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
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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