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Old 02-23-2021, 02:56 PM   #1
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Lithium Package At Lower Cost

Motorhome manufacturers are finally starting to offer lithium packages at a more affordable price point than some of the first offerings. The Winnebago Travato Class B was one of the first I recall, and it added about $20,000.

A few years later, Coachmen introduced the low-cost Cross Trek Class C (B+) with similar design approach but using a very large 330 Amp-hour AGM battery. We discussed it extensively here, but bottom line is that there was no way to power air conditioner for more than an hour or so unless you had shore power or hauled a portable generator.

More recently Winnebago showed the EKKO Mini Class C (B+), which has one 320 Ah lithium battery standard and option to delete 2.8 kW generator for a second 320 Ah battery, for 640 Ah total. Motorhome comes with 455 Watts solar.

The EKKO is no doubt pricey, but Iím not sure lithium contributes that much (proportionally) to the high cost.

I just saw on MHSRV site that they are advertising new Cross Trek with 800 Ah lithium package and it seems to add just under $9,000. Thatís more than the cost of 8 X 100 Ah lithium batteries, but I donít know what else is included in lithium package. There is 380 Watts of solar as part of another package.

The important part I see is that 800 Ah is about 10 kWh of energy, which is more than the original Travato offered for about $20k. I know itís not apples-to-apples comparison, but itís pretty close at about half the price.

Thoughts on when a generator-less motorhome will start making sense for your use?
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Old 02-23-2021, 03:21 PM   #2
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Tiffin can go full Lithium on their top-line Zephyr for just over $10,000
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Old 02-23-2021, 03:22 PM   #3
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P.S. ó Correction

The +/- $9,000 difference is based on MSRP. The advertised difference appears closer to $7,000, which starts to look closer to what we would spend if buying and installing 800 Ah of lithium batteries ourselves.
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Old 02-23-2021, 03:28 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Chance View Post
Thoughts on when a generator-less motorhome will start making sense for your use?
Maybe never.

We camp in shady sites in the NE. Even with portable panels and 100' of cable I usually can't find a sunny patch. And if I do I would have to move the panels every hour to stay in the sunny spot. So solar doesn't do much good.

With the fairly large parasitic loads on my coach, even though I have an absorption fridge, I use about 50 Ah daily. Even with 200 Ahs of lithium batteries I would be recharging every four days. The only way to recharge is with a generator or drive several hours to another site.

A portable Honda type might work and I would consider a coach with no fixed generator and use a portable for recharging. Hondas are quieter than any fixed generator except for the new Onan inverter one.

David
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Old 02-23-2021, 03:44 PM   #5
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......cut..... Even with 200 Ahs of lithium batteries I would be recharging every four days. The only way to recharge is with a generator or drive several hours to another site.

.....cut....
Iím curious why youíre limiting yourself to 200 Ah? Can you never see yourself owning a motorhome with 640 to 800 Ah of useable battery capacity, or even more?
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Old 02-23-2021, 03:47 PM   #6
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Maybe never.

We camp in shady sites in the NE. Even with portable panels and 100' of cable I usually can't find a sunny patch. And if I do I would have to move the panels every hour to stay in the sunny spot. So solar doesn't do much good.

With the fairly large parasitic loads on my coach, even though I have an absorption fridge, I use about 50 Ah daily. Even with 200 Ahs of lithium batteries I would be recharging every four days. The only way to recharge is with a generator or drive several hours to another site.

A portable Honda type might work and I would consider a coach with no fixed generator and use a portable for recharging. Hondas are quieter than any fixed generator except for the new Onan inverter one.

David
Typically with Lithium only coaches they put another alternator on the main engine to aid in charging up the batteries. Thus you wouldn't have to drive somewhere every 4 days, just run the engine for some time. The bonus here is that the main engine is usually a lot quieter than a generator.

Its nice to see the general Li-Ion battery price drops making it to RV options as well..
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Old 02-23-2021, 06:17 PM   #7
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I’m curious why you’re limiting yourself to 200 Ah? Can you never see yourself owning a motorhome with 640 to 800 Ah of useable battery capacity, or even more?
I picked 200 Ahs because that is as much as I can get in the existing battery compartment.

Yes I could add more. But it is a balance: more batteries to let me camp longer without charging or buy a $1,000 portable generator (or several thousand $ more for a built in generator) to recharge them every few days.

Quote:
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Typically with Lithium only coaches they put another alternator on the main engine to aid in charging up the batteries. Thus you wouldn't have to drive somewhere every 4 days, just run the engine for some time. The bonus here is that the main engine is usually a lot quieter than a generator.
Is there any C or small A where the builder installs a second alternator? That seems like a real waste to run the chassis engine just to make a kW or so of charging power. That is a lot of iron rotating which can't be very efficient for such little power.

David
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Old 02-23-2021, 06:42 PM   #8
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Is there any C or small A where the builder installs a second alternator? That seems like a real waste to run the chassis engine just to make a kW or so of charging power. That is a lot of iron rotating which can't be very efficient for such little power.

David
2021 F-150: 7.2kW from a V-6.

