Topics

LiFePO4 Conversion on sv BeBe - SM#387


Dan Carlson
 

Here is a bit of summary of the LiFePO4 battery conversion that we have been through on BeBe over the last year.    I’ll start off with a bit about ourselves as context for some of our decisions. Then describe the key components and results. 

 

Lori and I have owned BeBe for 4 years now and have sailed 7 months each winter in the Caribbean. We have primarily lived on 24v/12v power with minimal use of the previous 1800w inverter.  I’ve recorded a lot of stats as we have sailed to understand how we use things and what we need.   We typically use ~120-140AH per day at anchor and ~240AH per day underway (We’ve logged about 24 overnight sails in our four years on BeBe).  BeBe has the Yanmar 100hp main engine w/ 175amp Leece Nevile alternator, 7kw Onan genset and 160LPH 230v Dessalator water maker.  BeBe came to us with 405watts of solar on an arch. We just replaced the three existing panels with 2 LG NeON 2 panels with 345watts each (total of 690watts).   We sailed the first three years with 630AH of DECA lead acid batteries and we limped into Shelter Bay Panama at the end of season three with 3 batteries with internal shorts and the rest with greatly reduced capacity.  We ran the genset every day and twice when it was cloudy.   I was suffering from severe energy insecurity!

 

My philosophy errs towards DIY so that I know my boat systems well.  And I have a background in science/technology with lots of technical problem solving, as well as a long history of home, auto and boat projects.   But this was one of the biggest,  most complex, and daunting for me.

 

We took the approach to build an LiFePO4 system based on Prismatic cells, built into a ‘battery,’  governed by a BMS (battery management system).

  1. Our new batteries are Fortune 100AH cells in a coated aluminum case, purchased from Electric Car Parts Co.  I started 2020 with 24 cells in a 3P8S configuration (3 cells of 3.2v ea in parallel and 8 of these sets of 3 in series) for nominal 24v and 300AH.  This fall I added 8 more cells and reconfigured to 4P8S with 400AH capacity.   The height of the Fortune 100 is 305mm (12in) which is a couple of MM taller than the lip of the battery box so the lid securely holds the batteries in place.  I made custom buss bars with 1”x1/8” copper bar, and I reused the buss bars from the previous configuration to double the thickness bridging across the cell groups. (way more than adequate)
  2. I chose the ORION Jr2 BMS as it appeared to have the most capability and configurability for an application like mine.  It turns out that the amount of configurability was initially very daunting.  I know that you could get away with a lot less, but I still don’t know what capability I would want to give up or that I might want to take better advantage of in the future.   They do have good instructions to get started and have provided me with the support when needed.  But that are not geared up for end  users.  I can talk more on this in a separate thread if there is interest.
  3. Charging system changes:
    1. I replaced the original Dolphin 100A charger with a Victron Multi+ 3000/70/16/230-24v inverter/charger. The existing cables for the 100A Dolphin are barely sufficient.  Due to the heat concern in the engine room and the cable size I have limited the charging output to 60A charging. I think that the heaviest use and most likely failure mode to the unit will be due to charging usage and although the unit has cooling fans and protection circuits to limit output based on heat, I prefer to err on the safe side. We have not come near taxing the limits of the inverter.
    2. I have kept the original Dolphin 30A charger as emergency/supplement.  I only use it for short periods when charging with the generator to supplement the Victron charging. I plan to replace this soon with a similar size LiFPO configured charger.
    3. BeBe has the Leece Nevile 175A large body alternator.  I added a WakeSpeed 500 alternator controller, which I highly recommend.  I also added an Sterling Alternator Protection Device.  The WS500 is derated to 75% output and additionally has a temperature sensors on the alternator body which could derate further.  It pulls a little over 100 amps when running at 1500 rpm or above.  The highest operating temperature I have measured on the alternator is 165F.  One feature that I really like is a hard switch with sets the alternator at the ‘float’ voltage of 26.72v.  This really reduces the charging output and limits any risk of over charging.   I only flip the switch to ‘Charge’ mode when I am paying attention to what is going on when motoring. 

                                                               i.      Installation note:  Both the Victron Multi+ and the WS500 need information from the battery shunt.  I ran a 4-wire run from the shunt behind the battery box to the engine room to provide voltage and current information to the WS500 and voltage info to the Multi+.  

    1. The solar (pv) panels are controlled by a Victron Smart Solar 100/50 MPPT.  I had to upgrade the MPPT for the new larger (higher voltage) panels.  There is a fuse between the solar panels and the battery buss, and there is also a new 40amp Solid State DC relay between the solar panels and the MPPT that would allow the battery BMS to cut the solar charging if needed to prevent over charging of the batteries.
  1. System Monitoring and Control
    1. I replaced the Link10 battery monitor with a Victron BMV712 (Bluetooth enabled battery monitor)  Mounted on the 24v panel in existing hole.
    2. I added a Victron Venus GX monitor mounted on the bulkhead in the cabinet above the sink (to starboard of autopilot computer).  The Venus GX does not have a screen (Lori said no more displays in her galley!).  But everything is accessible via wifi from any of our laptops, iPads, mobile phones.  In addition it can be connected thru wifi to the external Victron VRM Portal to monitor your boat remotely.   I set this up over the summer with a wifi hotspot, but unfortunately halfway through the summer something consumed all of the data on the hotspot and my visibility went dark.    The Venus GX has wired communications from the MPPT, BMV and the Multi+.  I use it to remotely turn the Multi+ Inverter/Charger on and off.     I generally check the BMV or SmartSolar MPPT directly with the Bluetooth connection vs going through the Venus GX.   There is also the capability to establish a CanBUS network that includes the battery BMS and the WS500 alternator controller but I have not really explored the why and how to approach this yet.
  2. Other Bits of Kit:
    1. Contactors/Relays – Contrary to it’s name the BMS (battery management system) does not control your battery charging.  You primarily control that through the battery charging profiles that you set up in your battery chargers, solar MPPT and alternator regulator.  The BMS protects your battery system from over-charging or discharging, that can send signals to charging devices or activate relays to disconnect the charge or discharge sources when limits are reached.  This requires a large contactor/relay on the main battery.  I used a TYCO Kilovac EV200 500+amp 12-900v contactor.  This is a big chunk and consumes about 2AH per day.  Normally you would have one on the charge circuit and one on the discharge circuit but the Victron Multi+ confounds this (one set of wires for both charge and discharge), so I just use two small solid state relays SSR-25DD to relay the signal from the BMS to the main contactor.   I also installed an HB Controls HBC-D1D40A solid state DC relay on the positive cable from the solar panels to the MPPT to handle the Charge control from the BMS. The HB relay has a substantial heat sink to dissipate any heat generated by the load when there is a steady 70+v @ 10amp current flowing under full sun.
    2. Fuses – I added a very large fuse on the main battery for protection.   From BlueSea I selected the POWR-GARD JLLN 400A-P.   This is a 400A Class T fuse.  I would not use less than a CLASS T fuse on the battery.  And make sure your supplier provides you with the ‘time-current’ performance curves on the fuse.  The Amel SM bow thruster draws 400amps!  This fuse can handle that, and the fuse holder is also appropriately sized.   I also have a 200amp ANL fuse on the Multi+ battery cable.
  3. How I operate now:  I monitor both the battery voltage and cumulative current flow in/out of the battery bank on the Victron BMV712.  Every morning I record the battery bank voltage before sunrise and the cumulative Ahs drawn.  This gives me some benchmarks for future reference to cross check state of charge.  I have typically charged the battery bank when it gets down between 25.5v and 26.0v (this is somewhere around 15%-30% SOC.  During a period at anchor  I try to balance the battery SOC, my water tank level and planned activities to decide which days to run the generator.   I will typically run the generator for slightly over 90 minutes to allow me to produce approximately 270 liters of water and put 90+ amp-hours of charge back into the battery (usually twice a week at anchor).  At least once a month I try to top charge the battery up to about 27.4v – 27.5v (which is about 90% to 95% SOC). This helps to keep all of the cells in balance with eachother.  I keep the WS500 alternator controller switch set to the “float” when starting the motor and then based on battery SOC I will decide if I want to use the alternator to “Charge” the battery.  One trick here is that if I am motoring early in the day and ‘charge’ up the battery to high, the battery voltage will put the Solar MPPT into “float” mode and then I can lose much of the solar benefit for the rest of the day unless I rest the solar MPPT.   One other downside of not running the engine or generator to charge the batteries on a frequent basis we now need to plan for heating the water in the water heater.

