Heated Lithium / LifePo4 House batteries in Northern (cold) climates

Joe917

Explorer
Why is the engine drawing power from the house battery?
I understand where you're going with this. The point is disconnect the automatic battery heat, it is not needed. Control it manually for the rare "cold start" situation .
 

DiploStrat

Expedition Leader
There are some general points to cover about lithium iron batteries in the cold and then some specific points about Coguzzi's question.

-- Most lithium iron installations are inside the heated camper, for obvious reasons. If you cannot do this (as was the case with my Tiger) then you have to look at some form of insulated box and heaters may indeed be a necessity in regular use.

-- Most of us don't let the interior of our camper drop below 0C because we don't like cold or frozen pipes. So, most of the time, when camping, your batteries will be fine.

-- When not using the camper, you will either have to winterize, or keep the interior above 0C. I live south of Quebec and it doesn't usually get as cold or stay cold as long, so, during the shoulder months, I drain the tanks, remove the water filter, and use the Dual Top's automatic frost protection setting. I also have an electric space heater which I can use on the inverter or shore power - the latter being preferable.

If you do let the batteries drop below freezing, then they must be warmed before recharging. Again, some assumptions:

-- You will not let the camper batteries drop below 50% before parking. (N.B. with lead acid, this would have to be 100%) So you will plenty of charge to heat the batteries.


-- If you are going camping, then you will have to recommission the camper, e.g. turn on the heat, refill the water, etc. I typically start this process the day before. This allows plenty of time for things to stabilize and, typically, shore power is available.

-- If you are not going camping, then again, you will have the batteries around 50% charged and turn off the main battery disconnect. N.B. This is the battery disconnect, not the load disconnect. If you are simply going to run errands with the vehicle, leave the batteries disconnected. If you need to use the camper batteries at this point, e.g. for lights, then you may want to be sure that you wire your vehicle so that you have a charge disconnect switch. This is easy to do. In Coguzzi's case, the Manager 30 should do this for him automatically, assuming that all of his charge sources run through the Manager 30 and none bypass it. (A separate solar controller might be an example here.)

If you need to commission the camper and the batteries are cold, then manually turn on the heaters and give them four hours to warm up (overnight) before applying charge. Joe917's "cold start."

In any case, the BMS should act as a final fail safe.

Does this make sense?
 
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Alloy

Well-known member
Yes, any sort of switch contacts can work.
If you missed it prior. One example mentioned is connecting a timer.
Programmed to switch on heating a couple hours before sunrise, Battery will be ready to accept charging as the sun comes up.
I thought BB might have sealed the circuit inside the battery but I see now it's external.
 

DiploStrat

Expedition Leader
Talk to Battle Born directly. They also have a ton of information on this on their website.


This is a good start: https://1t1pye1e13di20waq11old70-wp...s/2020/11/10012H-Heat-Enable-Instructions.pdf

Also, in video form: https://www.bing.com/videos/search?...A15291BEBD5A53F4A01BA15&view=detail&FORM=VIRE

A good overview: https://www.bing.com/videos/search?...076E789F5C6366C7529F076E789F5C63&&FORM=VDRVSR

It would appear that the final turn on/off is temperature sensing, but you can put a switch in the activation circuit to keep the heater from turning on. A low current circuit, so any relay will work. Don't overlook the idea that you may want a normally "on" set up, depending on the switch logic you need.

Again, this ain't hard.
 
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coguzzi

Adventurer
so here is the response i got from from Volthium Batteries: "

"The battery will go into self-heating mode when it is not at 100% and when the battery passes under the freezing point. The battery heats up with external current so if you are in Quebec and the vehicle is in your parking lot and not running or charging the battery will not heat up itself."

so their batteries only heat when they are cold obviously and have incoming charge current. all fine and dandy for a non temp sensing Dc-Dc charger like Redarc BCDC line. but the Manager 30 will not send that charge current below freezing, so i emailed Redarc and here is what they said:

"For extremely cold applications, you could change the charging profile to AGM, as this will enable charging as low as -25°C, if the battery will allow it and once things have warmed up, you can reset to Lithium? Just be aware, the auxiliary battery SOC information will also reset at this time which will require the battery to first again be 100% before battery SOC information can be displayed…"

So it is possible to trigger the heater in a charge sensing heater (like some other brands do as well), but not my ideal way of achieving it IMHO. i do like the idea of this heater function because it uses incoming current to heat the battery vs stored energy within the battery like Battle Born

All this said, ive done the research and educated myself pretty well now about the ins and outs. one thing in my mind that has now changed is the mentality that the battery always needs to be ready to accept a charge (ie, needs to be heated all the time). think this is my AGM way of thinking since you want your batteries sitting at 100% SOC all the time, ie, always floating via solr or shore power. Lithium on the other hand prefers to be sitting at 80% (or as low as 50% ive seen) SOC if they are just sitting. SO, my thinking of wasting cycles to heat the battery all the time so its ready to charge is not really valid, since you can still discharge the battery and battery will be totally happy with it. If you know you are going to be legitimately using the camper then you get the battery heated and ready just like firing up the fridge in advance to keep your beer cold, just another step in prep.

SO, i started this discussion because i wanted to be better educated in pros and cons so i could better influence people who come to me for advise or work. That said, i see pros and cons to Lithium as well as AGM. but i think for my education purposes of being able to offer the best advise i am sold enough to try Battle Born heated batteries in my next personal build. Battle Born for me because i think it is a better battery paired with the Redarc manager 30. If i was running non temp sensing Dc-Dc i would maybe go with a charge sensing heater battery instead, but maybe not because then everytime you drive you are activating the heater, but if its only a grocery store run and a waste of energy/life expectancy.
 