Pro Power on board: https://www.ford.com/cmslibs/content...er_SP_C113.pdf

Coachmen Nova Class B: https://coachmenrv.com/class-b-motorhomes/nova
Optional Lithium system:
Quote:
Li3 lithium battery system includes: 600 amp hour lithium battery, second under hood alternator, multi-stage volt regulator, battery management system, Xantrex 3000 Freedom SW inverter/charger and battery monitor Ė 2.8KW gas generator not included with Li3 lithium battery option
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Old 02-23-2021, 06:51 PM   #9
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Typically with Lithium only coaches they put another alternator on the main engine to aid in charging up the batteries. Thus you wouldn't have to drive somewhere every 4 days, just run the engine for some time. The bonus here is that the main engine is usually a lot quieter than a generator.

Its nice to see the general Li-Ion battery price drops making it to RV options as well..

Exactly. As weíve discussed previously, one of the remaining technical challenges is how to charge batteries back up quickly. Weight of lithium batteries for house use isnít much of a problem, battery costs are coming down to ďreasonableĒ levels, and many new buyers want large inverters anyway, so the missing piece of the puzzle is how to get 800 Amp-hours or more of batteries charged back up in a short period.

The two main sources of power for these types of rigs are often a 280 Amp alternator (do not know its continuous rating) and a large inverter/charger with high-capacity charging. Solar for charging such a large battery bank seems too slow to contribute much.

For us, if overnighting at campgrounds every few days (which we would do), an inverter/charger can get 800 Ah batteries back to 100% on shore power.

If touring or traveling daily, the alternator can charge battery bank in less than 4 hours after running air conditioner overnight, so not a problem with that need.

The only scenario that still makes this type of system impractical for us are the few days a year weíd want to boondock while running air conditioner. As long as alternator is limited to a little over 2,000 Watts, and A/C requires half that much power, the engine would need to idle 50% of the time, and I donít see myself doing that.

Since 800 Ah of lithium batteries can accept 400 Amps of charge current, Iíd like to see that much (equivalent) from dedicated alternator. To be practical, it would likely need to be 100 Amps at 48 Volts nominal.
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Old 02-23-2021, 07:16 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by DavidEM View Post

....cut....

Is there any C or small A where the builder installs a second alternator? That seems like a real waste to run the chassis engine just to make a kW or so of charging power. That is a lot of iron rotating which can't be very efficient for such little power.

David
David, both the Ford Transit 3.5L EcoBoost and the Ford E-Series 7.3L V8 can be ordered directly from Ford with dual alternators. And cost wise it’s a bargain for what you get.

However, RV manufacturers seem to prefer adding their own 2nd dedicated alternator which allows charging lithium batteries more directly due to voltage differences. I also like it because it segregates the house and chassis electrical to a greater degree.

In my opinion Ford should consider offering an option for the second alternator as a stand-alone unit so it can operate at different voltage than the chassis. Basically, that’s what Ford did with the base Pro Power Onboard, where the 2nd alternator operates at 24V to deliver 2,000 Watts of continuous inverter power.


P.S. — At 200 Amps, you’d only need to run engine 15 minutes daily on average to get your 50 Amp-hours per day consumption. It’s not much.
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Old 02-24-2021, 12:49 PM   #11
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For reference, the Thor Power Pack, also called Re(Li)able Renewable Battery System, has MSRP of $24,994.

From MHSRV:

ďThis adventure-ready RV features the Power Pack system which includes 2 Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries replacing the AGM batteries and traditional generator, a 3000 watt inverter, 280-amp under hood alternator with an auto start function and best of all this system seamlessly connects with the 190-watts of solar charging!Ē.


Specs show the standard Tellaro comes with 1,000-Watt inverter, 2 Group 31 AGM batteries, and the 190-Watt solar. The lithium upgrade package therefore deletes 2.8 kW conventional generator and replaces with dedicated 280 Amp alternator and auto engine start, upgrades 1,000-Watt inverter to 3,000-Watt, and replaces two AGM batteries with two lithium totaling around 11 kWh (capacity per a Thor Marketing managerís interview). I havenít seen actual battery specs listed. Regardless, upgrade seems expensive to me compared to cost of components.
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Old 02-24-2021, 01:59 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chance View Post
For reference, the Thor Power Pack, also called Re(Li)able Renewable Battery System, has MSRP of $24,994.

From MHSRV:

ďThis adventure-ready RV features the Power Pack system which includes 2 Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries replacing the AGM batteries and traditional generator, a 3000 watt inverter, 280-amp under hood alternator with an auto start function and best of all this system seamlessly connects with the 190-watts of solar charging!Ē.