 

Results:  I used to live with energy anxiety with my lead acid batteries.  Now I have a lot more capacity and confidence.  When I had 630AH of LA batteries the most that I ever used was 140AH. Last year with 300AH of LiFPO I regularly used more than 200AH before charging. Now I can comfortably use 300AH.  I used to run the generator every day.  Last season during two months of covid lock-down on anchor I ran the generator every 3rd or 4th day for water making and to top up the batteries.   This year with the increase in solar from 405watts to 690watts , only the need to make water will dictate when we need to run the generator.   And with the increased solar and battery capacity I can begin to look into induction cooking, and how to best rewire the inverter into the 230v circuit to enable use to easily run the hot water heater, washing machine, dishwasher, and even an AC in a pinch.   We don’t have unlimited energy but we are now very happy with our new limits/horizons. 

 

As I said this project was very challenging.  There are many decisions that you need to make along the way and every decision you make has many implications.  I’m far from an expert and definitely did not evaluate all of the possibilities fully.  I feel that I did navigate my way through to a solution that is best for our specific boat and style of living.  It did take me some time to get comfortable with all of the new systems.   Be aware of your comfort zone as you decide how to move forward.  

 

Happy to answer questions or provide additional information that can be of value.  But the best source of general information is the FaceBook group “Lithium batteries on a boat”.

 

Regards, Daniel and Lori Carlson on sv BeBe, SM #387


hanspeter baettig
 

Hi Dan
very interesting information about you LiFeP04 Project. Will use it when I change to LiFeP.
Question:
How much was the total cost of this project. Without your personal work.
I hope you don‘t mind asking that.
Best regards
Hanspeter
SM 16, Tamango 2
St.Vincent & Grenadines without Covid 19

------ Original Nachricht ------
Am Samstag, 17. Okt, 2020 um 21:19, Dan Carlson schrieb:

Here is a bit of summary of the LiFePO4 battery conversion that we have been through on BeBe over the last year.    I’ll start off with a bit about ourselves as context for some of our decisions. Then describe the key components and results. 

 

Lori and I have owned BeBe for 4 years now and have sailed 7 months each winter in the Caribbean. We have primarily lived on 24v/12v power with minimal use of the previous 1800w inverter.  I’ve recorded a lot of stats as we have sailed to understand how we use things and what we need.   We typically use ~120-140AH per day at anchor and ~240AH per day underway (We’ve logged about 24 overnight sails in our four years on BeBe).  BeBe has the Yanmar 100hp main engine w/ 175amp Leece Nevile alternator, 7kw Onan genset and 160LPH 230v Dessalator water maker.  BeBe came to us with 405watts of solar on an arch. We just replaced the three existing panels with 2 LG NeON 2 panels with 345watts each (total of 690watts).   We sailed the first three years with 630AH of DECA lead acid batteries and we limped into Shelter Bay Panama at the end of season three with 3 batteries with internal shorts and the rest with greatly reduced capacity.  We ran the genset every day and twice when it was cloudy.   I was suffering from severe energy insecurity!

 

My philosophy errs towards DIY so that I know my boat systems well.  And I have a background in science/technology with lots of technical problem solving, as well as a long history of home, auto and boat projects.   But this was one of the biggest,  most complex, and daunting for me.

 

We took the approach to build an LiFePO4 system based on Prismatic cells, built into a ‘battery,’  governed by a BMS (battery management system).

  1. Our new batteries are Fortune 100AH cells in a coated aluminum case, purchased from Electric Car Parts Co.  I started 2020 with 24 cells in a 3P8S configuration (3 cells of 3.2v ea in parallel and 8 of these sets of 3 in series) for nominal 24v and 300AH.  This fall I added 8 more cells and reconfigured to 4P8S with 400AH capacity.   The height of the Fortune 100 is 305mm (12in) which is a couple of MM taller than the lip of the battery box so the lid securely holds the batteries in place.  I made custom buss bars with 1”x1/8” copper bar, and I reused the buss bars from the previous configuration to double the thickness bridging across the cell groups. (way more than adequate)
  2. I chose the ORION Jr2 BMS as it appeared to have the most capability and configurability for an application like mine.  It turns out that the amount of configurability was initially very daunting.  I know that you could get away with a lot less, but I still don’t know what capability I would want to give up or that I might want to take better advantage of in the future.   They do have good instructions to get started and have provided me with the support when needed.  But that are not geared up for end  users.  I can talk more on this in a separate thread if there is interest.
  3. Charging system changes:
    1. I replaced the original Dolphin 100A charger with a Victron Multi+ 3000/70/16/230-24v inverter/charger. The existing cables for the 100A Dolphin are barely sufficient.  Due to the heat concern in the engine room and the cable size I have limited the charging output to 60A charging. I think that the heaviest use and most likely failure mode to the unit will be due to charging usage and although the unit has cooling fans and protection circuits to limit output based on heat, I prefer to err on the safe side. We have not come near taxing the limits of the inverter.
    2. I have kept the original Dolphin 30A charger as emergency/supplement.  I only use it for short periods when charging with the generator to supplement the Victron charging. I plan to replace this soon with a similar size LiFPO configured charger.
    3. BeBe has the Leece Nevile 175A large body alternator.  I added a WakeSpeed 500 alternator controller, which I highly recommend.  I also added an Sterling Alternator Protection Device.  The WS500 is derated to 75% output and additionally has a temperature sensors on the alternator body which could derate further.  It pulls a little over 100 amps when running at 1500 rpm or above.  The highest operating temperature I have measured on the alternator is 165F.  One feature that I really like is a hard switch with sets the alternator at the ‘float’ voltage of 26.72v.  This really reduces the charging output and limits any risk of over charging.   I only flip the switch to ‘Charge’ mode when I am paying attention to what is going on when motoring. 

                                                               i.      Installation note:  Both the Victron Multi+ and the WS500 need information from the battery shunt.  I ran a 4-wire run from the shunt behind the battery box to the engine room to provide voltage and current information to the WS500 and voltage info to the Multi+.  

    1. The solar (pv) panels are controlled by a Victron Smart Solar 100/50 MPPT.  I had to upgrade the MPPT for the new larger (higher voltage) panels.  There is a fuse between the solar panels and the battery buss, and there is also a new 40amp Solid State DC relay between the solar panels and the MPPT that would allow the battery BMS to cut the solar charging if needed to prevent over charging of the batteries.
  1. System Monitoring and Control
    1. I replaced the Link10 battery monitor with a Victron BMV712 (Bluetooth enabled battery monitor)  Mounted on the 24v panel in existing hole.
    2. I added a Victron Venus GX monitor mounted on the bulkhead in the cabinet above the sink (to starboard of autopilot computer).  The Venus GX does not have a screen (Lori said no more displays in her galley!).  But everything is accessible via wifi from any of our laptops, iPads, mobile phones.  In addition it can be connected thru wifi to the external Victron VRM Portal to monitor your boat remotely.   I set this up over the summer with a wifi hotspot, but unfortunately halfway through the summer something consumed all of the data on the hotspot and my visibility went dark.    The Venus GX has wired communications from the MPPT, BMV and the Multi+.  I use it to remotely turn the Multi+ Inverter/Charger on and off.     I generally check the BMV or SmartSolar MPPT directly with the Bluetooth connection vs going through the Venus GX.   There is also the capability to establish a CanBUS network that includes the battery BMS and the WS500 alternator controller but I have not really explored the why and how to approach this yet.
  2. Other Bits of Kit:
    1. Contactors/Relays – Contrary to it’s name the BMS (battery management system) does not control your battery charging.  You primarily control that through the battery charging profiles that you set up in your battery chargers, solar MPPT and alternator regulator.  The BMS protects your battery system from over-charging or discharging, that can send signals to charging devices or activate relays to disconnect the charge or discharge sources when limits are reached.  This requires a large contactor/relay on the main battery.  I used a TYCO Kilovac EV200 500+amp 12-900v contactor.  This is a big chunk and consumes about 2AH per day.  Normally you would have one on the charge circuit and one on the discharge circuit but the Victron Multi+ confounds this (one set of wires for both charge and discharge), so I just use two small solid state relays SSR-25DD to relay the signal from the BMS to the main contactor.   I also installed an HB Controls HBC-D1D40A solid state DC relay on the positive cable from the solar panels to the MPPT to handle the Charge control from the BMS. The HB relay has a substantial heat sink to dissipate any heat generated by the load when there is a steady 70+v @ 10amp current flowing under full sun.
    2. Fuses – I added a very large fuse on the main battery for protection.   From BlueSea I selected the POWR-GARD JLLN 400A-P.   This is a 400A Class T fuse.  I would not use less than a CLASS T fuse on the battery.  And make sure your supplier provides you with the ‘time-current’ performance curves on the fuse.  The Amel SM bow thruster draws 400amps!  This fuse can handle that, and the fuse holder is also appropriately sized.   I also have a 200amp ANL fuse on the Multi+ battery cable.
  3. How I operate now:  I monitor both the battery voltage and cumulative current flow in/out of the battery bank on the Victron BMV712.  Every morning I record the battery bank voltage before sunrise and the cumulative Ahs drawn.  This gives me some benchmarks for future reference to cross check state of charge.  I have typically charged the battery bank when it gets down between 25.5v and 26.0v (this is somewhere around 15%-30% SOC.  During a period at anchor  I try to balance the battery SOC, my water tank level and planned activities to decide which days to run the generator.   I will typically run the generator for slightly over 90 minutes to allow me to produce approximately 270 liters of water and put 90+ amp-hours of charge back into the battery (usually twice a week at anchor).  At least once a month I try to top charge the battery up to about 27.4v – 27.5v (which is about 90% to 95% SOC). This helps to keep all of the cells in balance with eachother.  I keep the WS500 alternator controller switch set to the “float” when starting the motor and then based on battery SOC I will decide if I want to use the alternator to “Charge” the battery.  One trick here is that if I am motoring early in the day and ‘charge’ up the battery to high, the battery voltage will put the Solar MPPT into “float” mode and then I can lose much of the solar benefit for the rest of the day unless I rest the solar MPPT.   One other downside of not running the engine or generator to charge the batteries on a frequent basis we now need to plan for heating the water in the water heater.

