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Old 26-03-2010, 18:24   #226
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Originally Posted by electric1 View Post
Lifebatt is like 3-4 times more expensive than large prismatic cells from Thundersky/SkyEnergy/HiPower. They use many small cylindrical cells in parallel inside a big plastic box with BMS. Lifebatt design is somewhat similar to what Tesla has in their $100K roadster. It certainly would work, but at very premium cost.
There are several reasons why batteries made by Lifebatt (LiFeTech Energy) cost more than Thundersky, Sky Energy, China Hi-Power, etc. Just a few of these reasons are-
Lifebatt use LiFePO4 powder which is of the very highest grade. It is not made in China. Much of our LiFePO4 is manufactured in Germany under licence from the inventor and patent holder of the LiFePO4 battery.
Our batteries go through extremely extensive QC testing including salt spray booth corrosion testing. None of the Chinese batteries go through this testing.
Our batteries come with 3-5 years / 3000 cycles factory backed warranty which is far longer than what any of the other battery manufacturers offer.
The extra cost includes the VMS (which is different from a BMS) and allows computer monitoring of batteries from a remote location by laptop computer so there is no need to check cell voltages with a multimeter. An explanation of the VMS is here- Lithium Batteries Australia - Battery Management and Diagnostics

There are several other reasons which account for the higher initial cost of batteries made by Lifebatt/Lifetech Energy which you can see by doing a side by side comparison with the other manufacturers.If you compare the discharge power output and discharge curves it is very easy to see the difference.

Regarding the "premium cost" yes of course a chemical compound which is manufactured in Germany and royalties are paid to the patent holder will cost more than a lower grade material made in China.
Tests done in the USA (running a motor as the load day in, day out) showed the cost of a high quality LiFePO4 battery is about 70% of the cost of lead acid over the working lifetime when all factors are taken into account.
So the purchase price of the premium quality battery is much higher initially but cheaper long term with the advantage of providing much better performance and much higher discharge rates allowing the same battery to be used for engine cranking as well as for house power.

So in the end if you are a keen DIY'er and have time to spend diagnosing/fixing lithium cell problems as they arise you can certainly save some money buy using low C rate batteries such as Thundersky. For the professional users (as well as manufacturers) who want an integrated solution/maintenance free batteries for life and don't have time to tinker then Lifebatt/Lifetech batteries could be an answer.
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Old 26-03-2010, 19:08   #227
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Speaking as an American consumer, and meaning no insult but speaking bluntly:

Is that warranty a replacement warranty? Or a pro-rated replacement warranty? And having seen all too many outstanding warranties go up in smoke when the company behind them shut down, can you arrange to have the warranty backed by a US company with a track record? Or something that provides more assurance than a warranty from an unknown (to us) foreign company that may or may not be around to service it?
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Old 26-03-2010, 20:27   #228
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Hellosailor, I welcome your questioning and thank you for being blunt.

We are not "disappearing" or going anywhere in a hurry since we are the pioneers and official licensees of this technology from Phostech. In fact we are in the final stages of testing our newest cell in Japan which has been designed and made especially for a major US power tool manufacturer.
We are working with many well known manufacturers in the USA and around the world including several major US automakers who are already performing extensive trials using our batteries in their electric vehicles. We have many customers (vehicle owners) in the USA (in particular in California) who are using our batteries in their Toyota Prius's for extended range on electricity after conversion to PHEV.
There are many more examples but back to boats.....

If a battery was to fail during the specified warranty period we will repair or replace it at our option.
For example if a cell in a pack was to fail we would replace it with a new cell and we would perform tests to determine the cause of the faulty cell. It may be found that a VMS board was at fault for over discharging the cell in which case we would replace both the faulty cell and VMS board. The pack would be tested in the factory thoroughly so it is up to spec. and then returned to the customer.
For minor repairs we are looking at using our US agent in Oklahoma to carry out this work but for the most part batteries get sent back to the factory for comprehensive repairs and testing.

