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Quick RV Tech Tip: Are lithium batteries good for full-time RVers?

Dave,
We’re going full-time RVing next year and will need to have a pretty good solar package. Does it make sense to start with a couple good LiFePO4s and whatever charge controller is needed, then later add an inverter, panels, and any other hardware? It is impossible to find a qualified RV solar installer here in Western NY. Even the local RV dealers don’t know as much as they should. I can do the first part myself, then have it finished off while on the road at a pro shop. Your thoughts? —Bob, 2017 Coachmen Leprechaun 317SA

Bob,
First thing I would ask is how much time do you think you will be dry camping or staying at a spot you do not have a shoreline hookup? If not much, then lithium would be too expensive to gain a benefit. A good AGM set would be fine and have less sulfation. However, if you do plan to boondock or dry camp, then yes, lithium is a good start, especially since your Coachmen probably had Group 24 lead-acid batteries originally. If they are the same ones, they are most likely sulfated and won’t last a day.

Replacing lead-acid batteries with lithium

Check out this article on replacing lead-acid batteries with lithium, as you will want to get a quality brand. Also be sure to check your existing charger, which is most likely not set up for lithium.

Then visit Go Power!’s website and go to the sizing chart, which will give you a good starting point as to how much power you need and what solar array you need for that power. I like the portable ones so you can park in the shade and put the panels out in the sun. Roof-mounted ones not only have to be out in the sun, but only get about 4-5 hours of exposure due to the angle in the morning and evening. Portable ones can be adjusted to get more exposure. Plus, they are much easier to install and they come with a charge controller. I would suggest contacting either Zamp or Go Power! and talking with their tech support. They are both owned now by Dometic.

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What is the best RV battery: lithium, lead or AGM?

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Larry Lee
16 days ago

After considering cost of lithium batteries, solar panels and total cost per hour to run our generator, I concluded that maxing out my battery compartment with lithiums and wait on the solar panels until I could prove that I actually need them. It is working well. We can easily go 4 days before charging the 810 AHr battery pack (3 X 270 AHr each) and even 5 days if we are careful. And that is with a full size residential refrigerator!
The lithium set is wonderful Once it is completed, there is no water checking, no sulfating, no equalization AND, the best part which I only found out about after I bought them, their discharge voltage curve is almost flat meaning from full charge down to 10% the lights stay bright and the water pump works the same. Even the microwave works fine. A major improvement over lead acid types. Yes, they seem expensive due to the up front cost, but for a full-timer, the yearly cost is not that much more than LA types and is well worth it from my point of view.

Bob Palin
17 days ago

lithium would be too expensive to gain a benefit. A good AGM set would be fine and have less sulfation. “

Huh, Lithium batteries don’t sulfate at all.

Dennis Johnson
16 days ago
Reply to  Bob Palin

He meant over lead acid batteries

Paul
17 days ago

The difficulty with portable solar is storage and set up. Where do you safely store enough panels to satisfy your requirements and every time you need/want solar you have to unpack the panels and set them up. I know that is not a big deal, but with my roof top solar, it is on without my doing anything and the panels are safe and snug on the roof. I will admit that it may limit my choice of boondocking sites, but I would rather not be under trees in any event. I like the shade but not the stuff that falls from the trees including bird poop.

bill
17 days ago

Renogy is also a great provider of all things solar. Ask around and you’ll find lots of people using Renogy products .. At a much more reasonable cost than others mentioned. Great idea to have your solar system completed out west .. Especially Quartzsite as there are quite a few highly rated and reasonably priced installers there year round.

Andrew
17 days ago
Reply to  bill

Portable panels are easy pickings for the unsavory “people” who look for the unattended campsites. Battle born batteries have everything you need to set up your system, great tech support as well.

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