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noteven

Some info about adding lithium batteries to existing RV

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With so much about lithium batteries getting too hot and catching fire or exploding when used in portable devices, it does make me wonder if there is a potential for the same to happen with RV or automobile batteries? 

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The chemistry used in deep cycle and automotive lithium batteries from what I am learning is lithium iron phosphate which is not capable of “thermal runaway”. The compound is heavier per kilowatt than batteries that contain cobalt which must be protected from heat and damage. 

As you know the biggest risk with all DC batteries is overloaded and short circuit fires as all those stored electrons want to flow to “earth” asap when given a chance. 

See “welding with car batteries” on the inter web 😯

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Its certainly possible lithium may well be the mainstream future of RV house batteries. For my choice, however, I'm willing to "get by" with AGM or Lead Acid in the short term and let the safety,,,,,,,,, design,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, reliability,,,,,,,,,,,,,, and COST of Lithium come down and improve before I jump on the bandwagon. Like most technologies, I  bet they will improve in safety and reliability and the cost will come down as years pass by, so in the meantime I'm willing and actually glad to let others serve as the "guinea pigs" until the technology safety and reliability improves even more as I bet it will.

 

John T  To each their own choices, it would be boring if we all had the same opinions now lol 

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JohnT - lithium rv tech would make sense for my vintage camper - light weight, rapid recharge from the truck alternator when under way, many amp hours, they enjoy cold storage,  etc. 

EXCEPT - it is “fall” at my camp now. Said camper is sitting at our high of 9F, low tonight is 0F. I don’t want a battery that cannot be charged at those temps without being warmed up. If I forgot to open the shutoff to the house batteries and jumped in the truck and drove off and messed it up I would be saying 🤬...

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1 hour ago, noteven said:

JohnT - lithium rv tech would make sense for my vintage camper - light weight, rapid recharge from the truck alternator when under way, many amp hours, they enjoy cold storage,  etc.

 Noteven, Indeed more precise/smart charging and temperature limitations can pose problems. However I bet over time and as technology improves and costs come down lithium will be more in the mainstream for us RV dry campers. Its just that this 'old school" lol engineer isn't quite ready to jump in the water yet, but I'm happy for and wish the best for those who have made the transition. I will be the first to seek their guidance and expertise.

 John T   Coming to you live, RV parked in a church parking lot in Longview, Texas headed to Austin then Florida yayyyyyyyyyyy 

 

 

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This video is very interesting, the lithium battery testing description within the video is astonishing. The beginning 3:45 is interesting, or skip to that point to get into the meat of the video... 

 

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He's talking about UL rating and testing but it's not like they're the only that has it or it's something new. As a user of 500ah Elite GBS LFP for 30 months now.

From Elite Power Solutions...

"With Phosphate based chemistry and patented safety valve design, our Lithium Ion battery cells demonstrate the highest safety performance in the industry. The safety valves can pop open under abuse conditions, quickly release internal cell pressure, and thus prevent cells from catching fire. Tests have been conducted to confirm cells do not catch fire or explode in various abusive conditions, such as nail penetration, short circuiting, over-charging, over-discharging, over-temperature, crushing, dropping, etc. Our Lithium Ion batteries are certified with UL1642 and UL1973 standards."

Cute video but not really informative as real life experience. 

 

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3 hours ago, Itinerant1 said:

The safety valves can pop open under abuse conditions, quickly release internal cell pressure, and thus prevent cells from catching fire.

Hmm... something seems wrong here.  LiIon batteries produce energy via a chemical reaction that produces heat as a byproduct.  If a cell goes into thermal runaway, these safety valves may prevent an explosion due to sudden pressure increase, but they will certainly not prevent a fire - in fact, just the opposite - as the (now open) valves will allow an inrush of oxygen to fuel the fire.

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3 hours ago, OregonJim said:

Hmm... something seems wrong here.  LiIon batteries produce energy via a chemical reaction that produces heat as a byproduct.  If a cell goes into thermal runaway, these safety valves may prevent an explosion due to sudden pressure increase, but they will certainly not prevent a fire - in fact, just the opposite - as the (now open) valves will allow an inrush of oxygen to fuel the fire.

We're talking about Lifepo4 chemistry not one of the other chemistries. This is what you would be purchasing if using a drop in or buying prismatic  to build your own. 

If you're thinking of the salvaged batteries from electric vehicles different chemistry. Thermal run away is a major concern as was posted and shown on the forum awhile ago with a gentleman's golf cart lipo batteries starting on fire and catching his 5th wheel on fire while just sitting there. :(

 

Not GBS battery but same safety style vent from 2012. Lifepo4 prismatic cell which was shorted to cause a fire 3:06 video.... slowly buldging, lots of venting at 2:30 casing finally explodes but no fire.

https://youtu.be/p21iZVFHEZk

Edited by Itinerant1

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The reason being is folks get confused with the chemistries or the read a post from somewhere or watched a video on youboob then post it like the gospel which the original poster was confused.

