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Old 30-08-2016, 12:23   #31
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Re: How awesome can a 750Ah Lithium + 1-2kW solar boat be?

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Originally Posted by exitstrategy View Post
The real stinker is the battery charger is not the 40A I thought, but a CRISTEC CPS3 12V-25 Amp charger. <<< This is the weakest link in the system for sure?
Hi,
I'm very interested in the possibility of Lithium in out future but for different reasons than you mention.

Our setup - we have a 57' sailboat which was neglected when we bought her so I could start again with batteries etc. After a lot of thought I decided to fit AGM's, the main reason being to be able to take rapid charge and give out a large % of amps v's capacity, but also to get away from filling wet cells and gassing. I would suggest you buy and read Nigel Calders book - it will give you all the info and background you need IMHO. We have 6x160ah AGM's but we are 24V so that gives us 480ah/24v and I'm pretty firm on not using more than 40% of capacity. The Important thing it that we can count amps in/out and also voltage. I also fitted a device that allows me to monitor each charging source individually in addition to power in/out. You can see our power usage at HERE - It's the victron portal system. We are out of the water at the moment due to a 'rock incident' but if you set the dates back to June-July this years we were living aboard and remote from any shore assistance. Anyhow, we initially installed a decent charger which can provide up to 120ah at 24v (Victron Multi) - and when the batteries are <90% they will take about 60-70ah, towards 80% they are taking close to 100ah/24v. Therefore I was very happy with the AGM ability to take charge. The Victron Multi is also a combined Inverter. It's got a huge 5000W capacity but I limit the draw on our batteries to about 100ah/24 which allows us to run a kettle for example. It's also really useful for the washing machine, which we start off with the genset running then once the water is heated we can turn off the genset and leave it running on the inverter. There are the equiv of 100mm2 cable running between batteries and charger/inverter.

the above was fine but our first month out cruising independent of marinas etc (NW Scotland) we found, like you, that we were running the genset for about 3hrs per day. We draw an average of 10ah/24V so roughly double what you do! Do don't care about using power... 3 fridges/freezers are the main draw, but inverter use, nav gear, computers, TV, microwave etc. all take their share. Therefore that winter I upgraded the supply side. We now have 900w/24v solar panels (3x300) through a single MPPT controller (all Victron), and a Mastervolt 150ah/24V alternator with associated controller. If you look at the stats I've shared about for this summer we were never really short on power. The solar more than kept up. We also have a wind gen. We choose the D400 which is useless for us in less that about 20kts of wind, therefore it's usually useless but the idea was to power the nav gear/pilot during horrible weather when the solar won't keep up. That thought process worked out this year when the D400 was usually useless except when we had to go to wind in a storm. Nothing from solar and 10ah/24 from the D400.

My thought is that your AGM's have been abused by your charter guests. They do need looking after IMHO, and charging properly. I think out Mastervolt AGM's want a full charge every few weeks for example. I also think our bank is a bit small to draw out 100ah even though it should be OK. I see the same sort of voltage drops as you but nowhere near as bad.

So, we're fairly happy with that we've got. However, my thought on the benefit of Lithium is that I can pull a lot more power from any capacity available. Therefore, could we run our aircon from batteries, or the kettle all the time etc.?

My questions around them are how much charge can they take and give, and does it relate to the overall capacity of the bank. Does it need to be a 'marine' system or not?

lots of ramblings above but hopefully some food for thought. Buy the Calder book if you don't own it (or get it on Kindle on your IPAD/Tablet)

cheers, Malc
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Old 30-08-2016, 13:14   #32
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Re: How awesome can a 750Ah Lithium + 1-2kW solar boat be?

Not sure if you have read this but it answers all of your questions and then some . I have had a LiFePO4 bank on my boat for two years . These batteries are amazing , will never have lead on board again.

http://www.pbase.com/mainecruising/lifepo4_on_boats

Regards
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Old 30-08-2016, 13:19   #33
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Re: How awesome can a 750Ah Lithium + 1-2kW solar boat be?

I share the doubt of the many who don't like the charger+inverter combo.

