Lithionics Lithium Battery Drop In & Upgrade To Full Coach Operation!

msmolow

2019 Unity CB / 2018 Chas
I would add on that for some of us the upgrades are a form of entertainment, we enjoy making modifications to all our ‘toys’. It’s a challenge and a project that when completed makes traveling more fun. Its not about the amount of money it costs or potential return on our investment, I don’t have any plans on selling our LTV before it has lots of miles on it or I can’t travel anymore.
Well said!
 
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lvuman

Member
I agree with Treemaze, "I rationalize the cost by figuring that it wasn't any more than LTV's upgrades" The following are the Leisure options and cost if you built out a Unity today, Aluminum Wheels $2815, 200w Solar $1476, 400w Solar $2951, Dragonfly Lithium Batteries $3770, Diesel Generator $8034, LP Generator $4420, 4 point Leveling $2678, Leisure Lounge + $2678, Macerator $832, Safe $403 and the list goes on. I know I am getting overall, much better upgrades doing them myself on my 2014 Unity!
I totally agree with Treemaze and SSTraveler. Just recently, we were contemplating purchasing a new LTV Murphy bed model to replace our early 2015. But when we started weighing the pros & cons of the new purchase it was evident that the practical thing for us would be to invest a fraction of the cost of replacing our rig with a new LTV, to add instead, a few super upgrades to our already existing, proven motorhome. We figured the new price would be about $160,000, and then we would still have to do at least a basic solar/lithium upgrade with decent solar panels and batteries. Instead, we spent an additional $15K to have a motorhome that would have cost us at least another $75K to have the same thing we have now with fewer miles, a bed that is 8" wider, and less water capacity. So yes, it was the right decision and absolutely worth it to us. I agree it's not for everyone but for those who, like us, want the best of the best and don't want to spend $180,000 to get it, it's a viable option. And like DiverBob said, "the upgrades are a form of entertainment, we enjoy making modifications to all our ‘toys’. It’s a challenge and a project that when completed makes traveling more fun".
 
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SSTraveler

2014 LTV Unity Murphy Bed
Here is a interesting video from a Leisure Owner going through regrets that he didn't choose a Lithionics Battery!

 

SSTraveler

2014 LTV Unity Murphy Bed
Stephen Tartaglia, Owner/General Manager of Lithionics has assigned Jackson D'Ettorre as our Lithionics Leisure Travel Van Point of Contact, here is his contact information:
Jackson D'Ettore
Product Manager
1770 Calumet Street
Clearwater, FL 33765 USA
jackson@lithionicsbattery.com
Office: 727-726-4204 | Web: LithionicsBattery.com
 

SSTraveler

2014 LTV Unity Murphy Bed
I just received the BlueSea E-Series 350a rated switch that I ordered for the Inverter battery disconnect switch and it is just to big, 3-5/8" diameter. I wanted to have this new battery switch as close as possible to my current house battery disconnect switch, since that would be the most convenient for use. I'm installing the Xantrex Inverter in the outside compartment next to the door (to left of door) and just below the pop-up TV cabinet I thought it would be reasonable. I see others using the BlueSea M-Series 300A rated switch, but I wanted at least a 350a continous amp rated switch, because the positive 4/0 cable from the Lithionics Battery to the Xantrex inverter is protected by a 350a Class T Fuse. I'm concerned that a switch rated less than the Class T Fuse may burn up before the ClassT Fuse can do its job. IMHO, it doesn't make sense to use a lesser continous amp rated switch a cable that is protected by a higher rated Fuse. Therefore any switch you use needs to be rated at equal or greater than the fuse protecting the cable/component. Plus those BlueSea E-Series (350a rated) or HD-Series (600a rated) On-off switches are just so big (3-5/8" diameter) and running the 4/0 cable up from the outside compartment to the TV cabinet will be challenging. So I decided to try an Inverter Battery Switch Alternative that EnerGT came up with. An alternative to the BlueSea Sea 350a Inverter battery power switch is a BlueSea Heavy Duty ML-RBS 500a with remote switch, https://www.bluesea.com/products/7700/ML-RBS_Remote_Battery_Switch_with_Manual_Control_-_12V_DC_500A. While this switch is more than 3 times the cost of the standard Blue Sea Systems 350 amp E- Series Battery Switch, as I purchased from list above, it does offer a solution for locating a heavy duty switch in a more conveniently accessible location. So it maybe worth the extra expense to use this BlueSea ML-RBS 500a switch for a cleaner more convenient inverter battery power switch. I can install the BlueSea ML-RBS magnetic latching switch in the outside compartment close to the Xantrex inverter much easier and then run a much smaller 16awg multiple strand wire up to the location that I want the remote BlueSea Switch, just above the current house battery disconnect switch.

