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Old 27-02-2015, 17:09   #1
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AGM to Balqon LifePO4 battery upgrade

I've got 2 Lifeline 8D Batteries (mfg 4/2008).

My plan is to remove one of the 8D batteries and replace it with the prefab 5 kWh solution from Balqon (400ah).

I'll have the AGM battery still wired in, so if the lifepo4 batteries shutdown for whatever reason I don't fry my alternator or lose power to the DC side. Any issue with that setup?


I'm thinking on the battery switch
BANK 1 = LifePO4 (400ah)
Bank 2=AGM 8D (255ah)
Run it on BOTH all the time?
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Old 28-02-2015, 08:15   #2
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Re: AGM to Balqon LifePO4 battery upgrade

All of this is MY opinion.

Why do you want to mix battery types? If it's because you don't trust LiPoFe then you shouldn't go down this path. Mixing batteries on the same charging system is not a good idea. I ripped out 6 8Ds and replaced with a 1000 aHr Balqon bank. In the real world, I have about three times the useable power that I had with the Lifelines.

The two biggest issues I see with mixing the batteries is that they do not require the same charging conditions, and they don't discharge in similar curves. It will hurt the efficiency of both battery types.

If you must mix, then I suggest you charge and use the banks independently. If you do that I predict in a month you will abandon the AGM bank.

Second, do you plan on using Balqons HVC and LVC to turn the charge on and off? I know they are selling them like that, but my opinion is that you should use that system as the insurance policy. I think it is good practice to setup your charging systems/algorithms to operate withing the HVC and LVC cutouts on the battery control system.

What charging systems or controls do you have in addition to the alternator?
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Old 28-02-2015, 08:27   #3
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Re: AGM to Balqon LifePO4 battery upgrade

I've got a Morningstar MPPT-60 connected to 800W of cheap solar panels, and a Pronautic 1230P

Settings for Morningstar
LiFeP04 custom charge settings for Morningstar MPPT-60

The Pronautic can be setup for LiPo as well.
http://promariner.com/wp-content/upl...L-VIEW-REV.pdf

My concern is if the BMS shuts off the battery cell for some reason, I don't want to destroy my alternator, or lose power to all the systems on the boat.

I figure I would tune everything for the LiPo cell and let the agm just hang out. I am concerned about any charging/discharging issues that might cause. I've got a battery isolator/combiner (need to dig it out) and a pathfinder, perhaps I can incorporate them somehow.
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Old 28-02-2015, 09:21   #4
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Re: AGM to Balqon LifePO4 battery upgrade

Quote:
Originally Posted by autumnbreeze27 View Post
I've got 2 Lifeline 8D Batteries (mfg 4/2008).

My plan is to remove one of the 8D batteries and replace it with the prefab 5 kWh solution from Balqon (400ah).
My 2, you could not pay me to buy product from Balqon at this point in time, and I did buy from them...

Quote:
Originally Posted by autumnbreeze27 View Post
I'll have the AGM battery still wired in, so if the lifepo4 batteries shutdown for whatever reason I don't fry my alternator or lose power to the DC side. Any issue with that setup?


I'm thinking on the battery switch
BANK 1 = LifePO4 (400ah)
Bank 2=AGM 8D (255ah)
Run it on BOTH all the time?
I am not trying to be snarky here I just have very little time to type right now. If it comes across that way please disregard any tone that may not be pleasant and I'll apologize ahead of time...

In one word...... NO!

If this is not BILLBOARD level obvious as to why this is a bad idea take a pause, read, read, read and it will finally be VERY obvious. If you are asking this question LFP is not ready for you at this point in time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by autumnbreeze27 View Post
I've got a Morningstar MPPT-60 connected to 800W of cheap solar panels, and a Pronautic 1230P

Settings for Morningstar
LiFeP04 custom charge settings for Morningstar MPPT-60
This will need to be a custom setting and in order to HVC a Morningstar they require both PV side and BATT side opened at the same time which means a relay that can handle both sides of the controller and opened together. Opening batt side only or PV side only can damage the Morningstar controller.

Quote:
Originally Posted by autumnbreeze27 View Post
The Pronautic can be setup for LiPo as well.
http://promariner.com/wp-content/upl...L-VIEW-REV.pdf
You will need to use the custom setting NOT the LFP setting on that charger. Still not an ideal LFP charger but better than many.

