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Old 03-09-2015, 10:57 AM   #1
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Battery Technology

Here is an article on battery powered RV's, any thoughts on how it might influence trailers? Has anyone done any research?

Electric RV?
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Old 03-09-2015, 07:01 PM   #2
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Fascinating discussion, even if it does contain the usual amount of nonsense found in electric car discussions... mostly people missing fundamental technical issues.

Applying the same philosophy - get your energy from a charging station and carry it in huge batteries - is already done at a small scale... lots of people go for a weekend with their travel trailer's battery as the only source of electricity for lights, electronics, water pump, and furnace fan. Extending this to other energy uses (such as cooking) would lead to some large and expensive batteries, hampered by the same lack of freedom to travel as experienced by electric car owners. It would work for some, but not for me.

For anyone considering this, some form of lithium batteries - and presumably LiFePO4, not lithium-ion and certainly not anything Telsa uses - are a starting point. I suggest winning a lottery first A high-capacity solar system also seems like a good complementary equipment choice.

Going completely battery-electric for the tow vehicle as well seems completely nonsensical to me, given that battery-electric is not viable for freely wandering long distance even with a car.
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Old 03-10-2015, 10:36 AM   #3
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My "Won the Lottery" custom built RV would require a few new technologies, or at least improvements on current ones. It would be about a 32' Class A both framed & skinned with carbon fiber that is driven by in-wheel electric motors & powered by a mix of propane based fuel cells & batteries, solar, electric generating shock absorbers, and any other technology I've read about. 4 wheel steering including 90° wheel cut so it could be parked sideways, and an similarly powered towed vehicle that communicates with the RV so that both could park sideways while connected together. Steer by wire, so one could park it standing outside using a remote.

Since GM paid $1,000,000 per 100KW hydrogen fuel cell used in their Chevy Equinox & I'll expect to need 3 of them to produce enough power to drive 4 -100 horsepower motors, it might get a little pricey! Still, by using propane as a fuel rather than hydrogen one solves the problem of finding fuel. Unfortunately, the only propane based fuel cells I've seen are capable of producing a couple of watts...

Again, even with unlimited funds, the practicality of something along these lines is improbable, but it is fun to think about the possibilities.
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Old 03-10-2015, 11:41 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Vermilye View Post
4 wheel steering including 90° wheel cut so it could be parked sideways, and an similarly powered towed vehicle that communicates with the RV so that both could park sideways while connected together. Steer by wire, so one could park it standing outside using a remote.
Since self driving vehicles are fast becoming a reality wouldn't you just program it to drive and park somewhere warm and just show up when it was ready for you?

Ron
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Old 03-10-2015, 10:10 PM   #5
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My original question was more about batteries and whether the new technology might replace the current batteries and the increased viability of solar.

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Old 03-11-2015, 12:00 AM   #6
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Almost all RVs currently use lead-acid batteries, the technology which has been around for more than a century. Although many electric vehicles have been built with lead-acid batteries, they are so heavy that the quest for a better battery has been the focus of electric vehicle development for many years.

A type of battery construction which offers some advantage over the traditional flooded cell type, but is still the same lead-acid chemistry, is absorbed glass mat (AGM). AGM batteries are readily available in sizes and designs suitable for RVs, and some Escape owners have used them; they've been discussed quite a bit in this forum. The end result is about the same weight for a given energy storage capacity, so they don't enable any great change in the way electrical energy is used in the trailer.

Rechargeable power tools first became practical with nickel-cadmium batteries, but they have lots of issues and never were successful in electric vehicles. I've never heard of them used in an RV.

The next battery technology to prove useful for electric vehicles was nickel metal hydride, and this is still the type used in many gas-electric hybrid cars. They can handle a lot of power for their size, but should not be either fully charged or deeply discharged for best life, so they work better in the hybrids than they would in an RV. Again, I've never heard of them used in an RV.

To run a battery-electric car, or a "plug-in" hybrid without excessive weight, more energy needs to be stored and the battery needs to withstand deep discharge. These characteristics would be great for an RV, and the solution has turned out to be various lithium-based chemistries. There are all sorts of issues with management on both charging and discharging (use), and the batteries themselves are expensive, but compared to lead-acid the same volume and much less weight of battery can carry more usable energy. They're expensive, especially with the management system that should accompany them, but some RV owners are trying them. There's even one trailer manufacturer (Kimberley) that offers them as a regular factory option and has done so for years. Oh no, another customization request for Escape Trailer Industries.

Although cars have driven lithium battery development, the best-known type - lithium-ion - has proven to be problematic even for cars with thousands of dollars of battery management equipment. It seems like lithium iron phosphate is the most viable choice for RVs (and many other applications).

So, has better battery technology enabled anything new in RV use? One manufacturer (Kimberley again) even offers the possibility of running air conditioning from the batteries... at least for a short time.
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