You just get simpler installation but no redundancy, same cost or more (victron and mastervolt are expensive}, and some additional chance of malfunctioning.

Nothing prevents me from charging and using the inverter at the same time. Why having two in one?

Industry is made up of assholes who don't give us any scale economy on chargers. In Europe we pay 10eur per each and every nominal A at 12V, in a 15A to 120A range {ridicule!). I refuse to be abused by them twice...

PS lithium is like speaking of spectra halyards to revamp a ripped sail... Purposeless.

Your system has a given useful Ah capacity, in % of nominal. Lithium takes a higher charge rate, but it must be critically controlled, and there is no real ”marine” version yet, just labels for sailors
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Old 30-08-2016, 13:29   #34
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Re: How awesome can a 750Ah Lithium + 1-2kW solar boat be?

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Originally Posted by typhoon View Post
Not sure if you have read this but it answers all of your questions and then some . I have had a LiFePO4 bank on my boat for two years . These batteries are amazing , will never have lead on board again.

LiFePO4 Batteries - Thoughts & Musings Photo Gallery by Compass Marine How To at pbase.com

Regards
Maine's system is an elaborate artifact made in a Lab by a wizard who possibly sleeps aside it.

We have interest in knowing more about your drop-in system, charging requirements, and installation (bilge?), and brand...

Thanks
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Old 30-08-2016, 13:42   #35
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Re: How awesome can a 750Ah Lithium + 1-2kW solar boat be?

With load on the bank you wont see a fully charged voltage say 12.6. Batteries need to rest to make voltage as an indication of charge useful.

You need to be measuring consumption and charge to understand your actual usage.

You seem to be running that genny a long time each day.

Sizing your panels and alternators to the bank is important.

Before you ditch your 1 year old agm system it might be useful to understand how to optimize what you have.

Our 675 Ahr Trojans are 9 years old now. With 280W of solar we can just about recharge our daily consumption. We only run the genny when we need hot water. Next year well add enough solar to further reduce the need to run the generator.

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Old 30-08-2016, 13:45   #36
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Re: How awesome can a 750Ah Lithium + 1-2kW solar boat be?

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Originally Posted by TheThunderbird View Post
You just get simpler installation but no redundancy, same cost or more (victron and mastervolt are expensive}, and some additional chance of malfunctioning.
So, in my case it's a more complicated install not simpler. Couple of points for you to consider, but each to their own.
- My Multi is wired as designed. Therefore there is a 240V input from Shore (32a) and an input from Genset (50a). There are two outs, one low power (Dist board), and one high power (AirCon 5 units plus pump).
- The Multi senses an input voltage and therefore automatically charges whenever either input is live. Also, if on shore power and I start the genset then it will auto switch to the genset (e.g. 16a shore power and I want to run couple of aircon units)
- The Multi can also 'top up' shore power. Useful when I plug in to 16ah and want to put the kettle on whist running a fan heater or aircon unit. The Inverter adds to the available 240v, so I sacrifice up to 100ah for a few minutes and then when there is available 240v it will charge the batteries.
- I can switch the inverter and charger independently, and manage all the parameters from the boat PC.
- Finally, the Multi talks to my Victron BM, and CCG so I can easily monitor what it's up to.
- IN terms of price and redundancy. I had one of these units on my previous boat. It was probably ten years or so old when we sold the boat and it's still going strong. They are VERY heavily built, huge capacitors, the relays are all 100a etc. - in short they are very well built. Cost is personal to everyone but for me they are worth the cost for the thought put into building them, and the quality of product. Same goes for all the Victron products that I have. If I have a quality product I don't need redundancy do I.
- My redundancy comes from multiple sources. Our mains charger is now not our only charge source. We have 900W/24V of solar, a WindGen, and a 150ah alternator - again all of which were the best quality that I could source. Therefore, any one of these sources could keep us going for a few months if we couldn't source a replacement locally.
- The above was designed for independent cruising in remote locations and therefore may well be over kill for most.

regards, Malc
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Old 30-08-2016, 14:35   #37
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Re: How awesome can a 750Ah Lithium + 1-2kW solar boat be?

