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Old 13-07-2023, 09:00   #1
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Victron SuperPacks in Hybrid AGM/LiPo System

Anyone have experience with the Victron SuperPacks LiPo batteries, specifically in an application combining them with AGM batteries? I know they can't be in series, and my plan would be to use my 2-bank house battery selector to manually switch between either AGM or LiPo as needed, with DC-DC charger from AGM to LiPo. There are a few "home built" hybrid lead/LiPo systems installs out there but I can't find any info on this what I would consider is to be a simple solution to my aging but still functional AGMs.

Before challenging as to why I would want to do this and telling me to go all in LiPo, I am a mechanical engineer and have designed a lot of battery powered systems from e-bikes and iPads. I understand lithium and the benefits and complexities. I don't really want to replace my nice AGM battery charger, install a new alternator, buy a bunch of systems components (BMS, monitoring, etc) and re-wire my boat this winter. I'm looking for a shorter project that will give me a little more capacity while also benefiting from the simplicity of my existing AGM when it comes to engine starting and charging. I don't mind that my LiPo charging will be "slower" than it could be due to charging from the AGM; our loads are quite low and again I like the simplicity. But I do want to make sure I'm not missing something less obvious that maybe someone who's done this or is more experienced has learned.

Thanks in advance for your feedback.
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Old 13-07-2023, 09:42   #2
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Re: Victron SuperPacks in Hybrid AGM/LiPo System

I think you mean LFP (LiFePO4), not LiPO (Lithium Polymer).


As long as the two banks aren't left paralleled, I don't see a problem with it.
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Old 14-07-2023, 09:10   #3
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Re: Victron SuperPacks in Hybrid AGM/LiPo System

Thanks Tanglewood, yes looks like the superpacks are LiFePO4 not LiPo. I'm surprised at how few reviews there are for these batteries, even on Amazon. Do people really not like/use integrated LiFePO4 batteries? I really like the simplicity. I've already got a bunch of projects on the docket for the winter and really don't want to tag a full lithium transition to it. Appreciate any and all advice/feedback/reviews of similar batteries. Thanks all!
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Old 14-07-2023, 10:51   #4
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Re: Victron SuperPacks in Hybrid AGM/LiPo System

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Originally Posted by NewDatum View Post
Thanks Tanglewood, yes looks like the superpacks are LiFePO4 not LiPo. I'm surprised at how few reviews there are for these batteries, even on Amazon. Do people really not like/use integrated LiFePO4 batteries? I really like the simplicity. I've already got a bunch of projects on the docket for the winter and really don't want to tag a full lithium transition to it. Appreciate any and all advice/feedback/reviews of similar batteries. Thanks all!
I think the lack of reviews is largely due to victron stuff is more expensive, for victron the only support is through a dealer, often these are professionally installed.

Given how well everything else victron works I would suspect the batteries are top notch although expensive.

I am not sure how your A/B solution will end up working long term. At a minimum you are going to want seperate battery monitors. Also how will you charge the LFP pack (or if charging is all to the LFP pack how will you charge the AGM pack)?
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Old 14-07-2023, 12:44   #5
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Re: Victron SuperPacks in Hybrid AGM/LiPo System

Thanks. Yeah Iím happy to pay a premium for quality, simple solutions. I know I can engineer a hybrid system with automatic charging and balancing but time is money and for me I just need a little more capacity.

My plan would be to charge the Superpack with my AGMs via the Orion DC-DC charger. Looks like that has Bluetooth and monitoring too. I charge my AGMs with shorepower and my alternator. I could probably figure out a way to charge the AGM with the LiFePO too, but I have no need for that. My AGM bank is basically the same size as the Superpack.

This system would require no new charger ($1k+), no BMS (itís in the Superpack), and no aftermarket alternator for my perfectly functional Yanmar. AGMs continue to run windlass, starter, other high-load components and I just I manually switch between AGM and LiFePO house banks. It all seems so simple, which is why Iím confused why no one seems to do it. Thanks again.
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Old 17-07-2023, 09:59   #6
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Re: Victron SuperPacks in Hybrid AGM/LiPo System

