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Old 12-30-2020, 04:34 PM   #1
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Lithium battery upgrade questions

I moved our dual 6V's Interstate GC2's inside from off the tongue several years back to make room for my mini-split condenser. I put them under the passenger side dinette seat which is where Escape originally had them on the very early 19's. After doing some rewiring the last few days and finding some battery acid leaking (contained in my battery box) and having some nuisance propane alarms from hydrogen during charging I thought at 5 years old now why not look at AGM. Still heavy lead acid but at least they would be sealed. But why stop there? Now seriously thinking about a 12V Battleborn 100AH lithium. Overall game plan is to add solar and inverter down the road to add some capability and become less dependent on generator when boondocking. Based on my rough calculations and depending on duty cycle just one of these batteries fully charged could run my mini-split heat pump for 2 to 4 hours.

Advantages (as compared to dual 6V lead acid):
-weight savings 31# vs 130# (wow!)
-space savings
-can be discharged 100% versus only 50% (so similar amp-hours)
-faster charging
-flat output voltage during almost entire discharge range
-no maintenance
-no hydrogen gas produced during charging
-long overall life (Battle Born states: "Approximately 75-80% of the battery capacity will remain after 3000 cycles in applications recharging at 0.5C or lower. We have seen life spans well over 5000 cycles in our lab testing.")

Disadvantages:
-Upfront cost ($900 for traditional 12V form factor)
(although an argument can be made that the life cycle cost of lithium is lower due to overall life expectancy)

Since my batteries are already inside it should be easy to manage any temperature limitations of the batteries (<25F or >135F)

So here are my questions -
-Do I need to have the lithium battery in a battery box? If I can remove my large dual box I will then be able to realize more space under the passenger dinette seat. Plus I can close up my battery vent which I realized allows a lot of cold air into the battery area during winter.

-My upgraded Progressive Dynamics PD4655LMBA WildKat converter/charger is ready for lithium with the adjustment of a jumper on the board (eliminates equalization). Is there anything else that I need to do? How necessary is the DC-to-DC chargers I've seen some add on the charge line from tow vehicle?

-Is there anything that I'm missing that I should take into consideration?
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Old 12-30-2020, 07:54 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by rubicon327 View Post
I moved our dual 6V's Interstate GC2's inside from off the tongue several years back to make room for my mini-split condenser. I put them under the passenger side dinette seat which is where Escape originally had them on the very early 19's. After doing some rewiring the last few days and finding some battery acid leaking (contained in my battery box) and having some nuisance propane alarms from hydrogen during charging I thought at 5 years old now why not look at AGM. Still heavy lead acid but at least they would be sealed. But why stop there? Now seriously thinking about a 12V Battleborn 100AH lithium. Overall game plan is to add solar and inverter down the road to add some capability and become less dependent on generator when boondocking. Based on my rough calculations and depending on duty cycle just one of these batteries fully charged could run my mini-split heat pump for 2 to 4 hours.

Advantages (as compared to dual 6V lead acid):
-weight savings 31# vs 130# (wow!)
-space savings
-can be discharged 100% versus only 50% (so similar amp-hours)
-faster charging
-flat output voltage during almost entire discharge range
-no maintenance
-no hydrogen gas produced during charging
-long overall life (Battle Born states: "Approximately 75-80% of the battery capacity will remain after 3000 cycles in applications recharging at 0.5C or lower. We have seen life spans well over 5000 cycles in our lab testing.")

Disadvantages:
-Upfront cost ($900 for traditional 12V form factor)
(although an argument can be made that the life cycle cost of lithium is lower due to overall life expectancy)

Since my batteries are already inside it should be easy to manage any temperature limitations of the batteries (<25F or >135F)

So here are my questions -
-Do I need to have the lithium battery in a battery box? If I can remove my large dual box I will then be able to realize more space under the passenger dinette seat. Plus I can close up my battery vent which I realized allows a lot of cold air into the battery area during winter.

-My upgraded Progressive Dynamics PD4655LMBA WildKat converter/charger is ready for lithium with the adjustment of a jumper on the board (eliminates equalization). Is there anything else that I need to do? How necessary is the DC-to-DC chargers I've seen some add on the charge line from tow vehicle?

