Lithium Battery/Inverter upgrade

lvuman

Member
I've searched all the threads I could find for a post on step-by-step guidance upgrading my 6V batteries with a pair of Battle Born Lithium batteries and changing out the original MM612 inverter plus my WFCO Power Converter (WF-8955 to a Progressive Dynamics PD4655V) to maybe a Xantrex 2000 inverter/charger. I currently have 500 watts of solar (5 100-watt Renogy monocrystalline panels), a Bogart Engineering SC-2030 Solar Charger, and a Tri-Metric TM-2030 Battery Monitor. This system has worked very well for several years. I seldom use my diesel generator except occasionally for the microwave and AC. I would like to operate the microwave a few minutes here and there with the inverter plus have the added capacity for other items or outlets I could move to the inverter bar. I have an early model, 2015 Murphy Bed. I think switching out the batteries is straight forward enough but have questions like; which inverter/charger is best, where to mount it, size of wiring (AWG 4 if close to the batteries?), programing it to charge the new batteries, how to move the microwave, and receptacles, etc. to the inverter bus, size and type of DC breaker needed, and hopefully pictures. I tend to be pretty visual. Any advice or help would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.
 

DiverBob

2018 Unity TB
What year and model LTV do you have?
To run the microwave you will need a 2K inverter, many here have used the Victron inverters. An added benefit of Victron is the way their equipment integrates together
 

Klipstr

2018 Wonder FTB
DiverBob jumped right in: look for his posts on this exact topic. He has done an extensive remodel of his system and documented it very well. While not exactly what you are looking to do his experience and posts will be a great place to start. While looking at his posts you will find SSTraveler is a frequent contributor and she has posted numerous photos and diagrams that will help you.

It's all here already. Step-by-step? Perhaps not that detailed...
 

lvuman

Member
I think I've read most of their posts. I find their knowledge so incredible that it is too sophisticated for me. I am really looking for a very detailed, generic installation without extra things installed and wired in like larger alternators, DC-DC chargers, etc. My Unity is an early model 2015 Murphy Bed. If someone knows of a post that fits the above, I would appreciate the link. I'm still looking.
 
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DiverBob

2018 Unity TB
Ok, as I understand it, you are asking about replacing the original batteries with BattleBorn lithium batteries and you would like to be able to run your microwave from those batteries. As you stated, physically changing the batteries is fairly simple as they will fit in the same location as your original batteries (you will have to move some of the plastic blocks LTV uses to keep the batteries from moving.
As to your specific questions:
1. which inverter/charger is best,
That’s a tall order! There is no ‘best’, it’s what works for you and you are willing to pay for. I used Victron equipment as I like the integration their equipment gives me. There are several other models available that will work equally good. Now your next question, #2, can also determine what model you can get. The simplest method is to get an Inverter that fits into the same location as the inverter you want to replace. If you get something physically larger then you will have to figure out what open space you would put it.
2. where to mount it,
See above. If you can’t get a new inverter to fit where the old one was, recommend putting the inverter closeto the batteries to minimize the wiring run to the batteries. I would use one of the lower outside compartments beside the LTV door.
3. size of wiring (AWG 4 if close to the batteries?),
Wiring size is based on the expected current draw and total length of the wire. The microwave I have draws around 155 amps at 12v when running. I have a total wiring length from the battery to the inverter and back again of about 6 feet. There are several DC wiring charts that can give you the recommended wire size. You can always go larger, never go smaller. I used high strand count 4/0 awg wire for my installation, over-kill but my DC losses a less than 1%.
4. programing it to charge the new batteries,
Once you determine your inverter, contact BattleBorn and they will send you the specific settings for the inverter. Probably the easiest part of the whole job!
5. how to move the microwave, and receptacles, etc. to the inverter bus,
There are a number of ways to do this depending on what results you want. For this question I recommend looking back at my postings on the AC side wiring changes I made initially when I put in a 2K inverter. Too much stuff to put in a short answer
6. size and type of DC breaker needed, and hopefully pictures.
What DC breaker are you asking about? For fusing the DC wiring side the fuse is sized to protect the wiring so we need to know the wire size. I used a 300 amp fuse for 4/0 awg wire on my installation. Most inverters have an internal fuse to protect the unit, verify that point and use the manufacturer recommended size As needed. As for photos, there are several already posted, if you are looking for something specific I can look through my collection as I try to photograph the steps I take for my projects
 

Cvinson

New member
Not to hijack this thread, but I was right about to post a similar question. I read all the threads by Diverbob and SStraveler.

