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Thread: Battery Dilemma

  1. #1
    Setting Up Camp
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    Question Battery Dilemma

    Hello all! So, my deep cycle battery that came with my Imagine trailer is shot and needs to be replaced. I am just really torn on what to replace it with.

    Here is the backstory. My wife and I love to "dry camp" at state and national parks, so most of the time we will not have hookups. We already have an inverter generator and we use that sparingly (usually each morning for less than an hour). Our plan is to eventually go full or half-time, but when we do we will likely upgrade to a 5th wheel. Until then we will be vacation campers/weekend warriors for the next 3-5 years.

    I know that Lithium is the best solution, but I am trying to figure out if I can justify the costs for a rig that I will not be keeping long-term and for the only 20 nights or so a year right now that we don't have power. Since I already have a generator I am not really looking for a solution that can use an inverter to power the 120V side of the rig either.

    Here are the options I am looking at:

    Option 1 - New deep cycle battery (or batteries) and likely a new 4-stage charger to improve the charging speed and life out of the batteries. This is by far the cheapest option.

    Option 2 - (2) new 6V Golf Cart batteries to form a larger 12V battery. We would add a new 4-stage charger as well.

    Option 3 - Lithium battery(s) of some sort with the updated charger for it.

    If we do decide to spring for the lithium I have the further dilemma of how many and of what size. Can I get away with a single 100ah lithium battery? I think it would be sufficient, but I know that you want to have the batteries be the same age and model if you decide to parallel them, so I really can't add more power later if I find I went too small.

    Last question on this - has anyone pulled all their Lithium equipment out and downgraded the camper back to the deep cycle battery setup when they sold their rig? Makes Lithium more palatable if we would plan on keeping it for its entire lifespan even if that meant moving it to a new rig.

    What are your thoughts?

    Thanks!
    2018 Imagine 2600RB
    2017 Ram Big Horn Crew Cab 3.92

  2. #2
    Site Team Ynot4me2's Avatar
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    I'm in the exact same position only difference is our payload is almost at max so 2 6v on the tongue is not really an option. I'm actually really debating going DIY 280ah lifepo4. This way I could move inside and free up some TW. I do plan on changing tt in the near future and tv of course but I do plan on transferring any upgrades to the new tt or 5wh.

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    Steph & Lise
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  3. #3
    Site Sponsor sande005's Avatar
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    It's all about Amp hours - how long do you want to be able to go before needing to recharge?

    The following uses rough, generic, numbers. Comparing brands/types should be done with actual info from each manufacturer.

    Basic deep cycles will be rated for 80-100, but to keep it healthy you should never use more than half - so 40-50. From your old battery, you may have an idea over how long that means for you. And if you are like most of us, it's probably gone into the lower half of the capacity, at times.
    Two 6 volt will about double the capacity of a single 12v. So about 100 amp hours nominally useable, with another 100 if you push it, at the expense of overall life. But they are more rugged, so have better odds of resisting such "abuse", if not carried to extremes. You can get close to the same place by using 2 12volt....
    Lithium will generally be about the same as 2 six volt, as the lower limit is about 90% of capacity - so 90 amp hours. But that is a hard limit, going below that may not be possible due to the internal, built in, BMS (which is a good thing). If you do go to really using it all, even just once, it can kill the battery.

    Shopping around, and more money, can get you slight bumps in the capacity of the lead acids.
    Lithium's are all pretty much the same for capacity. Note that lithium's cannot be recharged in below freezing temps - it damages them. Usually prevented by the BMS. So think about how much cold weather camping you do.
    Lithium's have the promise of longer life. But they haven't been around in high numbers in RV's long enough to completely validate that claim. But in other uses, they do live longer. But you can transfer to the new RV in a few years with more confidence.

    Lithium's have been around for a long time now (since 2001) for many other applications and is a pretty mature technology. Don't expect big price drops just because the RV/Boat market is taking notice.
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    If your budget wasn't a problem I'd buy 2 300 ah lithiums and a good inverter charger (3000 watts) and plan on keeping them when you upgrade to a new RV. Leave the old inverter in place to make it easy to reattach. This will also give you time to recover from the expense before upgrading. You will have a huge financial start on a solar setup.

    or

    Just buy a decent battery to get you by for now.

