A travel trailer RV is one of the most accessible options for getting into the RV lifestyle. Whether you’re purchasing an RV for camping trips, long-term travel, or a permanent living solution, travel trailers are one of the least expensive options. They’re relatively lightweight, and you can pull one with an SUV or truck that you might already own.
Travel trailers have one glaring drawback: the stock house battery. It powers everything on your RV’s interior and some exterior devices. As electronics and appliances are becoming standard in RV camping, the stock battery’s power just isn’t enough anymore!
That’s why numerous RVers are upgrading to lithium batteries. But is that a realistic option for your travel trailer RV? We’re here to say an emphatic yes, it is! And we’ll tell you why.
Table of contents
- Will Lithium Batteries Work in My Travel Trailer RV?
- What Batteries Typically Come in a Travel Trailer RV?
- Travel Trailer Standard RV Battery Limitations
- Benefits of Upgrading Your Travel Trailer to Lithium Batteries
- How to Upgrade Your Travel Trailer RV to Lithium Batteries
- Our Recommendation
- Are You Ready to Upgrade to Lithium for Your Travel Trailer?
Will Lithium Batteries Work in My Travel Trailer RV?
Lithium batteries work wonderfully in a travel trailer. You should be able to use a 12V lithium battery to replace almost any deep-cycle 12V battery, such as the house battery for a motorhome, fifth wheel, or travel trailer. More and more RVers are replacing their lead-acid house batteries with lithium-ion options.
You wouldn’t use a lithium battery as a starter battery, though. A starter battery, which gets your motor running, sends a quick power burst to start the engine. A lithium battery is designed to discharge over long periods and has a higher capacity, so a lead-acid battery is better for starting. A lithium-ion battery would simply be underutilized and over-priced as a starter battery.
The long-term discharge component is part of what makes these power banks perfect for travel trailers.
What Batteries Typically Come in a Travel Trailer RV?
Most travel trailer RVs typically come with a single 12V, deep cycle, lead-acid battery. It looks a lot like the starter battery you usually see under the hood of a car, but being a deep-cycle battery, it can withstand repeated cycles of charging and discharging.
Travel Trailer Standard RV Battery Limitations
The house battery in a travel trailer RV powers 12V devices, such as interior lighting, water pumps, refrigerators, furnaces, overhead fans, etc. It might also power the exterior tail lights, marker lights, and electric brakes if your trailer is so equipped.
When dry camping in a state park or boondocking at a dispersed campsite, the house battery is vital. It’s what keeps the lights on and your refrigerated food unspoiled.
But a standard deep-cycle lead-acid battery doesn’t last very long––both in daily usage and lifespan. While the housing may say it’ll last 80 amp-hours, you can only discharge it to 50% capacity (or 40 amp-hours) before you must recharge it.
If you discharge a lead-acid battery below 50%, it’ll cause permanent damage, shortening its life span. A lead-acid battery typically lasts three to five years, but it degrades faster if you frequently deplete it below the halfway point.
Benefits of Upgrading Your Travel Trailer to Lithium Batteries
We’ve already mentioned that lithium batteries last longer than their lead-acid counterparts. That’s just one of many benefits of upgrading your travel trailer RV from a standard lead-acid to a lithium deep-cycle battery. Let’s look at a few more.
Because travel trailer RVs are smaller than many RVs, smaller vehicles can tow them, and weight distribution becomes very important. The weight distribution of storage, added propane tanks, holding tanks, gasoline tanks, and other heavy items is critical to safe handling while towing.
Lithium batteries weigh about half that of lead-acid batteries. This means that you have much more wiggle room for where you want to place the battery. In reality, lithium batteries are light enough that they shouldn’t upset the overall weight distribution of the trailer.
Not only does this 50% weight reduction come in handy regarding weight distribution, but it can also be significant if you want to further upgrade a single battery to a bank with multiple batteries.
A single lead-acid battery might weigh 70-80 pounds, while two lithium batteries would be around 60-70 pounds. So even by upgrading to multiple lithium batteries, you’re still saving some weight over a single lead-acid battery.
