Topics

Converting my Amel 54 to lithium batteries: what I did, what I like and what I don't like (after one year of full time live aboard use)

Brent Cameron
 

Thanks Scott.  I am making copious notes for when I get my own Amel.    A side hobby has been following the whole Lithium thing (even outside of sailboats) so your experience is quite apropos!  I did look up the cost of those 25.6V batteries and you definitely made the right decision!  (They seem to be double the cost of the same capacity configured your way).  I also looked at the Victron documentation and sample schematics for the BP-200 and it seems like they always have it configured as a master cutoff like you have - even with much bigger battery banks.  I’m a bit surprised by this as they are essentially limiting the battery bank to discharging 200A no matter how much capacity it has - albeit 200A at 24V is a whole lot of power so I’m surprised your Passerelle melted it.  I would suspect that your bow thruster has similar or greater current draw.  You might want to look into why it was drawing >> 200A as it is just a hydraulic pump I thought.  Anyway, thanks for responding to my questions.  Fair winds!

On September 5, 2019, 10:49 PM -0400, Scott SV Tengah <Scott.nguyen@...>, wrote:
Brent,

Glad you found some value in it. I went through a lot of brain damage to get to where I am today, so no need for others to repeat my mistakes.

Answers to your questions:

1) That is correct, 1 fuse per 25.8v pair.
2) You are correct - no worries, if I'm wrong about something, I'd rather have someone point it out than for me to remain blissfully ignorant about my ignorance. :) They are daisy chained. I tried to use the BP-220 but that failed due to overcurrent. I think the Victron system responds to over/under voltage in a very blunt manner - I don't believe it shuts down nor disconnects individual batteries. One of the cells in one of the batteries is over voltage and the all of the chargers stop charging. In the under voltage situation, it just cuts off your load to prevent battery damage until the charger(s) have raised voltage back above the lower limit.

Each battery can be monitored (temp and cell voltages) via bluetooth. I surmise if your BMS cut everything off, you could check individually and then remove the battery (or more accurately the battery and the one it's serially connected to) from the bank and continue on.

3) My understanding of the low voltage cutoff is that it's "global"  - so the VE.BUS BMS can't instruct a specific BP-220 to load disconnect. I actually think your idea of putting three BP-220s in the system, one for each battery pair MIGHT work to protect the batteries, but as I said, the load disconnect signal is global. Nowhere in the documentation does it show the capacity to assign specific a specific load disconnector to specific batteries. I'm loathe to spend more money on BP-220s when a single one should have been able to handle the passarelle. 

4) The height on the 25.6/200 is a problem. Even with my 12.8/150 model, I had to trim a bit of the bracing on the lid. I just looked and noted the 12.8/200 is reported to be the same size as the 12.8/150. I'm not sure this model existed at the time I installed my system AND it seems a bit odd that you get 33% more capacity with the same size and only 10% more weight. So it may be a typo. But if not, it's an easy way to get more capacity.
https://www.victronenergy.com/upload/documents/Datasheet-12,8-&-25,6-Volt-lithium-iron-phosphate-batteries-Smart-EN.pdf

6) Great idea in general. I will say that my Volvo isn't ground isolated. A previous owner replaced the 12v alternator and didn't put the isolated version in, so the negative is connected to the bonding system. I've been told by very knowledgable Amel reps that it's not ideal to have the 12v negative connected, but it's not a huge problem. Hell, most boats are setup that way. I'm careful, so we installed an additional "main battery switch" whereby I can disconnect the 12v negative when I'm anchored for a while or tied up, so as to eliminate the connection between 12v negative and bonding. This also prevents the genset/engine from starting, obviously. 

But your idea is very good.

--
Scott 
2007 A54 #69
SV Tengah
http://www.svtengah.com

--
Brent Cameron

Future Amel Owner & Amel Owner Registry Moderator

Oro-Medonte, Ontario, Canada

Scott SV Tengah
 

I'm sure I'm using the wrong terminology, but Victron's intent (from their engineer's mouths) is that you put the "control wires" through the BP-220.

For example, the thin wires leading from the bow thruster joystick, which carry very little current, would go through the BP-220 but not the big thick wires that carry the current to actually operate the bowthruster. However if you "load disconnect" the wires from the joystick, the bowthruster won't operate, achieving the load disconnect's aim.

I think to segregate it like that on an Amel would be a big project since it wasn't designed from the outset to accommodate a load-disconnect system.
--
Scott 
2007 A54 #69
SV Tengah
http://www.svtengah.com

Dan Carlson
 

Hi all,  I've been following the Lithium topic closely now and want to make the conversion this November when I return to BeBe.    As I have followed this thread and also talked with other cruisers that have converted in the past here are a couple questions that I would like to see some experience opinions on:
1)  Smart Batteries vs Smart BMS:  It seems most of the focus has been on the Smart Batteries from BattleBorn, Dragonfly or VE.  However, I have also come across some cruisers that have installed Winston or other LI batteries that are then controlled by a central BMS.  (this BMS will monitor each battery individually and can adjust the charge to the individual batteries to keep them in balance.  And then it also has over all cut in/cut out relays to protect the entire battery bank from over or under charge.   Has anyone had experience with this type of set up?
2) Big Box Charger vs Charger/Inverter:  So far the discussion has been dominated by the Victron Charger/Inverter set up.   One of my cruiser friends (non-Amel) has switched his boat over to keeping the chargers and inverters separate, with good logic.  He has redundant charging capabilities and then supplies all of his on-board 230 volt requirements from the inverter.  (He may have a jaded view as he lost his Big box charger/inverter a year or so ago and this convinced him that it was better not to have everything in one box).  Thoughts?  What would Henri Amel do?
3) Daily Life with LI:  At Anchor, Marina life, Passages, Storage?   I think battery management when I am active on the boat will be pretty straight-forward, but what I am less sure of is how to best manage the battery maintenance when I need to leave the boat for a period of time during the season, or when I put it up for and extended period (ie hurricane season), or  how to be confident that the batteries are not being over-charged in an extended motoring situation? 

