While I personally love our LiFePO4 bank, and likely won't ever go back to lead as a house bank, I don't feel it is a perfect match for everyone or the panacea many make it out to be. The technology definitely has many, many, many pluses but also some minuses that have to be kept in mind..
Even some very smart guys have toasted some cells T1 Terry and Chris Witzgall being two of them. Imagine how many would get toasted in the hands of a lowish competence DIY with an $20.00 automotive battery charger, some Vise Grips and the proverbial "belt & suspenders" approach...??
Some of the folks I see asking questions on the net about purchasing
and building a DIY bank of LiFePO4 scare the heck out of me. They want it now, they want the recipe laid out for them and they don't want to do ANY home work of their own. Oh and by god if the manufacture says 3.8V -4.0 VPC then I will hit them with that and not look back..
It also scares me because these are the folks who WILL give Li a black eye. Sorry but this is going to happen and the rest of us will be left holding the bag to defend this great technology. We will do this because a few bad apples did not want to take the time to do their homework and cherry picked only what they wanted to hear or read... "You can charge them to 4.0 VPC.", "You don't need a BMS or BMS.", "You don't need to top balance.", "You can get away with no HVC or LVC with audible alarms." "You can float them." "All you need is a solar
controller labeled "lithium"."etc. etc. etc...
You read my prediction here on 11/14/2013...
Read one just yesterday by a guy hating on Li but who had NO CLUE about it. Apparently he had a failure of some sort and had to fly people in to address it. IMHO that is NOT the kind of person who needs Li on their boat. None the less he is out there bashing something he had no clue how to use or deal with on a voyaging boat.
IMHO LiFePO4 banks are not the plug
and play, out of sight out of mind, people want them to be.
For a competent
boat owner with a very good understanding of electrics, good battery management practices and a good feel for their on-board electrical system
, then it can or could be a great fit.
For the everyday Joe, with little clue about electrical
systems, I think it could dent a lot of wallets.....
I voted "lead is dead" but that is only for me because I don't yet feel LiFePO4 is prime time ready. Do I feel it can get there? Yes, eventually it will.
Also for me the jury is still out on my bank and I am not passing full judgement until I have exceeded at least 500 cycles. I am in the process of accelerating my cycle testing and am currently at 202 cycles. The bank will be coming off the boat and back into the shop for more cycles in another week or so... In the shop I can do a cycle per day....
I got burned HARD by the misinformation
fed to us early on by AGM
makers. "They don't sulfate.", "They can be cycled to 80% DOD.", "You will get 1000+ cycles out of them." etc. etc. and all of it was pure rubbish. They have now recanted on every one of those points except some still claim 1000 cycles except not at 80% DOD.. Course they still NEVER hit 1000 cycles in the real world,
only in white coat, pencil protector, geek lab....
I think there is a lot of poor & misleading information out there in regards to LiFePO4 and I think a lot of it is coming directly from the manufacturers. Only time & cycles will prove me wrong.
I can only HOPE the manufacturers are close to accurate but I strongly doubt anyone will see 2000 - 3000 cycles in a marine
application. I would be ecstatic with 500-750 cycles as that would eclipse any LA battery I have ever seen in a marine
Lots of positives but we simply can't forget about the negative aspects. I have tried to plan for every possible scenario in my system, and build in safe guards for that, but still forgot about the fact that these banks have higher voltages and less sag than LA batteries. Even with all that careful planning and execution I still fried 4 glow plugs......
Chis W. forgot to turn of temp compensation and cooked some cells. IIRC T1 forgot and left the cells charging
and unattended, with no HV protection in-place, and also ruined some cells.
We still have a lot to learn, even those of use who seem out ahead of it.. Only time and real world results will tell us all we really need to know because the manufacturers certainly are not being forthright with good data in regards to use as house/off grid cycling banks..
Sorry to be a downer but I always work with a very realistic approach to everything I do. Having been burned by battery makers marketing
teams in the past I am approaching this with a full head
Rant over, now tear me a new one.....