Lifepo4 or LFP is fantastic. I say as someone who is living off of it as a fulltime rver having it installed 30+ months ago, having boondocked all of it but 50 days and in a stretch of  686 days continous boondocking now traveling around in a 5th wheel. 1,280w solar being the main source for charging 500ah, if needed I'll  use a Honda eu2000i generator for a hold over charge, used a dozen times in this period for 1-2 hours each. Daily use from sundown to sun up is 125-150 ah using a Magnum 3000w hybrid inverter. The system has not been turned off since day 1 with all the conveniences of home just as if being plugged in. 

Edited by Itinerant1

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Thanks Itinerant1. Great to hear from someone with some time on a system.

Does your battery bank have any kind of auto control to prevent accidental charging of the batteries if they are below safe minimum temperature for charging?

 

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Yes, there is actually more. Magnum has programability along with the Magnum PV solar charge controller. Which follows the inverter/charger programming. First level of protection is the Magnum inverter/ charger which is set for low voltage at 12.0v to shut down . PV charging has been set at 14.1 bulk (CC), 14.2 absorb (CV)(10 minute is minimum, can't be turned off), float 13.6 (CV).

If anything happens that would cause conditions beyond programmed limits the BMS will disconnect the charge source or loads.
**Over voltage (highest cell is over 3.8V after a 3 second delay)
** Under voltage (lowest cell is below 2.8V after a 30 second delay)
** Over current (current exceeds 10C for 10 seconds)
**Over temperature (highest cell exceeds 150°F or 65°C)
**Under temperature (lowest cell is below 32°F or 0°C, charging is not allowed)
**Ground fault (There is a high voltage leakage greater than 2mA to the chassis pin)
**Unmanaged cells (The programmed number of cells does not equal the number of cells read)

 

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Well, I still planning on a Chevy volt battery for our Teton. I am aware of the golf cart incident but it is the only one I can find. Do believe it was decided a internal fault from possible damage of the used battery. This is always a possibility with used battery. I intend to see battery complete and car it was in before buying. All we can really do. Cost of 17k new is over the top of my funds.

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We installed what was probably one of the last LFP battery systems that Balqon sold before they went out of business in 2015.  We have  used the 9 kWh battery pack (700 amp hours) for over 3 years.  I installed it, out of sight behind drawer fronts, in the bedroom above the Magnum Hybrid Inverter located in our 5th wheel basement.  About a year after installation, we had one cell sensor in the BMS go bad.  I was able to identify the manufacturer and replace it.  Now I carry spares, but have not needed them.  

Generally, our travels avoid real cold temps and we have rarely been where the outside temps drop below 20 F.  I don't have hard data, but I doubt our bedroom, or battery, has ever been below 40 F. When it has been really cold outside, it has been at night when our 1060 watts of solar charging is idle.  It may have been stated already, but the advisory is not to CHARGE the battery below 32 F.  We have not, but I think we could use the power in the battery overnight if the battery were colder than that.  But in our case, we can't imaging our bedroom ever getting below freezing unless there were something really unusual going on, in which case we would not charge the battery. 

Ask me again in 5, 10, 15 years, if we still like our lithium system, but so far, it seems to have been the right choice for us due to weight, physical space, capacity, charging properties, and probably cost.  It's that last one, cost, that time will tell about.  If projected life of our battery pack holds true, it should save us money in the long run.

We did our research and don't worry about our battery's chemistry "running away" or causing a fire.  It may be safer than lead acid.  I am very careful with wrenches around the terminals and have developed a method to tighten lugs, once or twice a year, that guards against shorting the battery. 

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The charging voltages stated by Progressive in this pamphlet are way off:  "Lithium Batteries require 14.4 to 14.6-Volts to fully charge. "    You should charge to about 13.8  and then stop. There is almost no benefit and all risk in going higher. As Technomadia and others have reported going higher shortens battery life.

 

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Good to hear that report Jim. Unless someone comes up with an aftermarket bms for the volt battery, I will be without one. But I have heard no problems from Steve Dixion yet with his system.

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A big THANKS to all who provided info above. I'm confident Lithium battery technology (like most technology) charging procedures/control  and safety will continue to improve and costs will come down, and If I'm still alive then I may jump in and test the water, but I'm willing to get by with what I have for now. I have enjoyed this thread...………...

Best wishes, good luck and thanks to the current Lithium users.

John T 

Edited by oldjohnt

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It’s good to know the management system will protect from cold charging. 

I know lithium batteries like cold storage. I have a few carry along tools that are lithium. I let them freeze. Go in a month and pick up the tool and it’s fully charged. Always warm the batteries before charging. But they work fine in the cold. 

Lithium seems to be ideal for my truck camper application where they can be inside the heated envelope when the camper is in use and charge quickly by properly managed current from the truck, tiny generator or charged by a less than giant solar kit. 

For now the ol’ flooded battery is going in the box, out in the cold, to be abused some more

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