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Old 11-03-2021, 06:15   #1
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Question Low Budget Lifepo4 Experiences anyone?

Hi,

next year we will need to replace our batteries before moving on board longtime. So far I was settled on lead acid batteries but I just stumbled over a youtube video with a guy testing some low priced B grade Lifepo4 batteries.

Looks surprisingly decent. Might be an idea to get together with few others and order one set extra to replace any bad cells. Its a bit of a gamble that they are all good, but seems unlikely that they are all bad.

Has someone experiences with these batteries (see precise model & video at the bottom of this post).

We are on a budget, so please do not trash this with comments like mine are 3 times as expensive and therefore better.
If they do not last quite as much in the long run as grade A high end models I am ok with that. We can afford a replacement in the same pricerange several years down the line, we can not afford grade A right now.

An alternative would be wet LA cells, but as they need 50% more capacity than Lifepo4 I wonder if these would not be a good solution.

Last not least, how long could I store these without using them? We would start using them spring next year.

439€ for 280Ah@3.2V/Cell joined to 280Ah@12V with free (slow) shipping to Germany seems hard to beat.
As Lifepo4 seems to have less of issue with deep discharging than lead acid I'd think we could be happy with two of these packs = 560Ah@12V
In case of lead acid we would need to buy about 800-1000Ah.

Specifically this video:


And these cells:
https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005...Log=new_Detail
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Old 11-03-2021, 08:40   #2
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Re: Low Budget Lifepo4 Experiences anyone?

I have been looking at those myself. There are several videos on Youtube on these blue aluminum Lifepo4 batteries. I believe there are some A's for the same or similar price. i did see that you have to really check and make sure you get good batteries from some of the alie express venders, you can get junk or false ones. the last one i looked at had a faster shipping service with a tracking# for $150ish. the videos testing these show they are really good batteries. i seen the same ones on facebook market place for double. it appears to be a standard form factor/dimensions, IF they end up only lasting 5-7 years the battery box and electrical will be set up to get good ones for an easy swap. my wet cells only lasted 7-8 years anyway.

Regardless i am in a sister boat and will probably pick up a batch myself. 2 weeks to 2 months for shipping sucks. I just priced out 6v GC-2 wetcell's. its $500-600+ for a set of 4,. the battleborn and like commercial lifepo4s are $2k-$4k and i will only get a couple hundred AH's for the same space.

building my bank with these lifepos4's i can take advantage of the space the commercial and lead acid cells cant. I am looking at 800-1000ah for the same price, ~1900 for 16 280ah Lifepo4's. i have a 24v system so that's important for me as i already have to by double the amount of whatever chemistry battery. will probably use one of the venders from the youtube videos that test them.

As a separate issue is the BMS. i was going to initially use one of the cheap BMS thats recommended. i have mostly Victron products and i am looking for a BMS that works with Victron/Canbus/NMEA2k. unfortunately those are all the expensive ones it seems.
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Old 11-03-2021, 09:54   #3
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Re: Low Budget Lifepo4 Experiences anyone?

Can you afford a risky investment? You can be very sure of getting good Lead/acid flooded or AGM batteries, with warranties. You might score on these Li/ions, but if you don't, you are out money that you had budgeted for batteries. Personally, I wouldn't do that unless I really needed the space/weight, and had the money to risk. I don't have the need part, so I've stayed with flooded batteries, using the forum recommended Duracells from Sam's Club US.
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Old 11-03-2021, 10:09   #4
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Re: Low Budget Lifepo4 Experiences anyone?

Thanks to both of you for your contribution.

Would be cool to hear from someone who has already bought them and is using on the boat though.

@alaskanviking
Good point regarding BMS system, guess I need to price that in so far we only have a 35Waeco charger and a couple of solar&wind controllers directly linked to our battery bank.

@tkeithlu
Well, looking on the benefits of them (Weight, space, reduced maintenance, better mounting options, price) and the likelyhood of all of them in a pack of 4 being faulty I think I can risk it.
If I order 2x4 cells now and 1-2 of them are faulty I have still enough budget to get another 4 and replace those faulty cells. Alternatively I need to find 1-2 single cells as replacement.
But, with a little bit of luck none is faulty and I got a good deal. Still you are right that it is something to think about.



