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Old 16-04-2016, 10:09   #5101
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Re: LiFePO4 Batteries: Discussion Thread for Those Using Them as House Banks

One of the things I have found out about first hand is the importance of a reliable supply channel for something as critical as the cells for a LiFePO4 system. That seems pretty important to this thread and the discussion of middlemen is a direct part of that. I am very frustrated by the whole mess. It is not encouraging to someone who has finally decided to go this DIY route on a early stage technology (early at least on the recreational boat market despite some early adopters who have been doing this for a while). One very important concern I have is having a source of replacement cells, or even more cells to add more capacity. Since it has been so hard to get the initial cells it really makes me worry about how smart it is to get in to this at the moment. I am envious for you all who have been able to easily source your cells.

Lev, thanks for keeping us posted on your progress.
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Old 16-04-2016, 10:37   #5102
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Re: LiFePO4 Batteries: Discussion Thread for Those Using Them as House Banks

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Originally Posted by exMaggieDrum View Post
One very important concern I have is having a source of replacement cells, or even more cells to add more capacity. Since it has been so hard to get the initial cells it really makes me worry about how smart it is to get in to this at the moment.
I'm going through this process now and FWIW my supplier has been very forthcoming about availability. Like many suppliers he primarily serves the EV market and, for that market, the most popular sizes are below 200AH cells. ON the CALB USA site most of the dealers they list do not offer anything larger than the 180AH cells. The total USA stock for the 400s is measured in tens; the USA stock for 180s is measured in thousands.

For my bank my original plan was to go with 400AH cells but I'm now leaning toward using smaller ones.
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Old 16-04-2016, 10:41   #5103
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Re: LiFePO4 Batteries: Discussion Thread for Those Using Them as House Banks

The most reputable and widely used prismatics I know of are:

CALB
Sinopoly
Winston (also sold as Voltronix)
GBS

There are thousands of hits on these brands and lots and lots of real world users.

Some of the other smaller prismatic players are no longer producing cells. A google search on Benergy yields almost all hits from "Benergy" themselves. I was unable to find anyone or any postings or real world use of Benergy cells even an image search turned up empty..

To me that would be a flag, to others perhaps not.

BTW I have been running some testing on my 2009 Thundersky cells and at 750+ cycles & 7 years they have really remained virtually unchanged in Ah capacity. In the next few weeks I plan to use an intervalometer to make a movie of a discharge test.
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Old 16-04-2016, 13:45   #5104
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Re: LiFePO4 Batteries: Discussion Thread for Those Using Them as House Banks

Hey Maine Sail.

Always look forward to your test updates . You are moving right along with 750 cycles at that rate you may actually get to see those batteries wear out before we all go into a home . With lead you wold be on a second set or third !! You have to love this technology . I am not counting cycles but hours of charging as it is pretty steady at 225 amps and I only have the one source . So with that I can see how many kW these batteries have given me . So far I am at 50 hours of charging into my bank at 225 amps so 11250 ah of use so far. Not sure how that would equate into a test , but it is interesting to note .

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Old 16-04-2016, 18:51   #5105
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Re: LiFePO4 Batteries: Discussion Thread for Those Using Them as House Banks

Quote:
Originally Posted by exMaggieDrum View Post
One of the things I have found out about first hand is the importance of a reliable supply channel for something as critical as the cells for a LiFePO4 system. That seems pretty important to this thread and the discussion of middlemen is a direct part of that. I am very frustrated by the whole mess. It is not encouraging to someone who has finally decided to go this DIY route on a early stage technology (early at least on the recreational boat market despite some early adopters who have been doing this for a while). One very important concern I have is having a source of replacement cells, or even more cells to add more capacity. Since it has been so hard to get the initial cells it really makes me worry about how smart it is to get in to this at the moment. I am envious for you all who have been able to easily source your cells.

