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  1. #1
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    Default Going LifePo4 and ditching the current charging system

    I need to replace my lead acid battery in my camping trailer and canít help but think that maybe it is time to change to Lithium and be done with the struggles of the past. I have not had the best of luck when it comes to batteries and now on my third deep cycle, admittedly most was probably due to a lack of understanding at the time. I recently disconnected the charger for two weeks and the battery drained from full to 12.2v with no load connected. It would also be nice not to have 30kg in the battery compartment (which is located in front of the axle of an inherently heavy trailer).
    My current setup:

    • AC charger: NOCCO genius 7A smart charger
    • HCDP 12A DC-DC charger
    • Victron 100/20 smart solar controller
    • 2x100w solar panels & 1x80w panel.
    • 100AH lead acid deep cycle


    Although I have no issues with any of my chargers, I would have to replace the AC and DC chargers as they do not have lithium charging profiles. Replacing the chargers makes it an expensive exercise but perhaps an expense I happy to live with in exchange for a hassle-free experience.

    I am currently considering the following components:

    • Victron Energy Orion TR Smart 12-12-18 (220W) Isolated
    • Victron Energy Blue Smart IP65 12/10
    • Victron Energy Smart Shunt 500A/50mV
    • And then still considering LifePo4 battery options


    Because I camp using a trailer, the battery will not be charged using a DC-DC system when at camp but using solar. My typical trips have not often been where no AC is available and were usually longer stays at a single place. I do however not want my past camping experiences to define how I will be camping in the future, just because I want to experience as much as possible. The future may therefore include more places where no power is available as well as moving around from one place to another.

    The system needs to power a 90l fridge, some LED lights at night and charge phones.

    Considering the above, please provide your opinion/critique on:

    • The system components I am considering;
    • Should I get the 30A DC-DC charger?
    • Is it worth it considering that I will leave home with a fully charged battery, arrive with a full battery and have at least 280W solar;
    • Should I ditch the DC-DC charger put a 300w panel on the Bundutop (I want to ditch my tent for a Bundutop) and charge the battery from solar while driving;
    • Should I consider other components?
    • Anything else I did not consider?


    Thanks

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Going LifePo4 and ditching the current charging system

    Tough choices to make.

    From a budget point of view I would go the lithium route. The prices have come down very well. This is if the current HCdP DC-DC can charge lithium.

    If HCDP cannot I would go for about 12-20A Victron Smart DC-DC charger. When starting with a fully charged battery even a 10A would be more than enough to keep the battery fully charged.

    The 300W on Bundutop would mean standing in the sun unless you keep the 2x100W and 80W panels to put them in the sun. Further I would personally settle for the DC-DC charging instead of the 300W on the Bundutop.

    This is from a layman as far as off grid camping goes. I would also like to read those in the know suggestions.

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  4. #3
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    Default Re: Going LifePo4 and ditching the current charging system

    Agree with ekkekan. But, check the charging requirements of the Lithium battery. I'm a newby with Lithium, but believe that some of the new intelligent alternators are sufficient to charge the batteries. This will determine whether you need the DC-DC charger or not.

    Irrespective, if you stay for longer than a few days, the DC-DC will not hlep, and you rely on solar.

    If you park in the sun, the 300W panels will be more than sufficient, from personal experience. I have 600W, but some time back had a cabling problem, and only ran on 300W, 2 x 150W panels in series, which works well if you have partial shade, like partially under a tree.

    ekkekan's suggestion of going the 300W panel route and keeping your present panels is sound. The DC-DC charger would then only be needed if you encountered extended thick cloudy weather. 600W solar power for me keeps the batteries fully charged, even in heavy cloudy weather, or parked mainly in shade. I have a CTEK DC-DC charger, but will be removing it as it serves no purpose for my setup
    Mike Lauterbach

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  6. #4
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    Default Re: Going LifePo4 and ditching the current charging system

    You can generally charge a Lifepo4 with the same charger as for your lead acid if this is done for occasional camping purposes. You just donít want a pulse desulfurization type of charge cycle. The Hcdp dc dc will do just fine.

    No need to overthink these batteries. I have two 120 AH lifepo4s that I charge off my normal chargers including a hcdp dc dc unit, a smart charger and even off the alternator.
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  8. #5
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    Default Re: Going LifePo4 and ditching the current charging system

    Thank you for your response

    So the HCDP should be fine to top up the battery between and the solar can finish the job by applying the 2 hour absorption cycle etc to get the battery to 100% or alternatively an AC charger which has a lithium profile?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kortgat View Post
    You can generally charge a Lifepo4 with the same charger as for your lead acid if this is done for occasional camping purposes. You just donít want a pulse desulfurization type of charge cycle. The Hcdp dc dc will do just fine.

    No need to overthink these batteries. I have two 120 AH lifepo4s that I charge off my normal chargers including a hcdp dc dc unit, a smart charger and even off the alternator.

  9. #6
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    Default Re: Going LifePo4 and ditching the current charging system

    You are thinking in the right direction with that list of yours.

    If you relied on DC-DC charging then I would say buy the Orion, but since you'll be mounting solar panels permanently, they will provide the charge while driving. So to ease the budget I would say leave the Orion for now, first see if DC-DC is really necessary and how much you really need it, you anyway still have the HCDP as well which will be fine to charge a lithium battery should it be needed.

    The smart shunt or Victron BMV712 smart monitor is in my opinion essential when going lithium, so that should be very high up on your list. Monitor if you want a display to look at, Smart Shunt if you are fine with only monitoring via the app on your phone.

