Antigravity lithium power in a knackered old Defender

Imagine, for a second, that you have an old Land Rover equipped with a leaky lead-acid battery that only yields power through divine intervention. Every attempt to start it is a roll of the dice. Will it crank? Has the battery compartment been reduced to some grotesque, acidic soup? Have the engineers at Lucas replaced the starter solenoid with a halibut?

If you had the means to ensure that your driveway-soiling, HOA-offending pick-up truck always had enough power to start, would you seize the opportunity?

For me, that was the appeal of the Antigravity Lithium-Ion Starter Battery.

Simplicity is key

My 1991 Land Rover Defender 110 Hi-Cap, which has had an exciting life in Dorset before finding its way to Tucson, isn’t a restoration project. It’s a rolling, rattling adventure-mobile with a rusty chassis and dented body panels, that belches plumes of black smoke. But it’s also a well-loved, well-lubricated, gear-grinding, daily driver where all the important bits work.

1991 Defender 110 in the Sonoran Desert

So when I first heard about Antigravity Batteries, through Tim and Kelsey on YouTube, I thought a lithium-ion starter battery would be a sensible improvement to the Defender.

My goal for the foreseeable future is to keep the Defender very simple. I plan to outfit it for four-wheel drive adventure, but not for extended overland travel. One reason for this is so that the platform isn’t encumbered by too much aftermarket nonsense when it’s time for major work.

Toss the jumper cables

I’ve really come to love the redundancy offered by the dual battery system that I have in the Jeep. 

Initially, I was planning to do the same thing in the Defender, but I changed my mind when I considered the bulk of this setup. Then I learned that the lithium-ion starter battery offers similar peace-of-mind through its “restart technology” packed into the form factor of a stock replacement battery.

Antigravity H7/Group-94R Lithium Battery

Antigravity starter batteries are available in standard automotive sizes, and offer built-in protection to help prevent depletion.

Genesis Dual Battery Kit

A dual battery system is great for redundancy, and off-grid power, but too bulky and excessive for our simple Defender.

The premise behind restart technology is simple: it’s a smart battery that disconnects power at the posts when it detects that voltage is getting low, which prevents further drain. At the press of a button, the battery “reconnects” allowing you to start the vehicle, thereby replenishing the battery.

To test this, I left the key in the ignition with the headlights on all night. The dim, old halogens stayed on for seven hours, at which point, the battery went offline. In the morning, I pressed the button on the provided key fob; the battery reconnected, and I was able to start the Defender with about as much vigor as a jump start.

Bear in mind, battery voltage is still low after near-depletion, so it took a few revs for the alternator to kick in, and sustain ignition.

Battery Test in the Rain

More performance gains

The restart technology is the icing on the cake, especially with a quirky and unpredictable classic such as the Defender. However, it has other notable advantages:

  • 2000 cranking amps (about 1500 more than needed)
  • Up to 40 lbs lighter than an equivalent lead-acid battery
  • 7-9 years of projected longevity
Comparing Battery Weights

Wait, it costs HOW much?!

The only discernible con is the high price for the H7/Group-94R, ranging from $950 to $1350 USD, depending on capacity; as of February, 2024.

A quality H7/94R AGM battery from Odyssey might cost $330 with a longevity of 2-3 years, pessimistically. At worst, the cumulative cost of replacements is sommmewhat comparable to the cost of the one-time purchase of an Antigravity battery – which, at the very least, is a handy thing to tell yourself to help justify the expense.

See battery status on your phone

I also purchased a Lithium Battery Tracker, which is a $36 USD accessory from Antigravity. This is a small module that attaches to the battery posts, and connects to a smartphone app which reports battery status and voltage.

It’s very useful for seeing battery health at a glance, and to receive regular status notifications.

Battery Tracker Packaged

While it does provide helpful metrics, and is budget friendly, the Battery Tracker is a little rough around the edges, with minor typos and bugs. I would regard it as a non-essential add-on, noting that other companies make higher quality (but also higher cost) battery monitors.

Battery Tracker Voltage
Battery Tracker Crank Test
Battery Tracker Notification

Now we wait

The Antigravity Lithium-Ion H7/Group-94R Starter Battery has been installed for about a week now, and has been working wonderfully. I’ll follow-up with another blog post when that changes, but with any luck… that might be a while.

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