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Drop-in Lithium batteries

CarlN

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Jan 4, 2009
577
Ketch 55 Bristol, RI
How are you feeling these days about drop-in Lithium batteries on boats? I'm thinking of changing a AGM house bank over to Battleborn drop in 100 amp G31's (US company assembling them in the US). These have a 10 year warranty (8 years full replacement). The charger settings are pretty simple - Absorption 14.4v Float 13.5, temperature compensation turned off. As far as I can tell - that's it. Am I missing something? (I have read that I have to protect the alternator diodes from a surge if the BMS suddenly cuts off the battery - and, of course I'll need an alternator that can stand up to the demand)

 
  • Helpful
Likes: rgranger
Jan 19, 2010
9,950
Hunter 26 Charleston
How are you feeling these days about drop-in Lithium batteries on boats? I'm thinking of changing a AGM house bank over to Battleborn drop in 100 amp G31's (US company assembling them in the US). These have a 10 year warranty (8 years full replacement). The charger settings are pretty simple - Absorption 14.4v Float 13.5, temperature compensation turned off. As far as I can tell - that's it. Am I missing something? (I have read that I have to protect the alternator diodes from a surge if the BMS suddenly cuts off the battery - and, of course I'll need an alternator that can stand up to the demand)

I checked out the website... it looks promising. My batteries are good for now but I'll keep my eye on these.
 

Joe

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Jun 1, 2004
7,409
Catalina 27 Mission Bay, San Diego
Here's a "Sailing Uma" episode that you may appreciate.
 
Feb 26, 2004
21,892
Catalina 34 224 Maple Bay, BC, Canada
How are you feeling these days about drop-in Lithium batteries on boats?
Carl,
Does your cruising regimen require this modification? Are you an "on the hook away from civilization" type of sailor? Many answers to this type of question are directly linked to How You Use Your Boat.

There are some good and long discussions about these new systems on www.cruisersforum.com in the Electrical Section, with its own subsection on Lithium!!!: Lithium Power Systems - Cruisers & Sailing Forums

Happy reading.
 

CarlN

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Jan 4, 2009
577
Ketch 55 Bristol, RI
Hi Stu. Yes. I'm an on the hook cruiser. I've given up on AGM after my last set of Lifelines (on previous boat) tested at less than 50% after 3 years due to PSOC - despite a lot of effort on my part to not discharge them below 50%, fully charge them to 100% regularly and even waste several days when I could have been sailing doing "conditioning" charges. I have about 300 amps of charging so flooded batteries don't work. So the choice for the new boat becomes Firefly or Lithium. I was leaning towards Firefly until I saw the 10 year warranty on the Battleborn. I also like that the Lithium voltage will stay above 13v until the battery is almost exhausted. This substantially increases the output of the water maker and keeps other voltage sensitive things (like the Frigoboat fridge) from shutting off when the battery is low. The Battleborn is still more expensive than the Firefly ($950/100 amp battery vs $550 for Firefly) - but given the long warranty it's attractive.
 
May 24, 2004
6,765
CC 30 South Florida
It depends on how you use the boat your particular needs. I'm not one to jump on new technology right away, to prevent having problems which may not have arisen yet. I was looking at the advantages of lithium batteries and I found them to be 1) size and weight and 2) larger Depth of Discharge. My boat is not a towed RV, nor an electric aircraft so the size and weight of the batteries is not an issue. I see the lithium batteries have a Depth of Discharge 30% larger than Wet Cell. If I had a need for a 30% larger battery bank they might be a consideration but I don't have the need. Pardon my ignorance, but what is the risk of these batteries overheating and causing a fire? Fire in a boat is a most serious safety concern. I just looked at the prices of a deep cycle Lithium battery and it averages $900. Never mind I'll wait and see actual documented figures of their useful life in the water before any further consideration.
 
Feb 6, 1998
11,436
Canadian Sailcraft 36T Casco Bay, ME
Unless it recently changed, the “Ten year warranty” on Battleborn has been manufacturing defects only. Recommended charge current for a Battleborn is 50A per battery..

