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Battery Conversion from Lead Acid to LIFePO4 on Northern Lite

Cannon_George
Explorer
Explorer

I have a Northern Lite Model 811OSEC camper.  (Shortbed)  This is my "Ham Shack" that I use for supporting various remote ACS/ARES ham radio events; I typically will use FM or UHF and sometimes HF radios to help coordinate Search & Rescue activity; often late at night and of course well out of cell phone range.  

The question I have is that I would like to replace the camper lead acid battery (only one is installed now) with a lighter (and maybe more capacity) LIFePO4 battery(ies); I expect the existing solar charge controller would need to be replaced and would I need to add a "Battery Isolator" to keep camper batteries isolated from the truck batteries?   Has anyone in this group done this upgrade?  

I appreciate any guidance that you can provide,

Thank You!

 

7 REPLIES 7

jetalkington
Explorer II
Explorer II

I have done this upgrade on my Northern Lite 9.6.  For me it is worth it. I can now stop for extended periods and not have to worry about plugging in. This means I can go to remote places and camp.  I have a 2021 so it had the lithium switch on my Progressive Power center.  However, I decided to take it out and install just a distribution center.  I have 400 watts of solar, 412 ah of lithium batteries from SOK, 3000 kw Victron energy inverter, and a 30 am DC-DC charger.  I have been out as long as 3 weeks and still returned with 100% battery.  I used Victron Energy due to them constantly upgrading their firmware to add features. When I first installed it I couldn't get LPG tank readings. Victron worked with Mopeka and incorporated a firmware update that allowed me to use Mopeka LPG tank monitors and have it report to my monitor.  It sounds like you're going to going fairly remote with search and rescue.  So, I think you would do well with a DC-DC charger. If the sun doesn't come out for a few days you can charge off. your alternator.  You will need to know your alternator size as you need to be well under 50% duty. Meaning if you want to put 50 amps in from the alternator you should have a 100-120 amp alternator as a minimum.  The basic components are solar panels, solar disconnects, solar controller, bus bars, batteries, shunt, dc-dc charger, and a monitoring system.  I like Victron for a lot of reasons. The also have a smart shunt that allows your phone to monitor SOC of the batteries. They also have a 50 amp DC-DC that came out in January.  You don't mention your truck. I have a 2020 Ford 350SD.  It cuts all power to the camper when the key is turned off. Not all do that. You would need to check the 7 pin plug at the back of your truck. For mine it shuts off after 30 seconds.  Most people that do the upgrade just disconnect the charge wire from the truck.

2020 Ford F-350 LB
2021 Northern Lite 9.6 LE

Grit_dog
Nomad III
Nomad III

Yes a lifepo4 battery is preferable for a bunch of reasons you already know. 
whether you need an isolator or not depends on your truck and whether it is hot all the time to trailer plug of not. 
Beyond that, what Stir crazy said about solar, DCDc chargers is correct. And you may want to upgrade your converter depending what it is and how you will be charging the battery. 

2016 Ram 2500, MotorOps.ca EFIlive tuned, 5” turbo back, 6" lift on 37s
2017 Heartland Torque T29 - Sold.
Couple of Arctic Fox TCs - Sold

nstaron
Explorer
Explorer

First of all, I want to commend you for your dedication and use of your Northern Lite Model 811OSEC camper as a "Ham Shack" for supporting remote ACS/ARES ham radio events. It's amazing how technology has advanced to make it possible for us to stay connected even in the most remote areas.

To answer your question, yes, it is possible and highly recommended to upgrade your camper's lead acid battery with a Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) battery. Not only will this provide you with a lighter and more efficient energy source, but it will also give you increased capacity for longer-lasting usage.

Based on the documents attached by our fellow Quora user, I would highly recommend looking into the 12V 300AH Lithium Ion Battery offered by the Lithium Battery Company. This specific battery has impressive specifications such as a nominal voltage of 12.8 V, energy of 3840 Wh, efficiency of 99%, and maximum discharge current of 100 A. With this kind of power, you can rest assured that your "Ham Shack" setup will run smoothly without any issues.

However, there are some things to consider before making the switch from lead acid batteries to lithium batteries. Since lithium batteries have different charging requirements compared to traditional lead acid batteries, it is important to also upgrade your existing solar charge controller when switching over. Additionally, since you mentioned wanting an isolated power system between your camper and truck batteries while in use,

it would be wise to invest in a battery isolator as well. This device ensures that each set of batteries remains separate while still allowing them to charge properly without draining each other.

In conclusion, upgrading your camper's battery from lead acid to lithium is definitely a smart move in terms of efficiency, weight reduction, and increased capacity. Happy camping!

-Nathan

Smells like spam…

2016 Ram 2500, MotorOps.ca EFIlive tuned, 5” turbo back, 6" lift on 37s
2017 Heartland Torque T29 - Sold.
Couple of Arctic Fox TCs - Sold

I wanted to say the same thing but I didn't have time to report the post.  haha

2014 F350 6.7 Platinum
2016 Cougar 330RBK
1991 Slumberqueen WS100

StirCrazy
Navigator
Navigator

Check the solar controler and see if it has a Li setting.  if so thats all you need to do.  as for a isolater, but a DC to DC charger..  renogy makes afordable ones in 20amp 40amp and 60 amps so you can pick how much of a load you put on your altanator.  this would let you run the truck on a night time call out and keep your battery topped up on longer calls.

do you know what battery is installed right now? if it is a normal rv type battery that comes with the rv from the dealer then it is probably an 80Ah combo deepcycle/starting.  one 100AH LFP battery will give you more than twicw thew availble power you can use with out shortining the cycle life of the battery.  you could put two in there and have an increase of about 5x usable power for aproximatly the same weight.  if you don't plug the camper's converter in then thats all you would have to do, depending on the age if you do plug in you may have to update the charging section of the converter to one that is also Li compatible if it isn't already.  

2014 F350 6.7 Platinum
2016 Cougar 330RBK
1991 Slumberqueen WS100

c_traveler2
Nomad
Nomad

I've been using this product from Renogy for 5 years with zero problems, it will do both DC-DC and solar controller in a single unit. your house charge will most likey need to be changed out as well unless it can be reprogramed.

https://www.renogy.com/dcc50s-12v-50a-dc-dc-on-board-battery-charger-with-mppt/ 

2007 F-250 4x4 /6.0 PSD/ext cab/ 2020 Bunduvry

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