Lithium batteries are becoming increasingly popular for RVs due to their many benefits. A lithium battery can enable the camper to charge faster and save weight. The increased capacity can also make self-sufficient use easier for the mobile home user. Our article gives you a good overview of lithium batteries in motorhomes and clarifies the most important facts.
What Are Gel Batteries, Agm Batteries, And Lithium Batteries For?
The lead-acid batteries and their relatives, the lead-gel and AGM batteries have been installed in mobile homes for a long time. The disadvantage of these batteries in the mobile home is, on the one hand, their weight and the problems that often occur, such as the short service life if the charge is not carried out properly or that they quickly wear off with frequent use. The only advantage is their price. The lead batteries, as well as the gel batteries, are relatively cheap, whereas the AGM batteries in the mobile home have a slightly higher price.
Lithium batteries have been found in mobile homes for some time now. However, campers and van owners consider them a luxury product because their price is significantly higher than that of AGM batteries or lead-gel batteries. However, lithium batteries have clear advantages that cannot be denied and justify their price.
Basics about lithium batteries
First of all, we will explain the term LiFePo4 battery. The LiFepo4 battery is a 24v lithium battery with an electrode of lithium iron phosphate instead of lithium cobalt oxide. This fact makes the battery safer because it can prevent thermal runaway. There are now also so-called LiFePoY4 batteries. In addition to the price, the LiFePo4 battery initially had the disadvantage of low performance. Due to continuous development in recent years, many variants have been tested, and new species have emerged. The LiFePoY4 contains the Y component, that so-called yttrium. This ensures a significant performance improvement but is no longer necessary, thanks to the new LiFePo4 variants.
Are lithium batteries safe in rv?
Not all types of lithium batteries are recommended for RV installation. There are some concerns related to safety, which is why not every lithium battery should be installed. The only lithium batteries considered safe are the LiFePo4 (lithium iron phosphate).
Advantages of lithium battery in camper van
The advantages of a 48v lithium battery include its low weight and high capacity for the same size. The lithium battery also has a high usable capacity and is very resistant to deep discharge. Another advantage is that lithium batteries offer high charging and discharging currents with high cycle stability. Finally, safety is arguably the most important consideration when using a LiFePo4 (lithium iron phosphate) lithium battery. As already mentioned, the LiFePo4 is considered very safe.
Capacity and deep discharge resistance
With ordinary batteries, it is the case that they should only be discharged up to 50% so that their service life does not suffer too much. On the other hand, lithium batteries can be safely discharged up to 90% without affecting their service life. A 200-ah lead battery can only be used for 100ah, whereas a 200-ah lithium battery can use almost 200ah.
Current consumption and easy charging
Conventional batteries from companies for mobile homes can only be charged slowly and show significant weaknesses in current consumption, especially at the end of the charging cycle. Lithium batteries, on the other hand, do not have this problem. Lithium batteries can be charged much faster, and the charging booster can only be used properly. Normal lead-acid batteries (lead-acid batteries) only charge very slowly if already well charged, which is not the case with LiFePo4.
What is BMS?
A battery management system, BMS for short, is integrated into the LiFePo4 lithium battery. This bm controls and protects the battery from damage. This way, deep charging can be prevented by simply preventing the current consumption. The BMS also protects when charging at low temperatures and balances the cells within the battery.
Other advantages of the lithium battery
For everyone who likes to use electrical devices such as a coffee machine, an electric camping stove, or a hair dryer while you are traveling with the motorhome, the lithium batteries in the motorhome have a real advantage. Lithium batteries can deliver particularly high currents without a drop in voltage. This makes them particularly interesting for the use of a power inverter.
Another advantage, as already mentioned, is the weight. With comparable capacities, lithium-ion batteries weigh significantly less than lead-acid batteries. The lithium technology or lithium-ion battery of lithium batteries is an ideal replacement for lead-acid batteries, especially for camper drivers worried about the weight of the weighbridge.
Disadvantages of lithium-ion batteries
You have just heard what we like about a lithium battery. Unfortunately, every good thing has its bad side. Even with LiFePo4 lithium batteries, there are a few disadvantages that we would like to mention.
