Whether you’re outfitting a new van, camper, or RV, or contemplating a shift to lithium batteries, selecting the right battery system is crucial. This quick guide will walk you through determining the appropriate battery bank size, battery type, and solar energy requirements for achieving self-sufficiency and going off the grid.
1. Understanding Battery Types for RVs and Vans
When it comes to batteries in RVs, campers, and vans, there are two primary types:
- Car Batteries: These start the engine and power the vehicle.
- Deep Cycle Batteries (Home Batteries): These power devices and are recharged by solar panels. They supply power to lights, refrigerators, and other appliances in your living space.
2. Choosing the Right Battery Type
While most stock RVs come with affordable lead acid batteries (AGM or SLA), for optimal performance and longevity, lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries are highly recommended. Here’s why:
- More Usable Power: LiFePO4 batteries provide double the usable power compared to lead acid batteries, allowing for longer off-grid adventures and boondocking.
- Extended Lifespan: LiFePO4 batteries last four times longer than AGM or lead acid batteries, providing peace of mind and greater lifetime value.
- Lightweight: Weighing 60% less than deep cycle lead acid batteries, LiFePO4 batteries enhance maneuverability and reduce wear and tear on your vehicle.
- Versatility in Temperatures: LiFePO4 batteries function effectively down to -20°F (-29°C), enabling travel in all seasons.
- Low Self-Discharge Rate: LiFePO4 batteries lose only 1-2% of power per month when not in use, ensuring sufficient power even during breaks between adventures.
- Efficient Solar Energy Use: Optimized for solar energy, LiFePO4 batteries are 50% more efficient than lead acid batteries.
- Flat Voltage Curve: LiFePO4 batteries maintain a consistent voltage throughout usage, allowing you to utilize all the battery’s power, equivalent to double the capacity of lead acid batteries.
- Long Warranty: LiFePO4 batteries typically come with an 11-year warranty, providing long-term reliability and durability.
3. Determining Battery Size for Your RV or Van
Selecting the appropriate battery size depends on the size of your RV or van and the power requirements of your appliances. Here’s a simplified guide:
|Size of RV/Van||Appliances to Power||Recommended Battery||Recommended Bundle|
|10′-14′||Lights, radio, electronics, small fan||DL+ 12V 60 Ah x 1 or DL+ 135Ah x 1||100Ah #VanLife Bundle|
|15′-20′||Lights, radio, electric cooler, tools, fans, electronics||DL 100 Ah x 1 or DL+ 135Ah x 1||100Ah #VanLife Bundle|
|… (continue for different RV/Van sizes) …|
4. Solar Panel Sizing for Optimal Efficiency
For maximizing solar power efficiency in your RV or van, Redway Power Lithium batteries pair exceptionally well. Here’s a solar panel size chart based on RV/Van size and battery capacity:
|Size of RV||Number of Batteries||Recommended Solar Panel Capacity|
|10′-14′||1-2x DL 100 Ah||100-115-Watt Rooftop|
|15′-20′||1-2x DL 100 Ah||150-170-Watt Rooftop|
|… (continue for different RV/Van sizes) …|
5. Enhancing Your Electrical System
To optimize your off-grid experience, consider these upgrades:
- Lithium-Compatible Charger: Ensure your charger supports LiFePO4 batteries for enhanced performance and efficiency.
- Inverter: Install a suitable inverter to power household electronics, making your RV or van a comfortable home on wheels.
- DC-DC Charger: Utilize a DC-DC charger to charge your LiFePO4 batteries using your vehicle’s alternator, keeping your power supply consistent on the road.
- Battery Monitor: Install a battery monitor for real-time monitoring of your system’s performance, aiding in efficient power management.
6. Powering Air Conditioners in Your RV
Air conditioners require substantial power. To power an air conditioner without relying on generators, consider the following system configurations based on your RV size and air conditioner BTUs:
|Size of RV||BTUs of Air Conditioner||Number of Batteries||Recommended Solar Panel Capacity|
|10′-14′||<5,000 BTUs||1x DL+ 12V 280 Ah||100 Watt Rooftop X 3|
|15′-20′||<7,000 BTUs||2x DL+ 12V 280 Ah||100 Watt Rooftop X 3|
|… (continue for different RV sizes) …|
12V 100Ah LiFePO4 Battery OEM• Cell Optionals: LiFePO4
• Cycle Life: 4,000 cycles (80%DOD @25°C)
• MOQ: 10
• Delivery: 20 Days
• OEM/ODM/Customizable: Yes
• Production/Port: Redway Battery, Guangdong China