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Question Of The Week

Lithium Batteries For Truck Camping: 57 Powerful Responses

After reading the following responses to this week’s Question of the Week, I had something of a flashback.

Just ten years ago, the truck camper industry was grappling with the price, promise, and public perception of LED interior lights.

Compared to proven and cheap incandescent interior lights, LEDs were about 10-times more efficient, 10-times more expensive, and 10-times more likely to get a customer complaint.

If I had a nickel for every time I heard a truck camper owner back then say LED lights were, “Too bright”, “Too blue”, or, “Too cold” I’d have a few bucks.  The promise of LED was right there, but the cost needed to visit us on Earth.  More importantly, the light quality of LEDs needed to be less operating table, and more dining room table.  Some of those early LEDs would nearly poke your eyes out.

Despite these issues, the future was clearly going to be LED.  The advantages in efficiency, longevity, and heat were just too compelling to ignore.

Fast forward to 2017 and there isn’t a RV manufactured with incandescent interior lighting – not one.  The price of LED lighting has come down dramatically, and the quality has skyrocketed.  Even most of the hold-out consumers with older campers have upgraded to LED.  It’s a done deal.  Incandescent lighting in the RV marketplace is dead.

Today, lithium batteries for truck campers are where LED lights were in 2007.  The price, promise, and public perception of lithium batteries is nowhere near where it needs to be for adoption by the industry or consumer.  And yet, the future of truck camper battery technology is clearly lithium.  The days of lead acid batteries are numbered.

I’ll make a bold prediction.  In ten years, every truck camper will be sold exclusively with lithium batteries.  By 2027, lead acid will be dead.

Not bold enough?  In ten years, no less than 10-percent of those lithium powered truck campers will be pulled by 100-percent electric lithium-powered trucks.  Put that in your future hat.  It’s a done deal.

This week’s Question of the Week was, “Does a product like the Goal Zero Yeti 400 Lithium make sense for truck camping?”  This feedback is in response to the article, “Portable Lithium Power Goes Truck Camping”.

“It does make sense, especially for a camper like mine which has a very limited electrical system.  The standard uses for me would be to charge a laptop, phone, camera, and a whole host of other things” – Randy Welch, 1962 Chevrolet C20, 1976 Alaskan 8-foot cabover

“Not for me.  I much prefer a wired PSW (pure sign wave) inverter with Lithium Iron Phosphate house batteries.  There is real amp hour capacity, the ability to discharge to almost zero with no drop in output voltage, and the ability to recharge using a conventional on board converter like a Progressive Dynamics charge wizard unit.

I can operate my CPAP all night with the humidifier and and still have 50-percent charge left, plus the Iron Phosphate batteries (Group 27 rated) weigh less than 26 pounds each, or about half the weight of a conventional flooded cell / AGM battery.  And they can operate in any position and require no venting.  The downside is price at about $800 each.

With any truck camper, weight is always a prime consideration and less is always better.  I looked at products like the Goal Zero Yeti in the past but, I consider it another accessory that I really don’t need and, additional weight.” – Daryl Davis, 1997 Ford F350, 2014 Palomino Backpack SS1500

“Absolutely!  We have used one in our camper for lighting and charging all of our devices.  We camp in the winter a lot and often down to five degrees Fahrenheit so battery power is at a premium.  I also dislike running my generator for long periods of time.

I have nearly all the Goal Zero products and use the smaller Sherpa product to run computer fans in the closets to keep condensation down.  I even run my Traeger BBQ off the larger battery pack.  To me, it’s well worth the money spent.” – Ken L., 1998 Dodge 3500, Arctic Fox 1150

“Yes and no.  I probably would invest in AGM house batteries and an inverter first.  But, it would be great for outdoor night lighting at the picnic table or screen room.  Plus, I could use it for ATVing and off-road adventuring.

The Goal Zero Yeti 400 Lithium would be great to take on boats, kayaks, plug-in 12-volt fish finders, etc.  It would be also be a great emergency backup in the truck camper and at home.” – Gerald Kato, 2012 GMC 2500, 2017 Cirrus 820

“I am interested in lithium batteries for my camper.  I need a charge controller for marine lithium batteries that can be recharged from RV campground power, photovoltaic panels, and a portable Honda or Yamaha generator.

I would use it for radios (shortwave, amateur), satellite television (Dish, Wally, flat panel display), camera and laptop battery recharging, and LED lighting while boondock camping.  The camper will use four Carmanah 95-watt thin removable photovoltaic panels (380-watts total).” – Ed Scott, 2018 Toyota Tundra, DIY wood-epoxy custom pop-up

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