• Eddie Aileen
    89
    Howdy Campers! Here is some life learned wisdom on Lithium battery banks in solar power storage systems from someone who has been installing and living with off-grid solar for a long time.
    Thanks Bob!
    HandyBob's Blog Making off grid RV electrical systems work "2019 LITHIUM BATTERIES TRUTH"
  • Greg F
    159
    I like handy Bob.

    Weight and space were my primary reasons for going with lithium. Even if I was willing to discharge led acid down to 30% full I would need 4 pairs of 6v golf cart batteries to have as much capacity as my lithium bank. (600 usable AH)

    4 pairs of T-105 batteries weighs almost 500 pounds. I do not have that kind of excess load capacity in my truck, nor a good place to carry that size bank. My lithium bank weighs less than 170 pounds and the entire bank fits into a small generator compartment. We have had no need for a generator since installing our LFP bank and whole house inverter.

    Another big advantage with lithium especially for solar charging is that Lithium does not need multi stage charging nor do they need regular full charging. They can be maintained at any SOC indefinitely. Perfect for solar charging that varies from day to day. We are rarely at 100%

    LFP is expensive, especially if you buy drop-in batteries like Battleborn. We built our battery for about half the cost of going with LFP drop-ins or about the same cost as going with AGM. I agree with Handy Bob about AGM batteries and their relative high cost compared to FLA. In our prior camper we had 2 pair of T-105 batteries. That worked well but we had too much voltage sag to run high load appliances like toaster oven, water heater, microwave unless the bank was at full SOC it became quite a bit less useful for high loads as the battery discharged. The discharge curve with LFP is pretty much flat between 10% and 95%. No problem running large loads at less than 50% SOC.
  • Logan X
    76
    Very interesting read. It sounds like he is a proponent of flooded lead acid. It’s a very unique perspective in this day and age where everyone talks about lithium being the bees knees. I also agree with Greg’s point about needing to save weight in the RV community and lithium is good for that.

    I run two golf cart batteries (lead acid 6v) and I’m happy with them. I don’t need a huge battery bank being a weekend warrior.

    He is the first person I’ve heard say it’s ok to run the flooded batteries below 50 percent. I’m not sure I’m ready to try that with my batteries.

    Thanks for sharing!
  • Rush and Lola
    110
    I'll stick to the ole heavy T-105's. 5yrs and there still operating the Magnum at the required voltage to run all our applances. Even the new wave dbl burner, toaster, Keurig, and the microwave. one thing not many owners of lithium talk about is how there batteries are not renewable. Us ole lead acid users are at least helping the environment. Where do the lithium batteries go after dying. Oh they have not been around long enough to know yet.
    I asked a owner of a savage yard what they do with any lithium batteries that aren't resalable. they dont get recycled like Lead Acid was his comment. Hopefully the battery makers can come up with something to do with them not add to the already waste of recourses.
  • Bruce
    17
    I like Handy Bob and it was his material, along with Jack Danmeyer who got me started with my very first solar install years ago. However, while much of his writing is technically correct, some of what he says you have to take with a grain of salt, as he often writes with an agenda and a chip on his shoulder. One point he makes is not what my experience has been with Lithium batteries and that is where he seems to indicate lithium batteries do not charge any faster. In my case I found my Battle Born lithium batteries were charging faster as soon as I installed them and others who I have spoken with have also found this to be true in their own experience.
  • Greg F
    159
    Agreed. It's hard to be objective comparing two systems when you have hands on experience with only one.

    The inventor of the Lithium battery John Goodenough has recently announced some exciting possibilities coming regarding improved battery technology that will pretty much make current lithium batteries as we know them obsolete. Dry solid state cells with 2x energy density and a lower cost. 20,000+ cycles. No cobalt. This could be a huge game changer for electric vehicles if the claims are even partly true.
  • Ray
    433
    Things are changing fast, hard to know when to jump into lithium. Luckily our wet cells lead acid have served our needs well and not too old yet. But recently had a guy in California contacted me looking for a review on some CALB China Aviation Lithium Battery
    Says for $1000 he would set me up with 440AH, gonna meet and chat with him in the fall. At that price, it starts to get attractive.
  • Greg F
    159
    That's dirt cheap. My CALB cells were $550/100AH new from an electric car parts company. ($3300 for the whole bank) Is this a dealer for the cells? 440 AH would be a great bank. Is he going to set up a top balancing system or bottom balance the cells?