DiploStrat

Expedition Leader
Having non-heat sensing chargers (REDARC and Victron) and non-self heating batteries (home brew) I would only repeat. For internally mounted batteries, keep your water safe and your batteries will be safe.

That said, I kind of like my own idea of putting all of my charge sources on one bus that can be isolated from the battery, while still keeping the battery attached to all of its loads. In some cases, this might be as simple as a Blue Sea switch. This would give you a brute force protection which would allow you to run errands with a frozen camper.

Finally, remember that the BMS will protect your batteries. Better to have a double cut out, but in the end, if the batteries are too cold, they won't charge.

In the Battle Born world it really is as simple as adding a kill switch that turns off the heater when not needed. That way you could turn on the heater the night before a trip (see Verkstad's comment above) or simply wait until the next morning and let the batteries warm up while you drive.

None of this is hard.
 

coguzzi

Adventurer
For internally mounted batteries, keep your water safe and your batteries will be safe.

None of this is hard.
as I stated, but apparently need to state again-- no water in my equation since i am very anti water system well below zero (shoulder temps is fine). None of this is hard ;)
 

DiploStrat

Expedition Leader
OK, now I'm curious. You don't use water for bathing and cooking?

Or are you simply talking about running errands with the camper fully winterized?
 

coguzzi

Adventurer
OK, now I'm curious. You don't use water for bathing and cooking?

Or are you simply talking about running errands with the camper fully winterized?
there is absolutely ZERO reason to keep water in your camper, whether it is in the holding tanks or in separate mobile containers, unless you are actually camping. which for most of society is a very small percent of the time since most people work (im usually working 7 days a week, my time off is very precious). if you are actually camping/traveling then yes, you probably have a heater running and have zero concern for your batteries freezing. i'm talking about the everyday, where you van/rig is just a daily driver or occasional driver to keep it lubed up. could have sworn i was pretty clear about that.

but yeah--i survive on beer alone--its not that hard ;)
 

DiploStrat

Expedition Leader
But I don't like beer! :(

Got it. (I'm slow. At first I thought that you were talking about running errands in a winterized vehicle, then you mentioned skiing, so I got confused - happens at my age.) Methinks we are on the same page, but basically, if I am correct.

-- Running errands is not a problem - simply turn the batteries off, or turn the heater off, and let them discharge as needed for lights, etc. In your case, the proposed Manger 30 and the temp sensor in the Battle Born BMS should give you double protection as neither will charge below about 25F.

-- If going camping, then heat the batteries up and charge as you see fit. Assuming that the batteries are within a heated camper, you should not need to actually run the built in heaters. (Which may be one reason that, at least to date, Battle Born has not bothered to expand their heated battery line. But that is merely a guess on my part.)

I agree with not having water in a winterized camper, but, in my case (due to bad design), my camper has a sump and no low point drain. That's the bad news. The good news is that I know that the water system is usable down to about -5F. You do have to keep the cabin at 70F as the water pump is back in the garage - a bit of bad design - but the energy consumption to hold 70F is very low and the cat knows EXACTLY were the furnace is! ;)

I can't see that you will have a problem with either the Battle Born or Volthium products.
 

Utah KJ

Free State of Florida
I received two Relion RB100s as a bonus for a job well done. They do not have built in heaters, but I wasn't going to look a gift horse in the mouth either. I went on Amazon and got a little programmable thermostat, and a cheap car seat heater kit. I wrapped the batteries in the heaters, and that's that.

Something like this:

and this:
 

broncobowsher

Adventurer
It would be nice if the makers of the charge controllers (solar or DC-DC) that have a low temp cut off added another little feature. Heater power. Go from a disconnect to a transfer switch. Too cold to charge, but there is power to charge, send that power to a heater element. Once the battery is warm enough transfer back into charge mode. That way you are not draining the battery to heat itself when there is no charge to put into it. And the available charge power is being put to use and not waiting for some other way to heat the battery. You can run any lifepo battery, even the ones that don't have the low temp cutoff.
 

DirtWhiskey

Western Dirt Rat
It would be nice if the makers of the charge controllers (solar or DC-DC) that have a low temp cut off added another little feature. Heater power. Go from a disconnect to a transfer switch. Too cold to charge, but there is power to charge, send that power to a heater element. Once the battery is warm enough transfer back into charge mode. That way you are not draining the battery to heat itself when there is no charge to put into it. And the available charge power is being put to use and not waiting for some other way to heat the battery. You can run any lifepo battery, even the ones that don't have the low temp cutoff.
Agreed this would assuage most of my concerns seems like it wouldn't be too hard with a temp sensing relay, a switch and thermostat. I'll betya somebody on expo has done just this..
 

coguzzi

Adventurer
It would be nice if the makers of the charge controllers (solar or DC-DC) that have a low temp cut off added another little feature. Heater power. Go from a disconnect to a transfer switch. Too cold to charge, but there is power to charge, send that power to a heater element. Once the battery is warm enough transfer back into charge mode. That way you are not draining the battery to heat itself when there is no charge to put into it. And the available charge power is being put to use and not waiting for some other way to heat the battery. You can run any lifepo battery, even the ones that don't have the low temp cutoff.
totally agree. not sure it will happen though. from all the batteries ive looked at now, the battle born is the only one ive seen that has the heater to function 100% internally and manually controlled and would work in above scenario. every other manufacture seems to use an incoming charge current to activate heater, seems the magic number is around 4 amps incoming. so basically everytime the sun is out, mppt is sending charge, heating batteries. this gets back to my life cycles concern again. but yeah, would be nice if redarc put out some kind of signal when it was below its charging threshold to activate one of the other battery style heaters
 

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