I thought now would be a good time to publish an update on a pair of my core RV boondocking products I have previously reviewed. First, the heart of our system, three Lion Energy Safari UT1300 lithium-type batteries. Second an Energizer 2000 watt gas generator from Midland Power.
I’ve used the products for a decent amount of off-grid camping over the years. In fact, we have been out for the last month camping without hookups. Being the fall season on Canada’s west coast, we’ve camped in mostly forested campsites. Both the Safari batteries and the gas generator have seen a ton of use providing our power needs.
Disclaimer: Product review samples were initially provided to Love Your RV free of charge in exchange for a video review.
Review Update – Safari LiFePO Battery and Energizer Generator
Lion Energy UT1300 Battery Review Update
Around two years ago, I replaced my existing 4 Interstate lead-acid golf cart batteries with the Lion Energy LiFePO4 batteries. Doing so increased my energy storage capacity by nearly 30% and dramatically sped up the recharge times. All while reducing the battery bank weight from around 250 lbs down to a mere 69 lbs.
So far, I’ve used the batteries for around 5-6 months of off-grid camping and the rest on hookups. Unfortunately, Covid hit in 2020 and canceled our usual 6-month winter trip to the south, where we mostly boondock. Therefore the batteries have seen usage in three common scenarios:
1) Extended time sitting idle while connected to shore power
2) Boondocking in the desert with plenty of solar power for recharging
3) Camping off-grid in the Pacific Northwest where solar is limited due to clouds and trees. Charging is done chiefly via a gas generator.
Overall I’m more than pleased with the performance of the UT1300’s. You can look back at my previous review videos for in-depth testing and demos. Two years have gone by now, so here are a few updates and answers to questions I’ve received in that time.
Battery Lugs – I’m not a fan of the post bolts they use. Because the threads are short, it makes it hard to stack larger lugs on them. Some folks were worried about vibration causing them to loosen, but I haven’t seen any signs of that so far. My batteries are located in the fifth wheel trailer’s front storage bay and inside a battery box surrounded by foam, so no movement occurs.
OEM Converter Charger – I’ve consistently found that the trailers OEM WFCO 8955 converter will charge the batteries to only around 50% charge. This is because it is a lead-acid charger, and some long wiring runs between it and the battery location leading to significant voltage drop. (Demoed and Explained in this Video). However, I have found it to be of benefit when spending long spells on shore power. I’ve read that lithium batteries prefer not to be held at high charge levels for extended periods, and 50% is pretty well ideal.
Temperature – Another often mentioned drawback to lithium batteries is temperature extremes. Many people move them inside the RV to take advantage of the climate-controlled environment. So far, I’ve had no issues having them in the unheated front storage compartment. I spent the last winter in southwestern British Columbia, Canada, without problems, and during the summer, we saw ambient temps as high as 104.5F (40.2C).
I love the Charging Characteristics – I couldn’t be happier with the fast charging aspect of the lithium, as well as the fact they don’t need to routinely see a 100% charge state like our old lead-acid type. Many campsites these days limit the generator run times to just 2 hours in the AM and 2 hours in the PM. The last month we have been mainly camping in the forest, severely limiting any solar power harvest. Having batteries that will accept high charging amperage and don’t need to be fully charged is a big bonus!
Capacity – It’s been two years now, and so far, I haven’t noticed any battery capacity loss. A week or so ago, I ran the battery bank down near 10% of its rated 315 amp hours, and voltage was still at 12.9V. At 10% charge, the batteries had no problems drawing my slide in and lifting the landing gear.
Improvements? I’d like to see more robust battery posts and a monitor app for the battery internals information. I use a Trimetric Battery Monitor, and it does a decent job, but I would love to have in-depth info on the charge state of each battery and its four lithium cells directly.
Buy direct from Lion Energy (Safari UT 1300 lithium battery) Save 15% by using the Love Your RV discount code – LYRVUT1300
Energizer 2000W Generator Review Update
I started back in 2011 RVing with a pair of Champion 2000W generators that I could parallel together if I needed to run our RV air conditioner. They worked well, and I was pretty satisfied with them. (See 5 Year Review Update) However, in summer 2018, the Midland Power company from Ontario, Canada, offered me their 3200-watt Energizer generator to test out and review. It could power anything in our RV, including the AC, without missing a beat. However, I found it was a little too heavy for me to lug around.
So they next offered me the smaller 2000W model to check out. I’ve been using it since 2019 as the primary generator I take with me on trips. Over the years, I’ve found we’ve hardly ever needed to have AC, so make do with low-power electric fans instead. I only need to charge my batteries and maybe run the microwave, hairdryer, or toaster sometimes.
I’ve found the Energizer 2000W model does the job. I appreciate the compact size for storage and lightweight of 44 lbs.
Here are some updates after two years. (NOTE: This model has been discontinued and replaced by the eZV2200P)
Easy to Start – If the generator sits for a month or so, it takes 5-6 pulls, but if using it day to day, it starts every time on the second pull and takes hardly any force.
Handles MAX Loads Well – When I use the generator, it’s usually to charge our lithium battery bank and other things, plus running AC power items in the RV. So most times, I’m using it to its max 1600W continuous limit. Often I’m on a time limit from the campground, so I want to get the most out of it. I’ve found the Energizer rarely overloads and can go for hours running right near the max load. Midland Power has done an excellent job in designing the inverter and electronics.
Relatively Quiet – I say “Relatively” because I can’t say any generator is that quiet after using solar so much. Also, I usually run it near max power output, which means it’s maxing its RPM. I’d say it’s comparable to most inverter-type generators on the market, especially in the same price range. They all sound quiet when in ECO mode with low output watts but add some high wattage loads to them, and they wind up the RPM and noise levels.
Fuel Consumption – Fuel use is pretty constant. If running flat out, full bore, I get about 3 1/2 – 4 hours per gallon of gas. Puttering along in ECO mode, I get in the neighborhood of 8 – 10 hours. For most of my use, I fall in the average of 5-6 hours per gallon. So not bad.
Wet Weather – I haven’t babied the unit when it comes to the weather. I do cover it from direct rain, but it does get lots of indirect water and dirt on it, and it hasn’t caused an issue. I find the case cleans up easily and the switches are well protected.
Extended Non-Use – I didn’t use the generator over the last winter, so it sat for about a year or more. The only run time was three times that I took it out of the storage box and ran it for a half-hour. This fall, I drained the old gas, changed the oil, and cleaned the spark plug and air filter. The unit hasn’t missed a beat.
Any Dislikes? – Yes, one thing I don’t like is the fuel tank fill. It seems to be too easy to overflow when fueling. Even when paying close attention, the fuel comes up the neck fast if I’m not careful spilling over.