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Old 07-06-2018, 10:04   #1
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AC battery charger for AGM start battery and Lithium bank

I have installed my LiFePO4 house bank and all is well so far. I have the usual charging equipment with regulators set for lithiums, including solar, a DC genset, main engine alternator, and an older Trace 2000w inverter/charger (which I have limited options for regulating). I also have an Xantrex Echo Charger to use to take excess from the lithiums to the start battery (AGM Optima spiral). I have a Honda 2000i DC genset for any times I need to supplement or replace my solar or other power sources while on the hook, or underway, which I hope is never required.



The Honda needs to be run through an AC charger of course. I don't have a lot of long term faith in such an old inverter/charger but for now it is working fine. It puts out a steady 100+A to the lithiums but I don't run it continuous as it starts to heat up and the fans run strong for a long time after I shut it down. It may be fine with that but it sure stresses it.



I can parallel the start battery so that any charge the lithiums get can get to the start batt if need be but I can't set my regulators to fine tune for both battery types.



The Echo Charger works OK but not really the best for really maintaining the AGM battery. I would like to get opinions on the current state of the art regarding AC battery chargers that would give me an alternative AC charge backup, as well as the sole charge to the start battery when at the dock so I don't have to leave it on for the house lithiums. I prefer to manage that manually even though I have the shut off contactors to (hopefully) stop charging them if voltage gets too high.


It would have to be 110-220v self-ranging but I think most have that now. It does not have to be a large charger - bigger is usually better but prices escalate quickly and if the primary goal is to maintain the start battery with a good charge profile, not really required.


I really suspect that charger tech has not changed very much since a few years ago when I first started looking and from when discussions on this forum really got in to it. The large "Using LiFePO4 as House Bank" is too big to deal with but I know there is good discussion in there on this, but the thread is just too big to sort through right now.



Any thoughts and opinions on a reliable programmable current state-of-the art AC multi-battery charger on the market right now, which is reliable with good customer support and accurate claims as to battery programming? The best of all worlds would be a charger which can have separate charge profiles for two different banks but that is highly unlikely to be on the market right now, so far as I can see.



I am looking at the usual suspects: Mastervolt, ProNautic/Sterling, Blue Sea (new), Xantrex, Magnum, et al.



Thanks.
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Old 07-06-2018, 11:15   #2
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Re: AC battery charger for AGM start battery and Lithium bank

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Originally Posted by exMaggieDrum View Post
I have installed my LiFePO4 house bank and all is well so far. I have the usual charging equipment with regulators set for lithiums, including solar, a DC genset, main engine alternator, and an older Trace 2000w inverter/charger (which I have limited options for regulating). I also have an Xantrex Echo Charger to use to take excess from the lithiums to the start battery (AGM Optima spiral). I have a Honda 2000i DC genset for any times I need to supplement or replace my solar or other power sources while on the hook, or underway, which I hope is never required.



The Honda needs to be run through an AC charger of course. I don't have a lot of long term faith in such an old inverter/charger but for now it is working fine. It puts out a steady 100+A to the lithiums but I don't run it continuous as it starts to heat up and the fans run strong for a long time after I shut it down. It may be fine with that but it sure stresses it.



I can parallel the start battery so that any charge the lithiums get can get to the start batt if need be but I can't set my regulators to fine tune for both battery types.



The Echo Charger works OK but not really the best for really maintaining the AGM battery. I would like to get opinions on the current state of the art regarding AC battery chargers that would give me an alternative AC charge backup, as well as the sole charge to the start battery when at the dock so I don't have to leave it on for the house lithiums. I prefer to manage that manually even though I have the shut off contactors to (hopefully) stop charging them if voltage gets too high.


It would have to be 110-220v self-ranging but I think most have that now. It does not have to be a large charger - bigger is usually better but prices escalate quickly and if the primary goal is to maintain the start battery with a good charge profile, not really required.


I really suspect that charger tech has not changed very much since a few years ago when I first started looking and from when discussions on this forum really got in to it. The large "Using LiFePO4 as House Bank" is too big to deal with but I know there is good discussion in there on this, but the thread is just too big to sort through right now.



Any thoughts and opinions on a reliable programmable current state-of-the art AC multi-battery charger on the market right now, which is reliable with good customer support and accurate claims as to battery programming? The best of all worlds would be a charger which can have separate charge profiles for two different banks but that is highly unlikely to be on the market right now, so far as I can see.



I am looking at the usual suspects: Mastervolt, ProNautic/Sterling, Blue Sea (new), Xantrex, Magnum, et al.



Thanks.
You want a charger that can sense battery voltage through a dedicated (thin) wire. Most Victron chargers will do that. Most chargers you listed will not. Read Mainesail's article for more detail.
You also want a charger that can deliver rated current for as long as required regardless of ambient tempm. Mastervolt chargers will not do that; they will quickly derate themselves because their cooling cannot keep up. Victron chargers are good in this front.
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Old 07-06-2018, 12:09   #3
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Re: AC battery charger for AGM start battery and Lithium bank

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Originally Posted by svlamorocha View Post
You want a charger that can sense battery voltage through a dedicated (thin) wire. Most Victron chargers will do that. Most chargers you listed will not. Read Mainesail's article for more detail.
You also want a charger that can deliver rated current for as long as required regardless of ambient tempm. Mastervolt chargers will not do that; they will quickly derate themselves because their cooling cannot keep up. Victron chargers are good in this front.