I get near 4 days to 50% with zero solar or genset from 8 x 220ah 12v (880ah @ 24v).
This runs all lights (240volt in engine room, 12v LED elsewhere) pumps toilets radios and 40 inch tv plus a household 240v 2 door 500litre fridge freezer with icemaker and a smaller 240v bar fridge on a twin decked 60 footer.

I have just added 9 x 250watts to the roof. It'll be good to see what that does.
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Old 30-08-2016, 15:07   #38
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Re: How awesome can a 750Ah Lithium + 1-2kW solar boat be?

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheThunderbird View Post
Maine's system is an elaborate artifact made in a Lab by a wizard who possibly sleeps aside it.

We have interest in knowing more about your drop-in system, charging requirements, and installation (bilge?), and brand...

Thanks
Drop in systems are crazy money . Im not sure if they are any good , not enough data on that out there as yet.

I heard they are in the order of 13,000$ for a 600 ah bank I built mine for under 5000$ and that includes a massive alternator to charge them and the BMS.

Its really not all that complicated , HVAC is is a tough learn

You can see my install on my you tube channel linked at the bottom .
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Old 12-09-2016, 00:43   #39
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Re: How awesome can a 750Ah Lithium + 1-2kW solar boat be?

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Originally Posted by exitstrategy View Post
Thank you all very much for the continued comments and questions and links.

A little more context:
We bought the boat new 4 years ago in France, cruised for 3 months, then placed her in charter in the BVIs. We did sail one month a year over the last four years, but starting 2 months ago, we are now full-time cruisers. So, I am behind on knowing my boat and now coming up to speed. I apologize for my poor understanding making the thread more difficult than it should.

We have a FlexMax 60 MPPT configured for 24vdc input.

The real stinker is the battery charger is not the 40A I thought, but a CRISTEC CPS3 12V-25 Amp charger. <<< This is the weakest link in the system for sure?

We only run the icemaker, water maker and washing machine off of AC when the genset is running with virtually zero use of inverters. Although I would like to use inverters for laptops at will.

The fridges are the factory fridges that come from Lagoon that side open and lose all of their cool air whenever someone opens the fridge (too often) and of course build a ridiculous amount of frost from the humid tropical air. I would love to add insulation around them, but as they are factory fit to the cabinetry this would be so much work, I think I would rather rip them and the cabinetry out and replace them with a top loading fridge, and a separate top loading freezer.

Yesterday at peak sun, the mains reached 13.1, and this morning to my happy surprise we made it to the morning with still 12.4 and now climbing again with solar. (Last afternoon/evening we were all off the boat on a beach BBQ, so I am thinking w/o people opening the fridges we saved some power?)

1) The first order of business should to to replace the 25A battery charger with a 200A charger? (Looking at Mastervolt and Xantrex and Cristec online all I see are chargers <= 100Ah, anyone have a suggestion?

2) Next an arch to extend the rear of the boat above the davits to hold 6 more 250W panels?

3) Finally install the Lithium? 600-900 Ah?

Cheers,
-Erik
Hi Erik, another Erik here...
I add some comments after having read this thread, although some people already pointed out the flaws in your system. If money is no object you can throw endless amounts of cash into your boat and still have issues. Like most of us I'm with a limited Budget and this is how I would prioritise improvements:

Yes, throw away your alternator and battery charger. At 40 and 25? Amps they are useless to provide charging for the needs of a family of 5 living aboard. (they might work if the boat was empty and nothing el running in a marina and charging for few days, but I understood this is not the case)

Solar: Your Outback mppt is one of the best there is. Adding new panels is not as expensive as in the past, but quali Controllers like the Outback is not small money. You didn't mention where your 500w Kyoceras are located, but I recall you said you only get about 25 amps peak charge out of them? Or you didn't say? Somebody else did? If they are as old as your boat (4years) they should be still working nearly as well as new. If they are not shaded, If the cables are not too thin, if the connections are good, you should see at least 30'amps peak charge imho. I suggest you examine how much charge you are getting and if a lot less than 30 amp peak on a clear day then find out why, I reckon on a clear day you should see around 200 amp hours go to your bats from your solar. Yes it varies, but I have a suspicion you have something wrong with your solar installation.

