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Old 14-08-2020, 07:36   #1
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FireFly Battery Operational User Notes

We all know there is a learning curve to really know how to best operate different batteries. So since I haven't found a lot of user experience for the FireFly batteries it seemed worth it to start a thread to see what can be collected.

What I hope is to NOT have is a bunch of debate about different batteries. For the point of this thread it doesn't matter how happy or mad you are about your FLA/AGMs/GELs/LFPs. Prove me wrong and not post that stuff unless it is about your experience with FireFly batteries.

For users who don't know, there is a manual. From this you can get:

- Peukert's Constant - 1.07
- absorption voltage 14.4V (12V system of course)
- hold charge till 0.5A for the G31 for "full" charge, 2A for the L16
- "float" 13.4-13.5

Other items:
- fast charge - who is doing what, how, and how often are you doing it
- charge efficiency - what are you setting your battery monitor to
- what depth of discharge are you allowing and how are you basing it
- how frequently are you getting the battery fully charged at 14.4V and 0.5A each?
- is it really worth discharging down to 20% and doing a full charge and then repeating again as far as maintaining battery capacity that you have been able to determine

anything users feel are worth posting about lets collect it
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Old 14-08-2020, 08:36   #2
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Re: FireFly Battery Operational User Notes

We specifically bought our Firefly's because we have a real mental block for all things electrical, and we figured they'd be forgiving. That's proven to be the case after two years of full-time cruising and counting.

We have two group 31 Firefly's that get charged with two 100W Renogy semi-flexible solar panels that each have their own Genasun GV-10 controller and, when we are motoring, with the 70 amp alternator on our Beta 16. When we think about it we push the button on our Balmar Smart Gauge to see what percentage is left on the batteries. That's all we have for monitors, controllers, etc. and that's exactly how we like it.

They get a full 100% charge when we motor for several hours. So when we are in travel mode on the ICW, they will be at 100% every day. Other times we will stop in an anchorage for a week or more which is when the solar panels prove their worth.

The batteries stay around 88%-92% on sunny days, depending on how often we are charging our electronics.

If it's cloudy for several days the batteries drop to around 75-77%, but we try to follow the sun so that doesn't happen too often (definitely less than 1/2 dozen times in the past two years). I think the lowest we've seen is the high 60's and that's when we removed the solar panels for TS Isaias. Although we probably didn't need to, we ran the engine for around 90 minutes to get it back up to the high 70's and then the next day the solar panels were back up and the percentage rose to the high 80's again.

That's the sum total of everything we've done to them since they were installed in May of 2018. We've been 100% satisfied with the Firefly and would absolutely buy them again.
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Old 14-08-2020, 09:19   #3
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Re: FireFly Battery Operational User Notes

Thanks for starting the thread.

Our use case is based on being able to go three days without charging. Our second battery box is under the aft bunk and difficult to get to for watering. In 2017 I was not confidant that LI batteries would be trouble free and I wanted a solution that was not going to give us problems while cruising remote areas.

We have 660 watts solar, Honda EU2000 generator, and a Balmar 110amp alternator. Our active shore charger is a Sterling Pro 40amp. Our power budget is 240 amp hours per day at 12V, half of that is refrigerator/freezer. We have seven Group 31 Firefly batteries for a theoretical capacity of 812ah.

We have taken our batteries down to 12V, which is about 60% DOD/40% charge per the attached test report.

Fast charging - we installed a Victron Multiplus 12/3000/120 that can charge at 120 amps given enough shore power. It is only invernting now; I need to get the charger hooked up. Right now, the fastest charging we can do alternator plus solar when motoring that pushes about 80amps.

I set charge efficiency at 95%. This is likely too high as I see 22amps going in today when the BMV-712 thinks the batteries are fully charged. I just dropped that down to 92% and I'll see how that goes.

We try to keep DOD less than 50% based on the attached test report, about 12.3V.

Fully charging the batteries depends on solar. This week in Grenada we are at 100% by noon. We upgraded to a Victron BMV-712 battery monitor three months ago. The BMV-712 thinks we have been through 8 discharge cycles since then.

We have not done a restoration charge. I may give this a try when we get the Victron battery charger hooked up. With our configuration it would be an effort to get the voltage in the bank down to 10.5V would take an extended effort.

We stored our boat on the hard last summer with no charge sources. After three months that batteries were at 12.6V, around 10% DOD.

BruceSchwab.com is keeping an operating manual updated. The July 2020 version is at https://oceanplanetenergy.com/wp-con...1-4V-450Ah.pdf

I got a Balmar regulator configuration from Bruce Schwab - attached.

Cheers, RickG
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Test report ETL 16-Voltage vs SOC G31.pdf (374.0 KB, 40 views)
File Type: pdf _Balmar Settings for OPE-Li3_F.Fly - 180803.pdf (80.5 KB, 57 views)
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Old 14-08-2020, 11:56   #4
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Re: FireFly Battery Operational User Notes

Quote:
Originally Posted by RickG View Post

I got a Balmar regulator configuration from Bruce Schwab - attached.

Cheers, RickG
Thanks, good info.

I am surprised at the short bulk/absorption timing for the Balmar. Did anyone say why so short as that is only like 30 minutes on you 80A alternator before just dropping to float voltage. You have 800+ AH of installed batteries and surely they could take longer charge from your alternator.
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Old 14-08-2020, 12:20   #5
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Re: FireFly Battery Operational User Notes

The bulk and absorption times for the MC-614 Are minimums, not a straight timer. It will stay in bulk/absorption as long as needs.