 

Results:  I used to live with energy anxiety with my lead acid batteries.  Now I have a lot more capacity and confidence.  When I had 630AH of LA batteries the most that I ever used was 140AH. Last year with 300AH of LiFPO I regularly used more than 200AH before charging. Now I can comfortably use 300AH.  I used to run the generator every day.  Last season during two months of covid lock-down on anchor I ran the generator every 3rd or 4th day for water making and to top up the batteries.   This year with the increase in solar from 405watts to 690watts , only the need to make water will dictate when we need to run the generator.   And with the increased solar and battery capacity I can begin to look into induction cooking, and how to best rewire the inverter into the 230v circuit to enable use to easily run the hot water heater, washing machine, dishwasher, and even an AC in a pinch.   We don’t have unlimited energy but we are now very happy with our new limits/horizons. 

 

As I said this project was very challenging.  There are many decisions that you need to make along the way and every decision you make has many implications.  I’m far from an expert and definitely did not evaluate all of the possibilities fully.  I feel that I did navigate my way through to a solution that is best for our specific boat and style of living.  It did take me some time to get comfortable with all of the new systems.   Be aware of your comfort zone as you decide how to move forward.  

 

Happy to answer questions or provide additional information that can be of value.  But the best source of general information is the FaceBook group “Lithium batteries on a boat”.

 

Regards, Daniel and Lori Carlson on sv BeBe, SM #387


Dan Carlson
 

Hello Hanspeter,
As I purchased things over a period of time from multiple sources I never kept a complete tally.  But here are the main components listed (in USD):
1) Batteries from Electric car parts were $108 ea for the first 24 and $115 for the second 8. The first batch was shipped to Panama (with other items) for $300+? The second shipment in the USA was $140
2) Orion Jr2 BMS was $562 and I was able to pick it up from the manufacturer in Chicago area.
3) Wakespeed 500 alternator controller was $490, 
4) Sterling alternator protection device was $90
5) Victron items: Multi+ inverter/charger $1300, BMV712 monitor$200, Venus GX monitor $300.  
6) assorted relays, fuses,buss bars, cables, wires ... + $700?
7) New solar panels and MPPT added this year were $800 for the panels w/shipping, and $325 for the MPPT.

Clearly the cost can vary greatly based in where you are located.  I was able to source very effectively from the US and carry most items with me to Panama last year the rest was arranged through one shipment through Marine Warehouse. And this year's expansion was also easy to source as the boat was in Maryland. 

I do have the original 3 solar panels with 405 watts of capacity and the matching Victron Blue Solar MPPT for sail and can deliver them I. The Caribbean later this season :-) 

Best regards, Daniel and Lori Carlson on sv BeBe, SM #387
Currently in the Chesepeake Bay




On Sun, Oct 18, 2020, 10:19 AM hanspeter baettig <hanspeter.baettig@...> wrote:
Hi Dan
very interesting information about you LiFeP04 Project. Will use it when I change to LiFeP.
Question:
How much was the total cost of this project. Without your personal work.
I hope you don‘t mind asking that.
Best regards
Hanspeter
SM 16, Tamango 2
St.Vincent & Grenadines without Covid 19

------ Original Nachricht ------
Am Samstag, 17. Okt, 2020 um 21:19, Dan Carlson schrieb:

Here is a bit of summary of the LiFePO4 battery conversion that we have been through on BeBe over the last year.    I’ll start off with a bit about ourselves as context for some of our decisions. Then describe the key components and results. 

 

Lori and I have owned BeBe for 4 years now and have sailed 7 months each winter in the Caribbean. We have primarily lived on 24v/12v power with minimal use of the previous 1800w inverter.  I’ve recorded a lot of stats as we have sailed to understand how we use things and what we need.   We typically use ~120-140AH per day at anchor and ~240AH per day underway (We’ve logged about 24 overnight sails in our four years on BeBe).  BeBe has the Yanmar 100hp main engine w/ 175amp Leece Nevile alternator, 7kw Onan genset and 160LPH 230v Dessalator water maker.  BeBe came to us with 405watts of solar on an arch. We just replaced the three existing panels with 2 LG NeON 2 panels with 345watts each (total of 690watts).   We sailed the first three years with 630AH of DECA lead acid batteries and we limped into Shelter Bay Panama at the end of season three with 3 batteries with internal shorts and the rest with greatly reduced capacity.  We ran the genset every day and twice when it was cloudy.   I was suffering from severe energy insecurity!

 

My philosophy errs towards DIY so that I know my boat systems well.  And I have a background in science/technology with lots of technical problem solving, as well as a long history of home, auto and boat projects.   But this was one of the biggest,  most complex, and daunting for me.

 

We took the approach to build an LiFePO4 system based on Prismatic cells, built into a ‘battery,’  governed by a BMS (battery management system).

  1. Our new batteries are Fortune 100AH cells in a coated aluminum case, purchased from Electric Car Parts Co.  I started 2020 with 24 cells in a 3P8S configuration (3 cells of 3.2v ea in parallel and 8 of these sets of 3 in series) for nominal 24v and 300AH.  This fall I added 8 more cells and reconfigured to 4P8S with 400AH capacity.   The height of the Fortune 100 is 305mm (12in) which is a couple of MM taller than the lip of the battery box so the lid securely holds the batteries in place.  I made custom buss bars with 1”x1/8” copper bar, and I reused the buss bars from the previous configuration to double the thickness bridging across the cell groups. (way more than adequate)
  2. I chose the ORION Jr2 BMS as it appeared to have the most capability and configurability for an application like mine.  It turns out that the amount of configurability was initially very daunting.  I know that you could get away with a lot less, but I still don’t know what capability I would want to give up or that I might want to take better advantage of in the future.   They do have good instructions to get started and have provided me with the support when needed.  But that are not geared up for end  users.  I can talk more on this in a separate thread if there is interest.
  3. Charging system changes:
    1. I replaced the original Dolphin 100A charger with a Victron Multi+ 3000/70/16/230-24v inverter/charger. The existing cables for the 100A Dolphin are barely sufficient.  Due to the heat concern in the engine room and the cable size I have limited the charging output to 60A charging. I think that the heaviest use and most likely failure mode to the unit will be due to charging usage and although the unit has cooling fans and protection circuits to limit output based on heat, I prefer to err on the safe side. We have not come near taxing the limits of the inverter.
    2. I have kept the original Dolphin 30A charger as emergency/supplement.  I only use it for short periods when charging with the generator to supplement the Victron charging. I plan to replace this soon with a similar size LiFPO configured charger.
    3. BeBe has the Leece Nevile 175A large body alternator.  I added a WakeSpeed 500 alternator controller, which I highly recommend.  I also added an Sterling Alternator Protection Device.  The WS500 is derated to 75% output and additionally has a temperature sensors on the alternator body which could derate further.  It pulls a little over 100 amps when running at 1500 rpm or above.  The highest operating temperature I have measured on the alternator is 165F.  One feature that I really like is a hard switch with sets the alternator at the ‘float’ voltage of 26.72v.  This really reduces the charging output and limits any risk of over charging.   I only flip the switch to ‘Charge’ mode when I am paying attention to what is going on when motoring. 