I would definitely add an arch to your cats transom, to save money, I would buy another Outback 60 (500usd?) for a split system of two halves, 700w each, 1400w total. Your outback 60 should be able to handle 700 w, but double check. That should give you about 80+ amps of peak charge on a clear day. And no shading issues. Just don't add a wind genny or antennas next to the panels, you would ruin the set up. Can you please post photos of your current panel setup? As I mentioned I have a creeping feeling something is wrong currently.

About your fridges, are they 12 or 240v? Are they running from an inverter? If yes, depending on the inverter you would still see a draw even if the fridge compressor is not running as the ineverter will have a standby draw, how much depends on the quality of the inverter.

If the fridge is running 24/7 like you say, do you mean the compressor is running 24/7 or they are just plugged in 24/7? Big difference.. If the compressors are running 24/7 that means something wrong again.. Compressor should cycle on and off, how often depends on your thermostat setting. Ideally less then 50% running each hour. Do your kids have a habit of opening the door and standing there for minutes ? Can not... Also, you should defrost the fridge in tropics every 2 weeks. If you can't see the evaporator plate ( fridge is of design where the evaporator coil is hidden from view) it may be totally immersed and covered in ice. That would make your fridge run constantly with still warm temps.. From what I read fridges are your biggest amp hogs, make sure the condenser coils are clean and evaporators defrosted. If you want to reach equilibrium you must reduce consumption and or increase charging. But I do know your fridges are not efficient. You are not very detailed about them. I reckon about 100 amps each per 24 hours, even I'd they are working as intended.

I don't go to your water maker ice maker and heating washing machine as you run from genny.

You need to read the forum more. There are excellent, EXCELLENT, threads about all the challenges you have, all of them can not be fully covered on a single thread. Unfortunately the CF search tool sometimes misbehaves, and I suggest you just go to Google and first type in " Cruisersforum " and then the keywords you want to search for. I have found this the most convenient way to search. Spend few hours searching each topic and you WILL come out much more knowledgeable.

Last thing, your main thing.. Hehe, the Lithium batteries.. While I can see benefits of more usable capacity and faster charging and lower weight, I just can not fathom the cost of 10'000 USD. Ridiculous imho.

8 pieces of Trojan T105 for a 900 ah 12v bank about 1'000 USD.. And with proper care people get 6 to 8 years out of them.

Cheers,
Erik
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Old 12-09-2016, 05:03   #40
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Re: How awesome can a 750Ah Lithium + 1-2kW solar boat be?

A charged 1000 Amp/hr bank would not behave like this. It is quite likely those Lifelines are ruined from not being charged to 100% frequently. A year is a common life for improperly charged AGM's. You'll find on the Lifeline web site a procedure similiar to equalization that might recover some capacity but they may be too far gone.

There a lot of information on the web about how to test the available amp/hrs in a bank. Also how to avoid this known problem with AGM's.

An advantage of lithium batteries is they aren't damaged by partial charging. They rather like it. But large lithium banks on boats is still a cutting edge technology for the "enthusiast" -- maybe best for someone who enjoys reading 300 pages of a thread on the topic

I think you have the following options:

1. Buy new AGM's and a 100 amp charger and plug into a dock at least one night a week -- you might get by with an additional 500 watts of solar instead of the dock.

2. Buy 1000 amps of good flooded batteries (Trojan 105s) and a 100 amp charger

3. Have a well thought out lithium system (not just batteries) installed on your boat by one of the handful of people with real experience doing this.

4. Install 800 amp/hrs of the new Firefly batteries that are an interesting middle ground between lithium and AGM. They can be safely discharged more than 50% and aren't hurt by partial charge. Also a 100 amp charger. This is what I would do.
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Old 13-09-2016, 09:25   #41
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Re: How awesome can a 750Ah Lithium + 1-2kW solar boat be?

