The truth about lithium batteries

Forresbroons

Full Member

Messages
125
Thanks Phil,really good info. While we have no plans to change our batteries currently as they have only been fitted a couple of months, following your vid it is something we will consider in the future. However our current van has a Sargent PX300 Intelligent Charger and I have read in the pass that this charger can not be used with lithium batteries. I would very much appreciate your thoughts on this matter.

Many thanks

Keith
 

Okta

Full Member

Messages
439
Had a quick look but the first few contributors referred to Li-ion batteries which is the generic term for all types of Li battery. A phone battery is a very different lithium chemistry from the LiFePO4 lithium battery we might put in a motorhome. When reading opinions make sure they are talking about the right sort of lithium battery, they can be as different as chalk and cheese.
 

Wavy Gravy

Free Member

Messages
28
Good informative video, but it did make me wonder about one thing. Its if LiFePO4 batteries are a false economy? My reasoning is this.

Even if I do agree with the way the economics are explained, I wonder how many will keep their motorhome as long as required to meet the payback time? From my own point of view, even if I have no plans to change in the next couple of years, I can see it being possible sometime in the future. If, during that time, I only have to replace the existing batteries once, then for me it would be a false economy. Or am I missing something?
 

Geeky Philip

Administator

Messages
1,538
Good informative video, but it did make me wonder about one thing. Its if LiFePO4 batteries are a false economy? My reasoning is this.

Even if I do agree with the way the economics are explained, I wonder how many will keep their motorhome as long as required to meet the payback time? From my own point of view, even if I have no plans to change in the next couple of years, I can see it being possible sometime in the future. If, during that time, I only have to replace the existing batteries once, then for me it would be a false economy. Or am I missing something?
You move the batteries to the next van.
 

wildebus

Full Member

Messages
2,237
Good informative video, but it did make me wonder about one thing. Its if LiFePO4 batteries are a false economy? My reasoning is this.

Even if I do agree with the way the economics are explained, I wonder how many will keep their motorhome as long as required to meet the payback time? From my own point of view, even if I have no plans to change in the next couple of years, I can see it being possible sometime in the future. If, during that time, I only have to replace the existing batteries once, then for me it would be a false economy. Or am I missing something?
I can see a definate plus on Lithium but it is certainly not a "no-brainer", especially on the economic front.

My own thoughts on this, and touching on some points on Geeky Phils video are this ....

The Banner Battery, if it is rated at just 200 cycles, is IMO a poor choice for a Leisure Battery. It may be very popular and it may be pretty cheap, but there are far better - and still 'conventional' - batteries out there in terms of charge cycles. I recommend and fit a lot of the Leoch XR1750 110Ah/C100 batteries. They are around 30% more expensive than the example Banner, but have 3x the cycle count. Many Gel Batteries have cycles of 2000 or more (10 x that Banner).
So my point on this that doing a lifecycle comparision between Lithium and non-lithium should be maybe more representative than just comparing to a battery that may actually have the lowest charge cycle life around?

With reference to cycle life, a properly designed motorhome/campervan electrics setup should not result in the Leisure battery being taken to 50% as a matter of course. I have seen this quoted as a "must-do" reason to buy Lithium in quite a few videos (not Phils, I hasten to add) with statements like "Lead Acid has a cycle life of 300, so you will need to replace your batteries in less than a year" stated as a fact, and then because these are in videos posted by 'influencers' (often sponsored by battery suppliers), they are then repeated and become urban legends. Must be true as it was said by xyz, wasn't it? Just like you don't run your car at 5000RPM all the time, but you may occasionally, you don't run your batteries down to 50% everyday, but it may hit that occasionally - and maybe once a week even?
Let's say once a week you hit 50% - a charge cycle used up there. Do that on the Banner Battery and it gives it 4 years of life (200 cycles/50 weeks). Do that with the XR1750 Battery I mentioned ... 600/50 = 12 Years of life. Not too shabby now?

So actually, when it comes to commonly used arguements like "you would need to change your lead acid batteries 40 times to get the same life as one lithium" that could be true - but at the same time you would have to live to something like 200 years of age to realise that particular benefit.
Obviously the Lithium Battery does not cost 40 times more and financially the benefit is realised within a lot fewer swapouts. Let's take the Banner Battery... it is a tenth of the cost of the Relion. You need twice as many to get the same accessibe Amp-hours of energy as the Lithium, so that is now down to a fifth of the cost (2 x £100 vs £1,000). if the Banner lasts 4 years if cycled down to 50% once a week, that means you only save money from the 21st year of buying the Lithium.
2 x Banners in Year 1; 2nd set of 2 in Year 5; 3rd set 2 in Year 9; 4th set of 2 in Year 13; 5th set of 2 in Year 17 and the 6th pair - where you will have spent more on Banners than on a Lithium is not bought until Year 21.
If you used the XR1750s instead of the Banner (2 x £130 Vs £1,000) you would need to use up 4 sets before the 5th one took your spend above the Lithium. For that battery with a weekly 50% discharge and charge cycle, that would not be for nearly 50 years!
If you were draining down to 50% on a daily basis, that is another matter but I really really do not think that is the case for the vast majority of people.


BUT ... where lithium comes into its own - and where Geeky Phil made some very important points in his video - is the packaging and power delivery of Lithium (y)
Using up half the space for a Lithium Battery over a pair of Lead Acid batteries - that can be really handy for a compact Motorhome.
Taking up a quarter of the payload over Lead Acid - even more important for many owners of sub 3.5t vans.