Lev, thanks for keeping us posted on your progress.
i do not only agree with this, i am experiencing this frustration in every way you are describing! i myself am on the edge of going to the local golfcorse and asking where they are getting there 6v lead acid cart batteries.... this benergy is my last go at it.... lifepo4s are very hard to get your hands on where i am so far, unless i order from third party country, which still would not make it easy and would make them not even close to economical against lead acid, thus hitting the tipping point of forgetting about lifepo4 for now and taking another look at it 6 or 7 years from now. which is about how long super-super cheep and great mexican lead acid cart batteries have have taken me this time around...

but like i said i am giving it my last effort... thanks for that post... makes me see i am not alone on this one...
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Old 16-04-2016, 19:16   #5106
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Re: LiFePO4 Batteries: Discussion Thread for Those Using Them as House Banks

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maine Sail View Post
The most reputable and widely used prismatics I know of are:

CALB
Sinopoly
Winston (also sold as Voltronix)
GBS

There are thousands of hits on these brands and lots and lots of real world users.

Some of the other smaller prismatic players are no longer producing cells. A google search on Benergy yields almost all hits from "Benergy" themselves. I was unable to find anyone or any postings or real world use of Benergy cells even an image search turned up empty..

To me that would be a flag, to others perhaps not.

BTW I have been running some testing on my 2009 Thundersky cells and at 750+ cycles & 7 years they have really remained virtually unchanged in Ah capacity. In the next few weeks I plan to use an intervalometer to make a movie of a discharge test.
great information! very cool! and i see it as a big flag to. thus my entering this forum... i have contacted a few of the manufactures you have posted and a few others...and they will not ship any where remotely close to me. i would have to sail around 800nm in a direction i do not want to go, thus, and back to pick them up, then have to deal with tax and duty regulations... unless i sail to china and pick them up myself for the few hundred extra miles above the 800... and for my lazy self that is a bit much to pick up some batteries, sailing 1600-2000nm in waters i do not want to be sailing in, but i have considered it because i suffer from mental illness... but you have listed a manufacturer i have not contacted so maybe i will send them a quick email...

thanks
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Old 17-04-2016, 10:04   #5107
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Re: LiFePO4 Batteries: Discussion Thread for Those Using Them as House Banks

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maine Sail View Post
The most reputable and widely used prismatics I know of are:

CALB
Sinopoly
Winston (also sold as Voltronix)
GBS

There are thousands of hits on these brands and lots and lots of real world users.

Some of the other smaller prismatic players are no longer producing cells. A google search on Benergy yields almost all hits from "Benergy" themselves. I was unable to find anyone or any postings or real world use of Benergy cells even an image search turned up empty..

To me that would be a flag, to others perhaps not.

BTW I have been running some testing on my 2009 Thundersky cells and at 750+ cycles & 7 years they have really remained virtually unchanged in Ah capacity. In the next few weeks I plan to use an intervalometer to make a movie of a discharge test.
I've documented my search in several quotes in the last couple of weeks. But I'll just recap.

Thundersky - no longer made or available
Winston - no distributors in Canada (that I have found) and none in the US. Winston in China is responsive but will only sell and deliver at their factory dock. You are required to find a shipper and manage shipping and customs through the shipper. I won't do that.
Sinopoly - one distributor in Utah - but he can't get stock in and, for some reason, is concerned about getting future shipments from Sinopoly. He has orders on hold. Sinopoly in China is responsive and will ship direct if you want - I don't as I don't trust the shipping process for small orders and without regular knowledge of importing. A Canadian vendor just got a Sinopoly shipment in but is not sure when they will order any more. You have to order with them for what you need as they don't stock the cells. Pay up front, two month delivery.
CALB - have decided to not go with CALBs as I am concerned about their suitability for cruisers - noted in my posts (right or wrong). They are the only ones which are, allegedly, available from current inventory in the US (ironically).
GBS - some cruisers have them. I have read reviews noting the extremely poor construction and materials used on their terminals, but one cruiser who has them indicated he likes them and has had not problem with them. They require special open-ended battery cable connectors only available from GBS. I won't use them because of this.
Benergy - no track record that I can find (as you note). The company was very responsive to my initial inquiry but I am waiting on the followup. Unless I can get some credible reviews I will pass on them.
Other - The US Sinopoly distributor previously provided another brand of LFP cells but has had bad luck with them and will not longer recommend them (he says not to use them). At least one CF contributor has them and gives them a high recommendation but I won't touch something the vendor won't recommend.

