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Old 11-03-2018, 09:06 PM   #1
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Battle Born Batteries!

Lithium install

For those of you who have some interest in RV lithium batteries, I wanted to provide a recap of my recent Battle Born lithium battery upgrade experience for my 2015 Winnebago Vista 27N. This isn’t an attempt to convince anyone that they should upgrade, or an attempt to justify my purchase, just a recap of my own experience.

My Vista had a stock Progressive Dynamics converter, a Precision Circuits battery isolation manager and 640 watts of solar, controlled by a two Blue Sky controllers with an IPN Pro remote.

Since we do a lot of boondocking, I decided to upgrade my coach batteries to three Battle Born’s 100ah lithium batteries. Since the batteries are advertised as “drop in” replacements for lead acid batteries, I decided to install them in my existing battery compartment, under my entry stairs. While it was a tight fit, I was able to get all three of the 100ah lithium batteries, plus my existing wet cell chassis starting battery in the battery compartment. This compartment is open to the outside so I plan on carefully monitoring the temperature of the batteries. Also, I plan to replace the wet cell starting battery with an AGM once I get everything worked out. This will allow me to enclose the compartment if I need too.

Once the batteries were installed, I was able to verify that my existing Progressive Dynamics PD9245C converter would not fully charge the lithium batteries. This model converter/charger was not programmable, and “read” the resting voltage of the lithium batteries as being fully charged and quit charging long before the lithium’s were charged. Based upon Battle Born and Progressive Dynamics advice, I changed out my old converter for a PD9145ALV, Progressive Dynamics’ lithium model. This was an easy swap, and now the converter correctly charges the lithium batteries. However, the instructions for the PD9145ALV converter clearly state that it should not be used the charge a wet cell battery.

This brings up the second issue that I encountered. The stock BIM (battery isolation manager by Precision Circuits 00-10021-00) would “read” the higher resting voltage of the lithium coach batteries and assume that they were being charged. The BIM would then enter into its preprogrammed charging routine and “combined” the wet cell chassis battery with the lithium coach batteries. The BIM would combine the chassis and coach batteries wherever the chassis battery needed a charge, and anytime the lithium converter was used, but would rarely connect when the motor was running.

After talking to Precision Circuits, they stated that my stock BIM needed to be replaced with their new lithium BIM (00-10041-260). This BIM is programmed to handle the higher voltage required by the lithium batteries. It is also supposed to prevent the chassis battery from being over charged when the coach batteries are being charged. After installing the new BIM everything seems to work ok.

I also had to reprogram the Blue Sky solar controller, but that went smoothly!

We spent 10 days dry camping at the Albuquerque balloon festival recently, plus several days boondocking after that. The entire system has worked great so far!

So to recap my experience, to get the most out of the new “drop in” lithium batteries, I had to replace both my existing converter and my BIM to their lithium versions. Plus I had to reprogram my solar controller.

The hardest part so far was the “reprogramming” I had to do to myself. With the old wet cell batteries I would get very nervous when they approach 50% state of charge, or didn’t get to 100% by the time the Sun went down. The lithium’s can go down to 20% without any harm, giving me a far larger operating range. This larger capacity means that the batteries don’t have to be at 100% by nightfall. In addition, the lithium batteries charge back up at a fast rate, making by solar and generator recharging more efficient! All in all I’m happy with the upgrade. However, your Mileage May vary!


Terry
2015 Vista 27N
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Old 11-03-2018, 09:25 PM   #2
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Very nice. I just replaced the stock 220 amp hr lead acid batteries in my coach. I thought long and hard but decided to go with 8 Lifeline Agm's 300 amp batteries. The additional amp hr's I have is nice but sometimes wish I would have gone with the lithium upgrade. The main reason I did not go with them is their sensitivity to temperature extremes.
Good luck and keep us posted especially with cold temperatures on the horizon
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Old 11-03-2018, 09:36 PM   #3
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Great write-up! It's nice to know that manufacturers are now making components that properly handle mixed systems. I'll be looking into the new BIM for my next build.
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Old 11-04-2018, 08:29 AM   #4
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So how much did you spend? 3 batteries @ $995 ea, a new charger and a new charge controller. You could have done just about the same with 2 6V golf cart batteries and no other changes.
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Old 11-06-2018, 03:19 PM   #5
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Just to answer luvlabs question, and not trying to convince anyone that lithium are the best choice, here goes.

The Battle Born lithium batteries replaced two Trojan T-145 batteries. These batteries have a 260AH rating. Which means that I could safely use about 130AH each cycle. My power needs included use of a CPAP Machine (50-60AH), plus some Microwave, TV, lights and heater useage each night. Plus the occasional hair dryer (happy wife). To keep up I had to have lots of sunshine, or long generator runs.

The simple solution would have been to add two additional Trojan batteries, but I couldn’t find a reasonable place to put them. If I put four 6 volt batteries in my existing battery compartment, then I would have had to move the chassis battery somewhere. An additional problem was the weight (140+ lbs) of the extra batteries. The Vista 27N model is already several hundred pounds heavier on the passenger side than the driver side. Adding more weight on that side would only make that problem worse.

I know that I could have solved these problems by moving batteries, rewiring or running long cables, building batteries boxes, venting. using AGMs, etc.. All of which would have been cheaper up front than the lithium batteries.

