Dreams, In the Making

My wife & I (Duncan) are planing the layout of our first van. A HiAce pop top.
We plan to spend Extended time (3-5 months) at a time living Australian East Coast to start with.
Re: Electrics, my question is What Do you Experienced vanlifers suggest, 2 x 100 Amp Lead acid barteries or 2 x 120 Amp Lithium Batteries.
I’ll have a 2,000 Watt Inverter.
I’ll have 2 x 100 Watt roof Solar panels & a 160Watt remote pannel.
Planned drainage items are, LED internal lighting, Gas cooktop, 75Ltr fridge/freezer & a 1,200Watt blender.
We plan to free camp 4-5 days a week.
Any Advice/comments are Greatly appreciated,

Hi Duncan

You’ll get a lot of differing opinions on this forum with regards to batteries and solar. But in my opinion (I’m no professional) your setup sounds good. Particularly if you’re wanting to be off the grid for several days at a time and in east coast Australia so you would hope plenty of sun.

There are a couple of key differences between lead acid and lithium for a van conversion.

Lead acid batteries require a little maintenance, this isn’t much but they have to be periodically topped up with water. Also if you’re storing them inside the van they should be in a compartment vented to the outside for safety reasons as when changing and discharging they give off hydrogen. That being said however they are a lot cheaper.

Lithium batteries are lighter (weight a key issue for some people), don’t require any maintenance or need to be vented and they can be discharged deeper without damaging the battery. However they are quite a bit more expensive and there are some issues with charging at very extreme temperatures.

In my opinion if you can afford the lithium batteries then go for it. You’ll get so much more out of your batteries, and will be hassle free once the set up is done. With your power requirements and solar setup, 2 100ah lithium batteries will see you through comfortably off the grid for 4-5 days with minimum/no extra charging in between.

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Thank you for you getting back to me so quickly.
Very valid points you have raised.
Yes, I understand Lithium’s can be drained approx 80% opposed to L/Acid 20-30% & the weight.
But you Sold me with the vapour discharge/gasses.
Thank you Heaps

No problem glad to be of some help, lithium are definitely less hassle.

AGM batteries also worth considering as a middle ground if the cost is too high on lithium. They don’t have quite the performance benefits of lithium and aren’t as light but also don’t need venting and are generally cheaper. They’re also tried and tested and used by a lot of converters as good quality lithium batteries are a relatively new thing. I personally have AGM to save on the initial upfront costs (plus I want the ability to charge at below freezing), may well upgrade to lithium further down the line when I don’t have the other costs involved in a conversion.

We have agms and I’m going to stick with them as we like them and haven’t had any issues. We’ve had ours for over a year now. The other reason we won’t switch to lithium any time soon is our shore power hookup and isolator are not compatible with lithium batteries. I’m not 100% certain about charging the lithiums straight off an alternator either or if it is a bad idea or not.

The only other item to mention about AGM’s is we had to program our solar controller not to equalize the batteries as I’ve read this is bad for AGM’s and it states so in the renogy manual and is also dependent on agm type and manufacturer.

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