Lasts the Life of Your Travel Trailer RV
Given that most RVers sell or upgrade their travel trailers within 10 years of buying them, the lithium battery within could last the lifetime of your trailer.
A well-maintained lead-acid battery that you never discharge below 50% capacity might last 500 to 800 charge/discharge cycles. Letting a lithium battery dip below the 50% threshold won’t cause damage.
In fact, you can repeatedly discharge a lithium battery to 20% capacity, and it’ll still last up to 5,000 cycles. That’s about 10 times the lifespan of a lead-acid counterpart!
A lithium battery is basically maintenance-free. Most come with a battery management system that maintains optimum levels.
By comparison, you must monitor a standard lead-acid battery for its charging state and electrolyte levels. You might have to occasionally open it up to maintain water levels for the battery’s health. This can be dangerous if you don’t know how to do it properly, so many RVers must schedule a battery service regularly.
Even if you have a sealed lead-acid battery, you must monitor the charge state constantly to ensure it doesn’t dip below 50%.
More Efficient Power
Efficiency is where lithium batteries truly stand out. As mentioned, you can discharge a lithium battery below 20% without damaging it. This is a tremendous boost in available power per charging cycle!
So if you have both a lead-acid battery and a lithium-ion battery rated for 80 amp-hours, you’ll get more hours from the lithium version in a smaller package. Not to mention you can efficiently run larger power loads, including 120V appliances with a suitable inverter.
Most Cost-Effective Battery Over Time
You might get sticker shock when looking at the initial cost of lithium batteries next to lead-acid batteries. But if you consider the overall picture, lithium wins almost every time.
Under heavy usage, lead-acid batteries may only last a few years, or less if you discharge them below 50% more than once. By comparison, lithium batteries can last beyond 10 years thanks to their superior chemistry, battery management systems, and more durable construction.
So, while the cost of a quality lead-acid battery might be a third of our lithium batteries, lithium can last more than three times as long with virtually no maintenance. If you do the math, you’re saving money when you buy lithium!
Lithium batteries are notoriously safe for RVers, despite what you may have heard.
Since the early years of lithium technology, manufacturers have made incredible improvements–especially in the RV world. The most popular lithium technology for RV batteries is lithium iron phosphate (or LiFePO4). It utilizes a lower energy density than other lithium-ion batteries along with a battery management system for improved safety.
LiFePO4 batteries are also non-toxic, making them easier to dispose of than lead-acid batteries.
How to Upgrade Your Travel Trailer RV to Lithium Batteries
If you’re ready to upgrade from lead-acid to lithium batteries, you can contact a professional or do it on your own if you’re comfortable with do-it-yourself electrical projects.
If you want to try installing without a professional’s help, Battle Born Batteries provides tremendous support when installing their batteries. From tutorials to custom-tailored assistance for your specific application, you’ll have all the information you need for a successful install.
We have many options in our inventory if you want to upgrade to lithium, but this is the one we recommend for travel trailers.
The Battle Born 100 amp/hour, 12V LiFePO4 deep-cycle battery is a drop-in replacement for similarly sized lead-acid batteries. It measures 12.76 x 6.86 x 8.95 inches (L x W x H).
Though it’s a drop-in replacement for your old battery, it’s not necessarily a plug-and-play option. It may require specific components and programming to run in certain applications, but we’ll provide you with the support you need for installation, whether you hire a pro or do it yourself.
This model comes with a built-in battery management system, making it hassle-free. It also weighs just 31 pounds and comes with a 10-year warranty (eight-year full replacement manufacturer’s defect warranty and two years prorated).
It can last 3,000 to 5,000 cycles, at which point the battery will still hold 75 to 80 percent of its energy capacity, which should put most users beyond the 10-year mark.
Are You Ready to Upgrade to Lithium for Your Travel Trailer?
When considering whether or not to upgrade a travel trailer RV battery from standard lead-acid to lithium, there’s very little reason not to. You can solve many limitations of your current lead-acid battery with this simple upgrade!
Even if the up-front cost is a significant concern, consider it a long-term, no-hassle investment. Upgrading from a single lead-acid battery to a single lithium battery will provide for many more hours of uninterrupted enjoyment and additional years without worrying about how much longer your battery might last.
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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