Lithium battery sources/options

RonR

Recovering Sprinter Owner
In support of a Lithium solution (and my own build).
If it is only dollars, it looks to be a wash based on published pricing and lifetime. Many users do not do deep discharge and have longer lifetimes, the same is true for AGM, Lithium or plain old lead acid. So all the technologies get the benefit. Or they all can get toasted by mis-use. Store your vehicle with an active load and any battery will be junk in the spring. In my opinion the real benefit is reduced size and weight, in particular in our smaller conversions. At the 400AH level this is roughly a cubic foot.
Battery management is an issue, but there are solutions out there. If you are a hobbyist you can build your own, as I am.
Yup, we pay more than Tesla but then we don't buy millions of dollars of batteries. That has always been the case.
Ron
 

rhollen

New member
I feel like this is a great place to put in a plug for some lightly used LFP cells that I have. I started a thread for those interested in purchasing some LFP cells to make your auxiliary power 12V packs out of for a significant discount. Please reply in that thread if you're interested in buying these cells. I've tested them and shared the actual measured capacity of these cells. Thanks.
 

V37

V37
I've got a similar bank with 420 ah of agms. The original bank is now ten years old with over a thousand drycamp overnights and a zillion more daytrips running the dc fridge and other power draws. Dan
Some good points,...and yes, when you mentioned that your AGM's gotten more than a thousand life cycles and still going strong,...I'm thinking, heck, wonder if the lithiums will go for 30 years. LOL

I don't have personal experience with lithium batteries,...other then losing big when A123 Systems went bankrupt.

This is where I got the Life Cycle info:
http://www.lithiumion-batteries.com/lithium-rv-deep-cycle.php

Thing is,...technology is at the threshold of some fantastic batteries, like Aquion Energy. Yet at the same time, I'm too old to put off my dream trips (like Wood Buffalo in the off-season to view the aurora), waiting for the perfect system.

One thing is,...I do not like compressed gas/propane,...I want all electric,...even radiant heat:
http://www.warmfloor.com/en-us/residential-floor-heating/step-rv-heating-rv/s-motorhomes-boats-etc

Certainly don't want to spend $6k for a toilet seat,...but OK with spending a little more for dependable, quality accessories.
 

V37

V37
In my opinion the real benefit is reduced size and weight, in particular in our smaller conversions. At the 400AH level this is roughly a cubic foot.
Battery management is an issue, but there are solutions out there. Ron
That's my thinking too....reduced size and weight.

When I lay out on paper where things will go, working in fractions of inches,...I don't have space for a large battery house.

One product I really like is e-foy....and designing that into my 144wb build has been challenging. IMO, the e-foy in a Sprinter seems best mated to lithium.

http://www.efoy.com/en/
 

Inertiaman

Active member
Those lithiums of yours are >4x the price Tesla pays today for their batteries. That reflects the niche nature of the lithium market for small-guy retail purchase. Tesla expects the capacity/lb to increase around 30% and their price/ah to drop a similar amount in two to three years.

So do you really want to be that guy who paid $10/w for early solar instead of waiting for the price curve to down to under $2/w today?

That said, we value pioneers like you who will go through the travails of early lithium charging systems and whatever goes wrong at -10F or 110F.

No real criticism here of your efforts to get to tomorrow's technology today. Very cool. Not the most cost effective solution now but please don't do it because you think nothing else will do the relatively easy job you spec'd. The weight advantage is real but will only improve as Li-ions commercialize on a wider scale.

Dan
We may not have to wait long for the next shift in the price curve. Tesla is making a "major announcement of a non-automotive product" on April 30th that is widely speculated to be a "home battery." I'm not suggesting that we'll see a lithium solution for a Sprinter suddenly become affordable, but its conceivable that they could release a product at half the cost of some of the current pseudo-DIY solutions for high-capacity lithium.

I won't be waiting for it. But I am designing my battery/electrical system with enough versatility in space/circuitry that I can quickly move to another battery technology in 2 (or 3, or 4) years if/when something compelling becomes available.

I figure I'll spend $500-600 on AGM now, and not worry too much about occasional sub-optimal discharging, because making them last 10 years versus 4 or 5 isn't a big deal if we can assume that some far more attractive energy storage technology will hit a pricing sweet spot over the next 2-5 years.
 

Boxster1971

2012 Sprinter 3500 Ext
I've got a similar bank with 420 ah of agms. The original bank is now ten years old with over a thousand drycamp overnights and a zillion more daytrips running the dc fridge and other power draws. Alternator only source of charging except for perhaps two days of shore power each month to keep the bank conditioned. .....


... ... Dan

Dan what brand are your AGMs?


- - Mike
2013 Airstream Interstate from 2012 Sprinter 3500 tall & long
 

d_bertko

New member
I don't have personal experience with lithium batteries,...other then losing big when A123 Systems went bankrupt.
LOL, A123 was in my neck of the woods and I got stung too.

