Your RV’s batteries are an essential component that allows you to run all your appliances, lights, and other household features. The price of these batteries can vary significantly based on the brand, type, and size.
Lead-acid batteries are the most common type of battery for RVs. However, lithium batteries are becoming more popular with boondockers and those who prefer to live off the grid. Lithium batteries do cost more upfront, but they have many advantages over lead-acid batteries.
Whether you’re just doing some research or have decided to make the switch to lithium, you may be wondering what the difference in cost is between the two types. Let’s take a look.
As mentioned, the traditional batteries used in RVs are lead-acids. These batteries have been around for a long time, and over the years, they’ve undergone many improvements. Now, you can find a variety of lead-acid batteries on the market.
Lead-acid batteries are the cheapest option, but the overall pricing to power your RV will vary based on several factors. For one, the size of your rig and the number of appliances or amount of electricity you’re running will affect how many batteries and the size/amp hours necessary to power everything. Obviously, the larger the battery capacity, the more it will cost.
Different brands also charge different prices. More well-known, high-quality brands will cost more. However, higher-quality batteries will usually last longer, and some will even be covered under warranty, making them a better deal in the long run than going with a lesser-known brand that’s cheaper.
With so many factors, it’s impossible to compare the overall battery cost for every RV. Instead, let’s just look at one average lead-acid battery and compare it to one lithium battery so you can get an idea of the cost difference.
For our example, we’ll look at a 12V lead-acid battery with 215Ah. The average price for this is about $350. Keep in mind, lead-acid batteries can’t be depleted past the 50% mark, or you risk damaging them. This means that only half the Ah is actually usable, which is about 100Ah.
Now let’s move on to lithium batteries.
Lithium batteries are a newer technology that’s become increasingly popular over the last ten years or so. They offer many benefits over the older lead-acid batteries. Some of the advantages you’d enjoy are consistent power, fast charging, a longer lifespan, no maintenance, and lighter weight. While these are great features, they do come with an added cost upfront.
Just like lead-acid batteries, lithium battery pricing can vary based on voltage, Ah, brand, and more. Going back to our pricing comparison, a 12V lithium battery with 100Ah costs about $800. While that’s about $450 more than an equivalent lead-acid battery, in the long run, you may actually save some money.
Let’s talk about how that’s possible.
Cost Savings Over Time
You may think that spending double on each battery upfront seems like a bit much. However, you’ll be saving on a lot of expenses, which could either even out the costs or leave you with a better deal over time.
As mentioned previously, lead-acid batteries can’t be discharged past 50%. Lithium batteries can be fully discharged, providing you with double the usage per charge. In our example, both batteries have 100Ah of usable power, but if you were to buy 100Ah lead-acid batteries, you’d need two batteries to equal one lithium battery. With larger rigs, where you need a lot of power for your house bank, you may need fewer lithium batteries to get the same amount of power.
Plus, lithium batteries have a longer lifespan than lead-acids, so you won’t have to replace them as often. In fact, lithium batteries get 2,000 to 5,000 charge/discharge cycles, which is three to five times more than the 500 to 1,000 cycles that lead-acid batteries get.
Since lead-acid batteries require maintenance and lithium don’t, you can save some money there too. Lithium batteries usually come drop-in ready, and they’re lightweight, making it easy to install them yourself. You’ll also get better fuel efficiency, saving you money on gas.
While we’re here to discuss the pricing differences between lead-acid batteries and lithium batteries, it’s crucial to weigh the benefits and advantages of lithium to decide if the higher upfront cost is worth it for you.
We’ve already talked about the cost savings over time, but lithium batteries also provide a few other benefits. As lead-acid batteries are depleted, they lose voltage and power, gradually reducing your performance. Lithium batteries don’t suffer from this problem, and they deliver consistent power no matter the charge. You’ll get the same voltage whether your battery is at 100% or 1%.
They’re lightweight and compact, taking up less space and lightening your load. Since you’ll be trying to stick to your RV’s weight limit, having lighter batteries means you can worry less about having to leave something behind or putting strain on your tires or brakes.
Lastly, lithium batteries are safer than lead-acid batteries. They don’t contain acid, so you don’t have to worry about leaks or other issues. The built-in BMS system constantly monitors the batteries, which means you don’t have to. This system prevents the battery from over or undercharging, overheating, and more.
In a nutshell, you’ll get:
- Lighter weight
- Faster speeds
- Energy efficiency
- Longer battery life
- Zero maintenance
- Better performance
- Cost-savings over time
- Increased safety and reliability
In the end, the decision on which battery to use in your RV is entirely up to you. If you’re worried about the higher initial cost, consider the long-term investment you’ll be making with lithium batteries. The cost savings over time and the rest of these benefits are more than worth paying a little more upfront.