Update On Lithium Iron Batteries - Dutchmen Owners

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Old 05-05-2019, 06:09 PM   #1
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Update On Lithium Iron Batteries

Morning everyone!

Saw a thread not long ago about lithium iron batteries for RV use. I have a 2017 Kodiak 201QB which we love and have had absolutely no issues with so far (knock...).

We don’t do any rigorous boon dock camping but we do a fair amount of RVing in Forest Service campgrounds which don’t have electrical hookups. We are typically out from seven to ten days at a time and try to be conservative in our energy use.

Last year I decided to set up a solar panel system; purchased a 100 watt panel, rewired my system from the panel to battery with 6 gauge wire, and installed a Morningstar SunSaver solar charger/ load controller. I also have 25 feet of 6 gauge flexible wire running from the panel to trailer so the panel can be moved around to take advantage of the shifting patches of sun.

Using my electric meter, I was able to determine that the panel was doing it’s job but the battery (Interstate) that came with the rig seemed to not be able to hold a charge adequately. I suspect the battery wasn’t top quality to begin with, inadequate for it’s purpose, or had been allowed to go dead prior to my purchasing.

Regardless, my thought is to purchase a new lithium iron battery. At this point looking at a Relion RB100, 12v 100Ad. It’s price range is fair (for a quality lithium iron) and will probably be adequate for our needs and style (no cold weather RVing, relatively short trips, and conscientious use of our power supply).

I would like your thoughts on my possible choice for a new battery system. Other brands? Other units? Will my battery charger/load controller work with the new battery? Will I need anything else? In short, what flaws or shortcomings, do any of you see in my plan?

Also, I plan on purchasing a Honda 2200 generator as a backup for those times that cloudy weather is an issue or for camp locations which are too deep in the trees.

I am hoping that between shore power in some areas where we RV, the generator, a good battery, and our solar option, we will have our power bases covered for all of the RVing we intend to do.

Thanks in advance for any replies and thoughts!

Dan
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Old 05-05-2019, 06:45 PM   #2
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Your pick of battery wants a 50 amp charge. The one solar panel can't do that on any day.
Might want to consider a different real deep cycle battery to match you solar components.
It's my opinion only that one panel won't do much for you in the long haul. A 100/105 amp hour battery really won't last that long unless you keep it topped off with your generator on sunless day(s).
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Old 05-05-2019, 11:18 PM   #3
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First thing to consider is replacing the charging unit if you go with LiFePO4 batteries. These batteries require a higher input voltage than lead/acid, 14.6v. The Solar charger should be adjustable, if not, get one that is, as you want to have a max output of 14.6V coming from them.



From what I can tell it takes about 360 watts to fully charge a LiFePO4 in around 4 hours with direct sun. It depends on state of discharge and AH of the battery.



For Gen charging, a Progressive Dynamics charger of 40-60 amps is preferred, such as PD9160L. A normal lead/acid charger won't fully charge a LiFePO4, so you will be wasting money if you don't install the proper charger.



Also if you are boondocking, I recommend the Champion 3100 Generator. I have one, it runs the trailer and AC (but not the water heater, use gas), and is quiet, weighs 85 pounds fully fueled. It may even cost less than the Honda.
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Old 05-06-2019, 01:56 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by acdii View Post
I recommend the Champion 3100 Generator. I have one, it runs the trailer and AC (but not the water heater, use gas), and is quiet, weighs 85 pounds fully fueled. It may even cost less than the Honda.
It may even cost half of what the Honda does. My buddy just bought a pair of the Honda 2000's it was $2100 for them and a parallel cord. I just got a pair of the Champion 2000's with the parallel cord, $960
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Old 05-06-2019, 03:44 PM   #5
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Might want to take the interstate battery back to dealer (Costco) for replacement. I have two of them in my TT and they work well. We do some off the grid camping and have not had any problem. We do not use a lot of power. NO TV, etc. as we are camping and enjoying reading talking etc. We do have small portable generator to do a charge if necessary.
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Old 05-06-2019, 03:52 PM   #6
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Relion RB100

The specs for the Relion RB100 are at https://relionbattery.com/products/lithium/rb100
50 amps charge rate is recommended, but there is no stated minimum current. The battery can accept up to 100 amps during charging.

It does need 14.4 to 14.6 volts for late stage final charging so older converter/chargers that provide 13.2 or 13.6 volts will not be suitable.

Any solar charger needs to provide 14.2 volts minimum. 14.5 volts would work better. A 100 watt solar panel provides 8 amps maximum at high noon on a clear day. The battery specs do not address such low charge rates. They say simply, 50 amps recommended. You may have to ask the company how the battery will charge at 8 amps and lower.

If the low rate of charge is efficient, one day of solar charging using a 100 watt panel would provide 60 amp hours, probably less. 8 hours at 8 amps = 64 amp hours.

This marginal performance is probably not enough for 7 days of dry camping. This is true for your existing lead acid battery as well.

A second panel would help a lot. A second battery (lead, or Lithium) with the one panel would help because you could start camping with 200 amp hours of capacity and break camp with possibly 20% reserve capacity.

I have a pair of 100 amp hour lead acid AGM Interstate batteries. We typically stay out dry camping for 5 days and break camp with more than 40% reserve capacity.
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Old 05-06-2019, 03:57 PM   #7
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Summary:
Add a second lead acid 100 amp hour battery.*
Or add a second 100 watt solar panel.
Or add a pair of lithium 100 amp hour batteries.


*Mismatched batteries age wise or otherwise often don't play well together.
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Old 05-06-2019, 04:28 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by persistent View Post
Summary:
Add a second lead acid 100 amp hour battery.*
Or add a second 100 watt solar panel.
Or add a pair of lithium 100 amp hour batteries.


*Mismatched batteries age wise or otherwise often don't play well together.



This is true, the older battery can suck up the amps and the newer one may not reach full peak. Also don't mix Lithium with LA, or you will have an expensive brick.
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Old 05-06-2019, 06:32 PM   #9
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Thanks for the replies everyone. I am taking careful note of all that is being said (wish there was a “thanks” button).
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Old 05-06-2019, 06:39 PM   #10
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So, would using the 100w solar panel as much as possible and then topping the battery off with the generator be a viable combination plan?

Rethinking my plan and may consider a quality lead acid battery (Trojan?) this time around so I don’t have to invest in more components in order to make a Lithium Iron battery work. Then, when the time comes for another new battery, go that route. By then, the LI battery costs will have (maybe) dropped some.
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