The 12V lithium battery market has exploded beyond belief. You have batteries that start off at $400, and work their way into the thousands, with more information and sales pitches going on than you can poke a stick at.
Despite this, we’ve purchased two 170aH Renogy Lithium batteries, and installed them in our Hybrid Camper. In this post, we cover why we went with Renogy, and do so purely so you can see our perspective.
We are not associated with Renogy gear, and this post is not to encourage you to go out and to convert to lithium, or to buy Renogy gear; its purely our experience.
We are not like other travelling families who love to push certain products, and receive commissions from doing so. We paid for our batteries with our own money, and will never sell our souls to make a dollar. If you want Renogy batteries after reading this, go for it. If you don’t, that’s perfectly fine too.
We haven’t had these Renogy Lithium Batteries for too long, and will be doing a thorough, long term review once we’ve had them, and punished them for a year or more. If they fall short of the mark, we’ll be sure to let you know about it in a future post.
This post is purely to discuss why we went with Renogy, and not something else.
Why the Renogy Lithium Batteries?
Reputable brand name
I stopped buying no name gear a long time ago, unless its for something trivial that I really don’t need to live with. We’ve been bitten too many times buying cheap, unbranded gear.
These days, we try and buy somewhere in the middle, in the hope that it is decent quality without paying a huge price for it. Again, we’ve been bitten by this strategy too, so it doesn’t always work!
Renogy is a massive business that sells products worldwide, and Australia seems to be quite undersold, although I see a lot more people recommending Renogy these days, so maybe that is changing.
Renogy have a reputation for being hard to get a hold of for any warranty issues, but they have been flawless so far with all of our dealings, and I’ve spoken to a few people who have dealt with them and never had any issues.
If that changes, and we have any bad experiences with them, you’ll know about it.
Extremely good pricing
I started shopping for 12V lithium batteries months ago. I made a brief list of different battery suppliers, prices, dimensions, warranties and so on. When you are paying thousands of dollars for batteries, it pays to be confident in your purchase!
As it so happens, I had an ad come up for a Renogy sale around Boxing Day, and I was very impressed with the pricing that they were offering on all of their gear, so we picked up two 170aH batteries, a 60 amp MPPT solar charger, 3000W inverter and 600W of solar panels, all delivered to our door in Perth for about $3200.
If you know your pricing for this sort of gear, you’d appreciate this is a great price, and we did save a fairly significant amount on the boxing day sales, but I’ve seen a lot of different sales pop up since too.
We’ve actually just put an order in for more Renogy gear for the Dmax, so will be able to give you a thorough review on a huge number of their products soon!
The physical dimensions are brilliant
The biggest reason for going to the Renogy lithium batteries was their physical size. Our camper had two 120aH AGM batteries in place, but some seriously limited space issues and without relocating water pumps, DCDC chargers and other bits and pieces I could see we’d struggle to find anything that would fit well.
I wanted more than 200aH of lithium, as the 120aH usable AGM capacity wasn’t enough to cover for cloudy days, and 160aH usable (from a 200aH lithium) wasn’t much of an improvement.
I looked at slim line batteries, 200 amp hour lithium batteries, 150 amp hour batteries, and even looked at putting 3 of the Itech 120X’s in (I’m glad we didn’t!). It all would have required modifications, and they’d be annoying, fiddly and frustrating.
The Renogy 170aH lithium batteries are almost the same size as a 120aH AGM, except they are about 70mm taller, which was absolutely perfect.
I literally removed the AGM batteries, cleaned the area, put some Linatex rubber down and then dropped the new lithium batteries in place, running in the opposite direction without having to move a thing.
It meant we got 340aH of lithium batteries to fit (272aH usable, or 2.3x the previous AGM setup) without doing any major work, which was brilliant.
As it turned out, we managed to fit our 3000W inverter and 60 amp MPPT solar regulator in place, under the hatch too, along with the batteries and didn’t lose any more usable space. I was absolutely stoked at how well it worked out, and it comes from spending a bit of time working out what is going to suit.
Recommended by our auto electrician
We’ve been using Stephen from Hunter Autoelectrics for a number of years now, and he always does a good job. He’s been supplying and recommending Renogy lithium batteries for some time now, despite installing all kinds of battery systems – Enerdrive, DCS, Allspark, Itech and the list goes on.
In his opinion, Renogy seem to be the perfect middle ground between quality, price and performance, and I’m happy to take his word for it.
Lithium batteries generally come in 3 types of cells. Prismatic (rectangular blocks), Cylindrical (small cylinders) and Pouch cells (small pockets of cells).
For camping and 4WDing Prismatic seems to be the most common, and they have a good reputation for tolerance to harsh conditions.
Interestingly, the 100aH Renogy lithium batteries are pouch cells, and the 170aH lithium batteries are cylindrical.
I did a fair bit of reading on the 3 different types, and wasn’t able to come to a firm conclusion, so we’ll test it out for ourselves. In our Dmax, we have 4 prismatic cells that we are putting together to build a DIY lithium battery, and you’ll hear more about that later on.
Full, long term review to come
As mentioned, we aren’t attached to Renogy, or in any business to promote them. We’ll be doing a full review in 6 – 12 months, once we’ve used them long term.
At this stage, they’ve done about 15 days off grid and been hammered with our induction cooktop, and done really well. When we know more, you will too!