Before you start any van build, you must outline every single detail of the build to have an intentional position for everything that is included in the small space that you are working with.
In addition to the capacity of the van, you have to take into account the amount of power you will be using and how long you would like your batteries to last you. This part of the planning process can be the worst for some people as it can be a very foreign concept working with electricity.
There are two main types of batteries to consider when building a campervan.
I will outline 5 of the main differences between these two batteries and help you better understand what type of battery will fit your needs the best. The comparison will be between two different batteries that are both made by Renogy.
The Renogy Deep Cycle 12 Volt 200Ah AGM Battery and Renogy 12V 200Ah w/ Bluetooth Lithium Battery exhibit a significant price disparity of approximately 170%. However, the following information will shed light on why the cost differs and potentially sway your decision toward the more expensive option.
II. Usable Energy
The amount of usable energy within your battery is one of the most important factors when considering the best battery to purchase.
While it may seem simple based on the labels of the batteries that they have a similar amount of usable energy, see below why that is not the case for batteries.
Every battery has a limited number of cycles. This means the number of times a battery can go from 100% to 0% in power.
For an AGM battery to last as many cycles as possible, the user must NEVER go below 50% power.
Therefore, for this Renogy 200Ah battery, you must only use it for 100 amp hours. If you are to go past that, the battery loses much of its overall lifespan.
This happens to be the AGM battery’s biggest downfall.
On the other hand, the lithium battery is significantly better than the AGM in this category. This battery can use the complete 100% of its charge without causing damage like the AGM.
For this reason alone, you may realize the price of a lithium battery is worth it, but wait, there’s more…
The weight of these batteries may not be the most important factor when considering which one for van life but it is definitely worth noting.
You may be stressed about the weight of your van conversion materials as everything can add up quickly so for that reason, it is good to know how much weight each item is before installing it.
The total weight of the Renogy AGM battery is 127.9 lbs.
The total weight of the Renogy Lithium battery is only 60.2 lbs.
With that being said, you could have two Lithium batteries and it would be just over the weight of one AGM battery while holding about 4x the amount of power of the single AGM battery.
Batteries can only work perfectly in a certain temperature range. In any extreme temperature whether too cold or too hot, a battery will perform much worse and could even be permanently damaged in some severe cases.
This is finally a place where most AGM batteries beat Lithium batteries. The Renogy AGM can work efficiently in temperatures as low as 5 degrees Fahrenheit and as high as 122 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you do not have a very insulated van and need the battery to work better for you in these temperatures, AGM might be the right choice for you.
The Lithium batteries, for the most part, are not very efficient in extreme temperatures, although you can manage just fine if you insulate the van and/or battery box properly.
The good news, though, is that the lithium battery will automatically stop charging after it hits 32 degrees Fahrenheit and stop discharging once the temps hit -4 degrees Fahrenheit to protect itself from damage.
With proper insulation, you won’t even need to use the battery as heavily to keep your van warm in low temperatures or cold in warm temperatures.
The best way to save energy is by using a great insulator. Check out this blog to learn more about our recommended insulation.
There are many different warranties available depending on the battery you purchase. You will see a common theme that most lithium batteries have a very long warranty as they are guaranteed to last a significant amount of time. Whereas the reality of AGM batteries is simply that they do not last that long
2-year material and workmanship warranty
3-year material and workmanship warranty
With a longer warranty on the Lithium, you can assume it is going to last longer. Other Lithium batteries made by Renogy can go up to 5 years on the material and workmanship warranties. They are confident in their batteries and so are we.
This is why Papago chooses to build most of our vans with Lithium batteries and we have rigorously tested different products to narrow it down to Renogy being the best battery for our clients.
Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of the two different types of batteries. The learning does not stop here! We are eager to teach you everything you need to know about van life before you decide to build your own or even better, have us build your dream van!