                                                               i.      Installation note:  Both the Victron Multi+ and the WS500 need information from the battery shunt.  I ran a 4-wire run from the shunt behind the battery box to the engine room to provide voltage and current information to the WS500 and voltage info to the Multi+.  

    1. The solar (pv) panels are controlled by a Victron Smart Solar 100/50 MPPT.  I had to upgrade the MPPT for the new larger (higher voltage) panels.  There is a fuse between the solar panels and the battery buss, and there is also a new 40amp Solid State DC relay between the solar panels and the MPPT that would allow the battery BMS to cut the solar charging if needed to prevent over charging of the batteries.
  1. System Monitoring and Control
    1. I replaced the Link10 battery monitor with a Victron BMV712 (Bluetooth enabled battery monitor)  Mounted on the 24v panel in existing hole.
    2. I added a Victron Venus GX monitor mounted on the bulkhead in the cabinet above the sink (to starboard of autopilot computer).  The Venus GX does not have a screen (Lori said no more displays in her galley!).  But everything is accessible via wifi from any of our laptops, iPads, mobile phones.  In addition it can be connected thru wifi to the external Victron VRM Portal to monitor your boat remotely.   I set this up over the summer with a wifi hotspot, but unfortunately halfway through the summer something consumed all of the data on the hotspot and my visibility went dark.    The Venus GX has wired communications from the MPPT, BMV and the Multi+.  I use it to remotely turn the Multi+ Inverter/Charger on and off.     I generally check the BMV or SmartSolar MPPT directly with the Bluetooth connection vs going through the Venus GX.   There is also the capability to establish a CanBUS network that includes the battery BMS and the WS500 alternator controller but I have not really explored the why and how to approach this yet.
  2. Other Bits of Kit:
    1. Contactors/Relays – Contrary to it’s name the BMS (battery management system) does not control your battery charging.  You primarily control that through the battery charging profiles that you set up in your battery chargers, solar MPPT and alternator regulator.  The BMS protects your battery system from over-charging or discharging, that can send signals to charging devices or activate relays to disconnect the charge or discharge sources when limits are reached.  This requires a large contactor/relay on the main battery.  I used a TYCO Kilovac EV200 500+amp 12-900v contactor.  This is a big chunk and consumes about 2AH per day.  Normally you would have one on the charge circuit and one on the discharge circuit but the Victron Multi+ confounds this (one set of wires for both charge and discharge), so I just use two small solid state relays SSR-25DD to relay the signal from the BMS to the main contactor.   I also installed an HB Controls HBC-D1D40A solid state DC relay on the positive cable from the solar panels to the MPPT to handle the Charge control from the BMS. The HB relay has a substantial heat sink to dissipate any heat generated by the load when there is a steady 70+v @ 10amp current flowing under full sun.
    2. Fuses – I added a very large fuse on the main battery for protection.   From BlueSea I selected the POWR-GARD JLLN 400A-P.   This is a 400A Class T fuse.  I would not use less than a CLASS T fuse on the battery.  And make sure your supplier provides you with the ‘time-current’ performance curves on the fuse.  The Amel SM bow thruster draws 400amps!  This fuse can handle that, and the fuse holder is also appropriately sized.   I also have a 200amp ANL fuse on the Multi+ battery cable.
  3. How I operate now:  I monitor both the battery voltage and cumulative current flow in/out of the battery bank on the Victron BMV712.  Every morning I record the battery bank voltage before sunrise and the cumulative Ahs drawn.  This gives me some benchmarks for future reference to cross check state of charge.  I have typically charged the battery bank when it gets down between 25.5v and 26.0v (this is somewhere around 15%-30% SOC.  During a period at anchor  I try to balance the battery SOC, my water tank level and planned activities to decide which days to run the generator.   I will typically run the generator for slightly over 90 minutes to allow me to produce approximately 270 liters of water and put 90+ amp-hours of charge back into the battery (usually twice a week at anchor).  At least once a month I try to top charge the battery up to about 27.4v – 27.5v (which is about 90% to 95% SOC). This helps to keep all of the cells in balance with eachother.  I keep the WS500 alternator controller switch set to the “float” when starting the motor and then based on battery SOC I will decide if I want to use the alternator to “Charge” the battery.  One trick here is that if I am motoring early in the day and ‘charge’ up the battery to high, the battery voltage will put the Solar MPPT into “float” mode and then I can lose much of the solar benefit for the rest of the day unless I rest the solar MPPT.   One other downside of not running the engine or generator to charge the batteries on a frequent basis we now need to plan for heating the water in the water heater.

 

Results:  I used to live with energy anxiety with my lead acid batteries.  Now I have a lot more capacity and confidence.  When I had 630AH of LA batteries the most that I ever used was 140AH. Last year with 300AH of LiFPO I regularly used more than 200AH before charging. Now I can comfortably use 300AH.  I used to run the generator every day.  Last season during two months of covid lock-down on anchor I ran the generator every 3rd or 4th day for water making and to top up the batteries.   This year with the increase in solar from 405watts to 690watts , only the need to make water will dictate when we need to run the generator.   And with the increased solar and battery capacity I can begin to look into induction cooking, and how to best rewire the inverter into the 230v circuit to enable use to easily run the hot water heater, washing machine, dishwasher, and even an AC in a pinch.   We don’t have unlimited energy but we are now very happy with our new limits/horizons. 

 

As I said this project was very challenging.  There are many decisions that you need to make along the way and every decision you make has many implications.  I’m far from an expert and definitely did not evaluate all of the possibilities fully.  I feel that I did navigate my way through to a solution that is best for our specific boat and style of living.  It did take me some time to get comfortable with all of the new systems.   Be aware of your comfort zone as you decide how to move forward.  

 

Happy to answer questions or provide additional information that can be of value.  But the best source of general information is the FaceBook group “Lithium batteries on a boat”.

 

Regards, Daniel and Lori Carlson on sv BeBe, SM #387


hanspeter baettig
 

Hello Daniel
many thank for your calculation sheet. If I calculated right; without shipment, without you new solarpaels; the cost for your LiFePO4 project was 7154 US$, without your personal labor. Is this is this correct ?
This is quite expensive if I calculate the new Onan Genset MDKDL for 9500 € without installation I installed last October by Pochon, via Didie in Le Marin, Marinique. I run the Gen every 2nd day for about 1-2 hours, depending the Peak Watt I get from my Solar like you had 450 Peak Watt.
My question and also quit some European Amel Owners ; what was your personal motivation to change to LiFePO4 ?
PS you have a very good SM from the old Owners of BeBe we now him :-)
hope to see you once and would like you to welcome you both on a old SM in damn good shape
Greetings
Hanspeter
SM16, Tamango 2
Bequia

------ Original Nachricht ------
Am Sonntag, 18. Okt, 2020 um 23:52, Dan Carlson schrieb:

Hello Hanspeter,
As I purchased things over a period of time from multiple sources I never kept a complete tally.  But here are the main components listed (in USD):
1) Batteries from Electric car parts were $108 ea for the first 24 and $115 for the second 8. The first batch was shipped to Panama (with other items) for $300+? The second shipment in the USA was $140
2) Orion Jr2 BMS was $562 and I was able to pick it up from the manufacturer in Chicago area.
3) Wakespeed 500 alternator controller was $490, 
4) Sterling alternator protection device was $90
5) Victron items: Multi+ inverter/charger $1300, BMV712 monitor$200, Venus GX monitor $300.  
6) assorted relays, fuses,buss bars, cables, wires ... + $700?
7) New solar panels and MPPT added this year were $800 for the panels w/shipping, and $325 for the MPPT.

Clearly the cost can vary greatly based in where you are located.  I was able to source very effectively from the US and carry most items with me to Panama last year the rest was arranged through one shipment through Marine Warehouse. And this year's expansion was also easy to source as the boat was in Maryland. 

I do have the original 3 solar panels with 405 watts of capacity and the matching Victron Blue Solar MPPT for sail and can deliver them I. The Caribbean later this season :-) 

Best regards, Daniel and Lori Carlson on sv BeBe, SM #387
Currently in the Chesepeake Bay




On Sun, Oct 18, 2020, 10:19 AM hanspeter baettig <hanspeter.baettig@...> wrote:
Hi Dan
very interesting information about you LiFeP04 Project. Will use it when I change to LiFeP.
Question:
How much was the total cost of this project. Without your personal work.
I hope you don‘t mind asking that.
Best regards
Hanspeter
SM 16, Tamango 2
St.Vincent & Grenadines without Covid 19

------ Original Nachricht ------
Am Samstag, 17. Okt, 2020 um 21:19, Dan Carlson schrieb:

Here is a bit of summary of the LiFePO4 battery conversion that we have been through on BeBe over the last year.    I’ll start off with a bit about ourselves as context for some of our decisions. Then describe the key components and results. 

