What is the best portable power? Yeti, ARK? Is there another?

Martinjmpr

Wiffleball Batter
In my research (before I built my own) the Goal Zero 500X, and the Dometic LiFePO4 units were the best options with the Jackery being the most affordable but not as feature rich. They all (in the $400-800 price point) suffered from slow DC-DC and/or AC-DC charge rates. And they all had a sub 2-3 year warranty which is a joke for a lithium based system that will last you a long time (so you are on your own if any of the components around the battery develops a fault).
Hmmmm...but if it DID fail, don't you think you'd be able to pull the battery out (easily the most expensive sub-component) and then build another power box around it, using higher quality components?

I mean, take the Jackery, for instance, which sells for what, $450? It comes with a 24AH Li battery.

I wonder what kind of LiFePo battery the boxes like the Goal Zero or Jackery use. Does anyone know?

So if you buy one of these packs, use it for a couple of years and even if a major component fails after it's OOW, worst case scenario you still have a couple hundred dollars worth of battery for your next build, right?
 

Martinjmpr

Wiffleball Batter
BTW a quick Amazon search turns up a lot of LiFePo batteries in the ~$500 range for 100AH. That's about half of what BatteBorn would get, but of course, quality is a real question there.
 

MagicMtnDan

JT Rubicon Launch Edition & 2017 Raptor (#2)
Nearly 70 lbs for around 27 Ah of usable capacity. Plus slow charging. If you want the affordability of an AGM system at the expense of capacity and portability, I would suggest you build something around say a Trojan deep cycle AGM. You should be able to pick up a 90-100 Ah AGM for around $250 and build a battery box around it. You choose the components and each has its own warranty. If upfront cost is doable then LiFePO4 will pay off in the end with its ability to cycle. Unless you live off-grid and cycle daily, you'll probably get a dozen or more years out of it with a manageable impact on battery capacity . Plus these things charge super fast. With the right DC-DC or AC-DC charger, I can technically charge up my battery to 100% in about an hour. You can't do that with an equivalent (available power) AGM (which would roughly be Group 27/31 in this case).

In my research (before I built my own) the Goal Zero 500X, and the Dometic LiFePO4 units were the best options with the Jackery being the most affordable but not as feature rich. They all (in the $400-800 price point) suffered from slow DC-DC and/or AC-DC charge rates. And they all had a sub 2-3 year warranty which is a joke for a lithium based system that will last you a long time (so you are on your own if any of the components around the battery develops a fault).
Yeah the Trojan 100 Ah is a good battery. Nice and heavy (I have 2). When I built my Li-ion pack there was a glut of Panasonic NCR18650BD available reasonably priced, does not seam to the the case now, so I bought several hundred of them. 160 ended up in my "camping" pack in a 4S40P configuration.

If I were to build something today I'd go with a DIY pack with LiFePO4. Its a better and easier to work with battery for this type of application.

Thanks guys - really appreciate it. I'll stick with my plan to try and duplicate what Vomhorizon has done assuming I can figure out all the components and connections :unsure:
 
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vomhorizon

Active member
Hmmmm...but if it DID fail, don't you think you'd be able to pull the battery out (easily the most expensive sub-component) and then build another power box around it, using higher quality components?

I mean, take the Jackery, for instance, which sells for what, $450? It comes with a 24AH Li battery.

I wonder what kind of LiFePo battery the boxes like the Goal Zero or Jackery use. Does anyone know?

So if you buy one of these packs, use it for a couple of years and even if a major component fails after it's OOW, worst case scenario you still have a couple hundred dollars worth of battery for your next build, right?
Most of these (with the exception of Dometic) do not use LiFePO4 chemistry but use LiIonNMC . It is not going to be easy to open these units up, isolate the fault and then find a suitable component that will fit exactly and then perform the same. These aren't modular DIY units nor are they advertised as such so I wouldn't bet that doing self repairs would be very straightforward. Certainly not as simple as one could do if one simply built a DIY battery box. an ArkPak is closer to something where you could do this but then again why bother if you can build something better for less (provided you value things that you can make better like faster DC charge rates etc).

