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RAM5500 CAMPERTHING

OG Portal Member #183
Yeah, I'm with you. Truly a special place. Inspired by that trip, I just read Craig Childs "House of Rain", which tracks the history of Chaco civilization and the Anasazi more broadly. Good read.
Agreed 100%

I was pretty bummed though, i am a night sky photographer (hence milky way avatar here) and they didnt allow access after sundown without some VERY expensive permits. Bummer
 

RAM5500 CAMPERTHING

OG Portal Member #183
Efficient charging and long lifetime of Lithium may be good reasons for some as well (e.g., full-timers living off solar).
I think the thing i struggle with is the long life claims. I have (2) giant Odyssey PC2150s (the huge group 31s) and one is about 8 years old and one is over 10 years old, and they have been flawless.

The fact the lithiums cost so much more and their longevity claims havent really been proven yet are what concerns me... At this point, id rather double up on the proven AGMs.. personal preference...

Does anyone here know anyone thats been running the same lithium batteries 5+ years without issues? Thats my concern... Manufacturers make all sorts of claims, but until they are proven, they are just claims..
 

CoyoteThistle

Adventurer
I have been very happy with our drop in lithiums. Tons of available power and quick recharge. No generator needed. We do however have the batteries located inside
the camper which is well insulated. For those that need a heated insulated box, I wonder if it would make sense to power the heater with a separate battery used in motorcycles, lawnmowers, etc. A simple thermostat could regulate the temp. You would need to figure out the best/efficient way to charge.
Here is what Battle Born has to say;

Are there any temperature restrictions on your LiFePO4 batteries?
Yes, our batteries do have temperature restrictions. The batteries will no longer accept a charge once the temperature drops to 24 degrees F, but they will continue to discharge until the temperature reaches -4 degrees F. We do suggest insulated battery boxes, or heating blankets to help keep the temperature up on the batteries. As far as heat is concerned, the batteries will shut down once the temperature hits 135 degrees F.

Here is a link to their FAQ's. https://battlebornbatteries.com/faq/

Not trying to promote this brand as I have the Stark which are out of business. However, the chemistry and bms seem identical. I have had a few instances where the bms has protected the battery. Not to mention its a simple drop in.
That is nice that the drop-ins have the temp protection built in. I'm with Java though, those temps seem a bit low (cell manufacturers I've seen all say 32F and 0F for stop charge and discharge respectively). Probably a reason though. Powering the heaters with the Lithium battery themselves should work as long as they kick in before the 0F discharge temp limit.

And as a reminder to all readers (yes, I'll be an old curmudgeon here!), those drop-ins aren't truly drop-in for most of our vehicles. Charging off an alternator (after the battery is full) or through a system designed for a lead acid battery (with float and absorption charging) will damage the battery over time. Lots of options out there these days to control charging that are lithium-appropriate though.

Okay, off my soapbox!
 

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CoyoteThistle

Adventurer
I think the thing i struggle with is the long life claims. I have (2) giant Odyssey PC2150s (the huge group 31s) and one is about 8 years old and one is over 10 years old, and they have been flawless.

The fact the lithiums cost so much more and their longevity claims havent really been proven yet are what concerns me... At this point, id rather double up on the proven AGMs.. personal preference...

Does anyone here know anyone thats been running the same lithium batteries 5+ years without issues? Thats my concern... Manufacturers make all sorts of claims, but until they are proven, they are just claims..
I'm not personally aware of real long-term Lithium use in the camper or boat world, but this guy is getting 432Ah from his 400Ah rated pack after 772 full battery cycles (scroll to the bottom of the page). I think the best lessons of Lithium longevity comes from the electric car world. Those folks have been putting thousands of cycles over many years on packs with limited capacity loss. With proper charging profiles and such, I believe the Lithiums will outlast even high-quality AGM.

On the other hand, there are certainly stories out there of Lithium batteries losing capacity over the course of a year or two due to charging them like they are lead acid (float charging and/or not stopping charging when the battery is fully charged). Seen this both with drop-ins and DIY packs. The guy I linked to above I think is right that the companies selling "drop in" Lithium are shooting themselves in the foot since charging systems designed for lead acid will absolutely destroy Lithium in pretty short order. Just a matter of time before lots of people start coming forward with severely depleted battery capacities due to just "dropping them in". It wont be the fault of the battery chemistry though. There are pretty simple ways to charge them right these days but the folks selling the batteries don't really want to tell you about it (see Terra Ops great build thread for his quest to get charging answers from the battery folks).

Curious too if others have stories of long-term use...
 

