AGM vs Lithium Batteries – Which Technology is Best for Van Life?

Welcome to our ultimate guide to AGM vs lithium batteries, help you choose the best battery technology on the market! Whether you want a simple absorbed glass mat (AGM) battery system that focuses on affordability and efficiency or a high-end lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) battery to power your van, our expert blog post will walk you through the benefits of using AGM or LiFePO4 batteries!

You know that you want a dual battery or home battery setup for your campervan, motorhome or RV, but are wondering what technology is the best choice for you?

Well you’ve come to the right place – we’re going to break down the details between the two most popular types to help you make the best purchase for your particular situation.

Choosing the correct battery for your van will open up new roads for your detours. Campervan batteries will provide the amp hours and discharge capacity to let you spend the weekend off-grid while still enjoying the comforts of home.

Of course, having a reliable and efficient solar panel system hooked up to your battery bank makes your decision on which type of battery to purchase even more important.

Once you start researching options, you’ll find two battery types consistently mentioned as the best option for van life: Lithium-Ion Phosphate (LiFePO4) and lead-acid Absorbed Gas Mat (AGM) batteries.

While there are other niche battery systems, these two batteries are the best choice for most battery banks.

So it all comes down to this ultimate showdown: lithium vs AGM batteries.

WANT AN ANSWER NOW?

If you want the absolute best quality and plan on spending a lot of time in your van, get a lithium battery!

But for 80% of van lifers, AGM is perfectly fine.

To get the most out of your power system, we’ll lay out a complete comparison of everything you should look for when comparing these two energy solutions so you can find the perfect battery for your needs.

AGM vs Lithium Batteries
Ready for the showdown? Let’s get into it!

AGM vs Lithium Batteries – The Ultimate Showdown

Two batteries will enter, but only one will earn the right to charge up your off-grid living.

Before we get into the octagon and take a head-to-head comparison of key features of these batteries, let’s learn the basics of Lithium-Ion and AGM batteries, so we better understand where they fit into your power system.

What Are AGM Batteries?

In this corner, you have a standard, sturdy battery option that is affordable and efficient. AGM stands for absorbent glass mat, which is a technology that significantly increases the battery efficiency over other lead-acid options.

An AGM battery’s mat system protects the lead-acid, making a spill-proof and impact-resistant battery that lowers internal resistance, therefore increasing output voltage and decreasing charging time.

This thin glass shield lets your cycles and cells operate without maintenance and without negatively impacting the loads or lifespan of your bank.

AGM technology, when compared to traditional Flooded Lead Acid batteries, blows the competition out of the water. 

Thanks to the sealed flooded cells, AGM provides the kWh to power most 12v systems with a capacity well over 100ah and can be charged in parallel to work on more oversized loads.

Take a look at a best-in-class and budget option to see what AGM batteries can do, and decide for yourself if investing in a high-capacity system is worth the extra price.

Best In Class: Renogy 12V 100Ah Deep Cycle AGM Battery

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Out of all lead-acid, deep cycle batteries, this AGM battery offers up the best in class cycle life, voltage, and kWh to earn our selection as the best high-end AGM battery.

Renogy has built a reputation working within the solar charger market, and as their flagship battery, this powerful AGM represents the brand well.

With a voltage capacity rated for 100 kWh @ 10 hours, you’ll be able to use solar or traditional energy sources to give your devices life for hours.

The battery will work through extreme temperatures and features many safety features that prevent energy from being over-discharged and lowering the long-term voltage capacity.

Renogy took protection a step further by building a battery that monitors its own cycle life and automatically shuts off if the power draw becomes too much.

SPECIAL DEAL: Use our link below and Don’t forget to use “VanLifeTheory” at checkout on for 10% off all Renogy Products!


BUDGET OPTION: Mighty Max 12V Lithium Battery

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If you don’t have extensive power needs, you won’t ever need more than this Mighty Max.

The barebones 100 Ah battery doesn’t come with attachment accessories or high costs but works well as a replacement battery.

