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Old 06-30-2019, 11:00 PM   #1
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Upgrading to lithium

Hey y’all!

We are picking up our 30fb bunk next week. I have already been reading into upgrading our battery’s to lithium. We have a solor package on the coach already. What is a good resource to read info on the best way to install Lithium in our coach? I’m sure it’s more then just dropping in two new battery’s? Would it even be worth it? We are planning on full timing in it for at least 4-5 months. And wondering if this would be a wise upgrade. Or should I focus my attention to something else. Thanks again for the help!
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Old 06-30-2019, 11:15 PM   #2
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Upgrading to lithium

You can spend between $1,000 and $30,000+ on a lithium system.

I’d start reading here: www.amsolar.com

Many start with a relatively inexpensive ($1000-$2000) gas or propane generator to understand / evaluate their energy needs. From there you can design a system or work with a firm like am solar or Lew Farber (Solar Tech) to consult / design / install based on what you want to achieve (a night or two unplugged all the way to perpetual self-sustaining off grid residential power).

Here is an example of the higher end, an install that Lew did for me based on a joint design using victron components. This is kinda “the art of the possible” so to speak. I can (and do) run the air conditioner off batteries alone for several hours at a time for instance.

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f539...um-182406.html

Lots of good reading on this forum. Take your time and figure out how you use the trailer would be the best advice I could give before you dive in.
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Old 07-01-2019, 12:25 AM   #3
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If you are a DIY kind of person who is comfortable with serious electrical wiring and the idea of taking power tools to your brand new trailer doesn’t bother you CAN build a very nice Solar and Lithium system (500w - 800w of Solar and 500ah of Lithium) for around $10k and 100-150 hours of your time. I used Victron electronics, Renogy panels, and Battleborn batteries. This is tax deductible currently.

If that isn’t your idea of a good time, Lew (Lewster on this forum) spends half the year in Florida and would be an excellent choice to do the work. AMSolar is also great but they are in Oregon.

All this makes sense if you plan on doing much of your camping off the grid.
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Old 07-01-2019, 03:59 AM   #4
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I admit my eyes glaze over when I read, "You can spend between $1,000 and $30,000+ on a lithium system."
I keep hoping the market and technology will bring down that price point, but for now, it is unobtanium.
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Old 07-01-2019, 04:28 AM   #5
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As wulraat said- learn your energy needs and usage first. It's different for everyone.

In our case stock batteries, a 100 watt portable solar panel and a LP Honda 1000 is all we ever need.
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Old 07-01-2019, 04:53 AM   #6
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I echo the thought that if you are not into serious electrical wiring, you do not want to do this project. Lew is the recognized expert installer down your way, in the winter. No question that the technology is a quantum leap above what is provided in your Airstream, but after installing a system I am still left with the 30 amp limitation on appliance use. Admittedly, I could let my Lithiums and inverter pick up the slack when my wife inadvertently starts something like the water heater, but I do not normally leave the inverter on. So after all of the money, it is not a perfect solution for everything that isn't perfect.
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Old 07-01-2019, 05:39 AM   #7
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Looking at the 30fb Bunk, it looks like the 180 Watt optional solar only comes with one AGM battery. Is that true or will it have two? Go for two!

Without putting $30,000 into the project you will still have usable solar that will guarantee that your batteries will not die of low voltage when the trailer is in storage. That in itself is worth the option abet, that can be done a lot cheaper than the factory solution.

I have two AGM batteries and 270 watts of solar. I can boondock for days as long as there is the sun at least half of each day. We manage our energy use but can still have our water pump, wifi hot spot and can charge our phones and devices during the day. We've run our heater and fans when needed. It works quite well.

We supplement our power usage with a Goal Zero 1000 watt battery and can even run the TV for up to 18 hours! That said, we still need to fire up the generator on some days just to keep up with charging, but use it very little as we are moving and will be at a full hookup campsite soon.

I would get the trailer and spend some time in it to see what your needs are. If your the type who likes Airconditioning, a generator and easy start will set you back $1200. A far cry from $30,000! You can build a portable system yourself and set it up on the ground that will more than double the solar option on the roof of the trailer (add to it) and do it for $600-700. You will learn a lot more about solar going this route and save a lot of money.

