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There's no single right or wrong answer, so don't dismiss the installer because he got the wrong answer; but, you might consider dismissing him because he didn't "show his work." The electric system will have a decent-sized impact on your end product and could be a nice chunk of change, so get it designed and installed by someone who is willing to share their thought process on component selection, and respond to your questions and inputs. If you were paying someone to install flooring, and you asked about natural stone, you'd expect more of a response than "Nope, you're getting vinyl."
 

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I have LFP batteries in my van and FLA at home as I live off the grid. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. For my home, I need a lot of power and the maintenance required by FLA is not a problem. I have a chest freezer, two households and a garden/orchard that all rely on the power system. FLA batteries are an old technology and well characterized so a properly designed system is rock steady reliable. I will say that I have never liked AGM, they are sensitive to overcharging and can't be equalized. They seem to die a lot easier than FLA.

For the van I decided to go LFP for a variety of reasons. One that I haven't seen mentioned so far in this thread is that I don't need to charge them every day. With LA batteries length of time discharged increases wear. With LFP it doesn't care if you slowly run it down over a course of days. Or when you are not using the van. Much easier to maintain and more flexible when camping.

Weight is a serious bonus. Number of cycles is a bonus. Being able to discharge deeper is a bonus. I don't think the low temp charging thing is much of an issue if you aren't going to the arctic. I am going to put the LFP batteries in a well insulated area and run a heating duct from the heater through there. Remember you can still discharge the battery. With a little planning I don't think that is a deal breaker. Finally, for me, having lived on FLA batteries for decades I wanted to get my feet wet and learn about LFP.

The cost isn't 5:1 as is stated earlier in this thread but it is significantly more for sure. Having to have a BMS is a drag, something else to break. LFP is a newer technology and there is still much being learned about proper care and feeding. I have gotten 10 years from a FLA bank off grid and who knows if I can get that length of life from LFP? There are many crappy batteries out there and the choices of BMS are endless and they are changing almost daily.

The bottom line for me is that I am very happy with the LFP batteries and feel that I made the right choice for me using them in my van. I'm not quite ready to go LFP with my home but maybe by the time I need a new battery bank I will be.
 

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I have (2) 100a Lithium batteries. They powers lights, fridge, fan, water pump and 2000w inverter to heat water in a kettle in the mornings ... and occasionally used by my Propex heater.
No solar or charge controller, but I do have the 60a Sterling B2B charger.

This is significant because while driving I pump about 50a back into the batteries per hour, which is more than my daily use.
I'm able to stay in one place for 5-7 days pretty easily, if I ever find I am low on batter, 1 hour will get me 25% SOC.
So while the lithium batteries are more expensive, I have no need for solar, a rack or a charge controller, and I can park in the shade on those hot days in Moab ... well, in theory if there was shade :)

We're chasing mountain bike trails, we drive to a trail head, spend a day or 2 and ride, then off to the next spot, sometimes the closet Brewery. It is unusual that I arrive anywhere with less than 100% SOC.
So as others have pointed out, part of the decision should probably be based on how you intend to use the van.
 

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Discussion Starter #24
Thanks everyone for the input. You've all be very helpful. We've decided Lithium is the way to go. Based on reviews and hours of reading, pricing and YouTube videos we're going with the Lion Energy Safari 1300 2 pack from Costco. We want to set them up as B2B, seems like that will work best for us. I contacted Lion and they suggested we use a Redarc Dual Input 25A In-vehicle DC Battery Charger and their 40A Fuse Kit. Sound right? Is that all we need to get everything running? Do you think an electrician does this type of work?. Thanks again!
 

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I'm confused on how you get by without air conditioning ?
I know we live in different climates but I remember watching a Will Prouse Youtube video where he was living in the same place as you (California ) and he was having a miserable time in the RV from the heat to the point that was one of the reasons he moved back to a house.

Edit , I found that its hotter inland , he must've been inland or at least in a hotter area of California.
California has a wide range of temperatures. I live near the coast and usually travel near the coast which normally has mild weather. I do have a Maxxair and a 4" square hole in the floor to supply cooler air from under the van and get air flow from floor to ceiling.
 

