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Old 05-09-2015, 10:14 PM   #1
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Tesla Powerwall for RV use?

When I first heard about the Tesla car, I knew it was a game changer. I'm less convinced the Powerwall is quite so ground breaking (yet) but I've got to think that it has an application for solar powered RV use. We're all limited by our batteries and if, for $3500, it enabled us to go almost completely off-grid for extended periods of time, sign me up!

So, I was hoping to start a discussion here with the spark chaser types that may have an opinion on this.

If you haven't seen it yet, full details on the Powerwall are here: Powerwall | Tesla Home Battery
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Old 05-09-2015, 10:50 PM   #2
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When I first heard about the Tesla car, I knew it was a game changer. I'm less convinced the Powerwall is quite so ground breaking (yet) but I've got to think that it has an application for solar powered RV use. We're all limited by our batteries and if, for $3500, it enabled us to go almost completely off-grid for extended periods of time, sign me up!

So, I was hoping to start a discussion here with the spark chaser types that may have an opinion on this.

If you haven't seen it yet, full details on the Powerwall are here: Powerwall | Tesla Home Battery
It's a very nicely designed package, but is similar in capacity to the lithium batteries that AM Solar is already producing specifically for RV use. I calculated the Tesla battery capacity at around 345 amp/hours. AM SOlar makes a 400 amp/hour pack for $3300. They are also configurable to fit differing available spaces.

We are installing them as fast as we can get folks in the door. I have 6 people headed to Oregon for these, with 3 more installations in the next few weeks. With a potential lifespan of up to 15 years and a 5 year warranty, they don't look so bad when you factor in all of the benefits related to the price.

Check them out here: 400 Amp-Hour Lithium Battery | Lithium Batteries
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Old 05-09-2015, 10:54 PM   #3
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Hmmm. Little over 4 feet tall and under a yard wide, so it would fit in the bed of your TV. Run your umbilical from the inverter to your TT. Wonder how large a solar array is needed to support it? Probably more acreage than you can provide. You need to get Lewster's take on this.
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Old 05-09-2015, 10:55 PM   #4
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Looks like Lewster was posting while I was typing....
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Old 05-09-2015, 11:06 PM   #5
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I don't doubt that the AM Solar batteries have significant advantages for Rv applications based on their form factor alone, plus the fact that the native voltage of the AM Solar setup can be nominally 12v (depending on how the modules are interconnected) and the Tesla's native voltage is 350-450v. The Tesla has a 10-year warranty (though that might not apply in an RV installation) and is liquid-cooled, so it has some nice features as well.
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Old 05-09-2015, 11:33 PM   #6
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If I'm reading correctly, that's $3,300 for 112 lbs of lithium's. Two golf cart batteries weigh about the same and have about 55% of the power for 10% the cost. I assume the charging electronics, power converter, so forth also have to be changed out at additional cost. The early adopters pay a premium.
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Old 05-10-2015, 07:02 AM   #7
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Great input so far. I was definitely thinking an install under the bed area which would probably take some cabinetry modifications. The umbilical connection to it is a great idea, whomever wrote it. (I can't see that once I start typing on the mobile app) If the AM Solar numbers are correct, a 400amphr setup weight is surprisingly less. Weight is my biggest concern and I'd love to have more weight off my A frame if possible. I'd definitely like to see a capability of more than 1000watts too for the coffee maker and hair dryer.
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Old 05-10-2015, 08:10 AM   #8
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This may be somewhat of a moot exercise in a year or two. I just finished reading an article on Aluminum Ion batteries.

Aluminum-Ion Batteries Are Flexible, Fast-Charging, And Won't Catch On Fire | Popular Science

According to the article, they are faster charging than Lithium and do not pose the thermal runaway issues which Lithium batteries suffer from. If this comes to market, it looks to be an ideal solution for our Airstreams.
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Old 05-12-2015, 05:13 PM   #9
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How long before Aluminum Ion gets FAA Approval do you think?
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Old 05-12-2015, 10:35 PM   #10
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Aluminum batteries show great promise, but I don't think you will see them much before 5 years.

Also, the article was quite inaccurate in their description of lithium batteries. The newer LiFePO-4 formulation shows more like 5000 charge cycles. You can easily get 1000 cycles from a quality AGM now, and far more if they are kept at around a 25% discharge level.

Plus, lab findings are great, but it's usually a long way to the production level at an acceptable price.


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Old 05-12-2015, 11:37 PM   #11
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We have just installed an AM Solar 12Vdc @ 600 amp-hours Lithium Iron Phosphate battery under the front sofa of our Classic. It weighs just over 168 pounds and one can use up to 90% of the available power (540 amp hours) and it will take a charge rate up to 125 amps.

The custom stainless steel battery box and the four Lifeline 6ct batteries that were removed from the A frame behind the ProPride jacks weighed over 520 pounds. So we took about 350 pounds off the tongue weight.

The Magnum MS-2812 is to the left of the battery. Positioning was critical for everything to fit properly. We moved the sofa rearward about an inch so the sofa drawer would close properly. The battery safety circuit is to the left of the large red disconnect switch and is covered by a hickory cover we fabricated. The solar system circuit breaker is to the left of the safety circuit box. A sheet of plexiglas covers the battery to prevent accidental shorts if something were dropped onto the battery.
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Old 05-13-2015, 01:51 AM   #12
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We have just installed an AM Solar 12Vdc @ 600 amp-hours Lithium Iron Phosphate battery under the front sofa of our Classic. It weighs just over 168 pounds and one can use up to 90% of the available power (540 amp hours) and it will take a charge rate up to 125 amps.

The custom stainless steel battery box and the four Lifeline 6ct batteries that were removed from the A frame behind the ProPride jacks weighed over 520 pounds. So we took about 350 pounds off the tongue weight.

The Magnum MS-2812 is to the left of the battery. Positioning was critical for everything to fit properly. We moved the sofa rearward about an inch so the sofa drawer would close properly. The battery safety circuit is to the left of the large red disconnect switch and is covered by a hickory cover we fabricated. The solar system circuit breaker is to the left of the safety circuit box. A sheet of plexiglas covers the battery to prevent accidental shorts if something were dropped onto the battery.
Lou,

Where did they locate your inverter fuse? Battery looks great!
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Old 05-13-2015, 09:32 PM   #13
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How much re-wiring was involved with the battery relocation? Getting weight off the tongue is almost as important to me as gaining solar capabilities.
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Old 05-13-2015, 10:08 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by switz View Post
We have just installed an AM Solar 12Vdc @ 600 amp-hours Lithium Iron Phosphate battery under the front sofa of our Classic. It weighs just over 168 pounds and one can use up to 90% of the available power (540 amp hours) and it will take a charge rate up to 125 amps.

The custom stainless steel battery box and the four Lifeline 6ct batteries that were removed from the A frame behind the ProPride jacks weighed over 520 pounds. So we took about 350 pounds off the tongue weight.

The Magnum MS-2812 is to the left of the battery. Positioning was critical for everything to fit properly. We moved the sofa rearward about an inch so the sofa drawer would close properly. The battery safety circuit is to the left of the large red disconnect switch and is covered by a hickory cover we fabricated. The solar system circuit breaker is to the left of the safety circuit box. A sheet of plexiglas covers the battery to prevent accidental shorts if something were dropped onto the battery.

What did all that cost?
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