A big disadvantage compared to a lead acid battery is, first of all, the price. As the saying goes: “Quality has its price.” The cost of a lithium battery can vary greatly from manufacturer to manufacturer, making them significantly more expensive than normal lead batteries for your camper. Of course, the benefit, the quality, and the service life, which is significantly higher than lead batteries, must also be considered.
The charging technology
Not all mobile homes can have their battery exchanged for a lithium battery. According to our information, older models, in particular, often have the problem that a LiFePo4 lithium battery is difficult to integrate. A change in the charging technology is often necessary to use the products’ battery technology properly. However, there are plug & play solutions from some manufacturers who advertise that lithium batteries can be used without converting the vehicles. However, we cannot confirm how professional these solutions are. There is little information or data on whether the battery life suffers more with Plug & Play than with retrofitting.
The Cold Factor
If you research lithium batteries, you will often find the problem of charging in the cold. The fact is that lithium batteries should only be charged in a certain temperature range. According to the data sheets, minus degrees were a clear taboo zone. The sub-zero temperatures can affect the capacity and cycles of charging and slows down the battery current.
However, it is also clear that the battery is seldom charged in sub-zero temperatures on your journey. It is unlikely that your mobile home will cool down to below zero while driving since you are heating the interior. The problem can occur if the vehicle is parked for a longer period. Still, in most cases, the LiFePo 4 lithium battery is charged by the alternator and is quickly ready for use again.
Why should you use a lithium battery?
One of the advantages is the usable capacity, which is significantly higher than that of conventional motorhome lead batteries.
On the other hand, the cycle stability and service life of a lithium or lithium-ion battery are significantly better, thanks to the advanced battery technology of the LiFePo4 batteries.
Next, the weight and size would be a decent plus for the LifePo4 batteries. This makes them particularly attractive for motorhome travelers with space and weight problems.
From the cost point of view, the price per charging cycle is lower compared to a conventional mobile home battery (cost/benefit comparison) due to the advantages already listed.
The lithium battery in the mobile home also has a clear resilience to deep discharge, making it very attractive for beginners and newcomers.
A LifePo4 battery also enables faster charging with higher charging and discharging currents gently on the battery.
And last but not least, the safety of using a LiFePo4 lithium battery.
DO I NEED A LITHIUM BATTERY FOR MY RV?
Whether you need a LiFePo4 lithium battery in your camper depends on whether you want to use the advantages mentioned for yourself. Many lithium battery users particularly appreciate traveling independently with a lithium battery. It charges quickly, has plenty of capacity and performance, and is lightweight. If this interests you, the lithium battery is worth our recommendation.
Purchasing a lithium battery
If you have decided to buy a lithium battery, you should pay attention to the following things before you buy it. First, the question arises of how much money you want to spend. The price of a lithium battery depends on the various features and manufacturers. There are different types for different RVs and projects. Next, you should check with the provider whether you have installed the necessary charging technology in your mobile home or need to retrofit a new one. Those would be additional costs.
Furthermore, the question arises, how much capacity do you need? Is installing a small lithium battery enough for you, which in most cases saves you a lot of weight, or do you want a massively higher capacity in your mobile home? Once you have decided, it is time to install the battery. But what is more suitable, have it installed or install it yourself?
We recommend having the battery installed. Anyone who does not have good specialist knowledge should not make the mistake of endangering the life of the battery by incorrectly wiring such a cost-intensive purchase. When installing, for example, the space, the voltage of the chargers, the charging curve, and the charging booster must be considered. We recommend the workshop for those who no longer know what’s going on. If you want to do it yourself, go through the installation step by step with the appropriate tutorial to avoid doing anything wrong.
Conclusion and recommendation
The lithium battery is a great thing, which makes sense, especially for motorhome vacationers who travel frequently. The price seems high, but this is put into perspective by the battery’s lifespan and many advantages. Ultimately, everyone must know whether this investment is worthwhile for them. The BMS (Battery Management System) battery technology alone is a real advantage.