Lion Energy UT1300 on sale at Costco for $750 (thru 7/5/20)

sajohnson

'09 View/08 3500 chassis
I believe 2/0 cable should be capable of handling 3000 watts continuous. More for shorter periods. I tested mine by running my 1800+ watt microwave, 600 watt Nespresso machine, and the 600 watt Isotemp water heater. My run from batteries to inverter is relatively short. You might have a difficult time making multiple 4/0 connections even on a 3/8” battery terminal. I also use the same 2/0 welding cable as the feed for my 280 amp Nations alternator.
At the risk of relaying information that may be known, when sizing cable the length of the run is critical. In our case, the inverter is ten (10) feet from the batteries.

Check this link:

#2/0 is good for 175-195 amps, depending upon the insulation type:

Best case, 195 amps x 12 volts = 2,340 watts.

The ampacity is focused on how much current the wire/cable can carry without the insulation becoming too hot and melting. Voltage drop and lost energy will be a concern long before that happens.

Inverters can operate with undersized cables, but they will be less efficient and may not be able to produce their full rated output.

Every installation is different.
 

sajohnson

'09 View/08 3500 chassis
We are interested in upgrading our coach from a couple of Costco 6V GC2 batteries and a PD9245C converter but are not certain we would need to make any changes for when the MB alternator is charging.
I asked Lion Energy that very question earlier today! Their answer:

"If you are charging off your alternator, you will need to use a DC to DC charger such as the Redarc model 1225D to charge the batteries and protect the alternator."

I have not yet had a chance to research DC to DC chargers, so I cannot comment on the Redarc, but will hopefully know more soon.

Another option would be to disable the "boost" relay (maybe keep the manual operation) and keep the two systems isolated. I'm not necessarily suggesting that's the way to go -- just an option.

Edit:

FWIW -- here's a review from Amazon:

RBartolo
5.0 out of 5 stars Charge Your Lithium Battery Bank on the Go. Game Changer!
Reviewed in the United States on February 7, 2020
Verified Purchase
Installed on a 2019 Mercedes Sprinter with a 100 amp lithium house battery. Charges the battery to 100% without straining the alternator. I no longer worry about charging and depending on solar panels to charge the battery. I drive to the destination and battery is @ 100% SOC. Ideal!

Here's the manual for the 1225D and 1240D:

Lion says the ideal charge rate for one UT1300 is 45-55 amps, so even with one battery -- and definitely with two -- the 1240D would be better. The Sprinter chassis has a healthy alternator -- ours is rated at about 180-185A, the newer ones may be even more, so that's not an issue.
 
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WinnieView1

2014 Winnebago View 24G
I asked Lion Energy that very question earlier today! Their answer:

"If you are charging off your alternator, you will need to use a DC to DC charger such as the Redarc model 1225D to charge the batteries and protect the alternator."

I have not yet had a chance to research DC to DC chargers, so I cannot comment on the Redarc, but will hopefully know more soon.

Another option would be to disable the "boost" relay (maybe keep the manual operation) and keep the two systems isolated. I'm not necessarily suggesting that's the way to go -- just an option.
Thanks for the confirmation! We did find that same information posted on their website.
Please keep us posted regarding your research.
We would prefer not to disable anything but upgrading to lithium batteries should help with the resale value if and when the time comes.
 

sajohnson

'09 View/08 3500 chassis
Thanks for the confirmation! We did find that same information posted on their website.
Please keep us posted regarding your research.
We would prefer not to disable anything but upgrading to lithium batteries should help with the resale value if and when the time comes.
I understand your reluctance to disconnect anything. That's generally the best approach, especially with an eye toward resale.

I read a little about the 1225D and 1240D. They act as both a battery charger and a battery isolator. As with the stock View system, when the engine is off, the batteries are isolated from each other. The difference is that when the unit is ON/charging, the connection is 'one-way', there is no path from the coach batteries to the chassis battery. So by installing the 1225/1240D, a stock function is deleted -- there is no way to use the coach batteries to 'boost' the chassis battery and start the engine. That's rarely necessary, but it is a change from the stock system.

If that's a concern there are work-arounds, but personally I wouldn't worry about it.

