Truck Camper Batteries Pros & Cons

Joe Friday was a fictional character of the Los Angeles Police Department in the TV series Dragnet. The story lines weeks after weeks were quickly forgotten 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 campers options for batteries – deep cycle lead acid, sealed absorbed glass mat (AGM),  lithium-ion

Justice scales
Weighing the Pros & Cons

“Just the facts”.

Weight

Truck camper’s lithium-ion batteries are typically 30% lighter (Battle Born LiFePO4 -31 lbs)  https://battlebornbatteries.com/shop/12v-lifepo4-deep-cycle-battery/) than deep cycle lead acid batteries (Interstate Group 27 – 50 lbs) https://www.interstatebatteries.com/recreation-vehicles/marine-batteries/deep-cycle or a sealed absorbed glass mat battery (AGM) (Optima Blue Top D31M – 59.8 ibs) https://www.optimabatteries.com/en-us/bluetop-dual-purpose-deep-cycle-and-starting/d31m .

Battery  Cycles

Important to truck campers – battery cycles. The number of cycles refers to the number of charges and discharges with one cycle being one time you fully discharge a fully charged battery.  The average cycle for deep cycle lead acid and sealed absorbed glass mat batteries is 400 to 1,500 cycles. Lithium-ion batteries can last an average of 3,000 to 5,000 cycles

Drawing showing battery charge

DISCHARGE

Chart showing voltage
Deep cycle battery vs. Lithium

While the deep cycle lead acid batteries have a constantly sloping voltage discharge.  Lead acid and AGM batteries have a shelf life.   As a general rule, the less you discharge your battery, the longer it will live for.

AGM discharge
AGM discharge with capacity %

If your battery is rated for 3000 cycles and is discharged one cycle by a third each day, you have 8 years of service (just an estimation). Should the discharged is by a quarter you get 9 years of service.. If you don’t discharge at all you get 10 years.

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%.

Cost

Truck camper deep cycle lead acid batteries are less expensive than AGM or  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.

A Duralast Platinum AGM battery – Group 25 – with 550 cold cranking amps (685 cranking amps) – 12 volts –  Amp hours and number of deep cycles not provided – cost as of 8/27/20 – $199.99.Chart showing cost vs value

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

Chart showing cost vs.speed
Efficiency vs. Quality vs Speed vs. Cost

 

Truck Camper Battery Charging

Chart showing % of battery charge
Lead acid chart showing % and voltage

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.

 

 

Charging an AGM it is best when it is low and slow. A low amp charger (one to 12 amps) is generally also the best choice for charging any lead-acid battery. It’s quicker to charge at higher amperage, but it also can generate a lot of heat, which reduces the life of a battery, just like the heat of summer.

Total Cost Over Life Comparison Provided  by RELiON Battery
Total Cost Over Life Comparison Provided by RELiON Battery
Charging for a Lithium-ion batteries
Charging for a Lithium-ion batteries

Lithium-ion batteries is 99% efficient and will accept nearly 100% of the power from your charger or solar panel(s).  The batteries have a 10 times faster recharging time 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 fully charge. Yet this type of battery cannot handle being, over voltage, over charged and its discharge.  One company, Battle Born LiFePO4 (Lithium-ion) Deep Cycle Battery protection circuity is BMS (Battery Management System). Another manufacturer, Smart Battery http://smartbattery.com, features an automatic built in battery protection system (BPS) that keeps the battery running at peak performance and prevent over charging.