I have a 2016 Unity. I would like to upgrade to 400W solar and 400AH of lithium batteries.

I have a Victron dealer close by, so all the products will be from them, but I would do the install.

My questions are:

1) I don't want to replace the Magnum inverter if possible. Can I disable the charging part of the Magnum and get a Victron lithium charger (instead of an upgraded Magnum component?

2) do I need a Sterling battery to battery charger? The Victron guys had no opinion on this.

3) I have a portable 160W ZAMP panel. Has anyone combined roof panels and portable panels in an install? I couldn't find the specifics.

4) for people with 400AH+, are you sacrificing an exterior storage unit, or are you putting it indoors?

thanks!
 

lvuman

Member
Now we're talkin'! Thanks, Bob. My current MM612 inverter is located clear back under the closet in my Murphy Bed model. It's an inverter only so my guess is I would totally remove it plus remove my old Progressive Power Converter next to the TV to possibly install a 2000w Inverter there. I may be misunderstanding the situation but am I correct that the new inverter inverts and charges the batteries so both of my old units would be removed and replaced with a single unit?
 

DiverBob

2018 Unity TB
Now we're talkin'! Thanks, Bob. My current MM612 inverter is located clear back under the closet in my Murphy Bed model. It's an inverter only so my guess is I would totally remove it plus remove my old Progressive Power Converter next to the TV to possibly install a 2000w Inverter there. I may be misunderstanding the situation but am I correct that the new inverter inverts and charges the batteries so both of my old units would be removed and replaced with a single unit?
Correct, the Victron Inverter Charger combines the charger and inverter into a single unit so it takes the place of the individual components. Another nice feature of the Victron inverter is that they have an internal bypass so they can be wired to the output Of the transfer switch via the AC In connection. The AC Out then can feed the AC buses from either shore power if available or the batteries if shore power/generator is not available. Of course setting it up this way involves some re-wiring as you still want the air conditioner to only run on external power and the 3-way refrigerator AC input should also come from external power but that’s another discussion. It’s really helpful to read the manuals for any inverter chargers to see what features each has Before making a purchasing decision. There are quite a few very good inverters out there so don’t limit yourself to checking out one vendor. The reasons I went with Victron may not be applicable in your needs.
 

SSTraveler

2014 LTV Unity Murphy Bed
As Klipstr says it's all been covered before if you search. One word searches get you the most information. True there is not a single how to tutorial but you'll learn a lot as you search the topics and you need to learn to prepare for a successful installation. Definitely solar installations have been reported on the most. If you search for the word Solar in thread titles you'll get a bunch of useful solar installs to pick from. You should consider what all needs to be done, one piece at a time so you don't get overwhelmed and your searches are more meaningful. YouTube also has lots of how to videos on some of these subjects. There are to many things to cover in a short answer. I have a 2014 with the same MM612 and WFCO8955 and I have posted on different threads how to disconnect and/or replace the battery charger in the WFCO previously. Gamma1966 has posted much on this for his own upgrades to his 2014. There are a couple of options to rewiring things to run from the 2000w inverter and those have been covered most recently in DiverBob's and MSMOLOW's threads. To drop in 200ah of Lithium batteries you don't need to change any wiring to simply upgrade the batteries. You really don't need a DC to DC charger but it would be protective of your alternator just in case there was an occasion that they would pull more than 50a from the Alternator, if the batteries were extremely low. Many have posted details of how they added this. With regard to the MM612, you are just going to remove it and connect it's AC In (12-2awg w/ground) and AC Out (14-2awg w/ground) wires together to complete the old 15a 120vac circuit wired to your WFCO. Your going to need larger wires running from your batteries to the 2000w Inverter and your going to have to wire the to a subpanel to separate the circuit between the inverter and the WFCO. With regard to the WFCO, you'll have some circuit/sub panel rewiring and you'll have to disconnect it's battery charger (since the Inverter has it's own charger). You might just consider replacing the WFCO8955 with a WFCO8930/50, since it has a 2 buss system that makes wiring easy versus needing a sub panel. Lastly, you'll have to set the inverter, solar controller, Dc to Dc charger, and battery monitor settings for Lithium batteries. All these pieces have been covered, just do one word searches and you'll find what your looking for but it will be in the pieces you need as you tackle it.