We are adding 180 watts more to our roof (450 Watts total) to provide just a bit more power to bring up the batteries a little quicker on cloudy days. It will provide us with just enough to get by without getting out the generator. Well, that is with our usage. Cost to add from the factory is $1200. If I ever buy additional batteries, it will be another 2 AGM batteries. They are very solid batteries and require very little care.
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Old 07-01-2019, 07:58 AM   #8
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Welcome Aboard....👍

Quote:
Originally Posted by Squirestrhn View Post
Hey y’all!

We are picking up our 30fb bunk next week. I have already been reading into upgrading our battery’s to lithium. We have a solor package on the coach already. What is a good resource to read info on the best way to install Lithium in our coach? I’m sure it’s more then just dropping in two new battery’s? Would it even be worth it? We are planning on full timing in it for at least 4-5 months. And wondering if this would be a wise upgrade. Or should I focus my attention to something else. Thanks again for the help!
We realize the temptation is hard to resist... BUT, My advise would be, get a genset and use what you have for a while before jumping into any battery upgrades.
Who knows, if the trailer has sat without battery maintenance they may need replacement regardless.
Our Battleborn Lithiums dropped right in with no mods needed. They have a battery management system built in so are compatible with most modern converters. (you will get better charge efficiency with a lithium spec converter though)
We did not have 'factory' solar so I chose 360w of Zamp portable charging thru the 7pin umbilical, with a Boondocker Converter.
Pretty simple and works fine for us👍, but it does require some $$$ outlay😚

Bob
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Old 07-01-2019, 08:53 AM   #9
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How many nights do you expect to camp without electrical hookups? To me that is the use for lithium. We find we have hookups most of the time and get by with the generator for the week or so a year we do not have electricity. I would like lithium but do not want to commit that much cost and effort. You might if you see using it off the grid a lot.
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Old 07-01-2019, 10:00 AM   #10
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We installed 400watts of solar with 200ah of lithium last fall to our 2018 28RBQ Serenity. We just completed a five month trip from January 3 to June 9 from WA to the southwest and then over to the gulf coast, up to Michigan and then back through the Dakotas, Yellowstone, Tetons and home again. Over the five months we were gone we camped without hookups about 50% of the time. The combination of Solar and Lithium for us was liberating to go off-grid and/or pick the best campsite without worrying about electricity. For our energy needs, our modest system performed well and only once did we need to fire up the generator to supplement our solar after several days of dark rain/snow clouds.

Whether its worth it to you is a highly personal decision. It’s not a cheap modification. As others have said, contact Lew Farber for some consultation of your needs and what you want to get out of the system. He’s very easy to work with. We would have gone with him for installation but our timing was off so we went to AM Solar in Oregon. You will never pay for the system in campsite dollars saved but in terms of lifestyle and the choice of destinations, it can definitely be worth it. If you plan to be in hookup sites 90% of the time, a solar suitcase and generator may be a better overall choice, especially if you don’t know what your camping lifestyle will be.
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Old 07-03-2019, 07:19 PM   #11
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this is my schematic of the DC side.

we use mostly victron parts . we replaced the stock control with a victron 3k inverter/converter. it runs very well

we also use their MPPT controller for 360W on three panel, two on the roof, one swing over the read window. the rook one are fixed. the read is hinged


victron also support online view, web or app.
the monitor page is HTML5 based and is totally reconfigurable.
you can add or remove what ever feature you want, display in any order.
its very well designed

is is what my views look like for the last 7 days
again you can zoom in or do any length of display <1 hours to >3 years
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Old 07-03-2019, 07:25 PM   #12
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and this is what our inside monitoring setup looks like
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Old 07-03-2019, 08:41 PM   #13
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Hi

There are two major decisions and a whole bunch of minor decisions involved:

The big ones:

How much battery? Each lithium battery will run about $1,000 (delivered) and give you about 100 AH of usable capacity. One is as good as any stock lead acid install. Two easily beats any normal lead acid setup. We run four lithiums to give us 400AH. How much you want to go with varies a lot with the part of the country you expect to be in.

