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Lead Acid to Lithium

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My Oliver Elite II is a 2016 model that I purchased from the factory with factory solar and 4 T-105 Trojan lead acid batteries.  Over the 8 years with the lead acid batteries I never saw the charge level of the batteries below 83% full!  Mind you that I'm very conservative regarding energy usage to include having only actually run the furnace twice over this time.  I also never have the inverter on unless I'm actually using it and even then it was seldom used for more than 6 minutes at a time (a good sized baked potato in the microwave).  However, even though the batteries were still performing as they should, I simply thought that as I approached my 9th year, I was simply taking too much of a risk that these batteries would leave me stranded while out in the middle of nowhere.  So, in late 2023 I began my search for replacements.

Since I do not live under a rock, I was reasonably aware of the "long-term" benefits of switching to lithium batteries.  But, in the short-term, the expense of this kind of upgrade was a bit difficult to justify.  Note here that I live in the mountains of North Carolina and do most of my camping in the summer at altitude in the Rockies where sleeping at night is usually a question of how many blankets versus will I be cool enough.  Yes, the driving trip from NC to the Rockies each year can be a bit warm (think 100 degrees going across TN, IL, MO, KS and the eastern plains of the Rockies) and, yes, it would be nice to power the a/c via the batteries on rare occasion.  But, I made the decision that until my current 2000 watt inverter dies, I would not spend the extra money to upgrade which would certainly add to the overall cost of the project.  In addition, I'm not a big cell phone user and prefer a simpler life.  Given the energy usage noted above plus I do not need to let anyone know that I'm presently on isle #5 at my local WalMart, and, I don't want or see the need to be attached at the hip with a cell phone.

So, going into this replacement of the lead acids I simply assumed that I'd purchase something that I could "drop in", use the same wiring that came from the factory along with the same Blue Sky MPPT solar controller, IPN remote (shows typical shunt readings), existing cables, and not change a thing (or at least very little) from what has worked very well over the past 8 years.  The price of lithium batteries was/is still coming down but was still too high to justify the extra expense versus the alternatives.  OK - this is the base from which I started and certainly I recognize that my situation does not apply to everyone - nor should it.

After looking at several alternatives I had almost decided on purchasing 4 VMAX XTR6-235 AGM batteries at $1370.  Of course, another possible alternative would have been the Brightway Group EVGC-220A-AGM batteries at 4 for $995.00. But, I saw a YouTube video by Will Prowse that highlighted the LiTime 230 amp hour lithium batteries.  Next it was the Christmas holidays and I saw that the LiTimes were discounted plus I could get an additional 8% off my order since I had served in the military.  So, with 2 of the 230-amp hour batteries plus 2 bus bars, my total for 460 amp hours was near $1,075* – well within the cost of non-lithium batteries.  Yes, I was aware that the LiTimes "only" had a warranty of 5 years versus the 10 years for Battle Borns or the 11 years for the Epoch.  But, since most (if not all) of these lithium battery cells are made in China (with some assembled into the batteries we see in the USA) I figured that since the LiTimes are about half the cost, if they died at 5 years I would still break even versus the Battle Born's.  The "final straw" was seeing Ronbrink's post** on his install of the LiTimes!

Upon receiving the 2 batteries*** (3 days after order) I found that the battery terminals were recessed relative to the tops of the batteries.  Therefore, I purchased 4 terminal blocks with 250-amp fuses at a cost of $68 on Amazon.  So, I was just about set for the install at a total price of just under $1,150.  Next, I took a hard look at the wiring necessary for the install.  My original intention was to install the bus bars either inside the Oliver (near the solar controller) or on the wall inside the battery box.  But, for the "quick and easy" install that I was hoping for it appeared that I could use the two 4/0 cables (each about 7 inches long - end of lug to end of lug) plus two additional cables of this length that (hopefully) I could get from a fellow Ollie owner.  Indeed, Mossemi came to my rescue and supply me with those two cables that he no longer needed after his Lithium conversion.  Putting this all together resulted in what appeared to be a nice tight package that I could simply "drop into " the existing space in the battery compartment.  I "bench" tested the batteries in my workshop and even performed what is called a "top balance" on the two batteries just to make sure that they were ready to go (i.e. a "top balance" is performed by charging each battery to 100% and then connecting the two batteries together and letting them adjust to each other for 4 to 24 hours).

Indeed, the 2 LiTime batteries easily fit into the existing space and I had some foam blocks that I used to make sure that the fit was snug.  Also, the original Oliver tie-down straps could be used to hold the new batteries in place.  When connecting the cables from the Oliver I found that I needed to slightly alter the openings into the bus bars so that the “tops” of the bus bars would seat nicely onto their bases.  This was simply done using a Dremel tool.  And, even though the LiTimes have “low temperature charging protection” (lithium batteries should not be charged when they reach a temperature of below approximately 32 degrees) I decided to insulate the battery compartment door with some ½ inch foam board.

