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Old 03-22-2011, 06:49 PM   #1
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Lithium ion battery

Has anyone had any experience with lithium ion batteries? I'm talking about replacement batteries for the trailer. When I was at the Tampa RV show in January a vendor had them available ?? for auto, marine, and RV use. Now, I have LI batteries for my Ryobi power tools and they are Wonderful. Expensive yes but they hold a charge, are very lightweight and produce lots of power. The batteries that the vendor had on display were probably a tenth of the weight of my AS batteries (AGM). The company is Lithionics Battery, Lithionics Battery. Their stuff sure caught my attention but it also made me wonder if this was a "too good to be true" thing.
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Old 03-22-2011, 06:58 PM   #2
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Did they quote any prices for a typical trailer application?
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Old 03-22-2011, 07:16 PM   #3
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I would think these would be really expensive for an Airstream. We have Nickel-metal-hydride batteries in our Prius, and the dealer wants $4000-5000 for a replacement battery pack; and Lithium-ion batteries are even more expensive. Of course, you probably don't need as big a battery pack for auxiliary power for a trailer as you do for a hybrid automobile. However, it would probably be hard to beat the cost of lead-acid batteries in this application.

Just a guess...
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Old 03-22-2011, 07:28 PM   #4
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Really good AGMs cost maybe 20 cents a watt-hour.

Li-ion batteries are typically around $2 a watt-hour. The main advantages over lead-acid are light weight and small size. There are important disadvantages, such as the fact that the battery will become unstable and explode if any cells are reverse charged, as will happen if the entire battery is discharged completely. They will also explode under a wide variety of other conditions.

The ones in phones and laptops have considerable protective circuitry. There are still occasional fires, but at least the batteries are relatively small.
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Old 03-22-2011, 07:38 PM   #5
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They did quote prices and unfortunately I neglected to write the prices down. What I recall is that the prices didn't seem astronomical especially in light of the fact that their smallest battery that I looked at was supposed to replace two 6 volt golf batteries and it weighed 12 POUNDS! I've been thinking a lot about boondocking and solar and the battery size and weight seemed to be one of the limiting factors. My '08 27' FB has a small battery box and those LI batteries really got my wheels turning. I recall the sales guy saying that the company could build a special size and/or capacity if someone needed something different. It's a local, to me anyway, company in Clearwater, FL.
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Old 03-22-2011, 07:50 PM   #6
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Lithionics calls the batteries a Never-Die Battery. It has circuitry that shuts down the battery if unattended. Just push the button on the top of the battery to wake it up. No idea about any other issues it may have. I'm not trying to push this battery or company, I'm just curious if any else has any info.
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Old 03-22-2011, 07:55 PM   #7
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The weight and draw capacity of Li-ions are quite impressive and would be a real asset to any solar charging system save on important item....SAFETY!!!!

They might have a long way yet to go before they are ready for prime time.
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Old 03-23-2011, 07:10 AM   #8
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I remember them talking about these on the HGTV RV whatever you call it for this past year....you might see if you can find it online.
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Old 03-23-2011, 02:25 PM   #9
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In the aviation world, there have been problems with them catching on fire/overheating when simply carried in the cargo hold. As a result, there are significant restriction of how many and where they can be carried. I would be hesitant to go to sleep on top of a pair of them in my Airstream.
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Old 03-23-2011, 02:52 PM   #10
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THe long delay of Toyota implementing a plug in option for the Prius was caused due to problems with Lion batteries (fire hazard) and the work it took to perfect them so they were no longer a hazard. I'd wait a while and let this technology mature before investing in them.
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Old 03-23-2011, 03:47 PM   #11
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How long has this company been around? Will they be there next year if there are problems? What kind of warranty do they offer?

What do they say about fire hazards?

It sounds great. The newest batteries for the new drill I got charge in far less time than the older ones.

How do they compare in capacity to AGM's? Can you remember the approximate price?

Will you need to make the battery box larger?

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Old 03-25-2011, 12:02 PM   #12
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OK, I came into this discussion looking for answers and everyone has created more questions. Good ones too, so...... I called a very helpful Mr. Phil Silverhorn at Lithionics and got at least some questions answered.

Since I teach machining at a St. Petersburg high school and I was trying to get some answers before I had my next class come in I'm sure I didn't think of everything.

First, with a LI system you wouldn't need to have a bigger battery box and in fact the LI batterys would take up less space but the batteries could be put into a case that would be the size of your existing batteries so that you could use your same hold downs. The LI batteries also wouldn't be in multiples like most of us have now so no series connections between batteries. Lithionics recommends replacing lead acid/AGM batteries at a 2 to 1 ratio, meaning if you have a 100 amp hour system you would replace it with a 50 ah LI battery.

Now to the cost. If you had a 200 ah system a 100 ah LI battery would cost $1457. That's a lot but looks interesting if you're off the grid a lot. First they recharge quickly, they last a lot longer and they provide very steady power. Mr. Silverhorn told me he had an RV customer install one of their 200 ah LI system and he was so thrilled with it that he had just come back and was having them install another 200 ah's.

Now, last but not least is the safety issue. The exploding cell phone and laptop and fire thing was with lithium polymer batteries. The batteries that Lithionics uses are made with lithium iron phospate which was developed in 1996 at the University of Texas. Their batteries are approved by the FDA for food related uses and for medical uses and have UNDOT approval. According to Mr Silverhorn if you decided to severely overcharge your LI battery at worst it would de-gas and smoke.

Like I said, I'm a school teacher so I'm probably not going to run over to Lithionics and replace my nearly new AGM batteries. It's not in the budget at this time and my wife would probably shoot me if I did, but in the long haul retirement is at most three years away and I definitely want to boondock a lot more so...
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Old 03-25-2011, 12:49 PM   #13
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Thanks for getting some questions answered.

Until a lot of people buy these, the price won't come down and most of us won't buy them. It may start with million dollar MoHo's and eventually these may make sense for us to buy. It's like LED's—price has been coming down and manufacturing is figured out and more people buy them.

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Old 03-25-2011, 01:24 PM   #14
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Gene,
One thing I forgot to mention; Mr. Silverhorn said that Lithionics has the second largest stockpile of the lithium material for batteries in the US. Sounds like the company has made a considerable investment and is in it for the long haul.
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