Already the recent 'threads' are getting hard to navigate.   Would it make sense to divide some of these topics in separate threads?   i.e  batteries, charger/inverters, alternator controls, Life w/ LI?   

I really appreciate all the information that is available on this forum.  

Dan & Lori Carlson on SM#387, sv BeBe  - we have 405w of Solar and use about 4000 watts/day at anchor. 

Scott SV Tengah
 

Dan,

Answers to your questions:

1) As I mentioned, I didn't want to mess around with different manufacturers in case the expensive batteries died. I learned this from when I was working - to the extent possible, make sure you have one responsible party when there are many interconnected systems/processes. If you buy a Winston battery, which I considered, and it dies, they will certainly blame the Victron charger. Victron will claim their charger is perfect. You are now the one paying for a new one out of pocket. By going Victron on battery and charger and getting Victron to help me set it up, I am more likely to have the warranty honored.

Lithium requires enough thinking, I didn't want to try to invent more things than I needed to.

2) I have redundancy with my Skylla-i, as I described. I also envisioned using it to charge the bank and then running off inverter when in 110/220 60hz countries. See original text. It's not rocket science, so I would just re-wire if there's a failure. I also have the old 800w Mastervolt inverter as a backup.

3) See original text. I talk about my thoughts on this.

FYI we use close to 5kw a day, maybe a bit more. Solar provides most of it. I surmise if we didn't cook with induction/electric kettle/microwave and used the gas stove instead, we'd use a lot less. But induction is far superior, in my opinion. We keep the gas as a backup, however. Too many things need to go right for induction to work to rely on it exclusively.

--
Scott 
2007 A54 #69
SV Tengah
http://www.svtengah.com

Brent Cameron
 

Dan, there are lots of people on the internet who make it seem easy and claim a high degree of success with various implementations of LiFePO4 but I urge a high degree of caution.  There is a very good article by Compass Marine on the pitfalls of a build it yourself system (and things to look out for if you proceed)  https://marinehowto.com/lifepo4-batteries-on-boats/If you fully understand all of this, then have at it… but I’d be very cautious. 

Brent Cameron, Future Amel owner & Amel Owner's Registry Moderator

On Sep 6, 2019, 9:27 AM -0400, Dan Carlson <carlsdan61@...>, wrote:
Hi all,  I've been following the Lithium topic closely now and want to make the conversion this November when I return to BeBe.    As I have followed this thread and also talked with other cruisers that have converted in the past here are a couple questions that I would like to see some experience opinions on:
1)  Smart Batteries vs Smart BMS:  It seems most of the focus has been on the Smart Batteries from BattleBorn, Dragonfly or VE.  However, I have also come across some cruisers that have installed Winston or other LI batteries that are then controlled by a central BMS.  (this BMS will monitor each battery individually and can adjust the charge to the individual batteries to keep them in balance.  And then it also has over all cut in/cut out relays to protect the entire battery bank from over or under charge.   Has anyone had experience with this type of set up?
2) Big Box Charger vs Charger/Inverter:  So far the discussion has been dominated by the Victron Charger/Inverter set up.   One of my cruiser friends (non-Amel) has switched his boat over to keeping the chargers and inverters separate, with good logic.  He has redundant charging capabilities and then supplies all of his on-board 230 volt requirements from the inverter.  (He may have a jaded view as he lost his Big box charger/inverter a year or so ago and this convinced him that it was better not to have everything in one box).  Thoughts?  What would Henri Amel do?
3) Daily Life with LI:  At Anchor, Marina life, Passages, Storage?   I think battery management when I am active on the boat will be pretty straight-forward, but what I am less sure of is how to best manage the battery maintenance when I need to leave the boat for a period of time during the season, or when I put it up for and extended period (ie hurricane season), or  how to be confident that the batteries are not being over-charged in an extended motoring situation? 

Already the recent 'threads' are getting hard to navigate.   Would it make sense to divide some of these topics in separate threads?   i.e  batteries, charger/inverters, alternator controls, Life w/ LI?   

I really appreciate all the information that is available on this forum.  

Dan & Lori Carlson on SM#387, sv BeBe  - we have 405w of Solar and use about 4000 watts/day at anchor. 

--
Brent Cameron

Future Amel Owner & Amel Owner Registry Moderator

Oro-Medonte, Ontario, Canada

Paul Brown
 

I agree with Scott entirely, from my experience now with five larger boats in the past 20 years and many issues with particularly batteries and chargers, when things go wrong it becomes a blame game and a continuous expense.

This Mastervolt 720ah lithium, charging and BMS system on my boat current boat has not missed a beat in the past 5 years and on the occasion when I have lacked knowledge to correct an issue and asked for MV technical assistance they have simply logged in remotely from their head office and checked and reprogrammed or updated firmware with ease via an internet connection and a phone conversation.

