Recent Posts

Posted by Stefan Fischer

Alloffroad News

Stefan Fischer

I hope you're all doing well. Today, I've got some tough news to share about a product I've been testing for quite some time now. This one really stings because it's a product I had high hopes for, and I'm genuinely disappointed to say goodbye to my dual 100 amp hour DCS lithium batteries under the bonnet of my rig.

I have to admit, there were several aspects of these lithium batteries that I absolutely loved. First off, the super-fast charging and the high charge and discharge current were a game-changer for me. Not to mention the weight and space savings I enjoyed with these batteries under the bonnet. It allowed me to make the most out of the limited space in the back of my cruiser.

I also managed to prove some skeptics wrong when it came to starting off a lithium battery and even winching off it. However, there was always one looming question mark, and that was the longevity of these batteries. You see, lithium batteries, especially LiFePO4, aren't particularly well-suited for high-heat applications, and that's a concern in the harsh Australian outback.

Before I dive into the nitty-gritty details, I'd like to ask you for a favor. It's important to me that this update reaches as many fellow travelers as possible, so please help me out by sharing, liking, subscribing, and leaving a comment below. Your engagement will boost this video's visibility, allowing more people to learn from my experience.

Alright, let's get back to the batteries. A capacity test was long overdue, and I teamed up with Joe from JS Autoelectrics to get it done. To be honest, the results were nothing short of shocking. One of the batteries suffered a whopping 30% capacity loss, while the other wasn't far behind with a 22% reduction. These figures far exceeded the promised annual loss of just 5%, as claimed by DCS.

To give you a bit of background, Joe installed the initial set of DCS 100Ah marine batteries back in November 2019. They performed well initially, but their Bluetooth functionality had consistent bugs that went unresolved. After about a year, that initial capacity test revealed significant issues, and that's when we discovered the outdated passive balance technology was the culprit.

DCS assured me that their new active balance batteries would solve these problems, but installing the dual 130Ah battery system proved impractical due to size constraints. Eventually, in February 2021, Joe installed the latest version of the 100Ah marine batteries, but a BMS firmware recall marred their performance. DCS sent replacements with updated firmware in November 2021.

Fast forward to the present, and after a few trips, I noticed a drop in battery capacity. Joe conducted a capacity test, and the results left us shocked. One battery was at a mere 50% capacity, and the other was less than 80%. Considering my remote touring habits, a battery failure in the middle of nowhere is far from ideal.

To make matters worse, Joe's experience with a 75 amp hour DCS marine battery in his Prado was similarly disappointing, with a 30% capacity loss in less than two years, even though it had low current draw and wasn't charged by the alternator.

I must mention that JS Autoelectrics has completely stopped using DCS batteries in their installations, but that's another story. Back to my situation, I reached out to DCS with my findings, and the response was far from satisfactory. They suggested moisture ingress as the cause, but we found no evidence of that when we opened the battery with 50% capacity loss.

Then, DCS surprised me by saying that my 30,000 kilometers of driving over 16 months had subjected the batteries to six times the expected punishment. Apparently, DCS measures battery lifespan in kilometers, which doesn't bode well for those of us who drive and tour extensively.

Both batteries were sent back to DCS, and I'm yet to hear from them. This left me in a bit of a bind because I have a big trip coming up in just four weeks, and I suddenly find myself without any batteries. DCS didn't have any replacement batteries to offer, which left me scrambling. Thanks to Joe's help, I'm now switching back to lead-acid under the bonnet and adding a different lithium battery in the rear of the Land Cruiser.

I'll be documenting this new setup in an upcoming video, so stay tuned for that. Overall, I'm not thrilled with how DCS handled this situation, but sometimes, it is what it is. I don't have any issues continuing to use my 150 amp hour DCS battery in the camper trailer. I'll probably run a capacity test on that too at some point. The two 130 amp hour batteries in the back of my Hilux will continue to serve, but they won't be subjected to the engine heat, which might make a difference.

In conclusion, my three-year experiment with lithium under the bonnet has shown that it can work for certain applications, but the high cost in terms of diminished capacity isn't worth it for me. If you're willing to replace your batteries every three years and have the budget for it, then go for it. However, based on my experience and Joe's, it's not a worthwhile investment for the long haul.

It's disappointing because I loved so much about lithium under the bonnet, but you never know until you try. As always, I report back to you honestly, and at this stage, lithium doesn't seem suited for high-heat under bonnet applications.

If you're currently using DCS batteries under the bonnet, I strongly urge you to conduct a proper capacity test. Don't rely solely on the state of charge displayed on the app; that won't give you the full picture. Get those batteries tested by a professional or consider purchasing capacity tests from reliable sources like eBay.

Keep in mind that this is my experience and Joe's, so if you've had different results, please share them in the comments. However, I can't stress enough the importance of conducting a proper capacity test because simply saying the batteries are working fine won't cut it.

In the end, I'm going back to lead-acid under the bonnet and a reliable lithium battery in the rear of the cruiser. It's a setup I trust and should last me for a long time. But remember, this is just my personal opinion. I'd love to hear what you think in the comments below.

If you found this video helpful or it saved you from making a costly mistake, I'd greatly appreciate it if you could share, like, and subscribe. This channel is entirely self-funded, and I don't do paid reviews. So, if you'd like to support me in creating honest and unbiased content, consider heading over to Patreon or buying me a coffee. A small contribution can go a long way in helping me stay independent and continue producing content for you.

