We have returned from Canada and are back in the USA. The lithium ion batteries worked just fine for our lengthy trip outside the USA. Since we planned for and ultimately spent 35 days in Newfoundland (our farthest point north), we had some initial concerns as to what would or could take place if something happened to either battery (chassis or coach).
While it is now early September, last March, when I was initially discussing with the manufacturer (Lithionics Battery) the potential for testing the lithium ion batteries over, roughly, at least the next year, my planned time in Newfoundland was one of the primary concerns. The company assured me they had “UN DOT” approval to ship their batteries all over the world by air and could get a battery to me if needed. This was a major point in my discussion with them last Spring. Our plan at the time was to go to Newfoundland and I was adamant about there being no obstacles or excuses with a potential battery replacement if one should be needed. After all, my assumption was that I could not go to the local “battery store” very easily in Newfoundland! The good news is that we didn’t have any problems so everything was moot. But… their having approval and the ability to ship these batteries by air was comforting.
Ultimately, we were in Canada for a total of 66 days. Our planned trip took us from Sault Ste Marie, Michigan to Montreal, then along the South Shore of the St. Lawrence Seaway, out around to the Gaspe Peninsula, down through New Brunswick, through Nova Scotia to North Sydney. We boarded a ferry there for the 15-hour ride to Argentia, Newfoundland, drove over much of the island, returned on a much shorter (5 hour) ferry ride, made our way back through Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to cross the border back into the USA in Maine. My point in explaining this is that we were often in sparsely populated areas with a totally new production battery. So, it was a concern.
Two things happened on the trip that merit mentioning. First, the batteries worked perfectly. Second, I didn’t have very much opportunity to use the coach battery.
During our trip, both the chassis battery and coach battery performed just fine. My AutoGenstart is set to come on when the coach battery reads 12.1V and this is a State of Charge of 9%. When the SOC meter drops below 10%, the generator starts. I have it set to run for 4.5 hours and this takes the battery back to 100% SOC.
Here’s where the data gets iffy… I seem to be getting about a maximum of 18 hours of “battery” time after each charge. I have no way of accurately tracking this as it would mean never being away from the coach so we could accurately note the start and stop times of the generator. However, my “18 hours” has absolutely nothing to do with what you could do in your coach. It all depends on what is running and the power needed to run it.
Interestingly, my original plan was to boondock throughout Canada at least our “normal” amount (12 nights per month is our “normal”). I had read about a process in Newfoundland called “Gravel Pit Camping.” This is a slang, not a derogatory, term for staying overnight on “Crown” lands—those owned by the government and not privately or commercially owned. I confirmed that it is legal to spend two consecutive nights on the Crown lands in Newfoundland.
What is also interesting is that most of the land in Newfoundland is Crown land. Therefore, you can potentially pull off the highway next to woods, sea shore, ponds, rivers, and numerous really nice places. My problem was the size of my motorhome. I simply didn’t trust driving off-highway to get to some of these places. Yes, we saw various RVs parked in various places but all of those units were considerably smaller than us. There were lots of pick-up campers, small travel trailers, small Class C, and Class B camper vans in these places—but no large RVs.
A second, equally interesting, fact was there were very few “pull offs” along the highways in Newfoundland. I’m talking about the normal pull-off where you can simply get off the highway and park. These seem to be common everywhere but not up there. We would watch carefully (wanting to be able to pull off and park for the night) but often, there was NO place for us and NO place for any size vehicle—even the smallest car. Pull-offs were very rare and I thought this was somewhat odd since they had ample room for them.
Looking back at my battery usage since installation shows that we have not boondocked as much as we normally do. From March 4th (when we left the Lithionics parking lot) to September 1st (very close to 6 months), we boondocked a total of 38 nights. If we had just equaled our normal number of nights, we would have boondocked 72 nights. So, our usage has been about half of what we originally thought it would be.
This reduced number of boondocking nights was not based on some plan. However, because we were involved in a couple of new (to us) rallies, toured with a caravan, and were sitting in one area waiting for friends, we were mostly in campgrounds—again, far more nights than normal. Plus, the lack of potential places to boondock in Newfoundland forced us into campgrounds, too.
However, currently, we are once again back to our “normal.” For the first half of September (1-15th), we have boondocked 6 nights. This number is equal to our previous average. With this increase, our testing will continue.
There is a lot of interest in these batteries from the RV world. It only makes sense. They keep putting 100-year-old battery technology in new coaches and selling it as the “latest” thing!!! It just ain’t so!
Some of you have e-mailed me and I sense a level of frustration in that most everyone wants to know how good these batteries really are—and they want to know now. Sorry, but our test just needs to continue. We did not have problems with other types of batteries when they were relatively new. Our problems with other types of batteries was that they were not lasting long enough.
As I have said consistently, so far, these batteries have worked as they were supposed to.