Once you’ve got it hooked up, this durable AGM replacement cycles well above its weight.

One of the cheapest sealed AGM batteries on the market, Mighty Max protects your investment with a one-year warranty and uses the closed cell to ensure a few months in storage won’t lower your battery’s energy capacity.

The heavyweight battery doesn’t come with any bells or whistles, just a low cost and high capacity ready to pair with solar panels.


Working in van Battery Types
When you have a good battery in your van, charging the laptops and keeping your beers cold is no problem.

What Are Lithium ION Batteries

Our contender is Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4), a rising talent, undefeated but expensive to book. Lithium batteries lead the way in depth of discharge, cycles, capacity, and cost.

Lithium-ion batteries of the past had been slightly combustible, but the addition of phosphate into the chemical make-up of the cells created a non-combustible lithium battery known for its safety and discharge cycles.

The battery increases performance while decreasing weight vs. the competition and declared itself the king of battery bank technology, with a hefty price point in tow.

Hour by hour, the energy savings start to outweigh the cost, but the high upfront investment has prevented lithium batteries from rendering their lead-acid competition obsolete.

This modern technology is quickly becoming more mainstream each year, and van and RV owners are starting to see high-performance lithium-ion batteries trickle into their price range.

Best In Class: Renogy Lithium-Iron Phosphate 12V 170aH

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We mentioned Renogy’s relevance earlier in this post, so it should be no surprise to see their name amongst the best LiFePO4 battery options on the market.

You’ll be hard-pressed to find another single battery on the market with more bang for your buck than this powerful lithium battery.

While it certainly ain’t cheap, the 170 Ah makes a big difference when providing 12v power to an extensive system, and it’s all made from renewable energy.

It can be nerve-wracking to spend this kind of money on electronics, but there is no safer choice than this heavily protected high-performance LiFePO4. 

For usable power and cycles beyond comparison, the cells in this battery will make full use of your solar charging system.

SPECIAL DEAL: Use our link below and Don’t forget to use “VanLifeTheory” at checkout on for 10% off all Renogy Products!


BUDGET OPTION: Battle Born LiFePO4

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While there are certainly cheaper Lithium-Ion batteries out there, there should be no half measures taken when shopping for lithium solutions.

A high-quality lithium battery will last you a decade, at least. Who knows if some cheap, knock-off battery company can outlast this Battle Born option.

That’s why it’s our favorite budget Lifepo4 option.

The battery will pay for itself in the efficient recharge cycles for years to come, but the added smart battery monitor makes the offer even more tempting.

Flexible and lightweight, she’ll only set you back 31 pounds and works in any voltage inverter system from 12-48v.

Battleborn has paid a keen investment into their operating procedure. From design to customer service, every step of the process is in the USA, and a 10-year warranty protects your purchase.

The high upfront costs could be disheartening, but combined with the right solar system, the free energy you’ll generate with this LiFePO4 will pay dividends for years to come.

Plus as an added bonus, this particular model comes with a battery monitor!


High Voltage Battery
High voltage rock and roll!

What to Look For When Comparing Lithium vs Agm

Sound the bell. 

Now that you’ve seen a few AGMs and lithium batteries, we’ll take a closer look at key differences and let these two duke it out.

Upfront Cost

This is where lead-acid batteries make their best argument. The most high-end AGM option is still more affordable than an average lithium battery.

Unfortunately, when building out an RV, your budget is always looming in the background of your decision-making process.

It could ultimately be the deciding factor when you choose between AGM and lithium batteries.

AGMLithium-Ion
Budget$89$499
Best In Class$250$1500+

ADVANTAGE: AGM

Weight

Hopefully, you won’t have to spend too many weekends hauling around your battery. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider weight when shopping for your next deep cycle battery.

Lithium batteries will give your camper a break without sacrificing any performance. 

The higher the usable amp-hours of your battery, the higher the weight, but no matter which amperage you choose, there’s no real comparison between the two. 

