Anyone install LiFePo batt’s?

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  • #1126
    Bert
    Participant

    Just wondering if anyone has made the leap to 2x LiFePo batt’s in their camper?
    If so:
    What batt’s did you get?
    Did the OEM equipment work with them?
    If you had to change/upgrade any of the OEM equipment, what did you do?
    Did you run into any problems?
    Has anyone seen people that have upgraded to LiFePo’s in their NL make posts about it else where on the web?
    I’d eventually like to switch. I’m likely going to go 12 AGM’s with the new 10.2 for now as I don’t know how ‘drop-in’ lith actually are in NL’s. But can see wanting them as we mainly boondock. And I’m definitely not feeling confident that my dealer knows enough to be trusted.

    #1133
    Thomas Gilg
    Participant

    BRAD (?) – My replies to this thread yesterday and just now are not showing up. My reply did contain a http link, which some forums might block until a moderator ok’s them. Curious if this innocent reply shows up –tg

    FOLLOWUP – when I used the “link” option and put my http URL within, those posts got blocked. When I put the http URL directly in the text, it worked (see below).

    #1134
    Thomas Gilg
    Participant

    My original reply but with the http link reworked –tg

    Hi Bert,

    My LiFePO4 upgrade reasoning and details for a 2018 9’6″ NL are documented in TJG-NL-Lithium-Upgrade.pdf at

    http://www.barbless.com/share/lifepo4

    I would also draw your attention (if you have MS-Excel) to the Camper Power Calculator so you can see what your energy consumption is, and how solar/charger and battery upgrades can help (or not).

    Roughly speaking you should be able to “drop in” some LiFePO4’s. With the newer solar controller that NL is putting in, solar should work fine. With the LI able shore chargers from PDI that NL is putting in, shore charging will be a little anemic (but adequate for many) unless you upgrade the wiring. The 7-pin setup is the weak link. You MUST have a solenoid or other “isolator” on the 7-pin lest the LiFePO4 batteries will drain back into the truck FLA batteries, and with the 8-10AWG 7-pin wiring, you’ll barely get a trickle charge into LiFePO4s, probably less than 4 amps. Most people install a dedicated high-amp line (4-6AWG) with a DC-to-DC charger so they can get much better charging off their alternator, in the 20-60 amp range.

    On the surface it all sounds easy, but some RV-electrical skills are recommended. Other than the high price, don’t underestimate what a professional installer brings to the table.

    –tg

    #1139
    Bert
    Participant

    Thanks Thomas. I will check out the link.

    I would rather have a pro do it. But the RV dealers I’ve spoke to don’t exactly give me confidence in their knowledge. I have very sensitive alarm bells.

    I know the truck to camper charging is the weak link and needs upgrading to get the the most to the lith’s. I figure I’d see how we manage with our power consumption and if running the gen is viable for keeping topped up if we go to lith’s. We often pick a site and stay, so not sure charging via the alt would be a big factor, but we’ll see.

    But for know I figure I’ll stick with AGM’s. We only had on Group 27 in the old unit and no solar. So I figure rather then having to many things to think/worry about I’d stick with the basics and figure out, based on that experience, what we should do. But I’ll be collecting info in the mean time to educate myself and hearing the experience of others is always good. Hopefully more people chime in with their wins/losses.

    Again, much appreciated!

    #1189
    Rolling Redoubt
    Participant

    I have a single LifeBlue 203ah low temp battery with Bluetooth in my 2020 9-6 and aside from the cost, love it! I purchased through AM Solar who had the best pricing and quick shipping..

    #1254
    Burny
    Participant

    Here’s a pretty interesting resource that I am considering. I have a 10-2 on order and opted to leave out the onan gen. which saved me about 5k. May start off with 2 100ah li batts and a batt isolator and see how they do with the factory components NL is putting on the 2022’s.
    My 2020 gmc 3500 DRW has a second alternator, but I too am unsure about how to maximize the charging while driving. I think I heard that if the truck is just idling, you won’t get the results you are looking for.