Thanks a bunch, and I hope to see you out on the tracks soon!

https://youtu.be/vRcSPuBob-I?si=irc8dRcG1p5eravZ

Read more

4wd Sand Driving Tutorial 4: Expert Tips from a 4WD Trainer | Ultimate Tutorial

Welcome to my channel!

I'm Stephan Fischer, a seasoned 4WD driver trainer and assessor, and I'm thrilled to present to you the ultimate 4wd sand-driving tutorial. With years of experience exploring Australia's deserts, outback regions, and stunning coastal destinations, I've gathered a wealth of knowledge that I'm eager to share with you.

In this comprehensive video, we'll cover a wide range of subjects to help you master the art of sand driving. Starting with recommended basic vehicle modifications, we'll explore the enhancements that can significantly improve your off-road performance. Discover the essential recovery gear you should have on hand to tackle any situation that may arise.

One of the most critical aspects of sand driving is understanding tire pressure. I'll guide you through determining the optimal tire pressure and share techniques on how to drive on low pressure. Learn the reasons why low pressure is advantageous and its impact on different types of terrain, including gravel, on-road conditions, corrugations, and even desert sand.

As we venture deeper into the tutorial, I'll delve into various topics such as throttle control, the role of ESC (Electronic Stability Control) and traction control systems, and the importance of selecting the appropriate high or low range for different sand-driving situations.

We'll also address common queries, including whether diff locks are necessary for sand driving and the differences between automatic and manual transmissions in off-road environments. Understanding the nuances of tire construction, including all-terrain (AT), mud-terrain (MT), and road tires, will help you make informed choices based on your specific needs.

Exploring the impact of tire sizes, rim sizes, tire compounds, and the suitability of smaller tires for beach or desert driving, we'll equip you with the knowledge needed to optimise your sand-driving experience.  Subscribe to my channel and hit the notification bell to stay updated with the latest tutorials, gear reviews, and thrilling off-road adventures. Join me on this exciting sand-driving journey as we unlock your full potential as a skilled sand driver. Get ready to conquer the sands with confidence and embark on unforgettable off-road experiences!

 

Read more

Victorian High Country by 4wd - Losing my drone due to eagles! Crazy footage [4k] Part 5

A little camping hack for controlling small things in the kitchen drawer is shared in Episode 5 of our Victorian High Country 4-wheel drive adventure. We swim in the crystal clear and freezing cold mountain creeks early in the morning in Episode 5 of our Victorian High Country 4wd drive adventure. Out of Butcher country, the legendary Dingo Hill climbs steeply with sharp switchbacks, sometimes rocky steps and loose graves. McMichaels and Kelly’s hut is visited, followed by a beautiful camp by the Dolodrook River. Here my drone makes contact with two Eagles, and I lose her somewhere in the trackless wilderness. This story does have a very unexpected happy ending, so watch till the end.

 

 

https://youtu.be/O7dChArDH9s

 

Read more

Victorian High Country by 4wd - Butcher Country - How many swims can we have a day? Part 4 [4k]

In Part 4 of our Victorian High Country 4WD Adventure, we explore the stunning Butcher Country and find one of the best Camp Spots yet. Six swims in five different swimming holes would be my new record. In the Tips and Trips section, I explain why using Sistema Plastic containers for camping is not a good idea, and I review the Flextail Tiny Pump x2, which I have used for a few months. There's a Trickey bar open with some delicious Heathcote Chocolat Gin Tonic Lime enjoyed by the river banks. I need to fix my dual-fuel Coleman stove that's died.

 

Read more

My Gear List

 =============================

GEAR AFFILIATE LINKS (only the gear I use and recommend):

=============================

Coffee & Cooking Jet Boil Carbon https://amzn.to/3VGZsiN

Delter Coffee Press https://amzn.to/3UnqQ4r Aero Press https://amzn.to/3FfmBmV

=============================

Mapping GPS Navigation

Memory Map Hema 4wd Map Pack ($10 off) https://w2.memory-map.com/cgi-bin/licuser.cgi?buy_e_package=1&package=3000074&adref=3001

=============================

Electrical, UHF & Safety

GME MT610G PLB: https://amzn.to/41UdXDN

GME TX610 YTP: https://amzn.to/3P2fJws

GME TX61060 5W: https://amzn.to/3uHr1gF

Survival First Aid Home Work Kit: https://amzn.to/3x9ZUvV

Snake Bit Kit: https://amzn.to/3XlAJRq

=============================

Camping Gear

Helinox Savanna Chair https://a247.com.au/product/helinox-savanna-chair-blk-w-blue-frame/

Helinox Sunset Chair https://a247.com.au/product/helinox-sunset-chair-black/

Oztent Bunker Pro: https://amzn.to/3hCiM1V

Flextail Tiny Pump 2x https://shareasale.com/r.cfm?b=2279498&u=2867739&m=127720&urllink=&afftrack

= =============================

My LiFePo4 Batteries

150ah IP67 https://www.deepcyclesystems.com.au/product/dcs-12v-150ah-ip-67-lithium/?ref=226

100Ah https://www.deepcyclesystems.com.au/product/dcs-12v-100ah-lithium-ion/?ref=226

80Ah Extrem https://www.deepcyclesystems.com.au/product/12v-80ah-extreme-battery/?ref=226

200ah Slimline https://www.deepcyclesystems.com.au/product/dcs-12v-200ah-slim-line-lithium-ion/?ref=226

=============================

Read more
Welcome to my channel! I'm Stephan Fischer, a seasoned 4WD driver trainer and assessor, and I'm thrilled to present to you the ultimate 4wd sand-driving tutorial. With years of experience exploring Australia's...
Stefan's Land Rover Defender was featured in the August Issue of Landrover International