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There are times when we decide to do something without the van or the camper in tow. This might be a weekend away from home or at a location that's difficult to access while towing. However, you might still want to pack a fridge's worth of feed for the troops and possibly keep the data flowing too (for the kids, of course!). 

With this in mind, I thought I’d have a look at, and put it through its paces, Dometic’s newest bit of kit; the PLB40 portable lithium battery system. Weighing in at under 8kg, this little jigger has enough juice to run a fridge for a couple of days; most likely enough for a full weekend away with the family in tow and takes up bugger all room.

First impressions were honestly more than a little reserved; “How’s this little thing going to keep the fridge running for a weekend?”. Suffice to say I finished the weekend with a hat sandwich – this is a magic bit of kit; let me tell you why.

THE DOMETIC PLB40

Want to chill, with power, for your picnic? The Dometic PLB40 might just be the product you've been waiting for...

WORDS WES WHITWORTH, IMAGES WES WHITWORTH AND STU GRANT 

GEAR Dometic PLB40 review

HAS LITHIUM POWER YOU CAN CARRY - FOR WHEN THE VAN CAN'T GO WHERE YOU WANNA!

LIGHTWEIGHT
PORTABLE POWER

There are three outputs on the PLB40 – you’ve got a standard 12V ciggy socket, two-pin 12V socket and a dual USB port too. As I said earlier, this little thing only weighs 7.5kg being lithium, so it’s easy to lug around with you – a regular deep-cycle battery weighs more than 20kg. Being lithium, aside from the weight savings, it more efficiently delivers power, maintaining voltage until it’s just about flat, and the battery itself will cycle many times more than the standard lead-acid we’re used to using.

This little box retails at around $1000. Sounds pretty steep, right? Except when you think about it this way – a 100Ah lithium battery on its own is around the $2000 mark. So, you’re getting just under half the amp hour rating, with three different ways to charge it, with three different output methods. And it’s portable – add or remove it from your vehicle as you need it. When you think of having a lithium charger, low voltage cut-off solenoid, all the wiring to go along with it, and the installation of the gear, this actually works out cheaper. It won't eat into your payload too much but will add camp flexibility. 

The details
If you can't tell how big the unit is in the photos, it’s about the size of a four-litre juice bottle. It’s a solid little box that houses a 40Ah 12-volt lithium (LiFePO4) battery. It’s got an inbuilt three-way charging system, so it’ll charge from the 12V socket in your tow vehicle, from a solar panel, or you can plug it into 240V mains power to charge up – it takes five hours to fully charge from flat. It’s got an in-built LCD display that lets you know how much power you’ve got in the battery as you charge it, this too keeps you in the know on how quickly you’re using it up. It’s also IP44 rated, so it’s pretty well water and dust sealed – protected against water splash from any angle.

“It’s a rather solid little box that houses a 40Ah 12-volt lithium (LiFePO4) battery"

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For our test, we had it plugged into a little back-seat mounted 15-litre car fridge which was left in the back of my HiLux for 36-hours straight in 35-degree heat. And it worked incredibly well. When I checked on it as I was breaking camp, it still had 42 percent power remaining. Yep, I was surprised too – so I’d used a little over 20Ah of the available 40Ah in 36 hours. Not sure about you, but in my book, it makes it just about perfect for those quick weekend camping runs.

The other side of the coin, apart from being able to use it without needing a hard-mounted 12V system, is the ability to pack it in the back of the four-wheel drive and take it fishing. Say I want to head down for a fish on a beach or rocks that I can’t legally take the four-wheel drive to, I can have this in one hand, one end of the fridge in the other, and the better half and I can lob the whole lot down wherever we want to go, instead of having to head back up to the 'Lux for a drink.

Of course, this setup is more for times without the van, or for the kids in a tent, but it’d also make a great addition to the camping gear for a lot of folks – strangely enough, despite having arguably some of the worlds angriest 12V systems over the years, I’m finding that I’m one of them.


Now, I’ve got a play/work vehicle that will always have a dedicated 12V set-up. However, I’ve just bought a HiLux, and up until I can find the time (and money) to install a full 12V set-up, this thing is an absolute pearler. Especially considering I’ve already pressed the HiLux into service as my new long-distance rig, heading 900-odd kilometres up to Toowoomba recently. Without a hard-mounted 12V system, I had no way to keep the beers cool or the meat from spoiling.

Although it was just about charged to 100 percent before leaving, the great thing about the PLB40 is that it can be plugged into the vehicle and charging while you’re driving. You can, in turn, have a fridge plugged into it and powered simultaneously. According to Dometic, the PLB40 was designed with its CFX 40W (41L) fridges in mind and can run one of them for more than 40 hours on a single charge.

Tech specs
POWER RATING 40Ah / 512Wh
POWER TECHNOLOGY LiFePO4
WEATHER RATING IP44
WEIGHT 7.48kg
OUTPUT CURRENT 15.0A
DIMENSIONS 197mm x 257mm x 197mm
PRICED AT Around $950 depending on retailer
RRP $1199

There are times when we decide to do something without the van or the camper in tow. This might be a weekend away from home or at a location that's difficult to access while towing. However, you might still want to pack a fridge's worth of feed for the troops and possibly keep the data flowing too (for the kids, of course!). 

