One of the biggest changes in our new van was the switch from Victron batteries to Battle Born Batteries. While we loved our Victron batteries in our first van conversion, we’re switching to Battle Born Batteries in our new van. Here’s why we think this switch is the perfect setup for us and how it’s going to take our van life solar system to the next level.
Looking for something specific? Skip ahead to find what you’re looking for!
- Using Battle Born Batteries in our van conversion
- What makes Battle Born Batteries the better option for van conversions
- Unlimited battery capacity
- American based brand
- Customer service
- 10 year warranty
- Cylindrical cells vs. prismatic cells
- Built in BMS
- Using Victron components with Battle Born Batteries
- “Is Battle Born Batteries paying you?”
- Final thoughts
Victron vs. Battle Born Batteries for a Van Conversion
If you’ve been around a while you know that our first van conversion system powered a full office complete with (2) iMac computers + water heater + lights + fridge and more. The setup was not only impressive but it was also functional and supported our digital nomad lifestyle to the max. While our electrical system set up met our needs and we never had any issues, this time around we opted to try something new by going with Battle Born Batteries per the pro’s (a.k.a. AM Solar) recommendation.
In our new van plans we’ve added an AC unit which will require a much larger battery bank than our first van. While we could get by with the same size of battery bank as the first van so long as we use the AC unit only while plugged into a shoreline, that sort of defeats the purpose of adding AC to our van in hopes of additional flexibility and mobility. Our main motive in adding air conditioning is to keep our pup Kramer safe on the road. If you know a thing or two about van life with a dog you know hot temps can make travel difficult. In order to keep a dog safe and comfortable (which is always a top priority for us), we're adding AC.
When we reached out to AM Solar regarding our new van’s needs just like we did last time, they suggested we go with Battle Born Batteries. Truthfully we were a little hesitant because we really liked our first van’s set up. Why change something that works well? Turns out there are a lot of benefits to Battle Born Batteries. This new van conversion is giving us the chance to try a few new products so why not give them a go! We have full confidence in AM Solar so we’re taking their advice and giving Battle Born Batteries a try!
Let’s break down some of the selling points about Victron vs. Battle Born Batteries for a van conversion and what makes them a solid choice for off-grid life on the road....
(NOTE: this blogpost is not a full review of their performance yet because we can’t fully test their limits and capabilities until we’re living in our van conversion. We’ll give a detailed review after we’ve been in the van for a bit and have really put them to the test! Stay tuned…)
What makes Battle Born Batteries the better option for van conversions?
Again, we wanted to start by saying that there was nothing wrong with our Victron batteries. They served us well and never failed us when we threw a ton at them. The difference between the two different battery brands really comes down to Battle Born Batteries being a more well rounded battery that will be able to handle our entire van. Now let’s get going....
1. Battle Born Batteries can be linked in parallel an unlimited number of times
If you’re new to van life electrical setups, this might not sound like much, but it is! When you connect in parallel your batteries are all linked together. A very dumbed down explanation of wiring in parallel would be to say that they all work together as one. To read a more technical breakdown of wiring in parallel read this.
So why is a seemingly infinite number of batteries a selling point for us? In short, our system needs to be large since we’re going to be (almost) entirely electric. With an induction cooktop, fridge/freezer, AC unit, and more running off our battery bank, we’ll need a lot of batteries.
However, we can do all the math and figure up how many batteries we think we’ll need in our van, but truthfully we don’t really know because we haven’t lived in this new van yet. Maybe we’ll cook on our cooktop every single meal rather than eating out occasionally. Or perhaps we’ll travel only to warmer climates which would require our fridge and AC to work harder and more often. If that’s the case, we’ll likely want more battery power.
If you read our other blogpost about our van conversion solar and electric components you know that we always want to start minimally and work our way up when it comes to battery capacity in our van. This is 1) to save money, and 2) to save weight and space in our van. Why buy and store more batteries unless we absolutely need them?
Here’s the truth though: While we are starting with 500 amp hours (ah) of lithium batteries, we’re saving space in our van to hold up to 800ah. Having the ability to add up to 800ah of batteries (that’s (8) 100ah batteries) if we one day decide that we need to is a huge selling point. We like to keep our design options open making Battle Born Batteries’ ability to run an endless number of batteries in parallel is awesome .
While Victron's batteries are good batteries, we would only be able to link 4 batteries in parallel. To get 800ah of lithium batteries of Victron in our system we'd need to purchase (4) 200ah batteries. Say we wanted to start smaller (like we are with our Battle Born Batteries) and add to it as needed, we'd need to add in 200ah increments which would be more expensive. It should be noted that you can still have more than (4) Victron batteries in your electrical system, but only (4) can be run in parallel together. Battle Born Batteries' advantage of linking an infinite number together makes wiring a lot easier for the DIY-ers (like us).
2. Battle Born Batteries are an American based brand
We love supporting small businesses that are close to home as often as possible. You’ll see that across some of the other brands we’ll be including in our van including our Zamp Solar panels and our Flarespaces. Located in Nevada, Battle Born Batteries is combining quality components and top notch customer service which is super important to us when we’re spending a good chunk of money on an important part of our van.