From this experience I recommend a system from one manufacturer, it may cost a little more but the service and warranty is solid 

I also experience the requirement for around 1000w/32A solar to manage off the grid for anchoring and sailing passages, the generator would only be required for a rare situation with all appliances running off inverters 

Thanks Scott again for you sharing 

Regards Paul - Fortuna II A55/#17


On 6 Sep 2019, at 5:46 pm, Scott SV Tengah <Scott.nguyen@...> wrote:

Dan,

Answers to your questions:

1) As I mentioned, I didn't want to mess around with different manufacturers in case the expensive batteries died. I learned this from when I was working - to the extent possible, make sure you have one responsible party when there are many interconnected systems/processes. If you buy a Winston battery, which I considered, and it dies, they will certainly blame the Victron charger. Victron will claim their charger is perfect. You are now the one paying for a new one out of pocket. By going Victron on battery and charger and getting Victron to help me set it up, I am more likely to have the warranty honored.

Lithium requires enough thinking, I didn't want to try to invent more things than I needed to.

2) I have redundancy with my Skylla-i, as I described. I also envisioned using it to charge the bank and then running off inverter when in 110/220 60hz countries. See original text. It's not rocket science, so I would just re-wire if there's a failure. I also have the old 800w Mastervolt inverter as a backup.

3) See original text. I talk about my thoughts on this.

FYI we use close to 5kw a day, maybe a bit more. Solar provides most of it. I surmise if we didn't cook with induction/electric kettle/microwave and used the gas stove instead, we'd use a lot less. But induction is far superior, in my opinion. We keep the gas as a backup, however. Too many things need to go right for induction to work to rely on it exclusively.

--
Scott 
2007 A54 #69
SV Tengah
http://www.svtengah.com

Scott SV Tengah
 

Glad to provide my experiences in hopes that it helps someone else. I have gotten so much value out of this forum that I'm happy to give back whenever I can, which admittedly isn't that often.

By the way, here's a Victron white paper I read re: generators. 

https://www.victronenergy.com/upload/documents/VE_Marine_generator_test_RVA_07-jan-2008.pdf

Our 11kw Onan runs most efficiently around 8kw. The slope of load vs. relative efficiency flattens out around 6-7kw. This is about where the generator sits when I have both the Quattro and Skylla chargers putting 200amps into the lithium batteries. We like to live comfortably, but we're also not-so-closet environmentalists. So we try to do what we can to reduce our impact. Solar plus concentrating our genset usage appears to allow us to live comfortably and minimize our impact.

