LITHIUM RV BATTERIES? AGM? FLOODED? RVgeeks Speak at the 2019 Xscapers Annual Bash!

TheRVgeeks Electrical, Miscellaneous, Updates & Upgrades 23 Comments

As featured speakers at the 2019 Xscapers Annual Bash in Lake Havasu City, AZ, our presentation was all about RV Batteries – Flooded vs. AGM vs Lithium. Thanks to Xscapers for inviting us to speak their biggest convergence of the year. We hope this information helps fellow RVers understand the pros and cons of each type of RV house battery, and make wise choices about what might work best for them.

You can download a PDF of the important slides here:

RV Batteries: Flooded -vs- AGM -vs- Lithium

Check out Escapees and Xscapers for info about these awesome convergences and more!

Special thanks to our Patreon supporters for making this presentation possible. For Live Q&As, behind the scenes videos, and other exclusive content, check out our Patreon page!


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We're handy RVers, not professional technicians. We're happy with the techniques and products we use, but be sure to confirm that all methods and materials you use are compatible with your equipment and abilities. Regardless of what we recommend, consult a professional if you're unsure about working on your RV. Any task you perform or product you purchase based on any information we provide is strictly at your own risk.

We sometimes receive products for evaluation at no cost, and The RVgeeks are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. But our opinions are our own, you won’t pay an extra penny, and we only link to products we personally use, love and can recommend to friends with complete confidence.


Comments 23

  1. Hello I enjoy your videos, I am just a part timer for now I have a 2012 Fleetwood Discovery with filled batteries. I want to upgrade so I remove the maintenance aspect. I am up in Michigan and in the winter when the RV is in storage it can get below 0 for periods of time. Due to this I think lithium batteries are out. What would you suggest AGM? If so what do you find as the best brands

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      Author

      Hi Jim! Thanks for the note! And from a battery perspective… as a part-timer, we’d agree that, right now, upgrading to Lithium wouldn’t likely be a smart move for you. Between the sub-freezing temperature issue… and not getting as much use out of them as a seasonal/full-time RVer might… you likely wouldn’t recoup the cost, or get to maximize the benefits lithium offers.

      So AGMs definitely sound like the best move forward for you. And we can reinforce that removing the maintenance issue of flooded lead acid batteries was well worth the added cost. We LOVED our AGMs for the entire time we had them. As for brand, we had Lifeline AGMs for our house batteries, and they served us well. They are on the higher end of the spectrum, so may be a bit pricier than others, but they are definitely a quality product.

      When we upgraded to our Xantrex e-GEN lithium battery, we wanted to eliminate our maintenance free chassis (starting) batteries so that there wouldn’t be any outgassing/corrosion in that compartment. When we started researching to find AGMs that could provide the Cold Cranking Amps needed for our Cummins diesel engine, we came across Fullriver batteries. We’re using batteries their Full Throttle series, which are AGM but are designed to have the oomph to start a big engine (i.e. more of a starting battery than a deep cycle one for RV house loads). But you may want to look at their DC Series, which are deep cycle batteries that are appropriate for use in RVs. They come in 6V and 12V models that compare favorably to the same size Lifeline batteries.

      Hope this helps!

  2. Hi, I just found your channel on YouTube. I’m hoping to be RV’ing in less than a year or so, trying learn & plan now. Can you tell us the best (price) way to purchase the XGen lithium battery system? Everyone I listen to about RV’ing say buying from RV stores is like buying beer at the ballgame. Do you have information on the best price of the system & best places to buy? I want to go lithium & really like the seemingly high quality convenience but also don’t want to vastly overpay for my budget. I am going to convert a brand new cargo trailer into an RV & plan on boondocking most of my time with solar. Thank’s for the info & I have subscribed to your YouTube channel.