I have asked about CALBs before and got no response on this thread - that was not a good sign in my view. I would reconsider if I could get more, i.e. any, favorable reports. They seem to be widely used for automotive EV and might be good for sailboats but I am risk adverse on this having seen reports of their design and construction is not suitable for my use (noted on this thread previously by another poster who seems to be knowledgeable on the subject).

So - Sinopoly would be my first choice. I will get them if they become available, but I may have to wait awhile. Winston would be great if I could get them in North America. No on GBS unless they change their proprietary terminal design. No on CALB unless I can get referrals and more information.

I am sold on the technology. I have a good design and have purchased all the supporting gear I need, especially that required to protect the cells from over or under voltages. My charging systems are robust and have suitable regulation. I only need the cells, but given all the noise about the various vendors, middlemen, and manufacturers I am going to wait for my first choice.

The LA market and technology provides a good contrast as it is a very robust, mature, market with well-known and tested technologies. There are reliable vendors and good supply chains. The best quality brands and types are well known (even if there are strong individual preferences for specific types and brands among users). You can make an informed choice and then readily get what you want. Specific brands/types may be harder to get in some remote locations but that is common to all kinds of specific and generic boat parts. The more cruisers who go the DIY LFP route (or even the complete battery systems sold by Victron, Mastervolt, and Ocean Planet) the more information there will be on brands and supply chains.

I know there are more users out there who have installed successful LFP systems who are either not on CF or just choose to not post about their experiences. The more posts we get on the good, the bad, and the ugly, the more informed we will all be. It is excellent that folks like Maine Sail, OceanSeaSpray, Seniormechanico, evm1024, Anjin, Ocean Planet, toddegger, Martin on Entropy, and many others are contributing to the discussion. I am envious of those who have got their cells and using their systems. I will be soon, just not as fast as I would like.
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Old 17-04-2016, 11:35   #5108
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Re: LiFePO4 Batteries: Discussion Thread for Those Using Them as House Banks

Hello, after a long evaluation i have ordered 107 pieces of CLAB 200SE Cells, new production line whit updated chemistry, they are not the same anymore as the old 200SE cells same tech as the CA180FI.

I ordered FOB Shenzhen and they will be shipped end of Mai 2016 to st. Marteen, i was also unsure about where and how to source the batt, so i asked a semi prof. from this forum for help.

In the end selected CLAB and whit all the x confirmations of the contact and the nice conversations whit them i was confident to transfer the money.

Yet to be received dow ;-)

cheers
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Old 17-04-2016, 13:57   #5109
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Re: LiFePO4 Batteries: Discussion Thread for Those Using Them as House Banks

Quote:
Originally Posted by exMaggieDrum View Post
I've documented my search in several quotes in the last couple of weeks. But I'll just recap.


Winston - no distributors in Canada (that I have found) and none in the US. Winston in China is responsive but will only sell and deliver at their factory dock. You are required to find a shipper and manage shipping and customs through the shipper. I won't do that.
As I have mentioned numerous times Winston cells are available as Voltronix in the US and Brennan is a great guy. He can probably help you with a Canada order. You might have a lead time but he handles all the importing and has a guy in the factory confirming quality.

Quote:
Originally Posted by exMaggieDrum View Post
CALB - have decided to not go with CALBs as I am concerned about their suitability for cruisers - noted in my posts (right or wrong). They are the only ones which are, allegedly, available from current inventory in the US (ironically).
I think this is an odd decision. The entire Genasun LiFePO4 product line was built using CALB SE cells, and other than Mastervolt, (which used Thundersky, at least in earlier packs) are the most prevalent LFP batteries for marine use out there. The Genasun packs go back to 2006 and I don't know of any that are not still going and they've never used anything but CALB.