How much solar? Each panel costs you something. Getting on the roof is a pain. Playing with anything other than roof mounted involves a lot of work. Do you need enough to recharge the batteries in a typical day or in half of a typical day? The right answer will depend on your credit card limit and the roof space. At "one day" you *will* eventually fall behind. At the half day point, you can catch up after a bit of rain / shade / snow / whatever.

Once you get those two worked out, the rest is going to be pretty much small change. Victron is the brand I would recommend for the rest of it. Yes it's not the cheapest option. Once you add everything up, it is not that expensive compared to plan B. Better to spend another 10% than to get all messed up.

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Old 07-03-2019, 09:24 PM   #14
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My rational is once you’ve decided to bite the bullet and get 200ah or more of lithium and you’ve decided to put solar on the roof, the incremental expense and effort to max out the roof with solar panels isn’t that great. The panels are “only” $100-$200 each. Having more solar MIGHT even mean you don’t need that third or fourth battery. Solar panels are cheaper than batteries.

On a slightly different note, adding batteries years later may not be optimal. If you had, say, one lithium battery and then a couple of years later wanted to add another they may not play well together. The older battery’s charge profile and capacity will have changed and you’ll have one battery doing more work than the other. Adding more battery a year later probably isn’t a big deal. Adding more five years later would likely be. That means you can try out a smaller capacity battery bank for a season and see if it’s enough. At the end of that season, though, I suggest upgrading if you think it is necessary.
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Old 07-03-2019, 11:02 PM   #15
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Thank you so much for all the input and advice. It’s quite a bit to take in and process. You guys have definitely help so much. I think it might be something we will revisit in the future. We will most likely see how it goes for the next few months and see what we need vs want.Thank you again. I really appreciate all the help.
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Old 07-04-2019, 05:00 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Squirestrhn View Post
Thank you so much for all the input and advice. It’s quite a bit to take in and process. You guys have definitely help so much. I think it might be something we will revisit in the future. We will most likely see how it goes for the next few months and see what we need vs want.Thank you again. I really appreciate all the help.
Nice call!
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Old 07-04-2019, 06:26 AM   #17
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^
X2

A new Airstream=things you will NEED to spend $$$ on, only notable after the first outing.

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Old 07-04-2019, 09:11 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Squirestrhn View Post
Thank you so much for all the input and advice. It’s quite a bit to take in and process. You guys have definitely help so much. I think it might be something we will revisit in the future. We will most likely see how it goes for the next few months and see what we need vs want.Thank you again. I really appreciate all the help.
This is a good call.

You might even consider trying a non-invasive standalone upgrade like a lithium portable battery in that time to give you additional options.

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f37/...um-196422.html
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Old 07-04-2019, 06:11 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Squirestrhn View Post
Hey y’all!

We are picking up our 30fb bunk next week. I have already been reading into upgrading our battery’s to lithium. We have a solor package on the coach already. What is a good resource to read info on the best way to install Lithium in our coach? I’m sure it’s more then just dropping in two new battery’s? Would it even be worth it? We are planning on full timing in it for at least 4-5 months. And wondering if this would be a wise upgrade. Or should I focus my attention to something else. Thanks again for the help!
My advice is start with a battery monitor. Something like the Trimetric or the Victron. Spend the couple of hundred on it and get it hooked up. Then you know your usage and you'll start to see how your existing solar performs. Once you have that information you'll be a lot wiser, since you will have real data to base the future decisions upon.
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Old 07-04-2019, 07:33 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by gator.bigfoot View Post
My advice is start with a battery monitor. Something like the Trimetric or the Victron. Spend the couple of hundred on it and get it hooked up. Then you know your usage and you'll start to see how your existing solar performs. Once you have that information you'll be a lot wiser, since you will have real data to base the future decisions upon.
If you take this excellent advice, I’d recommend a Victron BMV-712 battery monitor. That way if you decide to upgrade to a fancy system later, the battery monitor will integrate with everything else. For now you could mount it temporarily (or permanently) down with the rest of the electronics and just connect to it with Bluetooth. Later you may decide you want to mounted up where you can see it but that’s more of a project.
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