If you’ve got a 5th wheel RV, there are plenty of things to love about it. However, the lead-acid battery that likely came with your RV isn’t one of them. Many RVers are asking if lithium batteries will work in their 5th wheel RV and we’re here to help.
Let’s dive in and take a look at the newest RV battery type to hit the market and see if they’ll work in your 5th wheel!
Table of contents
- Will Lithium Batteries Work In My 5th Wheel RV?
- Other Types of Deep-Cycle 5th Wheel RV Batteries
- What Are Lithium Batteries?
- Benefits of Installing Lithium Batteries in a 5th Wheel RV
- How Do You Charge Lithium-Ion Batteries?
- Are Lithium Batteries Worth It for a 5th Wheel RV?
Will Lithium Batteries Work In My 5th Wheel RV?
Yes, lithium batteries will definitely work in your 5th wheel RV. In most cases, lithium batteries are a drop-in replacement for existing lead-acid batteries. Not only that, they’re a tremendous upgrade offering some significant benefits.
While lithium batteries will work in your 5th wheel RV, you’ll likely need to upgrade other components in your battery system as well. For example, the factory-installed charger will likely need to be changed. With a proper charger, lithium batteries can charge up to five times faster than lead-acid batteries.
Other Types of Deep-Cycle 5th Wheel RV Batteries
Two of the most popular types of deep-cycle RV batteries are absorbed glass mat (AGM) and lead-acid. Lead-acid is the most popular deep-cycle RV battery because it’s the cheapest. This type of battery is typically installed in most RVs when they roll off the dealership lot. These batteries require regular maintenance, and damage will occur if you discharge them below 50% of their capacity. Lead-acid batteries start at around $100, and with proper maintenance, they will usually last a few years and a few hundred charge cycles.
AGM batteries are also known as sealed lead-acid batteries. They require less maintenance, have a greater depth of discharge capability, and have a longer lifespan than traditional lead-acid batteries. However, the added benefits of AGM batteries come at a cost. AGM batteries start around $200 and usually have a lifespan of about 4-7 years.
What Are Lithium Batteries?
Lithium batteries are new to the RV battery scene compared to AGM and lead-acid alternatives. Lithium batteries use lithium salt rather than lead plates and acid to store energy like lead-acid and AGM batteries. Their construction and chemistry cause them to weigh less, be more efficient, and last longer than their counterparts.
Lithium batteries have a higher upfront cost, but paying $800-$1,000 per battery often saves money in the long run for those willing to make the upgrade.
Benefits of Installing Lithium Batteries in a 5th Wheel RV
Lithium RV batteries have many benefits over lead-acid alternatives. Let’s review the ways:
More Power Availability When Not Hooked Up
Whether it’s an incredible boondocking spot or dry camping, not every campsite provides power. Draining a lithium battery below 20% of its capacity doesn’t cause any harm. In contrast, using more than 50% of the capacity of a lead-acid battery causes damage and shortens the battery’s life. This means a single lithium battery is essentially equivalent to two lead-acid batteries in terms of usable capacity.
No Maintenance Required
Once you install lithium batteries in a 5th wheel RV, you can pretty much forget about them. This lack of maintenance allows installers to place lithium batteries in hard-to-reach places as there’s a slim chance you’ll need to access them. RVs have many items that require frequent maintenance, but a lithium battery isn’t one of them.
Whether it’s your cell phone or your RV, waiting for batteries to charge can feel like you’re watching grass grow. Luckily, with a proper charge controller, lithium batteries charge up to five times faster than lead-acid batteries. The less time you spend charging your batteries, the more time you get to enjoy the benefits of using them.
Lithium batteries not only run on a charge, but they also last longer overall. Many lithium batteries last more than 10 years. In fact, here at Battle Born we stand behind our lithium batteries with a 10-year warranty. In contrast, many lead-acid and AGM batteries are lucky to last half that time. The longevity of lithium batteries helps ensure you’re getting your money’s worth by choosing lithium.
Another benefit of lithium batteries is that they do not require venting or maintenance and are completely enclosed. This allows you to mount multiple batteries together in tight spaces easily. By combining multiple lithium batteries, you’re able to increase the capacity of your battery bank significantly.
Finding a location to install multiple batteries may not be as hard as you think. An installer may find unique mounting locations that can avoid using valuable space in storage bays. For example, some RVers mount their lithium batteries under beds or benches to conserve space.
Weighs Less Than Alternatives
Lead-acid and AGM batteries are heavy and cumbersome. Not only do lithium batteries produce twice the amount of power, but they’re also about half the weight of a lead-acid RV battery. A typical 100 Ah lead-acid or AGM battery can weigh 60-70 pounds. An equivalent lithium battery will weigh roughly 30-40 pounds. Lighter and more efficient batteries mean you can significantly increase the amount of time you’re off the grid without adding weight to your 5th wheel RV.
Even though lithium batteries have a higher upfront cost, they often save money in the long run for people who upgrade. The long lifespan, extended warranty, increased efficiency, reduced weight, and lack of maintenance all add up to make lithium batteries more cost-effective than cheaper lead-acid batteries.
How Do You Charge Lithium-Ion Batteries?
Lithium batteries charge the same way lead-acid and AGM batteries do when connected to shore power or a generator. Charging requires a power converter, called a charge controller, to charge the batteries from the shore power or generator. However, if you’re upgrading your RV’s battery to lithium, you’ll likely want to upgrade your converter to help accommodate lithium’s ability to charge faster.
➡ Learn More here: Charging LiFePO4 Batteries
Many RVers using lithium batteries are also choosing to charge them with solar panels. This charging method will require an MPPT charge controller to optimize energy flow from the panels to the battery bank. Solar panels are a great source of charging but need sunlight to charge the batteries. You’ll want to have a backup plan to charge your batteries on less than ideal solar charging days.
Are Lithium Batteries Worth It for a 5th Wheel RV?
Upgrading to lithium batteries is a no-brainer if you’re planning to use your 5th wheel RV for boondocking or dry camping. However, it may not be worth it due to the high upfront costs if you’re not planning to own your RV for a long time. You’ll likely not see a return on your investment until a couple of years after the installation is complete.
Lithium batteries are a great way to enhance your RVing experience and allow you to RV in some pretty incredible places. Not only will you have amazing views, but you’ll also have a reliable and efficient battery to power your adventure.
Want To Learn More About Electrical Systems and Lithium Batteries?
We know building or upgrading an electrical system can be overwhelming, so we’re here to help. Our Reno, Nevada-based sales and customer service team is standing by at (855) 292-2831 to take your questions!
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