The owner of Genasun claimed (third party rumor mill stuff I have not asked him directly) to move away from LFP batteries for marine use due to inconsistencies with the CA line regarding Coulombic efficiency.

No one else I have talked to using CALB CA cells has noted this but may not have the knats-hair testing ability Alex has. I have tested some CA's can can't note any issues that cause any balancing problems. Interestingly enough he is now doing a lot of large scale non-marine projects & still using CALB cells.

My hip-shoot guess is he grew tired of small margins, & large headaches from dealing with the marine market Q&A and support etc., and he had better things to do after buying Blue Sky. I suspect the reason he gave may not have been as accurate or literal as has been fed to the rumor mill.

Also keep in mind that the Chinese like to tell mistruths, and especially about their competitors. Numerous questions or statements have come up on this forum that when I asked directly, to the manufacturer, I had been able to confirm as false.
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Old 17-04-2016, 18:51   #5110
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Re: LiFePO4 Batteries: Discussion Thread for Those Using Them as House Banks

FWIW,
I'm still very happy with my 200ah 4 Cell 12 volt bank of "HiPower" brand on the boat, and equally happy with my home's 700 aH 24 volt bank of Winston's.
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Old 18-04-2016, 06:19   #5111
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Re: LiFePO4 Batteries: Discussion Thread for Those Using Them as House Banks

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Originally Posted by Maine Sail View Post
As I have mentioned numerous times Winston cells are available as Voltronix in the US and Brennan is a great guy. He can probably help you with a Canada order. You might have a lead time but he handles all the importing and has a guy in the factory confirming quality.



I think this is an odd decision. The entire Genasun LiFePO4 product line was built using CALB SE cells, and other than Mastervolt, (which used Thundersky, at least in earlier packs) are the most prevalent LFP batteries for marine use out there. The Genasun packs go back to 2006 and I don't know of any that are not still going and they've never used anything but CALB.

The owner of Genasun claimed (third party rumor mill stuff I have not asked him directly) to move away from LFP batteries for marine use due to inconsistencies with the CA line regarding Coulombic efficiency.

No one else I have talked to using CALB CA cells has noted this but may not have the knats-hair testing ability Alex has. I have tested some CA's can can't note any issues that cause any balancing problems. Interestingly enough he is now doing a lot of large scale non-marine projects & still using CALB cells.

My hip-shoot guess is he grew tired of small margins, & large headaches from dealing with the marine market Q&A and support etc., and he had better things to do after buying Blue Sky. I suspect the reason he gave may not have been as accurate or literal as has been fed to the rumor mill.

Also keep in mind that the Chinese like to tell mistruths, and especially about their competitors. Numerous questions or statements have come up on this forum that when I asked directly, to the manufacturer, I had been able to confirm as false.

mostly great information...

sorry but man, i must say something about this....

but to say ---the chinese like to tell mistruths--- yourself it seems living in a country where the political, legal, banking system / corporate systems are nearly totally based on deception, and that is just for starters... i am not pointing at you for this it is just the human condition... i think such comments could pretty easily be seen as hypocritical at best... and at worst i will not say... the human race for the most part bases many of its movements on deception... i really do not think i need to tell anyone that... but here i am doing just that from such a comment... i do not think we should be pointing fingers like that. it is like pointing your finger at your neighbors house cat and saying to him -your cat kills pretty birds- as you pet your cat, in your lap, and your little kitty is eyeballing a bird coming in for a landing... the statement is just silly... no silly is not the word, it is like watching a cartoon...

also keep in mind some of the manufacturers and distributers i am sure take a look at forums to see what is going on in them from time to time... and yes there are chinese sailors as well that may check out this forum, the forum does call its self international... that is not going to warm the harts of anyone from china, not that it is your job to warm the harts of anyone from china, but is it your job to hypocriticaly insult them?

you want to tell us you had bad experiences with the lifepo4 battery industry in china that is cool, give us some details so we can learn from your experience in a meaningful way... it sure seems like you have some valuable experience... and i am personally thankful you share it.... tell us what companies lied to you and how so? and if you can back it up even better... that is not a challenge it is a hopeful request.