--
Scott 
2007 A54 #69
SV Tengah
http://www.svtengah.com

Matt Salatino
 

EXCELLENT Marine How To article.
Thanks!

~~~⛵️~~~Matt

On Sep 6, 2019, at 12:10 PM, Brent Cameron <brentcameron61@...> wrote:

Dan, there are lots of people on the internet who make it seem easy and claim a high degree of success with various implementations of LiFePO4 but I urge a high degree of caution.  There is a very good article by Compass Marine on the pitfalls of a build it yourself system (and things to look out for if you proceed)  https://marinehowto.com/lifepo4-batteries-on-boats/If you fully understand all of this, then have at it… but I’d be very cautious. 

Brent Cameron, Future Amel owner & Amel Owner's Registry Moderator
On Sep 6, 2019, 9:27 AM -0400, Dan Carlson <carlsdan61@...>, wrote:
Hi all,  I've been following the Lithium topic closely now and want to make the conversion this November when I return to BeBe.    As I have followed this thread and also talked with other cruisers that have converted in the past here are a couple questions that I would like to see some experience opinions on:
1)  Smart Batteries vs Smart BMS:  It seems most of the focus has been on the Smart Batteries from BattleBorn, Dragonfly or VE.  However, I have also come across some cruisers that have installed Winston or other LI batteries that are then controlled by a central BMS.  (this BMS will monitor each battery individually and can adjust the charge to the individual batteries to keep them in balance.  And then it also has over all cut in/cut out relays to protect the entire battery bank from over or under charge.   Has anyone had experience with this type of set up?
2) Big Box Charger vs Charger/Inverter:  So far the discussion has been dominated by the Victron Charger/Inverter set up.   One of my cruiser friends (non-Amel) has switched his boat over to keeping the chargers and inverters separate, with good logic.  He has redundant charging capabilities and then supplies all of his on-board 230 volt requirements from the inverter.  (He may have a jaded view as he lost his Big box charger/inverter a year or so ago and this convinced him that it was better not to have everything in one box).  Thoughts?  What would Henri Amel do?
3) Daily Life with LI:  At Anchor, Marina life, Passages, Storage?   I think battery management when I am active on the boat will be pretty straight-forward, but what I am less sure of is how to best manage the battery maintenance when I need to leave the boat for a period of time during the season, or when I put it up for and extended period (ie hurricane season), or  how to be confident that the batteries are not being over-charged in an extended motoring situation? 

Already the recent 'threads' are getting hard to navigate.   Would it make sense to divide some of these topics in separate threads?   i.e  batteries, charger/inverters, alternator controls, Life w/ LI?   

I really appreciate all the information that is available on this forum.  

Dan & Lori Carlson on SM#387, sv BeBe  - we have 405w of Solar and use about 4000 watts/day at anchor. 

--
Brent Cameron

Future Amel Owner & Amel Owner Registry Moderator

Oro-Medonte, Ontario, Canada

svperegrinus@yahoo.com
 

With regard to:
Big Box Charger vs Charger/Inverter:  So far the discussion has been dominated by the Victron Charger/Inverter set up.   One of my cruiser friends (non-Amel) has switched his boat over to keeping the chargers and inverters separate, with good logic. Thoughts?  [...] What would Henri Amel do?

This may depend on one's boat and its wiring.

In our case, when we went all-MasterVolt in 2013, I wanted to install an inverter-charger.  If I recall correctly, with it came fancy advantages, such as being able to compensate for low-amperage shore connections, which we have come across of late in the Baltic and in the North Sea.

However, my electrician warned me against it.  I did not want to re-wire the boat and he said the existing engine room to battery box cables were not sufficient for the MV Charger/Inverter 100A/3500W we were considering at the time.  Not because of the nominal capacity, mind you, but because the inverter was able to supply double its rating for a limited time.  You'll recall Scott of Tengah's different course of action: "you need to break the epoxy seal between the engine compartment and the passage berth, located on the floor on the forward end of the “passage”. After this, you will re-epoxy the hole so the watertight separation is re-established".

One altermative the electrician gave was to install the charger/inverter in the wet locker, that is, close to the batteries, and with fat wiring, but when I asked what exactly did Henri Amel do for boats of our (now ancient) generation, the answers were, one, he put the inverter in the engine room; two, it was not a combo device; and three, it was the Xantrex 1800 (230v).  So that's exactly what we did.  The installation has proven to be bullet-proof.

Having said that, if I had the thicker cables, either because the boat came with them or because I was willing to break and re-do the epoxy seal, I would not hesitate to install a combo unit for the main charger.  Like Scott says, there is a smaller charger as backup anyway (a 30A MV in our case).  The advantages of these units when one has an integrated monitoring and control system, such as Scott's Victron or our MV are too many to be dismissed out of hand.

Cheers,

 

sv Peregrinus

currently Delfzijll, Frisia

Joerg Esdorn
 

Thanks again, Scott, for all your thoughts and help on this topic.  I wanted to share with the group a quite technical article I downloaded quite some time ago based upon advice from the Delos guys.  They apparently relied on the guy who wrote the article quite a bit in putting together their system.  


There are several articles in the link but the first one is a good start - although quite technical.  My key takeaways include: 
 
*Charge current should not exceed 30% of the battery capacity - ie 30A for a 100 Ah battery
*batteries should not be charged to 100%, only 90% 
 
Another article linked here says that you have to have a system that takes up charge currents generated by any charging source in case the battery management system shuts down the batteries.  If you don’t, the charging sources (alternator, charger, combi) will blow up.  The guys at Delos, if I recall correctly, rigged up the starter battery to take up the charging current in this case.

One more thing:  according to the article, Lithium batteries are totally intolerant to overcharging whereas Lead Acid batteries give you some wiggle room.  This gave me particular thought because I had an episode of overcharging this summer because of a loose connection of the sensing wire of the alternator regulator.  Charging voltage was up over 31V for at least 10 minutes until I shut down the engine.  My gel batteries survived the episode without missing a beat.  Would Lithiums have been destroyed?  There's obviously a lot to learn about Lithium.  
 
Hope this helps!  

Joerg Esdorn
A55 #53 Kincsem
Currently in Cadiz
 
 
 
 

Scott SV Tengah
 

Joerg,

Thanks for the link. 

I think your charging takeaways are for extreme longevity. I'm curious what the data is with respect to how longevity is affected by high charge currents. I do know that cell imbalances are more likely to occur at very high charge rates. I think Delos has over 220amps of 230v chargers and only 400ah of battery capacity, so they're doing over .5C!

The 90% max charge makes sense for the "normal" charge. I do know that Victron requires 100% every once in a while to (1) reset the battery monitor and (2) allow for intra-battery cell balancing. My procedure is keep it below 80% except for the once a month or two 100% charge for reasons (1) and (2). Then once a year do the battery-by-battery rebalance with my little 1.5amp charger. Seems to work well so far, but then again I haven't done a full capacity test.

I don't think the requirement to have a buffer battery applies to Victron. On an over voltage condition, the VE.BUS BMS simply turns off chargers - it does not disconnect individual batteries. There are downsides to Victron's way of doing it, but it does remove the need for a buffer battery. 

Yes, lifepo4 is very intolerant of overcharging (over voltage) and taking the batteries too low (under voltage). One uncorrected fault and the battery could be dead. The BMS is supposed to monitor and trigger a response via the charge disconnect and load disconnect to stop that from happening. Of course, that means the disconnects need to work perfectly. I think an additional safety measure would be to rig up a cheap piezo alarm that goes off when the BMS detects a fault. That would require human intervention, but at least if you're around, you have a chance to fix the problem if your automatic fault correction systems fail. 

I thought for the Mastervolt 24/110 the reg-on wire WAS the voltage sense wire? So if it's disconnected, the alternator would stop charging. But perhaps your loose connection showed (true voltage - 5v) or something, making the alternator think the battery bank wasn't fully charged?

Again, all these complexities lead me to choosing a single brand, to the extent possible, with a good warranty. I would rather not invoke the warranty, but I installed the system per their engineer's recommendations and if something went wrong, hopefully they will take responsibility. Try that with a Chinese battery combined with Brand X charger!
--
Scott 
2007 A54 #69
SV Tengah
http://www.svtengah.com

Paul Brown
 

Hey Scott,

What individual SOC do you read on each battery in respect to out of balance with each battery please once a month before you recharge to 100%?

As I have mentioned, my #1 battery is dropping approximately 30% lower the the other 3 after around 2 weeks while the balance with the other 3 batteries are almost the same SOC by 2-3%. I’m discussing this issue on Monday with a Mastervolt technician to hopefully shed light on it. I expect the batteries should not be out of balance by a large degree.

Regards Paul - Fortuna II A55/17


On 7 Sep 2019, at 1:53 pm, Scott SV Tengah <Scott.nguyen@...> wrote:

Joerg,

Thanks for the link. 

I think your charging takeaways are for extreme longevity. I'm curious what the data is with respect to how longevity is affected by high charge currents. I do know that cell imbalances are more likely to occur at very high charge rates. I think Delos has over 220amps of 230v chargers and only 400ah of battery capacity, so they're doing over .5C!

The 90% max charge makes sense for the "normal" charge. I do know that Victron requires 100% every once in a while to (1) reset the battery monitor and (2) allow for intra-battery cell balancing. My procedure is keep it below 80% except for the once a month or two 100% charge for reasons (1) and (2). Then once a year do the battery-by-battery rebalance with my little 1.5amp charger. Seems to work well so far, but then again I haven't done a full capacity test.

I don't think the requirement to have a buffer battery applies to Victron. On an over voltage condition, the VE.BUS BMS simply turns off chargers - it does not disconnect individual batteries. There are downsides to Victron's way of doing it, but it does remove the need for a buffer battery. 

Yes, lifepo4 is very intolerant of overcharging (over voltage) and taking the batteries too low (under voltage). One uncorrected fault and the battery could be dead. The BMS is supposed to monitor and trigger a response via the charge disconnect and load disconnect to stop that from happening. Of course, that means the disconnects need to work perfectly. I think an additional safety measure would be to rig up a cheap piezo alarm that goes off when the BMS detects a fault. That would require human intervention, but at least if you're around, you have a chance to fix the problem if your automatic fault correction systems fail. 

I thought for the Mastervolt 24/110 the reg-on wire WAS the voltage sense wire? So if it's disconnected, the alternator would stop charging. But perhaps your loose connection showed (true voltage - 5v) or something, making the alternator think the battery bank wasn't fully charged?

Again, all these complexities lead me to choosing a single brand, to the extent possible, with a good warranty. I would rather not invoke the warranty, but I installed the system per their engineer's recommendations and if something went wrong, hopefully they will take responsibility. Try that with a Chinese battery combined with Brand X charger!
--
Scott 
2007 A54 #69
SV Tengah
http://www.svtengah.com

Scott SV Tengah
 

Paul,

I don't read SOC but rather cell by cell voltage via bluetooth. I rarely see more than 0.02v difference between cells.

--
Scott 
2007 A54 #69
SV Tengah
http://www.svtengah.com

Matt Salatino
 

Very interesting article

