How to choose quality lithium battery?
Question to 12V Guru:
I am thinking about changing my battery set-up from the box standard AGM ones to a lithium set up in our caravan. There is such a lot of information flying around on various forums, much of it seems to be personal options and not based on facts I have come across.
What are the absolute key questions I should ask a prospective company so I can be fairly sure that they know what they are doing and I will get a quality lithium battery?
12V Guru answers:
Hi Innis, thanks for the question. What some suppliers are purporting as fact in regard to Lithium batteries is astonishing. The number of articles out there covering Lithium batteries is extraordinary, but it’s essential to keep the facts straight, understanding the differences to help you choose Lithium with confidence.
Lithium Battery Chemistry For RV applications
Lithium batteries have several compositions available, such as Lithium-Ion, Lithium Iron Phosphate, and Lithium Polymer. Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) represents the safest and strongest performance of any battery on the market today. It’s important when you’re buying Lithium batteries that you are aware of how to spot the diamond in the rough, avoiding batteries with a weaker performance and potentially worse safety records.
Ask the battery supplier if the battery is a LiFEPO4 version as this is the closest alternative to a deep cycle battery and therefore the most suitable to RVing requirements. This is the most optimal choice and if an alternative is recommended or the supplier doesn’t know the difference it would be wise to steer clear.
Battery Management Systems and Battery Certification
The next major factor to consider is the level of certification to international standards. Lithium (LiFePO4) batteries represent the pinnacle of battery technology, each integrated with a set of electronics called a Battery Management System (BMS) to protect the overall battery. In comparison, an AGM battery has no electronics integrated into the battery, and is therefore much easier to damage through misuse or extreme conditions.
These integrated BMS systems are representative of the expansive development in technology within the Lithium battery industry. The most basic of the BMS systems can be programmed by home geeks wanting to build their own batteries. In one case when opening a battery, we have seen them held with sticky tape to the cells. There have even been photos circulating on one company who had out the caulking gun adding additional glue to secure the terminals. These are obviously signs of a poor quality product but it is impossible for you to see inside the battery casing.
How to ensure you are choosing a quality lithium battery?
The best way to ensure you are picking the right one is to first look for an IEC 62619 rating for the complete battery, not just the individual cells within that battery. The international standard of IEC 62619 rating is an independent test that examines the performance of an entire lithium battery as well as certifying the quality of the manufacturing process and not just a battery cell level. Be sure when selecting your Lithium battery from the supplier, to ask about an IEC rating for your complete battery.
Another easy way to start spotting an excellent battery from the mix is their warranties. Commonly, LiFePO4 batteries will come with a 1 or 3-year warranty, compared to the 1-2 years of a standard AGM battery. A longer warranty means that a supplier is willing to stand behind their battery, proving they are confident enough in the quality of their battery.
For instance, the Invicta range sold by BMPRO offers a 7-year warranty, demonstrating a clear confidence in battery quality. BMPRO has this confidence in its products due to its intensive ongoing battery testing regime. Not many companies can provide real world testing results as they will normally offer you a hypothetical graph of the battery performance not actual testing results.
Since 2017 BMPRO has been Invicta batteries, with one battery completing over 1200 days and 2700 cycles and still holding up at over 75% capacity.
In summary, check for in-store knowledge, proven testing, IEC standards on complete battery and length of warranty to be able to clearly pick a quality Lithium battery to last you hundreds of adventures.
Happy camping! – 12V Guru
The article has been published in the Caravan World Magazine.
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