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Old 13-09-2017, 19:07   #1
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DIY Lithium Guide

Folks,

I have read through all the very long threads on this site regarding lithium banks and have also read everything of Mainesails articles about lithium but what I am finding is that much of that information is 3 or 4 years old now.

Is there a recent step-by-step guide, or even a very good general guide, to replacing an existing lead acid battery bank with a DIY lithium battery bank? I understand the basics about what is needed but most of the sites I have seen are short on details.

At first I was thinking I would use a SmartBattery system but now I believe a bank of CALB with a programmable BMS is the better way to go.

If you guys could list any additional websites or threads that you consider especially useful and informative that would be welcome.

- z
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Old 13-09-2017, 19:27   #2
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Re: DIY Lithium Guide

Needs a Wiki somewhere, going through collecting collating, branching for disagreements and drift, correcting older with newer, flagging statements from the most credible sources, etc.

Setting aside the fact that the most credible sources aren't pro-DIY, many make a living selling very expensive systems with proprietary BMS included.

I figure 2-3 part-time man months.

Let's at least link to the major threads and info sources here make it the spider's hub for a future collation project.

I have a lead on a public-accessible Wiki available, but doubt the owner would want to manage lots of editors.

Maybe do drafts and discussions here, and only post to the wiki those texts with a (near) consensus?
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Old 13-09-2017, 20:18   #3
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Re: DIY Lithium Guide

This page, part of a series, I felt was informative: https://www.entropypool.de/2015/05/1...system-design/.

I agree that a Wiki would be a much easier tool to distill all of the different sources into a hopefully cohesive summary.
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Old 14-09-2017, 14:21   #4
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Re: DIY Lithium Guide

I've been looking at all MaineSail & other articles about converting over to lithium too, really would like to do it. But the obstacle I come up against is an honest, reliable vendor in the US of Winston, CALB, etc. lithium cells in the 200-400-700Ah range. There's a good one in Europe I like named GWL Power, but none over here in the US that I've found. Almost bought some from Balqon, just barely dodged that bullet.

Any recommendations on *reliable* US vendors for larger Ah LiFePO4 cells?
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Old 14-09-2017, 18:22   #5
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Re: DIY Lithium Guide

Quote:
Originally Posted by tek-noid View Post
This page, part of a series, I felt was informative: https://www.entropypool.de/2015/05/1...system-design/.

I agree that a Wiki would be a much easier tool to distill all of the different sources into a hopefully cohesive summary.


That's a great reference!!! Thanks!
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Old 14-09-2017, 18:23   #6
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Re: DIY Lithium Guide

Quote:
Originally Posted by Caribdis View Post
I've been looking at all MaineSail & other articles about converting over to lithium too, really would like to do it. But the obstacle I come up against is an honest, reliable vendor in the US of Winston, CALB, etc. lithium cells in the 200-400-700Ah range. There's a good one in Europe I like named GWL Power, but none over here in the US that I've found. Almost bought some from Balqon, just barely dodged that bullet.

Any recommendations on *reliable* US vendors for larger Ah LiFePO4 cells?


Me as well. It turns out that GWL is a master distributor of Winston cells that also covers the usa. I'm betting we can contact them to get a distributor here in the usa.
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Old 14-09-2017, 20:02   #7
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Re: DIY Lithium Guide

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Originally Posted by Caribdis View Post
Any recommendations on *reliable* US vendors for larger Ah LiFePO4 cells?
Canadian. Looks to have 300AH anyway

http://www.canev.com/batteries.php

Special orders take a long time
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Old 14-09-2017, 21:27   #8
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Re: DIY Lithium Guide

I did contact GWL a while ago and told them my situation. The only thing they offered was to ship the cells to me from Europe for some $1,000.00. I was tempted, but started thinking about warranty problems and the large distances involved, gave it up. AFAIK, they don't have a US distributor and don't have any plans to start one. Seems like a good business opportunity for some entity to start here. But then there's the Balqon example, so hard to tell if it would be profitable....

Quote:
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Me as well. It turns out that GWL is a master distributor of Winston cells that also covers the usa. I'm betting we can contact them to get a distributor here in the usa.
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Old 14-09-2017, 21:30   #9
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Re: DIY Lithium Guide

Wish there wasn't the border issues to deal with....
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Canadian. Looks to have 300AH anyway
Canadian Electric Vehicles Ltd. - Batteries
Special orders take a long time
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Old 14-09-2017, 22:02   #10
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Re: DIY Lithium Guide

Found this http://www.starlightsolar.com/starli...lar/index.html via http://www.waponi-woo.com/?p=313

No experience with them though.
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Old 14-09-2017, 22:37   #11
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Post Re: DIY Lithium Guide

Quote:
Originally Posted by tek-noid View Post
This page, part of a series, I felt was informative: https://www.entropypool.de/2015/05/1...system-design/.