~~~⛵️~~~Matt

On Sep 7, 2019, at 5:11 AM, Joerg Esdorn via Groups.Io <jhe1313@...> wrote:

Thanks again, Scott, for all your thoughts and help on this topic.  I wanted to share with the group a quite technical article I downloaded quite some time ago based upon advice from the Delos guys.  They apparently relied on the guy who wrote the article quite a bit in putting together their system.  


There are several articles in the link but the first one is a good start - although quite technical.  My key takeaways include: 
 
*Charge current should not exceed 30% of the battery capacity - ie 30A for a 100 Ah battery
*batteries should not be charged to 100%, only 90% 
 
Another article linked here says that you have to have a system that takes up charge currents generated by any charging source in case the battery management system shuts down the batteries.  If you don’t, the charging sources (alternator, charger, combi) will blow up.  The guys at Delos, if I recall correctly, rigged up the starter battery to take up the charging current in this case.

One more thing:  according to the article, Lithium batteries are totally intolerant to overcharging whereas Lead Acid batteries give you some wiggle room.  This gave me particular thought because I had an episode of overcharging this summer because of a loose connection of the sensing wire of the alternator regulator.  Charging voltage was up over 31V for at least 10 minutes until I shut down the engine.  My gel batteries survived the episode without missing a beat.  Would Lithiums have been destroyed?  There's obviously a lot to learn about Lithium.  
 
Hope this helps!  

Joerg Esdorn
A55 #53 Kincsem
Currently in Cadiz
 
 
 
 

Joerg Esdorn
 

Thanks, Scott.  Lots to think about.  What happened on my overcharging episode was that the sensing wire was loose at the alternator.  Result was that the voltage read by the regulators was some 3V lower (!!!) than the voltage I measured at the battery.  Hence the regulator put the alternator in bulk when float was indicated!   The only way I could see that was by connecting my laptop to the alternator via the Mastervolt Masterbus.  Once I tightened the connection, the sensing wire read .3V HIGHER than voltage at the batteries which makes sense because of the resistance in the wiring.    Stuff happens! 

Joerg Esdorn
A55 #53
Kincsem
Currently in Cádiz 




Scott SV Tengah
 

FYI it turns out my Quattro is mounted vertically in the engine room, so airflow is as Victron recommends. That is probably why it doesn't suffer any reduced charging output or inverter output after extended use.

See attached. I modified the intake air that Amel provided for the old Dolphin chargers a bit so that it feeds air to both the Skylla and the Quattro.

