Re: LiFePO4 Conversion on sv BeBe - SM#387


Jose Venegas
 

Hi Dan,

Thank you for describing your system with such detail.  Your experience and that from Brian from Delos were very helpful to me as I was upgrading Ipanema to Lithium.
Here is my experience, with a few differences in case they are helpful to others:

We are still in Curacao waiting for Cartagena’s opening.  While we waited, and well aware that my 3 yearl old AGM's were on their last weeks, I decided to do the Lithium upgrade (8 Battle Born 100 aH)  plus installation of a new 5 kW inverter (Victron) and a 100 amp battery charger Mastervolt that I had purchased before I left Boston a year ago. 
- The swaping of the batteries was a piece of cake except for the work of getting out the old AGM's. 

-  I buught the inverter alone instead of the combo because I already had purchased the 100 amp charger and because this helped me to avoid the issue of 50-60 Hz that one has to deal while in most marinas of North and South America; given that the inverter charger automatically connects shore power to the 220 V circuit of the boat, it makes dangerous to inadvertently were to use any of the 3 appliances that will be damaged by 60 Hz. For this purpose I left the 2 kW inverter installed to provide power to these appliances with an extension cord  if I am running on shore power.  
-  I installed a 5 kW Victron inverter on the bulkhead next to the navigation table.  This not only kept the inverter dry and cooler than in the engine compartment, but it also minimized the cable size (distance) to the batteries.  
-  Even so, because of the high power of the inverter, they recommended two 1/0 cables per pole.  These 4 huge cables, plus the cables that came from my old installation of a 2 KW  220v 50 Hz inverter and 2 KW 110V 60 Hz inverter, plus the cables coming from 2 solar controllers and the wind generator (all mounted above the inverter), plus the circuit breakers for all of the above,  made the space of the two large switches next to the batteries into a  spaghetti of cables with very little room for anything else.  The good thing was that I did not have to pass heavy gauge cables from the battery box to the engine compartment.  All I had to do was to make four small openings on the bulkhead below the inverter to pass the 4 DC cables and one 3 cable AC 30 amp cable into the spaghetti box that lead to the battereies via the two large switches.
- What was particularly hard was passing the  220 V cable from the inverter into the engine compartment.  Just drilling the hole was a nightmare because of the small space under the passage to the aft cabin that carries the DC cables to the engine compartment, and does not have enough space to use a drill.  Once the whole to the engine compartment was made, making sure that the cablesand  tubes were not damaged, passing the 220V cable was also hard because of the insulating foam and the large number of cables that run up and down in that wall of the engine room.  
- However,  once the cable was passed, the connection of the inverter  220V output to the boat AC circuit was a piece of cake as it just required adding a third outlet to the 220v white box that is used to connect either the 220 V shore power directly or the 110v to 220v transformed source (see pix below).  In this way,  all the AC 220 v outlets and appliances of the boat could be energized with the inverter without rewiring anything.  Just unplug from the 220 V shore power and plug into the outlet from the inverter.
-  Obviously, one should never attempt to charge the batteries using the inverter, unless one wants to break thermodynamic laws. 
- One advantage of this set up is that upon
 turning on the generator, the existing Amel relay automatically switches the 220 v input to the generator from what ever outlet it was connected.  Alternatively one can connect the circuit to the shore power by simply changing the outlet of the white box, but one has to be aware of the 60-50 Hz issue with the washing machines and the microwave oven.  

  

Using this setup and lithium batteries/inverter as a source of power, I tested the microwave, the washing machine, the water heater, and one of the air conditioners (one appliance at a time of course).  The air conditioning, ended up drawing about 50 amp from the battery bank, which means that it can only be used for a few hours if one needs to cool the room before going to sleep or for reducing the humidity.  I still need to test how much current the water-maker will consume, but I know that it should work because I have ran it with the shore power, which is limited in power.  I will report if it works out as soon as I leave the marina.

Below are a few pix illustrating the location of the new devices. 

 

 5 kW Inverter plus the original 2 2kW inverters above it (110 v 60 Hz in front and the 220V 50 Hz behind)  The first inverter is used for finiki  110 V tools and Bose sound equipment,  ant the second is exclusively used when connected to shore power with 60 Hz to run the 50 Hz appliances which are disconnected from the boat's outlets and connected to an extension cord.  I don't expect to be doing this much since I hope to be completely depending on solar and wind power. 

 


T
he new MasterVolt 100 amp Bat Charger was mounted in front of the Amel 110V-230V transformer, to the side of the Mastervolt 60 amp charger that I had installed to replace the original 50 amp charger 10 years ago.  I left the original 30 amp charger as a backup but inactive since I used its cables to connect the 60 amp charger and the cables from the 60 amp charger to connect the 100 amp charger.  It worked like a charm as 160 amps produced by these chargers were accepted by the lithium batteries.  With the AGM's the charging current rapidly dropoed bellow 30 amp making it a long process to charge them with the generator.

 

 

This is the 220V white box plus the third outlet.  Onduleur is the name in french for inverter!



Again, thanks to Brian, Dan and Bill for their input and suggestions and I hope this can be of help to others.


Jose Venegas
Ipanema SM2K 278
Curaçao

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