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Old 12-29-2017, 09:14 PM   #1
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Lithium batteries

Tonight I went to a Batteries + Bulbs store to get a replacement battery for an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) that I have. While I was there I asked about the current status of lithium batteries; I told him that I have a travel trailer and will need to replace its batteries at some point.

He replied that the lithiums weren't doing so well. He used to sell lithium motorcycle batteries but their failure rate was too high. In particular, if the batteries drained too low they would not recharge and were ruined. The store finally quit selling them. FYI.
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Old 12-29-2017, 09:23 PM   #2
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Rats. I thought this might be the year of the Lithium battery for $1 USD per Amp-Hour.

Wishful thinking?
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Old 12-29-2017, 09:30 PM   #3
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Yeah, I'm also disappointed. This came up because the battery I pulled from the UPS had a cracked case. When I brought it into the store the man said not to worry-- those batteries were AGMs and wouldn't leak; he could still recycle it.

Then I told him about the trailer and asked if he sold AGMs for it. He said he either would have them in stock or could get them. That's when I asked about the lithiums.
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Old 12-29-2017, 09:37 PM   #4
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Technomadia has been running Lithium batteries in their rig for a number of years now and reporting on them regularly. This is probably one of the top spots to get real world info on that Lithium Ion Batteries for RV Motorhome House System - LFP / LiFePO4 | Technomadia
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Old 12-29-2017, 10:49 PM   #5
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Yeah, I'm also disappointed. This came up because the battery I pulled from the UPS had a cracked case. When I brought it into the store the man said not to worry-- those batteries were AGMs and wouldn't leak; he could still recycle it.

Then I told him about the trailer and asked if he sold AGMs for it. He said he either would have them in stock or could get them. That's when I asked about the lithiums.
I'm loving my 75 amp-hour AGM Sears (rebranded) 7 year old trolling battery. I give it a charge a few times a year and it hasn't let me down.

My two 100 amp-hour AGMs in the trailer should be just as good but they are only 2 years old. They are also "Sears" and I got them at a fantastic price, but Sears no longer sells them (or most anything else) these days. As best as I can determine they were made by Odyssey and buying them directly will cost an arm and two legs.

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Old 12-29-2017, 11:42 PM   #6
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well the 787s had some shaky starts that were caused by lithium batteries and galaxy note 7 too...
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Old 12-30-2017, 10:47 AM   #7
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well the 787s had some shaky starts that were caused by lithium batteries and galaxy note 7 too...
The lithium iron phosphate batteries (LiFePO4) used by Technomadia are NOT chemically the same as the lithium ion batteries (LiCoO2) used in a cell phone, or the lithium ion batteries that experienced a thermal runaway in the 787 for that matter. They're perfectly safe when installed correctly, and there's even a case to be made that they pose less risk than a standard flooded cell deep cycle battery.

http://www.newcastlesys.com/blog/lit...iron-batteries
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Old 12-30-2017, 12:06 PM   #8
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The lithium iron phosphate batteries (LiFePO4) used by Technomadia are NOT chemically the same as the lithium ion batteries (LiCoO2) used in a cell phone, or the lithium ion batteries that experienced a thermal runaway in the 787 for that matter. They're perfectly safe when installed correctly, and there's even a case to be made that they pose less risk than a standard flooded cell deep cycle battery.

Lithium Ion vs Lithium Iron Batteries
Robert: thank you for clarifying this. I didnít think we were talking apples to apples and were unfairly condemning the lithium batteries one would use in an RV.
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Old 12-30-2017, 01:11 PM   #9
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I'm loving my 75 amp-hour AGM Sears (rebranded) 7 year old trolling battery. I give it a charge a few times a year and it hasn't let me down.

My two 100 amp-hour AGMs in the trailer should be just as good but they are only 2 years old. They are also "Sears" and I got them at a fantastic price, but Sears no longer sells them (or most anything else) these days. As best as I can determine they were made by Odyssey and buying them directly will cost an arm and two legs.

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Just as a point of reference, we have a cabin in Central Washington, where it can easily get above 100 degrees in the summer, and in the teens and lower during the winter. In June 2007 I installed a pair of Trojan 105 Ah AGM 12v batteries (connected in parallel), a 120w solar panel and a MorningStar ProStar charge controller. I limit the depth-of-discharge to 25%. The last time we visited the cabin (Sept. 2017) the batteries were fully charged and still going strong, a little over 10 years of service! Needless to say, I'm very happy with the setup, and have duplicated it in our 19' Escape, with the exception being a 160w solar panel.
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Old 12-30-2017, 01:32 PM   #10
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Sounds like a durable setup Chuck. I'm curious though - wouldn't a pair of Trojan 6V AGMs give you a little better performance in the same space?

https://www.thesolarbiz.com/trojan-s...RoCSU8QAvD_BwE
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Old 12-30-2017, 01:42 PM   #11
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Robert: thank you for clarifying this. I didnít think we were talking apples to apples and were unfairly condemning the lithium batteries one would use in an RV.
So... what type of lithium technology would have been used in the motorcycle batteries that had such a high failure rate?
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Old 12-30-2017, 01:46 PM   #12
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So... what type of lithium technology would have been used in the motorcycle batteries that had such a high failure rate?
The ones I've heard about were lithium ion, Mike. As an automotive/starter battery, they weren't deep cycle, but did have good cold cranking amps. The big attraction of course was they were lightweight.

