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I am looking at replacing our deteriorating normal lead acid battery bank with Lithiums. I have discovered the Ultramax LiFePO4 Battery: 12V 100Ah 

https://www.batterymasters.co.uk/lithium-phosphate-batteries/ultramax-lifepo4-battery-12v-100ah-replace-sla-12v-100ah-with-4-times-cycle-life-lighter-weight-charger-included.html 

Any experience of these or ideas would be welcomed. I have some caution in progressing as they are cheaper than the other similar lithium replacements available.

thanks

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No mention of the discharge rate for 100Ah so could be at C/200 for all we are told.

One is much dearer than a full house of cheapy FLA or even a set of Trojans.

At least it comes with a mains charger, but how do you adapt for alternator charging.

Early adopters are good- they pay for the pricey bit of the learning curve, usually.

N

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6 minutes ago, Still-waters said:

ideas would be welcomed.

 

1) Ensure your insurer is aware that you have Lithium batteries on board.

2) Never lock your doors - you may need a quick exit

3) Ensure you have sufficient ABC* fire extinguishers on board to be able to beat back the flames to exit the boat.

 

* Despite their name, lithium-ion batteries used in consumer products do not contain any actual lithium metal. Therefore, a Class D fire extinguisher is not to be used to fight a lithium-ion battery fire. Class D fire extinguishers which contain dry powder, are intended for combustible metal fires only. Since lithium-ion batteries aren’t made with metallic lithium, a Class D dry powder extinguisher would not be effective. Lithium-ion batteries are considered a Class B fire, so a standard ABC or BC dry chemical fire extinguisher should be used. Class B is the classification given to flammable liquids. Lithium-ion batteries contain liquid electrolytes that provide a conductive pathway, so the batteries receive a B fire classification.

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With a comparable sized cheapo Numax XV31 110Ah costing £88.75 on EBay, you would need your Lithium battery to last over 7 times longee to be value for money. We’ve had our Numax for 4 years and well looked after, they’re still going strong. 

If I replaced our 8 batteries with your Lithium it would cost us an eye watering £5439.92, and at 100Ah, I would be 9% down on storage. They only have one negative and one positive terminal, is that sufficient for you? Also isn’t there some issue of charging correctly from a boat alternator?

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If you do go ahead, the forum will I’m sure be very interested to hear how you get on.

My concerns would be about charging. As well as the actual battery, these things normally have some sort of BMS (Battery Management System) built in to control charge and discharge. I get the feeling the BMS for these batteries is fairly crude.

Have a look at the spec sheet, charging must be 14.4v +/- 0.1v, at a current of 50A per battery (max 80A). Can you meet this requirement? Charging too fast might cause overheating and even possibly a fire. Then there is the label on the battery which says “Use the charger provided only”.

its quite an expensive and potentially dangerous thing, I would discuss you proposed means of charging with the manufacturer before committing.

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1 minute ago, MHS said:

With a comparable sized cheapo Numax XV31 110Ah costing £88.75 on EBay, you would need your Lithium battery to last over 7 times longee to be value for money. We’ve had our Numax for 4 years and well looked after, they’re still going strong. 

If I replaced our 8 batteries with your Lithium it would cost us an eye watering £5439.92, and at 100Ah, I would be 9% down on storage. They only have one negative and one positive terminal, is that sufficient for you? Also isn’t there some issue of charging correctly from a boat alternator?

But lithiums do have significant advantages:

you can use much more of the rated capacity with impunity. The voltage remains higher at low states of charge, so significant more energy is available for a given Ah rating.

the charge rate barely slows down as the charge progresses, meaning it’s just a couple of hours to fully charge

leaving the battery in a partial state of charge is fine - there is no sulphation issue.

 

All in all most of the headaches of lead acid are eliminated, there just remains the charging issue and the cost.

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 Nick, if charging while cruising, couldn’t he plug its 240v charger into a socket powered by his inverter? Seems daft to have to change 12v (ish) to 240v then back to 14.1v

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7 minutes ago, MHS said:

 Nick, if charging while cruising, couldn’t he plug its 240v charger into a socket powered by his inverter? Seems daft to have to change 12v (ish) to 240v then back to 14.1v

You’d have to separate the batteries to be charged from those connected to the alternator and inverter 12v. Then at some point you’d want to stop the engine and connect the inverter 12v supply to the lithiums. Seems a right faff! I’d have thought it better to ensure that the alternator/charging system is appropriate for the proposed use. So for example if he had 1 battery and a 70A alternator that would probably be OK. But if he had a modern 175A alternator and 1 battery that would be BAD! 3 batteries might be OK. But as I said, best to discuss with the manufacturer.

Edited by nicknorman

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I've not spoken to the suppliers but I do note that the data sheet, under mechanical, states In parallel - Not allowed.

That's a issue if this does refer to electrically paralleling batteries, which is likely due to the problem of current sharing during charge.

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1 minute ago, BobJF said:

I've not spoken to the suppliers but I do note that the data sheet, under mechanical, states In parallel - Not allowed.

That's a issue if this does refer to electrically paralleling batteries, which is likely due to the problem of current sharing during charge.

