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Old 01-02-2014, 09:44   #1
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LiFePo4 for DUMMIES

I have got a sore sore head after reading 236 pages of the using lifepo4 thread as a house bank including where it went solar :-(.


So here i am posting to try and establish the basics......what do i need and where to buy and of course anything else that others feel are important...lots of room for thread drift there i expect.


Hopefully this thread will not end up being 200+ pages long


OKIDOKI HERE GOES!!


We have about 1,000 AH of house bank that are Gel Cells two are 13 years old now and still going strong (ish), the Engine start Gel just died and we have replaced it with a 180 AH 4D gel cell battery that we got for almost nothing used. Also I have fitted a switch so that we can connect the house bank to the engine battery just in case we have a duff engine start battery again and of course we have increased the size of the house bank if i close that switch. We have around 480W of solar , (we are going to upgrade that to 820W soon ) and have a Rutland 913 wind generator that produces a few amps when it blows like sink. Probably going to change the 913 to a D400 soon as well.



We sail in the Caribbean for six months of the year.


I was wanting to go electric not all electric but to seriously cut down on our use of propane and heating the boat big time when we are cooking and use the solar for more than just keeping the batteries happy. So we now have a Xantrex 1800i inverter, two induction cook tops, a rice cooker, and a 1,000 W microwave. If we cook during the day things are great the solar holds up the house bank voltage quite well. But if we start cooking once the sun has gone down we can end up with problems with the Xantrex complaining (alarming) then shutting down with a low voltage situation if we don't reduce our 110V consumption.


So I guess our house bank is struggling to handle these new and serious loads on it. We have a Seafrost XPBD twin cold plate system that is quite power hungry and we would like to add another so we can have a separate fridge and freezer. At that moment we have a divider in the box and we do have both in the same box and the bleed through to the other box from the freezer side lets that box be a half decent fridge as well (this is the {smaller} box that we will turn into a freezer) but at the expense of serious AH's used. Typically even as an all LED boat we are 40/50 AH down in the morning, but with the batteries fully charged by lunch time.. When sailing we have other loads of course a big Raymarine autopilot and an E120 plotter plus other instruments and one or two PC's running on a small inverter.


We have a 80A Delco Remy10Si alternator but are thinking of upgrading that to a 140A 12Si model and keeping the 10Si as a spare. The present alternator is regulated internally. We have a 80A three stage battery charger and a big Heart inverter charger that can output 120A (this only functions as a charger now and a repair is totally uneconomic) and a wee Honda 2000EUi for emergencies as well as battery charging with either one of the two chragers and running the hot water heater - we like hot showers now and again.



We do have room and the mounts and engine pulley for a second alternator or CAT Pump for a watermaker (we removed the engine driven F/F compressor).


I think that is about that for now.


Four new Gel batteries will cost around $4,000 and obviously I am thinking of new batteries LiFePO4 ones. I guess I am thinking about around 600/800AH. Having read all the long long fairly technical thread and looked at the pictures as well, obviously i have a few questions


My first question is - will a LiFePO4 cell/battery be the same height as a 8G8D gel cell 21 L 11 W 10H. Width and length are not big issues I suspect but height is, if I want to place them in the same location as the present house batteries. I think that i can put them edge on if they are too tall?



Second question is - what batteries to buy and from where? We are in St Martin at the moment so I suspect a US based supplier would be the most sensible as we have an account with a good Miami to SXM shipper.


I think I am more into bigger cells AH wise rather than building my house bank from multiple small cells of 90/120 AH size. I also think I would prefer one house bank to keep the charging simpler though I am open to being convinced that two banks are the way to go.


I don't want a BMS that will be me, but do want to keep an eye on things so I guess I will be using my HobbyKing account We do have a Victron EM and might need a Low voltage control though the Xantrex 1800I does that quite well ATM.


All of what I read was rather technical while none of that threw me I was really looking for and expecting something more like LiFePO4 for DUMMIES.

For sure that thread is overly long and seems to be more focused on experimentation rather than just people who can see and understand the advantages of LiFePO4 and who want to change over to LiFePO4 but need a little hand holding........LIKE ME!!!
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Old 01-02-2014, 10:11   #2
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Re: LiFePo4 for DUMMIES

David,

To address your increased galley loads, big amp draws don't phase these cells, they are just what you need for the induction cook tops. No alarms because almost nil voltage sag.

I'm with you as far as wanting a single series string instead of series/parallel bank, but with the size bank you want combined with a 10" height limitation, series/parallel might be the only option to maximize your battery space. You can't lay the cells flat, but can have them on their side. The 200 ahr cell here Lithium Prismatic Batteries has a height of 9.2". A 4S3P combo would give you 600 a-hr @ 13 volts and would offer more usable a-hr than your 1000 a-hr lead bank, plus of course all the other benefits of using LiFePO4 cells.

