Note: This is an older post and I have subsequently upgraded to 400 AH of Discover Lithium and a Xantrex 3000 XC Pro Inverter. A few people have asked me why I didn’t simply purchase more Battleborns. Answer is: No Bluetooth. This new technology lets you monitor the health of individual batteries – very important the more more you have. Battleborn has releases some mumbo-jumbo that they intend to stay in the stone age. So I switched to Renogy.
At first I really intended to keep the crummy flooded lead acid batteries that came with my coach.
They need to have water added every month, only have about 110 Amp-Hours (for 2, because you can only discharge them 50% if that before damaging).
They weigh 60-70 pounds each.
In spite of all that, they work fine and should last a few years. Even when we are dry camping (so called boondocking) we only use about half that each day. And every day we go somewhere so the alternator charges them, and even if we didn’t the sun quickly recharges them also.
However, we really really really want a compressor refrigerator, that will use about 50 amp hours a day all by itself, so that wouldn’t leave much to dry camp with.
This upgrade solves that. We will have almost double the usable amp-hours, albeit at an exorbitant price.
So the first, step is, I had to tweak the stock Magnum inverter charger with a better remote that allows you to tweak for Lithium. See Magnum Remote ME-RC50.
It also helps to have battery monitoring. No sense in having fancy Lithium batteries and have no clue what the state of charge is. So I had already installed the Victron BMV-712.
After that, this is a pretty easy task. You just rip out the old batteries and drop in the new. A few caveats: the new batteries are wired in parallel instead of series so you need 2 new cables.
I went for the giant 2/0 cables which are a bit overkill but with copper too big is always good. The other advantage is these are very flexible, so easy to use. Sadly Amazon doesn’t have the right size in the ones I prefer but you can order them here: 21″ X 5/16″ 2/0 battery cables. You need one red and one black, and be sure to specify 21″ and 5/16″ end on both sides.
Some safety notes. I switched off the battery and unplugged the coach. I still treated every wire as hot. The safe way to remove battery cables, which I often see mechanics get wrong is, remove the negative first. That way, if you accidentally contact metal somewhere, no shower of sparks. Likewise, as you wire these back up, always start with positive.
Note that there is a right way and a wrong way to wire batteries in parallel. You can just wire both batteries directly to a distribution bus bar, which I didn’t do.
Or you can wire the coach negative to one battery and the coach positive to the other battery, which I did, and then join the negatives and positives on both.
What you should not do is wire the coach negative and positive to one battery and then parallel wire the second battery. This will sorta work, but the second battery will have a slightly higher cable run and a tiny voltage drop to it, so the pair won’t work as well together. So if you look carefully at the final installation photo each battery has one post with only one connection, which are the new 21″ cables.
Next there are a couple bolt heads sticking up on the floor on the sides of the battery compartment. At first I was going to cut a 3/8″ piece of plywood, but I ended up using 2 rolls of a 3/8″ rubber material I have used before. The rubber cuts (fairly) easily with a knife and gives these babies a soft ride.
Finally the batteries showed up! They came superbly shipped in separate boxes with deep layers of styrofoam protection.
The final result is below. A couple additional notes:
Note that in my excitement to fire these up, I forgot to take a picture of the wiring, but here is a crude diagram:
Be sure to torque the bolts down to 10 foot pounds or so. Loose battery terminals can cause very bad things.
I had to remove all of the battery stops screwed into the floor of the compartment except for the rear one. The new batteries are much wider. In fact they barely fit lengthwise.
I used some left over rubber to put some small strips on the left and and right and in between the batteries so they don’t bounce around.
The battery door also has some metal hold down bars that if left on would touch the battery terminals. A lot of people just remove these. I ran out of daylight today, but I plan to reinstall them moved slightly over to clear the terminals. While I doubt I will drive off a 3 foot curb and bounce the batteries, battery hold downs are installed for a reason presumably.
So how did they work?
Well, for starters, I reset the charger profile in my new Magnum remote to CC/CV which is available on later revisions using these settings:
- Max Amps – 100 – default
- Charge Volts – 14.4
- End Charge – 60 minutes – default
- Recharge – 13.3 Volt (which is 90% of a fully charged battery)
- Max charge – 12 hours (default)
These were gleaned from a couple contradictory articles written by Battleborn. I plan to call them and see if any tweaks are appropriate, together with my actual experience after using them. If you have an older controller that does not support CC/CV, you may be able to still use them with settings recommended by Battleborn, but I didn’t have to do that.
The solar controller has no such settings, so I just changed to AGM as recommended.
As soon as I powered up everything and put in these settings, the magnum charger quickly started pumping 50-60 amps in, even though the batteries were shipped 90% charged, and topped them off in short order.