I met one of the founders at an Energy Club presentation at MIT. He was enthusiastic, nerdy and convincing and their product had certain patentable advantages. But that doesn't mean the market was ready for the product.

Dan what brand are your AGMs?
- - Mike
I paid the premium for Lifeline Concorde agms. I'm nerdy, too, but the fine points of the purity of their chemistry escaped me---but their gold standard reputation swayed me. Looks like it was a good decision.

Dan
 

Inertiaman

Active member
Yep, the new Tesla batteries don't disappoint on cost-per-kwh or availability, but the size is a bummer for Sprinter folks: 51x34x7 inches.

Although with its curved profile, it might fit nicely above the driver/passenger's heads. Ignoring the obvious safety consequences, of course. :)
 

d_bertko

New member
Yep, the new Tesla batteries don't disappoint on cost-per-kwh or availability, but the size is a bummer for Sprinter folks: 51x34x7 inches.

Although with its curved profile, it might fit nicely above the driver/passenger's heads. Ignoring the obvious safety consequences, of course. :)
I'm guessing the Li-ion bank would prefer an inside-the-van location for thermal reasons.

The 7" depth is not too hard for those of us needing less seating and more cargo uses.

My four agms and inverter charger are boxed into a close-enough footprint that I could pretty easily install this in my present van.

Dan
 

Attachments

rhollen

New member
The Tesla pack is pretty amazing, especially price! It does have some major disadvantages for Sprinter conversion folks. The 400V nominal voltage is probably the biggest dealbreaker. That's a really large and dangerous voltage and presents a whole host of other issues.
 

OrioN

2008 2500 170" EXT
For those who have been waiting with bated breath...

...progress update.

The 8020 box is fabricated. Today is Cell Balancing day. As these 16 cells arrived with various soc's with cell voltages ranging from 3.268V to 3.277V, they are currently hooked up in one long parallel chain to self level/balance. Will keep them hooked up for 12 hrs. Current pack voltage is now averaging 3.270V (13.08V @ 12V nom.). :thumbup:

20150615_100031-900.jpg

Main contactor and BMS board in view, 400A fuse block will be bolted below.

Later in the week is tear-down of old install and up-fit with new.




.
 
Last edited:

jostalli

Member
For those who have been waiting with bated breath...

...progress update.

The 8020 box is fabricated. Today is Cell Balancing day. As these 16 cell arrived with various soc's ranging from 3.268 to 3.277, they are currently hooked up in on long parallel chain to self level/balance. Will keep them hooked up for 12 hrs. Current pack voltage is now averaging 3.270V (13.08V @ 12V nom.). :thumbup:

View attachment 68247

Main contactor and BMS board in view, 400A fuse block will be bolted below.

Later in the week is tear-down of old install and up-fit with new.




.
Looks perfect. I'm looking forward to reading about your final charging system. Did you write your own charge profile in your Tristar MPPT charge controller? If so what are your parameters for bulk, absorption and float?
 

GeorgeRa

2013 Sprinter DIY 144WB, Portland OR
For those who have been waiting with bated breath...

...progress update.

The 8020 box is fabricated. Today is Cell Balancing day. As these 16 cell arrived with various soc's with cell voltages ranging from 3.268V to 3.277V, they are currently hooked up in on long parallel chain to self level/balance. Will keep them hooked up for 12 hrs. Current pack voltage is now averaging 3.270V (13.08V @ 12V nom.). :thumbup:

View attachment 68247

Main contactor and BMS board in view, 400A fuse block will be bolted below.

Later in the week is tear-down of old install and up-fit with new.




.
Looks great, do you need to provide small load for self balancing?

George.
 

OrioN

2008 2500 170" EXT
Looks great, do you need to provide small load for self balancing?

George.
The cell with the lower voltage is the load.

EDIT:
This is an initial or pre-balancing which is required IF the cells come with a very large difference in voltages. Reality is that mine where from new/recent stock and from same batch, and their voltages difference didn't really require balancing.

Cells in parallel will always self-balance. Cells in series require a BMS to monitor individual series cells and do the balancing through the hardware.

My bank will be a 4P4S configuration, which means there will be 4 'Supercells', each with 4 cells in parallel making 400aH @ 3.2V nom, connecting in series to create the 400aH 12.8V nom. The BMS balances the V's between the Supercells.

See schematic (not current/final version):

View attachment Orion 1 - v.2.1.1-battery-052715.pdf



.
 
Last edited:

OrioN

2008 2500 170" EXT
Did you write your own charge profile in your Tristar MPPT charge controller? If so what are your parameters for bulk, absorption and float?
I will be finalizing & creating my own profile. I will post the parameters shortly, after I load the profile...



.
 

DieselFumes

2015 4x4 2500 170 Crew
I ordered a 9kWH (700AH) Lithium Ytrrium Iron Phosphate battery pack from Balqon, and it arrived the other day.