    Truck Camper

    #1272
    BethanDan Hailey
    Participant

    I am getting a Northern lite 8ll to put on my 2020 f350 swd here in a few weeks. Ordered it last Feb and I’m a noob.
    So, everywhere I read, I get the strong impression that I should go with the Lithium batts.
    So, I called the company and asked them if the battery compartment would hold two group 31 lithium batteries and was told no, only group 27. But that won’t give me 200 amps which is what I have read that would be ideal. Cost is not really a problem since I would be buying the batteries at Cabela’s where my wife works at a steep discount.
    Upon further review, Keith, told me that starting the onan generator with Lithium would ruin the batteries and that I would not be able to recharge the batteries driving down the road.
    So my questions for you all are:
    1. Is it true that starting the generator would damage the batteries and if so is there a work around?
    2. Do I really need to worry about not charging the batteries as I drive?
    Any help would be deeply appreciated.

    #1273
    Cozimoto
    Participant

    Waiting on my new 8-11 I ordered in January and have ordered two Battle Born Lithium (100aH each) heated batteries and had them shipped directly to my RV dealer. Battle Born is currently having a Summer Sale and claim a “similar to” Group 27 size which is what the 8-11 has space for. The Power Convertor and Solar Controller N-L are using both say they have Lithium settings to safely charge them. (I “think” the 9-6 still takes a Group 24 size, 10-2 Group 27)

    If I’m not mistaken charging as you go down the road from the trucks alternator is a slower process regardless of battery type or alternator size, by slower I mean plugging in the camper will be a faster recharge than driving will. I will be checking into DC to DC charging if it’s not adequate as I have a truck with dual batteries and alternators.

    Not sure about the generator, didn’t order one (hate listening to them) but the generator should feed the Power Center at 110-120V and back charge the batteries through that Lithium compatible Power Center just like when you plug the camper into an AC outlet???? (I will add here it would be nice if N-L published an actual Electrical Schematic or decent Electrical Block Distribution Diagram for their campers). Might be best to choose your lithium batteries and work with them as they know the details of their BMS, min/max voltage and cell balancing systems for their batteries and can thus give actual advice based on the electronics inside those batteries. Also they are the ones who will warranty the batteries you purchase.

    Guess my question would be why bother with lithium if you purchased the generator package? Kind of double spending unless you are a full timer. Two good Deep Cycles with a Generator should give you plenty of power rain, sun, driving or parked. Since you said you’re a “noob” you might be trying to fix something that won’t even be a problem for your style of camping.

    Nothing beats actual professional advice over the thoughts of us forum chatters.

    #1275
    BethanDan Hailey
    Participant

    Thanks Cozimoto, But now the TC is pushed back another month, Thinking about skipping the genny. I posted this as a new thread before I saw your reply. Watcha think?
    I just found out that the TC I ordered back in Feb, Northern lite 811, got pushed back another month due to the generator shortage. So, I am wondering should I even spend the 5K for the genny. It is very quiet and I ordered it because I like AC and I like going south. However the rep told me that now my TC will come with 2-200 watt solar panels since it is a 2022 build. I am putting the TC on a 2020 F350 with the camper package, 2 batteries and 2 alternators.
    S0…. My question is: Has anyone had any experience with not enough amps to run the AC, and microwave going all solar. If I go all solar I would buy a pair of 100 AMP Li batts (probably group 31) to run the electrics.
    Should I skip the genny?
    Any and all advice would be greatly appreciated!

    #1276
    Cozimoto
    Participant

    Not sure deleting the generator on our build will speed the order up as N-L appears to deliver to their dealers in batches of 3, one camper on the delivery truck and the other two towed behind on a trailer. Likely all three must be completed to make the delivery.

    I’m in Alaska, I don’t usually need A/C, if I were in the south I would also want A/C and I doubt you can get enough out of 200aH to run everything including the A/C for very long, you’re also going to need a very nice inverter to run the A/C and microwave off of the batteries. As noted previously not sure Group 31 batteries will fit in the camper battery box (???), they might fit in the generator box if you want to relocate them. Anyway, you’ll have to run the numbers for amperage draw of what all you want to run in the camper and hope to get a full battery recharge the next day.

    N-L says a common portable 2k generator will run their rooftop A/C unit. Another side note is that if you are in a “Park” or “Campground” you will likely have “Generator Hours” and have to turn them off at night, some parks don’t allow them to be run at all.