 

Lori and I have owned BeBe for 4 years now and have sailed 7 months each winter in the Caribbean. We have primarily lived on 24v/12v power with minimal use of the previous 1800w inverter.  I’ve recorded a lot of stats as we have sailed to understand how we use things and what we need.   We typically use ~120-140AH per day at anchor and ~240AH per day underway (We’ve logged about 24 overnight sails in our four years on BeBe).  BeBe has the Yanmar 100hp main engine w/ 175amp Leece Nevile alternator, 7kw Onan genset and 160LPH 230v Dessalator water maker.  BeBe came to us with 405watts of solar on an arch. We just replaced the three existing panels with 2 LG NeON 2 panels with 345watts each (total of 690watts).   We sailed the first three years with 630AH of DECA lead acid batteries and we limped into Shelter Bay Panama at the end of season three with 3 batteries with internal shorts and the rest with greatly reduced capacity.  We ran the genset every day and twice when it was cloudy.   I was suffering from severe energy insecurity!

 

My philosophy errs towards DIY so that I know my boat systems well.  And I have a background in science/technology with lots of technical problem solving, as well as a long history of home, auto and boat projects.   But this was one of the biggest,  most complex, and daunting for me.

 

We took the approach to build an LiFePO4 system based on Prismatic cells, built into a ‘battery,’  governed by a BMS (battery management system).

  1. Our new batteries are Fortune 100AH cells in a coated aluminum case, purchased from Electric Car Parts Co.  I started 2020 with 24 cells in a 3P8S configuration (3 cells of 3.2v ea in parallel and 8 of these sets of 3 in series) for nominal 24v and 300AH.  This fall I added 8 more cells and reconfigured to 4P8S with 400AH capacity.   The height of the Fortune 100 is 305mm (12in) which is a couple of MM taller than the lip of the battery box so the lid securely holds the batteries in place.  I made custom buss bars with 1”x1/8” copper bar, and I reused the buss bars from the previous configuration to double the thickness bridging across the cell groups. (way more than adequate)
  2. I chose the ORION Jr2 BMS as it appeared to have the most capability and configurability for an application like mine.  It turns out that the amount of configurability was initially very daunting.  I know that you could get away with a lot less, but I still don’t know what capability I would want to give up or that I might want to take better advantage of in the future.   They do have good instructions to get started and have provided me with the support when needed.  But that are not geared up for end  users.  I can talk more on this in a separate thread if there is interest.
  3. Charging system changes:
    1. I replaced the original Dolphin 100A charger with a Victron Multi+ 3000/70/16/230-24v inverter/charger. The existing cables for the 100A Dolphin are barely sufficient.  Due to the heat concern in the engine room and the cable size I have limited the charging output to 60A charging. I think that the heaviest use and most likely failure mode to the unit will be due to charging usage and although the unit has cooling fans and protection circuits to limit output based on heat, I prefer to err on the safe side. We have not come near taxing the limits of the inverter.
    2. I have kept the original Dolphin 30A charger as emergency/supplement.  I only use it for short periods when charging with the generator to supplement the Victron charging. I plan to replace this soon with a similar size LiFPO configured charger.
    3. BeBe has the Leece Nevile 175A large body alternator.  I added a WakeSpeed 500 alternator controller, which I highly recommend.  I also added an Sterling Alternator Protection Device.  The WS500 is derated to 75% output and additionally has a temperature sensors on the alternator body which could derate further.  It pulls a little over 100 amps when running at 1500 rpm or above.  The highest operating temperature I have measured on the alternator is 165F.  One feature that I really like is a hard switch with sets the alternator at the ‘float’ voltage of 26.72v.  This really reduces the charging output and limits any risk of over charging.   I only flip the switch to ‘Charge’ mode when I am paying attention to what is going on when motoring. 

                                                               i.      Installation note:  Both the Victron Multi+ and the WS500 need information from the battery shunt.  I ran a 4-wire run from the shunt behind the battery box to the engine room to provide voltage and current information to the WS500 and voltage info to the Multi+.  

    1. The solar (pv) panels are controlled by a Victron Smart Solar 100/50 MPPT.  I had to upgrade the MPPT for the new larger (higher voltage) panels.  There is a fuse between the solar panels and the battery buss, and there is also a new 40amp Solid State DC relay between the solar panels and the MPPT that would allow the battery BMS to cut the solar charging if needed to prevent over charging of the batteries.
  1. System Monitoring and Control
    1. I replaced the Link10 battery monitor with a Victron BMV712 (Bluetooth enabled battery monitor)  Mounted on the 24v panel in existing hole.
    2. I added a Victron Venus GX monitor mounted on the bulkhead in the cabinet above the sink (to starboard of autopilot computer).  The Venus GX does not have a screen (Lori said no more displays in her galley!).  But everything is accessible via wifi from any of our laptops, iPads, mobile phones.  In addition it can be connected thru wifi to the external Victron VRM Portal to monitor your boat remotely.   I set this up over the summer with a wifi hotspot, but unfortunately halfway through the summer something consumed all of the data on the hotspot and my visibility went dark.    The Venus GX has wired communications from the MPPT, BMV and the Multi+.  I use it to remotely turn the Multi+ Inverter/Charger on and off.     I generally check the BMV or SmartSolar MPPT directly with the Bluetooth connection vs going through the Venus GX.   There is also the capability to establish a CanBUS network that includes the battery BMS and the WS500 alternator controller but I have not really explored the why and how to approach this yet.
  2. Other Bits of Kit:
    1. Contactors/Relays – Contrary to it’s name the BMS (battery management system) does not control your battery charging.  You primarily control that through the battery charging profiles that you set up in your battery chargers, solar MPPT and alternator regulator.  The BMS protects your battery system from over-charging or discharging, that can send signals to charging devices or activate relays to disconnect the charge or discharge sources when limits are reached.  This requires a large contactor/relay on the main battery.  I used a TYCO Kilovac EV200 500+amp 12-900v contactor.  This is a big chunk and consumes about 2AH per day.  Normally you would have one on the charge circuit and one on the discharge circuit but the Victron Multi+ confounds this (one set of wires for both charge and discharge), so I just use two small solid state relays SSR-25DD to relay the signal from the BMS to the main contactor.   I also installed an HB Controls HBC-D1D40A solid state DC relay on the positive cable from the solar panels to the MPPT to handle the Charge control from the BMS. The HB relay has a substantial heat sink to dissipate any heat generated by the load when there is a steady 70+v @ 10amp current flowing under full sun.
    2. Fuses – I added a very large fuse on the main battery for protection.   From BlueSea I selected the POWR-GARD JLLN 400A-P.   This is a 400A Class T fuse.  I would not use less than a CLASS T fuse on the battery.  And make sure your supplier provides you with the ‘time-current’ performance curves on the fuse.  The Amel SM bow thruster draws 400amps!  This fuse can handle that, and the fuse holder is also appropriately sized.   I also have a 200amp ANL fuse on the Multi+ battery cable.
  3. How I operate now:  I monitor both the battery voltage and cumulative current flow in/out of the battery bank on the Victron BMV712.  Every morning I record the battery bank voltage before sunrise and the cumulative Ahs drawn.  This gives me some benchmarks for future reference to cross check state of charge.  I have typically charged the battery bank when it gets down between 25.5v and 26.0v (this is somewhere around 15%-30% SOC.  During a period at anchor  I try to balance the battery SOC, my water tank level and planned activities to decide which days to run the generator.   I will typically run the generator for slightly over 90 minutes to allow me to produce approximately 270 liters of water and put 90+ amp-hours of charge back into the battery (usually twice a week at anchor).  At least once a month I try to top charge the battery up to about 27.4v – 27.5v (which is about 90% to 95% SOC). This helps to keep all of the cells in balance with eachother.  I keep the WS500 alternator controller switch set to the “float” when starting the motor and then based on battery SOC I will decide if I want to use the alternator to “Charge” the battery.  One trick here is that if I am motoring early in the day and ‘charge’ up the battery to high, the battery voltage will put the Solar MPPT into “float” mode and then I can lose much of the solar benefit for the rest of the day unless I rest the solar MPPT.   One other downside of not running the engine or generator to charge the batteries on a frequent basis we now need to plan for heating the water in the water heater.