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The cost isn't 5:1 as is stated earlier in this thread but it is significantly more for sure.
$1,100 dollars for a Battleborn lithium battery, $250 dollars for a Trojan Agm battery bought locally Not the $350 dollars charged on Amazon. 4.5 to 1

Four years ago I paid $194 dollars each for Trojan's top of the line Agm bought locally.
 

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It is interesting trying to fairly compare chemistries. I like staying within a single brand of batteries, like Renogy. They have a 100Ah AGM battery that their data sheet says will get about 375 discharge cycles (and at that point be degraded to 80% of like-new capacity), if you discharge to 50% on every cycle. Their 50Ah LiFePO4 battery is rated to 2000 cycles when discharging 100% of its capacaity on every discharge. So, let's compare those two Renogy batteries, listed at MSRP of $234 and $499--they both give a useable ~~50Ah that is down to ~~40Ah after either 375 or 2000 cycles.

So, assuming that you need roughly 50 useable Ah, you might get very, very roughly 5x the life from LiFePO4; assuming that you need 2000 cycles (will you and your vehicle both live that long?), that means buying 4x$234 AGMs ($936) vs a $499 LiFePO4.

Then, look at the weight. If your battery pack is in a vehicle, and you're driving it up hills, you'r burning fuel to lift a 63lb Renogy "100Ah" AGM vs a 28 lb Renogy 50Ah LiFePO4. And in a space-limited vehicle, the AGM takes up 12.7 liters of volume vs 10 liters for the LiFePO4--the extra cabinetry probably weighs more. (The volume differences get bigger at higher capacity batteries.)

So, the AGM is cheaper to acquire. But, depending on use, you might have to buy them 4 or 5 times to match the discharge cycle life of LiFePO4, and you have to buy extra fuel to transport them (and drive to the chiropractor after lifting them), and you have to buy/use extra space to contain them.

Of course, that's just price. AGM will work in cold weather, LiFePO4 will charge and discharge much quicker; there are a bunch of other trade offs besides acquisition price and life cycle costs. For me, one that I really thought about is the rate of technology advancement. It will take me 2 decades or more to get to 2000 discharge cycles on my campervan batteries. How many times in the next 20 years will I be tempted by new technology to replace my LiFePO4 that cost me so much to buy?
 

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We just bought a 2019 Transit 350 passenger van and plan to convert it into a camper van. The installer I'm talking to says I need a Parallex 45 amp converter with 2 AGM batteries. After researching batteries, it seems to me that I'd be better off with one lithium battery rather than 2 AGM. My installer was totally dismissive of the idea. I guess he wants to do what he wants to do! We have only talked, he hasn't started anything yet and has not quoted a price. Should I follow his advice or try to find someone else?
Lithium are better in almost every way. They are about twice the power and half the weight. They take a charge faster, need no maintenance, and last for 10 times as many charge/discharge cycles. Good ones like BattleBorn or LifeBlue have battery maintenance systems that prevent over charging or discharging. They can’t be charged if the battery temp get below about 27 degrees F, but if you install them inside, that’s no problem.
 

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Be aware of the sub-freezing charging restriction with the lithium,if you are planning on using the van in the cold.
Dave
LIFEPO batteries come with built-in heaters now if you need them. I installed some aftermarket heaters for about 100 bucks.
 

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If you have money, lithium batteries are lighter weight and take up less space for the same amount of power. That’s really the main difference. Another consideration is that AGM and all lead acid batteries offgas to a certain extent it must be placed in a vented compartment. But it’s not too hard to build a vented compartment and drill a hole through the floor.
 

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If you aren't worried about the price lithium is the way to go. They will last way longer and are far lighter. One thing mentioned as a con of lithium is the BMS (battery management system). This is a bit misleading and not something you have to worry about with many of the lithium batteries on the market, such as Battleborn. They are direct drop in replacements of AGM batteries and BMS does not really come into play with the consumer.

If you plan on using it in fair weather you will be fine. If you plan on taking it to cold climates and have a water system in the van you need to heat the van regardless. Even if you don't have a water system, battery heaters are cheap and easy to install.