To date I am not aware of a single battery which has failed when used properly and within manufacturers recommended specifications/guidelines.
The few batteries which have been sent back to us faulty in every case resulted from user error.
For example one battery which was dropped by the customer onto a concrete floor and required re-building while another battery was charged by an incorrect charger (charging a 24V battery with a 48V battery charger is not recommended!!)

I would suggest boat owners talk to other boat owners about their experiences using all brands of lithium batteries including LiFeTech. I shipped batteries to a professional boat builder last week and am shipping batteries to the owner of a sailing boat (for house power) on Monday.
I will suggest these people document their experiences for others to see.

A boat owner in NZ is building an electric boat and the batteries I have supplied should be installed soon. You can follow his blog here-
Natural High Adventures - Warren's Blog

The owner of "Current Sunshine" is using Thundersky batteries. He has extensive experience using LiFePO4 batteries in his boat and is aware of the differences between battery brands such as the Thundersky batteries he uses as well as LiFeTech which I supply and (only found out about recently).
The blog is here- About Current Sunshine

I would urge people to contact these boat owners directly so they can provide their own points of view with regard to why they chose the batteries they are using and if they would still use the same batteries (knowing what they have learned since and know now) if they were to build a new boat or required new batteries for their current boat.

I will be urging all of the boat owners I am supplying batteries to (whether for house power only, engine cranking or full electric propulsion) to keep a record of their battery performance and share their experiences with others on their own websites or blogs.

Most often minor problems can be quickly resolved via an email or by giving me a quick call at anytime on +61 4 20948757 (international).
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Old 26-03-2010, 22:10   #229
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tinkerer007 View Post
Yeah, no such luck. Well there is a fuse, but it is only .5 A. But there was the smell of burned silicon and the residue of some part with the traces lifting off the PCB. The voltage was working till I took it apart to look for the fuse, but now I can't get the switch mechanism back together. It was a nice meeter that I got 20 years ago (looks like a Fluke, but is made by Philips.) Maybe, I will be able to put it back together int he daylight.

If not, what is a good meter to get?

Fluke - high end. Protected against most dumb mistakes, use to buy them for all my guys. Only one they blew up was some dumb a** checking a HID light at the socket, light you would a 110 light. Tossed him and the meter out.
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Old 26-03-2010, 22:21   #230
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Fluke - high end. Protected against most dumb mistakes, use to buy them for all my guys. Only one they blew up was some dumb a** checking a HID light at the socket, light you would a 110 light. Tossed him and the meter out.
Fluke are about the best test meters money can buy. Extremely reliable. If you can afford it you won't regret buying a Fluke.
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Old 26-03-2010, 23:58   #231
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what model Fluke meter s that with the data out capability?
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Old 27-03-2010, 00:32   #232
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It is Fluke 123 Industrial Scopemeter. It is basically a compact oscilloscope with LCD screen. In the photos it is connected to my laptop using battery monitoring software used for battery discharge testing. The Fluke meter has an optical data interface.

This meter is far more sophisticated that what is required by the average boat owner wanting to perform simple voltage and current checks on their batteries and electrical circuits generally.
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Old 27-03-2010, 21:34   #233
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There are other factors which most people would not of even remotely considered in the lead acid vs lithium battery debate.

Lets take charge efficiency as one example-

Lead acid batteries are quite inefficient when it comes to charging. Typical efficiencies range from 70% to around 85% at best depending on whether the battery is AGM, gel, flooded cell type, etc.
By comparison LiFePO4 batteries are minimum 95% charge efficient.
I am yet to see any lead acid battery which approaches this efficiency but I may be wrong and I would welcome being corrected if someone can send me the relevant data/spec sheet from the battery manufacturer.

Well what does this difference in efficiency mean in the real world?
It means that if you are trickle charging lithium batteries on your boat by solar panels virtually every ounce of electricity generated by the panel will be stored in the lithium battery as useful energy with negligible wastage during the battery charging process.
If you are charging your batteries by diesel genset it means diesel cost saving. Although the cost per charge saved may be only a few cents compared to the cost of diesel used to charge the same battery bank size of lead acid/AGM batteries, when this cost is added up over the lifetime of the battery the money saved could be considerable. When you consider the expected life of a good quality LiFePO4 battery to be over 10 years it would be interesting to see what the total fuel savings will be over this time.
During the batteries useful life (say in 5-10 years time) where will the price of diesel be? I doubt very much it will get cheaper as the years go by!