 

Results:  I used to live with energy anxiety with my lead acid batteries.  Now I have a lot more capacity and confidence.  When I had 630AH of LA batteries the most that I ever used was 140AH. Last year with 300AH of LiFPO I regularly used more than 200AH before charging. Now I can comfortably use 300AH.  I used to run the generator every day.  Last season during two months of covid lock-down on anchor I ran the generator every 3rd or 4th day for water making and to top up the batteries.   This year with the increase in solar from 405watts to 690watts , only the need to make water will dictate when we need to run the generator.   And with the increased solar and battery capacity I can begin to look into induction cooking, and how to best rewire the inverter into the 230v circuit to enable use to easily run the hot water heater, washing machine, dishwasher, and even an AC in a pinch.   We don’t have unlimited energy but we are now very happy with our new limits/horizons. 

 

As I said this project was very challenging.  There are many decisions that you need to make along the way and every decision you make has many implications.  I’m far from an expert and definitely did not evaluate all of the possibilities fully.  I feel that I did navigate my way through to a solution that is best for our specific boat and style of living.  It did take me some time to get comfortable with all of the new systems.   Be aware of your comfort zone as you decide how to move forward.  

 

Happy to answer questions or provide additional information that can be of value.  But the best source of general information is the FaceBook group “Lithium batteries on a boat”.

 

Regards, Daniel and Lori Carlson on sv BeBe, SM #387


Stephen Davis
 

Hi Dan,

Congratulations on your recent LIFePO4 upgrade. We just spent months going through Alaska with a slowly failing lead acid battery bank, and have also decided to upgrade now that we are in Washington State for the winter. In our case, we were fortunate to have all modern programmable charging sources which will be compatabible with the 8 Battleborn 24v batteries which are arriving tomorrow. We have a much older SM, and will take this opportunity to re-wire most of the older heavy gauge wiring, and clean up the old mess a little bit. 


We are also planning to increase our solar capacity as well, and that brings up a question I’m hoping you can answer. We have the same Emek arch which is installed on BeBe, and I was wondering how you modified the top frame of the arch to accommodate the larger panel size? Any information you can provide on that subject would be greatly appreciated. 


Regards,
Steve Davis
Aloha, SM 72
Port Townsend, WA


Matt & Michelle Day
 

Dan,

In addition to Steve's question above, I am hoping you can provide a couple of further insights into your design process.

What drove your decision in using prismatic cells verses off-the-shelf size 31 batteries (i.e. Battle Born batteries)?  Cost?  Flexibility?  

Did the time trade to assemble the prismatic cells payoff in your cost trade?

Many thanks!

Matt


Dan Carlson
 

Hello Stephan, attached is a photo from the underside of the arch, with the new panels.  

I had some one cut some 25mm (1") by 35mm (1.5") by 10cm spacer blocks from teak. These raise the new panels to the top of the existing frame. I kept the back and sides of the new panels within the edges of the existing frame but the front edge of the panels over hangs. I still have plenty of room between the front to the solar panels and the backstays.

I through bolted the new panels through the blocks and the flange on the frame. 

Best regards, Daniel and Lori Carlson on sv BeBe, SM #387


On Mon, Oct 19, 2020, 8:52 AM Stephen Davis <flyboyscd@...> wrote:

Hi Dan,

Congratulations on your recent LIFePO4 upgrade. We just spent months going through Alaska with a slowly failing lead acid battery bank, and have also decided to upgrade now that we are in Washington State for the winter. In our case, we were fortunate to have all modern programmable charging sources which will be compatabible with the 8 Battleborn 24v batteries which are arriving tomorrow. We have a much older SM, and will take this opportunity to re-wire most of the older heavy gauge wiring, and clean up the old mess a little bit. 


We are also planning to increase our solar capacity as well, and that brings up a question I’m hoping you can answer. We have the same Emek arch which is installed on BeBe, and I was wondering how you modified the top frame of the arch to accommodate the larger panel size? Any information you can provide on that subject would be greatly appreciated. 


Regards,
Steve Davis
Aloha, SM 72
Port Townsend, WA


Dan Carlson
 

Hi Matt, for me it was about being fully in control of my battery management system. I did not like the "black box" approach of the "drop-in" batteries. 

I wanted to know my system and be able to buy spares for and replace components.  In the process I also saved some money, my 400Ah is significantly smaller and a little lighter than a drop in solution. 

I was also concerned about the few high amp situations. Specifically the bow thruster that does draw about 400Amps at the battery.  I know my wiring, fuses and relays are up for the load.  From what I've read, I don't think that the major drop-in brands should be an issue either. But I decided to go my way. 

I would caution that it is a challenging learning curve and more that enough bad advice out there to keep you confused and shake your confidence.

I hope that helps.

Thanks and regards, Daniel and Lori Carlson on sv BeBe, SM #387

On Mon, Oct 19, 2020, 9:39 AM Matt & Michelle Day <charlesmatthewday@...> wrote:
Dan,

In addition to Steve's question above, I am hoping you can provide a couple of further insights into your design process.

What drove your decision in using prismatic cells verses off-the-shelf size 31 batteries (i.e. Battle Born batteries)?  Cost?  Flexibility?  

Did the time trade to assemble the prismatic cells payoff in your cost trade?

Many thanks!

Matt


Stephen Davis
 

Hi Dan,

Thanks for the response. That was a clever way to tackle the problem, and I may do the same. 


Regards,

Steve
SM 72


Willem Kroes
 

Hello, all Amelians who are considering to replace the lead/acid-batteries by a LifePo4 bank,

I did this by importing 8 100Ah 12V LifePo4 batteries in January 2018. So now I have 3 seasons of experience with these batteries. I am more than satisfied. Of course, I had to change the charging characteristics of the 60 A charger (Mastervolt) which I reprogrammed by myself and that of the 70 A alternator. A Mastervolt dealer removed the internal controller and connected an external charge controller (Alpha Pro) with a temperature sensor attached to the alternators house.
The batteries were, because of the internal BMS-modules slightly higher than the original ones. I had only to take a little of the wooden bar attached to the lid of the compartment. This was all!

The company I bought the batteries from has sent me a few days ago an update on the pricing: 
 

"Hello Willem ,

12v 100ah lifepo4 battery here below is price.

 

1.Lifepo4 battery type
2.with plastic hard case,black color
3.size is 330*170*220mm
4.weight 12.5kg
5.rated voltage 12.8v
6.charge end off voltage 14.6v
7.dischage cut off voltage 10v
8.with pcm and work with 10-100A max current
9.with screw/nut
10.lead time 15-25 days


USD 238/ 1 pc exw price ,base on USD@CNY 6.7, for individual use;

USD 259/ 1 pc exw price ,base on USD@CNY 6.7, for series use,from 24V-48V ;

Will you use each 12v 100ah battery seperately or series together ?

 

 
yours sincerely,

Angel Xiao

SHENZHEN BKT ELECTRONICS CO., LTD 

Tell 75528329396"


Willem Kroes
 

Sorry, I forgot to mention the name of my boat:

Best regards,

Willem Kroes

SM#351 Kavanga
Now in Marina dir Ragusa for the winter period 2020-2021


ianjenkins1946 <ianjudyjenkins@hotmail.com>
 

Wow ,Willem !

   Your experience and these prices suggest a tipping point.  (We have just renewed our lead acid batteries in Greece for Euros 210 each......)
   You might be starting a stampede.

 Ian and Judy, Pen Azen, SM 302 Kilada Greece


From: main@AmelYachtOwners.groups.io <main@AmelYachtOwners.groups.io> on behalf of Willem Kroes <kavanga@...>
Sent: 24 October 2020 09:01
To: main@AmelYachtOwners.groups.io <main@AmelYachtOwners.groups.io>
Subject: Re: [AmelYachtOwners] LiFePO4 Conversion on sv BeBe - SM#387
 
Sorry, I forgot to mention the name of my boat:

Best regards,

Willem Kroes

SM#351 Kavanga
Now in Marina dir Ragusa for the winter period 2020-2021


 

FYI, I have seen some scary teardowns of Lifepo4 batteries from China. This is not to say that they all are bad. Some are great. My point is to be careful and research these as much as possible. There are some YouTube teardowns available to look at. I took the still shot below from this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OW3QCeWFDys

Not only was this one thrown together, but it also had no internal circuit breaker. When it has a problem it will simply meltdown or catch on fire.
image.png
CW Bill Rouse Amel Owners Yacht School
Address: 720 Winnie, Galveston Island, Texas 77550 
View My Training Calendar


On Sat, Oct 24, 2020 at 4:37 AM ianjenkins1946 <ianjudyjenkins@...> <ianjudyjenkins@...> wrote:
Wow ,Willem !

