Flexopower Lithium444 - defective solar charging





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  1. #1
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    Default Flexopower Lithium444 - defective solar charging

    This is not to do any brand or product bashing, but just to share a not so good experience with other community members.
    I recently procured the Lithium444 and associated 105W solar panel from Flexopower for R14,000. Plan was to use it as a portable dual battery for camping purposes. The beauty (and selling point) is that it is very compact, lightweight and charge from 220V, 12V & solar (supposedly). Charging from 220V and 12V works well and the unit manage to run my Snomaster under favorable conditions for 27 hours after being fully charged from 220V source. All seemed well and I was super excited, that is until I tested solar charging. The unit indicates solar charging by means of blinking lights, but does not provide an Ampere or Volt reading to quantify the charging. After solar charging for several hours I could not really see any increase in battery %, indicated by the set of 5 lights, which in itself is a erratic. I then built a little Amp meter rated for 10Amp. Solar charging specified to be at 6Amp max. This measures the charge very well. Also tested on other dual battery system with MPPT confirming the reading.
    With this meter I managed to determine and take videos of the erratic charging behavior, as listed below:
    • If solar charge cable is connected to unit before opening the solar panels, as per the manual - unit will not initiate charge. If charge cable is removed, wait few seconds and then returned, the unit starts charging at 4Amp in good sunlight.
    • If shade comes over the panel (either human, car, tree, cloud moving between sun and panel) charging drops to 0.08Amp. This is normal. However, in majority of cases the unit will not initiate charge. Again, removing, waiting few seconds and replacing charge cable will initiate charge. This is not sustainable as very few campers will park off next to the battery for the entire day.
    • If the fridge starts drawing power, on low speed, i.e. 2.5Amp, solar charging drops to 0.08Amp. This is not ideal, because you are already fighting with theoretical 6 effective solar charging hours per day. If the fridge is running let's say 50% of the time, effective hours then drops to 3 hours.
    • In some cases when the fridge stops drawing power, the unit will not initiate charge, similar to the second case above. Again, removing, waiting few seconds and replacing charge cable will initiate charge. This is not sustainable as very few campers will park off next to the battery for the entire day.
    • And some other minor issues not worth mentioning.

    The full kit was returned to Flexopower twice, with video footage of the testing I did. The second time with my Amp meter. I really tried my utmost to make this work and spent close to 80 hours testing and returning the unit. After a few days I followed up...few calls between sales coordinator and manager...then I was informed that solar charging works as expected, the unit is now considered used and there will be no refund . At this point I was already buying the conventional National Luna portable battery box, lead acid battery, cables, charge controller, connectors, etc. because I was going camping the next day. Proud to say that I managed to connect the new setup on the Thursday evening and it was working great throughout the camp weekend.

    In summary, the Lithium444 is great around the house, when charged from 220V or 12V, but is useless for any solar charging application. Please consider this before buying this unit.
    He who laughs last; thinks slowest...

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Flexopower Lithium444 - defective solar charging

    Do you know at what voltage the mppt unit was feeding the battery while using solar only

    I think that unit wants 14.2 v to start charging

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Flexopower Lithium444 - defective solar charging

    Quote Originally Posted by marcovn View Post
    This is not to do any brand or product bashing, but just to share a not so good experience with other community members.
    I recently procured the Lithium444 and associated 105W solar panel from Flexopower for R14,000. Plan was to use it as a portable dual battery for camping purposes. The beauty (and selling point) is that it is very compact, lightweight and charge from 220V, 12V & solar (supposedly). Charging from 220V and 12V works well and the unit manage to run my Snomaster under favorable conditions for 27 hours after being fully charged from 220V source. All seemed well and I was super excited, that is until I tested solar charging. The unit indicates solar charging by means of blinking lights, but does not provide an Ampere or Volt reading to quantify the charging. After solar charging for several hours I could not really see any increase in battery %, indicated by the set of 5 lights, which in itself is a erratic. I then built a little Amp meter rated for 10Amp. Solar charging specified to be at 6Amp max. This measures the charge very well. Also tested on other dual battery system with MPPT confirming the reading.
    With this meter I managed to determine and take videos of the erratic charging behavior, as listed below:
    • If solar charge cable is connected to unit before opening the solar panels, as per the manual - unit will not initiate charge. If charge cable is removed, wait few seconds and then returned, the unit starts charging at 4Amp in good sunlight.
    • If shade comes over the panel (either human, car, tree, cloud moving between sun and panel) charging drops to 0.08Amp. This is normal. However, in majority of cases the unit will not initiate charge. Again, removing, waiting few seconds and replacing charge cable will initiate charge. This is not sustainable as very few campers will park off next to the battery for the entire day.
    • If the fridge starts drawing power, on low speed, i.e. 2.5Amp, solar charging drops to 0.08Amp. This is not ideal, because you are already fighting with theoretical 6 effective solar charging hours per day. If the fridge is running let's say 50% of the time, effective hours then drops to 3 hours.
    • In some cases when the fridge stops drawing power, the unit will not initiate charge, similar to the second case above. Again, removing, waiting few seconds and replacing charge cable will initiate charge. This is not sustainable as very few campers will park off next to the battery for the entire day.
    • And some other minor issues not worth mentioning.