-Is there anything that I'm missing that I should take into consideration?
I've been looking at such an upgrade--I've seen plenty of installs with no box on these batteries and most of the manufacturers claim that no ventilation is necessary. I am still planning on using a two battery setup in the existing box (wired in parallel rather than series). It appears that the off gassing on lifepo4 batteries is usually tied to a thermal runaway / fire situation rather than normal charging. In such a case the plastic box would appear to be of little use.
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Old 12-30-2020, 08:14 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by rubicon327 View Post
-can be discharged 100% versus only 50% (so similar amp-hours)
-flat output voltage during almost entire discharge range
-long overall life (Battle Born states: "Approximately 75-80% of the battery capacity will remain after 3000 cycles in applications recharging at 0.5C or lower. We have seen life spans well over 5000 cycles in our lab testing.")
But none of these items from the list are true.

While lithium-ion cells can be more deeply discharged than lead-acid without excessively reducing battery life, pushing the ends of the state of charge range kills Li-ion, too. Some people seem to think that they can be discharged to zero because their drop-in replacement unit cuts off, but that's the internal battery management system protecting the battery from abuse, not actual discharge to zero state of charge. A realistic SoC range for long life might be 20% to 80% routinely, and 20% to 90% when endurance is really needed. With any luck, companies such as BattleBorn are using 120 Ah cells and running them over only a range of 100 Ah, providing "100% discharge" performance versus the promised (not actual) capacity; you could glue a "110 Ah" sticker on the GC2 6V lead-acid in an Escape and honestly claim that it can be "100% discharged" routinely... if only you had an assistant to stop you from discharging it further.

Look up the voltage versus state of charge for any lithium-ion cell: the curve is flatter over most of the range than other typical types, but it is far from flat. Flat enough to be nice in an RV? Sure ...although for much of the range four LiFePO4 cells in series run higher in voltage than RV components want.

Some day a battery will last the cycle life that the manufacturer claims. I don't think I've seen it yet. Most electric car owners would be thrilled if they actually had 75-80% of the battery capacity remaining after 3000 full cycles (over a decade of normal use), but perhaps the very low discharge rate in this case will make it possible... even with generic cells from whatever company has a good price on Alibaba.
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Old 12-30-2020, 08:18 PM   #4
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The sellers of these lithium drop-in units claim that no other housing is needed; they also don't provide any emergency venting capability in the box. When these cells are used in automotive batteries (in EVs), they are always in a substantial metal box, with overpressure and high-temperature relief vents, generally located outside of the passenger compartment. But automotive and RV standards are certainly different, and the RV units are LiFePO4, which is the least likely to see thermal runaway when damaged.
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Old 12-30-2020, 10:42 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by rubicon327 View Post
So here are my questions -
-Do I need to have the lithium battery in a battery box? If I can remove my large dual box I will then be able to realize more space under the passenger dinette seat. Plus I can close up my battery vent which I realized allows a lot of cold air into the battery area during winter.

-My upgraded Progressive Dynamics PD4655LMBA WildKat converter/charger is ready for lithium with the adjustment of a jumper on the board (eliminates equalization). Is there anything else that I need to do? How necessary is the DC-to-DC chargers I've seen some add on the charge line from tow vehicle?

-Is there anything that I'm missing that I should take into consideration?
I'm in the middle of this now, Dave. I'm putting 2 - Battleborn 100ah under the DS dinette bench. I'd highly recommend two if you can swing it.
No battery case needed. I'm building the battery tray (1/2" board) right now that will go directly in front of the black tank and have hold down straps for the batteries. BMV-712 Shunt mounts on the left front of the battery board and new 7pin splice box on the right side of the board. Directly in front of that will be vertical equipment board with Victron MPPT controller and DC to DC converter for charge line.(The DC to DC will be switched like Jon's as may not always need it live when moving)
Adding port for portable solar in front and putting a bus bar for roof panel and portable lines tying into the solar controller.
Blue Sea battery disconnect switch.