Cheers, RickG
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Old 14-08-2020, 12:25   #6
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Re: FireFly Battery Operational User Notes

Quote:
Originally Posted by RickG View Post
The bulk and absorption times for the MC-614 Are minimums, not a straight timer. It will stay in bulk/absorption as long as needs.

Cheers, RickG
Ok. I have an ARS-5 and didn't know that.
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Old 14-08-2020, 13:28   #7
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Re: FireFly Battery Operational User Notes

Quote:
Originally Posted by RickG View Post
The bulk and absorption times for the MC-614 Are minimums, not a straight timer. It will stay in bulk/absorption as long as needs.

Cheers, RickG
You have a reference for that? I’m not sure it’s correct, the 614 does not know amps just voltage and percent of field drive
https://marinehowto.com/programming-...age-regulator/
Ref #4 under tech tips

In essence it’s pretty much a timer like most other charge sources
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Old 14-08-2020, 13:43   #8
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Re: FireFly Battery Operational User Notes

lets try not to drift

The takeaway is that Rick's settings are working for his FireFly batteries on his boat. If it wasn't a related topic would be what could be changed to correct.
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Old 14-08-2020, 22:17   #9
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Re: FireFly Battery Operational User Notes

Quote:
Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
You have a reference for that? Iím not sure itís correct, the 614 does not know amps just voltage and percent of field drive
https://marinehowto.com/programming-...age-regulator/
Ref #4 under tech tips

In essence itís pretty much a timer like most other charge sources
Bulk is voltage based. It will stay in bulk untill the bulk voltage is reached.

Absorb is timmer based. I increase the absorb timmer. Itís only like 18 mins which is crazy.

Balmar also has different voltages for bulk and absorb which makes no sense. I change them both the same.
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Old 14-08-2020, 23:08   #10
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Re: FireFly Battery Operational User Notes

The Balmar programming code FFL is supposed to delay the switch from Absorption to Float based on a field percentage. With my Firefly's I find this only partially works. It goes much longer than the 18 minutes default but still switches too soon. In theory, playing with this percentage could get it right but I find it easier to just set the minimum absorption time to 3 hours. These batteries won't be hurt by 14.4v (temp compensated) for many hours. The Victron Multi on the genset (and shore power) seems much smarter about when to switch from Absorption to Float.

To the other OP's questions (I have a 800 AH Firefly house bank that's three years old - 210 amp large frame alternator)

- I use the standard Peuket constant. The Victron BV700 seems to track pretty well but still drifts over time. I don't worry about it much.

With my old Lifelines, I worried constantly about not dropping below 50% discharge and getting all the way back to 100%. With the Firefly's I don't worry. I'll glance at the Victron in the late afternoon. If it's below 70% in the late afternoon (e.g. after the solar panels have tapered off) I'll start the genset. I typically go up to 90% and shut off the genset. I rarely see the batteries below 40% charge. Never gone below 20% - but that's mostly because the voltage gets low enough that the Frigoboat refrigeration might shut down.

In three years, I haven't noticed any change in capacity (although I haven't done a real test). So I haven't done any complete discharge-charge cycle. I'm thinking of doing one soon just to see if it makes a difference.

Compared to my previous Lifelines, the Firefly's have great charge acceptance taking a 200 amp charge (on 800 AH) to about 90%. The Lifelines used to taper much earlier. This makes charging much faster. They also seem to take much longer after charging stops to drop to 12.8v. It feels like I'm starting at 110% (although I know that's not true).
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Old 15-08-2020, 04:58   #11
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Re: FireFly Battery Operational User Notes

Thanks that was good info.
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Old 15-08-2020, 05:40   #12
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Re: FireFly Battery Operational User Notes

Quote:
Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
You have a reference for that? Iím not sure itís correct, the 614 does not know amps just voltage and percent of field drive
https://marinehowto.com/programming-...age-regulator/
Ref #4 under tech tips

In essence itís pretty much a timer like most other charge sources
Good question. I'm not an expert so I just RTFM. Reference is page 14 in the manual - https://balmar.net/wp-content/upload...S-MC-614-H.pdf

The timer is the minimum before the regulator goes from bulk to calculated bulk. You can use FbA, Field Threshold - Bulk and Absorption, to influence the calculated bulk time, described on page 15.\

It works for me.

Cheers, RickG
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Old 15-08-2020, 08:01   #13
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Re: FireFly Battery Operational User Notes

any experience in this group with "refreshing" Fireflies?
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Old 15-08-2020, 08:13   #14
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Re: FireFly Battery Operational User Notes

So here we are with 12 firefly onboard, 8 for the house, 3 for the windlass and the side power, 1 for the genset and the engine. We had a problem with the freezer while we were away, Siren reported the house being down to 5.5-5.7, so we got back to the boat and started the engine with 2 alternators working full time and brought them back to 13.2-13.4 and we had to move to a dock for the installation of the water maker with land power for 3 days, house seems to keep up the voltage 12.5 right now since we move to a mooring, just wondering If on a long term how much it will affect the life of those in the house.
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Old 15-08-2020, 08:22   #15
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Re: FireFly Battery Operational User Notes

I'm going to try an "refresh" my 4 G31s in a week or two. They won't take more than 119 amps from 10.5 volts and drop to 60 amps after a couple of minutes.
I bought a cheap DC load tester and I'll check the capacity.
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