    The full kit was returned to Flexopower twice, with video footage of the testing I did. The second time with my Amp meter. I really tried my utmost to make this work and spent close to 80 hours testing and returning the unit. After a few days I followed up...few calls between sales coordinator and manager...then I was informed that solar charging works as expected, the unit is now considered used and there will be no refund . At this point I was already buying the conventional National Luna portable battery box, lead acid battery, cables, charge controller, connectors, etc. because I was going camping the next day. Proud to say that I managed to connect the new setup on the Thursday evening and it was working great throughout the camp weekend.

    In summary, the Lithium444 is great around the house, when charged from 220V or 12V, but is useless for any solar charging application. Please consider this before buying this unit.
    Had my 444 almost 2 years now and it does what it says on the box. But its very slow, i have not done any form of measuring. I am sorry for you. Maybe GoalZero is the answer, but its a lot, lot more

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Flexopower Lithium444 - defective solar charging

    Quote Originally Posted by RossJ View Post
    Do you know at what voltage the mppt unit was feeding the battery while using solar only

    I think that unit wants 14.2 v to start charging
    Hi Ross. During the test the solar panel provided 21V when the unit is in my view not charging, and 12.5V when I see proof of 4Amp entering the unit.
    He who laughs last; thinks slowest...

    Land Rover Discovery 3.0 Td6 HSE Luxury

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Flexopower Lithium444 - defective solar charging

    What did the mppt provide

    i.e at the battery terminals

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Flexopower Lithium444 - defective solar charging

    Unfortunately I did not note the Volts on the mppt. The setup was:
    • My Lithium444 connected to my meter and solar panel.
    • A lead acid connected via mppt to my meter and solar panel.

    At a given time the meter aand mppt gave the same Amp reading while running in series. This was just to check whether my meter is working.

    After the above test I was purely testing my Lithium444 powering my Snomaster while attempting to charge from my solar panel, under very good sunlight conditions. The problem is not that the unit will not charge. It does, but there are so many things that will cause it to stop charging and in most cases it will not re-initiate a charge, even in perfect sun conditions.
    He who laughs last; thinks slowest...

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  8. #7
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    Default Re: Flexopower Lithium444 - defective solar charging

    That battery I think wants 14.2 v to start charging

    it also has an overcharge protection as I read it

    Am I missing something like that battery "pack" comes with its own built in solar charger ? - hence you only read the solar input raw

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Flexopower Lithium444 - defective solar charging

    Yes, the Lithium444 has it own built-in mppt. In perfect sunlight, with 21V available from the solar and the battery at 40% charge there should be no issues.

    For interest it also charges from 12V without any issues, so I do not think it requires 14.2V.
    He who laughs last; thinks slowest...

    Land Rover Discovery 3.0 Td6 HSE Luxury

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Flexopower Lithium444 - defective solar charging

    I missed that part about the on board mppt

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Flexopower Lithium444 - defective solar charging

    I watched the ASPW video on Youtube about AGM and Lithium Ion batteries.
    He mentioned something along the likes of chargers needing to be LiIon specific and that conventional charging won't get the same performance.
    Do you not need a specific LiIon solar regulator?
    2018 VW Amarok V6 4Motion Auto

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Flexopower Lithium444 - defective solar charging

    Quote Originally Posted by Wazza View Post
    I watched the ASPW video on Youtube about AGM and Lithium Ion batteries.
    He mentioned something along the likes of chargers needing to be LiIon specific and that conventional charging won't get the same performance.
    Do you not need a specific LiIon solar regulator?
    Batteries in the 444 are Lithium Polymer , but im sure they matched the charger.
    Robbie
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  13. #12
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    Default Re: Flexopower Lithium444 - defective solar charging

    Yes, the mppt (solar charger) is built into the unit...so even if the supplier tests the unit it goes through the built-in mppt.
    He who laughs last; thinks slowest...

    Land Rover Discovery 3.0 Td6 HSE Luxury

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