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      Hi Brian! And welcome. Great to have you here. As far as our e-GEN system, Xantrex is in the process of signing up authorized installers. There are a couple of things about this system that likely make it the current height of lithium tech. First, it’s got more capacity packed into a smaller space than any system we know of. Our 600Ah (90% / 540Ah usable) fits into about the same footprint as 400Ah of usable capacity from Battleborn, for example. Also, it’s the only system we know of that’s self-heating, so not subject to the issue of others that can’t be charged below freezing. Xantrex does not consider this a consumer-intallable product at this time, and will not sell directly to the public, at least not yet. That means that not only are you getting a Cadillac product, with the associated cost, but you can’t install it yourself, thereby incurring the added cost of professional installation. We love this battery, but it is right at the highest end of the lithium spectrum right now, so we expect that it’s not a budget-oriented product, but rather the pinnacle of what can be done at this time. They haven’t released retail pricing yet, but we expect it will be at the higher end of available lithium systems, and not for the bridget-minded. Best of luck in your preparations for your RV conversion. Sounds like a great project!

  3. Loved the presentation. Went back and watched all the videos on the LifePo upgrades. Thanks (again) for helping us understand the nuances.
    I am a bit confused on one thing (actually, more than one, but for now…). If the LifePo batteries are brought to below freezing temperatures are they destroyed or are they just unable to charge until they return to above freezing temps?

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      Author

      Hi Kathy! Thanks! The freezing issue with Lithium batteries is that they cannot be CHARGED when the battery itself (not just the ambient temperature) drops below freezing. Any good lithium battery will have a BMS that is monitoring that, and should prevent the battery from attempting to charge if the temperature drops. But that may not do you any good if you’re in sub-freezing temperatures and NEED to charge the battery.

      If the BMS didn’t protect the battery and allowed it to charge when it was below freezing, it would absolutely destroy the battery (now, there are nuances… as the temperature drops, you can charge a lithium battery SLOWLY… but that would require a level of coordination between the battery’s BMS and the charger that just isn’t there yet). The lithium in the individual cells inside the battery will crystallize… which pierces the barriers between the cells themselves and makes the battery useless.

      Hence the need to either (1) heat them to keep them above freezing, (2) keep the batteries in a more temperature-controlled enclosure to prevent them from being exposed to too cold of temperatures, or (3) allow the BMS to disengage the battery from being charged (which may or may not be OK with you if you are in a spot where the temperatures never get high enough to allow the battery to recharge again).

      Hope this is more clear!

      1. Thanks, much clearer for me. Do you know if Xantrex will be certifying installers or doing their own installs? Are you familiar with other systems that compare well with Xantrax?

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  4. Great presentation. I really enjoy the technical aspects of your presentations and I always learn something I didn’t know and I took photos of your charts for my reference. Thank you.

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      Thanks so much, Roger! Always great to hear we’ve been helpful. If you’d like an actual printout of the charts, we’ve added them into the post above. You can also get them by clicking here.

  5. Second slide: “… the correct measure for power is Watt-Hours.” Actually watt-hours is energy; power is watts. But you already knew that. Excellent slide show!

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  6. Great video as always! You were correct in pointing out that lithium’s aren’t for everybody. We rarely boondock and have found that flooded cell batteries work just fine for us. I use a Pro-Fill battery watering system which not only decreases the effort needed to maintain our batteries, but it also eliminated about 90% of the corrosion issues I had before adding it.

    My lithium question for you relates to an RVer’s specific battery charger. My Magnum battery charger only has settings for flooded and AGM batteries. If someone like me were to switch to lithium, would I need to buy a new inverter/charger that is compatible with lithium’s? If so, this should be included in the expense column under lithium’s.

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      Author

      Hi Craig! Thanks! And we’re glad that the point that just because lithium batteries are “all the rage” right now doesn’t mean they’re right for everyone came through. We really wanted to try to present information that would allow people to choose what’s right for them… and not just jump on the lithium bandwagon because that’s all anyone is talking about. Sounds like flooded lead acid batteries are the best choice for you right now… and with the Pro-Fill system, you’ve eliminated a lot of the maintenance issues we always hated about our flooded batteries, so you’ve almost gotten the best of both! 😃

      As far as the inverter/charger… if your Magnum is new enough (and our 2005-era unit had this), you should also have a “Custom” option for battery type… where you can set all of the voltage/charge points for Bulk/Absorb/Float… which would mean you should be able to configure your existing unit to handle the lithium battery(ies) the way they need to be charged. And that will vary based on the lithium battery(ies) you choose, too. Some are more forgiving of charger differences than others. So we didn’t include that change/upgrade as part of the cost of the lithium, because it varies so widely. In MOST cases, you likely wouldn’t need to change your inverter/charger. But you’re right… SOME people would.

