Home Forums Truck Camper Adventure Forum LiFePO4 v. lead acid

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    • #53169
      Dan Hailey
      Participant

      I am getting a Northern lite 8ll to put on my 2020 f350 swd here in a few weeks. Ordered it last Feb and I’m a noob.
      So, everywhere I read, I get the strong impression that I should go with the Lithium batts.
      So, I called the company and asked them if the battery compartment would hold two group 31 lithium batteries and was told no, only group 27. But that won’t give me 200 amps which is what I have read that would be ideal. Cost is not really a problem since I would be buying the batteries at Cabela’s where my wife works at a steep discount.
      Upon further review, Keith, told me that starting the onan generator with Lithium would ruin the batteries and that I would not be able to recharge the batteries driving down the road.
      So my questions for you all are:
      1. Is it true that starting the generator would damage the batteries and if so is there a work around?
      2. Do I really need to worry about not charging the batteries as I drive?
      Any help would be deeply appreciated.

    • #53170
      Jay
      Participant

      if you have the u shaped dinette you can put the batteries in there. you need a dc to dc charger to charge while driving. I’m not sure about the generator.

      • #53189
        Dan Hailey
        Participant

        Thanks Jay we we did choose the U-shaped dinette and that is a great idea for lithium battery placement. I appreciate the suggestion

    • #53171
      Randy
      Participant

      Lithium batteries require a different voltage and charger designed specifically for lithium batterie.s

      • #53190
        Dan Hailey
        Participant

        Our camper should have that since it is coming with two 200 watt panels, right?

    • #53176
      Phil
      Participant

      If you’re new camper has a conventional Progressive Dynamics 3 stage charger (for lead acid batts), it’ll work well with Lithium simply by adding their Charge Wizard dongle which will let you kick it into the 14.4v Boost mode – this is a better option than their dedicated lithium charger because it stays at 14.4v indefinitely, even after the battery is fully charged (not good for lithium)…FWIW, due to the high charge receptivity of lithium, I charge strictly from solar harvest alone and not from the truck, and all you’ll need from your solar controller is 14.x volts (not to exceed the BMS cut-off of 14.6v).

      Also, for more battery space you may be able to mount the batteries elsewhere (preferably in the interior) and just re-purpose your battery box for other storage.

      Phil

      • #53191
        Dan Hailey
        Participant

        Phil,
        I’m not sure what kind of charger it will have but thanks for the info regarding the deiccated lithium charger. So much to learn!

    • #53177
      Phil
      Participant

      Here’s a previous discussion that you may find helpful:

      Turning truck into 3000 watt generator

      Phil

    • #53186
      Joel
      Participant

      If you can get Lithium for a good price, that is probably your best bet. I chose lead acid golf cart batteries. My setup is described in this thread:

      My Solar Power Installation

      Scroll down to see the paragraph on the batteries.

      I’m fully self contained with 235 amp-hours (two 6 volt golf cart batteries) and 360 watts of solar panels. If I didn’t have the compressor fridge, 200 watts of solar would be enough. We have boondocked for 6 days with no problems. In fact we have never seen less than 70% charge on the batteries even after 2 rainy days.

      Of course all this assumes that you don’t need to run the air conditioner. I have to plug in for that.

      Everyone has different wants and needs. This is just my data point.

      Happy to answer questions you might have.

      Joel

      • #53192
        Dan Hailey
        Participant

        Wow! Nice job! Thank you so much for the guidance. I talked to the dealer and was told the batteries that come with the camper are just what you started with and are part of the dealer prep. I asked if I could forgo those batteries and put in the lithium batteries and if that would reduce the dealer prep charge but got a no on that so I guess for now I’ll use that battery until I understand how everything works then get into making changes. Our camper which just got pushed back another month comes with 2 – 200 watt panels so I think I won’t have to do all of the mods you have done but just studying your pics is going to prove valuable I think. What I need to understand is how all of the system works since the solar will all be set up, hopefully?

    • #53196
      Joel
      Participant

      There are more detailed descriptions on the web, but here’s a summary:

      Panels go to a combiner box and then down to the charge controller. The controller adjusts the voltage from the panels to the batteries for optimum charging (as mentioned previously, optimum charging for Lithium is different than for lead acid so you need a charge controller that can handle lithium batteries). Ideally, you will have a shunt based battery monitor that actually measures amp-hours into and out of the batteries. The monitor and the charge controller work together to provide optimum battery charging. In my system, you program battery amp-hour capacity and battery type into the monitor.

      Since all the loads and sources go through the shunt and are monitored by the battery monitor, it doesn’t matter if you are charging with the panels or with the on board converter/charger, all the amp-hours are accounted for.

    • #53201
      Phil
      Participant

      Agreed on the shunt based battery monitor, and since you’re considering going lithium make sure the monitor is also lithium compatible such as Victron’s BMV 12 or their Smart Shunt 500amp (either displays status from smartphone). This shunt (measuring sensor) installs into the neg battery cable…

      Now might be a good time to ask the factory what make and model of onboard converter-charger, and solar controller, and if possible upgrade the solar controller to a higher amp capacity to allow for more head-room, this for the addition of more panels, and if possible, request a MPPT type controller instead of the standard PWM type…

      More info would be helpful, but know that Lithium batteries will charge fine so long as the controller outputs somewhere between say 14.0 and 14.6 volts.

      Maybe they’ll ship the camper without a battery so that you can provide your own?

      https://www.victronenergy.com/battery-monitors

      Phil

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