The Skylla is mounted sideways, but again, I have never experienced reduced output from it. That's probably because it's only running at most 2 hours at a time and that's if the battery bank starts out empty, which never occurs for me.

--
Scott 
2007 A54 #69
SV Tengah
http://www.svtengah.com

svperegrinus@yahoo.com
 

With regard to

the sensing wire was loose at the alternator

Yes, this is a risk.  One way to reduce the risk is to have a MasterShunt in the battery box.  This is what we did.

When a MasterShunt is present on the MasterBus, the Alpha Pro regulator looks to get its battery charge info from the MasterShunt.  Since the MasterShunt is installed  in a vibration-free zone, and adjacent to the batteries, the chances of a damaged or loose wire are minimal.

A secondary way I manage this risk is by feeding a small B&G chart plotter we have on deck with 24V.  This Zeus2 chart plotter is set to display its VSUPPLY on its databar at all times.  After several years cruising, I've gotten quite used to peeking at that little square from time to time for the current voltage.

A tertiary way is to have a voltage monitor on at all times (an EasyView 5, in our case).  We have it highly visible from the companionway; it never sleeps.

We've never yet had an over-voltage event, so those cautions look unnecessary.  May it be so always!

Cheers,

 

sv Peregrinus
underway by sail, from the Ems to the Vliestroom 

Sv Garulfo
 

Hi all,

Scott, thanks a lot for your write up, I’ve just caught up on some of the forum topics after weeks offline and it’s a great source of info for the group. 

I’d like to add some info to the discussion and maybe some answers to Scott’s questions, based on our experience of upgrading our Amel 54 to Lithium 2 years ago. 

Intro:
When we decided to upgrade to Lithium, the design principles were the following:
- backward compatibility with previous battery types, we wanted to be able to easily go back to standard batteries (agm, gel, whatever) in case things didn’t work out, anywhere in the world. 
- minimal impact on the boat. Again, ability to undo all changes and no compromise with the boat build. 
- ease of implementation so that we could do it ourselves (Note we both are electrical engineers).
- maximum redundancy.


Previous system (all original from the yard):
As 54s are not all the same, it’s important to note where we started from:
- 12 x 12V 105Ah batteries, from 2009. Most were very much reaching end of life.1x 12V 105Ah starter battery, of the same type and age,
- MasterVolt ChargeMaster 24/100-3 battery charger,
- MasterVolt ChargeMaster 24/40 battery charger,
- MasterVolt 24/110 alternator with Alpha Pro regulator,
- MasterVolt Mass Sine 24/800 inverter, feeding a separate 230V circuit at the chart table. Located in the locker underneath the chart table. 
- xantrex battery monitor
- Onan 11.5KW generator,
- Dessalator Duo 100 watermaker,
- no dive compressor, sadly
- no passerelle
- simpsons electrical davits


Upgraded system changes:
- 2 MasterVolt MLI Ultra 24/5000 Lithium batteries (180Ah each), with 500A fuses and Blue Sea Systems ML deconnection relays,
- 1 extra 12V 105Ah spare starter battery,
- 3x 300W solar panels with 1 MasterVolt Solar ChargeMaster 60 MPPT-MB regulator,
- Alpha Pro 2 regulator to replace the Alpha Pro. 
- MasterVolt 24/3500-100 Combi Pro inverter charger,
- MasterBus network linking all MasterVolt components (except the 800W inverter that’s not compatible),
- MasterVolt EasyView 5 system controller,
- MasterVolt MasterBus USB interface to control/configure the system from a PC,
- Decommissioned 40A charger,
- other elements unchanged. 

(There are also a couple more MasterVolt products that we use for the Watt&Sea hydrogenerators, but it’s off topic)


1. MasterBus:
All MasterVolt components are daisy chained with a MasterBus network allowing them to be aware of each others and controlled centrally. 

All relevant MasterVolt components onboard were already compatible except the alternator regulator. That was a key point in our choice to go with a 100% MasterVolt solution.
So we ‘simply’ had to pass network cables from the batteries compartment to the chart table, to the engine room via the existing ceiling conduits.

The EasyView5 screen allows for monitoring and control of the MasterVolt components on the network. You can see voltages, currents, temp, wattages, charging phases and many others things for the batteries, chargers, solar controller, etc. You can touchscreen start/stop operation on all those too. We located it at the chart table on the panel hidding all the wiring. We retained the xantrex controller. 

The USB interface allows to connect a PC to the network to monitor, control and configure the components, for instance set the charger’s profile for Lithium (a simple choice in a drop down list). It’s also used to configure the various signals that let the BMS drive the charging components. 

2. Batteries:
We chose MasterVolt MLI for compatibility and ease of implementation. 2 fit easily in the battery compartment without modification. MasterVolt says they can be kept upright or on their long side. They would only fit on their long side. Keeping them upright would have required a reconstruction of the compartment that we were not prepared to do, although one could then fit more than 2. 
We worked some numbers and figured that 360Ah of Lithium would be enough for our needs.

The integrated Battery Management System  can disconnect the batteries if necessary by commanding the relays. 

In order to maintain the Amel redundancy between the starter battery and the service batteries, we have a spare 12V battery, in case. 

I second Scott’s point on the loss of weight (minus 210kg) and the subsequent port list...


3. Alternator and charge controller:
The Alpha Pro regulator is not MasterBus compatible so we changed it to it Alpha Pro 2 version. It’s relatively easy to do and has the same footprint. That way, the batteries can stop the charging from the alternator if required. As Jean-Pierre Germain said, it’s also a good way to have a button on the EasyView controller screen to stop the charging. 