Good spot but seems odd, it’s in the “mechanical” section. Earlier under “increased flexibility” it says that up to 10 batteries in parallel is OK. Something else to be checked with the manufacturer.

 

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I have just got a price of $2270 for one 24v 400ah  lithium for the electric bathtub I am considering it but will chat to the maker about it first as to charging and other things

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10 minutes ago, nicknorman said:

You’d have to separate the batteries to be charged from those connected to the alternator and inverter 12v. Then at some point you’d want to stop the engine and connect the inverter 12v supply to the lithiums. Seems a right faff!

But not if he only has the Lithiums as his domestic bank. As you say it all seems a faff until the Lithium technology gets cheaper and more boat charging friendly. 

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1 minute ago, MHS said:

But not if he only has the Lithiums as his domestic bank. As you say it all seems a faff until the Lithium technology gets cheaper and more boat charging friendly. 

But you’d still need to switch the inverter 12v supply to the lithiums and turn off the charger when you stopped the engine, unless you had 2 inverters (a dedicated one just for charging).

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1 hour ago, nicknorman said:

 

All in all most of the headaches of lead acid are eliminated, there just remains the charging issue and the cost.

 

Looks to me as to me as though swapping to lithiums simply swaps one set of headaches for completely different set of heasdaches. Different, but just as awkward. 

By swapping you get to fully charge from flat in 45 mins (according to their listing) instead of 10 hours for a LA which is brilliant and the main reason to swap. But you have to use their 240v charger. (In fact that doesn't sound possible to me, given the spec Nick found says max charge current of 80A. So another question for the manufacturer.)

You also get to use 100% of the capacity instead of 50% for LA, so you only need half the number of batteries, so the price premium isn't as high as first appears. 

So to get these two major advantages, one has to endure

1) Five times the price
2) Can only be charged from a 240Vac supply
3) Serious fire risk if charging instructions ignored

 

 

 

Edited by Mike the Boilerman

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Last year one of the youtube boaters published this video about buying lithium batteries, worth a watch as it includes an 'interview' with the supplier.

 

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11 minutes ago, Mike the Boilerman said:

 

Looks to me as to me as though swapping to lithiums simply swaps one set of headaches for completely different set of heasdaches. Different, but just as awkward. 

By swapping you get to fully charge from flat in 45 mins (according to their listing) instead of 10 hours for a LA which is brilliant and the main reason to swap. But you have to use their 240v charger. (In fact that doesn't sound possible to me, given the spec Nick found says max charge current of 80A. So another question for the manufacturer.)

You also get to use 100% of the capacity instead of 50% for LA, so you only need half the number of batteries, so the price premium isn't as high as first appears. 

So to get these two major advantages, one has to endure

1) Five times the price
2) Can only be charged from a 240Vac supply
3) Serious fire risk if charging instructions ignored

 

 

 

Yes, but the point is that with a bit of thought and modification to the charging system, 2 and 3 can probably be permanently sorted so they no longer require thought or action, whereas the "headaches" of Lead Acid are always present and affecting your life. As I've mentioned before, we met a chap on the KandA who had Lithiums and he thought they were fantastic. He had splashed out on very expensive Mastervolt (or was it Victron) ones though, with an integral top notch BMS.

As proper continuous cruisers (when we are on the boat) I don't see the need for Lithiums, as our Trojans get an 8-9 hr charge every day and meet our needs, but if I were a pretend continuous cruiser who spent 13 days out of 14 stationary, Lithiums would be a very attractive proposition. Against the high initial cost you have to offset the hours of endless static engine running required to fully charge Lead Acid batteries, and that mounts up over the life of a Lithium battery.

Edited by nicknorman

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16 minutes ago, nicknorman said:

Yes, but the point is that with a bit of thought and modification to the charging system, 2 and 3 can probably be permanently sorted so they no longer require thought or action, whereas the "headaches" of Lead Acid are always present and affecting your life.

 

True. 

The problem I meant with 3) is unlilke your sensible bloke with the Mastervolt (or victron) installation, I predict a few boaters here and there, sooner or later, will decide they know best and will experiment with connecting a lithium (possibly with broken internal BMS) directly to an alternator. The result will probably be a series of lithium battery fires on boats across the system before the message gets knocked home.

 

"As proper continuous cruisers (when we are on the boat) I don't see the need for Lithiums, as our Trojans get an 8-9 hr charge every day and meet our needs, but if I was a pretend continuous cruiser who spent 13 days out of 14 stationary, Lithiums would be a very attractive proposition. Against the high initial cost you have to offset the hours of endless static engine running required to fully charge Lead Acid batteries, and that mounts up over the life of a Lithium battery."

 

Another factor is the way my Whispergen gets around the same problem in a completely different way. With no explosive ignition of fuel it makes the same noise as a Webasto so can be run any time of day or night to charge the batteries and heat the boat at the same time. The Whipergen is no longer avaiable since the factory got destroyed in the earthquake but I hear on the grapevine some big players are developing similar products. If true, they might well be an attractive alternative to a lithium battery installation for the pretend CCers.