  7. Always enjoy your YouTube’s… And appreciate that this was very much a ‘high level’ presentation, was not intended to drill down to the various rabbit holes of the many side details. Outstanding job, and I too recommend this to those who are studying up on the virtues of each type of batteries Pro’s/Con’s.

    One suggestion on edit, under AGM, is to add the Pro that they do ‘on average’ have the ‘capability’ of up to 20% faster re-charging. I understand that you did not feel you saw a measurable improvement on recharge times from Flooded to Lifeline AGM’s. Much depends upon the specific AGM (Lifeline are different then other AGM’s.) and type of equipment being used for charging, a large variable for sure.

    We do have X’s 4 L16’s Lifelines for 800AH’s, yep – 400AH to 50% SOC. We wake up, drip brew the coffee, wait 30 mins – then check and usually are ~75% SOC + or – 3%, depending upon usage variables.

    The C/20 capable charge rate of our size bank, is rather nice. Talking with Lifeline Tech’s, I’ve adopted a longer Bulk time, where the combination of Solar (1250W fed thru MidNite Classic 150) and MS2812 Charger (Off Generator power.) really bumps the AH’s back into the bank. 1 hour of Generator in the AM, then sit back and within 10 minutes of the Generator/MS2812 no longer chartering, the Classic 150 is in Absorb mode, usually about 30 minutes until it decides to drop back to Float mode. (We have the WhzBngJr option on the Shunt, and have the battery stop charging from the Controller when it reads the appropriate finishing amp of 4A for our bank.).

    I went into more info then is required here. But I did so to illustrate that some AGM’s are truly capable of 20% faster recharge time then conventional Wet/Flooded. And 20% is worthy of being noted as a benefit over Flooded/Wet.

    To be clear, not attempting to nit pick – but feel overall, Fullriver’s/Lifeline’s/Whatever higher quality AGM battery – is going to provide the capability of being recharged faster. And fair to have this as a pro. Following your very conservative (Salute to that!) approach of using general numbers, probably safe to use a 10-20% faster recharge time. And for a two hour usual run of generator to charge leaded, you can get the same benefit of charge with 24 minutes less generator runt time (Potentially, if 20% is used.) – and that 24 minutes of silence potential is notable:)!

    Following your Lithium upgrade with both envy, and high degree of interest. As Lithium will be our next bank of batteries… Please keep it…

    Travel safe! Best to you both,
    Smitty

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      Author

      Excellent points and great info about your setup, Smitty. You’re right… high-quality AGMs can be charged faster… with the right equipment/setup. We didn’t go into detail about all of that in the presentation because… when considering just the batteries themselves (without other additions/modifications to your existing system), you’re not likely to see much difference between the charge performance of the AGMs vs flooded. If you can add more charging capacity to your system (whether through an additional/bigger charger and/or solar), then you can begin to reap the benefits. But, like we said in our presentation… we never noticed any difference when upgrading.

      Thanks, again, for all the detail… if we ever repeat this presentation, we’ll try to be more specific about that particular benefit and how to take advantage of it!

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  8. Hey guys, that was super helpful for us here. Is there anyway we can have the data sheets you are presenting ?? I would like to translate them in french for my customers and for training purpose ! Thank you for the superb job on this one

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      Author

      Hi Chris. Thanks so much! We’ve updated this post to include a link where you can “download a PDF of the important slides” right from the page. Please let us know if you have any trouble downloading them, and thanks again for your kind words.☺️

  9. The measure of a successful presentation at an RV rally is (1) the presenters have some knowledge on the subject, (2) there are some video or slides or samples to see or something to eat, (3) during the presentation more people walk by and stop by to listen rather than leave, and (4) the audience appreciates the presentation and stay for follow-up conversations.

    I’ll be willing to grade you as follows:
    #1 A+
    #2 C+ (the slides were good technically but you could have added a bit of video. Or had cookies.)
    #3 — unable to mark as not enough video of the crowd. But I’d bet you deserve another A+.
    #4 A+ because you never post anything that has no response and the same would hold true for this.

    Overall grade for the presentation: A.

    On a more serious note: C & C are fortunate to call you friends and lucky that you had the time and talents to fill their presentation slot at the bash. Also, smart choice to make the presentation yours rather than trying to do a C & C talk.

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