This is one of the hidden considerations which many people may not of considered but there are others as well.
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Old 28-03-2010, 08:57   #234
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A lot depends on your use, as has already been mentioned.

I have 4 - 8D 12V batteries for a house bank that deliver 1000AH that I replaced in 2007, the originals were from 2001 and had lasted 6 years.

At a cost of 1000.00 or 250.00 each, which divided by 6 years is 166.00 per year. On my boat, my 3000W inverter is always on when I am away from the dock for refrigeration etc... and that was 136 cruising hours last year, so they do get used well. I have only used the generator twice all of last year, so, the batteries do pay for themselves in savings on wear and tear on the genset. My bank will run everything I need ( not A/C) for about 8 hours, if I am cruising longer then I turn on the genset.

If the Ion's last 3 times as long then that would last 18 years and I don't think I will have the boat for much more than another 5 years or so.

So, for me it does not add up financially, better off with std batteries and maintain them well... ie. Add distilled water and equalized once a year or in my case, after 6 months of use which is our boating season.
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Old 28-03-2010, 16:14   #235
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It all depends on what you want

if you're looking for
weight saving
long life
compact
high acceptance charge
high charge efficency
safe no fumes no topups etc
90% discharge possible
smaller physical size

then lifepo4 is for you, if you want cheap then it's not
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Old 30-03-2010, 18:20   #236
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Originally Posted by goboatingnow View Post
It all depends on what you want

if you're looking for
weight saving
long life
compact
high acceptance charge
high charge efficency
safe no fumes no topups etc
90% discharge possible
smaller physical size
then lifepo4 is for you, if you want cheap then it's not
You pretty well summed it up in a nutshell. The only other point I would add is LiFePO4 are the most environmentally friendly battery available since they do not contain any corrosive acids like sulphuric acid, nor any toxic heavy metals like lead, cadmium etc. Also since they do not produce any hydrogen gas they are quite safe to fit into confined spaces which otherwise might not be suitable for batteries which require venting.
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Old 30-03-2010, 18:52   #237
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Does anyone have a list/table of the benefits/draw backs of each of the battery chemistries?

It would be good to some technical specifications, like typical charging voltages, max charged voltages, and discharged voltages.

Even better if it is marine specific.
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Old 30-03-2010, 20:59   #238
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Here's the confusing part. LiFePO4 means, I rashly assume? Lithium Iron Phosphate? And major players like A123 simply refer to that as "Lithium Ion" aka LiOn, which has the reputation for blowing up or dropping dead.

A Rose is a Sore by any other name?
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Old 30-03-2010, 21:53   #239
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Here's the confusing part. LiFePO4 means, I rashly assume? Lithium Iron Phosphate? And major players like A123 simply refer to that as "Lithium Ion" aka LiOn, which has the reputation for blowing up or dropping dead.

A Rose is a Sore by any other name?
"Lead acid" is a term which covers several different battery types in this family such as AGM, gel, flooded cell, etc.
Similarly, "Lithium Ion" is also a generic term which covers the entire lithium family. Individual lithium family members include lithium iron phosphate, lithium cobalt, lithium manganese, lithium polymer, etc.
LiFePO4 is the only chemistry type which should be considered for use in a boat (unless you like playing Russian roulette)

I am only talking about lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries here since this is by far the safest type in the lithium family and has by far the longest cycle life.
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Old 31-03-2010, 09:20   #240
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So they are the same. Somewhat like the seven very different cuts of meat sold as "London Broil" in the US. That makes them "endorsed" by many major players, which is a good thing to me. (Apparently, "will not explode without considerable assistance" is considered to be an important point with hybrid cars, too.<G>)
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