Lithium-ion vs. Deep Cycle Lead Acid for Truck Campers

Joe Friday was a fictional character of the Los Angeles Police Department in the TV series Dragnet.  TV viewers quickly forget the storylines; however, one line of his dialog was constant week after week:

“Just the facts, mam, just the facts. “

Thus, in keeping with Joe’s dialog when discussing truck camper’s choice/options of lithium-ion or deep cycle lead-acid batteries –Justice scales “Just the facts.”



Truck camper’s lithium-ion batteries are typically 30% lighter (Battle Born LiFePO4 -31 lbs. than deep cycle lead-acid batteries (Interstate Group 27 – 50 lbs

Truck Camper’s Cycles

Truck camper’s cycles refer to the number of charges and discharges, with one cycle being one time you fully discharge a fully charged battery. Lithium-ion batteries can last an average of 3,000 to 5,000 cycles, while the average cycle for deep cycle lead-acid batteries is 400 to 1,500.Drawing showing battery charge


The discharge curve of lithium batteries is essentially flat, meaning that a lithium battery at 20% will be providing nearly the same output voltage as it would at 80%. Chart showing voltageWhile the deep cycle lead-acid batteries have a constantly sloping voltage discharge.



Truck camper deep-cycle lead-acid batteries are less expensive than Lithium-ion batteries. Example: Interstate Deep Cycle Group 27 Battery, 80 Ah (amp hours), 12 volts, number of deep cycles not provided, cost per battery as of 5/15/20- $127.95.Chart showing cost vs value

Battle Born LiFePO4 (Lithium-ion) Deep Cycle Battery – 100 Ah (amp hours), 12 volts with built-in BMS (Battery Management System), 3,000 – 5000 deep cycles, cost per battery as of 5/15/20 – $949.00.

Smart Battery’s Lithium Battery Deep Cycle Model SB100 – 108 Ah (amp hours, 12 volts with build-in BPS (Battery Protection System), 5000 deep cycles, cost per battery as of 5/21/19 – $1,249.99.

Chart showing cost vs.speed
Purchase Cost $185 $279 $400 $949
Number of Replacements * 14 20 7 0
Cost of Replacements * $2,590 $5,580 $2,800 $0
Cycles Over Life Time* 4200 8000 70000 7100
Life Time Cost Per Cycle 0.61 $0.69 $0.40 $0.13
  • The total cost of each battery was calculated over a single lifecycle of the RELiON Litho RB100 since it has the longest life of all four batteries. Each of the three lead-acid batteries requires multiple replacements over the life of one RB100. 
  • The table above shows each factor in the overall total cost of ownership for each battery and the total cost of each battery per cycle. Based on the specified lifetime of each battery and their retail prices.
  • RELION provided the chart above.
  • The chart does not and should not be considered an endorsement of RELiON batteries by

Charging of a Truck Camper Battery

When charging a lead-acid battery, you can lose between 15-30% of the energy from your charging unit to the battery due to heat loss. Chart showing % of battery chargeLithium-ion batteries are 99% efficient and will accept nearly 100% of the power from your charger or solar panel(s).

Lithium-ion batteries have 10 times faster recharging in as little as 1 hour from a completely dead battery.  This circuity is custom-made for the battery, thus increases its already expensive cost. If you have a 100 AH lead-acid battery and a 100-amp charger, it will take 1 hour to charge fully. Yet this type of battery cannot handle being over-voltage, overcharged, and its discharge.

Notice – Warning – Consideration

Consider this a notice, warning, or any other description you may want to call it by – the purpose is to inform you before making your purchase of lithium phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries and not discourage you.   

Your solar controller is an essential component of your solar system.  The controller maintains the life of the battery or batteries by protecting your investment from overcharging.  When your battery has reached a 100% state of charge, the controller prevents overcharging by limiting the current flowing into the batteries from the solar array.

BEFORE purchasing lithium phosphate batteries, ensure that your solar controller can support batteries equipped with a Battery Management System (BMS).  If not, you may want to consider purchasing a controller that can support and protect your new investment.

Also, ensure that you onboard TC’s power converter can support lithium phosphate batteries. Another purchase you may have to consider.