LiFeP04 battery charging

Submitted: Sunday, Jul 21, 2013 at 05:12
ThreadID: 128848 Views:10051 Replies:6 FollowUps:13
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Hi Googs.

I have gone with EV Power (Rod Dilkes) battery pack.

Which is a 210ah LiFeP04 (4x 3.4V cells) which are Thunder Sky/ Winston batteries,

EV Power strap the pack together,and mount a Battery Monitor System (modules across each cell).which balances each cell and a Battery Control Unit which protects against over and under volt (by disconnect).

Charging seems to be the area of most concern.

First thing to do is forget everything you know about AGMs

Rod does sell a dedicated LIFeP04 240V 45A charger, that once it has charged the battery to full, goes into stand by and restarts when the batteries have gone down to 13V, these batteries don't like be be trickle charged as some modified chargers will do.
My batteries will take that 45A right up until they are nearly full, so they charge very fast.

I have a 40A Plasmatronic solar regulator,(good price from site sponsor Eniquest and Aussie made) they can be fully programmed to an Absorption of 14.4V and float of 13.8V (Thundersky/Winston spec) and set to do a boost of 14.6V (to help balance cells) from 1- 30 days (some say unecessary, but Rod says won't hurt)

Charging from the car is a bit iffy

The newer Toyotas (and most others) are only at about 13.8V these days, so by time it gets to van batteries it's next to useless.
Sterling do have a DC-DC that can be set but at a big price
Some say Redarc are OK other say no good and still pricey.
I just used a C-Tek it will not fully charge the batteries, but Lithium have no memory (unlike AGMs) so the short chargers are not an issue, driving time probably short charges anyway.
Another reason for the DC-DC is to separate car and van batteries when car off , as resting state of SLA of 12.7V and LiFeP04 of 13.4V is an issue. So I would suggest not to use those leads that BTI sell as the different batteries should not be paralleled together.

This is what I have done (for about $2500 all up), not sure if it is the best system, but I've been away for 6 weeks and it worked a treat. (except for the xantex E.lite)

These batteries have been used by the KK guys for a few years now and none have had a failure.

Give Rod a call, and tell him your needs, he is willing to share his knowledge for the advancement of this technology for the benefit of all, not just for some.

Cheers Ken

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Reply By: braggy - Monday, Jul 22, 2013 at 00:09

Monday, Jul 22, 2013 at 00:09
Hi Guys .

I have had a few people interested in researching Lithium batteries, private message me.

I think it would be best if this topic was discussed here on the open forum, as it may benefit all who are interested.

And I know there are people here who have different set ups , ideas and knpwledge
and some who have concerns,hopefully all are willing to discus it here.

So why not, if you are using lithiums tell us what ya got and how it is going,
or why you wouldn't change to them.

To answer one query, of concern about, why I said "forget what ever you know about AGMs" ,is the charge and discharge of LIFeP04 is completely different to that of other batteries, in my opinion once set up right they are much more user friendly.
And yes you will probably lose 100kgs and save space

Hope this gets of the ground Cheers Ken

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Follow Up By: Gone Bush - Monday, Jul 22, 2013 at 00:51

Monday, Jul 22, 2013 at 00:51
So if I install lithium batteries I'll lose 100kgs?!!

Are the batteries lighter too?

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Follow Up By: braggy - Monday, Jul 22, 2013 at 01:04

Monday, Jul 22, 2013 at 01:04
NO, it will just be the 100kgs in weight out of your wallet
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Reply By: Bobrovin - Tuesday, Jul 23, 2013 at 02:57

Tuesday, Jul 23, 2013 at 02:57
Hi Ken
Good thread
Just wondering about these batteries not liking trickle charging from a battery charger. How does that equate to solar charging where they might go for days in bad weather with only 3-4 amps going in.
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Follow Up By: braggy - Tuesday, Jul 23, 2013 at 04:55

Tuesday, Jul 23, 2013 at 04:55
Thanks Bob

From what I have learnt, it is once LiFeP04 are fully charged, they should not be left on float at 13.8V, hence why the dedicated chargers turn off and go into stand by,until the voltage drops to 13V (in my case), then it restarts.

My solar reg does the same, once the current (amps) drops off to 0A (no load on),
the voltage drops back to 13.4V (which is resting voltage for my LiFeP04),if a load comes on the solar will turn back on and try to run the load.