You really should consider how you may want to use your batteries and appliances in the future, because DiverBob can tell you, for a few dollars more you can go with a 3000w inverter and slightly larger wiring and be able to run your entire coach, including the AC (with the add of an EasyStart) from your batteries. It's easy to start with 200ah of Lithium batteries and then add more down the road. The batteries are the big cost, thicker wiring and difference between a 2000w or 3000w inverter is just a couple hundred bucks. Then all the work is the same as well for a 2000w versus a 3000w inverter. If you're going to go through all this at least give yourself a foundation that can be expanded easily when want more batteries. There was a great thread covering this by Meeks recently. I worked over the winter with Gamma1966 to remove his generator and install a 3000w inverter/750ah of batteries in it's place. He already had 400w of solar. He posted a thread on his project. If you don't use your generator you might consider going that route because the install is much easier since your wiring the batteries and inverter to the generator side of the automatic transfer switch. Then you don't have to do anything with the WFCO except disconnect the battery charger. Once you get more information and details under your belt, you can ask more focused questions to fine tune what you need.
 
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TampaSteve

2018/2019 Unity CB
@Cvinson I can answer the Magnum part of your question. Thats exactly what I did. I still use the Magnum inverter because I could care less about anything more than 1000 watts. I don't even currently have a microwave as we don't use it and I installed a cherry shelf there instead. I did have to install an upgraded Magnum remote control - the ME-RC50 - which gives access to a lot of additional options including turning off the charger. Then I installed a dedicated lithium charger. I did it this way because I wanted to keep the Magnum charger in parallel in case my lithium charger fails. You could probably also just remove the AC input from the magnum, (in which case the inverter will still work fine) and route it to your new lithium charger and that should be fine too.
 

Cvinson

New member
@Cvinson I can answer the Magnum part of your question. Thats exactly what I did. I still use the Magnum inverter because I could care less about anything more than 1000 watts. I don't even currently have a microwave as we don't use it and I installed a cherry shelf there instead. I did have to install an upgraded Magnum remote control - the ME-RC50 - which gives access to a lot of additional options including turning off the charger. Then I installed a dedicated lithium charger. I did it this way because I wanted to keep the Magnum charger in parallel in case my lithium charger fails. You could probably also just remove the AC input from the magnum, (in which case the inverter will still work fine) and route it to your new lithium charger and that should be fine too.
Thanks for your reply. I think I will go this route rather than change the inverter.
 

Klipstr

2018 Wonder FTB
What I really should have said is that you (OP) must create your own step-by-step from research you have done. There is no such thing as a step-by-step because every single install is different. Different needs, different components, different wire routes, different installer. Even if I did another install just like Scarecrow's it wouldn't be just like his. Heck, I can't even make scrambled eggs the same way twice.

Diver and SS love to type! That's great. But you will be better served to read all of their existing posts and start your own list from there. I know that's how SS got from point A to point B. Now she's an expert on the dang topic!
 

SSTraveler

2014 LTV Unity Murphy Bed
Great advice from all! Thank you so much. I installed my own 500w solar system (https://sprinter-source.com/forums/index.php?threads/53932/#post-706313) several years ago and now with the help especially from DriverBob, SSTraveler, Klipstr, and many others I have recently found, I'll figure it out. I'm already leaning toward the Victron 3000W inverter. Thanks again.
Here is a thread that has a few whole system diagrams that may give a good overview of what your looking at for the project, https://sprinter-source.com/forums/index.php?threads/83908/. This one by Tmanstl is probably the best I've seen for a complete diagram. Victron has
Had rolled out some advanced products, like the Cerbo GX, Smart shunt, Orion TR (alternator charging), Cyrix Li, etc. so you may want familiarize yourself with their latest product guides, attached. This web sites is and excellent resource to learn about the components and get installation and programming instructions, https://shop.pkys.com/Victron-Energ...ETrPltsUMnwtlvdTxacSZOO4sVnQCUJYaAgBnEALw_wcB.