4. Chargers:
Reconfigured to MLI charging profile and unplugged the temp sensors (as per documentation specs)

5. Solar:
3x300W Bisol BMO-300 solar panels, mounted on an arch above the davits. We chose cheaper panels, favouring watts per dollar, figuring they could be consumables exposed to marine abuse and didn’t want to go top of the range. 

We opted to wire them in series, with cabling thick enough to change to parallel if required. The main reason is to limit the power loss in the rather long cabling to the MPPT. We thought of the shading problem but figured that in the trade winds at anchor, the mizzen mast rarely gets in the way of the sun. We move the SSB antenna out of the way from time to time.
Happy to be wrong on that choice. 

MPPT:
We had to choose a beefier MPPT to handle the wattage. Unfortunately that meant it’s big and couldn’t be located everywhere. We put it in the wet locker on the bulkhead shared by the batteries switches compartment. 

6. New MassCombi Pro 24V/3500W-100A charger/inverter:
A year later (Aug 2018) we installed an extra charger inverter. It’s mounted in the engine room, near the 100A charger on the perpendicular bulkhead, where I’ve seen the yard install a smaller inverter on other 54s. It’s a tight fit. 
We chose the Pro version over the Ultra version as we thought the extra small solar mppt didn’t justify the higher cost. 
Like Scott, we bypassed the 230V genset/dock  switch box as the unit handles the switch with configurable priorities. 

It takes 230V cables from both the genset and dock. Luckily those were long enough. The 230V cables to the 230V panels too. And amazingly fortunately, the 24V cables from the 40A charger were long and thick enough to handle the 100A of charging and the 3500W of inverting. So we simply decommissioned the 40A charger and used the cabling for the new combi. Amel installed the 40A charger for dock usage to avoid tripping 230V/16A fuses. We maintain that idea with a function of the combi whereby you can configure the max current it will take from shore power (and also separately, how much from the genset) and reduce charging to comply with those limits. 

We start/monitor/stop the charging process from the EasyView controller. We configured the max output taken from the genset to 40A/230V (about 80% capacity) and we charge the batteries with both 100A chargers, make water, heat water, run air con, induction cooker and let the combi adjust its own charging to comply. That way the generator is loaded up properly, whenever we use it (maybe  once a week/fortnight depending on sun).
The rest of the time, we enjoy 230V appliances without notice, if not without restriction. The joy of shop-vac cleaning the engine room at anchor is hard to describe. 


Questions:

The deconnection relays by Blue Seas are as recommended by MasterVolt. Scott, there might be a solution there for you. 

Regarding the shore power and 100% SOC issue, I don’t have an answer. We haven’t plugged into shore for 18 months. I would also wonder what 100% (or 90%) SOC means in terms of voltage/charge current as it’s otherwise relative and depends on the monitor.  Then we can see if the BMS can be configured to stop various chargers at those levels. 


Costs:

Solar:
Stainless arch: €2,274
Panels: €675
Mppt: €599
Cabling, fuse: €247
Total: €3,795 ($4,190)

Lithium:
MLI batteries: €10,331
Relays: €434
Cabling, Fuses: €319
MasterBus cables, crimping tool and crimps: €118 
EasyView 5: €319
Usb adaptor: €154
Alpha pro 2 regulator: €285
Labour:€120
Total: €12,080 ($13,336)

Mass Combi Pro inverter charger: $2,847


Now I feel a bit like a MasterVolt rep. I’m not, and the omnipresence of the brand on Garulfo is simply a continuation of the choices made by Amel. There may be better, cheaper or otherwise preferable alternatives but we tried to minimise the changes to our boat and get the best value for money. We hope it’s a sound investment, especially considering the added value of extra comfort while cruising. Only time will tell, though. 

Any questions/feedback, let us know. We might not be able to answer straight away as we are bandwidth impaired at the best of times and sometimes offline for weeks here in the Tuamotus. 

Best,

Thomas and Soraya
GARULFO 
A54-122
Rangiroa, Tuamotu, French Polynesia
Instagram: @svgarulfo



On Mon, 9 Sep 2019 at 09:27, svperegrinus@... via Groups.Io <svperegrinus=yahoo.com@groups.io> wrote:

With regard to

the sensing wire was loose at the alternator

Yes, this is a risk.  One way to reduce the risk is to have a MasterShunt in the battery box.  This is what we did.

When a MasterShunt is present on the MasterBus, the Alpha Pro regulator looks to get its battery charge info from the MasterShunt.  Since the MasterShunt is installed  in a vibration-free zone, and adjacent to the batteries, the chances of a damaged or loose wire are minimal.

A secondary way I manage this risk is by feeding a small B&G chart plotter we have on deck with 24V.  This Zeus2 chart plotter is set to display its VSUPPLY on its databar at all times.  After several years cruising, I've gotten quite used to peeking at that little square from time to time for the current voltage.

A tertiary way is to have a voltage monitor on at all times (an EasyView 5, in our case).  We have it highly visible from the companionway; it never sleeps.

We've never yet had an over-voltage event, so those cautions look unnecessary.  May it be so always!

Cheers,

 

sv Peregrinus
underway by sail, from the Ems to the Vliestroom 

Scott SV Tengah
 

Thomas, 

Thanks for the reply!