Higher 'real' capacity compared to Lead Acid at the highest current draws (so when using Inverters most typically) for high-current users can be a real benefit. Seeing the voltage drop and causing an early shutdown of an inverter even though you *should* have enough battery power can be frustrating for Lead Acid Battery users. That is a thing of the past for Lithium Battery owners.

Fast and Efficient Recharge is a definate plus as well. The slow recharge of Lead Acid Batteries, especially to get the final 15% or so into the battery seems a lifetime compared to a recharge of Lithium (although you DO need a charging solution that can deliver that of course! If your charging system is limited to only be able to put in 10% of the capacity, like the Urban Motorhomers mentioned, then a full charge from empty for his 200Ah of Lithium would still take 10 hours, so missing out on what is one of the very key benefits of going Lithium and in that respect not much better off than sticking with Lead Acid in his case as regards charging).

Anyway, that is my take on Lithium vs Lead Acid :)

For myself, I am using Lead Acid (actually the very Batteries that Geeky Phil took out of his Hymer to make room for the Relions).
They are VERY heavy (3 x 11St. = 210Kg) but I have a 4.6t van so that extra weight is not that important.
They are fairly bulky, but again they are under the fixed bed and out the way so not a great issue there.
I am all-electric and use an inverter pretty frequently. Because I have a large bank, I don't suffer from the voltage drop enough to be an issue, but there certainly IS one while the inverter is in use. If it were a smaller bank, it would not be so forgiving when using the Induction Hob or Electric Water Heater.


I think the choice to go Lithium is sensibly driven by a couple of factors:
Packaging - Whether you need to be careful with your payload or physical space - if having a decent size Lead Acid battery bank compromises your enjoyment of the motorhome due to those restrictions, then you should go Lithium (you don't want to have to get a bigger motorhome just in order to fit more batteries in it!)
Power Delivery - If the power delivery of Lead Acid stops you using certain devices (eg. a kettle via an inverter), and the equivalent sized Lithium Battery would let you use them, then you should go Lithium. And if you like the idea of being able to recharge your batteries fast so you arrive at each location with a full battery rather than maybe a partially-charged battery, then you should go Lithium.


At the end of the day, for many folk, the extra cost of a Lithium Battery solution compared to a Lead Acid battery setup is a pretty small percentage in relation to the overall cost of their Motorhome, but I don't personally believe in any way, shape or form that opting for Lithium is financially a better option for most people. Technically, it is indeed superior and in use it can potentially allow for greater enjoyment of your van through ease of use as well as space and weight saving, but it is not a way to save money unless you really, really, really want to look way forward into the future.

🤠 🦓 🐱
 
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jagmanx

Full Member

Messages
1,395
I accept that Lithium batteries have their advantages (especially in winter)

BUT I agree with the various posts that for most they are not cost effective..
eg go on EHU every so often
OK my views are skewed in that we only use our MoHo in the summer..
Even with only 1 LB we are fine...
OK EHU sometimes late September..
If we were to use the MoHo all winter..Lithium would not be the solution..
A decent LPG (only) generator (1KW or maybe 2KW) would be my choice (£500 to £1000)
OR EFOY fuel cells
 

Okta

Full Member

Messages
439
Good informative video, but it did make me wonder about one thing. Its if LiFePO4 batteries are a false economy? My reasoning is this.

Even if I do agree with the way the economics are explained, I wonder how many will keep their motorhome as long as required to meet the payback time? From my own point of view, even if I have no plans to change in the next couple of years, I can see it being possible sometime in the future. If, during that time, I only have to replace the existing batteries once, then for me it would be a false economy. Or am I missing something?
My LiFePO4 is already on it’s second motorhome. Instead of thinking how many times you will need to change the batteries in the life of your motorhome you need to think in terms of how many times you will need to replace your motorhomes in the life of your battery.:)
 

saxonborg

Full Member

Messages
645
Anybody with solar panels on their house could use their lithium batteries in their home as well as in their motorhome.
 

wildebus

Full Member

Messages
2,237
My LiFePO4 is already on it’s second motorhome. Instead of thinking how many times you will need to change the batteries in the life of your motorhome you need to think in terms of how many times you will need to replace your motorhomes in the life of your battery.:)
One thing you need to do though .... If you are selling the old motorhome, you need to buy another battery for it after you take the lithium one out. Remember to factor that cost into your calculations ;)
 

nabsim

Full Member

Messages
2,163
The deciding factor for me is cost. It doesn’t matter that over x years Lithium would be cheaper as I have x years to spread the cost. I am an ideal candidate for lithium as I have a high power demand. Two x 100ah would meet my needs easily i would just need a 240v 50amp smart charger for when I have to run the generator.

prices are going the right way but not there yet, if I was sure a single 100ah would do me I would have fitted it already
 

nabsim

Full Member

Messages
2,163
Was that a typo for your carbon battery’s Dave or are they really 70kgs each?
 

nabsim

Full Member

Messages
2,163
Well, I think 69.8Kg to be exact.

I had to have a sit-down after trolleying each one over 1 by 1 from Phil's van :)
Jeez, I wouldn’t have a hope of lifting those in lol
 

jagmanx

Full Member

Messages
1,395
With this and many other opinions..There is limited truth but lots of perception ? discuss
 

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