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Old 07-14-2017, 08:52 AM   #1
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Anyone put lithium batteries into their Bambi?

I have a 16' Bambi. I'm considering using one of the new Lithium 100AH battery replacements for AGM to double the capacity, and decrease the hitch weight at the same time. I could just replace the battery on the A frame- with all the caveats about lithium in the cold. The model I am considering has a temperature sensor and regulator to prevent charging below freezing. I see that most installations go inside and into larger trailers. Not sure where I would put it in the Bambi. Has anyone done this to a 16 footer?
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Old 07-14-2017, 10:14 AM   #2
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Hi Larry9000,
Your question is in good timing because we just made the switch last weekend. We have a 2017 16' and have been very frustrated with the Interstate battery. For months, we considered an AGM, but finally settled on the more expensive lithium. We did some research and bought a Battle Born. Check it out, it has some nice features.

We were going to install it on the A-frame, but could not find a good solution for a locking battery box to fit. When the battery arrived in the mail we discovered a better place to install it, under the dining bench beside the fresh water tank. Yep, it fits. It's tight, but it fits.

My cleaver husband built a stand for the battery to hover over the water hoses next to the water tank using wood pieces and a heavy duty plastic case from Lowe's. Then, he mounted the controller on the seat right beside the trailer's battery On/Store switch. The biggest chore was re-routing all the wires for the battery to its new home, but well worth the effort.

So, we are very pleased with the new set up. We have a better battery that is stored inside, and less weight on the A-frame. What's not to love?

Sandy
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Old 07-14-2017, 12:24 PM   #3
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Hi Sandy,
Interesting posts. Would you mind sharing more about your set up? I'd be interested in the make and model of controller you went with and if you have a solar charging system. Many thanks!!
Adam
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Old 07-14-2017, 01:46 PM   #4
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Thanks Sandy!

That is a great bit of news indeed. Also, I was considering Battle Born, so that's even better. I'll have to look under the seat in my 2006 to see if there is room in mine. I'd be interested in what converter you have and what solar charger if any.
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Old 07-15-2017, 01:57 PM   #5
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Hello Adam and Larry9000:
First the pictures showing how we fit the Battle Born lithium under the seat beside the fresh water tank.
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So, as you can see, it is tight, but manageable fit. When we need access to the water valves underneath the battery we can slide the battery out of the battery tray. We found the battery tray at a marine supply store, not Lowe's. My clever husband figured out that the marine supply has a better product for this purpose.
Here is a picture of the solar controller and battery monitor mounted to the wall below the seat.
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We went everything Zamp. We have two 100 watt flexible panels on the roof adhered with double-sides tape ( ask me about the tape) with a Zamp 30 amp solar controller. For the solar charger/converter, we are using the converter that is already in the Bambi. We did not have to change out. We called both Zamp and Airstream Inc to make sure this was the best set up. If you want to know about how we wired the system, let me know...

Good luck, guys. If you want pictures of the solar panels on the roof let me know.

Best,
Sandy and Vince
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Old 07-15-2017, 02:22 PM   #6
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While I don't have the Bambi (although I do have an older 17' AS in addition to my 25í AS), I opted to just add a Goal Zero Yeti 1000 Lithium Portable Power Station from Costco (the only place this model is available is from Costco). This is a portable unit with a Lithium battery (1000 watt-hrs, which is slightly less than 100 amp-hours). This is a portable unit which I store under the dinette seat, but pull it out when at my camping location.
I wanted a larger pure sine wave inverter (I have a 600 watt pure sine wave, but this portable has a 1500 watt pure sine wave, with a surge capacity of 3000 watts). It has a built in solar controller, and comes with a 70 watt AC charger. It is well instrumented such that you can see wattage, both in and out, watt-hours (resetable) so you can see consumption, etc. For instance, to run the 700 watt toaster it consumes about 42 watt-hours. I reheat my coffee for a minute in the microwave and it takes maybe 20 watt-hours.
This unit costs $1000 at Costco, but that is only about $100 more than the Battle Born 100 AH battery itself.
I have three 100 watt solar panels on the roof feeding an existing solar controller, so when I tried to put both controllers (the existing and the Yeti 1000) in parallel I noticed some instability, so my method of solar charging this unit is as follows.
Existing solar panels -> existing solar controller -> existing 600 watt inverter -> 70 watt AC charger for the Yeti. Now if the Yeti with itís 1000 watt-hour lithium battery were fully discharged (not a good idea), charging it at 70 watts input would take 1000/70= 14+ hours to fully charge. Well I donít normally have 14+ hours per day of high output solar, so I purchased a second charger (the Yeti has input ports that will accommodate both chargers) so now I charge at 140 watts and thus cut the charging time in half. If itís a low output solar day or if the Yeti isnít discharged much, Iíll only charge with one 70 watt power supply.
The first time I used the Yeti for the microwave all I did was plug an extension cord from the output of the Yeti and ran it around to the back of the trailer and plugged it into the power jack feeding the trailer. When I ran the microwave to heat my coffee I noticed the combination of the load for the microwave and the other ďhotelĒ loads in the trailer was running over 2200 watts. I ran it this way for over 30 seconds then decided to stop as I didnít want to force it to trip out on overload. Because the microwave is essentially hard wired into the trailer it isnít practical to try to just power it up by itself. I like to keep the load on the Yeti under itís continuous 1500 watt rating so now when I heat my coffee I just leave the cord strung around the outside of the trailer and set the microwave for 50% power.
This was the simplest (and perhaps the cheapest) way for me to conveniently have all the power I need (except not air conditioning) without having to both wire for 300 amps and purchase a 1500 watt true-sine-wave inverter, plus it increases my total effective battery capacity by about 75%.
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Old 07-16-2017, 09:52 AM   #7
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Great solution!