Regarding your ML disconnect relay, which model are you using? For their disconnect relays, I only see 120amp max
https://www.bluesea.com/products/category/37/Non-Critical_Load_Disconnects

Or did you use this charge disconnect? If so, any idea how I could use it with my system? 500amps may just be enough! The VE.BUS BMS load disconnect sends out 27v (more or less) when all is good and goes to open circuit when there is a problem with the batteries and the load needs to be disconnected. The other option, as someone suggested, is to buy THREE Victron BP-220 and attach one to each 25.8v pair. I presume that would give me 660 amps total?

Regarding your solar setup, any idea how many AH per day you average? Curious how that compares to our setup. We have a bit more rated capacity and we're doing parallel as noted before.  Also, do you have any concerns with your MPPT getting wet? We definitely use that wet locker for...wet items. 

The Victron Quattro also allows you to limit the input on both the 230v inputs. I leave the genset at 50amps but adjust the shore power as appropriate. That was very useful in Greece when we were "plugged into" someone's house circuit. Limiting it to 8 amps prevented constantly tripping their circuit breaker. :)

Regarding your shop vac'ing the engine room, we all get our kicks from somewhere I guess! My joy is in using the electric kettle and the microwave when I'm too lazy to do a proper meal and not having to fire up the genset.

To figure out SOC and charging voltage, I just played around. For example, my Mastervolt Alpha Pro2 set at 27.5v absorption will stop charging at about 90-93% SOC as reported on the Victron BMV-712 monitor. As you probably know, lifepo4 has very stable voltage until you hit the "knees" at near 0% SOC and 100% SOC. So you just have to play with it. I bet at 26.8v absorption, it'd be just about right for long term storage/docking.

I probably sound like a Victron rep, too, but like you, I just continued with choices made prior. My ecosystem lock-in with Victron started with the BlueSolar MPPT, which ironically I don't love!

--
Scott 
2007 A54 #69
SV Tengah
http://www.svtengah.com

Sv Garulfo
 

ML disconnect relay: 
product number 7702B, rated 500A. I have one for each of the 2 batteries. The relays draw no current in ON or OFF state. There are wires to set the relay states depending on what the default state should be. In our setup, the wiring to the battery’s BMS ports is specified explicitly in the documentation so there is no head scratching to do. 


Solar:
We have produced about 100KWh a month historically (~140Ah@24V a day). We are having very good sun at the moment so I’ll measure a max production day today. The max Amps I saw going in was 36A in Curaçao last summer. Our production during the Pacific crossing, Gambier and southern Tuamotus in April-July was pretty poor with cloudy conditions and relatively low sun elevation.

Our wet locker doesn’t get wet. We are lucky to cruise in places were we don’t need foul weather clothes. We quickly vacuum packed and stowed those away. And the Amel cockpit helps with that. 

Yes, breakfast toasts, 2mins of microwave here and there to reheat food, boiling water in 60s or cooking smelly food outside on the portable induction stove. All good examples of how it changes life onboard. 

Long term storage or dock: 
I would say, if we are aboard at the dock, I would let the solar deal with the batteries and use shore power for the others appliances of required. If we are off the boat for a long time, we would just switch everything off and not keep the shore power on. We left the boat in Curaçao for 2months last year and with everything off, the batteries lost less than 5% SOC.

Best,
Thomas
GARULFO 
A54-122
Rangiroa, French Polynesia 




On Wed, 25 Sep 2019 at 09:13, Scott SV Tengah <Scott.nguyen@...> wrote:
Thomas, 

Thanks for the reply!

Regarding your ML disconnect relay, which model are you using? For their disconnect relays, I only see 120amp max
https://www.bluesea.com/products/category/37/Non-Critical_Load_Disconnects

Or did you use this charge disconnect? If so, any idea how I could use it with my system? 500amps may just be enough! The VE.BUS BMS load disconnect sends out 27v (more or less) when all is good and goes to open circuit when there is a problem with the batteries and the load needs to be disconnected. The other option, as someone suggested, is to buy THREE Victron BP-220 and attach one to each 25.8v pair. I presume that would give me 660 amps total?

Regarding your solar setup, any idea how many AH per day you average? Curious how that compares to our setup. We have a bit more rated capacity and we're doing parallel as noted before.  Also, do you have any concerns with your MPPT getting wet? We definitely use that wet locker for...wet items. 

The Victron Quattro also allows you to limit the input on both the 230v inputs. I leave the genset at 50amps but adjust the shore power as appropriate. That was very useful in Greece when we were "plugged into" someone's house circuit. Limiting it to 8 amps prevented constantly tripping their circuit breaker. :)

Regarding your shop vac'ing the engine room, we all get our kicks from somewhere I guess! My joy is in using the electric kettle and the microwave when I'm too lazy to do a proper meal and not having to fire up the genset.

To figure out SOC and charging voltage, I just played around. For example, my Mastervolt Alpha Pro2 set at 27.5v absorption will stop charging at about 90-93% SOC as reported on the Victron BMV-712 monitor. As you probably know, lifepo4 has very stable voltage until you hit the "knees" at near 0% SOC and 100% SOC. So you just have to play with it. I bet at 26.8v absorption, it'd be just about right for long term storage/docking.

I probably sound like a Victron rep, too, but like you, I just continued with choices made prior. My ecosystem lock-in with Victron started with the BlueSolar MPPT, which ironically I don't love!

--
Scott 
2007 A54 #69
SV Tengah
http://www.svtengah.com