Thanks. Just the feedback I'm looking for. Victron should have been on my list, I just goofed. I will look at Mainesail's article. I assume you mean on his website.
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Old 07-06-2018, 12:32   #4
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Re: AC battery charger for AGM start battery and Lithium bank

ProNautic/Sterling, big as your genny can handle when recharging LFP off grid.

Not just adjustable V setpoints, but can adjust / derate current output.

Magnum now worth looking at, especially with their new remotes that allow going to Float (maybe even just stop?) based on bank shunt measuring endAmps.

The starter from mains usage is an afterthought, Echo Charger just fine for that otherwise.
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Old 08-06-2018, 08:05   #5
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Re: AC battery charger for AGM start battery and Lithium bank

Pronautic was at the top of my list but I wanted to see if there has been any new developments, especially as demand for charging lithium batteries is rising. MaineSail seems to really like the Pronautic too.


I found a 60A model on sale online and will get that unless I get some more info here in the next few days about other tech out now.


I'll look at the Magnum as well though.



Thanks for your comments.
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Old 08-06-2018, 08:12   #6
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Re: AC battery charger for AGM start battery and Lithium bank

Quote:
Originally Posted by svlamorocha View Post
You want a charger that can sense battery voltage through a dedicated (thin) wire. Most Victron chargers will do that. Most chargers you listed will not. Read Mainesail's article for more detail.
You also want a charger that can deliver rated current for as long as required regardless of ambient tempm. Mastervolt chargers will not do that; they will quickly derate themselves because their cooling cannot keep up. Victron chargers are good in this front.

From many of the discussions on here in other threads, the Victron charger and their monitors have always had great reviews. And, they have a 5 year warranty. Not many electrical (or other types for that matter) devices have that. But - they are also one of the most expensive.
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Old 08-06-2018, 08:12   #7
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Re: AC battery charger for AGM start battery and Lithium bank

I have yet to find anything "designed for LI" that has the adjustability I require to reduce the voltage setpoints.

So products labelled as such, it's actually a red flag to avoid them.
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Old 08-06-2018, 15:03   #8
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Re: AC battery charger for AGM start battery and Lithium bank

I doubt that anybody makes a smart charger capable of properly charging dissimilar batteries. I suspect a cheaper and easier solution is to buy a second charger for the start battery. Probably cheaper than switching to a lithium start battery.
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Old 08-06-2018, 16:02   #9
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Re: AC battery charger for AGM start battery and Lithium bank

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Originally Posted by Dave22q View Post
I doubt that anybody makes a smart charger capable of properly charging dissimilar batteries. I suspect a cheaper and easier solution is to buy a second charger for the start battery. Probably cheaper than switching to a lithium start battery.

Unless my Trace inverter/charger dies, this is what I will have. The new charger will only charge the start battery, either by shore power or my little Honda (which I hope I don't have to use). Thanks for your comment.



I'm going with a ProNautic 60A if I can get it at a good price otherwise I may have to go smaller.
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Old 09-06-2018, 15:55   #10
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Re: AC battery charger for AGM start battery and Lithium bank

Victron SKYLLA is fully programmable for bulk, Abs, floating and equalization.

Skylla, not Centaur.

Of course, there is nothing like a dual-SIM charger :-)

skylla may have either 1 or 3 outputs... And l opted for the 1-output one! No mess...
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Old 09-06-2018, 20:44   #11
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Re: AC battery charger for AGM start battery and Lithium bank

Multiple outputs are rarely independently regulated.
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Old 10-06-2018, 08:00   #12
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Re: AC battery charger for AGM start battery and Lithium bank

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Originally Posted by TheThunderbird View Post
Victron SKYLLA is fully programmable for bulk, Abs, floating and equalization.

Skylla, not Centaur.

Of course, there is nothing like a dual-SIM charger :-)

skylla may have either 1 or 3 outputs... And l opted for the 1-output one! No mess...

I have to say that the Victronenergy website is one of the least helpful, least informative product websites I have been to lately. They give some teaser information and no way (that I could find) to look at or download an installation or operating manual. From the Skylla IP44 (the only one which offers 12v charging), it "appears" that it primarily for wet-acid batteries but throws out a small bone about being ready for lithium. No details, no mention of programability. https://www.victronenergy.com/upload...la-IP44-EN.pdf


It seems it must be more capable than described. I decided to ignore Victron because all their product descriptions are the same. I have always been a real fan of products engineered and manufactured in Germany. Probably just my inability to figure things out. From all reports they are excellent products, and you are happy with yours. Thanks for the suggestion.
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Old 10-06-2018, 12:18   #13
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Re: AC battery charger for AGM start battery and Lithium bank

Maybe something's wrong with your browser.

A 10-sec google brought me straight to a 75 pg PDF of the full manual

Lots more available here https://www.victronenergy.com/chargers/skylla-ip44

than I ever saw offered by any of their competitors.

Pre purchase tech support available by email, actually competent engineers very responsive to intelligent discussions.

Please don't slag off such a world class CS-oriented outfit without at least putting in a minimal effort.
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Old 10-06-2018, 12:19   #14
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Re: AC battery charger for AGM start battery and Lithium bank

And they are Dutch not German, with local resources available around the world.
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Old 10-06-2018, 12:48   #15
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Re: AC battery charger for AGM start battery and Lithium bank

I have all my manuals from Victron downloaded online, dont want a huge library on board.
Regarding LFP profile / dual profile charger. Easiest way is either use a diode to drop voltage for the battery with lower required, or in case of LFP, program the charger for AGM for your start battery and drop the LFP by an solenoid either using a signal from the BMS or earlier from the BMV / battery monitor.
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