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Just curious... Lithium vs AGM


johnwen
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FWIW, I couldn't agree more regarding the implementation of solar. In over six years with our Ollie we have never used a generator ever, and only on a couple of occasions have we stayed at an RV camp with full hookups not because we needed to but simply because that was the only thing available where we were at the time. In fact I just sold my Yamaha Generator earlier in the summer because it was just setting around unused collecting dust for the last 6 years. 

Batteries now that's another thing. Other than the weight of wet cell units like I have, its just not clear to me what is actually gained by AGM or even Lithium. My understanding is LI-ON does not like either extreme heat or cold, wet cells don't seem to care one way or the other. If my perceptions are wrong please correct me, and help to understand the advantage of LI vs other batteries other than weight. Thanks

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Legacy Elite II #70

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The advantages of lithium-ion batteries over flooded/AGM batteries are numerous, although the relative importance of each benefit to some extent depends on how you plan to use your trailer.  I have owned my 2020 LEII for one year now and almost always boondock.  Oliver didn’t start offering a lithium package until one month after I placed my order and the first thing I did after arriving home from Hohenwald was to swap out the 4 lead acid batteries it came with for four 105 amp-hour Group 24 Lithium-Ions.  Since I already had the 340 watts of solar and 2000-watt inverter/charger, it was a simple swap to make as Galway Girl points out.  No changes in cabling required or anything else.  For me, the greatest benefit is the much higher rate at which the lithium-ion batteries will accept a charge.  

If you go with AGM batteries and solar, Oliver will require you to use four 110-amp hour AGM batteries weighing over 200 pounds, even if you don’t want or need that much battery storage.  I was told that this is so Oliver can test the performance of the solar system before it leaves the factory and that explanation makes sense.  This is because the maximum charging rate of an AGM battery roughly 150 watts (12 amps) up to 80% charge and only about 60 watts (5 amps) between 80% and 100% charge.  A single lithium-ion battery, on the other hand, can accept a charging rate of over 1,000 watts (100 amps) all the way to 100 percent charge.  The 2000-watt inverter/charger Oliver installs can deliver about 1,000 watts (80 amps) to the batteries and the 3000 watt inverter/charger can deliver about 1200 watts (100 amps) to the batteries.

This can all be confusing so I will explain what this means in the field.  If you remember one simple rule, it becomes much easier to understand this.  The rule is: volts x amps = watts. 

My Oliver solar panels are capable of 340 watts on a sunny day.  At an average charging voltage of 13.5 volts (controlled by the solar charge controller), the panels are capable of delivering roughly 25 amps to the batteries, ignoring losses (340 watts / 13.5 volts = 25 amps).  If you have 4 AGM batteries, once they reach 80 percent charge, they can only accept about 20 amps of charge current (4 batteries times 5 amps each) which means the solar panels are throttled back to only produce about 270 watts (13.5 volts *20 amps = 270 watts) to protect your AGM batteries.  This slow charging between 80% and 100% means you are wasting potential solar energy and your batteries will likely never recover to full charge after you have started your trip, (this is true even if you use a generator unless you want to run the generator for 6 hours/day). With my lithium-ion batteries, my solar panels always deliver their full capability, unless and until my batteries reach 100% charge.

I am a high desert bird-hunter and so I boondock in the fall/winter.  The solar panels are not always adequate for longer trips in the winter due to shorter daylight hours, sun much lower in the sky, and cloudy weather.  For winter trips more than 3 days I reluctantly take a generator and hope I don’t need to use it.  If I do need to use a generator though, I only need to run it for an hour to put 80 amp-hours into my lithium-ion batteries.  One would need to run a generator for 2-4 hours to put 80 amp-hours into four AGM batteries.  A bigger generator doesn’t make a difference since the limitation is in the batteries and not the capacity of the generator.  In fact, I can put 70-80 amp hours into my lithium ion batteries in one hour using the smallest/quietest /lightest inverter generator made (Honda EUI 1000 at 28 lbs).  The newest LEII has a 3000 watt inverter/charger that can put 100 amp hours into lithium-ion batteries in one hour, but will still only put 20 -40 amp hours into AGM batteries in the same hour.