   Your experience and these prices suggest a tipping point.  (We have just renewed our lead acid batteries in Greece for Euros 210 each......)
   You might be starting a stampede.

 Ian and Judy, Pen Azen, SM 302 Kilada Greece

From: main@AmelYachtOwners.groups.io <main@AmelYachtOwners.groups.io> on behalf of Willem Kroes <kavanga@...>
Sent: 24 October 2020 09:01
To: main@AmelYachtOwners.groups.io <main@AmelYachtOwners.groups.io>
Subject: Re: [AmelYachtOwners] LiFePO4 Conversion on sv BeBe - SM#387
 
Sorry, I forgot to mention the name of my boat:

Best regards,

Willem Kroes

SM#351 Kavanga
Now in Marina dir Ragusa for the winter period 2020-2021


Jose Venegas
 

The price looks great! !! What kind of warranty do they offer?
I are they selling the US?

José
Ipanema SM768
CuraçAI


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


Dan Carlson
 

Good morning Hanspeter, 

I'll try to answer your question, but at the end of the day what really matters is what you are wanting to achieve on your boat and how you live on your boat. 

A couple starting points are: 
1) I needed to replace my failing batteries.  And I did not want to replace them again! Perhaps the batteries I had were not the best (hindsight) but they appeared the best at the time and location of replacement. And that is very often the case for Amel owners. We see the question all of the time on the forum. Owners trying to replace batteries that are failing when they are in the least favorable location to replace them. I did not want battery replacement to be impacting my future cruising decisions.  Maybe you cruise in a very predictable pattern and are very familiar and comfortable with being able to source good batteries that you are confident with during your cruising cycles, then this is not an issue for you. 
2) I don't want to run my genset any more that I need to. By increasing the useable battery capacity (now I can regularly draw more than 300AHs with out any thought of when to recharge. For me in the Caribbean now that could be close to two weeks!  I think that my estimate of $10 per hour to run the genset is conservative. I just replaced fuel injectors and also recently had the exhaust and cooling system thoroughly cleaned out. With nearly 4000 hours on it I would like to preserve it for a few more years before I have to replace it. And I like the security of knowing that if I do have issues with my genset I have lots of battery capacity to extend my time to repair it. 
3) I now have the battery capacity to give me freedom moving forward to make additional comfort changes to my boat like induction cooking, and the ability to run air conditioning, laundry or dishwasher at anchor without starting the generator. 

Regarding the total cost. I would point out that was not just for a battery replacement project. a) I now have more than double or triple the routinely usable battery capacity per charge.  b) the replacement of the charger/inverter was also due to the age of the original 17 yr old units, and and also part of putting me in the position for the future changes I mentioned above. The same applies to the additional $500 in spending for new Victron battery monitors that give me additional benefits. 

The key point is that if you want to make a LiFePO4 conversion it is an expensive and significant change to your boat. There are a lot of decisions that need to be made. And you want to make the best decisions with your cruising lifestyle and goals well understood and front of mind.  

How long you plan to use your boat and your potential future market should also be a consideration. 

Not sure what more I should add. 

Hope that helps. 

Best regards, Daniel and Lori Carlson on sv BeBe, SM #387


On Sun, Oct 18, 2020, 8:57 PM hanspeter baettig <hanspeter.baettig@...> wrote:
Hello Daniel
many thank for your calculation sheet. If I calculated right; without shipment, without you new solarpaels; the cost for your LiFePO4 project was 7154 US$, without your personal labor. Is this is this correct ?
This is quite expensive if I calculate the new Onan Genset MDKDL for 9500 € without installation I installed last October by Pochon, via Didie in Le Marin, Marinique. I run the Gen every 2nd day for about 1-2 hours, depending the Peak Watt I get from my Solar like you had 450 Peak Watt.
My question and also quit some European Amel Owners ; what was your personal motivation to change to LiFePO4 ?
PS you have a very good SM from the old Owners of BeBe we now him :-)
hope to see you once and would like you to welcome you both on a old SM in damn good shape
Greetings
Hanspeter
SM16, Tamango 2
Bequia

------ Original Nachricht ------
Am Sonntag, 18. Okt, 2020 um 23:52, Dan Carlson schrieb:

Hello Hanspeter,
As I purchased things over a period of time from multiple sources I never kept a complete tally.  But here are the main components listed (in USD):
1) Batteries from Electric car parts were $108 ea for the first 24 and $115 for the second 8. The first batch was shipped to Panama (with other items) for $300+? The second shipment in the USA was $140
2) Orion Jr2 BMS was $562 and I was able to pick it up from the manufacturer in Chicago area.
3) Wakespeed 500 alternator controller was $490, 
4) Sterling alternator protection device was $90
5) Victron items: Multi+ inverter/charger $1300, BMV712 monitor$200, Venus GX monitor $300.  
6) assorted relays, fuses,buss bars, cables, wires ... + $700?
7) New solar panels and MPPT added this year were $800 for the panels w/shipping, and $325 for the MPPT.

Clearly the cost can vary greatly based in where you are located.  I was able to source very effectively from the US and carry most items with me to Panama last year the rest was arranged through one shipment through Marine Warehouse. And this year's expansion was also easy to source as the boat was in Maryland. 

I do have the original 3 solar panels with 405 watts of capacity and the matching Victron Blue Solar MPPT for sail and can deliver them I. The Caribbean later this season :-) 

Best regards, Daniel and Lori Carlson on sv BeBe, SM #387
Currently in the Chesepeake Bay




On Sun, Oct 18, 2020, 10:19 AM hanspeter baettig <hanspeter.baettig@...> wrote:
Hi Dan
very interesting information about you LiFeP04 Project. Will use it when I change to LiFeP.
Question:
How much was the total cost of this project. Without your personal work.
I hope you don‘t mind asking that.
Best regards
Hanspeter
SM 16, Tamango 2
St.Vincent & Grenadines without Covid 19

------ Original Nachricht ------
Am Samstag, 17. Okt, 2020 um 21:19, Dan Carlson schrieb:

Here is a bit of summary of the LiFePO4 battery conversion that we have been through on BeBe over the last year.    I’ll start off with a bit about ourselves as context for some of our decisions. Then describe the key components and results. 

 

Lori and I have owned BeBe for 4 years now and have sailed 7 months each winter in the Caribbean. We have primarily lived on 24v/12v power with minimal use of the previous 1800w inverter.  I’ve recorded a lot of stats as we have sailed to understand how we use things and what we need.   We typically use ~120-140AH per day at anchor and ~240AH per day underway (We’ve logged about 24 overnight sails in our four years on BeBe).  BeBe has the Yanmar 100hp main engine w/ 175amp Leece Nevile alternator, 7kw Onan genset and 160LPH 230v Dessalator water maker.  BeBe came to us with 405watts of solar on an arch. We just replaced the three existing panels with 2 LG NeON 2 panels with 345watts each (total of 690watts).   We sailed the first three years with 630AH of DECA lead acid batteries and we limped into Shelter Bay Panama at the end of season three with 3 batteries with internal shorts and the rest with greatly reduced capacity.  We ran the genset every day and twice when it was cloudy.   I was suffering from severe energy insecurity!

 

My philosophy errs towards DIY so that I know my boat systems well.  And I have a background in science/technology with lots of technical problem solving, as well as a long history of home, auto and boat projects.   But this was one of the biggest,  most complex, and daunting for me.

 

We took the approach to build an LiFePO4 system based on Prismatic cells, built into a ‘battery,’  governed by a BMS (battery management system).

