Where to invest on improving electricity in your RV for winter use - Part 2

Installation of two-12 volt Lithium batteries on the inside of an Outdoors RV Backcountry 20BD.


This is a continuation of my post about improving electricity in preparation for going out to ski areas this winter. Here is the previous post for your reference.

It took a lot of persistence on my part to get on the schedule of the Minneapolis Lazydays RV. They are quite busy selling and servicing big ticket Motor Coaches and Airstream. But after visiting with several other RV dealer service departments it became apparent their experience and expertise was worth the wait.

There are two primary considerations with a job like this:

  1. The physical installation. Where to locate the batteries? How to run the cables?

  2. Thinking through the electronics and ensuring everything is compatible:

    • Is the solar charge converter compatible with the new Lithium batteries

    • Does the existing charger/converter have a switch that changes its operation for Lithium? Or does the converter need to be replaced?

    • Will the built in generator play nice with the new batteries?

    • How to get the car charger connection to the new battery location?

I am way out of my element on the physical things of number 1. These service folks were drop dead experts here as you will see with the pictures. On the electronics part, there was a need for me to play the quarterback and do my own homework. Things like:

  • Do my own research on battery types.

  • Talk with Outdoors RV about the installed charger/converter

  • I found that the RV dealers and manufacturers are still a bit leery of Lithium batteries. I needed to stand up for my opinions after doing the research while listening to their advice regarding installation.

    Now let’s look at the installation.

The original batteries were installed here in the trailer tongue triangle area. With the batteries removed, now I have a nice little storage area. Not sure what I will use it for, maybe firewood.

The cables from the old battery rout under the rig and to the various components. So how to tie the new batteries into the system from the new location? The cables from the new battery have to tie into the system in the same way. A new path must be made from where the new Lithium batteries are installed. This is where creativity and good carpentry skills came into play. Below is the only visible sign of this new path. A path from under the rig that goes through the storage area to under the bed where the batteries are. Was nicely done by LazyDays RV.

There are two drawers under the bed of our trailer. One of them was given up for the battery location. Here is the drawer that will be repurposed for the chicken coop, if my wife gets ahold of it.

Here are the installed batteries under the bed.

The final piece of the new situation is the installation of a Victron Energy BMV-712 Smart Battery Monitor. (No commissions come to me, just a link.) The reason for a battery monitor is to know exactly what is going on with your batteries.

  • What percentage of battery capacity do I have left right now?

  • How much am I consuming or charging right now?

  • At the current rate of consumption, how long until I need to charge the batteries again?

Here is a screen shot after running the furnace several hours with the furnace currently running. The bottom item showing 1 day 12 hours of time remaining is especially useful. This means if the furnace ran constantly I would not need to charge the battery’s until the next day. Super useful to look at after a days skiing.

Here is the screen when the furnace stops running. Amazing how accurate it is and how precise you can be in knowing when the next battery charge is needed. It is also interesting to know how much electricity the furnace fan uses or any other electric appliance.

Here it is the furnace fan on and plugged into electricity. Note the current and power numbers are now positive.

Finally here is the screen shot of when plugged in with nothing turned on and the battery’s fully charged.

So all in all I am pretty pumped to get after it and go skiing. Will be reporting soon from Grand Teton National Park and Grand Targhee Resort.

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