The Ultimate RV Solar Maintenance Guide – Solar Bliss on Wheels Table of Contents Buckle...Read More
Here at Go Power!, we continuously look at advances in technology to improve our solutions and the RV experience for our customers. Sometimes these new technologies aren’t quite ready — they have challenges that keep them from being widely adopted. When those challenges are overcome, however, these new solutions often become game-changers for RV owners.
A great example is the evolution of lithium batteries for RV solar applications. Lithium batteries have several apparent advantages (we’ll get into those), but the price has always been the hurdle. Lithium batteries cost more — a lot more — than their traditional lead-acid counterparts. Now, though, as lithium batteries become more widespread and less expensive to manufacture, the tide is turning.
RV owners often balk at the initial cost of lithium batteries — after all, they can be up to three times as expensive as equivalent AGM (Absorbent Glass Mat) lead-acid batteries.
Looking at the long-term cost of ownership, however, paints a different picture. Lead-acid batteries have an average lifespan of three years versus ten years for lithium. That means that an RV owner may have to replace their traditional lead-acid batteries three times, while the lithium equivalent may still be functional.
With the ownership price gap closing, the other advantages of lithium become even more compelling:
Size and weight. Ask any RV owner — lead-acid batteries are heavy. Comparable lithium batteries weigh about 65% less, which could mean a weight savings of hundreds of pounds for a typical RV battery bank. (They’re still heavy, though!)
Lithium batteries are also physically smaller. As a result, some RV owners may choose lithium due to space limitations or concerns about hitch weight limits.
Maintenance requirements. Lead-acid batteries require regular maintenance — some need electrolyte levels monitored, and terminals must be checked for corrosion. Lithium batteries, however, require no maintenance.
Storage. Lead-acid batteries must be placed and stored carefully, as they can vent potentially dangerous gases. Lithium batteries do not vent gases and can be stored in enclosed or interior locations.
Discharge depth. Lithium batteries can be discharged greater than 80% without repercussions, while their lead-acid counterparts can only be discharged to a 50% state of charge without risking damage. That means that a lithium battery has many more usable amp hours than a comparable lead-acid battery.
Charge and discharge efficiency. Lithium batteries can be charged and discharged at a much faster rate than lead-acid batteries. As a result, they are a much better solution for RV appliances that draw high levels of electricity. Lithium batteries can also charge much faster, as they can accept much higher charge currents.
Even voltage discharge. Unlike lead-acid batteries, lithium batteries maintain their voltage as they discharge, almost to full depletion. That allows RV electronic devices to perform with greater efficiency.
Despite the shrinking price delta and a significant list of advantages, lithium may not be the solution for every RV owner. For many, it will come down to how frequently they use their RV and how hard they work their battery systems. Occasional or non-demanding users may find that the math doesn’t add up for lithium — at least, not yet.
Go Power! offers a full range of battery options for all of our RV customers, including more traditional AGM lead-acid battery solutions. As the use of lithium batteries becomes more commonplace, however, we’re pleased to provide aggressively-priced, high-performing lithium options for RVers, RV dealers and manufacturers.
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