One other consideration is that with lithium-ion batteries, you can get by with fewer than 4 batteries and still have more usable battery storage than you get with 4 AGMs.  When you factor in the difficulty of charging the AGM’s above 80 percent with solar in the field, you really only have 40% of usable storage with AGM’s (50% to 90%) whereas the lithium ions give you up to 85% usable storage (15% to 100%).  Translated to amp hours, the AGM’s give you about 170 usable amp-hours/day before charging is mandatory (40% of 420 amp-hours), whereas the lithium ion’s give you over 350 usable amp-hours/day before charging is mandatory (85% of 420 amp-hours).

My understanding is that the Oliver lithium-ion package comes standard with two 220 amp-hour lithium batteries at roughly $3,000 more than AGM’s.  For those that don’t need 420 amp-hours but still want all the benefits of lithium, I think Oliver should also offer a lithium package with only one 220 amp-hour lithium-ion battery at a savings of about $2,000.  This would mean the upgrade to lithium-ion would only be about $1,000 above the four AGMs instead of $3,000, while still providing more usable battery storage than four AGM’s.

Hope the above makes sense.  I am no expert and welcome corrections/clarifications from other forum members.

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Steve and Lornie

LE II Standard  Hull #657  2004 4Runner 4.7 L V8

Oregon

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Thanks Chukarhunter for this in depth explanation of the differences with batteries, or at least some of them. I understand most of this and should re-read but what I don't understand is why you never used your 4 wet cell acid batteries at all. Granted with lead acid, one can only use approximately 50% of their capacity as I understand things, meaning only 225 of the 450 amp hours available. To the best of my knowledge lead acid batteries are not hamstrung like the AGM's with charging rate and can take a full 100% charge until they top out at 100%. From my experience with them in over 6 years this seems to be the case and once again I have yet to ever even come close to running out of battery power. Please don't misunderstand, not trying to be argumentative on this issue by any means and you make some excellent points regarding AGM vs LI-ION batteries. Aside from the weight difference, and it is substantial I am not convinced at least not yet of LI-ION superiority compared to lead acid at least in this application. 

Thanks again for the excellent information. @Chukarhunter

Legacy Elite II #70

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Your charging rates and current are dependent on specific batteries. My deep cycle marine 105 ah agms can charge at a higher rate than Chukarhunter references. 

I would say that generally,  lithium is a terrific, very light, and very expensive,  option, that can benefit many people.

I, too, am not convinced that I will ever "need" lithium. We may do it anyway, but we'll see. For us, it's  a want, not a need. A small generator,  that we carry anyway, for cloudy days, can easily make up the difference. It's not as eco friendly or quiet as the solar we love, but it works, when we need it.

I usually suggest that people new to camping get flooded or agm, and wait to see if they actually "need" lithium . @Chukarhunter's suggestion of a smaller lithium package is an excellent one, imo. A number of members here have diy'd smaller lithium battery banks, and are very happy. 

 

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2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12

Florida and Western North Carolina, or wherever the truck goes....

400 watts solar. Dc compressor fridge. No inverter. 2 x 105 ah agm batteries .  Life is good.

 

 

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And just for the sake of discussion, after making my last post I found this replay (pasted below) to a question on the Battle Born website. Seriously how on earth can someone expect to do fall & winter camping if you can't charge a battery in 25º weather? This past winter my wife and I watched a TV series via the Apple TV+ programming called, Long Road Up, or something along those lines. The actor Ewan McGregor and his buddy were riding battery powered motorcylces from Tierra del Fuego all the way to Los Angeles. Immediately they could not charge their bikes due to the cold weather and worse still the Rivian Trucks that were to be used as sag wagons and support also had serious issues in the cold weather all the way through Argentina and Chile. My lead acid batteries don't give a rats behind what the weather is like and can hold a charge all winter long in Montana. I would love to loose the weight of lead acid, but i just don't see how LI-ION in its current state is the panacea of energy storage. 