Batteries seem to work great as expected. I’ll be doing a few tests, namely, seeing how they stay charged on shore power, as well as testing how they charge with solar and alternator.
So I’ll update with results soon!
First Update 09.11.2019 The RV is in storage; I’m too busy to travel for a bit.
I stopped by to clean up the install, including lowering the battery hold downs slightly and centering them over the new batteries.
That completes the installation. While I was there I checked and the batteries were still about 98% charged on shore power, which is good.
I have some significant “vampire” loads. Among these are the propane solenoid (I plan to address that), the battery monitor, and my Internet router. So if the charging wasn’t working by now I would see some depletion, so all is well so far.
I still need to test the alternator and solar charging, but I’m pretty confident that will be fine. Some have reported the alternator will fail to charge the Lithium batteries past 80% or so because of the way the relay works. Even if that were true I doubt I would bother to address that as the 400 watts of roof solar would fill in the rest quite quickly.
Update 10/5/2019 I’ve had some chances to drive and use the RV. My initial observation is that while it works fine, the alternator and solar charging is not optimal. Neither seems to charge the battery fully and I’m often driving around at a 90% SOC.
That extra 10% doesn’t sound like much, but with my ongoing compressor RV refrigerator install I need every amp hour I can get.
After reading up on it a bit, I see the solar controller I have really is low priced junk. It’s not just that there is no Lithium charge profile, so its not optimal, but the technology is simplistic. What I want apparently is an MPPT controller that is more efficient at coaxing the maximum out of cells, particularly in shade. As a bonus it will have a proper Lithium charging profile.
Likewise, the factory relay under the seat that performs alternator charging is not optimal for Lithium. It appears that I want a DC-DC charger to optimize my Battleborn charging,
So the bottom line is, both of these are relatively small and inexpensive projects, and worth doing. Even for now though, the Battleborn upgrade was a great investment as is.
Because even at a 90% charge rate that’s still almost twice the useful amp hours of the factory setup.
I moved my RV to storage closer to home. The new storage is more expensive and has no electricity. This gives me a different angle on things as the RV has been sitting a lot lately while I am busy with other things.
I have been periodically running the generator to maintain the battery (no solar as its under a roof). That’s how I noticed the Magnum charger is really flaky. It continuously cycles up to almost 60 amps of charge, then after about 30 seconds goes to 0 and the charge led flashes. A few seconds later the cycle repeats. So much of the time its doing nothing.
I emailed Battleborn, and got this back:
We don’t recommend the Magnum MMS-1012 Inverter/charger with our batteries. It does not charge them properly, there is a setting it does not allow you to change that needs to be changed to properly charge our batteries. It’s called the final charge state setting.
On the 2000 watt Magnum inverter/chargers and higher you are able to change those settings and they work well with our batteries.
Well, I kinda already knew it wasn’t ideal and doesn’t charge the battery the last 10%.
So I emailed Magnum and got back this:
If voltage from generator goes too low below vac dropout charge led will blink amperage to 0. Go into setup menu and reduce VAC dropout, if currently at 80 go to 60 and if higher than 80 lower to 80 and test again
Well, that sounds stupid. I have a 3.6KW generator. 60 Amps X 12 Volts is 720 watts, so I’m pretty confident my generator is not even breaking a sweat at this rate and is putting out 120 Volts.
But I decided to try it anyway, not matter how stupid it sounded, and actually that fixed it perfectly by lowering the VAC dropout to 60.
So I am assuming that setting doesn’t mean what it says, or Magnum uses some way of measuring it that is only valid on mars or something. I’ll have to measure the voltage of my generator and confirm its always 120 but anyway that makes the Magnum OK for now.
Well I went ahead and upgraded solar to the Victron SmartSolar MPPT 100/50. This should eke out a bit more solar and play better with Lithium.
The Magnum charger eventually drove me nuts and I put in a real Lithium charger in addition: Progressive Dynamics pd9180alv-80-amp-lithium-charger .
That worked outstanding! The issue was the Magnum would just bounce around at 50 amps on shore power. On the generator it was even worse – it kept hopping from 50 down to zero and back, taking a long time to build up enough charge.
Well as we approach the 2 year mark these batteries have been great! There are some new options on the market including Lithionics that tempt me but for now I am satisfied. Its worth noting that since then I have installed 600 watts of solar.
Also, if you have a small alternator be aware that the Lithium ability to absorb a (high!) charge could fry your alternator or turn off the charging. Even though I have a Mercedes 220 amp alternator, their upfitter guide recommends no more that 40 amps for house battery charging.