If you were only getting 4Amps from your solar for a few days, I think it would not be fully charging the batteries, so I can't see a problem there. LiFeP04s do not mind (for a while) not being fully charged as they have no memory,so it is OK to just put abit back in, unlike AGMs that need to be fully recharged most of the time.

I 'm more than welcome to be corrected on any of this, please ,I'm sure someone else has some ideas

These LiFeP04 batteries, and more so the charging for the RV market is new ,
and progressing and changing as I write,
I have been involved in a small way (as a country electrical contractor) with off grid power for 30yrs, as far as storage (batteries) goes, the first 29yrs have been wasted. LOL

Cheers Ken
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Follow Up By: grumpyolephartz - Friday, Jul 26, 2013 at 08:26

Friday, Jul 26, 2013 at 08:26
Bob, while Ken has it right as I understand that the lithium batteries prefer not to be trickle charged, ours have been all the way through with an Omnicharge 12-60 (60 a/h) programmed for lithium batteries.

Bob, the batteries will take pretty much every a/h your solar charger will try to put in until fully charged. Without the inbuilt restriction of AGM batteries - they can accept what is offered. With the 240v charger and solar input, I have seen a registered 79 a/h charge rate. Massive really. You have seen with AGM batteries that you can only charge at the maximum for a few minutes, before the charge rates drop to low levels. NOT like that with lithium

Implications though on an Eu20i Honda on such a large 240v charger. You can charge your batteries or run the air conditioner, or coffee machine, but not the charger with the other bigger draws at once.

Is there a BOGger near to Sydney with lithium batteries? I have had an email from a member there who is interested, but who may like some assistance in setting up.
Regards from us grumpyolephartz, mostly John, but may be Heather

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Follow Up By: grumpyolephartz - Saturday, Aug 17, 2013 at 20:01

Saturday, Aug 17, 2013 at 20:01
Just got a cheap rotary seven day timer from Bunnings for while the caravan is in the shed. It switches on three times a week. I could recharge twice a week I think just to cycle it a little. I have a short lead so the charger lead can connect easily and is visible when I have the bed lifted.
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Reply By: Bobrovin - Saturday, Jul 27, 2013 at 01:18

Saturday, Jul 27, 2013 at 01:18
Like braggy I went with the Thundersky/Winston cells This one. when I installed them 1 year ago. Purchased fromHere.... I used 8 100ah cells linked to make 4 packs of 2.Image Could Not Be Found This will allow me to increase the size of the pack by 100a/h if needed by adding 4 cells and making a 4x3 configuration. If you use 4 200a/h cells and want to increase capacity you would have to go to 400a/h.
So far I think 200 is enough and an increase in solar would be more beneficial.
I retained the BTI Omegalec solar controller (set to GEL @ 13.9v) and already had a Pronautic 50 amp charger which has a setting that can be customised.
I prefer not to use the type of monitoring/balancing system which bolts across the +/- terminals of each cell as to me it just introduces a point of failure and is not necessary on a 12v pack. Most failures of these batteries are caused by these modules failing.
I use a victron BM600 (from site sponsor Enequest) to monitor the SOC and use this to operate the disconnect solenoid at 15% SOC and sound an alarm at 20% SOC. I also have a unit which shows me the individual cell voltages and also has a contact to operate the disconnect solenoid if any individual cell goes over 3.6V

We have been using this set up now for the past year and am very happy with the results. I have not had to do any rebalancing of the cells since the initial conditioning and balance charge.

Just to add some thoughts on this subject.
When I first started down this track I found that most of the knowllage on these batteries was from their use in electric vehicals which have a different usage and charging pattern to house batteries. They use high amp 240v charges as their primary (only) source of charge, charge them fully and than use most or all of the charge before the next recharge. We on the other hand use solar as our primary charging system which is for these batteries a very slow low amp charging. We than need to keep them as full as we can because we never know how much charging capacity we will have in the imeadiate future. (no sun, next spot under shade)

