Every Overlander needs to be prepared to be stranded somewhere they don’t want to be, and this can happen for a variety of reasons. For example, you could get stuck in soft sand or mud, experience a mechanical failure, or even wake up to dead batteries one morning. What happens after this is called “off-road recovery.” It’s important for overlanders to be self-sufficient to overcome these unfortunate events, and lithium batteries are one of the best tools to have handy on your Overlanding excursions. Let’s take a look at five ways lithium batteries can aid in off-road recovery.
What Is Off-Road Recovery?
Off-road recovery refers to getting your 4WD vehicle moving again after it ceases to function. Of course, off-road recovery is a little different from “on-road recovery.” Typical roadside assistance services don’t cater to these situations. Off-road recovery pertains to circumstances where the vehicle is driven off-road, perhaps on an Overlanding excursion, and experiences some kind of malfunction that prohibits it from moving.
There are also two different kinds of off-road recovery when it comes to traversing the backcountry. These are vehicle-assisted recovery and self-recovery. Vehicle-assisted is when you rely on another vehicle for a jump start or to pull you out of a sticky situation. Self-recovery refers to utilizing your own resources to get yourself moving once again. For the purposes of this article, we’ll be focusing on self-recovery, but many of the benefits we talk about can also help vehicle-assisted recovery.
What Are Lithium Batteries?
Lithium-ion batteries have an advanced type of electrochemistry that allows them to outperform nearly every battery on the market. While there are several types of lithium batteries, they all use lithium ions as a core component. All lithium batteries have an anode, a cathode, an electrolyte, and a separator. However, their specific chemistry can vary depending on their intended use.
For example, lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries use lithium iron phosphate as the cathode and graphite carbon with metallic backing as the anode. This electrochemistry provides many benefits, including being extremely safe, low maintenance, lightweight, and long-lasting. This is also why LiFePO batteries are extremely popular in RVs, overland vehicles, off-grid energy storage, and solar panel systems.
LiFePO4 batteries provide highly-available energy for a plethora of applications. And having plenty of power when you’re stranded off-gird can have many benefits.
What Are the Benefits of Lithium Batteries When Overlanding?
When it comes to Overlanding, lithium batteries have many advantages. First, they’re perhaps the most energy-dense battery on the market. Compared to their lead-acid counterparts, lithium batteries provide about 2.5 times the amount of energy in the same space at a third of the weight. This allows you to pack a ton of energy into smaller, more compact spaces.
Moreover, while lead-acid batteries should only experience a 50% discharge before becoming damaged, our lithium batteries can be discharged 100% without diminishing their lifespan. They also have extremely fast charging times, only about two to three hours. They have long lifespans (5000+ cycles), virtually no maintenance, and are much safer than other batteries that emit toxic gases.
In short, lithium batteries provide a maintenance-free way to pack a lot of energy into your off-roading vehicle and forget they’re even there — except when you need them, of course!
5 Ways Lithium Batteries Aid in Off-Road Recovery
Interested in learning more? Let’s take a look at the five ways lithium batteries can aid in off-road recovery.
1. Lighter Weight
Remember how we said lithium batteries are much more energy dense than lead-acid batteries? This means that the average 100Ah lead-acid battery weighs as much as 70 pounds, while the average 100Ah lithium battery weighs only 30 pounds. Where you may have needed 300 lbs you can get away with 60 and have more power!
If you know anything about Overlanding, it’s that every pound counts. The lighter you are, the less fuel you’ll need and the easier you’ll be to recover from unfortunate situations.
2. Available Backup Power
Relying solely on your chassis battery when you’re off-grid can leave you vulnerable. After all, almost everyone has experienced an unexpected dead battery at some point in their lives.
Luckily, when you have lithium batteries as backup power, you won’t panic when you turn your key and nothing happens. Simply utilize your house batteries to give your chassis battery the jump it needs.
Having two completely separate batteries and charging systems adds critical redundancy to a system that can easily leave you stranded. We have heard from those Overlanding that more than once that Battle Born Batteries have provided the power needed to get a dead chassis battery charged and the vehicle started.
3. Reliable Power Source to Charge Communication Devices
When you’re venturing off-grid, having reliable communication devices is a must, especially for off-road recovery. Even if you feel prepared for whatever comes your way, anything can happen in the backcountry, and you’ll want a way to call for help if needed. Lithium batteries provide a dependable way to recharge your phone, laptop, or satellite messenger to ensure you always have access to outside help.
→ Emergency communication devices are just one of the essentials to put on your overland gear list.
4. Energy to Power and Recharge Power Tools
Most overlanding adventures need a set of good tools to ensure you’re as prepared as possible, including power tools. If so, you’ll need a way to charge them. Besides, your electric drill is only as handy as its battery power, and your electric chainsaw won’t cut anything if it has no electricity source. Lithium batteries provide a simple way to store and access needed power when you’re off-grid.
A chainsaw is a critical Overlanding tool but most don’t want to deal with the extra fuel and mess of a small engine. Electric chainsaws are fantastic these days, but it’s critical to have reliable power for them.
If your off-road recovery requires some extra juice to get the fix done, you know you have it.
5. Work Great with Solar Panels to Recharge Efficiently and Quickly
Solar panels are a fantastic addition to your off-grid electrical system. You can easily recharge your batteries from your solar panels, allowing you to save precious fuel. In fact, with the correct wattage, amp hours, and sunlight, you could technically stay parked for extended periods and have infinite power.
While lead-acid batteries technically work on solar, they are not a good match. Lead acid needs to be recharged fully each cycle which solar rarely does and causes rapid damage. Lithium is the perfect solar battery match and makes the most of both your solar, longevity, and reliability of your vehicle.
Are Lithium Batteries Worth It for Off-Road Recovery?
Yes, lithium batteries are essential when venturing off-grid for extended periods. The truth is chassis batteries fail all the time. When this happens, you’ll need a reliable form of backup power so you can start your engine, call for help, or power essential tools. It isn’t just about convenience; it’s also about safety and peace of mind as you live your dreams.
→ Check out these awesome overland vehicle tours for inspiration on how to build out your vehicle.
How to Install Lithium Batteries in Your Overland Vehicle
Installing a dual battery setup isn’t as complicated as it seems. It involves wiring in your lithium batteries to both your alternator and your chassis battery. The two sets of batteries should be wired in parallel through a relay or isolator to prevent either one from draining the other unintentionally. The alternator will then charge your lithium batteries similarly to how it charges your house batteries.
It’s important to remember, however, that lithium batteries charge much faster than lead-acid batteries. This could potentially damage your alternator. Your best bet is to use a DC-to-DC charge controller to help disconnect the batteries every so often and prevent your alternator from becoming overloaded. Click here to see a helpful diagram of a dual battery setup.
Be Prepared for the Worst With the Best Overland Batteries
Lithium batteries aid in off-road recovery in many different ways. Through their high-tech electrochemistry, lithium batteries allow Overlanders to carry lightweight, dependable power storage wherever they go.
They come in handy when you’re simply using these “house” batteries to live off of, charge communication devices and tools, and even as a jumpstart during potentially dangerous situations. With all these benefits, we highly recommend a properly-wired lithium dual battery set up for your Overlanding adventures. You’ll enjoy your excursions that much more knowing you have backup power if you need it.
Ready to hit the trail with lithium? Here are the 5 Best Overland Routes in the US we recommend for beginners.
Want To Learn More About Electrical Systems and Lithium Batteries?
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