Before our Big Lap of Australia began, I knew I needed to replace our AGM batteries in the Hybrid Camper with something better.
This was done for a number of reasons, but we ended up with two 170aH Renogy Lithium Batteries, and have been running them for nearly a year and a half now, and full time for the last 11 months.
If you want to know why we went with Renogy lithium batteries, we have a post covering that in detail.
We paid for these
Before I go on, you should also know that we paid full retail price for these with our own money, and this is not a sponsored post where we rave about a product and then give you a discount code so we can make a few extra dollars on the side.
Like all of our reviews, we’re happy to call a product garbage if that is what it is.
What have the batteries been used for?
In any review, I feel its important that you know how the item has been treated, and used in real life, or the review is not of much use at all.
In our case, these were to be our primary energy source on our Hybrid Camper Trailer, and attached to 720W of permanently mounted solar panels on the roof of the camper.
They primarily run our 82L Evakool Freezer, water pumps, lights, diesel heater and a whopping 3000W Renogy Inverter, which we use to charge laptops, run an induction cooktop, toaster and some other random electronics, as needed.
The induction cooktop is by far and away the heaviest electrical consumer, and we regularly run it on maximum, at 2000W to heat water for dishes, or to make hot drinks.
This pulls about 150 amps from our batteries on full power, and has been doing it since we first put them in.
On a normal day, we’d consume somewhere around 150aH, with the battery levels not dropping below 60% with the solar kicking in. We’d normally go to sleep with the batteries down about 40aH, wake up with them around 80aH, and after breakfast, before the sun is really out be down about 120aH.
If it was overcast, we’d often go lower than this, and swap to our DIY lithium battery in the back of the Dmax for the induction cooktop. If that got low, we’d go back to gas on the Hybrid, which has happened on a couple of occasions when its been really overcast, or when we’ve had to camp under shade.
Our camper trailer has been towed down some of the roughest 4WD tracks that there are in Australia, and it goes anywhere we want to take our 4WD.
The batteries were installed on 6mm Linatex Rubber to give them some shock absorption, and they are not too far away from the axle, but they would live a much harder life than someone who used the batteries in a stationary application.
The batteries also have an Enerdrive DCDC connected, which is set to 50 amps maximum charge, but never seems to go above 23 (I’m assuming the cables run to it from the Anderson on the drawbar are not large enough).
We generally don’t use this for charging off our vehicle unless the batteries are very flat, as the solar is more than adequate to keep up.
In theory then, it would cop a maximum of around 65 – 70 amps if we were driving in full sun, but its more likely around 50 – 60 amps. I’ve never charged them at any ridiculous rates, although we easily could.
How have the batteries performed?
Before I go into this any further, to date they’ve done more than 24324aH, or 332kwh. This is just what the Renogy MPPT controller has logged as charge going in, and none of what our Enerdrive DCDC has done through its 120W panel, solar blanket or alternator charge (which is probably another 20%, give or take.
That’s roughly 162 hours of running our induction cooktop at full bore (2000W), or 7 days straight of run time at 150 amps or so, but obviously the actual use has been split over multiple appliances.
Honestly, there’s nothing bad I can say about these batteries. They’ve performed flawlessly, and in an environment which sees a lot of corrugations and rough tracks, its awesome to see.
I was told by a number of people that prismatic cells were the only way to go, and that these cylindrical ones would likely give me grief, but so far, no issues at all.
They are good value
Renogy make some really decent quality gear, for a fraction of the price that some of the other brand names do, and their batteries are no exception to this.
You can now buy a 100aH lithium battery for $600, and the 170 aH batteries are only about $900 when the sales are on, which is amazing.
That said, we did have a 2000W Renogy inverter failure, and I’m still testing the rest of their gear!
Renogy Customer Service could be improved
The one thing that I am a bit dubious about with Renogy is its customer service, and support here in Australia.
If you look at their reviews online they get a really bad wrap overall in relation to support, and in Australia there’s not even a phone number you can ring to get assistance.
I’ve put in a query regarding their lithium battery profiles on their MPPT units, and the response I received didn’t inspire a huge amount of confidence.
When our inverter started to fail I was in touch with them over a number of days via email, and again, the responses weren’t fast, technically sound or overly helpful.
However, there is a way around this; Zero Grid Australia is the Australian reseller, and I’m told they’ll match the pricing from Renogy, so you can buy from them, and get a good product at a great price, with some solid backup if required.
Lithium has been a game changer
I hate to use that term, but moving to lithium has been one of the best things that we’ve done. We absolutely love our induction cooktop, and whilst the system wasn’t built to run one full time (but it does a pretty good job of it!), I hate the thought of using our caravan gas stove, that takes forever to boil water for a hot drink.
On the days where we have reverted to gas, I get frustrated as the time frame to cook and boil water is so much longer.
We run a toasted sandwich machine from time to time, and hammer our $7 toaster all the time, and the lithium batteries just don’t bat an eye.
They are also much lighter, which is fantastic (although once you factor the MPPT, inverter and solar panels the overall weight is marginally more).
Would we change anything if we did it again?
Just the other day I was talking to Sarah about our battery system, and if we’d do anything differently. I feel we probably got the balance between price, quality and size pretty bang on for what we are doing, but you couldn’t depend on these batteries alone to live full time with an induction cooktop.
As soon as bad weather comes you are totally stuffed, and no amount of solar generates enough to keep you going.
Fortunately we can use our 230aH lithium in the Dmax, which buys us another day or two, but then we have to go back to gas.
I’d only run induction with an outdoor kitchen, and I think I’d go slightly bigger in system size to have a little less energy ‘range anxiety’.
I’d still get the Renogy products again though, which is what you’re most interested in hearing.
Renogy Lithium Battery Review
Overall, like most of the other Renogy products, I’m really pleased.
If we have any issues you’ll hear about them here, but I’m quietly confident that these batteries will outlive the length of time that we hang onto the hybrid camper (no, we aren’t selling it any time soon), and you can’t ask for more than that!
Do you run Renogy Lithium Batteries? What do you think of them?