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Old 21-07-2014, 12:52   #16
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Re: Upgrading your Battery Banks and Alternator in 2014 is a Waste of Money.

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Originally Posted by denverd0n View Post
Have a crystal ball, do you? If so, please tell me where the stock market is going to be in 5 years. THAT would be really useful information!

The funny thing about this is that people have been saying the same thing since LifePO4 batteries were first developed. Which goes back, what? Oh yeah, almost 20 years, to 1996. So for nearly two decades now LifePO4 batteries have been just 5-10 years away from making lead-acid batteries obsolete. And they're STILL just 5-10 years away. And I'm willing to bet that in 10 years, they will STILL be just 5-10 years away.

The technology holds a lot of promise. No doubt about that. But exactly when that promise will be delivered is still completely up in the air. It is not nearly close enough for it to be smart to hold off on battery and/or alternator upgrades that you could benefit from right now.

Sorry Fuss, but I have to say that you missed the boat on this one.
I don't know... LFO is running pretty much all consumer electronics right now, so I'm betting what is keeping the battery cost high is the cost of lithium from China vs. the maturity of the technology and just the lack production capacity.

Lets face it, if you could get an LFO system for the same price as a FLA system... you would probably be getting an LFO system. As a "system" the LFO battery is the only item really considered new. Alts and regulators are pretty much the same except for the BMS; solar and wind are all the same.

Once Elon Musk has his plants up in running - only 2 years away... the availability of LFO batteries should drop pretty quickly... Nissan and Toyota are bringing new LFO battery plants on line every day.

....unless China keeps restricting sales of heavy metals. They lost their case last year so I can't see that happening.

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Old 21-07-2014, 13:30   #17
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Re: Upgrading your Battery Banks and Alternator in 2014 is a Waste of Money.

"LFO is running pretty much all consumer electronics right now,"
And those cells are not batteries. Big difference there. Big difference in the drain and charging patterns as well.
Your cell phone has a single cell (~4 VDC) in it, not a battery, not a bank of cells. Your computer has a battery in it, of six or nine cells laid up series-parallel in strings of three. And, there's a full blown charge monitoring computer in each "battery" pack which typically makes them $125-150 each. Even then, with monitoring the charge in each cell, those packs are infamous for going belly-up dead with no provocation once they turn 4 years old. Not always, but they're rated for 500 charge cycles or four years, whichever comes first, followed by death.

Lithium in fifty pound+ batteries for 12v systems? Very different critter. You can't even get any two battery suppliers to say their products do or don't need a BMS (doubling the price) or what number of charge cycles to expect at what depth, because apparently they've never actually run them very long. Or, they're not proud of the numbers they've really gotten.

Hertz and Avis learned a long time ago--in fact, shortly after Lithium was first proposed as a battery material around 1970 (yes, it is THAT old)--that when major players call each other names and engage in p*ssing squabbles, it only serves to make everyone avoid the whole pool.

Toss in the enviable reputation of Chinese industry and a couple of patent lawsuits and bankruptcies...Little wonder so many folks have taken up the refrain "Show me, I'm from Missouri."
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Old 21-07-2014, 14:07   #18
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Re: Upgrading your Battery Banks and Alternator in 2014 is a Waste of Money.

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Originally Posted by denverd0n View Post
Have a crystal ball, do you? If so, please tell me where the stock market is going to be in 5 years. THAT would be really useful information!

The funny thing about this is that people have been saying the same thing since LifePO4 batteries were first developed. Which goes back, what? Oh yeah, almost 20 years, to 1996. So for nearly two decades now LifePO4 batteries have been just 5-10 years away from making lead-acid batteries obsolete. And they're STILL just 5-10 years away. And I'm willing to bet that in 10 years, they will STILL be just 5-10 years away.

The technology holds a lot of promise. No doubt about that. But exactly when that promise will be delivered is still completely up in the air. It is not nearly close enough for it to be smart to hold off on battery and/or alternator upgrades that you could benefit from right now.