The boost/isolation relay can be left as-is, and the stock cable connecting that relay to the coach batteries would instead go to the 1225/1240 -- the output of which would go to the batteries. Basically, the 1225/1240 would be inserted between the boost relay and the coach batteries.

The closer it is mounted to the batteries the better. I'm trying to think of a good location. It is about 6-1/2"x<5"x1-1/2". The Lion UT1300's are relatively short, so one option (just brainstorming, not thought out, not a recommendation) would be to mount the 1240 to the underside of the removable step. One drawback that comes immediately to mind is that would mean that while the step could be removed, it could not be moved very far.

Anyway, the 1225/1240 is small enough that finding a suitable location should not be too difficult.

PS: I have two UT1300's in my Costco cart, trying to make up my mind.
 

gltrimble

Well-known member
#2/0 is good for 175-195 amps, depending upon the insulation type:

Best case, 195 amps x 12 volts = 2,340 watts.

The ampacity is focused on how much current the wire/cable can carry without the insulation becoming too hot and melting. Voltage drop and lost energy will be a concern long before that happens.

Inverters can operate with undersized cables, but they will be less efficient and may not be able to produce their full rated output.

Every installation is different.
Yes, Every installation is different. In automotive use 2/0 copper single conductor welding cable can handle 300 amps continuous and even 500 amps at 60% duty cycle.

I sized my battery conductors to provide for 99% of my expected use, ie. less than 200 amps. For those rare occasions that I need 250 amps the negative consequences are insignificant. In my case the voltage drop at 250 amps is approximately 3%. For the Lion lithium batteries this represents about a 0.5 volt drop leaving me with over 12.5 volts being delivered to the inverter. In the case of depleted AGM batteries this 0.5 volt drop can be enough to cause an inverter to alarm due to low voltage, but still function as long as the voltage exceeds 10.5 volts.

I am very happy with the performance of the Lion batteries. I would pull the trigger again, particularly at $700/battery.
 
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WinnieView1

2014 Winnebago View 24G
I understand your reluctance to disconnect anything. That's generally the best approach, especially with an eye toward resale.

I read a little about the 1225D and 1240D. They act as both a battery charger and a battery isolator. As with the stock View system, when the engine is off, the batteries are isolated from each other. The difference is that when the unit is ON/charging, the connection is 'one-way', there is no path from the coach batteries to the chassis battery. So by installing the 1225/1240D, a stock function is deleted -- there is no way to use the coach batteries to 'boost' the chassis battery and start the engine. That's rarely necessary, but it is a change from the stock system.

If that's a concern there are work-arounds, but personally I wouldn't worry about it.

The boost/isolation relay can be left as-is, and the stock cable connecting that relay to the coach batteries would instead go to the 1225/1240 -- the output of which would go to the batteries. Basically, the 1225/1240 would be inserted between the boost relay and the coach batteries.

The closer it is mounted to the batteries the better. I'm trying to think of a good location. It is about 6-1/2"x<5"x1-1/2". The Lion UT1300's are relatively short, so one option (just brainstorming, not thought out, not a recommendation) would be to mount the 1240 to the underside of the removable step. One drawback that comes immediately to mind is that would mean that while the step could be removed, it could not be moved very far.

Anyway, the 1225/1240 is small enough that finding a suitable location should not be too difficult.

PS: I have two UT1300's in my Costco cart, trying to make up my mind.
All very good points and we are in agreement and in the same boat.
What if the 1225/1240 was mounted in the battery tray alongside the new batteries? There may be just enough room to tuck it in (at least in ours (2014))--but ours is in storage about 10 miles away so we are only guessing based on memory. Or a plywood tray on top given the extra clearance? We do like the bottom of the step cover idea.

P.S. We posted a comment to the review from the 2019 owner and asked if they could tell us where they installed theirs. Hopefully they can reply.
 

sajohnson

'09 View/08 3500 chassis
All very good points and we are in agreement and in the same boat.
What if the 1225/1240 was mounted in the battery tray alongside the new batteries? There may be just enough room to tuck it in (at least in ours (2014))--but ours is in storage about 10 miles away so we are only guessing based on memory. Or a plywood tray on top given the extra clearance? We do like the bottom of the step cover idea.