BTW, a good bang for the buck if you can accept a 10.7" height would be the 195 a-hr cells that they have on sale. (12) of these cells would give you 585 a-hr @ 13 volts, only weigh 156 lbs (big reduction in weight over your 1000 a-hr lead bank) and total cost for 12 cells $2160, also a reduction over your $4000 quote on the gel cells.
http://www.electriccarpartscompany.c...-kg_p_379.html
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Old 02-02-2014, 06:17   #3
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I agree that's a very long thread. So I started a new one on monitoring only. This is all new to me but my understanding is the higher amperage batteries are actually a bunch of small packs paralleled in one box. the advantage of using a bunch of small amperage batteries in parallel is that when you put the cells in parallel they equalize each other. You still only have four banks to monitor. And If one goes bad it's a small percentage of your total bank
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Old 02-02-2014, 06:27   #4
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Re: LiFePo4 for DUMMIES

No, they don't equalise each other. They are LiFePo4, so it's not that simple.

But yeah, each cell is 3.2V, so you have four in series to make 12V nominal, and then you can parallel them to make more amperage than the individual cells. But you need four cells in series to make it 12v, which in itself makes for a more complicated setup than lead-acids.
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Old 02-02-2014, 06:31   #5
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Originally Posted by Caracal View Post
No, they don't equalise each other. They are LiFePo4, so it's not that simple.

But yeah, each cell is 3.2V, so you have four in series to make 12V nominal, and then you can parallel them to make more amperage than the individual cells. But you need four cells in series to make it 12v, which in itself makes for a more complicated setup than lead-acids.
The first thing you're supposed to do when you purchase the batteries is put them all in parallel. Even charge and discharge them so that they all equalize this is just what the pros have been stating so I don't know why you think they don't equalize each other.You parallel them FIRST and then put the four banks in series to get 12.8 Vlts
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Old 02-02-2014, 06:35   #6
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Re: LiFePo4 for DUMMIES

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Originally Posted by sparrowhawk1 View Post
The first thing you're supposed to do when you purchase the batteries is put them all in parallel. Even charge and discharge them so that they all equalize this is just what the pros have been stating so I don't know why you think they don't equalize each other
You must have missed the part where I differentiate between "battery" and "cell". If you buy a 12V LiFePo4, it actually consist of 4 cells each delivering 3.2V.

And you can buy individual 3.2V cells in, say, 300Ah. You would need four of those wired in series to get 12V nominal and 300Ah.
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Old 02-02-2014, 07:17   #7
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Re: LiFePo4 for DUMMIES

The LifePO4 threads would be so much more usable if it was made into categories.

It’s just too hard to find the info that newbies need to get going.

Should have a category just for LifePO4 definitions.
All the experts are abbreviating everything, so newbies are left asking all the stupid questions.
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Old 02-02-2014, 07:23   #8
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Re: LiFePo4 for DUMMIES

I agree. I would also like some dumbed down suggestions on setups. As in "This is a setup with solar and an xxxamp alternator". THis is what you can do, and you can use X brand/Y model to monitor the lot because it has X, Y, Z, features.

The latter part could be tied to what is actually needed.

A list of potential hardware needed (also categorised by, say, "Needed for solar chargin", "needed for alternator charging", and "needed for coupling to inverters" would also be good.

Or perhaps that is too much categorisation and won't help?
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Old 02-02-2014, 07:26   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cotemar View Post
The LifePO4 threads would be so much more usable if it was made into categories.

It’s just too hard to find the info that newbies need to get going.

Should have a category just for LifePO4 definitions.
All the experts are abbreviating everything, so newbies are left asking all the stupid questions.
I totally agree. I started two new threads but with minimal response. Hvc is high voltage cutoff. I will spell things out in the future. I really appreciate the techno geeks sharing their knowledge. But it is sometimes hard to understand.
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Old 02-02-2014, 08:09   #10
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Re: LiFePo4 for DUMMIES

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Originally Posted by Caracal View Post
I agree. I would also like some dumbed down suggestions on setups. As in "This is a setup with solar and an xxxamp alternator". THis is what you can do, and you can use X brand/Y model to monitor the lot because it has X, Y, Z, features.

The latter part could be tied to what is actually needed.

A list of potential hardware needed (also categorised by, say, "Needed for solar chargin", "needed for alternator charging", and "needed for coupling to inverters" would also be good.

Or perhaps that is too much categorisation and won't help?
Most of this has been posted here at CF already... I know I have given specifics for setting up a Balmar regulator and solar settings. I suspect this thread is moving slow because many of us have typed this information many times already....

To my way of thinking people are all too often going about system design BACKWARDS.....

It should not be; "Well I already have X now how can I make that work with LiFePO4?" LiFePO4 should be the determining factor and then all products and parameters should be designed around that.