20200731_094802.jpg
 

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HarryN

Well-known member
I've searched all the threads I could find for a post on step-by-step guidance upgrading my 6V batteries with a pair of Battle Born Lithium batteries and changing out the original MM612 inverter plus my WFCO Power Converter (WF-8955 to a Progressive Dynamics PD4655V) to maybe a Xantrex 2000 inverter/charger. I currently have 500 watts of solar (5 100-watt Renogy monocrystalline panels), a Bogart Engineering SC-2030 Solar Charger, and a Tri-Metric TM-2030 Battery Monitor. This system has worked very well for several years. I seldom use my diesel generator except occasionally for the microwave and AC. I would like to operate the microwave a few minutes here and there with the inverter plus have the added capacity for other items or outlets I could move to the inverter bar. I have an early model, 2015 Murphy Bed. I think switching out the batteries is straight forward enough but have questions like; which inverter/charger is best, where to mount it, size of wiring (AWG 4 if close to the batteries?), programing it to charge the new batteries, how to move the microwave, and receptacles, etc. to the inverter bus, size and type of DC breaker needed, and hopefully pictures. I tend to be pretty visual. Any advice or help would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.
Virtually all of the parts that you have will work with the new batteries.

Just upgrade the wire a bit to a larger size such as 2/0.

If you buy the bogart wireless add on and plug it in, it makes entering the new settings very easy.

Not sure where you are located but these upgrades are a lot easier with 2 people doing it together.
 

HarryN

Well-known member
Great advice from all! Thank you so much. I installed my own 500w solar system (https://sprinter-source.com/forums/index.php?threads/53932/#post-706313) several years ago and now with the help especially from DriverBob, SSTraveler, Klipstr, and many others I have recently found, I'll figure it out. I'm already leaning toward the Victron 3000W inverter. Thanks again.
Just so you know, the victron 3000 is a 2500 watt inverter. It is 3000 VA. Similarly, the 2000 is a 1500 watt inverter.

The magnum is actually a better inverter but either can work.

As you can see, Victron has a very strong marketing campaign going to own the market and there are a lot of paid cheerleaders.
 

DiverBob

2018 Unity TB
Just so you know, the victron 3000 is a 2500 watt inverter. It is 3000 VA. Similarly, the 2000 is a 1500 watt inverter.

The magnum is actually a better inverter but either can work.

As you can see, Victron has a very strong marketing campaign going to own the market and there are a lot of paid cheerleaders.
sorry But I very much disagree and find offense to your last statement.
I am NOT a paid cheerleader for Victron. I chose them for my setup because I like way their Equipment integrates together, the ability to use Bluetooth for monitoring, the free remote monitoring site they provide, the years of experience they have in the marine environment (which closely resembles the same needs the RV world has), the continual software updates that can be applied to improve the product even after installation, software used is open source, and the dependability that the equipment has shown thus far in my personal installation.
there are several very good vendors out there of equipment that can be used in an RV. Marketing isn’t what lead me to Victron, research determined that this was the best solution for my needs. It may not be the right answer for everyone but when asked my opinion I will tell people of my experiences and reasoning for my selections. Don’t assume that myself or others who tout Victron are paid to do so.

Bob Sweeney
 

lvuman

Member
It seems to me Victron makes quality equipment and is supported by AMSolar which many members of this forum fully support but the negative to me is I'm totally a "Mac" guy and have been for almost 30 years. AMSolar on their site says: "To program a Multiplus inverter/charger you will need to have basic PC skills. A Mac can be made to work, but not consistently. We do not support Mac programming." I prefer to have the ability to do my own maintenance and programming. There's a lot to consider. I like the helpful diagram SSTraveIer sent. I live in Chandler AZ or at least full time in the winter months (118 yesterday). I'm doing the research now, will develop a plan, and joyfully tackle it this fall.
 

SSTraveler

2014 LTV Unity Murphy Bed
You can now change all the settings of Victron components from a Bluetooth enabled device and the Victron connect App, a PC isn't required anymore. Lots of YouTube videos on Victron products and of course the Victron site has tons of support downloads. See post#163, https://sprinter-source.com/forums/index.php?threads/70376/page-9#post-867597.

BTW, Well said DiverBob! I too came to the conclusion that Victron products are superior. Everyone needs to do their own research and select the products that are right for them. You need to research the products specs as well, because not all the information posted is accurate either. My motto is, "Never trust, Always verify" until such time that you come to know sources can be trusted. My other rule, "if a picture isn't posted it never happened!" I developed these guides early in my membership as a result of being burned. I wish Victron paid me to wave the pompoms for them, because then I could afford more of their stuff.
 
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