Lithium RV batteries are gaining traction with boondockers and others trying to live off the grid due to the many advantages over lead-acid batteries. If you’re considering making the switch, you can read about all the pros and cons of these RV batteries on our blog.
Whether you’re convinced or not by the benefits lithium batteries offer, you may have a few questions about them. Here at Patriot Power Source, we get asked the same questions repeatedly, so we’ve decided to answer the top five most common questions asked about converting to lithium batteries for their RV.
Let’s get started!
1. How Long Do Lithium RV Batteries Last?
The exact lifespan of lithium batteries in your RV will vary based on your setup and usage, but they average at lasting over ten times longer than lead-acid batteries generally.
With lead-acid batteries, you’ll likely only get between 200 to 500 cycles, depending on proper maintenance and care. On the other hand, you’ll get around 5,000 complete discharge cycles with lithium batteries. You could even see thousands of cycles more than that with lighter use.
That means you’re looking at about five or so years of regular use with lead-acid batteries and closer to 20 years or more with lithium batteries. That’s a huge difference!
2. Do Lithium RV Batteries Need a Special Charger?
You likely will need to buy a new charger if you convert to lithium batteries. They need a charging voltage of 14.4 volts, so you’ll need one that supports this type of battery.
If you have a new RV, it’s possible that the charge controller you have is compatible with lithium batteries, but it’s rare and even less likely if you have an older RV.
There are a few different types of chargers, and the one you need will be based on what you’re using to charge your batteries. For standard alternator charging, you’re going to need a DC-DC charger. If you’ve got a nice solar setup, you’ll need an MPPT (solar charger). Your best bet may be to find an all-in-one charger that supports lithium batteries with both DC-DC and MPPT.
If you purchase your lithium RV batteries from Patriot Power Source, you’ll get a lithium-specific charger that you can hook up to shore power. This is great to have on hand as a backup, but it’s an entry-level charger, so it’s not going to be as fast as you’d want.
3. How Fast Will Lithium RV Batteries Recharge?
Once again, this will vary based on your particular setup. However, lithium batteries do charge faster than lead-acid batteries.
To figure out how fast you can recharge your batteries, you’ll need to look at the total Ah rating of your lithium batteries and the current output rating of the charger you have.
For example, if you’re using batteries from Patriot Power Source, you’ve got 100 Ah (Amp hour) lithium batteries. Let’s say your charger is a 60 Amp. You’d divide 100 by 60 to get 1.7 hours. Keep in mind that the charge current gradually reduces as the state of charge gets close to completion, so you’re actually looking at about two hours total.
As a comparison, a lead-acid battery under those same conditions would likely take six to eight hours to fully charge.
4. What’s the Maintenance Like & How Should I Store Them in Off-Season?
If you’re used to having lead-acid batteries, then you know they require a fair amount of maintenance, namely checking acid levels, adding water, and cleaning corrosion. Lithium batteries don’t contain any acid, so none of this is necessary. In fact, they don’t require any kind of maintenance at all!
Unlike lead-acid batteries, lithium batteries don’t require a trickle charge when they’re in storage for long periods. You won’t have to worry about them draining while not in use. Lead-acid batteries lose 33% of their charge every month, but lithium batteries will only lose 2-3% in this same timeframe.
We’d still recommend that you fully charge them if you’re going to put them in storage. This way, you’ll still have the vast majority of that charge when it’s time to move back into the RV.
5. Will Lithium Batteries Work for My RV?
Yes, you can definitely convert your RV from lead-acid to lithium batteries. They’re the best option for off-the-grid living and boondocking.
12V lithium batteries, like the ones you can get from Patriot Power Source, are the perfect replacement for 12V lead-acid batteries, which traditionally power the house battery in RVs.
However, you may need to switch out or add in some other components as well. If you’re pretty knowledgeable, you may even be able to make the switch yourself.
But, if you aren’t sure, it’s best to get some professional help. Give us a call and we can help you figure out if lithium batteries are suitable for your RV setup. We can also answer any other questions you may have.