    Look forward to hearing more! :cool:
  • Eddie Aileen
    89
    Bruce, Bob does not have a "Chip on his shoulder" or " An Agenda".
    The man has been living Off-Grid for a very long time on solar power.
    His opinions come from years of helping people out, installing working solar power systems,
    and his own use of solar. He sells nothing and he makes nothing off of helping others.
    I, myself have installed many, many RV & "Off-Grid" homestead solar power systems.
    I found that the largest place I here about Lithium battery banks is in the RV arena, and a
    small part in marine applications. This is mostly because of the weight factor, this is the main
    reason for the Lithium installs I have done to date.
    I believe Bob, like me, want's to convey the truth that just like a wet cell solar system, a
    Lithium solar system has it's draw backs & limitations.
    The lead acid battery bank is not a thing of the past, and it is 95% recyclable. You
    can not say that about the Lithium battery line up. It is because of the materials used and how
    thay are put together. Recycling the Lithium battery is not cost efficient at this time.
    Both storage systems, along with AGM's, have a place in the RV & off grid world.
    I will back him 100% on this part...........................................................................................
    (Quote) HandyBob
    " I have to repeat yet again is that they are lying about damaging lead acid batteries if you run them below 50%. The truth is 20%, (or 80% use) and this is what the lead acid manufacturers have been saying for YEARS. Where did this lie start and why do people keep repeating it? Think about how golf cart batteries are treated and yet still get around 5 years of life. My own batteries in our old RV were run down under 40% many times after several cloudy days in a row and my home system went there about a month ago, taking two days of good sun to recover. Now my batteries act like they are brand new. I see the same voltage under load every morning while making coffee and that is how I watch for problems. If the voltage changes, your batteries are having a heart attack or something else is wrong."
  • Eddie Aileen
    89
    Bob has had many "Hands on" dealing with Lithium in solar power systems.
    He is just not on the "One Way Lithium Ban Wagon" .
  • Greg F
    159
    It sounds like you know him better than I do. I only know of his opinions from reading his blog. Many posts could be considered a rant, which I have found both humorous and usually accurate. Fun reading.

    This is the first I have heard him discuss Lithium in any sort of depth and I got the impression that he was trying to debunk myths a friend learned in a seminar rather than report hands on experience. His points didn't seemed based in his personal experience.

    I admit it's been years since reading most of it as his blog is years old as well. I would be very interested in reading about his experience using lithium batteries. I do respect his opinion.
    I'm curious the type of Lithium he was using, the size of the bank, what he was powering, how he was charging and the results he saw.
  • Eddie Aileen
    89
    Bob has had "Hands on" dealing with Lithium in solar power systems.
    ones he has helped others with, not his own. Also he up dates his posts from time to time.
    Just because something is written last week dose not make old & out dated.
  • Logan X
    76
    Geez. Who knew batteries could be so controversial.
  • Bruce
    17

    Eddie, There is no question Bob knows solar and the information he has written is technically sound, I indicated this much in my earlier reply and also indicated it was his blog that got me started in solar and where I learned much. Also, there is no question he has helped many, myself included. But to say he does not have an agenda and a chip on his shoulder, you have to ask yourself, why in his blog where he conveys all the technical material and the how to's of solar, is all this information buried in endless pages of criticizing practically anyone involved in the solar industry or anyone who disagrees with him and endlessly touting his credentials? His material would be so much more useful if it were just presented in a logical sequence and not having the reader go on a fishing expedition to get the information... "just the facts madam".
    With regards to his rants on batteries, while lead acid batteries have been around for a long time, his choice for batteries and have served many people well, he misleads some readers that anything other than lead acid batteries is crap. Yet there have been many who have been well served by AGM and they are a viable alternative for years. Now he has turned his rant towards lithium batteries which is interesting because lithium in RV's is a fairly new technology so I wonder where he has had the lengthy experience with lithium batteries to criticize them. The fact is every technology has it's pros and cons and not any one is right for every person or situation and he fails to recognize this.

    There is much to learn from Bob for those willing to wade through all the pages of rants, but he is not gospel on solar and some of what he says is misleading. There are others who also are very knowledgeable on solar and offer very good and sound information on solar and who also by the way have helped many achieve good solar systems.
  • Rush and Lola
    110
    Bruce, curious I missed it. What system do you have if I may ask. We have 1070 watts on roof and 8- 6 volt trojans with two magnums and trimetric controllers.
  • Bruce
    17
    Hi Rush and Lola, we have 3- 320 watt residential panels for a total of 960 watts fed to a Victron 150/70 MPPT charge controller. Our battery bank consists of 7-100 Ah Battle Born lithium batteries.
  • Steve S
    31
    Hi, my original RV was using AGMs that lasted 5 years. I know how long it took to charge them. When they needed replacing, I used LiFePO4 lithiums from LifeBlue. Far, far faster recharging and maintain a constant voltage for a much longer time. Weight reduction was noticeable since I was the one doing the installation.

    Lithiums can handle much higher amperage charging currents which is the reason why they can charge so fast. When using a charge controller it's best to use a system designed for lithiums. I replaced both my solar charge controller and the house charge controller to use lithium specific charging.

    For me, the lithiums are far better. The drawbacks are the initial $$ and you cannot charge them below a specific temp. However, based on my needs, the low temp charging limitation is not an issue since I am spending the winter months in moderate climates. The integrated BMS (Battery Management System) does a high and low temp cutoff, high and low voltage cutoff and other checks to protect the batteries. I use an app to see what the BMS is up to and can see, on a per battery basis, the specifics including any errors.
  • Steve S
    31
    Regarding lithium battery recycling …

    "Second Life

    One major factor which could delay and restrict the volume of automotive lithium-ion batteries being sent for material recycling is the potential to reuse them. According to Melin there are excellent opportunities to capture a substantial part of the energy storage market by taking back electric vehicle batteries and using them in utility-scale storage solutions."

    Recycling info and the quote can be found here:

    Lithium Batteries & Recycling

    The article also refers to the "dark side" of mining, pollution, child labour etc. in the extraction of the compounds used in manufacturing lithium batteries. Guess what? Those same concerns are applicable to the "clean technology" known as … solar panels. I saw a documentary on the mining of rare earth metals, in China, and how the workers live and work & die under abysmal conditions. Rare earth metals used in the manufacture of solar panels.
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