Quote:
Originally Posted by autumnbreeze27 View Post
My concern is if the BMS shuts off the battery cell for some reason, I don't want to destroy my alternator, or lose power to all the systems on the boat.
Then please, please, please design your system PROPERLY and these concerns will NOT be issues. Charge bus, loads bus and a well executed SAFE interruption of the alternator should be STANDARD PRACTICE for an LFP install... Cutting corners is not a smart way to deal with LFP.

Please treat this as a SYSTEM LEVEL INSTALL not a drop in replacement lead acid type battery.

Quote:
Originally Posted by autumnbreeze27 View Post
I figure I would tune everything for the LiPo cell and let the agm just hang out. I am concerned about any charging/discharging issues that might cause. I've got a battery isolator/combiner (need to dig it out) and a pathfinder, perhaps I can incorporate them somehow.
PLEASE take a pause and do more research before you step into LFP and create a smoldering hole where your wallet was....

I mean no disrespect but these are the kinds of situations & questions that will give all LFP a bad rap..
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Old 28-02-2015, 10:53   #5
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Re: AGM to Balqon LifePO4 battery upgrade

Please cite where you got the info about the morningstar controller requiring a simultaneous disconnect. I just glanced through the manual and I see no warning about that, and it will disconnect the array if there's a problem, so it is illogical that disconnecting the array will damage the unit, but I'm still interested in finding out details about this.

As to the negativity in your post, it doesn't really add much value without references. I understand Balqon's financials and I'm not looking for warranty repairs as I will be away cruising and will have to repair/replace it myself, but if there's something else as to the quality or longevity of their cells I'd be interested in hearing it. I plan on paying with a credit card and picking it up a week later in person.

I've been researching LifePO4 for some time, and saw this install that seemed to be successful
https://marazuladventures.files.word...batteries8.pdf

It wouldn't take much work to separate my loads from my charging sources. My alternator is a balmar with controller so I can reprogram that for LifePO4. The prefab unit from Balqon has BMS that will disconnect it if it gets high or low voltage. What's the disadvantage of leaving one of my 8D's in the mix? A light parasitic draw? The AGM won't ever charge to 100% and so it won't work as good? I don't care if it's not 100% charged as long as it's able to provide an emergency buffer if I need it. I guess I could hook up my pathfinder so if I start the engine it connects the 2 batteries to the alternator and disconnects them upon shutdown.

I'm willing to sacrifice some capacity to keep it simple and add redundancy.

Thanks for taking the time to respond to my thread, your insight is always welcome.
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Old 28-02-2015, 12:52   #6
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Re: AGM to Balqon LifePO4 battery upgrade

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maine Sail View Post
This will need to be a custom setting and in order to HVC a Morningstar they require both PV side and BATT side opened at the same time which means a relay that can handle both sides of the controller and opened together. Opening batt side only or PV side only can damage the Morningstar controller.
Please explain this further - particularly the damage that can be done by removing the PV input.

Unfortunately, I live in a part of the world where the PV input gets removed without a simultaneous BATT cutout once each day.

And I often cut the PV input when doing experiments or work on it - no problem so far.

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Old 28-02-2015, 14:09   #7
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Re: AGM to Balqon LifePO4 battery upgrade

I have no input on the PV side but I am running a setup with 700Ah Balqon cells as well as about 300 AH of LA batteries. I have not seen a problem with this setup except for battery voltage sensing for the alternator. In my case I have decided to do the sensing from the LA battery bank. The lithium bank charge/discharge is controlled by a BMS, I have an A/B/Both switch to connect the loads to the desired bank, Charging is done via a FET isolator so that both banks are isolated from each other for charging.
So far everything seems to work just fine with each bank drawing as much current as it wants. The alternator regulator has pretty much standard LA parameters set up.
With the charge path going from the alternator to the isolator and then the separate banks and only the lithium bank charge path being interrupted if the bank is full, the LA bank is never disconnected from the alternator charge path and will prevent any nasties to the alternator when the lithiums get disconnected.
I have no doubt that the intelligent charging algorithm on the regulator is affected by the lithiums that are charged in parallel but until I see evidence of serious issues I will carry on with this setup.
BTW, a recent trip had the lithiums charging at 120 amps and the lead acids charging at 30 amps during some motoring. Disconnecting the lithium charge path did not result in an appreciably different charge current.
To give a real fit to certain die-hards .... I use a standard LA charger to charge both battery banks while connected to shore power (obviously the lithium charge path is controlled to prevent over charging).
I do not believe that the lithium bank suffers at all under this setup but I am pretty sure the LA bank is not getting the best charging possible. I do not know if this affects the LA life to a significant degree. It makes no never mind to me if I toss the LA bank now (as in converting totally to lithium) or if I toss it later (as in if it wears prematurely).
YMMV
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Old 28-02-2015, 14:28   #8
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Re: AGM to Balqon LifePO4 battery upgrade

Shouldn't summarily cutting off the Li bank input at the bank be an emergency thing?