Even a lithium ion battery would be suitable in a deep cycle application, provided it was made with strict tolerances to the chemical makeup. Impurities in the cathode composition, or an overcharging situation, can lead to a thermal event, as has been noted. The lithium iron phosphate is more forgiving, because it won't burn under the same conditions as the lithium ion composed one will.

To add to the confusion, many charger manufacturers keep talking about "lithium ion" batteries as being the wave of the future for RV applications. A more accurate statement would be that "lithium based" batteries are the future. Right now that 'future' is prohibitively expensive for most people, whether lithium ion or lithium iron phosphate.
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Old 12-30-2017, 02:35 PM   #13
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So... what type of lithium technology would have been used in the motorcycle batteries that had such a high failure rate?
I canít speak to this motorcycle battery problem directly, but maybe this helps explain some of the mishaps.

From AM Solar:

ďLithium Battery Safety
As you might recall from news stories a few years ago, lithium ion batteries have earned a reputation for catching fire in a very dramatic fashion. One of the early, commonly used, lithium ion battery formulations had been Lithium-Cobalt-Oxide (LiCoO2). This battery chemistry is prone to thermal runaway if the battery is accidentally overcharged. Overcharging could lead to the battery setting itself on fire, and lithium fires burn hot and fast. This is one of the reasons that up until recently, lithium was rarely used to create large battery banks. But, in 1996 a new formula for mixing lithium batteries was developed - Lithium Iron Phosphate. Known as LiFePO4 or LFP, these batteries have a slightly lower energy density, but are intrinsically non-combustible, and thus, vastly safer than Lithium-Cobalt-Oxide. Once you consider the advantages, Lithium batteries become exceedingly tempting.Ē
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Old 12-30-2017, 02:43 PM   #14
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I can’t speak to this motorcycle battery problem directly, but maybe this helps explain some of the mishaps.

From AM Solar:

“in 1996 a new formula for mixing lithium batteries was developed - Lithium Iron Phosphate. Known as LiFePO4 or LFP, these batteries have a slightly lower energy density, but are intrinsically non-combustible, and thus, vastly safer than Lithium-Cobalt-Oxide. Once you consider the advantages, Lithium batteries become exceedingly tempting.”
Their statement seems to agree with mine. I won't be "tempted" however until a decent array costs less than two thousand bucks.
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Old 12-30-2017, 06:13 PM   #15
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Sounds like a durable setup Chuck. I'm curious though - wouldn't a pair of Trojan 6V AGMs give you a little better performance in the same space?

https://www.thesolarbiz.com/trojan-s...RoCSU8QAvD_BwE
You know, I don't remember giving the 12v 6v issue a thought back then. For my 19', I just went with what I knew and was comfortable with. One thing though . . . I've read an awful lot of forum posts and articles since then, and it seems to me that performance-wise, two 12v vs two 6v is mostly a wash. Am I missing something?
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Old 12-30-2017, 06:39 PM   #16
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A pair of Trojan 6v AGM is 217 Ah
Their Group 24 AGM (24-AGM) are 76 Ah each

I don't currently see a 105Ah AGM in any size. Of course you got yours 10 years ago. I do see and know of T-105's, which are 6V batteries. T-105's are a favorite of many RV'ers.
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Old 12-30-2017, 07:19 PM   #17
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12V 110AH AGM https://www.batterystuff.com/batteri...100-d5751.html
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Old 12-30-2017, 08:00 PM   #18
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You know, I don't remember giving the 12v 6v issue a thought back then. For my 19', I just went with what I knew and was comfortable with. One thing though . . . I've read an awful lot of forum posts and articles since then, and it seems to me that performance-wise, two 12v vs two 6v is mostly a wash. Am I missing something?
From AM Solar:
“What is better, 6V or 12V batteries?
If you are comparing similar battery types, from a chemistry perspective, there is no difference between 6V batteries and 12V batteries. The only difference is that 12V batteries have twice as many of the same type of cells as 6V batteries. In other words, aside from smaller plates, a 12V battery is just two 6V batteries in the same enclosure. People choose one type over another based on space constraints and costs. Two 100Ah 6V batteries connected in series will have the same electrical characteristics as a single 100Ah 12V battery.”
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Old 12-30-2017, 09:17 PM   #19
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Two 100Ah 6V batteries connected in series will have the same electrical characteristics as a single 100Ah 12V battery.
That's right. So then, it comes down to the old cost/benefit factor. And, although identical electrically, I still prefer 2 6V in series vs 2 12V in parallel. Cost wise, I think you get more amp hours per dollar. And, it's hard to get the same amp hours in 12V with a suitable size and weight. For example, the Trojan 12V with the same amp hour rating as their 6V T105 (J185HAC) is over 14 1/2 inches tall and 123 lbs. That won't fit the battery boxes in an Escape, nor will it fit in the storage box of my 19.
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Old 01-02-2018, 01:00 PM   #20
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The "12V" Lithiums people use are pretty much all LiFePo (Lithium Iron Phosphate). They have somewhat lower energy density than some other Lithium chemistries, but are way safer. I'd go so far as to call them safer than lead-acid, since they don't vent flammable gases or acid.

The motorcycle batteries with high failure rates were probably over-discharged or subjected to a charger with a desulfation mode. The RV Lithium batteries tend to be paired with a management system (either external or built-in) that prevents over-discharge, and hopefully with a converter designed or programmed for Lithium batteries.

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