Lithium’s best-in-class options will allow you to easily move your system, while heavy AGM batteries may require back-up every time you want to take a look.

AGMLithium-Ion
Budget23 lbs14.7 lbs
Best in Class64 lbs31 lbs

ADVANTAGE: LITHIUM-ION

Depth of Discharge

Take note that this is where LiFePO4 truly excels. Lithium will make up for its higher cost over time, thanks to its ability to safely drain the battery almost completely.

Your depth of discharge defines the number of usable energy you have before you begin to damage the long-term health of your battery.

100 ah AGM batteries discharged below 50 ah will break down and receive permanent damage if entirely out of charge. That means you can only count on half of your battery capacity as usable energy. 

Therefore, lead-acid batteries have been favored by those using their RV’s for weekend trips that don’t push their battery charge to the edge, and full-time van lifers prefer Lithium batteries for daily use.

But with Lithium-Ion batteries, you can drain them down virtually to nothing. So by these standards, a 100 Ah LiFePO4 battery actually has double the capacity of its 100Ah AGM counterpart, which can only be discharged to around 50 Ah.

AGMLithium-Ion
Depth of Discharge30-50%86-98%

ADVANTAGE: LITHIUM-ION

Maintenance

Both of these batteries are completely sealed, resulting in a maintenance-free lifespan.

You can mount them in virtually any orientation and they can take a beating if you like to get off-road from time to time.

ADVANTAGE: BOTH

Lifespan

When shopping for your battery, it is essential to look past your next trip and examine your lifestyle.

If you’re just getting your toes wet into RVing and don’t see yourself selling your house and taking off across the country, the lifespan difference may not matter so much.

On the other hand, RVers looking to generate free energy daily for years to come should look to LiFePO4 for power.

With lifespan, there really is no comparison between AGM and Lithium-Ion batteries.

AGMLithium-Ion
Part-Time10 years50 years
Full-Time4 years24 years

ADVANTAGE: LITHIUM-ION

Temperature

No comparison is complete without examining a product’s ability to perform in adverse conditions. When it’s freezing cold or hot enough it may cause damage, you’ll look to your battery charge more than ever.

Both of these battery types are rated for freezing temperatures, and battery management systems included in Lithium options prevent damage.

However, Lithium batteries won’t charge at temperatures much below zero, while AGM batteries can churn away through extreme cold.

ADVANTAGE: AGM

Wrapping Things Up: Editor’s Choice

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Renogy 100ah AGM

While the Renogy 170ah lithium battery is the superior choice, it isn’t exactly cheap. That’s why we recommend the Renogy 100ah AGM battery, which packs in the extra features and the quality in design, for 80% of van lifers out there.

Hopefully, you’re starting to get a clearer idea of which battery is best for you. We put these two heavyweights up to the test, compared and contrasted a number of important features, and took note of key product details.

Now, it’s time for you to place your bets.

There are several power options out there, and you’re the only one who can pinpoint the perfect heartbeat for your system. 

Our editor’s choice, the Renogy 100ah AGM offers the benefits of a high-quality design without breaking the budget.

That being said though if you are living in your van full-time like we are, we highly recommend going for lithium! We have 2 installed in our campervan and would never go back.

But whether you choose AGM or Lifepo4, all of the batteries we covered here will power up your adventures for years to come.

This post may contain affiliate links. That means if you make a purchase a product we recommend using the links in this article, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. We promise to use this pocket money to buy lots of coffee and fuel for the campervan to keep us enjoying #VanLife for just a little longer. We appreciate your support, and only recommend products we know and trust. Thank you friends!

About the Author - Alesha and Jarryd - Van Life Theory

Hi! We're Alesha and Jarryd, the founders of Van Life Theory! We're currently travelling around Australia in our 2008 Mercedes Sprinter campervan and sharing our best experiences, stories, reviews and adventures as we go along. Make sure you follow along on our Instagram and YouTube!

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