maintenance and can withstand deep cycling (at least 50%). But they are HEAVY. A typical 35Ahr AGM battery can weigh 11kg! This weight quickly stacks up when you consider an average camper trailer or caravan may require 4-6 of them.

Lightweight Lithium batteries are now available to replace these heavy AGMs. The Kimberley 42Ahr Lithium battery shares the same footprint as the 35Ahr AGM batteries we have supplied for years. These are less than half the weight of the AGMs at only 5kg each! Plus these amazing batteries can be discharged to 90% so you can access so much more of the energy stored within them.

Here's a short example of how much weight you can save with these Lithium Batteries.
Take a 6 x 35Ahr (210Ahr) AGM battery installation in a camper trailer. This would weigh at least 66kg just in batteries alone. Now replace those with Kimberley's lightweight lithium batteries - you only need 4 x 42Ahr (168Ahr) to achieve the same usable capacity. This would weigh only 20kg! That's a saving of 46kg!

Altough Lithium Batteries cost more up front, they offer a lower cost per cycle than AGMs in most applications.

Lithium Batteries have 96% charge efficiency, whereas AGM is 60% 

If you wish to run 12V Air-conditioning, there is no alternative than to use Lithium Batteries.

Lithium Batteries and Super-Thin Solar are standard on the Kimberley Kruiser Range and the  Kimberley Eco-suite and Kimberley Karavan Limited Edition. They are an option on the Kimberley Kamper Range.

The first field trial was in May 2011. Subsequent Field Trials resulted in this glowing customer report:

“The Kimberley Lithium batteries did survive a punishing trip over 10,000kms of dirt and desert road through Central Australia. Most of the 10,000kms were badly corrugated. 

The vibration and heat really tested the strength, structure and performance of the batteries. 

I have been in this area before and had flooded cell batteries collapse from the vibration and heat. 

The Lithiums performed impressively in these conditions.

They performed to their power outputs and did not give us any area of concern.

I have no hesitation in going ‘bush’ with these batteries again and again.”


Use Super Thin Solar Panels to save weight and reduce drag
glass vs super thin solar panelsGlass-based solar panels are efficient and work really well on top of buildings. However, buildings don't get towed along through the air like caravans! Super thin solar panels use a layered sandwich construction that removes the need for heavy glass. When you remove the need for glass you no longer need a thick (at least 25mm) aluminium frame for protection and mounting. Super thin solar panels are only about 1.7 mm thick! 

Super thin solar panels can be mounted directly to the roof of a caravan which reduces your wind drag and helps improve fuel economy - save money on your fuel bill.

You'll also save weight with super thin solar panels.
A typical 50W glass solar panel weighs at least 5kg and is 25mm thick. Kimberley Super Thin solar panels can be 55W, 1.6kg and only 1.7 mm thick. That's a weight saving of more than 75%. The Kimberley Kruiser full-size off-road caravan uses Super Thin solar panels and lithium batteries to achieve a weight saving of up to 287kg!


Let’s see the Paired Weight Saving Smart Weight Saving of Lithium Batteries and Super-Thin Solar:

AGM Battery Capacity
(Lead acid in an “Absorbed Glass Mat”)

100 Ahrs

200 Ahrs

400 Ahrs

800 Ahrs

Glass Monocrystaline Solar Panels

100 Watts

200 Watts

400 Watts

600 Watts

Paired Combined Weight






Lithium Battery at an Equivalent Size & Weight





Super-Thin solar Weight





Paired Combined Weight





Paired Weight Saving






off road caravan roof thin solar 12v airconditioning

Kimberley Kruiser with 12V Air-conditioning, Super thin solar and hatch on Fibreglass roof.

Kimberley super thin solar panels fitted to Kimberley Karavan off-road caravan (L) - 156W Flexible Super Thin Solar Panel Kit for camping and off-road camper trailers (M) - Super thin solar panels installed on canopy of Toyota Hilux ute (R).

super thin solar panels on caravan super thin solar panels with off-road camper trailer describe the image


kimberley lithium batteries for campingThe combination of the Super-thin solar with Lithium batteries is a natural fit. Lithium batteries have a charge efficiency of more than 95% and charge much faster than traditional AGM or Lead Acid batteries which have a charge efficiency in the 60% range. This means that when solar power is available, you can transfer this power charging Lithium batteries in less time. With solar, time is one of the most important parameters.

To learn more about Super Thin Solar download the ebook below:

Bruce Loxton | Kimberley

Topics: lightweight offroad caravans, off-road caravan, lithium batteries, off-road caravans, off-road camper trailers, flexible solar panels

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The Kimberley Karavan, a lightweight folding off road caravan that can go anywhere. Kimberley Karavans are unique with their internal shower and toilet, comfortable internal seating and luxury finishes.