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Old 03-07-2016, 02:01 PM   #1
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Lightbulb Why waiting 3-5yrs for Lithium prices is wrong

Opinion piece.

Not much is going to change with lithium between now and 5yrs in terms of support or pricing. I keep seeing this come up where people say they're going to wait to 3-5yrs to see what changes, because lithiums are so expensive. Lithium is already 10+yr old tech with various chemistries on the market. There is a lot of support, and it's priced appropriately already.

I am going to attempt to explain and educate here that the prices are cheap currently, and today is better to jump to lithiums than waiting, when prices are more likely to increase based on inflation and a devaluing dollar.

What many don't factor into the price of lithium is the cost of the additional components required to have a good system. I did a detailed write up about these here: https://boldandadventurous.com/our-d...-upgrade-pt-1/

To make it work, you'll need a BMS (battery management system) and cell balancers, wiring upgrades, breakers and the like. If you remove those from the cost, you'll see lithiums are only a few hundred more than a say an AGM Lifeline.



To give you an example a 100aH 12v lithium by itself is $620.00 vs a $270.00 for a 12v Lifeline of 100aH - that's a $350.00 difference and appropriately priced for benefits and materials. That difference here, the lithium has 80aH usable where the Lifeline has 50aH

To get close to that you'd need to buy two 6V batteries at $287.50 each to reach 110 usable amp hours.

That's $575.00 - and you can see where this is going.

So by all accounts, lithiums are priced right for the market. Waiting is pointless.

If you look at AMSolar's kit which is a good kit and then just compare it to a Trojan battery you are not accounting for all the additional components that are in the lithium battery kit. It's not a fair or accurate assessment.



It should be noted, that these components have been shrunk and stuffed into some lithium replacement batteries that are already in 12V form factor. Take the Smart Batteries for example. They feature integrated BMS and balancer. These are more complicated then a simple lead acid type battery.



An easy way to think about it, is wet cell batteries are dumb phones where lithiums are smart phones. Don't compare that 7/11 prepaid dumb phone to an iphone. Cheers.


Notes: Prices used in example from 3/7/2016 sources:
http://www.bestconverter.com/Lifelin...ries_c_58.html
http://elitepowersolutions.com/produ...x.php?cPath=25
http://www.lithiumion-batteries.com/
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Old 03-07-2016, 02:33 PM   #2
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Hi Mike
I'm a bit confused. Your statement...
"What many don't factor into the price of lithium is the cost of the additional components required to have a good system."
Are you suggesting that if you use a lithium battery you need to buy additional components to have a good system? Or that a traditional system would require additional components to produce a "good system"?

JG
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Old 03-07-2016, 03:09 PM   #3
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Battery management systems are external or internal and you have to use a different charger designed for lithiums or that can be programmed to charge lithiums. They need to be stored inside out of the weather and be kept within specific temperature ranges for charging. The second photo showing the battery form factor will probably be the future norm if the cost can be brought down where more RVs will accept them. The RV market is not very big for lithiums because I'm thinking most RV owners don't need them. One or two wet cells and hook ups are all they need and where I live you need hookups to run the darn AC most of the year so why invest in an expensive battery system. For Bold, who lives off the grid, they are ideal and worth the expense and he is an educated tinkerer.

I think there has to be an untapped, large, potential market for any newer technology to come down in price. I don't think the RV market is big enough. If that were true then absorption style refrigerators would be under $500 and roof top Acs should be almost as cheap as those window ACs in houses.

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Old 03-07-2016, 03:35 PM   #4
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Same reason they don't ship Airstreams with Michelin tires. Lead acid will always be cheaper and the manufacturers will always ship with those.

What I'm trying to get across is price wise you can't look at this


or this:


and wonder why it's three times the cost of this


One is dumb, has no required electronics, the other two are smart and have more components than just the cells. Once you understand that, you can make a more informed decision in comparing the cost benefits.

The same way you can compare pros and cons of lead vs agm.