Wouldn't it be better to just shut down the charging sources as the voltage rises above a preset?

Seems like a lot of worry about an alternator blowing, when the alternator could just simply be turned off.

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Old 28-02-2015, 14:47   #9
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Re: AGM to Balqon LifePO4 battery upgrade

If you want redundancy (almost always a good thing) then put a 2nd alternator on your engine to charge the AGM. Use the AGM as the starting battery and emergency house battery. Never charge with them interconnected.

Even better, use the existing alternator for the AGM starting bank and buy a bigger 2nd alternator for the LifePO4 bank that isn't going to be fried by the draw.
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Old 28-02-2015, 15:10   #10
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Re: AGM to Balqon LifePO4 battery upgrade

Quote:
Originally Posted by colemj View Post
Please explain this further - particularly the damage that can be done by removing the PV input.
They reference disconnecting both sides of the controller in the manual but it was not clear enough.I reached out to their engineering department and they insisted they want to see a double pole relay or switch used if taking the controller off line. It needs to break both PV and BATT simultaneously. Genasun and some others only need to be broken on the BATT side and each controller manufacturer has slightly different requirements. Some allow BATT only, some PV only and Morningstar wants PV and BATT.. It is always best to contact the manufacturer of the controller to see how they want an emergency disconnect done. When I asked about possible damage I was told it can cause damage. I pushed back on this and they said that under the right circumstances it could cause damaging voltage transients.

Source:

"Hello RC,

Disconnects are required on both controller and battery sides.

Thank you

Gerald
Morningstar Technical Support"

I was not real happy with the limited info in the above answer so this is why I called and was put in touch with engineering.

Quote:
Originally Posted by autumnbreeze27 View Post
My alternator is a balmar with controller so I can reprogram that for LifePO4.
Then this is a simple breaking/opening of the red regulator 12V B+ wire which will de-power the regulator, in an HVC event. Does not get much more simple and it will not damage the alt in any way at all.

Using the red B+ regulator power wire for a Balmar is the proper method for disabling alt output if using a Balmar reg. (source: I am a Balmar dealer and this comes directly from the guys at Balmar, Dale, Eldon etc., as well as the engineer who designed these regs.)
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Old 28-02-2015, 17:08   #11
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Re: AGM to Balqon LifePO4 battery upgrade

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maine Sail View Post
They reference disconnecting both sides of the controller in the manual but it was not clear enough.I reached out to their engineering department and they insisted they want to see a double pole relay or switch used if taking the controller off line. It needs to break both PV and BATT simultaneously. Genasun and some others only need to be broken on the BATT side and each controller manufacturer has slightly different requirements. Some allow BATT only, some PV only and Morningstar wants PV and BATT.. It is always best to contact the manufacturer of the controller to see how they want an emergency disconnect done. When I asked about possible damage I was told it can cause damage. I pushed back on this and they said that under the right circumstances it could cause damaging voltage transients.

Source:

[I][B]"Hello RC,

Disconnects are required on both controller and battery sides.

Thank you

Gerald
Morningstar Technical Support"
OK, I'm basically calling CYA on this. I am not at all convinced on any level that to take this controller offline requires a simultaneous disconnect of the PV and BATT sides. Just wiring it this way would be a PITA, if practically possible at all.

I refuse to believe that disconnecting the PV side will do any damage at all, since the entirety of their products have this happen to them every single day around 8pm or so. I'm calling complete BS on this.

I may be able to understand that suddenly disconnecting the BATT side while the PV side was active may cause problems, but would have certainly hoped that their engineering department could solve this easily.

If this is true for Morningstar, then I can no longer in good conscious recommend these controllers anymore. Bad engineering if they can't handle this.

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Old 28-02-2015, 18:32   #12
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Re: AGM to Balqon LifePO4 battery upgrade

Breeze-
There's a right way and often a couple of good enough kludges for a short term. But. Lithium and AGM require totally different charging schemes. AGM wants, or will be happy with, conventional 3-stage and others. Lithium outright will be damaged by conventional charging profiles, it wants constant (and different) voltage followed by tapering amperage and then NO FLOAT CHARGE at all.
And there's an awful lot of evidence that it doesn't want to be charged to 100% either, especially if stored but even in daily use, there are probably major gains if it is not cycled up to 100%. So...charging both types from one source is asking for a lot of manual supervision at best.