20210115_092523.jpg
 
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SSTraveler

2014 LTV Unity Murphy Bed
Yesterday I started my installation of the Sterling DC-DC charger. I'm putting it under the Passenger seat to replace the Old Isolator Solenoid and Delay Relay, on my 2014 chassis Unity. First, disconnect the negative cables from both the House and Chassis batteries. Then you have to remove the passenger seat to get the access needed for this job. To do this you need 11mm short and long sockets and wrench. You swivel the seat as needed to get your sockets into the 4 bolts that hold the metal seat frame to the vinyl covered metal seat base. Once the bolts are removed, simply lift the seat off and set it somewhere convenient.I just leaned my seat off the back in the space next to the driver's seat. As you can see only a thin stiff piece of foam makes its top. I plan to cut more holes for ventilation and slits in the vinyl so the heat produced by the Sterling can exhaust.
 

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SSTraveler

2014 LTV Unity Murphy Bed
Before I get into all that rewiring I want to run a wire pair from the seat base to the battery step compartment so I can see the chassis battery voltage on my Victron BMV-712 Battery Monitor Display. I currently have the Temperature sensor installed but you don't need that with the Lithionics Lithium Battery, so I want to switch to see chassis battery voltage. You must run a positive wire from the chassis battery cable off the Isolator Solenoid to the battery box where you can put it into the +B2 port. I'm running a wire pair so I have a spare wire in case I need it for some reason in the future. Now I need to find a hole that gets me from the seat base to under the rig. I ended up having to remove the cab step floor to find an existing hole to run these. You do that by removing 9 screws as you can see from the picture. You have to use a small screw driver to pry out the plugs covering the 3 screws on the step floor. I used the drain hole for the step pan, there in the left corner, the over door light switch is slightly covering it (long white cylinder, that the over door magnetic light switch sensor the door magnetic is correspondingly aligned so when you open the door the over door light illuminates). Basically, what you can see for the light switch/sensors are two small white circles, one here and one on the lower part of the door. There is a nice slot right below the seat base opening that you can push the wires through from the step area. See the red and black wire coming through. You can just see them in the crack after you get the floor piece back in place. Then I ran the other end of the wire pair into the battery box.
 

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EnerGT

2020 LTV Unity MB
I just received the BlueSea 350a switch I ordered for the Inverter battery disconnect switch and it is just to big. I wanted to have this new battery switch as close as possible to my current house battery disconnect switch, since that would be the most convenient for use. I'm installing the Xantrex Inverter in the outside compartment next to the door (to left of door) and just below the pop-up TV cabinet I thought it would be reasonable. I wanted a 350a switch because the positive 4/0 cable from the Lithionics Battery to the Xantrex inverter is protected by a 350a Class T Fuse and I'm concerned that a switch rated less than the Class T Fuse may burn up before the ClassT Fuse can do its job. IMHO, it doesn't make sense to use a lesser rated switch on that cable. Plus those BlueSea On-off switches are just so big and running the 4/0 cable up from the outside compartment to the TV cabinet will be challenging. So I decided to try an Inverter Battery Switch Alternative that EnerGT came up with. An alternative to the BlueSea Sea 350a Inverter battery power switch is a BlueSea Heavy Duty ML-RBS 500a with remote switch, https://www.bluesea.com/products/7700/ML-RBS_Remote_Battery_Switch_with_Manual_Control_-_12V_DC_500A. While this switch is more than 3 times the cost of the standard Blue Sea Systems 350 amp E- Series Battery Switch, as I purchased from list above, it does offer a solution for locating a heavy duty switch in a more conveniently accessible location. So it maybe worth the extra expense to use this BlueSea ML-RBS 500a switch for a cleaner more convenient inverter battery power switch. I can install the BlueSea ML-RBS magnetic latching switch in the outside compartment close to the Xantrex inverter much easier and then run a much smaller 16awg multiple strand wire up to the location that I want the remote BlueSea Switch, just above the current house battery disconnect switch.
What a FANTASTIC idea. ;)
 

SSTraveler

2014 LTV Unity Murphy Bed
Here are the Lithionics Installation Guides for their batteries installed with a Xantrex XC Pro 2000w and 3000w Inverters. The number and type of Lithionics Batteries doesn't matter, so you fill in that blank and the rest of the installation is defined in the attached guides.
 