And I think that the prices in the market are not going to come down. As they're already down. AGM's cost less a few years ago, than they do today. Do a search around here. You'll see it.
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Old 03-07-2016, 03:46 PM   #5
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You can support your argument more when you look at the cost per Ah over life expectancy. I haven't run the numbers, but because you can drain lithium batteries down so far and they last so long vs. other types it makes the long term cost per Ah reasonable.

Of course at the expense of up front costs and temperature range issue.
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Old 03-07-2016, 06:12 PM   #6
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Good write up and segregation of costs Bold. Yet as another poster noted it comes down to what's needed. If I think honestly of my own needs, wet cells are adequate. No microwave or AC but they're good enough for the rest of the demands. If instead I think of what I want... well then a big bank of lithium batteries to power everything. Unfortunately my wallet balks when spending on wants.
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Old 03-07-2016, 09:21 PM   #7
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How about this:
Lithium:
Pluses: lighter, a lot more power for the same volume (takes less space), sealed, last longer, partial charge OK, makes users purchase a smart charger or gets rid of the crappy factory chargers (and the collateral damage they cause to lead acid batteries).

Minuses: cost more, require changes to trailer wiring, increase user's expectation for the 12VDC electrical system such as power monitor, needs a better controlled environment for charging, cell lugs often exposed but not is all cases.
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Old 03-08-2016, 12:43 PM   #8
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SmartBattery looks like the way to go. Seems plug and play - drop 'em, change out your converter / charger and you are good to go. Sweet.

Does anyone have any specific experience with them they can share? I just bought 2 new group 27 Lifelines to keep the renovation budget under control but I think I'll make the switch to lithium ion in 2-3 years when these kick the bucket.
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Old 03-08-2016, 07:20 PM   #9
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Thanks, BoldAdventure (aka Mike) for another great, informative post. I really appreciate you posting and documenting mods so well for all of us!
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Old 03-08-2016, 07:32 PM   #10
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I thinks I will keep my interstates and spend my monies on the flathead 59ab to put in my model A ford...
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Old 03-08-2016, 08:22 PM   #11
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Cold weather Lithium

I understand Lithiums should not be charged in cold weather, below freezing.

For snowbirds living in cold climates, this can be a tricky situation.

The batteries can be removed and brought inside while in storage prior to travel but what is one to do when transporting the trailer when the weather is below freezing? I'm thinking of the charging circuit which is part of the 7 way trailer connector. And the impracticability to keep the batteries warm inside the trailer during travel.


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Old 03-08-2016, 08:29 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greghoro View Post
I understand Lithiums should not be charged in cold weather, below freezing.

For snowbirds living in cold climates, this can be a tricky situation.

The batteries can be removed and brought inside while in storage prior to travel but what is one to do when transporting the trailer when the weather is below freezing? I'm thinking of the charging circuit which is part of the 7 way trailer connector. And the impracticability to keep the batteries warm inside the trailer during travel.


Greg
Simply remove ALL sources of charging if you have lithiums and plan to travel in sub-freezing ambient temperatures. There is no issue with USING them to -20C.just don't CHARGE them below 0C (32F).

Besides, your alternator is not a preferred charging source for lithiums.

Providing location-specific heat to keep lithiums above 0C is not that difficult.

Of course, YMMV!
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Old 03-08-2016, 08:30 PM   #13
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Put it on a disconnect. Easy peasy. I let it get to 40 degrees in my Airstream last night and the batteries still were reading 72 degrees. If they're inside they'll stay warm for longer than you think.

Just over thinking it.
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Old 03-08-2016, 09:14 PM   #14
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Why waiting 3-5yrs for Lithium prices is wrong

One cool thing about old lead acid batteries is if I ruin them one way or the other I can replace them from any number of off the shelf local sources and not kick myself for wasting a load of money.

A lot of folks like me, or others who let their trailer sit for months at a time unaccompanied in storage lots, etc, might consider lead acid more economical both short term and long term.

I can see where these would be a good investment for your use Bold, but I don't think so much for mine.


Talis gentium ceciderunt.
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