BTW a quick Amazon search turns up a lot of LiFePo batteries in the ~$500 range for 100AH. That's about half of what BatteBorn would get, but of course, quality is a real question there.
LiFePO4 batteries are available across various price points. In the end its a personal decision. Do you want raw cells and build your own, do you want a reputable brand that has an excellent warranty (like 10 years), do you want a BMS that will have the low-temperature and other protection in place etc etc etc. And what is the feedback and results of that battery in the off-grid, overland, or RV community. You can pay anywhere from $400- to a $1000 (source your own cells and BMS and build it yourself) for a 100 Ah LiFePO4 battery depending upon these variables and your personal comfort level at building a battery of your own. Since I wanted a drop in LiFePO4 battery with a BMS that had a reputation of delivering on what it promised (lots of cheap and ineffective BMSs out there based on my research) I found that a Battle Born 50Ah was about $125 more than what I would have spent if I bought the cheapest battery that met what I was looking for. It was also the heaviest by anywhere from 5-8 lbs. But that was trivial in my judgement because I expect it to last, given my usage, well over a decade. So I went with BB because of the peace of mind of knowing (based on folks who I know who use it) that it is a reputable brand that stands by its warranty and delivers what it promises. But there are several other options that are cheaper and probably equally as capable of meeting my (and your) needs in this capacity class so there is an option of choosing from one of them. You also don't have to go LiFePo4. If size is important, and weight is negotiable, you could try squeezing in a group 27 or 31 battery in there (in the same sized box) and getting the required usable juice that way. Lots of options at different price points. Most other components stay the same. In my case, I didn't want to come in at the price point of a Jackery or source the cheapest components that would have worked. I wanted a system that met my needs better than the best in class system costing under $1000 (which was the dometic unit in my research).
 
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jonyjoe101

Adventurer
I been running tests on the enovate mobius lithium powerpacks. These are small 26ah li-ion packs. So far I like what I see. I opened them up and they are built using high quality panasonic 3s9p or boston power 3s5p cells. I built many lithium powerpacks over the years and have my own tab welder, and all the panasonic cells I encountered were top of the line, they are excellent cells. The boston power cells also get good reviews. From the ones I opened up the 26.1ah packs use the panasonic cells, the 26.5ah packs use the boston power. From datasheets I have seen the panasonic are good for 500 cycles, the boston power can do 1000 cycles, boths cells are rated 10 amp discharge per cell, thats approaching powertool quality cells. Most laptop cells are in the max 2 amp discharge range.

These are rudimentary powerpacks (used in the medical community) they have none of the bell and whistles found on a goalzero/jackery, they do have a 5 led power status gauge and have a bms for battery protection. For input output it has an 8 pin receptacle, but you only need 4 of the pins, 2 for positive and 2 for negative. You can find the 4 pin connectors on amazon/ebay, the connectors I bought from china were 1.39 each and got in less then 3 weeks.

So far to charge I been using a dc to dc boost/buck converter and been able to charge at 6 amps (unknown what the upper range is) . The tests I run is to power my 12 volt roadpro cooker 11 amps, and it worked, It easily power my 200 watt inverter to run my laptop, and finally I connected it to my 12 volt fridge (set to 16f) using a dc to dc boost/buck converter and it easily ran fridge from 6 pm to 6 am, powerpack was at 90 percent when it started and was at 30 percent when stopped.

My next test is to parallel several of these to see how they perform. 2 connected together will give me 52ahs, 4 of them will be 104ahs. I'm sure they will work parallel, but I have to test them.

I originally bought these to reuse the cells in building batterypacks, but when I opened them up, I got the idea to use them as is. It's practically ready to go. Just add your connectors and get a 12.6 volt cc/cv charger and your good to go. They even have a handy carrying handle.