Terra Ops

Adventurer
Lots of good info in that "Marine how to" blog. After reading through most but not all of it, I began questioning my setup.
When building my camper I was looking for simple plug and play lithium power. At the time I knew nothing about BMS or wiring much
of anything. The "drop ins" offered simplicity and convenience in a relatively small package. Being lithium though, there are definitely different
requirements. The REDARC's lithium profile charging seems to do the trick. It will charge to capacity then stops according to my battery monitor.
What I'm not sure about is float mode. According to the article, the jury is still out as to how it affects longevity. From my understanding, the optimal charging
system for lithium is a process that would allow full charge and discharge. I'm not sure if this is realistic in overlanding with constantly changing variables.
It was good to see that the article favors Battle Born as a drop in. It did not mention REDARC though as a charger. From what I can tell, REDARC seems to know
what they are doing and specifically mention the type of lithium to be used with their charger. If anybody can shed some light on their method of charge, I would
be very interested, instead of going on "it seems to be working great".
Overall I have been very happy with the drop in REDARC configuration. I would say it is as close to plug and play as possible.
When not using the camper, the batteries get to "rest" by completely isolating them with the turn off switch. While camping, the only charge time, if needed, would occur while
driving or parked with solar. At night of course there is a drain by the frig. So I guess the only thing I'm ignorant on is whether or not the float mode is a good or bad method, and does discharge to a partial percentage then recharge to full, adversely affect the amount of cycles.
 

Terra Ops

Adventurer
Possibly found some more info on drop ins and REDARC. This is an interesting company in Australia. They use REDARC and Victron in various
configurations. Very similar to my setup. I think a feel better about my concerns.



 

Ramdough

Adventurer
I recommend watching some of Will Prowse videos o. YouTube and read on his webs a bit. He has some good info. He also does it in a low budget.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

CoyoteThistle

Adventurer
Lots of good info in that "Marine how to" blog. After reading through most but not all of it, I began questioning my setup.
When building my camper I was looking for simple plug and play lithium power. At the time I knew nothing about BMS or wiring much
of anything. The "drop ins" offered simplicity and convenience in a relatively small package. Being lithium though, there are definitely different
requirements. The REDARC's lithium profile charging seems to do the trick. It will charge to capacity then stops according to my battery monitor.
What I'm not sure about is float mode. According to the article, the jury is still out as to how it affects longevity. From my understanding, the optimal charging
system for lithium is a process that would allow full charge and discharge. I'm not sure if this is realistic in overlanding with constantly changing variables.
It was good to see that the article favors Battle Born as a drop in. It did not mention REDARC though as a charger. From what I can tell, REDARC seems to know
what they are doing and specifically mention the type of lithium to be used with their charger. If anybody can shed some light on their method of charge, I would
be very interested, instead of going on "it seems to be working great".
Overall I have been very happy with the drop in REDARC configuration. I would say it is as close to plug and play as possible.
When not using the camper, the batteries get to "rest" by completely isolating them with the turn off switch. While camping, the only charge time, if needed, would occur while
driving or parked with solar. At night of course there is a drain by the frig. So I guess the only thing I'm ignorant on is whether or not the float mode is a good or bad method, and does discharge to a partial percentage then recharge to full, adversely affect the amount of cycles.
IIRC, I never could find exactly what the "Lithium setting" on the REDARC meant exactly in terms of charging profile. But, if you are seeing the charge rate drop to zero when the battery gets to 14.x volts, that's a good sign. The next good sign would be to watch the battery voltage after it stops charging (with little or no loads). It should settle down to between about 13.3 and 13.4v (in other words, the resting voltage of a full pack). This would mean that if there is a float charge, it's at a low enough voltage to not be doing any damage. If the battery voltage sits higher than that after bulk charging stops, probably means there is some float charging going on. Yes, I think the jury is out on weather float charging at, say 13.6v is bad or not. Definitely bad to float in the mid 14 volt range. That is what will start to eat away at your capacity. Either way, this battery chemistry just does not need float charging so it's best to have a system that just doesn't do it.

I wouldn't worry about doing full charge and discharge, my understanding is that Lithiums are very happy to rarely if ever go in the tail ends of their capacity.

Hadn't heard of Revolution Power. First firm I've seen selling self-contained lithium to admit that you do in fact need a different charge profile than lead acid. So, kudos to them!
 

luthj

Engineer In Residence
There is enough experience with LFP packs, that I can recommend them for regular usage. Drop ins will vary depending on MFG, but they will almost always deliver multiple times the cycles of a lead pack.

The only caveat is that you need to consider temperature issues. If you need to charge in low temps, the pack needs to be inside the heated envelope, or you need to build a heated battery box (insulated well).

For off grid operation, especially for live aboard/full timing, lithium is immensely superior to lead. They don't suffer from partial charge abuse (sulfation). In fact partial charge cycling actually extends their calendar life a bit. Lead on the other hand, needs regular long absorb cycles, sitting at the absorb voltage. On solar or gen charging, this wastes lots of available power. Combine that with leads deep discharge limitations, and lower charge efficiency, and lithium packs can be much small in total AH, and last a lot longer in the same conditions.