On another note, you need to find a different installer if he said you "need Parallex 45 amp converter with 2 AGM batteries". You do not "need" this and this is not recommended in most modern builds.
 

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Thanks everyone for the input. You've all be very helpful. We've decided Lithium is the way to go. Based on reviews and hours of reading, pricing and YouTube videos we're going with the Lion Energy Safari 1300 2 pack from Costco. We want to set them up as B2B, seems like that will work best for us. I contacted Lion and they suggested we use a Redarc Dual Input 25A In-vehicle DC Battery Charger and their 40A Fuse Kit. Sound right? Is that all we need to get everything running? Do you think an electrician does this type of work?. Thanks again!
I would be careful with this battery brand. They have been tested to not produce 1300 watt hours. At this price point, I would look at Battleborn. There are far more in circulation and you will get better support.
 

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$1,100 dollars for a Battleborn lithium battery, $250 dollars for a Trojan Agm battery bought locally Not the $350 dollars charged on Amazon. 4.5 to 1
Four years ago I paid $194 dollars each for Trojan's top of the line Agm bought locally.
Yeah, battleborn is not cheap. There are less expensive options out there though. I put a 1200wH bank together for about $650, using high quality aluminum cased cells. This includes a BMS with a low temp sensor. If you can wire up your batteries yourself you assemble a LFP battery pack and BMS.

One thing mentioned as a con of lithium is the BMS (battery management system). This is a bit misleading and not something you have to worry about with many of the lithium batteries on the market, such as Battleborn. They are direct drop in replacements of AGM batteries and BMS does not really come into play with the consumer.
I mentioned it in the sense that it is one more thing to break. It does have a little brain that can go Tango Uniform and lock you out of your battery. In a battery like a Battleborn that can leave you SOL in the middle of nowhere. That is one of the reasons I advocate assembling your own pack, you can bypass the BMS if it gives out and still have some juice.
 

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to me, i live in what i call the arctic tundra, Quebec. so 6 months out of the year are below freezing. van will be parked outside most of the time and not a daily driver, its my travel rig. batteries are going to be inside, but once a battery is cold how long does it take to bring it up to a temperature that it can be charged/used from just "ambient van heat". probably hours honestly. its like thawing out a turkey at thanksgiving, it takes a couple days.

So, if i run battery heaters or the furnace all the time to keep the batteries warm i am using everyday the battery life cycles just to keep the batteries warm so they can then be charged only to draw them down at the same time to keep them warm enough to charge. suddenly i am using 180 cycles just to keep them in health. kind of shortens the life span of the battery.

I am using a redarc manager 30 BMS. the lithium profile wont charge below battery temp of 32F. for agm it will charge down to -40f.

SO, i really think i am going AGM for where i live, my van is still waiting to be built by ford so im not there yet. if i still lived in Colorado i might go lithium since i was a proponent of them before when i built overland rigs (although not many customer sprung for the extra $). i have had 2 105AH grp31 AGM's in my current camper since 2012, properly maintained AGM perform very well.

the only plus i see for lithium is weight really. the production and disposal of lithium is absolutely terrible for the environment
 

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I am presently building a 20kWh lithium system for my travel trailer using used Tesla modules. They are 24V(Really 22.8V), and they each run about 5.3kWh. They cost about $1000 each, and a BMS is about $600, but you can a lot of modules to one BMS. So, it will run around $4,600 for my 4 modules and 1 BMS.

The modules have built in coolant lines, so I will use those to warm them above freezing. When charging is available but the battery temps are near or below freezing, the lithium ions will disconnect from the system. The charging power from the charger or solar will go through a converter to the 12V batteries and run a pump and heater to cycle warm fluid through the batteries. Once they are warm enough, the lithiums will connect to the system and allow charging.

The low power draw and charging rates I will be using will allow for thousands of cycles and will last much longer than the TT will.

I've installed 800W of solar, and will be using Victron charger/inverter,MPPT, and other components. Total build around $9K. I should be able to run my AC for over 10 hours.
 
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