You can find these on ebay. Some are brand new never been used, I bought the new ones and paid between 70/80 dollars for 2, the used ones I got 2 for 65 dollars. The ones I bought so far have all worked, 2 of them had no led output, but I opened them up and tested the battery voltage (8.9 volts) which is ok for a 3s. This is a cheap way to get a good quality powerpack and get them operational with minimal work.

1 enovate mobius connector.jpg
 

john61ct

Adventurer
Trojan's AGM are not nearly as good for true deep cycling as their excellent FLA lines.

Odyssey, Lifeline and Northstar are the goid AGMs in North America
 

vomhorizon

Active member
Trojan's AGM are not nearly as good for true deep cycling as their excellent FLA lines.

Odyssey, Lifeline and Northstar are the goid AGMs in North America
I agree. But there you are sitting at almost 70% of the cost of drop in LiFePO4 when you factor in usable capacity so it would begin to look less attractive relative to the more affordable AGMs. When I built my system, I paid around $520 (delivered) for Battle Born 50Ah after calling them and checking to see if they were offering discounts. An equivalent AGM solution (X2Power Group 27) that I was exploring at the time (for my starter battery upgrade) was in the $340-$360 range. So I would have been 70% of the way there already but with more than 3 times the weight.
 
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MagicMtnDan

JT Rubicon Launch Edition & 2017 Raptor (#2)
My battery box won't be used all the time - most use will be in fall/winter and some spring time as those are the months we off road and camp the most.

I'm willing to spend whatever is necessary to do this right but I don't need a "super battery." I'd like one that does the job, can be (trickle charged? when not in use) charged up by 110v or 12v in the JEEP/truck and will function for the 3-4 day trips we take. And buying one with a decent life and can be replaced in some years if/when it dies.

Obviously, I'm not a battery expert especially for this application. What do you (all) think the best battery - most cost-effective good battery I should go with?
 

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vomhorizon

Active member
My battery box won't be used all the time - most use will be in fall/winter and some spring time as those are the months we off road and camp the most.

I'm willing to spend whatever is necessary to do this right but I don't need a "super battery." I'd like one that does the job, can be (trickle charged? when not in use) charged up by 110v or 12v in the JEEP/truck and will function for the 3-4 day trips we take. And buying one with a decent life and can be replaced in some years if/when it dies.

Obviously, I'm not a battery expert especially for this application. What do you (all) think the best battery - most cost-effective good battery I should go with?
That really depends on things we don't know about how you intend on using it. As an exercise, determine your best case and worst case battery consumption with some margin for growth as we all tend to add stuff down the road. Once you establish that, try to see what an optimal AGM or LiFEPo4 bank size will be. In my case, the battery is essentially spending 90% of the time powering a 50L fridge (everything else will be powered by vehicle battery). In my worst case, I budgeted for a 40 Ah 24 hour draw. This assumed fridge being used in extremely hot weather, less than half packed, and with constantly opening and closing it. A 50Ah LiFePO4 will get me through a day of that easily. On a more typical set up, I'm looking at roughly a 1-1.2 Amp draw per hour on average (22-30 Ah per full day) which means I can go a good long weekend with some solar (without needing DC - DC charging) and a lot longer if the conditions are really good (with solar) or if I'm doing a bit of driving in between (here the faster charge rates of a Lithium battery really pay off). A rigid 100 Watt panel, and a folding 100 watt portable panel can probably get me a lot longer even without DC/DC charging so there's that option as well (ie. build multiple solar options instead of a larger bank).