Finally, my original intent was to keep my original converter which did not have a lithium battery setting.  These old converters will charge a lithium battery, but, it would not charge it to 100% full.  However, upon resetting the Blue Sky solar controller from the Lead Acid parameters to the Lithium parameters, the solar panels would take care of getting the total charge in the new batteries to 100%.  But, I saw a lithium capable converter on Amazon Warehouse for $147 and could not resist****.  With a total cost of now just under $1,300 I was in the lithium world with (hopefully) longer lasting batteries and considerably more usable amp hours than the T-105's I started with.  In addition, should the inverter decide to fail, I can now replace it with a 3,000 watt inverter and be in a position to run the a/c off the batteries for a short period of time.

During the Owner's Rally and in the weeks after the Rally, the batteries, solar, and converter have all been working as they should.  I would still prefer to install a battery cut-off switch but that will have to wait until the summer camping season is over.

In a nutshell, here is what I did:

1.     Disconnected the solar panels via the cutoff switch (street side bed) and opened fuses near the negative bus bar (also street side bed) and do not be connected to shore power.

2.     Removed the old Trojan batteries (disconnect negative terminals first and take pics of wiring configuration prior to disconnect).

3.     Cleaned all wiring connections.

4.     Cleaned battery box and repainted tray.

5.     Inserted new LiTime batteries and connected the two battery cables to the first and third bus bar posts, the main negative from the Oliver to the second post and the other negative cables to the fourth post.  Performed the same procedure with the positive cables.

6.     Closed the two cutoff fuses near the solar controller.

7.     Reprogrammed the MPPT controller via the IPN Remote using setting provided by LiTime.

8.     Disconnected the charge wire from my tow vehicle – actually I removed fuse #17 in my 2023 F-150.

9.     Verified that the dip switch inside the solar charge controller was turned off – you do not want to “equalize” lithium batteries.

10.  Verified that the solar system and the new converter were operating correctly and were charging as appropriate.



*As of 6-24-2024 the price of 2 LiTime 230 amp hour batteries is $1048.

**Part of Ronbrink’s install can be found at: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/forums/topic/3333-battle-born-lithium-ion-12-volt-batteries-in-an-oliver/page/3/#comment-98774 AND https://olivertraveltrailers.com/forums/topic/9395-prime-deals-on-battleborn-and-renogy-suitcase-solar/#comment-99676

*** I wanted 2 batteries to protect myself in the event one of the 2 developed a problem.

****Installation of the lithium capable converter can be found at https://olivertraveltrailers.com/forums/topic/4812-how-to-progressive-dynamics-pd4045-lithium-upgrade/










Edited by topgun2
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2023 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5EB FX4 Max Towing, Max Payload, 2016 Oliver Elite II - Hull #117 "Twist"

Near Asheville, NC

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@topgun2:  Excellent post, Bill!  Very well thought out, for sure.  Seriously clean install - those lithiums will last 10+ years.  460AH!  You'll never get below a 10% SOC unless you boondock in a cave somewhere.  Sweet!

Edited by MAX Burner
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Art, Diane, Magnus & Oscar (double-Aaarrf!)

  • 2022 TUNDRA
  • 2017 LE II; Hull #226 "Casablanca"
  • HAM call-sign:  W0ABX


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1 hour ago, MAX Burner said:

Very well thought out, for sure.


There are so many ways and products that can be used.  And, some of these are really slick (I'm thinking of the Victron line here) and once started down that "rabbit hole" the walls are very slippery.  If I traveled with pets, lived and camped in a hotter/more humid climate, traveled with my wife more or any number of different situations, I'm sure that my approach would have been different.

While I've been happy with both my purchase and install (so far) and the people I've worked with at LiTime have been both helpful and quick to reply, the fact remains that LiTime is located near Hong Kong.  This presents an "issue" in that if you need to contact them, you can be certain that you will not receive a reply until the following day.


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2023 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5EB FX4 Max Towing, Max Payload, 2016 Oliver Elite II - Hull #117 "Twist"

Near Asheville, NC

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“Golly Shazam” you can, yes you can teach an old dog new tricks! At least some of us ol’ dogs that must be self-taught, and that’s you and me for sure.

Happy for you cousin! You gracefully watered-n-nurtured that old set of original batteries for 8 years. My guess is with your conservative touch, you got these for a lifetime. God Bless and Godspeed my friend. 😂

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Chris & John in Prescott, AZ | 2016 EII #113 | '01 Ram 2500 Cummins!

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10 hours ago, jd1923 said:

“Golly Shazam” you can, yes you can teach an old dog new tricks!

Thanks - except for that "old dog" part.😁

boston gets GIF

2023 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5EB FX4 Max Towing, Max Payload, 2016 Oliver Elite II - Hull #117 "Twist"

Near Asheville, NC

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3 hours ago, topgun2 said:

Thanks - except for that "old dog" part.😁

Somehow Bill, I knew the reply you would write, and I had a dream about some sad dog GIF!

Chris & John in Prescott, AZ | 2016 EII #113 | '01 Ram 2500 Cummins!

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