    You can have all the solar panels in the world but if it’s a cloudy day or you’re parked under trees they are pretty worthless.

    There is a lot of great info out there on YouTube.

    #1277
    Cozimoto
    Participant

    This might help …… Can I Run My RV Air Conditioner on Battery Power?

    • This reply was modified 8 months ago by Cozimoto.
    #1291
    S S
    Participant

    Hello camping friends,
    Well let the debate begin!
    I currently have a 2020 10/2 limited edition.
    I have on board 740 watts of solar,
    200ah lifeblue battery’s
    Magnum pure sine wave inverter/ charger
    Victron 150/70 solar charge controller
    Victron Bm-712 battery monitor.
    Sterling Ultra Pro 1260 Dc to Dc charger installed in truck to charge camper ,down the road. ( This is definitely needed because newer trucks have variable voltage output, so to get proper charging to camper this is needed).
    I do not even need to plug in camping with this combo and can live in camper using whatever you would use plugged in ( except ac).
    And also solar panels are not worthless, we proof this combo works!
    Contact/ Rv solar solutions for needed knowledge and install.

    #1297
    Hal
    Participant

    We just returned from several weeks of camping in Utah and Nevada. The longest stretch we boondocked was 3 days, and we did that several times.

    We have two 100ah Battleborne lithium batteries, and 2 100 watt solar panels. I don’t think we ever used much of our battery capacity. We ran lights, a fan on warm nights, the heater on a few cold nights, and we frequently charged our phones and ipads. The fridge runs on propane, so it has very little draw on the batteries.

    The beauty of the lithium batteries is that we never have to think about whether we have enough capacity, there is a significant weight reduction (I also replaced out stock propane tanks with Viking tanks to save weight), and the cost will pencil out over time.

    #1318
    Dave M
    Participant

    We have a 2019 8-11ex, no air or microwave to draw heavy amps, and no gen. I replaced the 2 stock Interstate HD24-DP batteries, each with 64 Ah with 1 battleborn 100Ah LifePO4 battery, replaced the charge controller to be Lithium compatible. I also added an 800W inverter — for lite use coffee maker and computers. We have 2 solar panels on the roof (100W/panel). It was a test of sorts to go with 1 LifePO4 battery, but we get more usable amp hours from the new setup and after 2 seasons of camping, often dry camping for up to 4 days, we have experienced zero issues. The LifePO4 battery rarely gets lower than 50%. I could be missing some details, going from memory, but so far so good..

    #1385
    Les Jenkins
    Participant

    Hello Bert
    We have a 2020 10-2 EXLE and I installed 4x Renogy 100Ah lithium batteries with a Xantrex 2000 watt inverter, Victron Smart DC/DC charger and a Victron Battery Monitor. So far we have not needed a generator – I bought a portable one (2000w Yamaha) but never used it. What we have would not be suitable if you wanted to run the AC for long – in that case the generator would be required, but for all other use-cases it works great. for example, works great for hair dryer, coffee maker, microwave, etc, and best of all no fumes, no noise, no maintenance, and no cost to operate and that nice outside compartment can be used for storage…
    There are many ways to connect all these components, but what I did was essentially add what is described above, then put in a sub-panel and moved my AC breakers I wanted to run on the inverter, over to the sub-panel. Currently all the 12v systems are still fed from the original battery. There are a couple reasons why I did it this way. One is, I only needed the extra power of Lithium to power the inverter for my AC loads, and the other reason is in cold weather, lithium can’t be used so I don’t want to end up stranded. As others have stated, newer models of NL do have lithium friendly components (ie., converter, and solar charge controller) but in my case I only charge my lithium from the truck (Actually I have two “isolated” DC/DC chargers for total of 50 amps so charges pretty quick)
    Anyway, if you are somewhat mechanically inclined this is well within possibility to do yourself – there are tons of great YouTube resources including load calculators, tips for sizing breakers, cable, and of course all the tools and supplies are available on Amazon, but that said, if your budget will allow, a professional install would be less hassle for sure. Good luck – if I had to do it all over again I wouldn’t hesitate. In my opinion, its well worth the hassle and cost to not be tied to shore power or have to rely on a generator….
    Les

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