Thank you guys,

I truly do respect and understand the amount of posts that are here on CF. I have run many forums over the course of my career and I too get impatient with people not willing to do searches. I have been reading a ton, and will be reading a ton. But what I was looking for the most is strong opinions that are specific to my setup - which I am getting!

A few follow-up items as I have learned more about my boat both from the comments and questions from these posts, and reviewing the systems with the experienced cruisers here in Bequia.

I have actually 3 battery chargers - not 1:
25A - from the 5kW Onan Generator (discussed earlier)
40A - connected to the 110v Shore Power
60A - connected to the 220v Shore Power

The fridges are Vitrifrigo C130L that have a nominal rating of 53W. I do not believe that they are running all day, but they are connected to 12 DC all day, and we have 5 people who are opening the fridges probably 30x a day. They are side opening and spilling all of their cool air too often.

I have ordered a Xantrex 815-3012 150A battery charger with 3kW inverter. The plan would be to replace the 25A one on the generator and leave the two shore power battery charges alone.

With this Battery charger in there, I should be able to understand how much damage the AGMs have accumulated and then go into the threads on remediation steps.

(Charging at a dock is not a solution for us, as we are now full-time cruising.)

I will then add a good sized arch in either Grenada or Martinique (stainless vendor suggestions welcome), where I will add ~1500W in addition to the 500W I have now for 2kW total. (And more controllers....)

At this point the boat should be good, except that we have two relatively crappy fridges. We would like to add a good sized deep freezer and maybe even two so we can go longer w/o provisioning.

Finally, if and when the AGMs are totally spent I will review Lithium.

Attached is the solar panels taken just minutes ago:

Many cheers and thankyou,
-Erik
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Old 13-09-2016, 09:54   #42
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Re: How awesome can a 750Ah Lithium + 1-2kW solar boat be?

Erik, does the Xantrex have the voltage sensing wire required from Lithium batteries?


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Old 13-09-2016, 10:18   #43
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Re: How awesome can a 750Ah Lithium + 1-2kW solar boat be?

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Erik, does the Xantrex have the voltage sensing wire required from Lithium batteries?


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Good question - I will follow-up...
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Old 13-09-2016, 11:21   #44
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Re: How awesome can a 750Ah Lithium + 1-2kW solar boat be?

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Originally Posted by exitstrategy View Post
Good question - I will follow-up...
Hi again Erik,

if you are at all seriously considering the Lithium batteries, you should read this urgently regarding your battery charger choice:

" Dedicated Voltage Sensing Rant:
Here we go again.. In a nut shell there are very, very few chargers or inverter chargers out there that offer dedicated voltage sensing. This is STOOPID! Sadly the charging portion of most inverter chargers is apparently after thought for most engineers who design them. The engineers who fail to provide dedicated voltage sense leads on battery chargers or inverter chargers have failed you as a customer who is actually looking for fast charging performance..
Who are these failures?
Mastervolt (no dedicated voltage sensing)
Magnum (no dedicated voltage sensing)
Xantrex (no dedicated voltage sensing)
Which manufacturers actually care about battery charging performance?
Victron (Victron I/C's have dedicated voltage sense terminals right on the main unit)
Outback (NOTE: Requires FLEXNET DC & MATE Remote Control)"

LiFePO4 Batteries - Thoughts & Musings Photo Gallery by Compass Marine How To at pbase.com

(about 1/3 down the page)

Mainesail is THE guru when it comes to boat electrics and electronics. And pretty many other boat stuff also

Here is his "Library":

Welcome To MarineHowTo.com Photo Gallery by Compass Marine How To at pbase.com

Cheers,

Erik
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Old 13-09-2016, 11:42   #45
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Re: How awesome can a 750Ah Lithium + 1-2kW solar boat be?

Damn, thank you Erik Finn.

Welp, I am stuck with the Xantrex for now as I already paid for it. Hopefully between the new charger and the 2kW of solar I can get more life out of these AGMs.

Will read those articles diligently. Thank you.
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