A few things to remember if you are looking to get a very long calendar life. Don't store the LFP pack at a full charge. It should be stored below 50% SOC. Keep the pack away from high temps. Temps above 90F tend to accelerate capacity loss (over a period of years). Obviously daily temperature swings will happen, but mounting a LFP pack in the engine compartment, or other hot location is not the best idea.
 

RAM5500 CAMPERTHING

OG Portal Member #183
The only caveat is that you need to consider temperature issues.
False... quite a few caveats

-shouldnt be stored fully charged
-finicky charging profiles
-oddball sizing
-price
-long term reliability questions
-and yeah... the whole temperature thing

Lots of folks raving about how amazing Lithium’s are, and that’s all fine and dandy if you believe all the marketing claims.

Many people, myself included have had AGMs working hard for almost 10 years...

Can anywhere here PERSONALLY vouch they’ve worked a lithium battery 5+ years with no issues? Very doubtful...

I get it’s new tech, and tech people like new stuff... but the constant claims on how lithium’s are the best thing since whiskey, getting folks to spend their hard earned cash on something that MIGHT end up working out well years from now is a bit much.

A lot of folks just regurgitate manufactures claims, over and over.

Reality... no one really knows the proper care for long term use because they haven’t been out and tested long enough...

My .02 on kind of a pet peeve subject :)
 

luthj

Engineer In Residence
-shouldnt be stored fully charged
-finicky charging profiles
-oddball sizing
-price
-long term reliability questions
-and yeah... the whole temperature thing
-The charging profile is actually a lot more tolerant than lead. Anything between 13.8-14.4V for most MFGs. You just need to adjust the float down lower to let them discharge a bit to the high 90S SOC.

There are lots of drop ins available in common sizes. Regardless, if you are building an Aux bank, you will have plenty of options to deal with.

The long term reliability questions have been answered for deep cycling operations. There are thousands of backup banks used for telecom equipment, EV conversions, and marine installs. Same goes for off grid powered homes. The EV (especially bus) applications are especially demanding. There are plenty of LFP based "portable generators". Its very rare to see one of these retired due to low capacity. I don't have time to post up the links, but you can read through some threads in the 12V forum for details.

I have seen a lot of dead lead acid batteries after just a few months or years or service. Often from conditions that would have caused no harm to a LFP pack. Obviously I am not recommending them for starter battery usage.

If you are worried about the electronics, just build your own LFP pack from cells and a BMS. Not very expensive, and if something fails, you just replace the part. Unless you do something extremely abusive, LFP cells will get at least 2000 full cycles. Try that from even the best lead pack.


You can store a LFP battery fully charged, but doing so double the calendar capacity loss (from around 1% or 2-3% per year). I see this requirement as much less onerous than the lead requirement to store fully charged, AND top up every few moths.
 

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Justin Cook

Member
A few things to remember if you are looking to get a very long calendar life. Don't store the LFP pack at a full charge. It should be stored below 50% SOC. Keep the pack away from high temps. Temps above 90F tend to accelerate capacity loss (over a period of years). Obviously daily temperature swings will happen, but mounting a LFP pack in the engine compartment, or other hot location is not the best idea.
I think it's worth noting in this discussion that every major LFP battery manufacturer currently on the market recommends long-term storage be at 50% SOC or higher, not 50% or lower. Long-term storage of an LFP bank at less than 50% SOC will negatively affect its lifespan. Enough to worry about? Eh... depends on the conditions, really. If you're just storing it for a season at 48% SOC, it's probably nothing to worry about... but storing for a season at 5% SOC will definitely result in damage.

Can anywhere here PERSONALLY vouch they’ve worked a lithium battery 5+ years with no issues? Very doubtful...
My .02 on kind of a pet peeve subject :)
I can personally vouch:
In May of 2013, Firefly (Battle Born OEM) sent me a pair of their 100Ah drop-in LFP batteries for testing and evaluation; there have been a few changes over the years including a bit of beefing-up on the BMS side, but they're still virtually identical to the BB10012 batteries that are available today. Over the past (nearly) 7 years I've taken them boondocking and offroading hundreds of times -not so gently on more than a few occasions- and currently use them (parallel 12v nominal) in my home backup system; they have well over 1500 100% DOD cycles on them and probably around double that in <50% DOD cycles. Two weeks ago, while redoing some things on my home system, I ran a capacity test and pulled 230Ah out of them (under 50A load) before my inverter shut down due to low-voltage... and it's worth noting that I have my inverter's LV cutout set higher than the BMS LV cutout, so the batteries themselves could have kept going for a while. 230Ah out of two 100Ah Firefly/BBs isn't uncommon, since Battle Born under-rates their battery capacities; a 100Ah BB10012 can routinely provide 110-130Ah of usable energy, depending on discharge rate.