We don't have SuperPacks but do have two LiFePO 6kw battery Microgreen Energy-Paks and Victron 3000/12/120 Inverter/Charger. The engine alternators, Delco 19si, are stock and both charge the 2x2 engine start G27 AGMs. We use two Orion-Tr Smart DC-DC 30amp controllers to charge the LiFePO batteries from the AGMs, that in conjunction with solar gets everything up to 100%.
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Old 17-07-2023, 10:55   #7
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Re: Victron SuperPacks in Hybrid AGM/LiPo System

Thank you for this data point. Are the Orions one for each battery? Do you manually turn on the chargers for the LiFePOs, or rely on their alternator sensing? My plan would be to manually activate charging from the AGMs using a switch. Do you have a charging method from the LiFePO back to AGM? I don't necessarily want to do this, but would be interested in knowing if others have. Finally, any protection against accidentally putting the AGM and LiFePOs in parallel? I will be using 1-2-off-both selector, with a label on both saying DO NOT COMBINE but wondering if additional protection is needed (aside from internal BMS, standard fusing). Have a question into Victron requesting the same thing. Thanks again.
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Old 17-07-2023, 11:26   #8
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Re: Victron SuperPacks in Hybrid AGM/LiPo System

Quote:
Originally Posted by NewDatum View Post
There are a few "home built" hybrid lead/LiPo systems installs out there but I can't find any info on this what I would consider is to be a simple solution to my aging but still functional AGMs.
We have a LifePO4 (LFP) 120A plus Lead-acid (LA) 170A hybrid bank and it has been superb. We went for this solution because I wasn't prepared to throw away a good pair of Trojan flooded LAs. It also means that in the even of the LFP BMS shutting down the LA will support the electrics on board and if we should ever use all the LFP capacity, some reserve power.

In practise this hasn't happened in two years. Whilst we have a Victron DC>DC charger from the AGM engine battery to the domestic hybrid bank, you can connect the alternator directly. Use the long wire technique to limit the current so it doesn't over heat the alternator or mean the expense of external regulators. We manually switch in the DC>DC when necessary, but haven't used it so far this year and only twice in 2021.

We isolate the LFP when not on board, but the solar keeps the LA fully charged, runs the bilge pumps if necessary and stops the MPPTs from loosing their settings.

For those out West on the big island, your ABYC whilst only advisory, has kind of put the mockers on hybrid systems. Some FB groups will treat you like a heretic for just mentioning hybrid, never mind practising it. I resigned from one.

In fairness no one could recommend putting LFP in parallel with a worn out LA battery system hoping to extend their life. That just isn't going to work, just as you wouldn't recommend putting a new LA battery in an old LA system. Hybrid can be done, but needs LA to be in good condition as a start point. Equally you probably don't need to retain a huge LA bank, instead let the LFP do the work. In practise we see about 10% coming from the LA during a heavy load like boiling the electric kettle. The LFP doing the rest at night. During the day any power from solar is used first, then the LFP and a little from LA.

What are we doing next? Well 120A of LFP was a "dip a toe in the water" science experiment at low cost. Now two years on I have just ordered another 100A LFP to add to the mix creating a greater reserve of power. More would be nice, but I am running out of space on a 31ft yacht. The washing machine and freezer are under threat

This is one of the first on line site I read before starting:

https://www.zwerfcat.nl/en/lithium-hybrid.html

Whilst putting it all together Emily and Clarke came out with a pair of videos adding LFP to LA and LA to LFP.

https://www.youtube.com/@EmilyAndClark

Our solution (edited Sep 23 to include extra LFP and RCBO)
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Old 17-07-2023, 11:55   #9
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Re: Victron SuperPacks in Hybrid AGM/LiPo System

Quote:
Originally Posted by NewDatum View Post
Thank you for this data point. Are the Orions one for each battery? Do you manually turn on the chargers for the LiFePOs, or rely on their alternator sensing? My plan would be to manually activate charging from the AGMs using a switch. Do you have a charging method from the LiFePO back to AGM? I don't necessarily want to do this, but would be interested in knowing if others have. Finally, any protection against accidentally putting the AGM and LiFePOs in parallel? I will be using 1-2-off-both selector, with a label on both saying DO NOT COMBINE but wondering if additional protection is needed (aside from internal BMS, standard fusing). Have a question into Victron requesting the same thing. Thanks again.
The Orions are in parallel from the 2x2 AGM banks, (2) G27 for each starting engine. The alternators only charge the AGMs. I have another AGM for the generator and two more for the bow thruster which have their own charger. We do not use any manual switching. There is no charging from LiFePO to AGM, strictly one-way. Both LiFePO banks are in parallel but can be taken offline individually through the monitor switch. We also have a Cerbo to monitor all usage. This appears to be the new standard configuration as it doesn't require any additional alternator modes or external regulator to complicate things. My instruments run off the LiFePO bank, probably not ideal, but we use iPads to run navigation. When you get this much LiFePO power you will lots of solar, typically 2x. We have 960watts (only ever see 800 max) which I would double if I had the space, we also have a 12.5kw generator.
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Old 17-07-2023, 16:14   #10
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Re: Victron SuperPacks in Hybrid AGM/LiPo System

