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Old 10-07-2020, 07:37 PM   #1
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Lithium Batteries used and stored in Northern Climates

I'm looking for both recommended and practical aspects of using lithium batteries in northern climates. My typical usage of an RV is three season, which I assume is ok for lithium. However, during the winter, my RV will sit outside. Living in northern Illinois there will be days when temperatures are below 0 deg F and as low as -20 deg. There have even been 3-7 day stretches when the temperature stays below 0 deg F. If the RV isn't being used, would it be ok to leave the batteries in the RV? Would a solar panel be enough to maintain battery charge in the winter? Are lithium batteries not a good fit for RVs in the north?
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Old 10-07-2020, 09:21 PM   #2
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Best to look at the ratings provided by manufactures. My lithium 100AH battery - for example - says I can pull power out of the battery down to 14 deg F. And I can charge at 32 deg F or warmer. This is not good enough for me.


Also note that charging a full lithium - floating - with solar is not recommended for long periods. Lithium's prefer to rest the winter at 80% or thereabouts.
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Old 10-07-2020, 09:38 PM   #3
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If the RV isn't being used, would it be ok to leave the batteries in the RV? Would a solar panel be enough to maintain battery charge in the winter? Are lithium batteries not a good fit for RVs in the north?
With a lead-acid battery, you just need to maintain charge, and you do that with a "float" charger. With a lithium-ion battery, you don't need to and can't charge it the cold; instead you need to keep it from getting too cold. Can your solar system produce enough energy each day to run an adequate battery heater, and even if it can how would energy generated during the sunny hours be stored to be used at night, given that you can't charge the battery?

Electric cars manage this by being parked in heated garages or left plugged into a charging station (or ordinary outlet) which powers the required heater. The same can be done with an RV.

If I had a lithium-ion battery in an RV here I would not have heated storage, would not want to count on uninterrupted power, would not want to run a heater all winter just to keep the battery warm... and so I would remove it for the winter and store it in the house.
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Old 10-08-2020, 07:48 AM   #4
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I am confused by this! Are we talking about a lithium battery at rest while in storage or are talking about using it at sub-freezing temperatures. The OP said he was using the trailer as a three season getaway. To me that means the question is storage of is his battery. Are the responses so far dealing with storage of a lithium in the cold?
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Old 10-08-2020, 09:41 AM   #5
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Battleborn limits are discharging down to -4F, charging down to 24F (although I have also seen "don't charge below 32F"), and, if the expected temperature of the battery is going below -15F, move the battery to a heated space to prevent possible damage to the case.

There is also an upper temperature limit of 135F.
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Old 10-08-2020, 09:43 AM   #6
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Thanks to all great replies so far. My question was a little long winded, but the main reason for the question was about storage in the winter and how to protect a lithium battery during cold temperatures. It sounds like the best protection would be to remove the batteries and bring them inside. If this is the most practical solution, then I would make sure in my upcoming build that they are easily accessible and removable and light enough that my 68 year old back can handle pulling them out. Otherwise it might be better for me to choose lead acid battery system which I would just leave in place. Other thoughts or comments about something I am missing in my logic?
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Old 10-08-2020, 11:31 AM   #7
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How much do the lithium batteries weigh? Are the difficult to remove?
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Old 10-08-2020, 11:40 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by campertj View Post
How much do the lithium batteries weigh? Are the difficult to remove?
My group 31 lead-acid trailer batteries weigh about 70 pounds each. My same size Lithium battery weighs 32 pounds. I can actually carry the Lithium battery down the beach to my boat without throwing a disk.
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Old 10-08-2020, 05:32 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fudge_brownie View Post
Are we talking about a lithium battery at rest while in storage or are talking about using it at sub-freezing temperatures. The OP said he was using the trailer as a three season getaway. To me that means the question is storage of is his battery. Are the responses so far dealing with storage of a lithium in the cold?
The title was "Lithium Batteries used and stored in Northern Climates" so I assume it is about both storage and use. The first post included
Quote:
Originally Posted by Illinois Joe View Post
If the RV isn't being used, would it be ok to leave the batteries in the RV? Would a solar panel be enough to maintain battery charge in the winter?
It is this storage aspect that I was addressing in my previous post.

In use in cold weather, the challenge for a lithium battery is that if it gets cold enough too much energy from the battery will need to be used just to keep the battery warm... and an effective battery heater is required. The same issue applies to electric cars, but they need to deliver much more energy, use it over a much shorter time, and have waste heat available from the motor and electronics, so energy consumption to heat the battery is not such a big deal.
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Old 10-08-2020, 05:34 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by campertj View Post
How much do the lithium batteries weigh? Are the difficult to remove?
Alan's example is typical: the guts of a lithium-ion battery are roughly half the density of the lead plates and acid electrolyte of a conventional lead-acid battery, so for the same size of case (and roughly the same nominal capacity) the lithium battery weighs half as much. Aside from the weight, installation and removal are the same - they're connected with the same cables, and held down by the same clamps (or unfortunately nothing at all, depending on the trailer).
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Old 10-08-2020, 05:41 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Illinois Joe View Post
... the main reason for the question was about storage in the winter and how to protect a lithium battery during cold temperatures. It sounds like the best protection would be to remove the batteries and bring them inside. If this is the most practical solution, then I would make sure in my upcoming build that they are easily accessible and removable and light enough that my 68 year old back can handle pulling them out. Otherwise it might be better for me to choose lead acid battery system which I would just leave in place. Other thoughts or comments about something I am missing in my logic?
That all makes perfect sense to me.