Charge voltages.
The battery is fully charged at 3.45v per cell which is13.8v if all are exactly the same. Any voltage over this is only surface charge and will quickly be lost as soon as a load is applied so there is no need to go higher.
As others have said these batteries are very robust. The only thing that will affect them is running flat (not remotely likely with a good low voltage cut off) or overcharging which is very possible if you are using high charge voltages and the cells get a bit to far out of balance. From what I have found for our usage 14.4v may be OK for a high amp 240v charger that switches off as soon as it reaches 14.4v .It needs to go that high because the high amps are holding the terminal voltage high. If it was lower, the charger would have to have a short absorption stage to let the battery catch up. It is much to high for solar charging where the terminal voltage rises slowly and with low amps coming in may sit between 14.0 &14.3v for a long period before getting to 14.4 and switching to float. Seeing as the battery was already full back at the 13.8 v mark, all further amps are just generating internal heat that may shorten its life. Also at 14.3v the cells are very close to the critical 3.6v which is from my understanding the point where longevity really starts to decrease. Held at these voltages only a small difference in cell balance could put one cell over. Why take the chance for no gain.

240v battery charges.
As others have said, these batteries dont need to be regularly fully charged and are best to be discharged to 50/60% for long term storage (AGM users have to get their head around that one). This means we only need the charger to put in a quick 40/50 a/h when they are too low to get through the night and rearly if ever use it to fully charge the battery, so pretty much any charger will do the job.
A recent example is last week when we spent 2 nights in a van park at lightning ridge for a get to gether with Gone Bush. We arrived at 10am with 50% SOC but did not bother with the charger till we went in for the night about 7.30 and switched of at bed time when it was at 95%. Next day rained all day so no solar but did not turn charger on. Next morning we turned on charger when we got up and ran it till we packed up at 9.30. Left with 95%SOC and solar had it at 100% when pulled up for lunch. Compare this with a dedicated charger that it turned on at arrival and left running. It would charge the battery than turn off and wait till it droped to 13v. Unless a large load was applied to drop the voltage and turn it back on the battery could be down to 30/40% SOC when you left in the morning. At 40%SOC and just the fridge running mine are still at 13.1-13.2V

I am in contact with a good number of people who use these in vans & motorhomes and none use a dedicated Lithium charger.

Again, just my thoughts so take from it what what you will
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Follow Up By: Bobrovin - Saturday, Jul 27, 2013 at 05:56

Saturday, Jul 27, 2013 at 05:56
I forgot to mention the price

$1285 for the 8 cells including strapping and connectors and freight to Sydney
$200 for the victron gauge
about $100 for other gauge, solenoids, wire & such

$1585 all up
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Follow Up By: braggy - Sunday, Jul 28, 2013 at 04:57

Sunday, Jul 28, 2013 at 04:57
Great info Bob, thanks

The Battery Managemant System (which checks and balances cells)
& Battery Control Unit (which disconnects batteries from system if cell voltages are high or low) are abit of insurance that the supplier wanted to assist in case of a battery warranty claim.

I agree with you that these low draw 12V packs would very seldom need to be balanced. That said it does make it user friendly, a quick look, 4 green LEDs all good.
My system does need 14.6V for the rebalance to happen, and only gets that if I use the 240Vcharger (at the end of cycle)
or from Plasmatronc solar reg ,(set at every 150 days,Idid say 30 days before,but checked it I was wrong)

I wish I had the Victron monitor, everyone who uses them seems to get more accurate results, than the Xantrex which seems to lose synchronisation regularly with these LiFeP04s.
In fact a guy with a new van was having a drama with his Lithiums ,when we had a look, the Xantrex was saying FULL, but we started the genny and the charger put 40+ amps into them for about 2 hrs, ??
I also use another LVD contactor on the load side of the BCU, which disconnects at 12.2V (conservative I know), I just don't trust the SOC from the monitor.

I dedicated LiFeP04 charger is convenient, if not completely necessary.
To use your example, I could have pulled up turn charger on and forgot about it,
it would have chargerd fully and then gone into stand by (no noise), and if I had stayed there with low solar for any length of time would not have to think about batteries, then as you did on the day of leaving, just hit the start button while packing up, near fool proof even for me.
Since my system was started from scatch, $440 for 45A charger is value

I gather you do no bother to charge from the car.

The more solar the better, Those newer thin flexible panels, that some van makers are using, can be made to size now, so can cover the roof near completely (probably get 75w on top of your A/C), and 135W of thin panel , equivalent size to Kyocera 135W and 10kgs lighter.