Thanks

Hi Bob, thanks for reaching out. At 25° F, a Battle Born battery will no longer accept a charge. This is to preserve the cells in the battery, and the internal BMS will allow a recharge when the temperature is above 32° F. Every single battery that we assemble has an internal BMS. If you’re interested in getting more information, check out our white paper study here. https://battlebornbatteries.com/lead-is-dead-white-paper-study/

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Legacy Elite II #70

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Lifepo4 batteries can be heated to above 32 fairly efficiently,  with small mat heaters in a small compartment,  like the Ollie compartment . Some batteries are sold with an integrated heater .

Important to note, the batteries can still discharge, (can supply power to the trailer) at temperatures somewhere below 32, though perhaps not as as efficiently,  they are just limited in charging.  

I could probably live with that, as we don't love winter camping and I can't remember a day when we didn't get above 32, daytime, even in Alaska, for at least 10 hours . (We don't camp in cold weather, intentionally. )

But, for a very few others (true cold weather campers), not so great. They'd need the warming mats, and they'd deal with the energy drain, accordingly.

 

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2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12

Florida and Western North Carolina, or wherever the truck goes....

400 watts solar. Dc compressor fridge. No inverter. 2 x 105 ah agm batteries .  Life is good.

 

 

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They will operate at very low temperatures, they just cannot be reCHARGED at those temps. Which is why you put them in a climate controlled box, or heat the cabin enough so they will accept a charge, or use a battery warming mat. If you winter camp with the water systems dry and no cabin heat, then lithiums are definitely a no go. Lead acid batteries are not good performers in these conditions, I am not sure where you got that idea…..

Long Way Up was such a disappointment, but the stunning scenery made up for a lot of the lame “range anxiety” drama. “Oh look, it has finally warmed up some, now we can increase our speed to 40 mph!” Keep in mind that they were all driving prototype vehicles, including the backup Rivians. It was a huge publicity stunt. Long Way Round is definitely worth watching if you have not yet done so. Or better yet, Dust to Glory. Woohoo.

John Davies

Spokane WA

 

 

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"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags, Safari snorkel.

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As I’m looking at other trailer brands the answer for me is to mount the lithium batteries inside the heated compartment.  I’ll probably end up with a couple battle born units for $1600 or the cheap no name 200 amp unit on Amazon for $760. It’s n ideal solution for cheap RV’s that use a plastic battery box on the tongue that can be discarded and replaced with a storage box. 

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If you're talking about this one on Amazon, you may want to watch this video from Will Prowse. 

 

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2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12

Florida and Western North Carolina, or wherever the truck goes....

400 watts solar. Dc compressor fridge. No inverter. 2 x 105 ah agm batteries .  Life is good.

 

 

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56 minutes ago, SeaDawg said:

If you're talking about this one on Amazon, you may want to watch this video from Will Prowse. 

 

Yep, the 200 amp version of this caught my eye because it was so cheap. Looks like the build and cell quality was quite good.  If they have added a low temp sensor it just might work for my uses. Thanks!

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29 minutes ago, ChrisMI said:
1 hour ago, SeaDawg said:

If you're talking about this one on Amazon, you may want to watch this video from Will Prowse. 

 

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Yep, the 200 amp version of this caught my eye because it was so cheap. Looks like the build and cell quality was quite good.  If they have added a low temp sensor it just might work for my uses. Thanks!

You could possibly add one, if they haven't.  But, considering you live in Michigan,  it's important. Not so much for me, in Florida. 

I'd test everything,  before the return period expired, if it were me.

2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12

Florida and Western North Carolina, or wherever the truck goes....

400 watts solar. Dc compressor fridge. No inverter. 2 x 105 ah agm batteries .  Life is good.

 

 

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19 hours ago, John E Davies said:

They will operate at very low temperatures, they just cannot be reCHARGED at those temps. Which is why you put them in a climate controlled box, or heat the cabin enough so they will accept a charge, or use a battery warming mat. If you winter camp with the water systems dry and no cabin heat, then lithiums are definitely a no go. Lead acid batteries are not good performers in these conditions, I am not sure where you got that idea…..

Long Way Up was such a disappointment, but the stunning scenery made up for a lot of the lame “range anxiety” drama. “Oh look, it has finally warmed up some, now we can increase our speed to 40 mph!” Keep in mind that they were all driving prototype vehicles, including the backup Rivians. It was a huge publicity stunt. Long Way Round is definitely worth watching if you have not yet done so. Or better yet, Dust to Glory. Woohoo.