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Originally Posted by tkeithlu View Post
Can you afford a risky investment? You can be very sure of getting good Lead/acid flooded or AGM batteries, with warranties. You might score on these Li/ions, but if you don't, you are out money that you had budgeted for batteries. Personally, I wouldn't do that unless I really needed the space/weight, and had the money to risk. I don't have the need part, so I've stayed with flooded batteries, using the forum recommended Duracells from Sam's Club US.
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Old 11-03-2021, 10:16   #5
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Re: Low Budget Lifepo4 Experiences anyone?

Do not listen to the naysayers as they have zero experience with lithium. Go for it, they are game changers and the time is now.

Make sure to follow recommendations on which cells and which vendors. With that video you’re on the right path, check out his forum as well.

You will need some tools, good multimeter, bench top power supply etc. Don’t let that discourage you, it’s easy and those YouTube videos show exactly how it’s done.
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Old 11-03-2021, 10:35   #6
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Re: Low Budget Lifepo4 Experiences anyone?

I have just started reading through information at https://diysolarforum.com/
They have specific vendors they have found reliable on alibaba, as well as good diy information. If going down that route, would be worth at least browsing through their information I think.
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Old 11-03-2021, 10:47   #7
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Re: Low Budget Lifepo4 Experiences anyone?

Quote:
Originally Posted by s/v Jedi View Post
Do not listen to the naysayers as they have zero experience with lithium. Go for it, they are game changers and the time is now.

Make sure to follow recommendations on which cells and which vendors. With that video you’re on the right path, check out his forum as well.

You will need some tools, good multimeter, bench top power supply etc. Don’t let that discourage you, it’s easy and those YouTube videos show exactly how it’s done.
+1

On the other hand it is difficult b/c there is so much information. For me it would be helpful to have something like: a. buy these blue cell moduls, b. buy this bms, c. do that when "the lithium" is full but load still here, d. do/don't care about imbalance, e. anything else?

There are threads here which are helpful, but often they are really long and distracting. Info from e.g. zwerfcat or Nordkyn is (seems, as I didn't yet completly read it) great, but is challenging to digest. A simple recipe is missing, something like "I need 280 or 560 Ah", "how much solar is needed", "what shall I do"
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Old 11-03-2021, 10:47   #8
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Re: Low Budget Lifepo4 Experiences anyone?

Thanks Narfi & Jedi,

I'll look deeper into it.
Possibly I find some folks over here who are willing to share an additional as contingency for possible faulty cells.
Thanks for the hints with the forums too.
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Old 11-03-2021, 10:50   #9
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Re: Low Budget Lifepo4 Experiences anyone?

True, that "cookbook" would be nice, but as boats vary widely and this technology changes so rapidly (as do the vendors, especially on Alibaba) it will be hard to write it ;-)

Guess thats what professional systems engineers are paid for. But obviously I'd love to have the "Dummies guide to LiFePo on boats" too!
Quote:
Originally Posted by blu3534 View Post
+1

On the other hand it is difficult b/c there is so much information. For me it would be helpful to have something like: a. buy these blue cell moduls, b. buy this bms, c. do that when "the lithium" is full but load still here, d. do/don't care about imbalance, e. anything else?

There are threads here which are helpful, but often they are really long and distracting. Info from e.g. zwerfcat or Nordkyn is (seems, as I didn't yet completly read it) great, but is challenging to digest. A simple recipe is missing, something like "I need 300 Ah", "how much solar is needed", "what shall I do"
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Old 11-03-2021, 11:29   #10
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Re: Low Budget Lifepo4 Experiences anyone?

I have built my own 250ah bank for under 700 all in here is a link to my refit and description of the bank.
https://www.cruisersforum.com/forums...ml#post3063595
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Old 11-03-2021, 11:55   #11
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Re: Low Budget Lifepo4 Experiences anyone?

Great. Well done!

Seems like these are similar to the cells I found.
Question from the plug & play folks here ;-) , would that BMS handle two (or even 3) of these sets as well? = 560Ah @ 12v or even 840Ah @12v or do we need a different one than?

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I have built my own 250ah bank for under 700 all in here is a link to my refit and description of the bank.
https://www.cruisersforum.com/forums...ml#post3063595
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Old 11-03-2021, 12:02   #12
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Re: Low Budget Lifepo4 Experiences anyone?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Franziska View Post
Great. Well done!

Seems like these are similar to the cells I found.
Question from the plug & play folks here ;-) , would that BMS handle two (or even 3) of these sets as well? = 560Ah @ 12v or even 840Ah @12v or do we need a different one than?
For larger banks the bms doesn't care but if you are going to run large inverters you should get the bms that has the ability of handling the amperage you might draw .
Personally I like the Daly bms they are robust and most important for us water proof
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Old 11-03-2021, 12:17   #13
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Re: Low Budget Lifepo4 Experiences anyone?