Determine how often you plan on cycling. Are you taking 10 trips a year, 20 etc? Are your batteries being used when you're not on a trip or are they just sitting around idle. If you cycle through to 50% capacity, a good AGM can get you perhaps 500-800 cycles. A Lithium can get you 3000 or more to well beyond 50% DOD. But if you are only using them a few times in a year then this may not be very high up the priority list for you. Factor in how you intend on charging these, the min and max temperatures for these batteries and where they are going to live and what environment are they going to be exposed to. Lithium can take in a lot of current and they charge up really fast. A 50 Ah Battle Born like the one I have can accept up to 50A in charge so can theoretically charge up to full capacity in under an hour (from 80% depletion state). But if you are consistently going to expose these batteries to below freezing temperature then you may have issues charging them optimally as you don't want to charge up LiFePO4 much below freezing and the good ones (like Battle Born and others) won't allow you to charge them up below 25-26 F (though you can still use them at these temperatures). You can work around that via heating pads but that is added cost. Are you planning on running an inverter? Basically all these things will help you figure out the best solution for you. In short, with Lithium you can use 80-90% of their capacity and they'll be fine cycling. AGM's don't like more than 50% DOD so use that sparingly unless you are ok with reducing battery life or risking damaging the battery. Lithium is lighter, charges faster, smaller (for usable capacity), delivers its capacity more consistantly, but also a lot more expensive. AGMs are reliable, cheaper, and more tolerant to temperature extremes. So determine what you need. If you have lots of room and have weight margin, just build an AGM bank and use the saved money on something else. If you want the most power in the smallest/lightest footprint, then go with Lithium.
 
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Martinjmpr

Wiffleball Batter
The best battery value on the planet by far is Duracell (actually Deka/East Penn) FLA deep cycle golf cart batteries, 2x6V, around $200 per 200+AH @12V pair from BatteriesPlus or Sam's Club. NAPA relabels it here: https://www.napaonline.com/en/p/NBP8144 Deka self-labeled also sold at Lowes.
I'm pretty sure that's the battery setup we put on our trailer. I know they were Duracell 6v FLA batteries and I got them at Batteries Plus. I want to say I was at around $250 OTD but that was because I was able to find an old battery to turn in so they waived the battery core charge. Got it in 2017 when we had our T@B Clamshell and transferred it to the R-Pod at the beginning of 2019. I just added water to the cells this past weekend (they were all low) but this battery setup has been running fine for 3 + years now. 230AH capacity.
 

jonyjoe101

Adventurer
so far I paralleled 4 of the mobius, and they work as expected. Due to my solar panel not putting out enough power lately, I haven't been able to charge the other 8 mobius, I'm also waiting on 4 more connectors. I'm going to parallel 12 of the mobius to make a 300ah batterybank. I just have to get all 12 mobius to the same voltage when I connect together.
The mobius battery status indicator blinks when the units are being charged. When connected in parallel if one of the mobius is lower then the rest, it will start blinking as it accepts power from the rest of the mobius to balance out. Once they are all equalized the status lights turn off.
I spent so far 430 dollars on the 12 mobius, it wasn't cheap but I got practically new batteries.

1 12x mobius.jpg
 
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jonyjoe101

Adventurer
not lifepo4 but works just as good. It's more like a goalzero or jackery but more AH when parallel together. The only hesitation I had about using the mobius and the lower voltage was if it was able to power a 12 volt fridge. Using a boost/buck converter it will easily power a fridge even when the power level gets down into 30 percent, it probably continue even lower but thats where I stop the test.

Unlike a goalzero or similar powerpacks, you can charge these at higher amps. I charge one at 6 amps, once connected together you can increase the amps.
Once I connect all 12 together I'll be using this as my primary house battery, I will use the 220ah lifepo4 to charge this powerbank through a boost/buck converter. The lifepo4 is connected to the solar panel, so it's always charging when the sun is up.

I'll update when I connect all 12 in parallel. Still waiting on connectors. I think these are the best portable powerpacks for the money. 65 dollars will get you 50 ah, better then a 600 dollar goalzero lithium 40ah. I spent less money on 300ah then what a single 40ah goal zero would cost.
 

JaSAn

Active member
They are Li-ion, the battery chemistry that is prone to thermal runaway. They are more energy dense than LiFePO4, but at greater risk. So be careful, balance your packs and watch pack temperatures while charging.
 
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