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RV Batteries: Lithionics Lithium Batteries

Last updated 2017-07-06 - Send Feedback
Related: Sprinter

Photographer and cyclist and Mac expert and software engineer Lloyd Chambers is available for consulting on general Sprinter considerations at his usual consulting rates via phone, or in person in the Palo Alto, CA area. Save yourself hours and mistakes by discussing issues up-front. More about Lloyd....

Get your batteries and 2nd alternator and regulator (the whole kit!) from NationsStarterAlternator.com.

See the overview of batteries before reading this page.

I researched batteries extensively before deciding on the Lithionics lithium ion battery . Overview as per Lithionics:

Lithionics Battery® is driven by our mission to bring modern power to modern machines. By leveraging over 30 years of factory automation and custom fabrication experience, our company produces batteries that deliver a longer life, a faster recharge, are safer and environmental friendly.

  • 4 to 7 times lighter than any other battery.
  • Charges 3 to 4 times faster than any other battery.
  • A single Lithium ion battery can replace to 4 lead-acid batteries.
  • NeverDie® Battery Management Technology (BMS) that leaves 20% reserve energy .
  • Increased life expectancy of the host device as well as battery life that at least double RoHS compliant solutions that improve the quality of life.

I have not verified these claims, but when figured against the realities of lead acid batteries and my experience with LiIon batteries in computers and biking lights , they seem reasonable.

Lithionics 12V400A-5D-CTRL400
5120 watt hours, 24.0 X 8.0 X 15.9, 135 pounds

I’ve chosen the Lithionics 12V400A-5D-CTRL400 for my Sprinter van, including the temperature intervention senosr and the state of charge (SOC) option and the Xantrex 3013 power inverter (order them at NationsStarterAlternator.com). The Xantrex 3012 can be programmed to charge the Lithionics batteries properly; Lithionics and Xantrex work closely together.

Once installed, field use reports will follow in the September 2017 time frame. I wanted the 600 amp battery, but for budget reasons and my power calculations and the 5D case (slim in width), I went with 400 amp.

Points of note

Key points about the Lithionics lithium batteries that I found in investigating them:

  • Max Continuous Charge Current" is 360 amps, so a 280 amp alternator can charge at very high speed.
  • Discharge and charge OK at sub-freezing if D0/D1 (net charge) is negative (more draw than charge).
  • A "temperature intervention sensor" option should be considered mandatory for use in sub-freezing conditions. It prevents the battery from charging (D0/D1 net current) when the temp is too low or high
  • An optional State of Charge (SOC) option can be built right into the battery with a cable connector for remote status display.
  • Battery position is probably OK on its side, but Lithionics cannot vouch vouch for full service life if not positioned as advised.

The optional temperature intervention sensor option which prevents charging when the internal battery temperature is too low. I consider that option essential for my work in the mountains, where the temperature can drop as low as 0°F outside (perhaps as low as 10°F in the van). The thermal mass of the battery and/or some low-level draw (e.g., leaving the power inverter on all night) might help keep the batter warm, but it seems very unwise to assume that the battery will stay above freezing.

The State of Charge (SOC) option can be built right into the battery, with an ethernet cable connecting it to a remote status display—elegant and simple.

Size/weight and capacity

The table below summarizes the expected runtime of battery capacities from 2816 to 7680 watt hours.

220 amp = 2816 WH, 22.2 x 8 x 12.2, 62 pounds
330 amp = 4224 WH, 23 x 13 x 11.3, 62 pounds
400 amp = 5120 WH, 24 x  8 x 15.9, 135 pounds <== chosen for form factor and cost $$$$
400 amp = 5120 WH, 23 x 13 x 13.4, 135 pounds
450 amp = 5760 WH, 23 x 13 x 11.4, 115 pounds
480 amp = 6144 WH, 23 x 13 X 12.0, 141 pounds
525 amp = 6720 WH, 23 x 13 x 11.4, 135 pounds <== special fast charging, $$$$$
600 amp = 7680 WH, 23 x 13 x 13.4, 150 pounds <== special fast charging, $$$$$

At the high-end, 7680 watt-hours used to 80% discharge offers 6144 watt hours of real capacity. That’s enough for a 300 watt load for 20 hours—a nice computer setup for three days of work without recharging. Lithionics informs me that discharge to 90% is acceptable, so I’ve recalculated my runtime figures accordingly.

My pick based on form factor and watt hours but given budget constraints is the 12V400A-5D-CTRL400 with the following options:

  • Temperature intervention sensor, to prevent battery damage by charging in sub-freezing conditions.
  • State of Charge (SOC) option built into the battery (just run cable to remote display).
  • Field Control Circuit option (might be needed for some charging inputs).
  • Xantrex 3012 3000-watt power inverter with shore power charger support.

As per the table below, see Calculating Realistic Electric Load .

Estimated watt hours and runtime in hours of Lithionics batteries from 220 to 600 amps (2816 to 7680 watt hours)
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