You've heard the phrase "Where there is no struggle, there is no strength". More truer words have never been spoken to a full time nomad, about their batteries. And for us, it all came to head in Lake Havasu City at a nomadic gathering where we met our guardian angels, Battle Born Batteries.
Let me back up and explain what I'm talking about. When we first started out, neither one of us really realized how important the batteries in our home would turn out to be. It wasn't until our first hiccup - somewhere in between Louisiana and Texas, when we had to spend the night in a Walmart parking lot. The temperature that night dropped exceedingly low and our furnace was running on overtime. The next morning, we woke up with the assumption that the batteries charge dropped over night and since we needed to make breakfast anyways, we'd just turn on the generator to use any appliances. Surprise! Our battery monitor was at 10v, the generator wouldn't start, leaving only hell to break loose. Kids were hangry and we just sat there scratching our heads.
Now what? What do we do?
After plowing through online forums, Google searches, and YouTube videos, we found that running the engine will help charge up the batteries enough to get generator started and breakfast made. What we didn't know, was it was going to be over an hour of us sitting there waiting to get food made and back on the road. This was the first time we realized we needed to look into this battery situation.
After we got to our next stop in good ol' San Antonio, Tony popped the hood only to find the problem was much deeper than a dead battery. In fact, one of our batteries had exploded! (check out the video for more on that)
No big deal right? ... Wrong.
See, Newmar sent us to a battery supplier to replace the broken battery. However, what we didn't know was you cannot replace just one battery if the other battery is older. The batteries that came with our RV were already 2 years old. So what happened? At first, nothing. We could go about 4 hours on a charge still using our generator when we wanted to cook or do something other than watch TV. However, about a month later things took a turn. We went from a few hours of charge, to only minutes. We could charge the batteries for 4 hours and only have about 30 minutes of use.
By then we were doing A LOT of boondocking. Without any shore power available, we were running our generator for about 16 hours a day! It was NOT at all how we pictured our nomad life. Plus, it was a ton of gas and noise pollution.
Cue the battery experts and crazy twist of fate.
While at the Xscapers Annual Bash the worst possible thing that could happen, happened.
We lost our other battery.
This time, it was caused by the older battery constantly drawing from the newer battery. We were in the middle of nowhere with no shore power and generator restrictions because of the number of people at this event. We were in trouble. We didn't know what to do. And admittedly, we were at a loss. Not to mention we started getting the reputation as "the generator rig". A title not even our top of the line, ultra quiet model couldn't fix.
Finally some answers
We found out that Sean from Battle Born Batteries was attending the bash and doing consultations. Sean was very knowledgeable and personable. He knew the ins and outs about the needs of full-time nomads. We were basically told the RV we purchased was really designed for light battery use and primarily designed for RV parks with shore power. Not necessarily a boondocking type of system. We needed to find a way to install a subpanel, buy a larger inverter, and run the house off the inverter. And if you're reading all that and thinking "...wait...what?" You're not alone. I didn't either.
That's the beauty of working with this company. They were right there, walking us through the process and answering every "ridiculous" question I had. We decided to go with the recommendations of Battle Born and purchase the 3000W Victron Inverter/Charger and three Battle Born 100Ah lithium batteries. As you can see in our battery install video, many of our fellow nomad family joined in our efforts to fix our failing battery system. To that amazing crew, we thank you .
So now what?
To be honest, I don't know how we went this long without fixing this massive problem. We now have a new battery system and an inverter that could power our whole house, which means less stress all around. We are so thankful for Sean and the team at Battle Born for making the recommendations they did. Yes it was an investment but it is so worth it to avoid the drama of dealing with lead acid batteries. We are now able to go around 23 hours on a single charge!
Another plus, the new system even has bluetooth monitoring so Tony the Tech has an app where he can monitor how much energy we're using and what percentage our batteries are at. He has new gadgets to play with and I can sit back and keep writing blogs. I call that a win win.