5 Myths of RV Lithium Batteries

By Kyle & Olivia Brady | Founders of Drivin' & Vibin' | We use affiliate links and may receive a small commission on purchases.

5 Myths of RV Lithium Batteries

The problem with RV lithium batteries has nothing to do with the batteries themselves, but with their long lost cousins. Don’t we all get blamed for doing something wrong at some point because of a long lost cousin? 

It’s the inflated concerns about lithium-ion batteries in devices like cell phones and laptops that drive the most common myths about RV lithium batteries.

Those concerns in conjunction with mistakenly thinking RV Lithium Batteries behave like traditional lead acid batteries are where most of us go sideways.

RV Lithium Batteries vs Lead Acid Batteries

To be fully transparent about our experience: we’ve installed 500ah of lithium batteries in our Airstream two years ago. Prior to that, we used a 200ah AGM lead-acid battery. We abused both battery banks. The lithium is still going strong. The lead-acid was worthless after 3 years.

Myth 1: They Are More Dangerous

One of the most common misconceptions about lithium RV batteries is that they are more dangerous than lead acid. “I heard that those lithium ion batteries explode. That’s why we can’t even take them on an airplane.”

Wrong! Cell phone and laptop batteries have been known to overheat and catch fire. But, those batteries are using an older technology and are vastly different from the RV batteries.

RV Lithium Batteries are made with the newer LiFePO4 (or lithium-ion phosphate). What the heck does that mean? Well, as far as safety is concerned, LiFePO4 Batteries utilize a lithium solution that is non-combustible.

This means that RV lithium batteries are extremely safe, even when mishandled during charging. They are also more durable, withstanding harsh weather conditions ranging from freezing cold to unbearable heat.

Most RV lithium batteries also come equipped with a BMS (battery management system). A BMS is basically the brains of the battery. It manages elements such as charge rate, safety, performance, and the longevity of an RV lithium ion battery. These elements maximize the battery’s lifespan.

Never buy a li-ion battery without a BMS!

Lead acid batteries, on the other hand, contain sulfuric acid and lead, which are hazardous materials. If they are mishandled or stored improperly, lead acid batteries can be extremely dangerous.

Myth 2: RV Lithium Batteries Can’t Be Used In The Cold

Depending on brand, you can pull power out of a lithium battery down to -4 degrees F. Also depending on brand, you can charge lithium batteries down to 24 degrees F. Although, it is not recommended to charge them below freezing (32 degrees F). That may cause irreversible damage.

Some brands come with built-in battery heaters or circuits that protect them from damage in cold weather. But ,if you primarily use your RV in weather colder than 24 degrees, you can get around these issues. Store your batteries in a temperature controlled compartment, and voila!

There are proprietary systems that allow RV lithium ion batteries to charge at temperatures even lower than 24 degrees. But, be sure that you have that technology and understand how to use it before charging your batteries at such temperatures.

Always follow your manufacturers recommended best practices for use and charging.

Battle Born Lithium Batteries recently released an in-depth study that proves their lithium batteries outperform AGM batteries in cold weather.

Myth 3: They’re More Expensive

While it is true that lithium batteries typically cost more up-front, they last much longer than lead acid batteries. This actually makes them less expensive in the long run. A single lithium battery typically lasts at least 5 times longer than its lead acid counterpart.

Lithium batteries are more efficient than older lead acid type batteries. As a result, more and more applications are beginning to use lithium batteries. This drives the cost down even further, making them an increasingly more cost effective solution for RV applications.

Myth 4: You Can’t Discharge an RV Lithium Battery 100%

With most RV Lithium Batteries, the amp hour rating displayed on the battery is how many amp hours you can use before the battery shuts itself off, but it is not indicative of how much power is actually within the battery.

The battery actually has more power stored inside of it to protect it from damage, allowing for the “100%” discharge.

RV Lithium batteries can discharge fully, but the BMS will stop the discharge at 80-90%.

When using lead acid batteries, you should never discharge them below 80% of capacity. That is the point at which irreversible damage begins to occur. Although, most people say you shouldn’t discharge past 50%!

rv lithium battery

Myth 5: They Always Need To Be Fully Recharged

This is true with lead acid batteries, but constantly holding a lithium battery at full-charge applies stress that can reduce its lifespan.

It is actually preferable to partially charge the battery the majority of the time. This greatly improves the number of times the battery can be cycled, but can reduce its capacity over time. Therefore, an occasional full charge can help to restore battery capacity.

Much of this is handled by the battery management system, which monitors the battery to optimize its performance and maximize its lifespan.

Debunking the Myths

As you can easily see, while the upfront cost of RV Lithium Batteries may cloud your opinion, there are many advantages that put that cost into a greater perspective.

RV Lithium Batteries last much longer than lead acid batteries. They are actually quite safe, especially when compared to the old news reports of cell phones and laptops exploding. There are also many advantages when it comes to ease of use and the range of conditions under which they operate.

Here’s the exact lithium battery set up we us.

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2 comments

  1. LiFePO stands for Lithium Iron Phosphate. “Fe” is the chemical abbreviation for Iron. “Li” is lithium and “PO” is the anion phoshate.

  2. We are getting ready to buy our lithium batteries. Do they need to be the same brand or is it ok to mix and match?

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