Go Power 2000w Inverter under PS front Dinette Bench. Go Power 30a xfer switch with 15a accessory line on shore power side. Go Power remote on PS bench front.
I'm going to do something a bit different that I found on several videos. When I change the converter to the Wildkat, I will not wire the AC side to the breaker, but instead will wire it to the 15A accessory line coming off the shore power side of the xfer switch eliminating the need for a sub panel. The AC line off the EMS will just flip over to the xfer switch leaving the wiring intact to the WFCO. Then I'll run a new AC line from EMS to xfer switch.
Inverter will have 4/0 cables from battery and then AC line in to xfer switch.

Not rushing since nowhere I need to be going right now. Plan to have all the structural in by end of January, then buy the batteries in Feb, drop them in, wire up and go.
The 19 is great for this project as all the wiring points needed are right there under the Dinette. I don't think I'd be taking all this on myself for weekend camping as the solar-twin 6v have been ample for 5 years, but in August this will be our home for about 9mos+ out of the year.
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Old 12-30-2020, 11:31 PM   #6
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Directly in front of that will be vertical equipment board with Victron MPPT controller and DC to DC converter for charge line.(The DC to DC will be switched like Jon's as may not always need it live when moving)
Greg: Sounds like an interesting and challenging project. Good luck with it. Wondering where you landed for the DC-DC converter sizing. I see Jon V is using a Victron 12/12 9A (110W) and Escape is supposedly going to include the Victron 12/12 18A (220W) with their upcoming lithium packages.
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Old 12-31-2020, 12:27 AM   #7
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Dave,
Pinged Jon, after I saw he used the Victron 12|12 9 and he has had no problems with it. I picked it up from Walmart pretty inexpensive compared to the other models.
I'm guessing the 9 is not probably not current product line and the 18 or up is the new line, which may be why ETI is using it. Should be fine for my Frontier's standard charge line.
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Old 12-31-2020, 09:35 AM   #8
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Dave,
Pinged Jon, after I saw he used the Victron 12|12 9 and he has had no problems with it. I picked it up from Walmart pretty inexpensive compared to the other models.
I'm guessing the 9 is not probably not current product line and the 18 or up is the new line, which may be why ETI is using it. Should be fine for my Frontier's standard charge line.
My reason for going with the 9 amp DC to DC Victron converter was based on the way I use the trailer. I have enough solar that the batteries are almost always full. Most of my tows are around 200 miles so I don't need the higher current to do a tug based recharge. It does prevent the tow vehicle battery from being overcharged by the trailer solar & batteries.

The 18 amp version used by Escape makes sense for most...
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Old 12-31-2020, 09:56 AM   #9
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But none of these items from the list are true.

While lithium-ion cells can be more deeply discharged than lead-acid without excessively reducing battery life, pushing the ends of the state of charge range kills Li-ion, too. Some people seem to think that they can be discharged to zero because their drop-in replacement unit cuts off, but that's the internal battery management system protecting the battery from abuse, not actual discharge to zero state of charge. A realistic SoC range for long life might be 20% to 80% routinely, and 20% to 90% when endurance is really needed. With any luck, companies such as BattleBorn are using 120 Ah cells and running them over only a range of 100 Ah, providing "100% discharge" performance versus the promised (not actual) capacity; you could glue a "110 Ah" sticker on the GC2 6V lead-acid in an Escape and honestly claim that it can be "100% discharged" routinely... if only you had an assistant to stop you from discharging it further.

Look up the voltage versus state of charge for any lithium-ion cell: the curve is flatter over most of the range than other typical types, but it is far from flat. Flat enough to be nice in an RV? Sure ...although for much of the range four LiFePO4 cells in series run higher in voltage than RV components want.

Some day a battery will last the cycle life that the manufacturer claims. I don't think I've seen it yet. Most electric car owners would be thrilled if they actually had 75-80% of the battery capacity remaining after 3000 full cycles (over a decade of normal use), but perhaps the very low discharge rate in this case will make it possible... even with generic cells from whatever company has a good price on Alibaba.
Brian thanks for the reality check. Battle Born claims their cylindrical cells are superior to the prismatic cells used by other manufacturers. Not sure how that plays into their claims about allowable depth of discharge or longevity.