  1. Our new batteries are Fortune 100AH cells in a coated aluminum case, purchased from Electric Car Parts Co.  I started 2020 with 24 cells in a 3P8S configuration (3 cells of 3.2v ea in parallel and 8 of these sets of 3 in series) for nominal 24v and 300AH.  This fall I added 8 more cells and reconfigured to 4P8S with 400AH capacity.   The height of the Fortune 100 is 305mm (12in) which is a couple of MM taller than the lip of the battery box so the lid securely holds the batteries in place.  I made custom buss bars with 1”x1/8” copper bar, and I reused the buss bars from the previous configuration to double the thickness bridging across the cell groups. (way more than adequate)
  2. I chose the ORION Jr2 BMS as it appeared to have the most capability and configurability for an application like mine.  It turns out that the amount of configurability was initially very daunting.  I know that you could get away with a lot less, but I still don’t know what capability I would want to give up or that I might want to take better advantage of in the future.   They do have good instructions to get started and have provided me with the support when needed.  But that are not geared up for end  users.  I can talk more on this in a separate thread if there is interest.
  3. Charging system changes:
    1. I replaced the original Dolphin 100A charger with a Victron Multi+ 3000/70/16/230-24v inverter/charger. The existing cables for the 100A Dolphin are barely sufficient.  Due to the heat concern in the engine room and the cable size I have limited the charging output to 60A charging. I think that the heaviest use and most likely failure mode to the unit will be due to charging usage and although the unit has cooling fans and protection circuits to limit output based on heat, I prefer to err on the safe side. We have not come near taxing the limits of the inverter.
    2. I have kept the original Dolphin 30A charger as emergency/supplement.  I only use it for short periods when charging with the generator to supplement the Victron charging. I plan to replace this soon with a similar size LiFPO configured charger.
    3. BeBe has the Leece Nevile 175A large body alternator.  I added a WakeSpeed 500 alternator controller, which I highly recommend.  I also added an Sterling Alternator Protection Device.  The WS500 is derated to 75% output and additionally has a temperature sensors on the alternator body which could derate further.  It pulls a little over 100 amps when running at 1500 rpm or above.  The highest operating temperature I have measured on the alternator is 165F.  One feature that I really like is a hard switch with sets the alternator at the ‘float’ voltage of 26.72v.  This really reduces the charging output and limits any risk of over charging.   I only flip the switch to ‘Charge’ mode when I am paying attention to what is going on when motoring. 

                                                               i.      Installation note:  Both the Victron Multi+ and the WS500 need information from the battery shunt.  I ran a 4-wire run from the shunt behind the battery box to the engine room to provide voltage and current information to the WS500 and voltage info to the Multi+.  

    1. The solar (pv) panels are controlled by a Victron Smart Solar 100/50 MPPT.  I had to upgrade the MPPT for the new larger (higher voltage) panels.  There is a fuse between the solar panels and the battery buss, and there is also a new 40amp Solid State DC relay between the solar panels and the MPPT that would allow the battery BMS to cut the solar charging if needed to prevent over charging of the batteries.
  1. System Monitoring and Control
    1. I replaced the Link10 battery monitor with a Victron BMV712 (Bluetooth enabled battery monitor)  Mounted on the 24v panel in existing hole.
    2. I added a Victron Venus GX monitor mounted on the bulkhead in the cabinet above the sink (to starboard of autopilot computer).  The Venus GX does not have a screen (Lori said no more displays in her galley!).  But everything is accessible via wifi from any of our laptops, iPads, mobile phones.  In addition it can be connected thru wifi to the external Victron VRM Portal to monitor your boat remotely.   I set this up over the summer with a wifi hotspot, but unfortunately halfway through the summer something consumed all of the data on the hotspot and my visibility went dark.    The Venus GX has wired communications from the MPPT, BMV and the Multi+.  I use it to remotely turn the Multi+ Inverter/Charger on and off.     I generally check the BMV or SmartSolar MPPT directly with the Bluetooth connection vs going through the Venus GX.   There is also the capability to establish a CanBUS network that includes the battery BMS and the WS500 alternator controller but I have not really explored the why and how to approach this yet.
  2. Other Bits of Kit:
    1. Contactors/Relays – Contrary to it’s name the BMS (battery management system) does not control your battery charging.  You primarily control that through the battery charging profiles that you set up in your battery chargers, solar MPPT and alternator regulator.  The BMS protects your battery system from over-charging or discharging, that can send signals to charging devices or activate relays to disconnect the charge or discharge sources when limits are reached.  This requires a large contactor/relay on the main battery.  I used a TYCO Kilovac EV200 500+amp 12-900v contactor.  This is a big chunk and consumes about 2AH per day.  Normally you would have one on the charge circuit and one on the discharge circuit but the Victron Multi+ confounds this (one set of wires for both charge and discharge), so I just use two small solid state relays SSR-25DD to relay the signal from the BMS to the main contactor.   I also installed an HB Controls HBC-D1D40A solid state DC relay on the positive cable from the solar panels to the MPPT to handle the Charge control from the BMS. The HB relay has a substantial heat sink to dissipate any heat generated by the load when there is a steady 70+v @ 10amp current flowing under full sun.
    2. Fuses – I added a very large fuse on the main battery for protection.   From BlueSea I selected the POWR-GARD JLLN 400A-P.   This is a 400A Class T fuse.  I would not use less than a CLASS T fuse on the battery.  And make sure your supplier provides you with the ‘time-current’ performance curves on the fuse.  The Amel SM bow thruster draws 400amps!  This fuse can handle that, and the fuse holder is also appropriately sized.   I also have a 200amp ANL fuse on the Multi+ battery cable.
  3. How I operate now:  I monitor both the battery voltage and cumulative current flow in/out of the battery bank on the Victron BMV712.  Every morning I record the battery bank voltage before sunrise and the cumulative Ahs drawn.  This gives me some benchmarks for future reference to cross check state of charge.  I have typically charged the battery bank when it gets down between 25.5v and 26.0v (this is somewhere around 15%-30% SOC.  During a period at anchor  I try to balance the battery SOC, my water tank level and planned activities to decide which days to run the generator.   I will typically run the generator for slightly over 90 minutes to allow me to produce approximately 270 liters of water and put 90+ amp-hours of charge back into the battery (usually twice a week at anchor).  At least once a month I try to top charge the battery up to about 27.4v – 27.5v (which is about 90% to 95% SOC). This helps to keep all of the cells in balance with eachother.  I keep the WS500 alternator controller switch set to the “float” when starting the motor and then based on battery SOC I will decide if I want to use the alternator to “Charge” the battery.  One trick here is that if I am motoring early in the day and ‘charge’ up the battery to high, the battery voltage will put the Solar MPPT into “float” mode and then I can lose much of the solar benefit for the rest of the day unless I rest the solar MPPT.   One other downside of not running the engine or generator to charge the batteries on a frequent basis we now need to plan for heating the water in the water heater.

 

Results:  I used to live with energy anxiety with my lead acid batteries.  Now I have a lot more capacity and confidence.  When I had 630AH of LA batteries the most that I ever used was 140AH. Last year with 300AH of LiFPO I regularly used more than 200AH before charging. Now I can comfortably use 300AH.  I used to run the generator every day.  Last season during two months of covid lock-down on anchor I ran the generator every 3rd or 4th day for water making and to top up the batteries.   This year with the increase in solar from 405watts to 690watts , only the need to make water will dictate when we need to run the generator.   And with the increased solar and battery capacity I can begin to look into induction cooking, and how to best rewire the inverter into the 230v circuit to enable use to easily run the hot water heater, washing machine, dishwasher, and even an AC in a pinch.   We don’t have unlimited energy but we are now very happy with our new limits/horizons. 

 

As I said this project was very challenging.  There are many decisions that you need to make along the way and every decision you make has many implications.  I’m far from an expert and definitely did not evaluate all of the possibilities fully.  I feel that I did navigate my way through to a solution that is best for our specific boat and style of living.  It did take me some time to get comfortable with all of the new systems.   Be aware of your comfort zone as you decide how to move forward.  

 

Happy to answer questions or provide additional information that can be of value.  But the best source of general information is the FaceBook group “Lithium batteries on a boat”.

 

Regards, Daniel and Lori Carlson on sv BeBe, SM #387


Willem Kroes
 

Hi José,

I think they are willing to deliver also to the USA. I don't know what import regulations exist and what the import tariff is.

All these companies are offering guaranties (1 or 2 years, but it is worth to negotiate the terms).

Bill Rouse is right that there some factories using polluted substances and this can result in a catastrophe, such as meltdowns or even a fire. On the other hand also with lead-acid batteries, there are lots of cases with big problems. Bear also in mind that Lithium-Iron-phosphate batteries are less vulnerable to fire-risks and also in general much more stable than lead-acid ones. Also, notice that LifePo4 batteries don't contain dangerous chemicals, such as lead-acid batteries do.  

Ask for testing reports, such as for the CE certificate. It took me weeks daily emailing with the representative, asking for testing reports, references of other clients, numbers of batteries exported to which countries etc.  I ordered also 2 extra BMS modules and they put these in 2 extra cases. The extra cost of this was around 90 US dollars.

Doing business with the interference of Alibaba can result in a guaranteed contract and you will not lose your money in the event the factory fails to deliver the batteries on board of the container vessel.

I the best practise is to do the research, the negotiating, the contract procedure and the import procedure with a group of boaters together. This will save a lot of money and work.

Best regards,

Willem Kroes

SM2K #351 Kavanga
Marina di Ragusa  

Best regard