    I'm like you and don't want to mix different aged batteries.

    Just my 2 cents.

    Red
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  5. #5
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    If you upgrade to lithium, you can take batteries with you to next unit and get a lithium converter for new unit.
    Bob and Cheryl, Puka the doodle
    2018 Ram 2500 Crew,Diesel,4x4
    2016 Reflection 27RL
    2012 Palomino 6.5 camper

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    My current setup is 2-6V batteries. Charging chores are handled by an IOTA-55 deck-mount converter mounted inside the hookup center on our Imagine. That converter has been in 3 trailers so far. The factory WFCO is still there but turned off at its breaker, it's only used as an AC and DC distribution center.

    I had a conversation with a Battleborn rep. He said you could start with one battery and add a second one later with no ill effects. And the converter should be a maximum of 1/2-C, meaning for a 100AH battery the max converter output should be 50A (55A is fine.)

    The Escapees group has a deal with Battleborn for discounts on their batteries and converters, $75 off batteries and 15% off accessories. Costco has 2 - 100A Lion batteries for $1400 on sale this month. Real DIYers are buying 4 LiPo cells and building their own batteries.

    I've taken my golf cart batteries and converter with me when selling a trailer. If I go lithium I'll do the same when I trade trailers.
    2019 F-250 Supercab
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  7. #7
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    We are going through the exact same change as the OP is considering. Our reflection 28 bh is rather battery hungry dry camping which we do most of. It loves battery in cold weather ( furnace ) and really loves battery in warm weather (Fridge on propane). The fridge appears to be the worst offender for power use as its mounted in the slide and has FOUR cooling fans in the back, its the bigger 4 door variety to boot so those fans are giving er most of the day on warm days.

    We have found that we can really only go dry camping for about 3 to 4 days at our local provincial park using our generators. The parks here have strict time limits on generator use which is understandable and probably a good thing in the long run. Our current battery bank is a set of series 6 volt golf cart deep cycles and eveb with those the limited generator hours cant put enough power back in for extended stays.

    We are going to make the switch to lithium iron as soon as the new ones arrive. I have chosen to build my own at this point and have purchased a new charger/converter along with a bms and a monitor system. The cells I am buying will hopefully have about four times my current useable amp hours in roughly the same physical dimensions and less weight.

    I am keeping all my stock components in storage and keeping the new battery bank in the stock location in case we decide to sell the rig and wish to return it to lead acid configuration before hand. All I will have to do is get a battery swap it out with my lithiums and swap out the converter for the stock one and it should be back to original.

    We love the trailer and the floorplan and probably wouldnt want to change to anything else for the time being but its a terrible dry camping unit for batteries and battery use in stock format.

    mike

  8. #8
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    I think what I am going to do is try Lithium, but go off-brand. I can get a 100AH for $539, which is quite a bit less than Battleborn. I know that I may be getting what I pay for, but don't want to stick thousands into this rig - just want to improve the power situation to usable.

    My problem is that the 2-stage Lithium charger for my WFCO power center is out of stock everywhere. Amazon has it shipping between April and May.
    2018 Imagine 2600RB
    2017 Ram Big Horn Crew Cab 3.92

  9. #9
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    Does anyone have a trick to keep your batteries warm during the Winter?
    I keep my batteries in the Storage Area for my 2500rl near the distribution water and power area.
    Some people use a warming mat in the battery box that is thermostatically controlled to keep their temp above 32 degrees.
    What do you use?

    Thanks.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott in GB View Post
    I think what I am going to do is try Lithium, but go off-brand. I can get a 100AH for $539, which is quite a bit less than Battleborn. I know that I may be getting what I pay for, but don't want to stick thousands into this rig - just want to improve the power situation to usable.

    My problem is that the 2-stage Lithium charger for my WFCO power center is out of stock everywhere. Amazon has it shipping between April and May.
    I was fairly lucky that my converter and power centre are different units. Do you have room to perhaps add a stand alone lithium charger then pull the battery charging cables from your power centre and plug em into the new charger leaving your current setup to provide 12 volt power to the rig when plugged in? I am not sure if this is feasible or not but i was able to get my converter from amazon quite quick. progressive dynamics.
    mike

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