P.S. We posted a comment to the review from the 2019 owner and asked if they could tell us where they installed theirs. Hopefully they can reply.
I'm not familiar with the later models. You say your 2014 has a 'tray'? Do you mean a tray that slides out on drawer glides?

With our 2009 (and other early models) there is a battery box under the middle coach entry step, which is removable and secured with a single latch on the center of the riser underneath. That step is insanely heavy by the way, very well made. If the entire coach floor was constructed that way there would be no cargo capacity left!

I just did a quick search and it seems like all V/Ns use the same under-step battery box, but maybe some floor plans are different.

Another drawback of my 'bottom of the step' mounting option is not being able to see the display, but there seems to be little reason to look at it very often. The "charge profile" is fixed -- only the "charge status" changes. That might be something the owner would want to look at initially, but not so much later on.

Our solar charge controller (very small, the size of a deck of cards) is mounted in the battery box, in part because in order for the temperature compensation to work, the controller must know the battery temp (and the sensor is in the unit) -- but also because it made the most sense. Why mount it inside the coach and have to run 4 cables from the panels to it, and then two cables from the controller back out to the battery box? It's best to minimize the length of wire/cable runs, and minimize the number of penetrations of the coach.

The 300A fuse for the inverter cable is in the box as well, for the same reasons, but also to maximize safety,

Bottom line, I'm still leaning toward installing the 1240 inside the battery box if it is practical to do so. The existing batteries are 2 Crown CR-260 (tall) GC (golf cart) batteries. They are about 11-2/3" tall, and there is still a decent about of space (maybe 2") between the tops of the terminals and the underside of the step. The UT 1300 is only 8.8" tall, so they will have about 4-1/2" of space above them. Offhand, it seems like there should be plenty of room -- but that leaves the issue of the step being tethered to the battery box, Personally, that does not bother me, but others might feel differently.
 

WinnieView1

2014 Winnebago View 24G
I'm not familiar with the later models. You say your 2014 has a 'tray'? Do you mean a tray that slides out on drawer glides?

With our 2009 (and other early models) there is a battery box under the middle coach entry step, which is removable and secured with a single latch on the center of the riser underneath. That step is insanely heavy by the way, very well made. If the entire coach floor was constructed that way there would be no cargo capacity left!

I just did a quick search and it seems like all V/Ns use the same under-step battery box, but maybe some floor plans are different.

Another drawback of my 'bottom of the step' mounting option is not being able to see the display, but there seems to be little reason to look at it very often. The "charge profile" is fixed -- only the "charge status" changes. That might be something the owner would want to look at initially, but not so much later on.

Our solar charge controller (very small, the size of a deck of cards) is mounted in the battery box, in part because in order for the temperature compensation to work, the controller must know the battery temp (and the sensor is in the unit) -- but also because it made the most sense. Why mount it inside the coach and have to run 4 cables from the panels to it, and then two cables from the controller back out to the battery box? It's best to minimize the length of wire/cable runs, and minimize the number of penetrations of the coach.

The 300A fuse for the inverter cable is in the box as well, for the same reasons, but also to maximize safety,

Bottom line, I'm still leaning toward installing the 1240 inside the battery box if it is practical to do so. The existing batteries are 2 Crown CR-260 (tall) GC (golf cart) batteries. They are about 11-2/3" tall, and there is still a decent about of space (maybe 2") between the tops of the terminals and the underside of the step. The UT 1300 is only 8.8" tall, so they will have about 4-1/2" of space above them. Offhand, it seems like there should be plenty of room -- but that leaves the issue of the step being tethered to the battery box, Personally, that does not bother me, but others might feel differently.
Agreed. Mounting it to the underside of the removable step cover makes more and more sense. In our 2014 G floor plan it's the top step that's removable and has the same single latch design and heavy as mentioned. Our 2014 G floor plan's coach batteries 'bay' extends thru the bottom of the chassis and is open to the roadway.
The Interstate GC2 batteries are probably similar in size to the Crowns, but as mentioned there is still 'gap space' on the underside of the step cover.

Our solar controller is mounted in the panel above the fridge, closer by 3 times to the panels as opposed to the batteries. Our controller has a sensor wire for temperature compensation which is attached to the side of the batteries.