If you happen to have a shop crane in your garage (hey, a lot of people do, mostly to pull and reinstall engines in cars and trucks) and the battery is in a place with overhead clearance, then the weight is not an issue. Unfortunately in the 21' and 5.0 models the batteries are under a dinette bench, and only accessible from the inside, so it's a manual effort. Some other RV's put the batteries on a slide-out tray accessible from the outside, which would be much easier, but Escape has never offered this.
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Old 10-08-2020, 07:27 PM   #12
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Per Google a fully charged lead acid battery won’t freeze until about -70*F
Lithium about -40*F

A battery Freezing seems unlikely in CO.

For this battery novice, what bad things would happen to a fully charged lithium battery if the ambient temp went to say -10*F overnight then warmed up to perhaps 32*F during the day?
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Old 10-08-2020, 08:15 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by campertj View Post
How much do the lithium batteries weigh? Are the difficult to remove?
I've been wondering re comparison between Battle Born (which seems a popular choice) and Lion Energy's Safari UT 1300:

https://lionenergy.com/products/lion-safari-ut-1300

Battery Type Lithium Ion
Battery Chemistry Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4)
Rated Capacity 12.8V / 105Ah / 1344Wh / 150A - How we Measure
Cycle Life 3500+ & 100% DoD
Weight 23 Pounds
Dimensions 10.2" L X 6.6" W X 8.8" H (9.8" H to top of post)
Max Charge Rate 100A
Max Charge Voltage 14.6V
Operation Temperature -4 to 131 F
Charge Temperature 32 to 113 F

I especially like that it is only 23 pounds - making it that much easier to take in from the cold. The video says it is because of their use of "prismatic cells" instaed of "cylindrical cells". Does anyone have thoughts on what might lose by not opting for Battle Born?
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Old 10-08-2020, 08:56 PM   #14
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Thank you,!
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Old 10-08-2020, 08:59 PM   #15
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Thanks, we have a 5.0 on order, undecided about batteries, a lot to consider.
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Old 10-08-2020, 10:40 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by EdColorado View Post
Per Google a fully charged lead acid battery wont freeze until about -70*F
Lithium about -40*F

A battery Freezing seems unlikely in CO.
The problem occurs when the battery isn't fully charged... and batteries discharge themselves in storage (lead-acid much more quickly than lithium-ion), so freezing in Colorado winter temperatures is certainly a risk.
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Old 10-09-2020, 05:34 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Brian B-P View Post
The problem occurs when the battery isn't fully charged... and batteries discharge themselves in storage (lead-acid much more quickly than lithium-ion), so freezing in Colorado winter temperatures is certainly a risk.
Thank you.
Your reply inspired further research on my part. It seems
that the lithium battery will self-discharge at a rate of from 2-4% per month. For an additional margin of safety, I’ll use 6%.
So a fully charged battery just sitting in storage for a few months during the winter seems to be just fine.

From the Progressive Dynamics site.

https://www.progressivedyn.com/frequ...hium-charging/



How Should I Store My RV Lithium Battery During the Winter?

Another advantage of Lithium Iron Phosphate Batteries is that they do not require a trickle charge during long periods of storage. In fact, disconnecting the charger during winter storage or long term inactivity and allowing the battery to rest is actually beneficial and will improve long term battery life. Before putting your RV into winter storage, simply connect it to 120 VAC power for up to 10 hours for large battery packs and fully charge the battery, then remove AC power and hit the battery disconnect switch. In the spring it will be ready to accept a full charge before your first camping trip. Lithium Batteries have a very low self discharge rate and only loose 2 to 4% of their charge per month.
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Old 10-09-2020, 12:24 PM   #18
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... It seems
that the lithium battery will self-discharge at a rate of from 2-4% per month. For an additional margin of safety, Ill use 6%.
So a fully charged battery just sitting in storage for a few months during the winter seems to be just fine.

From the Progressive Dynamics site.

https://www.progressivedyn.com/frequ...hium-charging/
That's all good, but it assumes that the temperature doesn't drop below the safe storage temperature... and for many of us winter temperatures may be below that storage temperature (which varies by cell manufacturer).
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Old 10-09-2020, 12:32 PM   #19
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... I especially like that it is only 23 pounds - making it that much easier to take in from the cold. The video says it is because of their use of "prismatic cells" instead of "cylindrical cells". Does anyone have thoughts on what might lose by not opting for Battle Born?
There is little difference in performance or weight between prismatic cells (rectangular boxes filled with flat sheets of electrodes and separators) and cylindrical cells (metal cylinders filled with rolled-up sheets of electrodes and separators). There is lots of "creativity" in specifications, and no unbiased sources of information. The U.S. Department of Energy has done a lot of lithium-ion battery testing, but generally of batteries in electric cars, not recreational products.

Electric cars generally use stacks of pouch cells clamped into modules (most brands) or cylindrical cells (Tesla and almost no one else), but a few have used some variation of prismatic cells, and prismatic cells from CALB were the most popular lithium-ion cell used in do-it-yourself conversions of cars to electric vehicles for a few years.
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Old 10-09-2020, 02:29 PM   #20
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Intersting.

I wonder how much is comparing apples to oragnes vs. Macintosch to Cortlands.
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