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Old 08-29-2015, 01:12 PM   #15
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Sounds right. Thanks.
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Old 08-29-2015, 01:20 PM   #16
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I was all set to go with lithiums but have had second thoughts. I think for my needs Lifeline AGM will do the trick. With a good charging system and a solar panel or two the AGM's have quite a descent life span also.
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Old 08-29-2015, 01:26 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Protagonist View Post
I seem to recall it was actually a second alternator attached to the engine.

Yes, I had a brain malfunction.... I meant alternator - a Sprinter option.


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Old 08-29-2015, 11:49 PM   #18
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I looked pretty seriously at the AM Solar lithium batteries just last week. I concluded that Lithium batteries don't yet make much sense on a class A where size and weight aren't of much concern but there is a valid argument for them in smaller class Bs where useable volume and weight are already at a premium.

In our case we have a single 100 AH AGM battery under the passenger seat which only provides about 50 usable Amp-hours since dropping below a 50% charge damages the battery. We've already switched all the lights over to LEDs so we don't have much more efficiency to squeeze out of our usage.

We don't have room for a second battery under the passenger seat and there is no convenient way to relocate or add batteries elsewhere so our only option for increasing capacity would be to increase energy storage densities. If a 200 AH LiFePO4 battery provides a true 200 AHs, then that is a 4x improvement over what we have now. At about $350 for a 100 AH AGM, that equates to about $1400 for 200 usable AHs. That gets us into the same pricing neighborhood as the LiFePO4 batteries. Add in the increased number of charging cycles and the built in auto cutoff circuits that eliminate the most common failure mode (over drained battery), and these fancy new batteries start looking like they have a place in our Interstates.

The hard part is convincing myself that after adding solar, I will still NEED 4 times our current battery capacity.
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Old 08-30-2015, 06:32 AM   #19
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Hi, Galvestongrl. That's my husband above (LB_3). We live down the road from you (IH-45 and SH-96).

What the other posters said above makes sense to me. Your thumbnail indicates you have a newer model Interstate. For the reasons given, it doesn't seem to make sense in your case to do lithium at this point, UNLESS:

(a) you have a personal scenario for which it might be indicated (e.g., a medical need requiring greater electrical power reserves... for instance I have diabetic friend who goes to enormous lengths to ensure he always has multiple ways of making ice); or,

(b) you are hobbyist who, for the fun of it, simply chooses to allocate your disposable income to specialized projects such as that. (I am very familiar with this phenomenon... for instance my husband is hell-bent on putting air shocks on our T1N Interstate and is going to achieve that supposing he has to paddle a canoe to Europe and bring them back himself).

We haven't finished our analysis yet, but with our older Interstate for the reasons my husband noted (only one battery, no way to add a second, no existing solar), lithium starts to become a contender. Particularly if we can avoid the cost of solar, it might be a way to go. That is TBD.
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Old 08-31-2015, 03:24 PM   #20
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Thanks to everyone who shared their knowledge on this topic. We have a 2013 Extended Lounge on a 2012 Sprinter – must be similar to Boxster1971’s. I thought we had 2- 100ah under the lounge when we picked it up in Dec. 2012, but we’re not sure if they ever worked. We were so new to all things RV we followed the outline in the owners manual and didn’t leave the Interstate plugged in – just plugged in every 30 days for a 48 hour period. At that time we didn’t know you were supposed to monitor the batteries so closely. The batteries were determined to be bad about a year ago and were replaced (at our cost). And these replacements are bad now and need to be replaced. This is over a period of only 2 ½ years now since we got the vehicle. The replacement batteries may have been damaged already when we bought them from our dealer. They were “barely used” from a trailer they had just received as a trade-in. Again, we didn’t know how much maintenance is required to keep these AGM batteries alive. We’ve now focused and learned a lot, mostly from these forums and reading the manuals on line.

The replacement batteries have turned out to NOT be 2-100 ah, but 2-80 ah. They are Lifeline and they fit perfectly in the tray that slides out from under the rear lounge. (Makes us wonder if we ever had 100ah sized batteries to begin with or not.)

We are trying to figure out if we can just drop in Lithium right now and worry about upgrading our solar later this year. We have a trip planned in October (the Grand Circle in Utah) and want to have batteries for it. Our Interstate came with the Magnum MM1212 inverter/charger with a Magnum ME-MR remote. I’ve spoken with Magnum tech support (very helpful) and tech support for Smart Batteries, Lithium battery people.