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SSTraveler

2014 LTV Unity Murphy Bed
I was able to finish running my chassis engine battery voltage wire to my Victron BMV-712 so I can get it's battery reading on my BMV-712 display or the Victron Bluetooth App. I ran the wire that I dropped out of the passenger side step pan across to the opposite side of the Step battery box and in through the side vent slots. The yellow foam is the back side of the Step box where all the wires run into the center of the box to connect inside to the batteries. I decided to run the engine battery voltage wire into the side vent slots because I don't know yet what I have to do to prepare the battery box for the new Lithionics battery. Then plugged it into the +B2 connection on the Victron shunt. Pretty simple once I decided how I could run the wire under the rig. I used zip/cable ties to secure the wire to the Equalizer Leveling cables.
 

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Graphite Dave

Dave Orton
The diagram for replacement of the Isolator Solenoid and Isolator Relay Delay (under the passenger seat) with a Sterling (BB1230) 30a DC-DC charger was created with the feedback from others on the conflict issues between the Sterling and Trik-L-Start in mind. For me it is a must to have chassis battery trickle charging from the house battery charging sources.
I just turn on the house inverter to create 120 volt AC to power the trickle charger to charge the vehicle battery from the house battery. Solar to solar controller to house battery to inverter to trickle charger to vehicle battery. I use my 1000 watt house inverter. A smaller inverter could be used.
 

Graphite Dave

Dave Orton
Another interesting choice is a charger with 12 volt input and 12 volt output. Connect input to the positive post of the house battery and connect the output to the positive post of the vehicle battery. The only one I found requires both the house and vehicle batteries to be grounded to the chassis.


I looked for a charger that plugs into a 12 volt port and provides a trickle charger for the vehicle battery. Could not find one. Does anyone make one? That would eliminate the need to have an inverter between the house battery and the trickle charger.
 

SSTraveler

2014 LTV Unity Murphy Bed
You are confirming that there is really no elegant chassis battery charging solution from a Lithium house bank. I have to park/store my Leisure in our Developments RV storage area so I want an automatic, can be left for up to 6 months, system for maintaining my AGM chassis battery from the Lithium house battery Solar charging. There are several trickle chargers on the market (Amp-L-Start/Trik-L-Start/Xantrex ECHO) that normally attach across an Isolator Solenoid but these seem to cause DC-DC chargers that are used as replacements for the Isolator solenoid to get confused as to whether the Alternator is running or not. I used to use a Trik-L-Start with my Isolator Solenoid and it worked perfectly for my needs. I personally like the Trik-l-start, because it just cycles on and off to trickle charge the chassis battery, which is a good method when using a Lithium house bank, which has a distinctly different charge profile. Since a Lithium bank float charges at less than 13.5v this is a perfect voltage for the Trik-L-Start to take sips from to maintain the chassis battery. The other thing I like about the Trik-L-Start, is that it uses a voltage of about 0.3v less (based on Trik-l-start documentation and my experience using one) than the house bank to charge the chassis battery too. So that means it's basically floating the chassis battery at 13.2v which is perfect for an AGM battery. A Trik-L-Start is very easy to attach in conjunction with a DC-DC charger in a similar fashion to the old Isolator Solenoid. The worst case scenario I see is that I may have to install a switch on the house battery wire of the Trik-L-Start. Then when using my Leisure, driving, I use this switch to disconnect the Trik-L-Start from the house batteries and when parked/storage I flip the switch to turn on the Trik-L-Start on. If I find the Sterling coming on when the Trik-L-Start charging voltage is sensed by the Battery In (chassis battery cable) cable then I will simply flip the chassis battery cable circuit breaker to disconnect the Sterling from any incoming voltage that it would sense when the Trik-L-Start sends charging voltage to the chassis battery. That’s pretty straight forward, I can live with this procedure. I'm in the process of installing my Sterling and Trik-L-Start so I'll report back on what I finally figure out about how this setup ends up working.
 