Of course, having been a professional in the DC systems industry for a very long time, I actually read the user manuals and install things correctly and all that; I've certainly heard of people whose batteries failed them, but 95% of the time (when discussing a reputable manufacturer) that failure has been the result of mistreatment/misinstallation/simply not understanding how the chemistry works. As an example, I had a guy about a month ago who was all pissed off that the plastic around the POS terminal of his Battle Born battery had melted and the BMS had fully shut down charging and discharging; a quick inspection of his installation revealed that he hadn't tightened down the POS terminal bolt, so as soon as he tried to run his AC unit off his 3kVA inverter and was pulling a full 1C out of that battery, the post got hot and the BMS shut down the battery so nothing caught fire. If he'd just properly tightened his connections, he'd have been fine.

Bottom line: LFP is not a new concept... it's been around for well over 15 years, and the fact that it's only really becoming popular in the last 5 or so has been a direct result of companies working out how to best to make it feasible for mainstream use; ie, making reliable drop-ins that don't require gathering parts from all across the internet to custom-make a battery pack, or developing reliable component systems that work well together out of the box, and -secondarily- making these things relatively cheap when compared on a dollar-per-usable-Ah basis. We've now been through well over a decade of real-world testing and it's been proven to be a reliable and dependable chemistry offering 3-6 times the cycle expectancy of any Pb battery, stable voltage under discharge, 100% capacity usability, and roughly 1-6th of the weight per usable Ah compared to Pb. I understand not immediately jumping on the latest bandwagon in technology, but again... LFP is nothing new, it's hardly a bandwagon anymore. It has caveats, sure, but so does every chemistry including all variations of Pb.

Okay, off my bandwagon - just my own $.02 on my pet peeve subject :p
 

RAM5500 CAMPERTHING

OG Portal Member #183
I can personally vouch:
In May of 2013, Firefly (Battle Born OEM) sent me a pair of their 100Ah drop-in LFP batteries for testing and evaluation; there have been a few changes over the years including a bit of beefing-up on the BMS side, but they're still virtually identical to the BB10012 batteries that are available today. Over the past (nearly) 7 years I've taken them boondocking and offroading hundreds of times -not so gently on more than a few occasions- and currently use them (parallel 12v nominal) in my home backup system; they have well over 1500 100% DOD cycles on them and probably around double that in <50% DOD cycles. Two weeks ago, while redoing some things on my home system, I ran a capacity test and pulled 230Ah out of them (under 50A load) before my inverter shut down due to low-voltage... and it's worth noting that I have my inverter's LV cutout set higher than the BMS LV cutout, so the batteries themselves could have kept going for a while. 230Ah out of two 100Ah Firefly/BBs isn't uncommon, since Battle Born under-rates their battery capacities; a 100Ah BB10012 can routinely provide 110-130Ah of usable energy, depending on discharge rate.

Of course, having been a professional in the DC systems industry for a very long time, I actually read the user manuals and install things correctly and all that; I've certainly heard of people whose batteries failed them, but 95% of the time (when discussing a reputable manufacturer) that failure has been the result of mistreatment/misinstallation/simply not understanding how the chemistry works. As an example, I had a guy about a month ago who was all pissed off that the plastic around the POS terminal of his Battle Born battery had melted and the BMS had fully shut down charging and discharging; a quick inspection of his installation revealed that he hadn't tightened down the POS terminal bolt, so as soon as he tried to run his AC unit off his 3kVA inverter and was pulling a full 1C out of that battery, the post got hot and the BMS shut down the battery so nothing caught fire. If he'd just properly tightened his connections, he'd have been fine.

Bottom line: LFP is not a new concept... it's been around for well over 15 years, and the fact that it's only really becoming popular in the last 5 or so has been a direct result of companies working out how to best to make it feasible for mainstream use; ie, making reliable drop-ins that don't require gathering parts from all across the internet to custom-make a battery pack, or developing reliable component systems that work well together out of the box, and -secondarily- making these things relatively cheap when compared on a dollar-per-usable-Ah basis. We've now been through well over a decade of real-world testing and it's been proven to be a reliable and dependable chemistry offering 3-6 times the cycle expectancy of any Pb battery, stable voltage under discharge, 100% capacity usability, and roughly 1-6th of the weight per usable Ah compared to Pb. I understand not immediately jumping on the latest bandwagon in technology, but again... LFP is nothing new, it's hardly a bandwagon anymore. It has caveats, sure, but so does every chemistry including all variations of Pb.

Okay, off my bandwagon - just my own $.02 on my pet peeve subject :p
This is a great, well written, informative reply! THANK YOU @Justin Cook

I see you are in San Diego... still? I am as well..

About to start a huge project and would be great to support someone local (and to pick their brain in person)..

Are you at the Bay Marine Supply over there near sports arena?
 
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