The folks at Redodo, a battery manufacturer, recently reached out to us because they wanted us to test their 12V 100Ah Mini LiFePO4 battery. After testing it and seeing where it would fit, I’m not only going to recommend it to readers looking to replace a lead-acid deep-cycle battery, but also to anybody who needs to save some space and weight for their 12-volt energy storage needs.
The Problem This Battery Solves
Like most car and RV enthusiasts, I’ve been using 12-volt batteries for a long time. If you’ve ever had a car’s battery go out, you probably know the struggle. If you’re the “pick things up and put them down” kind of person who spends a lot of time at the gym (particularly if you’re a guy), it might not seem like a big struggle to lift a battery out of a car’s engine bay, but if you’re a not-so-muscular woman, it’s a tougher job to get that thing out and take it into AutoBone (Nice —Ed.) or Sam’s Club to test and/or replace it.
This issue is an even bigger hassle if you’re working with deep-cycle batteries, like you’d use for a trolling motor or an RV. They’ve got more storage and you can deplete them to lower levels, but they’re even bigger and heavier. Even worse are things like golf carts, telecom batteries, and other big hunks of lead that help you get some juice.
Worse, lead-acid deep cycles often only last a few years at best. In cars, non-deep cycle batteries tend to last 2–5 years (and sometimes less time), while an RV battery might need to be replaced every year or two due to disuse between camping trips and vacations. Plus, all of these batteries need to be maintained and kept in a ventilated space to avoid hydrogen gas explosions and acid getting everywhere if things go terribly wrong.
As EV and cleantech enthusiasts should know by now, battery technology has improved a lot in any adult lifetime. Heck, even since 2000, the size, weight, and cost of energy storage have all dropped drastically, while durability and ease of maintenance are all up. On top of what we’ve seen in EVs for the last decade or so, slightly less dense but far more durable LiFePO4 batteries (aka “LFP”) are also now on the scene.
Most companies offering a replacement for a deep-cycle battery use the advantages of newer battery technology to provide us with more energy storage and longer lifespans, and in the case of LiFePO batteries, better safety. But, until I got this review unit in, I hadn’t seen a manufacturer try to give us greater flexibility and smaller battery sizes.
Specifications & Features
You can find full specifications and features on Redodo’s website, so I’ll just discuss some of the highlights of what you’ll get for your $349 (as of this writing) if you order one.
The biggest thing is that this smaller battery from Redodo, which is a little smaller than a six pack of energy drinks, gives you 100 amp-hours of storage (1.2 kWh). This is the same energy storage that a typical lead-acid deep-cycle battery gives you, but it’s only around half the size of an RV battery. This is pretty impressive, especially for the price.
The 12V 100Ah Mini LiFePO4 battery is also pretty light, has a foldable and removable carrying strap/handle, and has removable posts. This makes not only for flexibility, but easy portability, and a lot less struggle for people who aren’t gym rats.
The last big thing is that it likes working with others. You can hook up to four batteries in parallel and in series, for a maximum of 48 volts and 400 amp-hours (@48 volts), or a 20 kWh battery system. Not all users will want to do this, but the option is there if you want to build something really cool, either at home or on the road.
I don’t currently have an RV handy to test the battery with, so I decided to put the battery to an even tougher test: hooking it up to a power inverter and pulling up to 1000 watts from it. I had no problem drawing nearly the full 1,000 watts to power a window air conditioner with it. So, clearly, it works well and won’t let you down with deep-cycle needs (which usually aren’t as tough).
Due to some yard work, I wasn’t able to get great photos, but I had no problem using it with a 60-watt folding solar panel and Renogy charge controller. Just be sure to get a charge controller that’s compatible with LiFePO batteries if you want to charge one (or more) with solar power. The user manual has full details on what settings to use with a compatible charge controller.
Important note! The best part: Redodo is offering a discount to CleanTechnica readers when you use the code [CT4] for 4% OFF!
How It Can Double or Quadruple Your Energy Storage
Having worked with deep-cycle batteries in RVs, what instantly came to mind for me was just how much energy storage you could get away with here. Not only is the unit half the size of a typical deep-cycle, but you can safely run it down low instead of having to keep it above 50% like you would with a lead-acid battery.
This means that just one of these batteries can give you twice as much usable storage as a lead-acid deep-cycle battery, but you have room for two of these for every normal deep-cycle, so you can quadruple your storage in the same space and with less weight. Many RV house battery banks use two or three deep-cycle batteries, and this Redodo Mini battery can serve in that capacity just as well. You can put up to four of them in parallel to get a 400 amp-hour system at 12 volts, and if you can use 24 or 48 volts, you can go for even more storage if you’re smart about battery placement.
The Manual Makes It Easy
Finally, one of the things that I appreciated most about the 12V 100Ah Mini LiFePO4 battery is that it comes with decent documentation. Unlike what you might get at a big box retail store, they don’t assume you are a battery expert when you buy one of these. The manual gives you all of the details on charging, discharging, connecting, and setting up a larger battery system. They assume you don’t know much, so anybody can work with these (assuming you take reasonable precautions with electricity).
Even better, the manual and quick start guide come in a water-resistant zipper pouch so that you can keep the manual handy after installation in an RV or other harsh environment. So, they really did think this product through, from start to finish. Don’t forget: Redodo is offering a discount to CleanTechnica readers when you use the code [CT4] for 4% OFF!
Images courtesy Jennifer Sensiba / CleanTechnica.
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