I agree that a Wiki would be a much easier tool to distill all of the different sources into a hopefully cohesive summary.
Well described writeup on his system and rational. How much did that installation cost?
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Old 15-09-2017, 00:01   #12
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Re: DIY Lithium Guide

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Originally Posted by Paul L View Post
Well described writeup on his system and rational. How much did that installation cost?


Thanks for the praise! We just finished our one year cruise on Entropy and we are very happy with the system. No problems at all, it simply worked.

Regarding cost: Very, very hard to say: where does the system "end"?
The 16 Winston cells were 2600 EUR incl VAT in mid 2015. BMS roughly 150 EUR, cables, contactors and installation material about 500.
Metal caging about 150, acrylic glass cover 100. And so on. It's the little stuff that adds up quickly.
Victron inverter/charger and monitoring, Balmar alternator and regulator, solar panels included I'd say the complete electric installation on our boat was about 13000 EUR in total.
And a lot of own work, of course.
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Old 15-09-2017, 01:11   #13
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Re: DIY Lithium Guide

LiTrade in Germany have the a full range of Winston Cells and AFAIK ship internationally.

Another source is Factor in Europe.

For a good BMS you can also have a look at the slovenian company called
R.E.C

It's not rocket science btw, so just balance the cells first (connect all cells in parallel - usually they are shipped pre-charged and balanced, but just in case) after a day connect the cells with the connector bridges (take care on anti-corrosion measures when it comes to different metals connected to each other) and connect the balancer wires to the cells, program the balancer if needed to your preferences for LVP / OVP, connect the bi-stable relais to the output lines of the balancer - if needed use a driver circuit to increase the switching current for larger solenoids - eventually add disconnect-signalling to large inverters or charging sources like solar controllers etc. if you do not want to brute-force disconnect them on OVP / UVP. Thats it. You can add displays or software for monitoring the charge state of the battery and the voltages of the cells too.

All other installation is the same like Lead Acid set-ups: Battery monitor, battery switches, fuses, thick wires etc. Nothing special at all. For charging: use a WET or GEL program if you do not have a Lithium option on your chargers and remove the temperature sensor - if it exists, so the charging curve remains the same in all temperature conditions. If you have a programmable charger, stop charging when 13.4V reached. You don't need absorption, reconditioning and float phases, especially reconditioning should be turned off - otherwise the OVP signal will fire up.
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Old 15-09-2017, 02:57   #14
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Re: DIY Lithium Guide

Quote:
Originally Posted by CatNewBee View Post
LiTrade in Germany have the a full range of Winston Cells and AFAIK ship internationally.

Another source is Factor in Europe.

For a good BMS you can also have a look at the slovenian company called
R.E.C

It's not rocket science btw, so just balance the cells first (connect all cells in parallel - usually they are shipped pre-charged and balanced, but just in case) after a day connect the cells with the connector bridges (take care on anti-corrosion measures when it comes to different metals connected to each other) and connect the balancer wires to the cells, program the balancer if needed to your preferences for LVP / OVP, connect the bi-stable relais to the output lines of the balancer - if needed use a driver circuit to increase the switching current for larger solenoids - eventually add disconnect-signalling to large inverters or charging sources like solar controllers etc. if you do not want to brute-force disconnect them on OVP / UVP. Thats it. You can add displays or software for monitoring the charge state of the battery and the voltages of the cells too.

All other installation is the same like Lead Acid set-ups: Battery monitor, battery switches, fuses, thick wires etc. Nothing special at all. For charging: use a WET or GEL program if you do not have a Lithium option on your chargers and remove the temperature sensor - if it exists, so the charging curve remains the same in all temperature conditions. If you have a programmable charger, stop charging when 13.4V reached. You don't need absorption, reconditioning and float phases, especially reconditioning should be turned off - otherwise the OVP signal will fire up.
you make it sound really easy. Do you think risk of fire is acceptable these days for boats, knowing that fire on boat will be catastrophic ?
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Old 15-09-2017, 05:37   #15
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Re: DIY Lithium Guide

You are confusing LFP with other "lithium ion" chemistries.

IMO LFP no riskier than lead.

But "properly installed" will likely mean proprietary BMS system wrt insurance.

AFAIK Canada doesn't create an issue.
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