Sorry Fuss, but I have to say that you missed the boat on this one.
I see you know alot about LifePO4 batteries. First developed in their current form in 1996 you say. Is that really true Denverd0n? 1996?. Wow...Looks like some other humans missed the boat for a few years as well.

You in 2025... still with flooded lead acid batteries on your boat and you are willing to bet on that Denverd0n.

Another Wow. I am amazed.

At the moment, I can't decide where the greater lack of vision lies...them back in 1996 or you in 2014.
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Old 21-07-2014, 14:08   #19
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Re: Upgrading your Battery Banks and Alternator in 2014 is a Waste of Money.

Then lets toss in the fun that most cruisers dont read the instruction manuals, get large amouts of what they "know" from their dock experts and bingo....you have a "rebel heart type lawsuit" the first time a LiOn bank causes a problem (like fire) on a boat.
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Old 21-07-2014, 14:11   #20
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Re: Upgrading your Battery Banks and Alternator in 2014 is a Waste of Money.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fuss View Post
I see you know alot about LifePO4 batteries. First developed in their current form in 1996 you say. Is that really true Denverd0n? 1996?. Wow...Looks like some other humans missed the boat for a few years as well.

You in 2025... still with flooded lead acid batteries on your boat and you are willing to bet on that Denverd0n.

Another Wow. I am amazed.

At the moment, I can't decide where the greater lack of vision lies...them back in 1996 or you in 2014.
So you put your money where your mouth is and have or are installing a LiOn bank?

Hmmmmm....I am.....you?
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Old 21-07-2014, 14:27   #21
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Re: Upgrading your Battery Banks and Alternator in 2014 is a Waste of Money.

IMO - 90% of the technical hurdles of LFO batteries have been surmounted. The science is "done". Now, its price point and availability - an engineering and process problem.

We have hundreds of thousands of cars on the road running on LFO right now and that is going to grow by multiples in the next 5 years.

How much power do you need if you don't have refrigeration or an autopilot? Maybe 30 to 40 amps a day? This means you only need a 100 amp battery. In two years those will cost something like $800 with the BMS and last for 10 years. You will only need 150 watts-ish of solar to charge. Put together you have a full system for under 1K.

Its the fridge and autopilot amp/hour consumption that is killing the economies of LFO, not the outright LFO cost.
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Old 21-07-2014, 16:23   #22
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Re: Upgrading your Battery Banks and Alternator in 2014 is a Waste of Money.

While the science of LI batteries is sound, the application engineering is a bit shaky still. See Boeing 787's little snafu for example and that was designed by real engineers. Yes LFO's are less reactive, but they aren't perfect. LI when it works, is amazing. But it's not very forgiving of assembly error, poor installation or miss use. The question is not will it work when new, but will it work in the middle of the ocean after the controllers have salt spray on them.

I can easily see FLA still being used in 5/10 years maybe 15/20 years. They are practically bomb proof and don't need complex charge algorithms or electronics that fail when offshore.

Frankly, I'll still amazing folks still talk about using high amp alternators, like its 1990. Once you factor in installation with a larger pulley/belt your looking at a boat buck or two. Yet two or three solar panels keeps batteries happy for lots less. Mind you, while MPPT is nice, it only gives about a ~10% boost. Cheaper/ better cost efficiency to install another $130 panel and use a cheep PWM controller and save a $100 for 33% more output.

In the 80's to 2000 you needed a high output alternator for battery charging. Now a days most of us have solar/wind. Not to mention the ubiquitous Honda genny.

I'm pretty sure Tesla will be using every battery coming off their assembly line in two years. Supply price will drop for them, less so for the end user.

So no, I'm not planing on upgrading to LI/LFO, any time soon. FLA is simple and more importantly very forgiving and works quite well with solar.
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Old 21-07-2014, 16:30   #23
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Re: Upgrading your Battery Banks and Alternator in 2014 is a Waste of Money.

I'm not very worried about not having the newest greatness battery system, I think the old crappy battery systems are pretty good for what they do and their cost.
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Old 21-07-2014, 16:52   #24
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Re: Upgrading your Battery Banks and Alternator in 2014 is a Waste of Money.