Honestly, other than making changes to the coach batteries configuration or replacing the 300A fuse in a rare circumstance, we only access ours for constant checks of water, which goes away with the Lions!
 

sajohnson

'09 View/08 3500 chassis
Agreed. Mounting it to the underside of the removable step cover makes more and more sense. In our 2014 G floor plan it's the top step that's removable and has the same single latch design and heavy as mentioned. Our 2014 G floor plan's coach batteries 'bay' extends thru the bottom of the chassis and is open to the roadway.
The Interstate GC2 batteries are probably similar in size to the Crowns, but as mentioned there is still 'gap space' on the underside of the step cover.

Our solar controller is mounted in the panel above the fridge, closer by 3 times to the panels as opposed to the batteries. Our controller has a sensor wire for temperature compensation which is attached to the side of the batteries.

Honestly, other than making changes to the coach batteries configuration or replacing the 300A fuse in a rare circumstance, we only access ours for constant checks of water, which goes away with the Lions!
Oops! You're right -- it's the top step that's removable (brain fade). Sounds like we have the same setup.

With lithium batteries of course there is no need for the box to be open on the bottom. Might as well seal it and keep dirt and moisture out.

One question I have is -- what's the best way to moderate the temperature swings in the battery box? Apparently room temp is best for both charging and using lithium batteries. Would adding some rigid foam insulation be a good idea? Something to look into.

The Crown CR-260 (260 Ah) GC2 batteries we currently have are a bit taller than most to get the additional capacity. Even with their added height, there is still about 2" of space between them and the underside of the step. Since the UT1300s are <9", the 1225/1240 should have plenty of room. It would be a good idea to electrically isolate the batteries from the 1225/1240, just in case it would happen to vibrate loose and fall. A sheet of light plastic should be plenty.

Our controller is made by a decent mfr -- Morningstar -- but it's an inexpensive one that does not have the remote temp sensor feature. It's fine where it is, but I have to remove the step to see the pretty LEDs. ;-)

My thinking regarding the step is the same as yours -- I remove it occasionally to check water levels and terminals for tightness, but that's about it. Once or twice I've removed it from the coach, but usually I just lay it on the floor, which would still be possible with a bit of slack in the cables.
 

WinnieView1

2014 Winnebago View 24G
Oops! You're right -- it's the top step that's removable (brain fade). Sounds like we have the same setup.

With lithium batteries of course there is no need for the box to be open on the bottom. Might as well seal it and keep dirt and moisture out.

One question I have is -- what's the best way to moderate the temperature swings in the battery box? Apparently room temp is best for both charging and using lithium batteries. Would adding some rigid foam insulation be a good idea? Something to look into.

The Crown CR-260 (260 Ah) GC2 batteries we currently have are a bit taller than most to get the additional capacity. Even with their added height, there is still about 2" of space between them and the underside of the step. Since the UT1300s are <9", the 1225/1240 should have plenty of room. It would be a good idea to electrically isolate the batteries from the 1225/1240, just in case it would happen to vibrate loose and fall. A sheet of light plastic should be plenty.

Our controller is made by a decent mfr -- Morningstar -- but it's an inexpensive one that does not have the remote temp sensor feature. It's fine where it is, but I have to remove the step to see the pretty LEDs. ;-)

My thinking regarding the step is the same as yours -- I remove it occasionally to check water levels and terminals for tightness, but that's about it. Once or twice I've removed it from the coach, but usually I just lay it on the floor, which would still be possible with a bit of slack in the cables.
So to recap, we would need to replace the batteries, the converter, eliminate the solar controller, and install the DC-DC charger?
Doesn't sound like a job we will get done by our next trip next week. ;)
 

sajohnson

'09 View/08 3500 chassis
So to recap, we would need to replace the batteries, the converter, eliminate the solar controller, and install the DC-DC charger?
Doesn't sound like a job we will get done by our next trip next week. ;)
Well when you put it THAT way... :cool:

I didn't mention the converter because in our case we have an inverter/charger that has a 'lithium' setting, and is fully programmable.

I'm a technician but until now I haven't studied lithium batteries and their requirements because they were so expensive that we had no plans to purchase them. So with that caveat in mind, it's possible that a 3-stage converter that has a bulk voltage of 14.4 to 14.6 *might* work OK -- but you'd be better off with a dedicated lithium charger.

