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While we’ve been not-so-patiently-waiting to get into our new Winnebago EKKO, I’ve been obsessively planning modifications and upgrades for it. One of the biggest items on my list has been an upgrade and expansion of its power systems. Since the factory installed batteries are made by Lithionics – and we plan to stick with those batteries due to our years of success with them – we thought it would be a good idea to get up to speed on everything that’s in these batteries. So… off to Florida we went! The result: this tour of the facility.
We had visited Steve and the Lithionics team several years ago. But a lot has changed for them over the years. We cover a lot in the video, but a few things stood out for me. I list the main ones below, but feel free to add your own observations down in the comments.
The Overriding Obsession with Safety and Quality
Fun Fact: Every Lithionics battery undergoes quality and safety checks that take more than twice as long as it takes to actually build the battery. It’s true. They charge and discharge every battery to verify that the capacity they advertise is actually delivered to you. They take thermal images of the battery under load to look for hot spots or loose connections. They keep the records of the tests – linked forever to your battery by a serial number. It’s really impressive.
I don’t claim to know everything about UL testing standards, but I hope I never have to endure the kind of testing these batteries have to for UL 1973. There are a lot of UL standards, but that’s the one that matters for batteries going into an RV. The big takeaway from the UL testing is that NO MATTER WHAT kind of insane, destructive, or deliberately malicious torture you put a Lithionics UL listed battery through, nothing bad is going to happen. Drop them. Shoot them. Burn them. Submerge them. They won’t catch fire, explode, go into thermal runaway, or leak toxic goo. (I don’t intend to actually do any of those to our batteries, but it’s comforting to know we could…) This kind of safety and peace of mind is definitely worth something to us.
They’re an Engineering Driven Company
This is mostly my opinion. But to me, the company doesn’t seem driven by marketing, or sales, or accountants. They’re driven by the technology. “Can we do it?” “Can we do it better?” “Can we make it safer?” These are the questions that keep the wheels turning at Lithionics. It’s kind of how I hope I would run a company if I had one. This isn’t to say that they don’t care about sales, marketing, and accounting. But I don’t think you would ever see an accountant at Lithionics tell the engineering staff to use a different part because there was an alternative that was 3 cents cheaper and “almost as good”.
Those were my big takeaways, but there are a lot of other bits of information in the video that you’ll find interesting. (Ever wonder how they do heater kits? You’ll see.)
Sound off in the comments below with any questions, and I’ll try my best to answer. Cheers!
James, after spending some time watching your videos and learning about RVs, I was surprised you bought the Ekko with 1 battery pack. Was this because you knew you would mod it ti the battery power you needed?
For those of us not into the modding side, and just getting into RVs, what models using Li batteries did you like “as offered”?
Tons of info, thanks much for the videos.
Exactly. I knew I wanted more battery, so I got them afterwards rather than pay for batteries I would only remove and reconfigure.
The EKKO is fine “as offered” if you get the two battery option. You would still have more battery capacity than we did in Lance!
Very exciting to see the progress made in science to give us Lithionics batteries. These are a work of art! No wonder they are so pricey. UL tested, aluminum box, years of testing, top quality materials, smart design, great power, intelligent monitoring, ease of use with plug and play. Wow!!! Just stunning in both design and functionality. Also nice to see this being made for commercial customers and RVs. Hopefully this will bring down prices. Great stuff!
RE: “not-so-patiently-waiting to get into our new Winnebago EKKO”
Any news on that front, James? We’ve ordered one too but the dealership seems fairly uninformed. We’re assuming you guys are pretty close to the front of the line so any info you can pass on would be greatly appreciated… Also, looking forward to the details of your upcoming customization projects in the months ahead. Fun!
No real news. We kind of expect it any day now, but until we drive off with it, we won’t know for 100% certain.
I have so many projects laying in wait, it’s not funny.
Great company. I’m glad to hear they are thriving. Thanks very much for making the trip to Florida.
I wonder if they will ever develop a complete “RV power appliance” product, combining the following components into a single package (or multiple packages with plug-and-play interfaces):
– Lithionics batteries
– AC inverter/charger with transfer switch
– AC distribution (breaker) panel for “house” circuits
– 12V DC distribution (fuse) panel for “house” circuits
– MPPT solar charge controller
– interface for charging from alternator, with some kind of active monitoring of the alternator to prevent damage
Such a one-box power appliance could help RV manufacturers save labor, improve reliability, and improve safety.
Such a product might also find significant sales in the retrofit market, where many owners are comfortable with connecting AC/DC loads to breakers/fuses and with other low-power DC wiring tasks, but are utterly unqualified to design or implement the high-power DC fusing/wiring required to build a system from components (sourced from multiple vendors).
I would guess that most RV dealers are also not qualified to do that kind of lithium/inverter/charger design and retrofit work.
That’s actually a pretty interesting idea.
Not aware of anyone who’s working on it though.
Now I won’t want any other brand. Good tour.
Really interesting video. They really come across as caring about the product they make and the pride in that product jumps out in the video. Great news for the end users (including us soon to be EKKO owners) that we’ll be able to have complete confidence in the power system for years. Thanks for making the video and sharing.
Thanks! Sounds like you came away with the same impression we did!
I love the look on James’ face when first seeing the 20,000 Watt-hours of batteries! Like a kid looking at a wall full of candy! Not to mention his expression at the thought of blowing up $50K worth of batteries! Priceless!
HOW DO I GET THAT JOB OF BLOWING STUFF UP IN THE NAME OF SCIENCE???!!!???
Very interesting tour. Great to know that our batteries in our Ekkos will be of such quality and safety driven. This has been the best info confirming how good these really are. And they not only stand by their batteries, but they are independently tested and UL listed, unlike any others. We will have the second battery installed at factory and anxious to get it out on the road to see how well it does and what we will be able to do at will.
Thank you Stef and James.
The UL and safety thing… the more you get into it, the more important you realize it is. I have *no worries whatsoever* about the safety of these batteries.
Any news on when you’ll get your Ekko? Local to me the rep says hers is coming the first week of June.
We’re hoping soon!
Neat. I like to build my own batteries, but this would be the next best thing! They do a fantastic job with their builds and BMS. Fun fact, my first DIY battery in my van was with a mini-bms v7 from cleanpowerauto. Dimitri actually closed up shop and if I remember correctly went to go work for Lithionics.
Hi Matt, indeed I joined forces with Lithionics as I saw a great opportunity to go beyond DIY market and make the best batteries for the RV market. Thanks for your kind words!