If the lithium actually turn out to have anywhere near as long of a service life as they claim, then my choice may turn out to be the cheaper option. Only time will tell. For now, I have extra amp hours, reduced some weight on my heavy side, shorter recharging times and most importantly, lots of power for the wife’s hair dryer!

As for the main cost (shipped to my door)!

Three batteries. $2,847
Converter. $224
BIM. $172

Terry
2015 Vista 27N
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Old 11-06-2018, 03:59 PM   #6
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If I understand it right, you will get close to 300 usable ah from the lithium and only 130 from the 6v batteries (when converted to 12v). That is a huge increase. I’d love to see how you got 3 BattleBorn batteries AND the starter battery under the step. That’s quite an accomplishment!
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Old 11-06-2018, 04:09 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by macnut View Post
If I understand it right, you will get close to 300 usable ah from the lithium and only 130 from the 6v batteries (when converted to 12v). That is a huge increase. I’d love to see how you got 3 BattleBorn batteries AND the starter battery under the step. That’s quite an accomplishment!
You can use 80% of the battery banks capacity, whether AGM, flooded, or lithium.

The deeper discharge shortens its life but does not damage them.

AGM anf flooded will give you about 500 full deep cycles.

Lithium will give you 2000 full cycles.
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Old 11-06-2018, 04:11 PM   #8
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Thanks for sharing, I'm hoping the lions keep coming down in price before we have to buy another set of batteries.
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Old 11-09-2018, 11:19 AM   #9
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Love what they did.....good watch

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Old 12-25-2018, 08:37 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twjacks View Post
..... My power needs included use of a CPAP Machine (50-60AH), plus some Microwave, TV, lights and heater useage each night...........
Terry
2015 Vista 27N
Have you tried turning off the humidifier heater on your CPAP?

My wife uses a CPAP and leaves the heater off. It draws less than 1amp with the heater off. About 6 to 8 AH per night.



Some people feel they must have the humidifier heater on so this won't work for them.
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Old 12-25-2018, 08:47 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twinboat View Post
You can use 80% of the battery banks capacity, whether AGM, flooded, or lithium.

The deeper discharge shortens its life but does not damage them.

AGM anf flooded will give you about 500 full deep cycles.

Lithium will give you 2000 full cycles.
Yep, using 80% of your AGM batteries will give you about 500 cycles, down from about 2000-3000 cycles if you only use 25% of the capacity.

Now if you discharge an AGM battery to 80% you still need to get it charged to 100% frequently, at least every 5-7 days. Not easy to do even with solar.

Even with discharging to 50% it is not that easy to get to 100% frequently.

If you don't get to 100% the battery plates sulfate and reduce your usable battery life. Equalizing helps, but not totally. This reduces the 500 cycles you started with.

If you dry camp or boondock a lot 50-150 or more days a year, you are looking at replacing your batteries on a regular basis.

Makes lithium look a little better.

Note, I only recommend lithium to those who dry camp a lot and for continuous days at a time (7 to 50-100 days)
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Old 12-25-2018, 11:57 AM   #12
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I too am considering replacing the wet cells in my Newmar CS with a LiFo2 chemistry. My decision is based on reducing weight, faster charge, no battery acid, no maintenance without losing usable capacity.
Currently I have six 6v GC2 wet cells. I'd like to use the rack that houses four of the GC2 batteries without modification for the LiFo2.
Using LiFo2 batteries in that space with currently available energy density will be rated at around 400 amps saving approximately 248 lbs.
Current six GC2 batteries weigh approximately 372 lbs, 62 lbs each. Four LiFo2 batteries weigh approximately 124 lbs, 31 lbs each, a savings of approximately 248 lbs.
The LiFo2 setup would provide between 240 to 300 amps useable, conservatively. This is approximately what the GC2 provide, realistically. The LiFo2 will charge completely in a few hours using the generator, I am told, and faster on grid power. More importantly you can partially charge the LiFo2 without issue. Either topping off or under time constants to get to XX% quickly.

Still considering whether or not to install some solar. Solar is not a priority for our style of camping and will add lbs.

Using a GC2 sized LiFo2 replacement product such as the Battle Born GC2 replacement product would only require adding a BIM in addition to the batteries. The sizing would work with the existing box without modification.

The Inverter Remote Control, Magnum ME-RC50, installed in the CS can be programed for LiFo2 charging voltages, limits.
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Old 12-25-2018, 02:38 PM   #13
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Of coarse I mean Li FePo4 not LiFo2 sorry for the error
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Old 12-25-2018, 03:11 PM   #14
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[QUOTE=al1florida;4558508]Yep, using 80% of your AGM batteries will give you about 500 cycles, down from about 2000-3000 cycles if you only use 25% of the capacity.

Now if you discharge an AGM battery to 80% you still need to get it charged to 100% frequently, at least every 5-7 days. Not easy to do even with solar.

Even with discharging to 50% it is not that easy to get to 100% frequently.

If you don't get to 100% the battery plates sulfate and reduce your usable battery life. Equalizing helps, but not totally. This reduces the 500 cycles you started with.

If you dry camp or boondock a lot 50-150 or more days a year, you are looking at replacing your batteries on a regular basis.

Makes lithium look a little better.

"Note, I only recommend lithium to those who dry camp a lot and for continuous days at a time (7 to 50-100 days)"
/QUOTE]

Why is that?
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