From what I've read -- at the Lion Energy site and elsewhere -- typical 3-stage lead-acid battery chargers (converters) can be made to work. Here's one FAQ from the Lion UT1300 manual (PDF):

"What type of charger do I need to charge the Safari UT 1300?":

"You can use a lead acid charger and set it to its highest voltage setting (closest to 14.6V). However, we recommend if you want optimal performance, use a lithium charger. It can be purchased at various online stores or through physical retail or RV dealer store locations."

As for the solar controller, I do not plan to eliminate ours. As far as I know, there's no reason not to leave it connected as-is, but perhaps I'm overlooking something.

Regarding the DC to DC charger, I won't suggest that's a 15 minute install, but assuming we're correct that there will be plenty of room above the UT1300s -- physically mounting it to the step should be straight-forward. The wiring will involve removing the cable connected to the boost relay from the battery pos(+) terminal, connecting it to the 1225/1240 input (the exiting length may even be enough to allow slack to remove the step), and then connecting a wire from the charger to the battery. There are a couple other steps -- a ground/neg wire, and 2 wires that must be connected to select lithium mode. That's about it.

I'm getting ready to post 2 very good YouTube videos about the UT1300. In one of them the guy says that he just did a drop-in replacement -- no DC to DC charger -- and his alternator has been fine. If I do end up buying the UT1300s, I plan to use a DC to DC charger, but I just thought I'd mention that, FWIW. You can't go wrong with the advice from random people on YouTube! ;)

A lot of what I've read seems to suggest that the UT1300 (and similar lithium batteries) are "plug and play" -- but much of that may be coming from people who are more concerned with sales than proper installation. Your (very reasonable, accurate) post above is a good example of why they might downplay everything that may be involved -- because while many people are OK with the idea of simply replacing batteries, they understandably do not want the added trouble and expense of buying and installing additional components.
 

sajohnson

'09 View/08 3500 chassis
I found a couple good YouTube videos about the UT1300:

"How long will two LiFePO4 batteries Run My RV Lion Energy UT 1300 battery test"

"How Long Will Two Lithium Batteries Run A RV AC With Easy Start 364 - Lion Safari UT 1300 batteries"
 

sajohnson

'09 View/08 3500 chassis
For reference -- this is Magnum Energy's DC cable size chart for several of their inverters -- both 12V and 24V:

Magnum Energy DC cable size chart Capture.PNG
This is a helpful chart. It includes two different output 12V inverters -- 2 kW and 2.8 kW; and 3 cable lengths.

Note that when going from 2,000 watts to 2,800 watts, cable runs of over 10 feet are not recommended.

For their 2,800 watt MS2812 they recommend #4/0 for even the shortest runs of <5 feet, and over 5 feet they recommend two #4/0 cables for pos and neg (a total of 4 cables).

Magnum's recommendations do tend to be on the heavy side, but that doesn't hurt.

I'll admit I was shocked when I first saw this chart. I knew the cables would have to be fairly large but this surprised me.

For anyone who plans to install the UT1300s (or similar), it would be a good time to consider whether upgrading your existing cables to your inverter is called for.
 

WinnieView1

2014 Winnebago View 24G
In our current RV we only have and need the PD9245 converter/charger but we have added the pendant to override the charging modes. Here's a video that talks about using one such non-Lithium converter/charger in such an arrangement;
 
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sajohnson

'09 View/08 3500 chassis
In our current RV we only have and need the PD9245 converter/charger but we have added the pendant to override the charging modes. Here's a video that talks about using one such non-Lithium converter/charger in such an arrangement;
Very interesting video, thanks for sharing!

That's promising. It looks like you can get by with your existing converter/charger since you are able to set it at a fixed output -- I imagine it's around 14.4V?

One thing I found a bit odd in the video was that although he had about 14.3V and 40A out of the converter, and the battery(s) was already at about 60% SoC, it took 4-5 hours to get a full 100% SoC. Maybe I'm missing something.

In any case, the UT1300 can take up to 100A charging current, with ~50A recommended. At 50A, the UT1300 should go from 0% to 100% in a little over 2 hours. That said, not everyone is concerned with the charge time. Usually it isn't an issue for us, but if you are in a situation where you must run the generator to charge the batteries then the quicker the better.

