AGM and Lithium Battery banks are the two battery power systems that we offer at Freedom Vans. There are benefits and drawbacks to each, depending on your personal situation, which we will explore in this blog post. We are comparing Battleborn Lithium batteries, but not comparing them to a specific kind of AGM battery (although our preferred AGM battery is Renogy’s 200ah AGM Battery). Most of the specs are similar enough, however you can always delve deeper into the world of comparison with a bit of Google research.
*This graph was taken from the Battle Born Batteries website, a lithium battery producer, and therefore is biased, however we have found the information to be true and accurate.*
Lithium batteries can cycle 100% of their power capacity without damaging or compromising their lifespan, where as deep cycle batteries are suggested to be cycled at 50% of their power to protect their lifespan. As far as usable energy, this gives you 100 amp hours per 100 amp hour lithium battery, and 50 amp hours per 100 amp hour AGM battery.
For example, if your AGM battery bank holds 300 amp hours, it is suggested that you only use up to 150 amp hours, which will deplete your battery bank to about 12.0V. By cycling your batteries above 50%, you are ensuring that your batteries have a reasonable life expectancy. Cycling batteries below this level will drastically shorten the life expectancy.
Battle Born Lithium Batteries have a built in battery management system. We typically recommend cycling your batteries down to about 10%, but if you happen to discharge your batteries completely, the batteries will go into recovery mode, shutting down until they receive charge once again. Other lithium batteries may not have this built in feature, however there are battery management systems that you can pair with them.
Is the upfront cost of Lithium worth the upside of the newer technology? Lithium batteries are significantly pricier than AGM batteries, however, they have better value over time because they last 3-5x as long. They tend to last 10-15 years, and AGM batteries last about 3-5. Battleborn Batteries have a 10 year warranty, and most AGM batteries have a 1-2 year warranty. If you are planning on travelling for 5+ years in a high-value vehicle, Lithium definitely seems like the better way to go. If you are just going to be doing it for a year or two and don’t have the budget for Lithium, AGM is most likely your best bet.
Size and Weight
An equivalent of 200 amp hours of lithium batteries would need to be 400 amp hours of AGM. You would need to take into account that the AGM batteries would take up about double the space in your van, and they are typically much heavier. A 100amp hour Battleborn Battery is 31 lbs, 12.75 x 6.875 x 9 inches, and a 200amp hour Renogy AGM battery is 129 lbs, 20.5 x 9.4 x 9.4 inches.
One benefit to AGM batteries, other than their lower upfront cost, is that they hold up better in colder weather – sometimes necessary if you’re in sub-zero climates for months on end, like in Alaska. For Battleborn Lithium batteries, they will no longer accept a charge once the temperature drops to 24 F. They will continue to discharge until the temperature reaches -4 degrees F. We typically run our heater when we are out skiing to keep the climate inside of the van suitable for the batteries to continue to charge. There are also heating blankets that you can purchase to help with this. As far as heat goes, the batteries will shut down once the temperature hits 135 F.
Lithium batteries are our preferred kind of batteries to install here at Freedom Vans, due to quality, longevity, and value over time. AGM batteries, in our opinion, are best used if you are on a budget, will not be doing vanlife for an extended period of time, or if you are often travelling in subzero temperatures.
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