Regarding voltage versus state of charge I guess all I really need to know is that it’s a flatter curve than lead acid and that the max voltage that could be delivered is acceptable. My converter/charger puts out 14.4V when in bulk/absorption mode and 13.6 in float and I haven’t had any issues with components. This is right where the Battle Born wants to be. I believe the owners that were having issues with components may have had solar controllers set to try to match the aggressive charging profile of the Interstate GC2’s with equalization at 15.6V but I could be wrong. Am I missing something?
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Old 12-31-2020, 10:17 AM   #10
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My reason for going with the 9 amp DC to DC Victron converter was based on the way I use the trailer. I have enough solar that the batteries are almost always full. Most of my tows are around 200 miles so I don't need the higher current to do a tug based recharge. It does prevent the tow vehicle battery from being overcharged by the trailer solar & batteries.

The 18 amp version used by Escape makes sense for most...
Thanks Jon. Exactly what I surmised.
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Old 12-31-2020, 11:58 AM   #11
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A few months ago I set it and forgot it. Shore power connected in the yard. Running a little ceramic space heater inside trailer on the coldest nights. This morning, my Battleborn, in its own (covered) box, in the tongue box outside was at 13.3volts. No worries.
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Old 12-31-2020, 12:31 PM   #12
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...
Based on my rough calculations and depending on duty cycle just one of these batteries fully charged could run my mini-split heat pump for 2 to 4 hours.
...
-Is there anything that I'm missing that I should take into consideration?
Take a close look at the maximum discharge current numbers. You may not have enough amps to run high drain equipment like 2000 Watt inverters. (I don't know how much amperage your mini-split needs.)

Lead acid batteries are better suited to high amperage discharge but with a considerable voltage drop and loss of total capacity (for that particular discharge cycle), and a considerable weight penalty.

The solution is to run 2 or 3 lithium batteries in parallel - at the detriment to your credit card.

I'm on the fence but have a 100 Ah lithium battery for my trolling motor - and so far, so good.

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Old 12-31-2020, 01:29 PM   #13
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Take a close look at the maximum discharge current numbers. You may not have enough amps to run high drain equipment like 2000 Watt inverters. (I don't know how much amperage your mini-split needs.)

Lead acid batteries are better suited to high amperage discharge but with a considerable voltage drop and loss of total capacity (for that particular discharge cycle), and a considerable weight penalty.

The solution is to run 2 or 3 lithium batteries in parallel - at the detriment to your credit card.

I'm on the fence but have a 100 Ah lithium battery for my trolling motor - and so far, so good.

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That is the reason I went with 2 of them. One might have been enough for my amp hour usage, but my microwave draws well over 100 amps (the sustained capacity of a single Battleborn battery) when running at full power.
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Old 12-31-2020, 02:30 PM   #14
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Battle Born claims their cylindrical cells are superior to the prismatic cells used by other manufacturers. Not sure how that plays into their claims about allowable depth of discharge or longevity.
There are advantages to each style of cell construction, but most of them don't matter in an application with no active cooling, no high discharge rates, and no attempt to maximize packing density. Cylindrical is fine, but I'm sure that Battle Born chose those cells for the price and quality, rather than any performance consequence of the construction; depth of discharge seems entirely unrelated. In EVs, most production designs use pouch cells, some (notably Tesla) use cylindrical, and no one uses prismatic (which essentially means individually packaged pouches), but prismatic is popular for general-purpose LiFePO4 cells and was popular a few years ago for DIY conversions of gas cars to electric.

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Regarding voltage versus state of charge I guess all I really need to know is that it’s a flatter curve than lead acid and that the max voltage that could be delivered is acceptable. My converter/charger puts out 14.4V when in bulk/absorption mode and 13.6 in float and I haven’t had any issues with components. This is right where the Battle Born wants to be. I believe the owners that were having issues with components may have had solar controllers set to try to match the aggressive charging profile of the Interstate GC2’s with equalization at 15.6V but I could be wrong. Am I missing something?
At 14.4 V Battle Born is specifying a relatively conservative (low) high limit for voltage; they do that for compatibility with lead-acid, but longer life could be expected as a consequence. I don't think you're missing anything, Dave. , but I think if you consider float voltage (13.6) to low-voltage cutoff (10 V) as the range for the lithium battery and something like 12.8 to 10.5 V as the 100% to 0% range (and 12.8 to 12.0 as the usable range) for lead-acid, the variation of voltage in use won't be greatly different.
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Old 12-31-2020, 03:36 PM   #15
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Take a close look at the maximum discharge current numbers. You may not have enough amps to run high drain equipment like 2000 Watt inverters. (I don't know how much amperage your mini-split needs.)