one must take care dealing with any manufacture that is out of the country they are in for sure. and in there own country as well.... man i have even observed that most people need to take care of this with in there own home! mis-truth is a human condition, not a chinese condition....

this type of comment has come up a few times in this forum. i think this is why this time it hit me kinda hard... i just hope any chinese that reads such a comment simply laughs it off and takes no offense. laughs because they are dumbfounded by the fact that people can be so blind to the reality of there own back yard, let alone the world... which may be the most meaningful way to take such a comment. or at least the best i can hope for...
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Old 18-04-2016, 06:30   #5112
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Re: LiFePO4 Batteries: Discussion Thread for Those Using Them as House Banks

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but to say ---the chinese like to tell mistruths---

Snip...
Please let's stick to the subject of LFP batteries.... I stand by my comment on misinformation & mistruths (in regards to LFP batteries and my post should have more clearly specified "Chinese LFP makers"), but that is not the point of this thread, nor the point of my post.
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Old 18-04-2016, 08:16   #5113
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Re: LiFePO4 Batteries: Discussion Thread for Those Using Them as House Banks

For the love of Pete....I just wasted two pages of reading....time to charge my LiFePO4 bank this morning.

But listen folks.
If you don't want or can't buy from a known entity with a long track record, you then have to learn to deal with the risk that they will be gone next week. That is why you pay a premium with a known supplier. It is still no guarantee...life like batteries is not without risk. We can debate the ins and outs of doing business with a company in China until the cows come home...but them cows are in a stir fry, they ain't coming home.
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Old 18-04-2016, 12:49   #5114
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Re: LiFePO4 Batteries: Discussion Thread for Those Using Them as House Banks

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maine Sail View Post
As I have mentioned numerous times Winston cells are available as Voltronix in the US and Brennan is a great guy. He can probably help you with a Canada order. You might have a lead time but he handles all the importing and has a guy in the factory confirming quality.



I think this is an odd decision. The entire Genasun LiFePO4 product line was built using CALB SE cells, and other than Mastervolt, (which used Thundersky, at least in earlier packs) are the most prevalent LFP batteries for marine use out there. The Genasun packs go back to 2006 and I don't know of any that are not still going and they've never used anything but CALB.

The owner of Genasun claimed (third party rumor mill stuff I have not asked him directly) to move away from LFP batteries for marine use due to inconsistencies with the CA line regarding Coulombic efficiency.

No one else I have talked to using CALB CA cells has noted this but may not have the knats-hair testing ability Alex has. I have tested some CA's can can't note any issues that cause any balancing problems. Interestingly enough he is now doing a lot of large scale non-marine projects & still using CALB cells.

My hip-shoot guess is he grew tired of small margins, & large headaches from dealing with the marine market Q&A and support etc., and he had better things to do after buying Blue Sky. I suspect the reason he gave may not have been as accurate or literal as has been fed to the rumor mill.

Also keep in mind that the Chinese like to tell mistruths, and especially about their competitors. Numerous questions or statements have come up on this forum that when I asked directly, to the manufacturer, I had been able to confirm as false.
Maine Sail,
Thank you very much on the information on the CALBs. This is just the kind of info I was trying to get. May be I wasn't reading all the previous threads well enough to get all that. I'll look into the Voltronix.
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Old 18-04-2016, 20:03   #5115
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Re: LiFePO4 Batteries: Discussion Thread for Those Using Them as House Banks

Regarding CALB cells. I mentioned it before, but the guys at EVTV were great. Ordered 16ea CALB CA180FI's came in a week all at exactly 3.28volts. They can seem to get them as needed here in the US. Nice guys and the braided connectors are really nice. We're now customizing the hold they will live in. Next up I think we are going to go with a new Victron 230V, 5kw inverter and an auto transformer. Still planning where all of this equipment will be mounted.

Good luck ExMaggieDrum at some point you will just need to pull the trigger and get started. I've been circling the drain for year and just got started.




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