Lithium batteries... are they worth the investment?
In our experience... yes! There are so many benefits of lithium batteries (also know as lifep04) in the campervan world, they have allowed people to become completely self sufficient for days at a time, powering laptops and other devices and allowing digital nomads to run their mobile offices from wherever they park up. However, for the weekend van dweller, why is it worth the investment?
Upfront you will pay at least double for a lithium battery than you would for a lead acid. However, 100aH of Lithium contains at least twice the power of a lead acid and with manufacturers quoting 4000 discharge cycles minimum life (compared to 300 for lead acid), a good battery should last you at least twenty years. If you have to replace your conventional batteries in that time (which you will) you’re already out of pocket.
A Lithium battery weighs half that of a lead acid battery, so for a given power you’ll be carrying a quarter of the weight.
Lithium batteries do not emit explosive gases or contain harmful acids which can leak. Instead, they are protected by an inbuilt monitoring computer (battery monitoring system, or BMS) which ensures that the battery won’t be damaged in use. The BMS is usually accessible via Bluetooth so you can monitor exactly what is happening inside the battery.
4. Charge and discharge rates.
Want to run your 3kw induction hob or nutribullet blender? No problem for a pair of lithium batteries! Lithiums also charge at up to 100A per battery so can charge to 100% much faster than traditional batteries with no effect on the battery chemistry.
5. Fit and forget.
Accidentally run your leisure battery flat? No problem with lithium- just charge it up again. With Lead Acid, this would be a costly replacement.
Disadvantages? If you are looking to upgrade from lead acid to lithium you may have to also modify other parts of your system to ensure that your solar charger and battery to battery charger are both compatible. Other that that, the days of lead acid batteries being the ultimate mobile power source are behind us.
Put it this way... how big would your mobile phone be if it were powered with a lead acid battery?