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Switching from AGM Deep Cycle to Lithium Batteries: Everything you need to know

Switching between AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat) Deep Cycle and Lithium (LiFePO4) is quite straightforward, with lithium now being far more common, most chargers and 12v systems can accommodate lithium batteries. In addition to being far lighter, lithium batteries boast a significantly longer life expectancy, reducing the long-term cost of your 12v system. Finally, lithium batteries can withstand deeper discharges compared to AGM, giving you more usable power when compared to the same-capacity AGM battery. If you’re looking to upgrade to lithium, here is what you need to know.

Battery charger

Check that your battery charger is capable of charging lithium batteries, as not all AGM battery chargers are suitable for lithium batteries. This is because AGM battery chargers generally have charge profiles that are not compatible with lithium batteries, which require specific charging parameters to ensure safe and efficient charging.

When you’re looking for a battery charger, it’s also worth getting a charger that can have direct solar input with an inbuilt solar regulator. For all of our installations, we recommend the REDARC BCDC Core DC to DC In-Cabin Battery Charger which is available in 25A and 40A, if you’re running a larger setup, we also recommend the REDARC Alpha Manager range which is available in 50A, 75A and 100A charging options.

Physical mounting and installation

As lithium batteries are generally lighter and more compact than traditional AGM batteries, you may need to purchase a new mounting kit for your vehicle. The compact form factor of lithium batteries means they can be installed in tight spaces like behind the seat, or under a false floor in the rear of your vehicle, without any compromise to space. See our range of vehicle-specific mounting kits to maximise your storage space. If space is a concern in your setup, we have a large range of Ultra-Slim Lithium Batteries available.

When mounting your lithium battery ensure you consider new AS/NZ 3001 Standards that require batteries to be mounted in a sealed & vented location if installed inside the living space of the vehicle. We have compliance kits available to ensure our RV range meets these standards.

Battery monitor

Not all battery monitors are equal! Most traditional battery monitors that display the battery voltage converted to a percentage, will not work with lithium batteries. This is a result of lithium batteries not having straightforward voltage-to-capacity indicators. Lithium batteries require more complex monitoring due to their different discharge characteristics. A high-quality battery monitor like the REDARC Smart Battery Monitor or Victron BMV-712 can monitor voltage and provide real-time power estimates, along with a time until the battery is depleted, ensuring that you won’t be stranded without power.

Ventilation and safety

With the introduction of the AS/NZ 3001 Standards, batteries are required to be mounted in a vented and sealed location, if they’re inside the living space of the vehicle. It’s important to keep your lithium battery away from any sources of liquid or heat to prolong the life of your battery.

Cell quality

When shopping for a lithium battery, you’ll notice a huge variation in price from extremely cheap, to expensive. Generally speaking, there is a difference between the quality of cells used inside the battery, and the construction of these cells. Much of this comes down to the manufacturing quality control, materials used and manufacturing processes. Buying from a reputable brand that backs its products with a strong warranty ensures your camping setup’s reliability, safety and longevity. Custom Lithium use only A-Grade Automotive Prismatic LiFePO4 Cells from reputable brands such as EVE, CATL and GFB.

We understand that choosing the perfect battery for your 12v setup can be complex, give the Custom Lithium team a call on (07) 3519 4220 to get the perfect Australian-made lithium battery setup for your 4×4 or caravan.