Are lithium batteries well worth the expense for dwelling or off-grid dwelling?

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It's a dialog we’ve got each day about battery know-how on social media channels and by individuals we meet:
Them: What battery do you guys have in retailer in your stuff?
Us: We now have a lithium battery.
Them: Oh, I heard they’re good .. however costly, sophisticated and I in order that they heard they’ll explode and so on! :O
Us: … Do you might have 10 minutes for a proof?

And on it goes.

Outdated data …

There appears to be lots of misinformation and confusion about LFP batteries that will get bounced round at native camp web site websites and on-line boards.

Many of the concepts are proper, or have been appropriate, however are now not related to new technological developments.

For instance, lithium iron phosphate batteries (LiFePO4 aka LFP), those individuals use in a dwellings and off grid functions, DO NOT explode into a hearth ball if one thing shorts out or goes flawed!

Lithium-ion polymer batteries, like many sensible telephones, laptop computer computer systems and electrical bicycles, are the culprits!

So, we figured that we might write this text about why WE selected to make use of a LFP battery because the "home" battery to energy all of our home equipment inside our residence on wheels.

Hopefully it helps you make an knowledgeable choice earlier than you make the leap to both construct a brand new battery system or improve your present system.

Disclaimer:

A be aware earlier than we go additional: We’re NOT certified electrical engineers and make NO claims in any other case. This text is written by and for normal people who’ve a primary understanding of DC electronics and batteries.

If you’re on the lookout for a extremely technical information, then you’ll want to search elsewhere.

And keep in mind: At all times be protected and sensible when working with any type of electrical energy, even whether it is low voltage DC.

Why LFP is our remaining selection for our residence on wheels:

After six months of analysis and truth discovering, we’ve got established that LFP batteries have been utilized in most leisure automobiles, caravans and campervans.

The data on this article can be obtainable as a video on our YouTube channel for individuals who favor to observe / hear than learn:

Power density, weight and area

The principle cause LFP is such a fantastic possibility. The ends in a battery that weighs much less and takes much less area, and extra usable energy all through its state of cost (SoC).

For instance, our LFP battery (12v / 200Ah) is ~ 32kg and 361 (L) x 256 (H) x 224 (W) mm. As LFP can safely and often be all the way down to 20% SoC, there may be ~ 160Ah of obtainable energy for use each day. Most LFP batteries thus wish to tolerate the occasional 10% SoC if required, though it isn’t really helpful to do it steadily.

As compared, a 12v 200Ah AGM battery is ~ 60kg and 550 (L) x 300 (H) x 260 (W) mm. As AGM can solely be safely discharged all the way down to 50% SoC, it means there may be solely ~ 100Ah of energy obtainable for use.

If we wish to attempt to match the LFP's 160Ah determine, we would want to have 2 x 160Ah AGM batteries. This could take much more area and weight.

Contemplating that we’ve got a small area for battery storage, that's about 60-80Ah per day, LFP has develop into a beautiful possibility – regardless of the value.

Cost cycles

Most high quality LFP batteries are rated to 2000+ cycles, in comparison with 200-300 of a AGM lead acid battery.

AGM lead acid battery generally utilized in RVs and motorhomes.

LFP battery typically needs to be more economical over time.

That is particularly the case for full-time off-grid use the place the storage batteries are being charged / discharged daily.

Cost / discharge capabilities

As a result of know-how and chemistry of LFP batteries, they’re able to being charged / discharged very quickly.

That is actually helpful when you might have a big photo voltaic PV array, excessive powered DC-DC (alternator) charger, or excessive powered inverter offering electrical energy to demanding home equipment.

Partial cost / discharge

LFP batteries are due to this fact extra tolerant of partial cost / discharge than AGM batteries. AC hook up (shore energy) or aren’t driving for the DC-DC charger.

If you’re solely getting a cost of the photo voltaic panels every day, you might not have the ability to cost a full cost per day and even days at a time.

SoC (keep in mind, 10% is the important degree).

Regular voltage

One other very good factor about LFP batteries is that they’re nearly fully discharged. So Peukert's legislation doesn’t apply to LFP! We advise that you simply be taught extra about how one can do it, how one can do it.

The draw back of LFP

Okay, so when you have caught with us till now you get the concept that we love LFP know-how and are proud of our system.

However nothing is 100% good or suited to everybody's wants and / or funds.

LFP is dear (upfront) and tougher to supply

The first barrier to widespread adoption of LFP for van dwellings and different off-grid utility has develop into the a lot larger upfront (and never long run) price and native availability.

We paid $ 1,500 for our Winston 12v 200Ah LFP battery equipment, which incorporates pack strapping, cell cell bridges, and a cell balancer, plus $ 300.

As compared, we may have ordered a couple of minutes to the closest battery retailer and acquired two first rate high quality 160Ah AGM batteries for round $ 700 all up.

Whereas we don’t remorse the additional ~ $ 1100 we spent on our LFP battery in the long term, we can’t deny that it was an costly amount of cash on our nearly accomplished van conversion challenge.

As talked about above, the upfront price does steadiness out over time as LFP batteries typically have a major longer lifespan in comparison with AGM, so the price per Ah balances out over time. That is one thing to remember.

You'll want LFP appropriate charging gear

Along with the additional price of a LFP battery, there may be additionally the price of shopping for top quality photo voltaic MPPT or DC-DC chargers that characteristic LFP pleasant or user-friendly settings to swimsuit the LFP battery.

Victron and Enerdrive gear in our van; each have a great repute for effectively designed, purposeful and sturdy merchandise which are due to this fact appropriate with all battery sorts, together with LFP. These merchandise aren’t low cost to purchase, however just like the LFP battery, we don’t remorse having the upper high quality gear to energy and monitor our battery system.

This AGM system is a couple of years previous. You simply must spend a bit on the LFP battery, however there's a excessive chance that you simply wish to improve to your DC-DC (Alternator) charger too.

You most likely must DIY

One remaining problem with LFP, and this will likely or will not be utilized to your DIY skill, is the mainstream help for LFP battery setups. Principally, if you’re trying to get a LFP battery and you aren’t a real knowledgeable in your space, be ready to DIY.

Initially we wished to have the battery put in and arrange by auto electrician, as a result of we discovered all of it a bit too sophisticated and we have been out of the blue. However after contacting quite a few native professionals, each single certainly one of them had no coaching or data about LFP batteries and how one can greatest set them up.

In the long run we spent some additional time speaking about how one can do it.

Whereas we don’t remorse that, now it's time to get out of the automobile A DIY construct inside a short while body. .. That is one thing to be cautious of.

The ultimate phrase …

LFP batteries greatest typical batteries in nearly each approach. They’re protected, area and power environment friendly, and completely fitted to off grid and cellular functions.

The principle draw back is the upfront price of LFP, and the extra price of top quality charging gear that’s LFP appropriate.

Clearly, for individuals with bigger automobile or very minimalist energy necessities, akin to vehicles and buses, the place weight and area will not be fairly as mission important, the load / area financial savings aren’t as worthwhile as they’re for people with smaller / lighter automobiles.

When you can afford to discover a provider of excellent high quality cells, we are saying: go for it!


What kind of battery system are you utilizing or trying to set up in your van or off-grid setup? Tell us your ideas within the feedback part beneath!

Wish to see how our battery and photo voltaic system is ready up in our Sprinter van? Take a look at our tour video and see for your self:


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