Lead acid batteries are better suited to high amperage discharge but with a considerable voltage drop and loss of total capacity (for that particular discharge cycle), and a considerable weight penalty.

The solution is to run 2 or 3 lithium batteries in parallel - at the detriment to your credit card.
Alan: Battle Born says 100A continuous / 200A surge (30secs) and under normal operation I should be well under those numbers. Attached are the mini-split specs. I was using the 7.5A rated current not the 13A maximum current when considering operation over time. With the inverter compressor the unit runs only as hard as it needs to to maintain indoor temperature. My thought is that this could be comfortably run on a 1500W inverter but your input would be appreciated.
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Old 12-31-2020, 04:21 PM   #16
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Alan: Battle Born says 100A continuous / 200A surge (30secs) and under normal operation I should be well under those numbers. Attached are the mini-split specs. I was using the 7.5A rated current not the 13A maximum current when considering operation over time. With the inverter compressor the unit runs only as hard as it needs to to maintain indoor temperature. My thought is that this could be comfortably run on a 1500W inverter but your input would be appreciated.
Let me emphasize that I really know nothing about the power requirements of the mini-split. So as you point out, at 7.5A @ 110V = 825Watts = 63.5A @ 13V, then you are inside the safe parameters for the Battle Born battery. And yes, a 1500W inverter could provide this. But just as a personal opinion, I would rather split the 63.5A between two batteries in parallel. Plus that gives me the safety factor of being able to use the inverter at its maximum of 1500Watts if needed in the future. I'm not quite ready to do this myself but my AGMs are reaching their end of life in a year or two, so anything can happen.
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Old 03-25-2021, 01:43 PM   #17
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FWIW, I just bought a 400Ah battery from BESTGO through electric car parts company in Utah and am very happy with it. Wasn't cheap, $1900, but it tested out well above capacity (430.6Ah from 14.6V down to 11.2V), is in a very nice, weather proof, sturdy aluminum case with meter. They have a solid warranty of > 3000 full discharge cycles.



My issue is how to set up a programmable low voltage cutoff. I don't want to count on the internal BMS which is set to cutout at 2.5v/cell (10V battery) because I don't want the battery to ever go below 3.0V/cell or 12V. The Gopower inverter does not seem to have a programmable cutoff. Not trying to derail the thread here, just posting a solid LFP option for your consideration and a question hoping someone has a quick answer.
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Old 03-25-2021, 09:26 PM   #18
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Old 03-25-2021, 10:04 PM   #19
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FWIW, I just bought a 400Ah battery from BESTGO through electric car parts company in Utah and am very happy with it. Wasn't cheap, $1900, but it tested out well above capacity (430.6Ah from 14.6V down to 11.2V), is in a very nice, weather proof, sturdy aluminum case with meter. They have a solid warranty of > 3000 full discharge cycles.



My issue is how to set up a programmable low voltage cutoff. I don't want to count on the internal BMS which is set to cutout at 2.5v/cell (10V battery) because I don't want the battery to ever go below 3.0V/cell or 12V. The Gopower inverter does not seem to have a programmable cutoff. Not trying to derail the thread here, just posting a solid LFP option for your consideration and a question hoping someone has a quick answer.
The inverter should shut down @10.5 volts before the battery BMS. I don't think you can do this with the go power equipment .I know you can do it with a victron low voltage cut off. Have you tested the voltage sag with a full load on the inverter? Before i limited to 12 volts I would want to make sure the surge did not go below that. I am sure someone that knows more than me will jump in.
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Old 03-26-2021, 10:02 AM   #20
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The inverter should shut down @10.5 volts before the battery BMS. I don't think you can do this with the go power equipment .I know you can do it with a victron low voltage cut off. Have you tested the voltage sag with a full load on the inverter? Before i limited to 12 volts I would want to make sure the surge did not go below that. I am sure someone that knows more than me will jump in.

thx nyhb but i really don't want to divert this thread to a low voltage cutoff discussion. please pm me. if there's interest in this i could start a new thread although i can't believe it's not been discussed already, although i couldn't find any threads on it.
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