For a boat of your size and charging capability we would steer you towards a dual bus Lithionics OPE Li3 system. The Lithionics 125Ah battery is the best of the drop-in batteries but we would not recommend it for an application such as yours.. Also keep in mind that ABYC TE-13 requires a battery to have external communication for the BMS which the Battleborn does not have..

Read the link below and focus carefully on the section regarding “drop-in” batteries. With the growth of drop-ins we are seeing the results of incorrectly made choices every week.. Drop-in batteries can certainly work but the need to be a good fit for the vessel.

LiFePO4 Batteries On Boats - Marine How To

One of the best values right now, in a drop-in battery, are the KiloVault Batteries by AltE. They are available in 150Ah and 300Ah versions. We find them to be very well built & they have a massive 150A continuous and 200A for 30 minutes FET based BMS and feature built in Bluetooth. Internal construction is some of the best we've seen in a drop-in and they are even availble with an optional built in heater for cold weather work. They also cost a lot less than Battleborn and offer more features.
 

CarlN

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Jan 4, 2009
577
Ketch 55 Bristol, RI
Thanks MaineSail. Your write up should be required reading for anyone thinking about Lithium batteries on a boat.

Maybe you should make a link to it a sticky thread.
 
Feb 6, 1998
11,436
Canadian Sailcraft 36T Casco Bay, ME
I'm not one to jump on new technology right away, to prevent having problems which may not have arisen yet.
It's really not new technology and you'd be shocked at how many boats are already using it..

I have been involved in LiFePo4 since about 2008 and even companies such as Trojan are now in the LiFePO4 battery market..

Never mind I'll wait and see actual documented figures of their useful life in the water before any further consideration.
I built my own bank and began using it back in 2010. The cells were made in May of 2009 and as of today have exceeded 1700 cycles, most of them to 80% DoD or deeper, many to 0%, and they still deliver slightly in-excess of their 400Ah rating. I have never seen anything in lead acid do anywhere near this level of cycle life. Because I built this bank myself it cost about the same as a good quality AGM bank but has far exceeded typical AGM cycle life in excess of 4X..

That said there is no such thing as a "drop-in replacement" for lead acid despite companies trying to market them as such. There is more to it than that but the technology is well proven and quite safe..
 

Tim22

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Jun 16, 2014
247
Hunter 310 Ottawa
I have been considering upgrading to lithium but have been put off by the number of problems such as alternator charging and alternator protection when bms shuts down. The issue that has really made me question upgrading is the inability to charge below 0 degrees Celsius. I can manage without charging under this circumstance but I don’t see any chargers, alternator charge controllers or solar controllers that will shut the charging down as the mercury dips. This leaves only the BMS for protection. In the spring and the fall in Ottawa the temperature frequently drops below freezing overnight which makes lithium a bit more problematic.

Tim
 

Johann

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Jun 3, 2004
250
Leopard 39 Pensacola
Look at the Victron products. I know their SmartSolar controllers and Multiplus devices have a configurable low temperature charging cutoff. Also Lithionics can be specified with an internal heater.
 

Tim22

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Jun 16, 2014
247
Hunter 310 Ottawa
Hi Johann
I re read the manuals and I see where the smart solar controllers have a low temperature shutoff but I don’t see it for the Multi Plus Compact. Am I missing it somewhere?

Tim
 

Johann

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Jun 3, 2004
250
Leopard 39 Pensacola
Well, I was referencing this thread on victron community:


but there are others which seem to indicate the multiplus LFP profile does not cut off charging at 5C. And it doesn't appear that there is a workaround unless you get a battery with a BMS that will tell the Multiplus to stop charging when its cold. That may rule out "Drop Ins".

This thread indicates it is on a list of future features but hasn't made it as of August of this year


Sorry for the misinformation.

If you have a GX device, and internet connectivity, you can use either Victron Connect to turn off the Multiplus, or remote ve.config to disable the charger. Or get a battery with a heater, or external BMS...