With this in mind, I thought I’d have a look at, and put it through its paces, Dometic’s newest bit of kit; the PLB40 portable lithium battery system. Weighing in at under 8kg, this little jigger has enough juice to run a fridge for a couple of days; most likely enough for a full weekend away with the family in tow and takes up bugger all room.

First impressions were honestly more than a little reserved; “How’s this little thing going to keep the fridge running for a weekend?”. Suffice to say I finished the weekend with a hat sandwich – this is a magic bit of kit; let me tell you why.

GEAR Dometic PLB40 review

HAS LITHIUM POWER YOU CAN CARRY - FOR WHEN THE VAN CAN'T GO WHERE YOU WANNA!

THE DOMETIC PLB40

WORDS WES WHITWORTH, IMAGES WES WHITWORTH AND STU GRANT 

Want to chill, with power, for your picnic? The Dometic PLB40 might just be the product you've been waiting for...

LIGHTWEIGHT
PORTABLE POWER
ADVERTISEMENT
SCROLL TO CONTINUE

The details
If you can't tell how big the unit is in the photos, it’s about the size of a four-litre juice bottle. It’s a solid little box that houses a 40Ah 12-volt lithium (LiFePO4) battery. It’s got an inbuilt three-way charging system, so it’ll charge from the 12V socket in your tow vehicle, from a solar panel, or you can plug it into 240V mains power to charge up – it takes five hours to fully charge from flat. It’s got an in-built LCD display that lets you know how much power you’ve got in the battery as you charge it, this too keeps you in the know on how quickly you’re using it up. It’s also IP44 rated, so it’s pretty well water and dust sealed – protected against water splash from any angle.

There are three outputs on the PLB40 – you’ve got a standard 12V ciggy socket, two-pin 12V socket and a dual USB port too. As I said earlier, this little thing only weighs 7.5kg being lithium, so it’s easy to lug around with you – a regular deep-cycle battery weighs more than 20kg. Being lithium, aside from the weight savings, it more efficiently delivers power, maintaining voltage until it’s just about flat, and the battery itself will cycle many times more than the standard lead-acid we’re used to using.

This little box retails at around $1000. Sounds pretty steep, right? Except when you think about it this way – a 100Ah lithium battery on its own is around the $2000 mark. So, you’re getting just under half the amp hour rating, with three different ways to charge it, with three different output methods. And it’s portable – add or remove it from your vehicle as you need it. When you think of having a lithium charger, low voltage cut-off solenoid, all the wiring to go along with it, and the installation of the gear, this actually works out cheaper. It won't eat into your payload too much but will add camp flexibility. 

“It’s a rather solid little box that houses a 40Ah 12-volt lithium (LiFePO4) battery"

Use our One Step Headlight Restorer Cream!
WANT TO INCREASE
NIGHTTIME VISIBILITY?
Offline: This content can only be displayed when online.
Our One Step Headlight Restorer Cream will:
  • Remove oxidisation and haziness, giving a crystal clear finish to your headlights.
  • Improve light transmission, increasing night-time visibility and safety.
  • Improve the overall appearance of your car.
  • Add a long-lasting, protective wax coating to your headlights, preventing future yellowing and haziness.
  • All in one easy 60-second application!
ADVERTISEMENT
SCROLL TO CONTINUE


Now, I’ve got a play/work vehicle that will always have a dedicated 12V set-up. However, I’ve just bought a HiLux, and up until I can find the time (and money) to install a full 12V set-up, this thing is an absolute pearler. Especially considering I’ve already pressed the HiLux into service as my new long-distance rig, heading 900-odd kilometres up to Toowoomba recently. Without a hard-mounted 12V system, I had no way to keep the beers cool or the meat from spoiling.

Although it was just about charged to 100 percent before leaving, the great thing about the PLB40 is that it can be plugged into the vehicle and charging while you’re driving. You can, in turn, have a fridge plugged into it and powered simultaneously. According to Dometic, the PLB40 was designed with its CFX 40W (41L) fridges in mind and can run one of them for more than 40 hours on a single charge.

For our test, we had it plugged into a little back-seat mounted 15-litre car fridge which was left in the back of my HiLux for 36-hours straight in 35-degree heat. And it worked incredibly well. When I checked on it as I was breaking camp, it still had 42 percent power remaining. Yep, I was surprised too – so I’d used a little over 20Ah of the available 40Ah in 36 hours. Not sure about you, but in my book, it makes it just about perfect for those quick weekend camping runs.

The other side of the coin, apart from being able to use it without needing a hard-mounted 12V system, is the ability to pack it in the back of the four-wheel drive and take it fishing. Say I want to head down for a fish on a beach or rocks that I can’t legally take the four-wheel drive to, I can have this in one hand, one end of the fridge in the other, and the better half and I can lob the whole lot down wherever we want to go, instead of having to head back up to the 'Lux for a drink.

Of course, this setup is more for times without the van, or for the kids in a tent, but it’d also make a great addition to the camping gear for a lot of folks – strangely enough, despite having arguably some of the worlds angriest 12V systems over the years, I’m finding that I’m one of them.

Tech specs
POWER RATING 40Ah / 512Wh
POWER TECHNOLOGY LiFePO4
WEATHER RATING IP44
WEIGHT 7.48kg
OUTPUT CURRENT 15.0A
DIMENSIONS 197mm x 257mm x 197mm
PRICED AT Around $950 depending on retailer
RRP $1199