And with that we’re brought to our next reason why we went with Battle Born Batteries….
3. Battle Born Batteries’ customer service is top notch
The last thing we’d want to do is spend money and then never be able to get through to customer service if we have a question. The couple of times we’ve reached out to Battle Born Batteries about product questions they’ve always been quick to respond and incredibly helpful!
During our first van build we purchased non-electrical van products from overseas and the customer service was nonexistent. The customer service was so bad in fact that it resulted in us having to rebuy a product out of pocket once because we couldn’t get through to them to replace the defect piece. Ouch. Ever since dealing with a few bad vendors we’ve vowed only to work with companies with a top quality reputation.
You don’t need good customer service close to home until you need it. Take our word for it and save yourself a headache and work with reputable companies (like these guys!). While their brand is well known throughout the RV and van conversion world, they still have a small business feel. (By "small business feel I mean they actually pick up the phone and answer their emails!)
BONUS: The Battle Born Batteries team is filled with adventuring seeking people who know firsthand the freedom that a good off-grid system can bring to van life!
4. Battle Born Batteries come with a 10 year warranty
This is another one of those things like good customer service that you don’t need until you need it. While we don’t anticipate having any issues with our batteries, knowing that we have 10 years of protection is a huge peace of mind.
While Battle Born Batteries are priced competitively and fairly, that doesn’t mean they’re inexpensive. Quality lithium batteries (like these) inevitably cost money and (if you’re like us) you don’t want to spend a lot of money only to have something go wrong as soon as the warranty is up. A long warranty is as good as insurance to us!
5. Cylindrical cells vs. prismatic cells
Okay, truthfully, this is one of those techy things I didn’t fully understand when we were considering Battle Born Batteries. We reached out to Battle Born Batteries personally because we wanted to ask them why cylindrical cells vs. prismatic cells in their batteries really make a difference. (Side Note: I (Sara) am a firm believer in asking questions and doing research. While it can be annoying it totally pays off when you choose the right, high quality product.)
In short, cylindrical cells have a longer life cycling and can discharge to 0% every time without any harmful effects. If you haven’t lived fully off-grid yet then you might not understand how important this is! I can’t tell you how stressful it can be rushing to find a power if you accidentally get your prismatic cell batteries so low that you’re risking permanently harming your batteries. This cylindrical cells feature might just be one of the biggest game changers in our new solar system!
6. The built in BMS (battery management system)
Victron batteries do not come with a built in BMS but Battle Born Batteries makes it standard in all battery models. Something really handy and helpful about the built in BMS in these batteries is that it protects cells in lower temperatures, short circuit protection, and over discharging. I know, that’s a lot of lingo again so let me explain to you how that will impact your everyday van life.
For us the lower temperatures became a thing one time in the entire year and a half we lived in our first van. Let me start by saying that it wasn’t because we had a problem with our heater not keeping our van warm enough. It was because we had left our van for one night while visiting family over the holidays last year and we didn’t leave our heater running while we were away. Oops. That happened to be the coldest night of the year in Tennessee reaching down to the single digits. Thankfully our batteries were okay, but the damage could have been serious if we hadn’t caught it in time.
Having the protection against potentially dangerously cold temperatures is important. Just like the warranty, it’s almost like insurance to ensure your products are safe and working properly.
Using Victron components with Battle Born Batteries
Here’s something kind of interesting in our new van conversion solar setup: we’re combining Battle Born Batteries with Victron components. Might sound a little bit like a conflict of interest but the two company’s products actually pair really well together and Battle Born Batteries even sells Victron components on their website. These two companies are well acquainted with one another which will give you a peace of mind combining two different brand’s technology into one system.
“Is Battle Born Batteries paying you for this endorsement?”
No, Battle Born Batteries is not paying us to say certain things about them. Full transparency, we have partnered with Battle Born Batteries but we aren't paid to sing their praises! What we’re writing here today is all about the facts and information that we sought out while doing our own research when we were working with AM Solar deciding which batteries would be the best fit for us in our new system.
Battle Born Batteries came highly recommended by not only the professionals but also by several different van life friends who have used them in their own van conversions. We only accept partnerships with products and organizations we can stand behind and would support financially if a partnership were not involved. If you’d like to (and we’d encourage you to!) read more about our standards for affiliates and partnerships you can do so HERE.
When the time comes to write a review regarding the performance of the batteries compared to our Victron batteries, we’ll be sure to make it honest and helpful bringing both the good and bad (if there’s any) to the table in effort to help other current and future van lifers and RVers pick the right components for their own solar system.
Final thoughts regarding Victron vs. Battle Born Batteries
As I mentioned earlier, I can’t give a full review of how these batteries work in the real van life world until we’ve been living in our new van for a bit and tested them out across a variety of climates. Once we give them a good test we’ll be sure to update you on our honest thoughts and opinions. For now, we hope these facts helped you in planning your own van conversion.
As always, if you have any questions or feedback please drop it in the comments below and we’ll answer those ASAP. Happy travelin’, y’all! :)