Why Lithium Batteries Vs Lead Acid Batteries
Over the last 18 months we have become big fans of lithium batteries. We’re not long term boondockers, but we often tow our 5th wheel for extended periods or have overnight stops where pedestal power may not be available. The power offered by lithium over lead acid batteries makes a substantial difference in these instances.
Many RVs, our Montana 5th wheel included, come from the factory with Group 27 lead acid batteries. These batteries have been a main stay in the industry providing reliable power for the 12V DC devices and lighting found in most motorized and pull behind RVs.
The downside of lead acid batteries has been their weight and capacity. Most 100 Amp Group 27 lead acid batteries are capable of providing 50 amps of usable power. This is the result of the damage that can occur when discharging a lead acid battery below 12V DC which is one half or 50 remaining amps in the battery. To achieve 100 amps of usable power, two Group 27 batteries are used, configured in parallel.
Using a Lithium battery such as the Time USB 230Ah LifePO4 Battery, we can provide 4 times the amp hour capacity found in two Group 27 lead acid batteries with less than half of the weight. This increase in available amps is the result of the LifePO4 cells that make up the 12V battery and the battery management system (BMS) limiting the discharge to 10% without damaging the battery cells.
- 12.8V Nominal voltage
- 230Ah Capacity
- 50A BMS board
- 2944Wh energy
- 1920 Max. power
- 150A Max. current
- 44lb battery weight
- 19 x 6.7 x 9.5 in Dimensions (L*W*H)
- 15000 Cycles & 10-year Service Life
There is a temperature issue to consider with the Time USB 230Ah LifePO4 Battery and other lithium batteries that do not have low temperature protection. These LifePO4 batteries cannot be charged below 32 degrees Fahrenheit or the battery cells will experience permanent damage.
Evaluating the Time USB 230Ah LifePO4 Battery
Charging the Battery
We started our test with a fully charged battery. As part of the evaluation, we used the 14.4V 20 amp charger provided by Time USB. This is a cost effective charger that was simple to use with a status LED glowing red while charging and green when complete. We started the charge late in the afternoon and it was complete the following morning to start our battery evaluation.
Real World Battery Test
Our process to evaluate RV batteries is to place in a real operating environment where devices and lighting in our Montana 5th wheel are powered as we tow and use the RV. In the evaluation we use the Time USB 230Ah LifePO4 Battery without any external power from our F-350 Super Duty, the solar panel, or 110V pedestal power. Our effort was to determine how the battery would perform over an extended period of time in an actual use environment with no external charging.
Our evaluation lasted over 25 hours running a large 110V AC 3-door GE residential refrigerator through a 2000 watt DC to AC inverter. We also operated 12V LED lights throughout the 5th wheel along with constant demands from various devices such as thermostats, 12V to USB chargers, etc.
Battery Test Results
At the end of the 25 hours of use, we still had an estimated 35% of battery capacity available. This exceeded our expectations for this battery, but we had one more device to evaluate – the Time USB DC Battery Socket Outlet.
Using the Time USB DC Battery Socket Outlet
The Time USB DC Battery Socket Outlet was inexpensive yet a convent way to have a number of power connections supporting a wide variety of options. It took minutes to mount the outlet on a wall and connect to the battery with the supplied cable. The unit has a LED power display to show the current state of the battery along with a 12V cigarette style accessory outlet, 2 – USB 2.4A, 2 – QC 3.0 USB, and 2 – USB C connections.
We tested the Outlet with a 55 Quart 12V chest style refrigerator and all of the USB connections using a cell phone. Each device powered or charged with no issues.
The Time USB 230Ah LifePO4 Battery performed well and gave an affordable solution to extend our travels using a single lithium battery. In our use with the addition of our solar charging, we will be able to extend our time in towing and overnight night stays where pedestal power isn’t available and the use of a gas generator isn’t convenient.
Out thanks to Time USB for providing the Time USB 230Ah LifePO4 Battery, charger and socket outlet for our evaluation.
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