Some observations:
  • It is big. About 2' long just over 1' wide/high. It weighs around 230lbs.
  • The cells arrived well balanced, at around a 50% DOD.
  • The cells are contained in a steel enclosure. It feels solid.
  • The steel enclosure has mounting points (bolt holes) on the base. It has no spare points on the side, although it's probably easy to "borrow" one of the bolt holes that keeps the enclosure sides together in order to bolt to a van wall as an additional mounting point.
  • The BMS is screwed on to the side of the steel enclosure. Depending upon your interior layout design, you may want this mounted either on the short edge or left as a separate box to mount elsewhere. This is apparently an option that Balqon offers. Specify it before delivery though, because retrofitting would be a pain due to the wire lengths.
  • The four cells do not need to be in the enclosure, and are each about 2" deep, so theoretically you could mount them flat inside the walls of the van, but that would introduce some issues with connectivity/charging efficiency. I am not going to be trying this out.
  • These cells must be kept upright. Some LiIon batteries don't care which way up they are, but these apparently (according to the manual) could leak electrolyte if not kept the right way up.

Some thoughts on ordering from Balqon:
If you are a stress bunny or a perennial complainer, don't use this company.
I would guess that their sales/support staff is smaller than they need, and that they have not invested much in their e-commerce site and sales infrastructure. They are a business-to-business company, used to talking in terms of orders with at least one if not two extra zeros on the end, and probably as purchase orders rather than as web orders. As a result, communication with them is an issue.
For instance, I placed my order online, and received an auto-generated email asking me to fax a completed credit card authorization form to them. I don't have a fax these days, so I filled in the PDF form digitally and emailed it back. I got an out-of-office message in response - the person was on maternity leave. At that point, what do you do? No other contact info on the site. I used their contact us form but got no response. Several days later someone else at Balqon chased me to say "where's the credit card form?" and that got me in touch with the right person.

  • Do NOT enter personal information on their web site. It has no protection (even though it says it does). If you do create an account, don't use the same password you use elsewhere. Also, don't expect the order status to update online (mine continually said "in process").
  • Do not expect people to answer the phone when you call. I suggest you start in email, then arrange a time to call to provide credit card information.
  • When you do get through to a real person, confirm your order. They failed to add a couple of items that I had asked for.
  • They stated a 2-week lead time. Even after chasing them, it turned into a 4-week lead time.
    Shipping was prompt. The battery was well crated.
  • There were no instructions (in fact no paperwork at all) with the battery. The manual is online (PDF), but is not super-helpful. This is NOT a consumer product, so I didn't expect any different really but be warned.

If you want to do business with them, I suggest finding what you want on the site, and then getting in contact with Balwinder Samra, bqsamra@gmail.com who is (as far as I can tell) the sales guy. 310-935-6951 or maybe 310-326-3052

I haven't put the battery into service yet. I'll post an update when that's done.
 

OrioN

2008 2500 170" EXT
Some thoughts on ordering from Balqon:
If you are a stress bunny or a perennial complainer, don't use this company.
I would guess that their sales/support staff is smaller than they need, and that they have not invested much in their e-commerce site and sales infrastructure. They are a business-to-business company, used to talking in terms of orders with at least one if not two extra zeros on the end, and probably as purchase orders rather than as web orders. As a result, communication with them is an issue.
For instance, I placed my order online, and received an auto-generated email asking me to fax a completed credit card authorization form to them. I don't have a fax these days, so I filled in the PDF form digitally and emailed it back. I got an out-of-office message in response - the person was on maternity leave. At that point, what do you do? No other contact info on the site. I used their contact us form but got no response. Several days later someone else at Balqon chased me to say "where's the credit card form?" and that got me in touch with the right person.

  • Do NOT enter personal information on their web site. It has no protection (even though it says it does). If you do create an account, don't use the same password you use elsewhere. Also, don't expect the order status to update online (mine continually said "in process").
  • Do not expect people to answer the phone when you call. I suggest you start in email, then arrange a time to call to provide credit card information.
  • When you do get through to a real person, confirm your order. They failed to add a couple of items that I had asked for.
  • They stated a 2-week lead time. Even after chasing them, it turned into a 4-week lead time.
    Shipping was prompt. The battery was well crated.
  • There were no instructions (in fact no paperwork at all) with the battery. The manual is online (PDF), but is not super-helpful. This is NOT a consumer product, so I didn't expect any different really but be warned.

If you want to do business with them, I suggest finding what you want on the site, and then getting in contact with Balwinder Samra, bqsamra@gmail.com who is (as far as I can tell) the sales guy. 310-935-6951 or maybe 310-326-3052

I haven't put the battery into service yet. I'll post an update when that's done.
I could not get them to return any of the 6 calls/messages I left, nor respond to the same amount of email inquiries. Then, there are the rumours of their pending demise from the industry...

I went 'custom' and with a BMS with features that allow me control or protect from the chargers. Relying on the main contactor to drop current at a prototypical warning level is not ideal.

That said, good luck with your install & usage. :thumbup:


.
 

Top Bottom