Cheers Ken

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Follow Up By: grumpyolephartz - Tuesday, Aug 20, 2013 at 19:27

Tuesday, Aug 20, 2013 at 19:27
Bob, I had a nice email from our friend in Epping, so thanks for helping the planning there
Regards from us grumpyolephartz, mostly John, but may be Heather

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Reply By: Gone Bush - Wednesday, Jul 31, 2013 at 04:05

Wednesday, Jul 31, 2013 at 04:05
Do any of you have a recommendation for a DC to DC charger that will suit my current AGMs and future Lithiums?

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Follow Up By: grumpyolephartz - Monday, Aug 12, 2013 at 20:58

Monday, Aug 12, 2013 at 20:58
Look under every site for a second hand Ranox. They are the most programmable and were Australian made. They aren't made now because the manufacturer put the cost up too high, and when the guys went to China to enquire, they just wanted to have batches of 500 which was beyond the capabilities of the business.

Talk with Rod Dilkes at EV-Power, he isn't too far from you. He may give you a suggestion or two
Regards from us grumpyolephartz, mostly John, but may be Heather

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Follow Up By: Googs & Zelda - Thursday, Aug 15, 2013 at 02:55

Thursday, Aug 15, 2013 at 02:55
Stephen, Go to this web page: GSL Australia, they make Dc-Dc chargers for Lithium ,AGMs , Gel and Lead Acid . Hope this helps
Cheers Dave
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Follow Up By: grumpyolephartz - Saturday, Aug 17, 2013 at 20:10

Saturday, Aug 17, 2013 at 20:10
Dave, I understand GSL have a distributor on all mainland states. Have you checked with them yet. Talked with our mate Jim last night. JAS Oceania are the distributors for the 12v to 12v charger from GSL I believe.

What you may look for is the GSL model number MCB-1225L for lithium
Regards from us grumpyolephartz, mostly John, but may be Heather

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Reply By: Googs & Zelda - Saturday, Aug 17, 2013 at 20:39

Saturday, Aug 17, 2013 at 20:39
Hi John & Heather, Yes have purchase a MCB 1225L it's on the way to WA for Rodney to set up with my lithium battery , he will give me a full report on it when he is done. I have been in touch with Luke from GSL he has given me 3 names of distributors in Tassie , but none of these stock the MCB 1225L sooooo I have purchased from else where all good now.
Jim emailled me last night with a full extraction from the KK site about setting up this system.

Cheers Dave.
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Follow Up By: grumpyolephartz - Tuesday, Aug 20, 2013 at 19:26

Tuesday, Aug 20, 2013 at 19:26
Jim wasn't sure he could get all the pages Dave. Glad he has got all that for you. There is a good knowledgebase there. I think Jim has had his battery set up nearly three years. Some of the guys have done some very rough work and NO issues apart from the odd charger breakdown in the last two and a half years. Lithiums have gone very well against experiences with their AGMs, where failures of one battery or another were commonplace.
Regards from us grumpyolephartz, mostly John, but may be Heather

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Reply By: braggy - Sunday, Aug 18, 2013 at 17:46

Sunday, Aug 18, 2013 at 17:46
Hi Dave

Sounds like you have it all just about sorted now. (with a little bit of help from our friends)

It would be great if when all up and going, you could let us know what the final set up is.

It does seem like a long road, but the knowledge gained a long the way makes it all the better to understand how these LiFeP04s perform, and how to look after them . More satisifing researching and deciding for yourself, anyway

Bet you can hardly wait to connect it all up now, LOL

Good on ya Ken

Hi ,Grumpy Old John,

Why the 240V charger, when in storage, ?
I thought the go was to just leave lithiums at about 50%, when storing ,
and check and charge every few months.
Do you know something we don't ?

PS... The kids have conquered the Cape, pick up the van, and headed off the long way to your place, LOL

Cheers Ken
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Follow Up By: grumpyolephartz - Tuesday, Aug 20, 2013 at 19:19

Tuesday, Aug 20, 2013 at 19:19
Hi Ken, glad the kids have the Cape bagged and all good. We will have their visit to look forward to in November/December period, whenever.

The fridge is going all the time 'at the ready' with some stuff in it. I am evaluating if I have the charger going two times or three times a week. Three times at the moment. I also use the lights from time to time and use the power points in the side as the BT does occupy shed space.

I want to check solar panels too, I don't think they charged as they should have done when away. I have had a "to do" list after the last trip.

Incidently, Dave has been talking with our friend Jim on the GC, though Dave says "listening". Could you believe that? Apparently a one and a half hour yarn
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