We should note that Tesla had a few cars burn to the ground due to rocks from the road breaking a single battery which caused the lithium in the battery to catch fire from moisture in the air. Their solution was to add additional armor around the batteries.

Fedx has has a few lost airplanes over the years due to lithium battery fires. This from small electronics/phone batteries.

This is the real state of LI/LFO batteries for the moment.
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Old 21-07-2014, 16:55   #25
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Re: Upgrading your Battery Banks and Alternator in 2014 is a Waste of Money.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
"LFO is running pretty much all consumer electronics right now,"
And those cells are not batteries. Big difference there. Big difference in the drain and charging patterns as well.
Your cell phone has a single cell (~4 VDC) in it, not a battery, not a bank of cells. Your computer has a battery in it, of six or nine cells laid up series-parallel in strings of three. And, there's a full blown charge monitoring computer in each "battery" pack which typically makes them $125-150 each. Even then, with monitoring the charge in each cell, those packs are infamous for going belly-up dead with no provocation once they turn 4 years old. Not always, but they're rated for 500 charge cycles or four years, whichever comes first, followed by death.

Lithium in fifty pound+ batteries for 12v systems? Very different critter. You can't even get any two battery suppliers to say their products do or don't need a BMS (doubling the price) or what number of charge cycles to expect at what depth, because apparently they've never actually run them very long. Or, they're not proud of the numbers they've really gotten.

Hertz and Avis learned a long time ago--in fact, shortly after Lithium was first proposed as a battery material around 1970 (yes, it is THAT old)--that when major players call each other names and engage in p*ssing squabbles, it only serves to make everyone avoid the whole pool.

Toss in the enviable reputation of Chinese industry and a couple of patent lawsuits and bankruptcies...Little wonder so many folks have taken up the refrain "Show me, I'm from Missouri."

There are loads of consumer electronics with multi cell , ie battery pecks. Including pouch types that consist of several parallel cells. In practice there is no difference between large format cells and 18650 firm factor other then one contains a large number of cells in parallel.

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Old 21-07-2014, 18:44   #26
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Re: Upgrading your Battery Banks and Alternator in 2014 is a Waste of Money.

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Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
So my bank is toast, the four Wally World start/deep cycle batteries the PO put in are pretty much gone, I have a Yanmar factory 55 amp Alt, internally regulated and a Raritan 30 amp battery charger that I am sure has no settings on it whatsoever, it may be original to the boat (1987). No Solar or wind yet either.
<snip>
If you were me, what would you do?

<snip>
All things considered I would just replace the batteries and wait 5 years.

Unless you have some money burning up your pockets. Or you have a desire to spend a crap load of money and be a LI beta tester.

It is theoretically known how to do LI properly - Follow MainSail.

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This is no different than a TPPL LA installation. It needs to be done right and treated as a system. There have been piles of improperly used alternators burned up with AGM and even large banks of flooded batteries so our alternator needs are not much different than they have been.
Great post as usual and I hope people really read it.

The systems approach is key - and you are right. history will repeat itself.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sailorchic34 View Post
While the science of LI batteries is sound, the application engineering is a bit shaky still. See Boeing 787's little snafu for example and that was designed by real engineers.
For background on the Boeing issue.

- The 787 is an "electric" plane. During peak hydraulic loading the hydraulic system is augmented by an electric hydraulic pump.
- With landing gear actuation, massively huge loads are taken from the battery bank and then immediately replaced by massive chargers - we are talking charging systems that can light up small cities
- This creates massive amounts of heat

This "predominantly" was a heat dissipation issue - a couple of the issues were the banks are close together and while fixing that the venting system needed sorting.

I don't think either of the 787's issues would apply to a boat bank. Unless you plan to take 50% of you battery amperage over a 3 minute period.

Again this battery system was a new pioneering technology for Boeing and they put lots of brain power in getting it right.

So MaineSail's caveat - there won't be a "drop" in solution for a while and anyone building it now needs to consider not taking any shortcuts from a system perspective.
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Old 21-07-2014, 18:52   #27
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Re: Upgrading your Battery Banks and Alternator in 2014 is a Waste of Money.