 

 

Edited by Mike the Boilerman
Edit to insert quote

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4 minutes ago, Mike the Boilerman said:

 

True. 

The problem I meant with 3) is unlilke your sensible bloke with the Mastervolt (or victron) installation, I predict a few boaters here and there, sooner or later, will decide they know best and will experiment with connecting a lithium (possibly with broken internal BMS) directly to an alternator. The result will probably be a series of lithium battery fires on boats across the system before the message gets knocked home.

 

"As proper continuous cruisers (when we are on the boat) I don't see the need for Lithiums, as our Trojans get an 8-9 hr charge every day and meet our needs, but if I was a pretend continuous cruiser who spent 13 days out of 14 stationary, Lithiums would be a very attractive proposition. Against the high initial cost you have to offset the hours of endless static engine running required to fully charge Lead Acid batteries, and that mounts up over the life of a Lithium battery."

 

Another factor is the way my Whispergen gets around the same problem in a completely different way. With no explosive ignition of fuel it makes the same noise as a Webasto so can be run any time of day or night to charge the batteries and heat the boat at the same time. The Whipergen is no longer avaiable since the factory got destroyed in the earthquake but I hear on the grapevine some big players are developing similar products. If true, they might well be an attractive alternative to a lithium battery installation for the pretend CCers.

 

 

On the fire risk, yes you are probably right but people will kill themselves with gas, CO, petrol fumes or mixing it with propellors regardless. Lithium batteries are just another thing invented to assist Mr Darwin!

How much does a whispergen cost compared to say 200AH of lithiums? Whispergens also produce lots of heat which is good in winter, a waste in summer. I suppose solar in summer and whispergen in winter is a pretty good combination, but that is a fair bit of capital expenditure, space and clutter required, and maintenance costs. Lithiums are light and small and IMO pretty good provided they are correctly installed and charged. When our Trojans finally die, I will be hard pushed not to get Lithiums (hopefully quite a few years yet to go).

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Dave at Boating Leisure Services (2/3 Crick winning boats to their credit) has fitted lithium to some of their boats. He know's his elec stuff, works on superyachts etc. He's very approachable and helpful so a call to him would, I'm sure, be extremely worthwhile.

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1 hour ago, Mike the Boilerman said:

 

Looks to me as to me as though swapping to lithiums simply swaps one set of headaches for completely different set of heasdaches. Different, but just as awkward. 

By swapping you get to fully charge from flat in 45 mins (according to their listing) instead of 10 hours for a LA which is brilliant and the main reason to swap. But you have to use their 240v charger. (In fact that doesn't sound possible to me, given the spec Nick found says max charge current of 80A. So another question for the manufacturer.)

You also get to use 100% of the capacity instead of 50% for LA, so you only need half the number of batteries, so the price premium isn't as high as first appears. 

So to get these two major advantages, one has to endure

1) Five times the price
2) Can only be charged from a 240Vac supply
3) Serious fire risk if charging instructions ignored

 

 

 

I think the whispergen with its charge settings might do the job at least I hope so as I am considering going that route

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6 minutes ago, peterboat said:

I think the whispergen with its charge settings might do the job at least I hope so as I am considering going that route

 

Yes it probably will. The charge voltage seems very accurately controlled on mine to exactly what I set it to. The manual also has a section on charging lithiums. Avoiding a fire from overcharging is the harder thing though. I'm not sure how the Whispergen will know when to stop charging as the charge voltage barely rises as 100% is approached.

37 minutes ago, nicknorman said:

How much does a whispergen cost compared to say 200AH of lithiums?

 

They seem to command £500 to £800 on the rare occasions they pop up on ebay. I spent a further £500 (at least!) on bits and bobs to install it.

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3 minutes ago, Mike the Boilerman said:

 

Yes it probably will. The charge voltage seems very accurately controlled on mine to exactly what I set it to. The manual also has a section on charging lithiums. Avoiding a fire from overcharging is the harder thing though. I'm not sure how the Whispergen will know when to stop charging as the charge voltage barely rises as 100% is approached.

 

They seem to command £500 to £800 on the rare occasions they pop up on ebay. I spent a further £500 (at least!) on bits and bobs to install it.

That’s second hand though. I wonder how much a new one cost when they were being made, or how much they might go for if manufactured again. On the charging point, as I understand it when the BMS thinks the battery is fully charged, it simply stops accepting more charge ie the current falls to near zero. It would be a completely different matter if it were just a “raw” lithium without a BMS, but afaik no-one sells large lithiums like that or if they do, they specify an external BMS must be used.

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Before I considered such a massive outlay my first port of call would be a WRITTEN piece of paper from my insurers stating they were happy to have them fitted and would pay out if fire etc.

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A FULL 12 months warranty :o thats big of them at the price!! Why must they be stored charged? I thought a selling point with these batteries is they can be left in various states of charge?

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23 minutes ago, mrsmelly said:

Before I considered such a massive outlay my first port of call would be a WRITTEN piece of paper from my insurers stating they were happy to have them fitted and would pay out if fire etc.

See Post #3

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