thanks, this is all super interesting. I agree that this may be a project worth deviating from ABYC standards. Fortunately removal will be very easy if I ever needed to sell the boat. I think having two separate battery banks (AGM + LiFePo4) is actually safer, on so many levels, than converting the entire system to lithium. I am still in the camp where a smart human is smarter than a computer (and don't want any systems shutting down on me due to electronics I didn't design). As long as the two batteries are never connected (which I realize some people actually do) there is no additional risk from this system. My AGMs are rock solid and super simple, just like my diesel. If I just need extra capacity for luxury items like refrigeration HVAC, I'll add that capacity via lithium without affecting the reliability of any of my critical systems.

I'm clearly the outlier when it comes to efficiency and hybrid systems. I live on an Island that is 10 miles long, but everyone is buying Teslas with 300 miles of range. They lug around a 3,000lb battery on their trips to the store, and wear through tires thanks to all the extra weight. I have a BMW i3, which has a 20kwhr battery and gets 70 miles to the charge. When I need more, a little 2 cyl motorcycle engine engages and charges my battery for unlimited driving using a 2-gallon tank. I rarely use the gas range extender, but it's nice to have. Something like 80% of drives are less than 20 miles, yet big auto is ravaging the earth for lithium so people can drive 400 miles. Makes no sense to me.

Anyway that's my rant for the day. I will keep digging on this and appreciate any additional experiences people have.
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Old 21-07-2023, 15:44   #11
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Re: Victron SuperPacks in Hybrid AGM/LiPo System

Quote:
Originally Posted by NewDatum View Post
Thanks Tanglewood, yes looks like the superpacks are LiFePO4 not LiPo. I'm surprised at how few reviews there are for these batteries, even on Amazon. Do people really not like/use integrated LiFePO4 batteries? I really like the simplicity. I've already got a bunch of projects on the docket for the winter and really don't want to tag a full lithium transition to it. Appreciate any and all advice/feedback/reviews of similar batteries. Thanks all!
The Victron superpacks have Winston cells plus quite a simple BMS inside.
They are installed mostly professionally.
DIYer would buy Winston cells and add better external BMS for less money, which i would advise you do.

Have a look at x2 BMS, that combines your AGM with winston cells.
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Old 21-07-2023, 15:50   #12
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Re: Victron SuperPacks in Hybrid AGM/LiPo System

Quote:
Originally Posted by gwalker View Post
The Orions are in parallel from the 2x2 AGM banks, (2) G27 for each starting engine. The alternators only charge the AGMs. I have another AGM for the generator and two more for the bow thruster which have their own charger. We do not use any manual switching. There is no charging from LiFePO to AGM, strictly one-way. Both LiFePO banks are in parallel but can be taken offline individually through the monitor switch. We also have a Cerbo to monitor all usage. This appears to be the new standard configuration as it doesn't require any additional alternator modes or external regulator to complicate things. My instruments run off the LiFePO bank, probably not ideal, but we use iPads to run navigation. When you get this much LiFePO power you will lots of solar, typically 2x. We have 960watts (only ever see 800 max) which I would double if I had the space, we also have a 12.5kw generator.
Change all your AGM to one LTO bank. They are saver, have much more peak capacity and install once and forget for next 30 years. Cannot get simpler than that.
I tossed AGMs overboard or ripped them out of a 3 month old car on highway parking due to thermal runaway and batteries gasing and catching fire.
AGM is the worst chemistry on a boat. One faulty regulator and you have a huge fire risk.
And a faulty regulator is Issue no1 on alternator failures. So not that simple and safe.
And yes its ideal to run your electronics of lifepo4 as less peaks and much more stable voltage which they honor providing longer lifespan.
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