It sounds like the Magnum equipment that came with the Interstate will be “OK” with the lithium Smart Batteries. The lithium requires the Magnum to operate at Bulk 14.4V, Absorb 14.6V, and Float 13.6V. And these batteries come with a built in Battery Management system to keep them from overcharging, etc. But they are expensive. And the dimensions aren’t perfect to fit in our tray under the lounge. The 2-80ah we took out were 11.1” long by 6.6 wide by 9.3 high. The 11.1 dimension was snug. (I don’t see how Airstream put 2-100ah batteries (13.1” long) in that tray at the factory. I wish I had asked to see them when they were replaced at our dealer.) The Lifeline 100ah correlates well to Smart Batteries 100ah which is 12.75” long. So I think this company is trying to make their battery a direct replacement.
12V RV Batteries | Deep Cycle Lithium Ion Batteries | Smart Battery

But even if we get the 2 smaller Lithium 75aH, we could have 150 ah we could use instead of 2-80aH AGM that we can only use a portion of the 160 ah.

And if we’re right about being able to just drop these in, we would be paying $2000. for lithium vs. $600 for Lifeline AGM’s.

Hard to pull the trigger on the $2000. But if we somehow keep ruining the AGM’s……
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Old 08-31-2015, 04:13 PM   #21
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I think the decision on whether to upgrade your batteries (and solar, etc) is a very personal one depending on your own circumstances. For example, I live in a part of the country with abundant sun, so my solar panel, a miserable 50W as it is, is able to keep my batteries charged - just. Also I'm able to keep my AI plugged in when it's sitting at home in the garage. So the standard Magnum set-up with the standard Lifeline batteries is OK for me, although I could always do with more capacity.

Incidentally, the standard batteries are 80 AH Lifelines (GPL-24T):
Lifeline Batteries - Marine & RV Deep Cycle Batteries
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Old 08-31-2015, 07:34 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by galvestongrl View Post
Thanks to everyone who shared their knowledge on this topic. We have a 2013 Extended Lounge on a 2012 Sprinter – must be similar to Boxster1971’s. I thought we had 2- 100ah under the lounge when we picked it up in Dec. 2012, but we’re not sure if they ever worked. We were so new to all things RV we followed the outline in the owners manual and didn’t leave the Interstate plugged in – just plugged in every 30 days for a 48 hour period. At that time we didn’t know you were supposed to monitor the batteries so closely. The batteries were determined to be bad about a year ago and were replaced (at our cost). And these replacements are bad now and need to be replaced. This is over a period of only 2 ½ years now since we got the vehicle. The replacement batteries may have been damaged already when we bought them from our dealer. They were “barely used” from a trailer they had just received as a trade-in. Again, we didn’t know how much maintenance is required to keep these AGM batteries alive. We’ve now focused and learned a lot, mostly from these forums and reading the manuals on line.

The replacement batteries have turned out to NOT be 2-100 ah, but 2-80 ah. They are Lifeline and they fit perfectly in the tray that slides out from under the rear lounge. (Makes us wonder if we ever had 100ah sized batteries to begin with or not.)

We are trying to figure out if we can just drop in Lithium right now and worry about upgrading our solar later this year. We have a trip planned in October (the Grand Circle in Utah) and want to have batteries for it. Our Interstate came with the Magnum MM1212 inverter/charger with a Magnum ME-MR remote. I’ve spoken with Magnum tech support (very helpful) and tech support for Smart Batteries, Lithium battery people.

It sounds like the Magnum equipment that came with the Interstate will be “OK” with the lithium Smart Batteries. The lithium requires the Magnum to operate at Bulk 14.4V, Absorb 14.6V, and Float 13.6V. And these batteries come with a built in Battery Management system to keep them from overcharging, etc. But they are expensive. And the dimensions aren’t perfect to fit in our tray under the lounge. The 2-80ah we took out were 11.1” long by 6.6 wide by 9.3 high. The 11.1 dimension was snug. (I don’t see how Airstream put 2-100ah batteries (13.1” long) in that tray at the factory. I wish I had asked to see them when they were replaced at our dealer.) The Lifeline 100ah correlates well to Smart Batteries 100ah which is 12.75” long. So I think this company is trying to make their battery a direct replacement.
12V RV Batteries | Deep Cycle Lithium Ion Batteries | Smart Battery

But even if we get the 2 smaller Lithium 75aH, we could have 150 ah we could use instead of 2-80aH AGM that we can only use a portion of the 160 ah.

And if we’re right about being able to just drop these in, we would be paying $2000. for lithium vs. $600 for Lifeline AGM’s.

Hard to pull the trigger on the $2000. But if we somehow keep ruining the AGM’s……
If you keep ruining AGMs, I would think that the problem lies in your charging system and not necessarily with your batteries themselves. I would NOT want to recommend lithiums to you UNLESS you have your charging system thoroughly checked and documented by a knowledgeable and experienced professional......and I DON'T mean by a battery shop of RV dealer!! Under charging can do as much if not more damage to AGMs as over charging will!

You STILL can not draw a lithium battery to zero, as indicated by Smart Battery. I would guess that these cells are actually 100 amp/hours each and are limited to 75%, or 75 amp/hour of capacity by their internal battery monitor.

Be very careful when looking at the claims of some lithium companies. It is definitely Cavaet Emptor!!!!!!!