Hey thanks.

No, we will not run large inverters.
We just have some loads which run longer once in a while.

Its less about a pointload for us but more about continous draw. I am aware that we need to charge that back in though.

As you seem to be into the subject to some degree, we have a Waeco 1235 charger (can handle 220V & 110V input & charges up to 35A@12V, https://www.dometic.com/en-gb/uk/pro...a-1235-_-52943) right now, would we need somthing bigger for shoreside charging? Or, add a second Waeco 1235 for the larger banks (560Ah @ 12v or even 840Ah @12v)?

At sea we have a 2.6kWh Genset, 5x solar & a windgen for now.


Quote:
Originally Posted by newhaul View Post
For larger banks the bms doesn't care but if you are going to run large inverters you should get the bms that has the ability of handling the amperage you might draw .
Personally I like the Daly bms they are robust and most important for us water proof
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Old 11-03-2021, 13:15   #14
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Re: Low Budget Lifepo4 Experiences anyone?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Franziska View Post
Hey thanks.

No, we will not run large inverters.
We just have some loads which run longer once in a while.

Its less about a pointload for us but more about continous draw. I am aware that we need to charge that back in though.

As you seem to be into the subject to some degree, we have a Waeco 1235 charger (can handle 220V & 110V input & charges up to 35A@12V, https://www.dometic.com/en-gb/uk/pro...a-1235-_-52943) right now, would we need somthing bigger for shoreside charging? Or, add a second Waeco 1235 for the larger banks (560Ah @ 12v or even 840Ah @12v)?

At sea we have a 2.6kWh Genset, 5x solar & a windgen for now.
For our lfp banks a 35 amp charger is really small . It will work but 35 amps = 35ah
My trace 2512 inverter charger has an adjustable charger built in that goes from 1 amp to 120 amps .

Optimal would be if you could have between .3C and .5C charging for speed and longevity.
Which is for your 280ah bank optimal .3C a 90 amp charger up to a 140 amp at .5C
Ie fully charge from 10% to 80% in approximately 2 to 3 hours . Lower charge won't hurt any except add time needed to charge.
BTW lfp don't need nor like to be fully charged.
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Old 11-03-2021, 13:23   #15
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Re: Low Budget Lifepo4 Experiences anyone?

I have been living full time in my Mercedes diesel based RV using a 200ah set of LifePo4 cells salvaged from another RV that had a disastrous BMS (it drew 3 amps). I have 400w of solar and a genset besides the 160 amp main engine alternator. After a year, I am also convinced the LifePo4 cells are a game changer because they have very little voltage sag and you only need to put back 105% of the energy you take out, vs 125% with lead acid.

A lot depends on your electrical load and charging systems. My load is minimal, because I have a propane powered refrigerator and all LED lights. In fact, I leave my 117 dollar 600w inverter on 24/7 to power laptops, CPAP, and 3 TVs just because I can. My $115 BMS is rated at 120 amps, which means that if I want to run the microwave, I turn on the genset. I also added an active cell balancer for $10. The house battery is has a combining relay with the AGM starter battery which only connects them when the main engine is running. I have set my $140 MPPT solar controller to 13.8v bulk charge and 13.6 volts float, and I bought a $25 Life plugin to my shore power charger which will maintain the battery at 13.4 volts or bulk charge it at 14.5 volts when I run the genset or am plugged in. The only concern I currently have is that the main engine alternator may overcharge the battery a bit on long runs, because it is regulated at 14.1 volts. The alternator charges 65 amps into the house battery when it is low, which I have limited by putting a 12 ft piece of #6 wire into the circuit as a current limiting resistor.

I chose the BMS and inverter on the basis of cost vs function, Not only do they cost less, they have lower parasitic losses. When the RV sits unplugged, it consumes 0.2KwH (15 ah) per day with the inverter and refrigerator off, versus 0.4 KwH/day with them on. The BMS does not have the power to start a diesel, even though the cells do. If the start battery is to weak to roll the main diesel, I can force the combiner on to charge it enough from the solar/generator/house battery in less than 15 minutes.

All has been going well for a year with only about 10% of my time on shore power, and I just load tested the cells again with less than 5% capacity loss. In the event I had a significant loss in the cells, I would have replaced them with the 280 ah aluminum case cells, which are physically smaller and cheaper than lead acid. With the rate that the LifePo4 systems are improving, I expect to pay less for replacements in the future.
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