If you want LiFePO4, and don't want a huge hole where your wallet used to be, start from scratch and engineer forward....

IMHO the bare minimums would be:

*Individual cell level monitoring that can trigger LVC / HVC
*The ability and tools to top balance the pack unless you are an epowered-boat and want to bottom balance.
*Proper over-current protection.
*Safe charge voltages and products than can do this with the best accuracy possible
*No solar controllers with built in temp compensation
*No voltage regulators with built in battery temp compensation
*Load bus / charge bus
*Alarm points that warn before LVC/HVC
*Cell compression case
*Adequate coverage for battery terminals
*Accurate voltage sensing for alternator charging
*Ah counter
*Solid state relay to cut battery charger


Products I use:

Balmar MC-614 Regulator
Mark Grasser 160A Alternator
Junsi Cell Log 8S - Individual Cell Voltage Monitoring
HousePower BMS and Cell Boards (bank HVC/LVC protection)
Link-Pro Battery Monitor (Ah counting)
Rogue Solar Controller
Class T Fuse
Tyco EV200 LVC Contactor
70A DPDT relays for Balmar and Solar HVC
Piezzo Buzzer for Alarms
Mastech 3030EX Benchtop Power Supply (balancing/charging in the shop)
Mastech 3050EX Benchtop Power Supply (balancing/charging in the shop)
*Sterling ProCharge Ultra shore charger (using custom program)
*Sterling Battery Chemistry Module to charge start battery
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Old 02-02-2014, 08:23   #11
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Re: LiFePo4 for DUMMIES

I agree that choosing LiFePo4 should then determine what else to get and set up. However, LiFePo4 as any batteries can be made to work with solar, an alternator, or even a hydro generator. I wasn't saying then that things like the charge regulator and whatnot should be continued to be used, but rather that an alternator, and the solar panel itself could and should be considered in a LiFePO4 system, but from that and to actualyl get a working system quickly becomes complex and difficults for idiots like yours truly.

With that said: Thank you for the overview and explanations
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Old 02-02-2014, 08:39   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maine Sail View Post

Most of this has been posted here at CF already... I know I have given specifics for setting up a Balmar regulator and solar settings. I suspect this thread is moving slow because many of us have typed this information many times already....

To my way of thinking people are all too often going about system design BACKWARDS.....

It should not be; "Well I already have X now how can I make that work with LiFePO4?" LiFePO4 should be the determining factor and then all products and parameters should be designed around that.

If you want LiFePO4, and don't want a huge hole where your wallet used to be, start from scratch and engineer forward....

IMHO the bare minimums would be:

*Individual cell level monitoring that can trigger LVC / HVC
*The ability and tools to top balance the pack unless you are an epowered-boat and want to bottom balance.
*Proper over-current protection.
*Safe charge voltages and products than can do this with the best accuracy possible
*No solar controllers with built in temp compensation
*No voltage regulators with built in battery temp compensation
*Load bus / charge bus
*Alarm points that warn before LVC/HVC
*Cell compression case
*Adequate coverage for battery terminals
*Accurate voltage sensing for alternator charging
*Ah counter
*Solid state relay to cut battery charger

Products I use:

Balmar MC-614 Regulator
Mark Grasser 160A Alternator
Junsi Cell Log 8S - Individual Cell Voltage Monitoring
HousePower BMS and Cell Boards (bank HVC/LVC protection)
Link-Pro Battery Monitor (Ah counting)
Rogue Solar Controller
Class T Fuse
Tyco EV200 LVC Contactor
70A DPDT relays for Balmar and Solar HVC
Piezzo Buzzer for Alarms
Mastech 3030EX Benchtop Power Supply (balancing/charging in the shop)
Mastech 3050EX Benchtop Power Supply (balancing/charging in the shop)
*Sterling ProCharge Ultra shore charger (using custom program)
*Sterling Battery Chemistry Module to charge start battery
I know you post a lot of information. If you could post what You use to monitor amp hours and control the high voltage, low voltage cutoffs on my post" monitoring LiFepo4 lithium batteries "it would be greatly appreciated
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Old 02-02-2014, 09:36   #13
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Re: LiFePo4 for DUMMIES

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Originally Posted by sparrowhawk1 View Post
I know you post a lot of information. If you could post what You use to monitor amp hours and control the high voltage, low voltage cutoffs on my post" monitoring LiFepo4 lithium batteries "it would be greatly appreciated

You just quoted it.....
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Old 02-02-2014, 09:39   #14
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Originally Posted by Maine Sail View Post

You just quoted it.....
If you're talking about the editing sorry about that. If not. ?
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Old 02-02-2014, 09:44   #15
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I also want to say that I'm a big fan of your YouTube videos and you're probably the reason I got interested in the lifepo4 batteries
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