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Graphite Dave

Dave Orton
I do not have a DC to DC charger. I have a 1000 watt pure sine inverter powered by the vehicle 12 volt system. The 120 volt AC output from the vehicle powered inverter is my backup charging method that can power the house shore power charger with the engine running. My primary charging method is the single 300 watt solar panel that powers a MPPT solar controller. My house electrical is an independent system that is not grounded to the chassis. The vehicle is not aware that the house system exists. The UK charger I linked will not work in my conversion because I do not have a common ground.

For me a 12 volt powered charger would be ideal. That way I would not have to run the house inverter to get 120 volt AC power for the Trik-L-Start. I sent an email to Trik-L-Start asking if they sold a 12 volt powered charger.
 

msmolow

2019 Unity CB / 2018 Chas
I've been wrestling with how to incorporate an Amp-L-Start using a relay but came to the conclusion a manual switch to disconnect it while driving would be easier and suit my purposes just fine. I then went online and read SSTraveler's excellent summary of the issues in post #34. It validated my solution to see she also decided on a manual switch.
I have a Victron Smart dc-dc charger (12/12-30). The stock setup uses an internal algorithm to determine engine is running detection as described in the attachment. It has an option to wire in D+ as an engine detection override.
If the Amp-L-Start confuses the dc-dc charger as to whether the engine is running I have the ability to manually disable the dc-dc charger through the Victron Connect app when I am at a campsite or the storage lot.
 

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SSTraveler

2014 LTV Unity Murphy Bed
I forgot to mention that if you have solar, before you disconnect the House batteries make sure you disconnect the solar panel input to the solar controller (switch or fuse removal) because there is a risk it could damage the controller when you disconnect the house batteries. I did 5his before beginning to disconnect any of my batteries at the start of this project.

I finally finished my installation of a Sterling 30a DC-DC charger, a Trik-L-Start, and BlueSea ML-ACR yesterday. Everything fits nicely in the seat base. I added a switch, https://www.amazon.com/Position-Rocker-Toggle(Quality-Assurance-Years)KCD3-101/dp/B07MV56LKS/ref=sr_1_14?dchild=1&keywords=twidec+spst+on+off+on+switch&qid=1611148030&sr=8-14 to the yellow wire of the Trik-L-Start to disconnect it from the house battery as a work around if I encountered the Sterling/Trik-L-Start incompatibility issues others have reported. I was pleasantly surprised after I completed setting it that I had none of these issues. Everything works wonderfully together!

Here is the final wiring I used. With regard to the BlueSea, I simply disconnected the brown wire from the blue Chassis ignition wire so I could connect that to the Ignition slot of the Sterling. Then I moved the BlueSea house and chassis battery connections to the 50a circuit breakers, two T Tocas 50 A Circuit Breaker amp breakers/Switch (¼" studs, 12v-72vDC), https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01F76VJKQ/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o05_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1. Then I used 2 packages or four 4awg Red + Black Copper Cables, https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01F32MS22/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o01_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1, to make the new connections for the House and Chassis battery connections between the Sterling and circuit breakers, and BlueSea and circuit breakers. I also used other miscellaneous wire connectors, cable ties, etc., to do everything else.

This is the original Isolator Solenoid and Isolator Relay Delay wiring in my 2014UMB. When my Isolator Solenoid failed a few years ago, I replaced it with a BlueSea ML-ACR. Then I rewired everything as follows to incorporate a Sterling 30a DC-DC charger and a Trik-L-Start with the BlueSea ML-ACR. You do not need the Sterling temperature sensor installed with a Lithionics Lithium battery since it has its own built-in battery monitoring system with active battery protection protocols.
 

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SSTraveler

2014 LTV Unity Murphy Bed
After I completed all the wiring I reconnected the House and Chassis batteries, and switched the remote BlueSea switch to Off. I did not turn the ignition on or start the engine, you don't need to for the Sterling to turn on so you can adjust the settings. I simply closed the two circuit breakers and all Sterling's LED lights lit up and the fan started. During this initial startup you only have a short window of opportunity, a few seconds, to change the battery type setting by pressing the little black Select button until you see the very top LifePo4 (Lithium Iron batteries) light on. Then I waited until the 2 little blue lights by the Setup and Select buttons went off. That means the setting was saved.