    Just a note on the Smartsolar 100/20, in a 12V system like yours, the max it can utilize is 290W of solar which is plenty, so your thinking to go with a 300W panel on top of your Bundutop is perfect, just don't think you'll be able to connect more panels to it and then charge at 500 or 600W. I'd say do the 300W panel, then see how it works, I'm quite certain it will be enough even if you are in partial shade for half the day. Should you find it necessary later, then take along two 50W panels hinged together, nice and small, you don't have to cart around extra panels which takes up a huge amount of space if you've got 300W of solar on the roof already. Think back, when or where have you ever camped where your rig was in full shade for the entire day? In my opinion, the fear to permanently mount panels because you'll then have to park in the sun is a moot point, no rig is ever in full shade for an entire day unless you park under a solid roof, even if you are under a tree, your rig will get sun for part of the day.
    "The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read" - Not Mark Twain

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  11. #7
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    Default Re: Going LifePo4 and ditching the current charging system

    Quote Originally Posted by rudyb View Post
    Thank you for your response

    So the HCDP should be fine to top up the battery between and the solar can finish the job by applying the 2 hour absorption cycle etc to get the battery to 100% or alternatively an AC charger which has a lithium profile?
    Even if you donít get the lifepo4 to 100% it really does not matter much. Not worth spending a fortune anyway just to get it the last few % full with a more specialized charger. You have so much capacity and tolerance in a lifepo4 it really should not be a worry.

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    * consumption needs to be seen in the context that the vehicle is towing an Imagine Trailvan 30% of the time

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  13. #8
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    Default Re: Going LifePo4 and ditching the current charging system

    Quote Originally Posted by Kortgat View Post
    Even if you donít get the lifepo4 to 100% it really does not matter much. Not worth spending a fortune anyway just to get it the last few % full with a more specialized charger. You have so much capacity and tolerance in a lifepo4 it really should not be a worry.
    I believe that you can double the life of the batteries if you only charge them to 90%, and once a month to 100% for cell balancing. So not a bad thing if you do not always get it to 100%
    Mike Lauterbach

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  15. #9
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    Default Re: Going LifePo4 and ditching the current charging system

    My set up is a Blue Nova 104ah and WRND charger, I enquired about the compatibility of the latter with Blue Nova and they confirmed that it is.

  16. #10
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    Default Re: Going LifePo4 and ditching the current charging system

    BTW Lifepo4 batteries only need a bulk charge and then float, if you force a absorption mode on to it, you will damage the battery.
    With all lithium compatible chargers, the first thing which happens if you put it in to lithium mode is that it disables the absorption stage.

    It's true that you shouldn't overthink lithium batteries too much, they are pretty rugged and have protection built in, but then again on the other hand you shouldn't be careless, these things are expensive and you don't want to stuff it up.
    "The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read" - Not Mark Twain

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  18. #11
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    Default Re: Going LifePo4 and ditching the current charging system

    The BMS on a Lifepo4 will protect the cells from abnormal over charge voltages (within reason), what it cannot mitigate is pulse charging for desulfurization cycles. You donít want continuous float charging on a lifepo4, but it also wonít harm if itís just for occasional camping situations. Ideal charging voltage is 14.6 v on my BMSís.
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  20. #12
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    Exclamation Re: Going LifePo4 and ditching the current charging system

    Be extremely careful when going Blu Nova route and get exact requirements and guarantee conditions from them.Am negotiating for a replacement on what appears to be a faulty battery and not happy with the diagnoses and response, so far. will follow up on this post

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  22. #13
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    Default Re: Going LifePo4 and ditching the current charging system

    If you are confident enough, go the Lithiumbatteriessa route.
    I was not initially, but the threads on the forum (quite a few) gave me the confidence and I have not looked back.
    MANY nice guys that will assist

    This one https://lithiumbatteriessa.co.za/col...sphate-diy-kit
    Last edited by hatjohan; 2021/09/23 at 12:46 PM.



  23. #14
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    Default Re: Going LifePo4 and ditching the current charging system

    Sorry duplicate
    Last edited by hatjohan; 2021/09/23 at 12:45 PM.



  24. #15
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    Default Re: Going LifePo4 and ditching the current charging system

    Will The NAtional luna dc to dc be able to charge a lifepo battery ?

  25. #16
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    Default Re: Going LifePo4 and ditching the current charging system

    Quote Originally Posted by nevillet View Post
    Be extremely careful when going Blu Nova route and get exact requirements and guarantee conditions from them.Am negotiating for a replacement on what appears to be a faulty battery and not happy with the diagnoses and response, so far. will follow up on this post
    I have heard about a number of these now, don't feel lonely.
    Bruce Hunter
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  27. #17
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    Default Re: Going LifePo4 and ditching the current charging system

    Quote Originally Posted by Eli Stone View Post
    Will The NAtional luna dc to dc be able to charge a lifepo battery ?
    Yes, you must just change the battery type on it. Remove the coverplate to do so.
    Groot berge en lang grondpaaie

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  29. #18
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    Default Re: Going LifePo4 and ditching the current charging system

    Quote Originally Posted by BruceHun View Post
    I have heard about a number of these now, don't feel lonely.
    Yip been there and done that, to their credit I got a full refund from Takealot and I know that Blue Nova honored their warranty.

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  31. #19
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    Default Re: Going LifePo4 and ditching the current charging system

    I think we are all still learning with these new technologies.

    Not helped by all the misinformation and charlatans out there.
    Cheers

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  32. #20
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    Default Re: Going LifePo4 and ditching the current charging system

    Quote Originally Posted by Eli Stone View Post
    Will The NAtional luna dc to dc be able to charge a lifepo battery ?
    Yes, I use the dc dc 25. super



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