If the BMS cut off the batteries completely for an undervolt condition, presumably the alternator was already fried. If the BMS cuts off for overvoltage...well again, that would mean you didn't have proper alternator regulation, or you'd just had a catastrophic battery failure. Making an alternator failure after a BMS shutdown an unlikely event.
But since the unlikely does happen, you could more reliably and inexpensively add a couple of relays to the BMS (if it doesn't have them) that open up and cut the alternator field wire when it cuts the battery off. This results in the alternator no being excited, not producing any power, and not burning itself out. A pretty good automatic safety cut-off, which you could manually engage if you needed "full power" say to battle a headwind off a lee shore for a short while.


A pretty good alternative to a kludge job.


There have been enough comments about bone-headed folks at Balqon, shipping delays of months, warranties that grossly violate US federal warranty laws, products shipped that appear old (very old) or used (and again, by law, demo stock is used stock not new)...


Their target market is heavy land transporation at a commercial seaport, not boats. The stock value of their corporate owners has tanked in the last couple of years. Read up on the company, the business, and the erratic results folks have had with them and ask yourself, do you really want to roll those dice?
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Old 02-03-2015, 07:58   #13
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Re: AGM to Balqon LifePO4 battery upgrade

I contacted Morningstar about Mainesail's dual pole shutoff requirement, and this is the response I got:

You do not need a two-pole breaker with the TS-MPPT-60. In fact, two single breakers is a better idea.

It is recommended that you turn the battery power on first and the solar input on second. If it is necessary to shut the system down, it is recommended that you disconnect the solar input first and the battery power second. It is not a requirement to connect and disconnect in this order, but it will provide the most stable transition from Off to On and On to Off.

The TS-MPPT requires battery power in order to operate. The logic circuits are powered from the battery voltage. You can disconnect the solar array and leave the battery connected. But, If you disconnect the battery and leave the solar connected, you will not damage anything, but the controller will not operate properly, if at all (until the battery is reconnected). And voltage readings and LED indications may by inaccurate or misleading.
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Old 02-03-2015, 08:09   #14
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Re: AGM to Balqon LifePO4 battery upgrade

Quote:
Originally Posted by autumnbreeze27 View Post
I contacted Morningstar about Mainesail's dual pole shutoff requirement, and this is the response I got:

You do not need a two-pole breaker with the TS-MPPT-60. In fact, two single breakers is a better idea.

It is recommended that you turn the battery power on first and the solar input on second. If it is necessary to shut the system down, it is recommended that you disconnect the solar input first and the battery power second. It is not a requirement to connect and disconnect in this order, but it will provide the most stable transition from Off to On and On to Off.

The TS-MPPT requires battery power in order to operate. The logic circuits are powered from the battery voltage. You can disconnect the solar array and leave the battery connected. But, If you disconnect the battery and leave the solar connected, you will not damage anything, but the controller will not operate properly, if at all (until the battery is reconnected). And voltage readings and LED indications may by inaccurate or misleading.
This is good to know! One has to wonder why they give different advice depending upon who you talk to....??? I was very clear that this was for an HVC disconnect in an LFP installation where the panels may be at full output when HVC occurred..

Their manual says:

TS-MPPT Manual Page 27
"A disconnect is required for the battery and solar circuits to provide a means for removing power from the TriStar MPPT. Double pole switches or breakers are convenient for disconnecting both solar and battery conductors simultaneously."


This line in the manual is what caused me to reach out to them because, as can be seen, it is not very clear. I then got the one liner email response, again very, very unclear. This caused me to call MS engineering where I was told it needed to be a simultaneous disconnect to prevent voltage transients...

Would be nice if they had some consistency in their answers......????

I guess this still leaves us with the question of which side do we break for HVC??? I use a Genasun so I break BATT side, but it would be nice to get some consistency from Morningstar...
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Old 02-03-2015, 08:28   #15
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Re: AGM to Balqon LifePO4 battery upgrade

Quote:
Originally Posted by autumnbreeze27 View Post
It is recommended that you turn the battery power on first and the solar input on second. If it is necessary to shut the system down, it is recommended that you disconnect the solar input first and the battery power second.
That is how I have always done it on ours.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maine Sail View Post
I guess this still leaves us with the question of which side do we break for HVC??? I use a Genasun so I break BATT side, but it would be nice to get some consistency from Morningstar...
I would break the PV side because depowering the MS controller causes it to reset some stuff that you may not want reset. Besides, the PV side gets disconnected as a normal part of everyday operation anyhow.

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