BTW, The Magnum MM-1212 has the same charging section as the MMS-1012, which will NOT accept the very specific programming commands required for the custom charging parameters that we use our lithium batteries. Be VERY CAREFUL out there!!!!
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Old 08-31-2015, 11:51 PM   #23
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Personally I think a solar upgrade is a more important first step before considering lithium batteries.


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Old 09-01-2015, 08:06 AM   #24
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So this whole issue that you are considering traces back to the common problem of ruined batteries - now I see your situation more clearly.

Another factor to consider - there have been some lively discussions on separate threads about whether it is worth paying to garage an Interstate. I will say that, as a former owner of a ruined battery, all of our problems vanished (knock wood) with the commencement of garaging. We can leave our Interstate plugged into a timer that tops off the Lifeline coach battery according to the most protective schedule (which my husband devised).

We rent a HUGE bay at a facility on FM 646 and it costs me $135 per month billed automatically to my credit card so I don't have to mess with it. We did this for a number of reasons, not just a battery consideration. It's a month-to-month contract and at first we weren't sure if we would like how the cost-benefit equation worked out. A year later, I'm sold. It simply removes all hassle factor and gives me peace of mind. Battery life, break-ins, hail damage, flooding, unscheduled hurricanes, long-term UV degradation of sealants and finishes, accelerated corrosion, HOA conflicts, parking struggles, bird poop - I don't have to worry about any of these things. That is worth the price to me. Plus I have the option of storing additional crap in the bay that would otherwise clog up our garage.
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Old 09-01-2015, 08:29 AM   #25
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That is a great deal for enclosed storage with electricity. I'm paying $115/mo for open covered storage and no electricity but I'm in a spot that has huge RVs next to me and behind me and I face away from the prevailing weather. The storage is gated and everyone has a keycode which must be used to enter and exit. They do offer enclosed storage with electricity but its a much higher cost and would be a pain to back into with a trailer. I store covered for many of the same reasons. I disconnect my negative terminal from the battery when stored.

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Old 09-01-2015, 12:30 PM   #26
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That is a great deal for enclosed storage with electricity. I'm paying $115/mo for open covered storage and no electricity but I'm in a spot that has huge RVs next to me and behind me and I face away from the prevailing weather. The storage is gated and everyone has a keycode which must be used to enter and exit. They do offer enclosed storage with electricity but its a much higher cost and would be a pain to back into with a trailer. I store covered for many of the same reasons. I disconnect my negative terminal from the battery when stored.

Kelvin
We shopped around and found that prices vary dramatically in our area (location, location, location).

We also found different attitudes among the facility owners, who tend to be mostly independent. For instance, the bays are supposed to be for storage, not active work, but because there is electricity provided, some renters will take liberties. Which is absolutely fine with us and with everyone else apparently - the more eyes on the place, the better, so if Bubba wants to work on his brakes while in his own bay, power to him.

Our key fobs are chipped so that, not only do you need a fob to get through the gate, the system records WHICH renters were on the property and exactly when they entered and exited. And of course there are cameras and lights everywhere. We've seen zero problems with security.

I also rented a centrally-situated bay (about 200 feet of "padding" on either side of it) because in Galveston County we obviously have a hurricane issue and sometimes they can blow up fast. So if I'm out of the country as I am for several weeks every summer, I don't have to make provisions for the Interstate to be moved to safety. Our building is fairly new and from the look of it, I suspect fairly recent coastal county building code.
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Old 09-02-2015, 11:35 AM   #27
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Thanks again to everyone! I just purchased 2 - 80aH Lifelines from a Yacht dealer in Kemah up the road. (Just happened to be there at the same time another Airstream Interstate owner was purchasing replacements!) The owner helped me, tested the batteries (dead) and said he thinks they are being overcharged since one side of a battery was bulging out. Lewster may be exactly right and there's something wrong with our charging system. Will try to figure this one out.

And thank you Interblog for the suggestion on storage. That does sound very reasonable!
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Old 09-02-2015, 11:51 AM   #28
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Thanks again to everyone! I just purchased 2 - 80aH Lifelines from a Yacht dealer in Kemah up the road. (Just happened to be there at the same time another Airstream Interstate owner was purchasing replacements!) The owner helped me, tested the batteries (dead) and said he thinks they are being overcharged since one side of a battery was bulging out. Lewster may be exactly right and there's something wrong with our charging system. Will try to figure this one out.

And thank you Interblog for the suggestion on storage. That does sound very reasonable!
I've heard off-Forum rumors of an Interstate owner somewhere around Kemah, and you end up in Kemah and just happen to run into them...? I feel like the last one to the party here! For over a year, I've been trying to spot an Interstate in the wild, and my husband, with no effort at all, spots a silver one on NASA Road 1 the other day and nails the perfect pic of it (I wonder if that might have been one or the other of you?). Sigh...
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