(NOTE: If you miss the initial startup window to change the battery type settings. Hold down both buttons on the front panel (SELECT and SETUP/ENTER) for more than 10 seconds (less than 20 seconds!). All LEDs on the left column shall now flash. By using these two buttons toggle through the various profiles. The right button, Select, is up the column and the left button, Setup, takes you down the column. The LED shall light up demonstrating which profile you have selected. When the LED has illuminated at your desired profile simply leave the charger alone for 30 seconds and it will store the change. The chosen profile LED shall then flash. The unit shall then restart and go through the starting cycle again.)

If you press either of the 2 buttons then you wake it up and you should see the following lights lit, LifePo4, 12.2v or 12.6v Input voltage (chassis battery input voltage), 14.6v and 14.2v Output voltage (both of these lights lit means the actual Output voltage is/will be 14.4v when bulk charging), and the 13.4v output voltage (actual output voltage during battery float mode). Then I waited for it to go to sleep again and then I pressed either Settings or Select button to wake it up. Then I pressed and held the Setup button, counting its blue light flashes (each flash is 1 second) until I reached 45 and then released. This puts the Sterling into PURE IGNITION MODE, so it only turns on with a live ignition. This is ideal if you do not want house battery charging at all when the engine is off. I wanted my Sterling in this mode to try and head off the possibility that it would try to turn on if it sensed voltage on the Battery In cable when the Trik-L-Start started charging the chassis battery from the house charging systems when parked and ignition is off. The other Sterling modes just put the Sterling to sleep so it is always looking for a Battery In voltage to wake it so it can goes to work. This function is at the heart of why the Trik-L-Start may have incompatibility issues.

Once I completed the Sterling setup, I waited for it to go dark and I flipped the Trik-L-Start switch on, it immediately went into charging mode. As I continued on with finishing my installation, I continued to monitor the Trik-L-Start and Sterling. The incompatibility issues that others reported never appeared and everything is working as expected. Now my chassis battery will always be maintained from the House charging systems! Remember I have a 2014 Unity on a 2014 Mercedes Sprinter 3500 chassis so my experience may not translate to the newer models. I can only report what I experienced with my installation on my 2014 Leisure Unity model. So this is a warning, results may not be typical.

I cut some slits corresponding to the hole in the stiff foam topper for the seat base for added ventilation. When I tightened down the seat to the seat base I marked all the bolt heads so it would be easy to tell if any work loose in the future.
 

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SSTraveler

2014 LTV Unity Murphy Bed
When I installed the BlueSea ML-ACR a few years ago I cut the vinyl skirt and made a new switch panel for the seat base. For this installation, I added countersunk magnets to each corner of my panel so it attracts and holds to the metal seat base and then it's easily detached so I can access the two circuit breakers if needed. Here is the link for the magnets, https://www.ebay.com/itm/12-PC-N52-...48f6d578b4:g:aR8AAOSwqLlf~d~E&redirect=mobile. I actually bought 2 sets, one set North polarity and one set South polarity. That way if I needed to use 2 magnets then they would attract with the Countersunk holes in the correct orientation. I use this method in several places around my Unity to make panels easily accessible. I also added magnets in this way to my fire extinguisher so I can easily remove it to access underneath my TV cabinet.

I decided to reuse my previously made switch panel because it can provide more ventilation to the Sterling. I removed a switch and voltmeter display I previously had mounted. So I installed the Trik-L-Start and its switch in such a way to leave as much ventilation space open. I used hot glue and some screening material to cover these holes. When I pull the new panel off, I can easily reach in and trip the circuit breakers to isolate the Sterling in case I need to use the BlueSea to join the House and Chassis batteries together to send higher amp charging to the chassis battery. I can envision using this if I find I have a dead chassis battery for some unforeseen reason. So the BlueSea will be very helpful in an emergency.
 

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harrysalit

2019 Wonder FTB
SSTraveler, Battle Born has a nice write up on how to program the Sterling 30a.
I don’t know how many times I tried to follow Sterlings, one try following BB it was done!
 

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