I often see a charge rate of 100 amps. Thats why many people put in a DC-DC charger that will limit charging to a more reasonable value, say, 50 amps.
As a compromise for now I installed a dash alternator switch. This simple hack lets me turn off the alternator charging of the Battleborns. The idea is, if the batteries are not fully charged, I keep the charger off until I am blasting down the highway.
At cruising speed the alternator is more easily able to keep up with the huge 100 amp demand from the Battleborns due to a higher rpm and better cooling.
Eventually the DC-DC charger is probably the safer way to go but for now its working our fine!(Paid Links)
22 thoughts on “Battleborn Lithium RV Install”
Great write up! Thanks for taking the time to share with other forum members your installation process. Please do update his when you have some real world experience with your new Battle Born batteries.
Thanks! I certainly will update. So far looking good, but I won’t be taking any trips for a couple months. 🙁 RV is in storage, but I plan to visit today to see how the Magnum charger has maintained them as a first step. Then on to testing the alternator and solar charging.
I am planning a similar set-up to yours and want that last 10% AH capacity that you are looking for! I also have read that a DC to DC charger is a much better solution than the factory isolator relay and an upgrade to a MPPT solar charger makes sense. Have you made those changes yet and, if so, what charger and MPPT unit did you install and what has your experience been? Coincidently, Renogy has come out with a combined DC to DC charger integrated with a 50 amp MPPT solar charge controller ($299).
It seems like this would be the perfect solution but there isn’t a lot of experience yet with this unit and I am a bit reluctant to be an early adopter.
I haven’t upgraded either the solar or the factory isolator yet. For that matter the I have noticed the Magnum acts a little funny, besides leaving off the top 10% it cycles on and off when charging. I have to investigate that further.
I would say the solar is my next priority as I like to dry camp and it just seems the most critical. WIth the magnum or the alternator if it takes a little longer to coax a full charge not really a big deal for me. Also if the solar worked better while driving it would be less important that the factory isolator relay is not ideal…
I’m leaning towards the Victron for the solar as I already have their monitor and I really like the bluetooth controls so I don’t have to mount a panel.
The Renogy you list is really interesting. The one negative I can think of is if it fails you are really in trouble!
Right now I’m working on a refrigerator upgrade and just can’t seem to make enough time for everything…
Thanks for the update. I agree one of the downsides of the new Renogy unit is it presents a single point of failure for solar and alternator charging. You would still have the L.P. Generator as a back-up but it’s less than ideal.
I am beginning to rethink the move to Lithium. The price tag is now up around $2500 once you add in the DC to DC charger. There are other limitations that need to be overcome before my rig becomes a serious boondocking machine (only 21 useable gallons of
fresh water) so I may just stick with my trusty 6V flooded Trojan batteries for now, beef-up my solar and hope prices come down on Lithium.
I’ll continue to monitor this blog to check on your progress! Best of luck!
This has been very helpful to me.. I just bought a battle born and have a magnum ME2012, outback for my solar.. the 10% is driving me nuts.. Lol I just can’t figure out how to fix that. I am going to keep following you and see how your journey goes! 😁
That Renogy is actually very cool one major drawback though is there is no inverter included.. you would have to have a separate inverter or everything run 12 volt. And as for “single-point a failure” if your charger goes out you basically don’t have solar anyway so you already have a single point of failure. Without the charger your chassis can’t charge your house batteries and Solar only works if your solar can send charge to your charger.. otherwise you’re just have an expensive reflective roof. I love the simplicity of that unit so much less complicated than the Magnum and the outback combined..
I decided to tackle the solar upgrade first. I’m 90% through the install of the SmartSolar 50 MPPT charge controller. That should put out more power under a variety of conditions (especially overcast), and properly top off the batteries with a Lithium profile. I figured that would be the most useful upgrade, and relatively inexpensive. The alternator relay may be less important as most of the time I’ll have solar anyway while driving.
The magnum has been working ok most of the time but with the AC running it does not charge optimally; it continuously cycles from a 50 amp charge and back to 0 – the same problem I had originally all the time. I haven’t looked at that yet and may never, as most of the time if I’m plugged in and running the AC – battery charging is not really an urgent concern!
I should have the writeup on the solar controller soon and maybe that will reliably supply the missing 10%.
Although I am not quite following you on the single point of failure. On my current setup the Magnum, alternator relay, and the solar charger all compete to charge the batteries, and none is dependent on the other, so if one fails I still have 2 left. I like the extra redundancy.
What changes have you seen since you upgraded to the Victron MPPT? Are you getting the final 10% charge now?
Hello yes since I upgraded to MPPT I am seeing solar charge as expected, with the battery typically charging until near full.
