A lot of really helpful information has been written and shared about converting to lithium batteries and the benefits thereof (thank you all). Compared to my experience 20 years ago, when I lived aboard my SM for 3 years, lithium batteries with a large inverter and solar panels sounds like paradise. In 2019 I was on the verge of going this route but delays caused by the Covid pandemic caused me to follow a compromise route and to drop the lithium battery element.
My route has been to replace the old Dolphin 100A charger with a Victron 24V/3000/70A Multiplus inverter/charger along with 990W of solar panels (three LG Neon2Black (LG330N1K-V5)) managed by a Victron Smart Solar MPPT 100/50. A Victron VE Smart Bus provides voltage and temperature data to the MPPT. I also replaced the old battery monitor with a Victron BMV-712. The solar panels are mounted above some Simpson electric davits I had installed at the same time. This year the batteries that came with Wilna Grace gave up the ghost and I replaced them with Victron Gel 110AH instead of going over to Lithium.
My cruising plans are to remain in and explore the Mediterranean, spending ~6+months aboard each year. Consequently my demands, and the cost vs. benefit analysis, are perhaps not those of a live aboard round-the-world cruiser.
I’m hopeful that with such shallow cycling the Gel batteries should last 6+ years, not as good a Lithium but not bad. I’ve only had one season’s experience with this setup, but at the moment the only reason I would change to lithium would be to run an induction stove or to run an air conditioner. I’m not ruling out lithium, there’s absolutely no doubt in my mind about the benefits; should my cruising plans/needs change I will install lithium in the blink of an eye.
For someone on a limited budget and with my type of cruising profile I would prioritise the key elements in the following order: (1) large solar array. (2) large inverter. (3) lithium batteries.
Attached are some photos of the installation on Wilna Grace and drawings of the solar panel array. From this installation I have had two learnings: -
We had two other mini-projects this year which have also delivered big benefits.
Hope it is helpful.
SV Wilna Grace
Amel 54 #58