Dave, among other things I'm told that the 18650 form factor (similar to a penlight cell) has a much lesser ability to start fires, simply because any heat or fire is contained to that small form factor. As opposed to the much larger cell size in a storage battery. SO, the difference may be "small" but at the same time, it is a huge difference in the amount of damage that can be done.

Sailorchic, I don't think Tesla or lithium can really be faulted for those car fires. After all, if you stuffed a pipe through a conventional gasoline tank at highway speeds, you'd have a pretty good car fire coming from that as well. IIRC Tesla put out the numbers for "car fires" from their cars versus the general public's gasoline fuelled cars, and Tesla had way fewer fires, as a percent of their fleet.

Why so many industries prefer to use a lithium battery type that is flammable, instead of LiFePo4, is a whole other curious question, isn't it?
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Old 21-07-2014, 19:24   #28
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Re: Upgrading your Battery Banks and Alternator in 2014 is a Waste of Money.

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Originally Posted by sailorchic34 View Post
Mind you, while MPPT is nice, it only gives about a ~10% boost. Cheaper/ better cost efficiency to install another $130 panel and use a cheep PWM controller and save a $100 for 33% more output.
Nominal 12V panels are becoming rare as hen's teeth. In the near future, they will all be higher voltage panels and require MPPT controllers. Even now, you will find for a (relative to cruising boats) medium to large size solar array that it is cheaper to install high voltage panels and an MPPT than low voltage panels with a PWM controller. If one already has a 12V nominal panel array and a PWM controller, then for sure it is more cost effective to add a similar panel than change the controller.

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Old 21-07-2014, 19:25   #29
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Re: Upgrading your Battery Banks and Alternator in 2014 is a Waste of Money.

a64-
"So my bank is toast, the four Wally World ...I'm a weekend / day sailor ...
If you were me, what would you do?"

As the man said, just replace them for now. Or put in something similar, economical, bearing in mind bigger batteries often can't be manhandled by the average man although 6V golf cart bats can be.

The 55A alternator might be good for 30A continuous duty, if it has dual fans and gets good cooling air, both cheap things to look at giving it. If you find the need for faster recharges, by all means look for a bigger continuous duty alternator rated for about 25% of the bank size you install.

But then you might want to add the solar panels first, since you're weekending and given five days with nothing to do, they'll put a nice charge on the batteries AND it will be a full charge, which gives you much longer battery life. Assuming you've got a good controller, at which point you may as well go MPPT if it can be done without breaking the bank.

Three years from now, if you want to make big changes, you may well have to replace all the batteries (in order to get one matched bank) but the alternative is to spend double now, and still have "older" batteries then. I'd just use the smaller bank for now, use it up without feeling guilty (cycle as deeply as you need to) and replace it when and if the time comes. At which point you'd definitely want the big alternator, big regulator, and who knows what else.

Maybe Bed Bath & Beyond will have a good sale on Mr. Fusion by then.
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Old 21-07-2014, 19:48   #30
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Re: Upgrading your Battery Banks and Alternator in 2014 is a Waste of Money.

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Sailorchic, I don't think Tesla or lithium can really be faulted for those car fires. After all, if you stuffed a pipe through a conventional gasoline tank at highway speeds, you'd have a pretty good car fire coming from that as well. IIRC Tesla put out the numbers for "car fires" from their cars versus the general public's gasoline fueled cars, and Tesla had way fewer fires, as a percent of their fleet.

Why so many industries prefer to use a lithium battery type that is flammable, instead of LiFePo4, is a whole other curious question, isn't it?
Ah but when its just a piece of trash on the road that cracks a battery and the car burns, that's a small problem. Crashes are another problem. For gas powered cars its 1 in 32k catch fire in a crash, for Telsa it's 1 in 6k. Bit of a problem. And that's with 1/4" plate aluminum around the battery's to help protect them.

I expect that Tesla went with LICO batteries due to the higher discharge amp capacity then LifePo which has a medium watt density. Many Manufacturers do use LiFePo batteries in their hybrids.
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