If charge time isn't an issue I think you'll be fine with the PD9245. From what I recall that's a good converter/charger.
 

sajohnson

'09 View/08 3500 chassis
My primary concern about the UT1300 is the terminals -- in particular the the relatively small (M6?) studs on the bottom of the removable posts. If I wasn't aware of the specs, I'd assume the max rated output is much lower than 150A.

Obviously they can be made to work, many people use them with large (2 kW to 3 kW) inverters, but I do wish they were more stout.

Here's a good YouTube video that focuses on the terminals. The guy is a fan of the UT1300, but he expresses his concerns about the terminals:

"Lion Energy 1300 VS 1200 and Why I Dislike the Terminals"
 

WinnieView1

2014 Winnebago View 24G
My primary concern about the UT1300 is the terminals -- in particular the the relatively small (M6?) studs on the bottom of the removable posts. If I wasn't aware of the specs, I'd assume the max rated output is much lower than 150A.

Obviously they can be made to work, many people use them with large (2 kW to 3 kW) inverters, but I do wish they were more stout.

Here's a good YouTube video that focuses on the terminals. The guy is a fan of the UT1300, but he expresses his concerns about the terminals:

"Lion Energy 1300 VS 1200 and Why I Dislike the Terminals"
We decided we aren't quite ready to make the changeover so will wait the usual 3 months and revisit it again. About every 3 months the batteries are available at Costco.com for a discounted price.
Thanks for all the input and perspective!
 

JonnyBoats

Member
We decided we aren't quite ready to make the changeover so will wait the usual 3 months and revisit it again
Well, one good thing is that both solar panels and batteries seem to get both cheaper and better the longer you wait.
 

sajohnson

'09 View/08 3500 chassis
Well, one good thing is that both solar panels and batteries seem to get both cheaper and better the longer you wait.
That's true -- particularly with solar panels.

The question is -- how long does one wait? That's a personal decision of course. There are people who simply must have the latest 'bleeding edge' technology, and they are willing to pay the premium to be the first on their block. I know people who bought a HDTV shortly after they became available -- they paid thousands of dollars for what by today's standards are relatively small TVs. They might point out that they had the pleasure of watching them for years before most other people (we kept our CRT TV until 2007).

Lithium batteries have come down in price quite a bit, but as they say, "past performance is no guarantee of future results". I just did a search and found this:

"Lithium-ion battery pack prices, which averaged $1,160 per kilowatt hour in 2010, reached $176 per kWh last year and could drop below $100 in 2024, according to BloombergNEF."

I'm not sure where those numbers come from. I'm not aware of any batteries like the UTT1300 going for anywhere near $176/kWh, but specific numbers aside, if the above trend is correct, the rate of decrease in prices may be slowing. If the price per kWh does drop by (say) 45% in 4 years I wouldn't lose too much sleep over it. We would have had the use of the batteries for 4 years at that point. That said, if there were some unforeseen discovery and prices dropped to a tenth of their present level or less per kWh, then I'd have some buyer's remorse!

I'm still leaning toward getting them, but I agree that even at $700 each they are expensive. Do we *need* them? No. We've been getting by with the Crown CR-260 batteries, but:

* They are heavy -- about 150 lbs for the pair.
* They require periodic maint.
* Ideally they like to be at 100% SOC as much as possible.
* They cannot put out enough current to allow our MS2000 inverter/charger to run heavy loads without significant voltage drop -- which means we must run the engine to give them a boost.
* They take a long time to charge, even at the max 'C/5' rate of about 50 amps, because of the absorption stage with decreasing current.

The UT1300 (or other lithium batteries) would solve or reduce all of those problems.
 

borabora

Active member
We decided we aren't quite ready to make the changeover so will wait the usual 3 months and revisit it again. About every 3 months the batteries are available at Costco.com for a discounted price.
Thanks for all the input and perspective!
By my observations, LIFEPO4 battery prices in the US have not really come down at all in the last 12-18 months. I think because of tariffs and then Covid. In the mean time the ah/$ ratio of cells made and sold in China has increased quite a bit (and they are all made in China). It's only speculation, but I think in the next 6 months you'll see prices drop quite a bit in the US. So, you might end up very happy in the 3 months. At least that's the logic I am using that is currently saving me $1400.
 

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