Home Lithium Ion Batteries for RV House Systems

Lithium Ion Batteries for RV House Systems

In June 2011, we bought our vintage bus conversion without a house battery system already installed. Lithium ion batteries had already been on our radar, and since we had the opportunity to build our electrical system from scratch – we decided to delve into the world of LFP.

Specifically – we went Lithium Iron Phosphate aka LFP aka LiFePO4.

Our goal with our electrical system is versatility.

We enjoy staying in a variety of locations – from full hook-up RV Parks, courtesy parking with friends & family to boondocking or overnighting in public areas. We didn’t want to overdesign for any one scenario, but rather find our own unique balance that makes any of these styles thrivable for a couple weeks or more at a time.

We are high-tech nomads who work remotely as we roam, and need lots of electrons for running our computers late into the evening. At the time, we had gone propane free.

Our fridge is a marine 12v Dan Foss Compressor (all electric), and we use electric for most our cooking (induction cooktop, microwave/convection, InstaPot, etc.). In 2015, we have since added in propane for our hydronics system that supplies our hot water, furnace and engine pre-heating.

We also travel with a cat, and want to provide ample cooling if we want to stop and take a hike, explore a museum or pick up a few groceries in route – so thus we wanted to run a roof air off battery for a couple hours (yes, it’s possible to run an A/C off battery – but not entirely off our solar!).

Quick specifications of our system :

  • 500 AH at 12v (400AH ‘usable’ at 80% DoD)
  • Cells & EMS purchased from Elite Power Solutions in Phoenix, AZ, assembled by us
  • Chemistry –  Lithium Iron Phosphate aka LFP aka LiFePO4
  • Dimensions – 141 lbs,  20″ D x 13.5″ W x 10″ H
  • Inverter/Charger: Victron MultiPlus 3000VA
  • Charged via shore power, generator, alternator and (in the future) solar
  • Installed: August 2011

Below is our research on Lithium Ion batteries and updates to our project:

Research & Analysis Articles:

Promise of Lithium #1: Lead Acid Battery Downsides
Promise of Lithium #2: Lithium Ion Battery Advantages
Promise of Lithium #3: Cost Analysis (including our part list)

Project Notes & Updates:

Coming Up: 8/2016 – 5 Year Update – August will mark our 5-year anniversary of installing our LFP batteries. We anticipate a full update on how the system has done (yes, we seem to have stopped the pre-mature aging reported at 3.5 years with the adjustments made), what we’ve learned, what we would have done differently, what the options are now and what might be in our power future plans.

5/1/2015 – Tesla’s Lithium Powerwall – Awesome, But Not For RVs

2/2015 – The (Almost) Fantasy of Solar-Powered RV Air Conditioning 

2/2015 – Living the Lithium Lifestyle – 3.5 Year Lithium RV Battery Update

After 3.5 years of full time use, we answer these questions:

– Has lithium lived up to all the promises?
– What have been the downsides?
– What have we learned?
– Would we do it again?
– Was it worth the cost?
–  Who’s installing systems and where to get cells.

12/2014 – Our Solar Installation – We planned our LFP install with solar in mind, but didn’t get around to installing it until late 2014. Here’s a run down of our system (basics: 800w on our roof, and 600w with ground deployed flexible panels).

7/2013 – Living in a Parking Lot – Practical use example of our LFP & Boosting Inverter

6/2013 – Boosted Electrons = Better Views (why a boosting/hybrid inverter is a great compliment to a lithium bank, providing lots of flexibility for various power situations!)

2/2013 – Lithium Dreams, Lined With Worry? (Response to Boeing Dreamliner Battery Fire)
8/2012 – Our 1 Year Update on  our Lithium System
8/2011 – Build Notes: Lithium Ion Battery Success!! 
8/2011 – Build Notes: We Built a Lithium Ion Battery Bank
8/2011 – The idea is born: Inverted Intentions (August 2011)

From our January 2014 live video chat overviewing Lithium Ion Batteries for RVs, and our 2.5 year update. (Please excuse the quality, we were having massive internet problems to do the video cast. At some point in the future, we may create a produced version of this information. But you know… free time… yeah, right!)

Links to other Lithium battery setup information:

Places Installing LFP: AMSolar | Starlight Solar | PrecisionRV – ‘Marvin’

Our standard LFP disclaimer – we have no incentive to try to convince anyone else to adopt LFP. We are NOT selling these batteries, we are not affiliates for any of the components, we paid for everything ourselves, we’re not electrical/battery consultants/experts and nor do we have any financial stake in the technology beyond our own system.

We are simply full time RVing technomads who are designing our own cutting edge home on wheels, and are sharing our independent research & project… because, well, we like to!

While this option is becoming more prevalent and there are professional installers available -those contemplating this technology should still be rather savvy with electrical and battery technology. It’s still somewhat cutting edge. 

We have tried to share all the information we can in the above articles & video.  If you have further questions, in most cases it’s probably time to start a conversation with the battery distributor you’re considering. Please respect that we just don’t have the available free time to offer individualized guidance.

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