Howdy! I was pleased to see that I installed my Battleborn’s correctly (2017 Unity TB), although I wished I had seen this article first. I am also upgrading the Go Power solar controller and the iMagnum inverter controller (SO glad to see it is a plastic panel!)
However, I have run into a problem and I was wondering if you have had the same problem or heard about it elsewhere? My diesel generator now will not run. It keeps blowing the 30amp fuse. I cannot figure out what I have done to create this problem. I do OK at replacing but am not enough of an electrician to find a short that I may have somehow created. I contacted Darrell with LTV and they did not have any ideas other than the useful knowledge that there IS a 30amp fuse behind the smaller door on the right of the generator.
Any thoughts would be welcome!
Hi! Only thing I can think of is, the Battleborns will accept a higher charge rate than lead acid possibly. Maybe 12 amps or so tops of 120 VAC. So if you are also running the air conditioner AND maybe some other stuff could you be over 30 amps? When the AC starts it can peak around 20 amps all by itself. If the AC is off is everything OK? Other things you could try are, what happens on shore power and what happens if you turn the charger off or let the batteries fully charge till it gets to float?
Thanks for your reply. I have tried shire power on and off. AC off. Power switch on and off. I was told by LTV. That other than physically disconnecting the batteries there is no way to stop power to the generator . They had no idea either. I need to put a multi meter to the blown fuse and see just how many amps are coming through. I hate that when I ask Battleborn and Magnum that I get different answers about settings. Frustrating. Thanks for your help!
Have you gone ahead and installed a compressor refrigerator?
Hello, yes! The trials and tribulations are written up here at: Isotherm Cruise 219 RV Install
My RV is set up to charge the COACH battery AND the IGNITION battery. When I replace them (coach) with Battle-Born batteries do I need to do something ELSE? Or will my alternator’s regulator take care or the charge limit? Also, I have an AGM controller that came with my solar panel — do I need a BMS as well?
My alternator charging continued to work just fine. I also have a relay under my seat that joins them for alternator charging. It works fine, with a couple caveats. One is that when the Battleborn’s are low, they accept A LOT of charge. I see my alternator running at 90 or 100 amps. The Mercedes alternator and circuits handle this just fine, and the wire running from that relay to the battery compartment was big enough to handle it. If you were installing more than 2 batteries you most likely need another approach to limit the current like a DC-DC charging relay, but 2 should be fine. The other caveat is that because of the higher voltage on the Battleborns, my alternator charge turns off early and leaves them only 85 or 90% charged, not a big deal for me as the solar will top them off. Even at 85% that is still way more amp hours than flooded batteries. If your solar controller has an AGM setting that will be fine; set your battery charger for AGM also if you do not have Lithium profiles. So the bottom line is, if you just drop in and set AGM profiles everything will work as is – but you may find the battery not being 100% charged. That is how I came to eventually replace the solar and the battery charger.
The following: Magnum remote to CC/CV which is available on later revisions using these settings:
Max Amps – 100 – default
Charge Volts – 14.4
End Charge – 60 minutes – default
Recharge – 13.3 Volt (which is 90% of a fully charged battery)
Max charge – 12 hours (default)
These were gleaned from a couple contradictory articles written by Battleborn. I plan to call them and see if any tweaks are appropriate, together with my actual experience after using them.
I will be using the same controller with my two battleborn batteries. Have you any revision to the settings for CC/CV?
On my rig both CC and regular profile were unsatisfactory on generator. For some reason the charger would Yo-Yo charging on and off, resulted in a lot of wasted time. It still worked, just slower. On AC it was more reliable but still went into Yo-Yo mode occasionally. I was never able to get it to work properly so I kept it as backup and then also installed a proper Lithium charger.
Because the charging sorta worked it took me a while to realize it was not optimal. For many people it would have been OK but I needed the full charge for my compressor fridge.
Maybe you will have better results with a different revision.
I just installed 2 Lion Energy 100AH batteries on my van. I am trying to decide if I need to upgrade my inverter which is a Magnum MMS 1012 rev 1.6. Magnum is saying yes, other people say no and it seems that the the better co troller should allow for CC/CV charging. What rev did you guys have on your inverter/charger when you made the switch? If I have to upgrade I will but don’t really want to lose any space.
Sorry this was actually years ago and I don’t recall. Modern lithium batteries like the ones I have now (Discover) usually want lower voltages and a moderate absorption voltage, followed by a lower float voltage (typically 13.6 or so) to run things while parked. I think the CC/CV type charging is now really obsolete.
So I would check with your Lion Energy documentation on what is acceptable. But none of the batteries I have used since the Battleborn allow CC/CV charging.