We’ve decided to upgrade to lithium batteries on our Jay Feather Micro. Now, the Go Power! Overlander solar kit that the trailer came with and the standard trailer batteries worked well. This is not a necessary upgrade. But there are a few reasons why this is important to us. Here are the reasons that helped us decide that upgrading to lithium batteries would be a good route to take.
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More Battery Capacity
Okay, the first reason why we’re upgrading to LiFePO4 is because you get more available battery capacity using the same footprint. With the standard lead acid batteries that we have (we’ve actually upgraded to two 6-volt golf cart batteries, but either way) you can’t deplete them more than 50%. The Battleborn lithium batteries can be depleted 100%. (Not all LifePO4 batteries can be depleted 100%. Some have a 20% discharge floor so you can only deplete them 80%. The Battleborn brand of lithium batteries can be depleted 100%.)
This means that even if the size of the battery bank doesn’t increase, the battery capacity has still doubled by switching to lithium.
The extra battery capacity is important to us because it allows us to camp in shade longer. We like to camp near redwood trees with lots of shade, and relying on solar is sometimes difficult. So, if we can have more battery capacity this means we can go longer without having to use solar to recharge those batteries. It’s still an option, but we don’t need to get our batteries back up to 100% because we have some battery power to spare.
The next reason why were upgrading to lithium batteries is because they’re maintenance free. AGM batteries are also maintenance free but the flooded batteries (like that ones we have) require adding some distilled water periodically to reach the full lifespan.
So, by upgrading the batteries there’s just one less thing to have to worry about and one less thing to maintain.
Better Use of Space
The next reason why we want to upgrade is it’s a better use of space.
Unlike lead acid batteries, LiFePO4 batteries can be moved inside the trailer. In fact, not only is it safe to do so, it’s also recommended so they don’t get too cold. By relocating our batteries we get more space on the tongue of the trailer. And we’re able to add the batteries and all necessary components using space that is currently inaccessible. Meaning we don’t loose any storage space. Instead, we gain the space on the tongue.
We’re working on trying to add three Battleborn batteries into the trailer in a way that doesn’t take away from any existing storage space. There is some space that’s inaccessible underneath the bed (near the water heater) and we’re working on a plan to fit them into that spot.
And then there’s another inaccessible empty spot that we’ve located that’s also under the bed. It’s on the opposite side of the bed. You access it through the pass-through storage area. Inside the storage pass-through there’s a wall that has a light switch, an outlet, and a light on it. Behind that wall we found a large unused space. It was about 20 inches high and 20 inches deep. It just had a few wires going through it.
We’re removing that wall and relocating the light, switches, and outlet so that we have that space to put an inverter. We were originally interested in the Victron MultiPlus 2000 inverter. But, the shape of that inverter is a slim rectangle. The next model up, the MultiPlus 3000 is shaped more like a cube, so it will actually be a great fit in the unused space we discovered.
It’s really more than we need. But, with a larger inverter like that we should even be able to power our AC, not for very long, but it should work to power it up.
Use All Equipment
Speaking of the AC, that brings me to the next point. Another reason why we want to upgrade to lithium, is because we primarily dry camp and it would be really nice just to be able to use all of the other equipment in the trailer. Since we like to dry camp we don’t get to take advantage of a lot of the other features. I just mentioned the AC, but there’s also the microwave and having all of the outlets available.
It would just be nice to know that we can come in and use anything in the trailer.
Another reason why we want to upgrade is for better stats and data. We’re tech nerds, and when we saw the Cerbo GX from Victron we got really excited about the idea of having a control panel in the trailer that tells us exactly what’s going on with our solar setup.
We’ve been looking at using Battleborn batteries with a bunch of different Victron components. And Victron has the Cerbo GX Touch screen which has a color display showing everything that’s going on with your solar configuration. You can see how many watts are coming in with your solar panels, where that powers going, and if it’s charging up your batteries or if it’s going to the inverter to help with an AC load. You can see just exactly what’s going on. It’s easy to see how much you left on your batteries and you can even see how much time is remaining if you keep using the batteries how you’re using them right now. So it’s just really cool to be able to see exactly how much is coming in and what’s going on with all of your power consumption.
And you can actually monitor all of this stuff from your phone via Bluetooth. The touch screen isn’t required. But, we have a hole in our wall from our Go Power setup and we really want to fill with something else to be able to monitor our current system. Plus, I don’t want to have to rely on my phone while I’m camping to monitor my solar setup. I want something to be in the trailer that allows me to see exactly what’s going on.
So we are researching and planning out this project as much as possible. We want to make sure that we use the space well and design the right solution. So this article went over why we’re upgrading. Once we finish the installation, we’ll release another article and video to show our system configuration. We’re moving along pretty quickly so that should be ready in just a few weeks. If you haven’t already done so, please subscribe on YouTube to stay current on our journey.