John Davies

Spokane WA

 

 

Thanks John and Mike and Carol for clarifying the issues with usage vs re-charge at cold temps. FWIW I got the idea of lead acid batteries performing at cold temps based upon my own experience. Granted I don't take off in the middle of a Montana winter when its sub zero but on more than one occasion have been caught out in low teens and our batteries did just fine. I  was also referring to the storage of them as well. As long as there is NO phantom draw on power a fully charged lead acid wet cell battery is supposed to be good at extreme below zero temps. Not sure you can do this with lithium and AGM's. 

Regarding Long Way Up, agreed the program was fairly lame other than the magnificent scenery. While they may have been driving prototypes the batteries were anything but though, unless you know something I don't and it certainly did not speak well for that battery technology to my way of thinking. Our area has lots of Tesla's now a few Audi E-vehicles as well but suspect these are all housed in garages with some temp control and easy access to a charging station. Charging stations are few and far between in this neck of the woods, heck even gas stations can be depending on where you're going.

Have not heard the Dust to Glory film but thanks

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Legacy Elite II #70

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I was always happy with the performance of my AGMs in cold weather.  They did fine down to mid teens on many occasions.  I haven’t subjected my Battle Borns to that yet, but that’s going to happen at some point.  Heck, we went through Bozeman a couple of years ago and swore we’d return!  Mike

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Texas Hill Country | Elite II #135 | Ram 2500 6.7L

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18 minutes ago, Mike and Carol said:

I was always happy with the performance of my AGMs in cold weather.  They did fine down to mid teens on many occasions.  I haven’t subjected my Battle Borns to that yet, but that’s going to happen at some point.  Heck, we went through Bozeman a couple of years ago and swore we’d return!  Mike

Well you wouldn't want to be here right now, AQI is terrible with not much end in sight. On most days you can barely make out the Bridger mountain range let alone all of the others that encircle the valley. Stop in if you do make it out this way. 

Legacy Elite II #70

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1 minute ago, routlaw said:

Well you wouldn't want to be here right now, AQI is terrible with not much end in sight. On most days you can barely make out the Bridger mountain range let alone all of the others that encircle the valley. Stop in if you do make it out this way. 

We’re in Delaware now, beautiful weather.  Last time, we were through Montana in late September/early October.  Next time we’ll do the same.  Will let you know!  Mike

Texas Hill Country | Elite II #135 | Ram 2500 6.7L

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That can be a nice time of year to be here too and far less crowded parks and campgrounds. As you may have already experienced weather can change in a heartbeat too so be prepared for that.

 

 

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Legacy Elite II #70

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5 hours ago, routlaw said:

Have not heard the Dust to Glory film but thanks

Dust to Glory 2005 Trailer

There is a sequel Dust 2 Glory, I have not seen it, it has much higher quality video (drones instead of copters) but I have heard it is a little lame. Bruce Brown also did the original On Any Sunday that kick started the dirt bike craze when I was a little bit younger…. it prompted me to sell my Norton Commando 750 Sportster and start dabbling in enduro racing in 1972….

John Davies

Spokane WA

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"Mouse":  2017 Legacy Elite II NARV (Not An RV) Two Beds, Hull Number 218, See my HOW TO threads: https://olivertraveltrailers.com/topic/john-e-davies-how-to-threads-and-tech-articles-links/

Tow Vehicle: 2013 Land Cruiser 200, 33" LT tires, airbags, Safari snorkel.

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  • 2 weeks later...

For anyone considering a battery upgrade, BattleBorn  batteries are on sale at the lowest price I’ve seen in a few years.  I’ve got 2 of the standard 100AH, considering a 3rd.

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“Ramble” - 2021 Legacy Elite II #797;  2020 Ford F-250

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13 minutes ago, johnwen said:

Ok, we made our decision. 440ah AGM package and a 2k watt inverter and solar on the roof. Thanks to all for your help 🙂 Pickup in Jan 2022...yeehaw.

Looks like they might have upgraded the inverter this year to the pro version of the XC.  Sounds like a nice package for your new trailer!

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