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Old 11-09-2019, 07:27 AM   #1
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Rough couple days

It was a good stretch of 1,017 days of continuous free boondocking that has ended as we traveled into Kansas for our appointment to get some repairs completed on the 5th wheel.*

Now for the arghhhh part.

12v 500ah lithium batteries (GBS LFMP battery system). 8 CTI 160 watt panels (1,280 watts), 2 in series, 4 sets. Each set goes to the combiner box where all sets are in parallel. Panels lay flat on the roof. Magnum PT100 controller, Magnum 3012 hybrid inverter. There is a 7" display monitor and the ME-ARC 50 to read the performance of the system.

While I was gone away in WA for work the weather dropped in KS to mid 30s f during the day and low teens at night for a couple days where we were dry camping. This normally wouldn't be an issue but we do pay attention to the colder weather because of the LifePo4 batteries. The front compartment has been insulated some and has the heat duct from the furnace which ends just above the batteries but I haven't added the vent to blow heat at the batteries.
2 days before getting back the wife calls me the generator ran out of gas, after filling it it wouldn't start again, she worked on it but no luck and with the couple overcast days the batteries were low on charge and low temps the cells were reading upper 30s which meant by morning the BMS is going into a self protection mode and not allow charging (which they did, any cell below 32f), she never got the generator going the next day so a small ceramic heater couldn't be placed in the compartment for quick warming of the cells, BMS on the batteries finally allowed charging mid afternoon by solar but not a whole lot.
Night before flying back she texts me that the batteries have shut down (no furnace or anything else needing 12v to operate) with a night time low of 11f. She winterized the rig before night fall, used the buddy heater for heat.

I picked up a new eu2200i generator before returning to the 5th wheel to get some electricity back into the rig without dealing with the other generator (was wanting to upgrade anyways). The BMS shut the batteries down due to no communication with all 20 cells only cell 1 & 2 show readings on the display as of now. It appears the first section of the 5 sense board wiring sections has malfunctioned. As soon as we get back to warmer weather in AZ I'll have to break the battery system down and give everything a good cleaning of connection. Everything appears to be clean but obviously something is amiss.

Did a reading with the handheld meter and the battery bank was reading 13.28v, so the batteries were ok and charged. Talked with my installer and rewired the positive cable coming out of the over voltage solenoid to the input of the under voltage seleniod, move 3 wires and 12v power now back suppling power..."BUT" the 20 cells that make up the batteries are now unprotected. If I haven't been using/ living off these batteries for the past 43 months seeing how the cells read and react at different voltages during charging/ discharging I would be hesitant to use them like this.
Bulk 14.1v, absorb 14.2v (10 minutes), float 13.6v

Now for the next part of the problem, the batteries were not being charged from the Magnum inverter/ charger or solar. After talking to the installer and trying different things...nothing, no charging as if the system was dead but I could see the lights on the equipment showing power? In the meantime plugged in a car battery charger (10a) for the time being to the generator so not to kill the batteries while thinking about my options.

After thinking about this overnight, the next morning I went and looked at the Me-Arc setup menu for the system and everything was not as it was set up for the system, it cleared itself back to factory settings. After 15 minutes of resetting all of the setup menu from before these issues started the system was back on line charging properly from both the inverter/ charger and solar.

Some may be thinking why didn't you check this first, well.... I was told that Magnum is the only one that will retain it's settings if the system shuts down so I didn't even think about checking the setup menu because everthing should be set, yea... sure it does. I will say it did keep all the readings from solar production in the history section.

As soon as we get back to AZ in a couple weeks with warmer weather I'll correct the battery communication issue and wire everything back so cell protection is back in place.

Tap into the heat duct run above the batteries so a hose connections and 2' length heater hose can be added and dump warm air from the furnace onto the batteries when extreme cold temperatures are called for.

Do some service on the eu2000i generator and sell it now that we have eu2200i.

I posted this just to show that not every day is roses in the bush and even the best thought out plan of "what if" happens you still might be caught off gaurd and at the most inconvenient COLD time. A good learning lesson even though some what aggravating.

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Old 11-09-2019, 08:06 AM   #2
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It sounds like you were well prepared for the situation even though it hadn't occurred before. Great Job !!

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Old 11-20-2019, 01:54 PM   #3
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After being caught off gaurd in colder weather than we normally would be in here is a simple fix that should take care of any future extreme cold weather with LFP batteries.

$16.00 @ home depot in parts, 4" diameter.

Heat duct ends above batteries.

Used a dremmel to cut a hole in duct, inserted connection, bent tabs, taped around base for a good seal.

Attached the stiff hose which is roughly a foot long but could be expanded to 2' or removed till needed, but will leave in place with a cap on the end. When extra heat is needed in the compartment the end cap can be removed and heat can be blown down on the batteries while the furnace is running anyways. That should also radiate some heat just like it is for heating the compartment when it isn't extremely cold.

Roughly an hour to complete. I should of done this sooner but just kept putting it off.
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Old 11-20-2019, 04:12 PM   #4
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Glad to hear it's working ok now. Sad you had to break that long record of no genny. Hope the wife faired better than the batteries too, lol. But so true every day full timing is not a bed of roses!
Chris & Donna
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Old 11-22-2019, 05:53 PM   #5
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Interesting experience. Thanks for posting it.
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Old 11-22-2019, 06:07 PM   #6
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Sometimes the bad has to be posted as well as the good. Being LFP batteries maybe this experience can help someone else for being prepared for that "what if" time.
2010 Carriage Cameo F34CK3
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Old 11-24-2019, 10:15 AM   #7
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I also want to thank you for sharing these opportunity to MacGyver your way thru to full power again!

11F - Great Martini weather!!!

Best ahead for you, travel safe!

Roo II is our 04 Country Coach Allure 40'
OnDRoad for The JRNY! Enjoy life...
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