Is it time to replace my coach batteries with lithium in 2019?

Greeting! Hopefully I don’t start a war here but what is the general feeling on lithium batteries. We got a single 12v Interstate battery from our dealer. I don’t know how many Ah it is because the camper is in storage right now but it was not enough to run the furnace in the fall overnight. My partner gave me the ok to get bigger batteries in the spring. It seems like most people upgrade to 6v golf cart batteries like the Trojans or US Battery variety (I guess some Costco as well?). I don’t know that I want to deal with the maintenance, I also don’t know that I want to figure out how to deal with removing them when in storage over the winter (I don’t have a way to trickle charge them).

It seems like while costly upfront that a lithium battery would be far better for our needs. I know some don’t need a new charger, some do. I am looking at the drop-in replacement type if possible, I want to make this switch as easy as possible and I am not super mechanical. I also like that its basically double the capacity of a lead acid, can’t draw down more then 50% if you want long life?

It’s 2019, the lithium batteries have been out for years. Is it time for us to take the plunge?

I will chime in as a new user here! I replaced four 6v golf cart batteries in my 5th wheel that I think were 225ah and 140lbs a pair with drop-in lithium batteries. We went with Battle Born batteries lithium batteries because of the number of people who have used them. The key for me was when we overnight on the road, we would have to run the generator overnight which I did’t think was fair. Not that we are running our AC on it but it allows us to run a fan and lights for the night. We are looking at replacing the charger with a lithium designed one this spring.

One thing I don’t understand about Battle Born is the price for a batter way $900 a year ago. Then they offered a $100 discount making them $800 for a short time. Seems to be like the pricing should be going down not up!

I have also done lithium batteries last spring. They have been amazing and worth the extra cost. We went with Relion batteries because they are well known and some OEM’s have been including them.

https://relionbattery.com/products/lithium/application/recreational-vehicles

What do you use for a charger, you need a special one for lithium batteries?

The Battle Born team says you can use your normal charger.

I was just watching this new video from Morton’s on the Move today. I don’t agree with everything they did in the video, such as how the batteries are wired, fuse and more. Overall it gives you a good outline how a properly built system may look.

I am buying new, one dealer said they have a “starter package” which included a battery. Is this something the dealer can upgrade for us?

So I looked into using your onboard charger more. It turns out some of the drop in battery’s are ok with that onboard charger but for most of us it’s the crap WFCO one.

The specs on the charger say it should work but it turns out that the WFCO is so crappy it never charges in bulk properly so you will find it will probably never fully top off the lithium batteries or if it does it will take forever.

It seems to get the best out of the new batteries one should upgrade the charger. I am looking at a Progressivr Dynamics one.

I think the economics are there, its a long term investment. You will get more then your money’s worth from a drop-in lithium battery for sure. How I figure this while you may pay more now, you get the benefits starting today vs all the lead acid folks waiting for cheaper prices.

One alternative I was looking at, and I really like because it has a bluetooth monitor is these LiFeBlue batteries.

I tracked down their supplier (Shenzhen Topband New Energy) and got a quote from the factory directly via Aliababa. I got a price for the 100ah battery for of $550ea + $368 shipping for 4 batteries. Really the only way it makes sense is to try to do a group buy and get a bunch which will lower the shipping cost and make them more attractive on a per unit price.

I know that it has been stated that per cycle cost is better for lithium but can someone work the math out? It seems like the price of lead acid is decreasing and lithium has not in the past few years come down. Seems like I could still replace my lead acid multiple times for less money.

I was planning writing a How To on this subject because there are so many misconceptions around Lithium. I totally understand some people not wanting to layout the high upfront cost.

A few key points:

  • The are arguably safer then lead acid in many ways, don’t off gas for one.
  • Usable capacity of cylindrical cells are 100%. No such thing as only 80% capacity.
  • They can be used in the cold but not charged till they are warm.
  • The rating of capacity in lead acid is measured at C-rate. Meaning the actual rated capacity is only accurate at a slow discharge, higher discharge the usable Ah drops significantly.

@JessMariano78 what is your experience with the Battle Born batteries? I need to replace my battery’s this spring but not sure yet what I want to go with.

Battle Born are cylindrical cells imported from overseas. A majority of cylindrical cells NOT made by Tesla/Panasonic come from China. The difference is rather then rebrand such as Lifeblue and Stark, they build their own packs. I have been to the office and verified the operation, they are legit and I would trust them hands down.

The irony is Battle Born batteries are made a few minutes from the Tesla Gigafactory. It’s too bad Tesla/Panasonic didn’t have the extra capacity to sell aftermarket. I would pay a premium to source something Made in USA :us:

I have a pair of 6v US 2200 XC2 which are ~230Ah. So would replace them with two Battle Borns which would be $1,898? That seems insane!!! :exploding_head:

I am buying a Transcend Xplor this weekend, the dealer said they have a “starter package” that includes a 12v battery. They said I could skip the starter package and get a credit to the dealers store. How do I convince my wife that I want a Lithium battery over the lead acid?

Some dealers will give you a refund and let you buy something better. You may want to ask them if they can order the batteries for you. Most dealers have no idea what to do with lithium in my experience.

Looks like we have another new player in RV Lithium batteries, Expion360 with their VPR PowerMod. The claim is they are the only manufacture with a Group 24 drop in replacement lithium battery right now.

Has anyone looked into building their own packs?

When I was looking, I looked into building my own batteries but the cost coupled with warranty was just not there. First you need to use prismatic cells, these are larger lithium cells that in many cases are not as superior as cylindrical cells, especially in RV application. One reason is while easy to assemble they afford no cell failure, one cell fails the entire pack is done till its replaced. Cylindrical cells used in most drop-in have reserve capacity and can survive individual cell failure.

Prismatic:

Cylindrical:

The next two issues where BMS. A good quality BMS is not $20-50, they easily can be a $100-$200. I guess you could go the bottom balance route but that is not something I am really interested in messing with. The last major issue for me is warranty, once you get all the stuff to build your own from prismatic cells with a decent BMS you are very close to the cost of a drop-in replacement. If you can go with a Battle Born with a 10 year warranty, is it really worth your time and effort to save a couple of hundred dollars?