Specs show the standard Tellaro comes with 1,000-Watt inverter, 2 Group 31 AGM batteries, and the 190-Watt solar. The lithium upgrade package therefore deletes 2.8 kW conventional generator and replaces with dedicated 280 Amp alternator and auto engine start, upgrades 1,000-Watt inverter to 3,000-Watt, and replaces two AGM batteries with two lithium totaling around 11 kWh (capacity per a Thor Marketing managerís interview). I havenít seen actual battery specs listed. Regardless, upgrade seems expensive to me compared to cost of components.
.
Indeed: 11kWh should be <$4k these days.
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Old 02-24-2021, 08:11 PM   #13
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Tiffin can go full Lithium on their top-line Zephyr for just over $10,000

In a different forum a member quoted Tiffin stating $9,950 price for 3 X 275 Amp-hour lithium upgrade, for a total of 825 Amp-hours. Standard Zephyr is equipped with 6 AGM batteries for a total of 900 Amp-hours, per Tiffin specs.

That upgrade works out to about $1,200 for equivalent of each 100 Ah lithium battery. A little higher than Do-It-Yourself, but not completely out of line given cost of a 100 Ah lithium battery from major manufacturers.
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Old 02-27-2021, 06:25 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Chance View Post
Motorhome manufacturers are finally starting to offer lithium packages at a more affordable price point than some of the first offerings. The Winnebago Travato Class B was one of the first I recall, and it added about $20,000.

A few years later, Coachmen introduced the low-cost Cross Trek Class C (B+) with similar design approach but using a very large 330 Amp-hour AGM battery. We discussed it extensively here, but bottom line is that there was no way to power air conditioner for more than an hour or so unless you had shore power or hauled a portable generator.

More recently Winnebago showed the EKKO Mini Class C (B+), which has one 320 Ah lithium battery standard and option to delete 2.8 kW generator for a second 320 Ah battery, for 640 Ah total. Motorhome comes with 455 Watts solar.

The EKKO is no doubt pricey, but Iím not sure lithium contributes that much (proportionally) to the high cost.

I just saw on MHSRV site that they are advertising new Cross Trek with 800 Ah lithium package and it seems to add just under $9,000. Thatís more than the cost of 8 X 100 Ah lithium batteries, but I donít know what else is included in lithium package. There is 380 Watts of solar as part of another package.

The important part I see is that 800 Ah is about 10 kWh of energy, which is more than the original Travato offered for about $20k. I know itís not apples-to-apples comparison, but itís pretty close at about half the price.

Thoughts on when a generator-less motorhome will start making sense for your use?
I like the idea, but it would have to incorporate an Electric Dash Air conditioning, and remove the rooftop unit.
My small class C dash air conditioning keeps the unit cool. This should also keep most class B's cool.
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Old 02-27-2021, 06:56 PM   #15
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Never. I’ve gotten along for 50+ years mostly with just a small (quiet) portable generator. I rarely want AC and even more rarely camp in commercial CGs.

I put 200 w of solar on my current RV. It is useless because I need the power to run the heater in cold months and at my latitude the sun is only up a few hours and at such a low angle the solar adds zip.

I am considering an exhaust pipe extension for the generator my current RV has to hopefully quiet it for those rate occasions I want it and others are camped nearby. But for my next trip starting next month I’m just replacing the 12 v batteries with 6 v golf cart batteries. I can get by a couple of nights without charging with them.
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Old 02-27-2021, 07:59 PM   #16
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I'm not sure I see a case yet where I'd do without a generator. It's part of the reason I went to a motorhome from a travel trailer. Instead of installing an inverter and adding two 100 amp hour lithiums to the two I already have, I purchased a bluetti ac200p for about $1700. It's got 2000 kw, equivalent to 170 amp hours at 12 volts. It has a built in inverter for alternating power. It can accept something like 700 watts from solar panels and has a built in mppt charge controller. It'll accept about 400 watts charge from ac. Sun availability and panel setup would not be much of an option for recharging in my view. Between my 200 ah of lithium (what'll fit in the step), the 2kw bluetti and the generator (operated to top up lithium and bluetti every 2 or 3 days) I should be able to keep things going. Air conditioning looks to be out of the question without the generator.
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Old 02-27-2021, 08:12 PM   #17
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No doubt air conditioning requirements affect system design to a great degree. Without need to power an air conditioner (or two), a modern motorhome can often get by without a conventional generator. And without need to power A/C, there is also little need to have 600~800 Amp-hours of lithium batteries, or any other type making up a large battery bank.

The Winnebago Revel has no standard A/C listed, and comes with only 2 X 125 Ah lithium batteries, but includes dedicated alternator for fast charging. I have no idea what they provide or expect owner to do if optional rooftop A/C is purchased.

The base Winnebago EKKO system is a middle ground in that it has one large lithium battery but also keeps a small generator that can power A/C for extended periods and or charge the battery. It also has a lot of solar. It seems like a good compromise to keep cost down while providing significant capabilities.
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Old 02-27-2021, 08:29 PM   #18
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I don't believe that this has to be an "either/or" choice. They could easily downsize the generator as yhey ramp up the alternator and solar power.
( and even add wind turbines!)
They also need more energy storage capacity...
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Old 02-27-2021, 08:35 PM   #19
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Point is that $10,000 or more worth of lithium batteries isn't needed unless RV design involves powering air conditioner from batteries for extended periods.

Revel below is an example:
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Old 02-27-2021, 08:45 PM   #20
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The entire power process needs to be re-thought.
Throwing a lot of money into one aspect of it won't work... :
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