Quote:
Originally Posted by SanAndVin View Post
Hello Adam and Larry9000:

So, as you can see, it is tight, but manageable fit. When we need access to the water valves underneath the battery we can slide the battery out of the battery tray. We found the battery tray at a marine supply store, not Lowe's. My clever husband figured out that the marine supply has a better product for this purpose.

Good luck, guys. If you want pictures of the solar panels on the roof let me know.

Best,
Sandy and Vince
Sandy, your husband is clever indeed. That's a great location, and the 100AH Li battery essentially doubles the capacity of the 80AH AGM, while dropping tongue weight over 30 pounds. Thanks for the photos. The arrangement of items under the dinette seat looks similar, if not identical, to my 2006 Bambi layout, so I have high confidence I could get that to work too (after taking some confirming measurements of course). If you could tell us the part number or name to the battery tray Vince used, that would be helpful as well. When you said he slides the battery to access the valves below, does he slide it within the underseat area, or does he pull it out to seat level to access the valves?

I'm curious what you did for settings on the converter and solar charger, given that Battle Born promotes the battery as being a drop-in replacement for AGM. Are the settings on these for Lithiums or AGMs? My guess is that the converter is unchanged. BB promotes standard converters being able to charge the battery safely. But how about the Zamp solar charger? is it set up for Lithiums or AGMs? I'm considering changing both on my Bambi anyway. Does it accurately read the capacity remaining?

Oh, since you volunteered photos of the solar panels, those would be interesting too.

Here is what I'm considering: Upgrade Parallax converter to Progressive Dynamics. The PD converter has a "boost' mode that would allow quicker charging of the batteries if needed. I was going to do this anyway with the AGM. Rejigger the wiring so the battery is inside, but the existing battery cable to the hitch remains in place, so the electric hitch still works. It also offers the possibility of attaching portable solar panels (though they would have to have their own controller, since only 12 volts is available outside with this scheme.) I may even install a controller in a waterproof container where the AGM battery used to be for easy attachment of portable panels. Replace the interior solar controller that came with the factory installed 50w panel with a more advanced unit, perhaps MPPT. I've had some issues with the current one. I'm not sure I can keep accurate track of charging level with two solar chargers, so I need to think this last part through. I'd keep the remote battery disconnect switch/relay that the 2006 Bambi came with rather than change to the modern mechanical disconnect switch shown in the photos. I'm just concerned that if Sandy shows 200W of solar panels on their Bambi, that I'll want to do that too! ;-)
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Old 07-16-2017, 09:56 AM   #8
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Great data. Following with interest.
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Old 07-16-2017, 10:37 AM   #9
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Hi Sandy,

Thanks for sharing! What an elegant solution. I would be interested in seeing the panels too and any information on how you wired everything together would be appreciated. Thanks again.

Adam
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Old 07-18-2017, 10:11 AM   #10
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Hello everyone, I am back and have pictures, too.

Lets begin with the battery. The battery tray was ordered from San Diego Marine. It is the Moeller Marine Battery Tray #042216 size 27 and 30. Vince made two modifications: He cut the plastic "tab" from the top frame; and he shortened both of the threaded rods to fit the compartment height.

Once the battery is installed and sitting in the tray within the seat compartment, the question is how do you access the water valves? To reach the water valves, Vince actually has enough room for his hand to slid between the battery box and the wall reaching the water switch, and my smaller hand certainly so. But, if we need more room, we can pull the battery up and out to seat level.

One more tidbit. The battery monitor, that we mounted on the seat wall next the to battery on/store switch, has bluetooth capability. Oh, yes, it's cool. We have the app on our cell phone and we can see what is going on with the battery from the comfort of the TV.

Now, the solar rooftop panels...

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As you can see, the panels just fit on the roof without bumping up against other objects. Already installed on the 2017 Bambi, is a solar plug and play box with two plugs prewired. That is the white box located between the FanTastic vent and the A/C. The face of the unit is out of the photograph, but that is where the solar wires are leading to.

The two solar rooftop panels have four choice settings: Li; wet; AGM; and calcium. So, of course we set it to Li. In addition to the rooftop panels, we also have an 80w portable solar unit. The portable only has three settings excluding Li. We had to set that one to AGM to match the Li profile.

I think I addressed your questions. If I need to clarify more, just ask away.

Best,
Sandy and Vince
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Old 07-18-2017, 02:19 PM   #11
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Diagram

Very cool. I too have a 16 foot 2017 bambi and am interested in installing solar.
I don't suppose you made a diagram of the wiring? If you did posting that would be great. I don't see myself getting the lithium batteries but everything else looks really good.
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Old 07-18-2017, 05:27 PM   #12
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Eric,
No, we do not have a diagram of the wiring, but let us try to put something together for you.

Sandy
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Old 07-19-2017, 06:34 AM   #13
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Thanks Sandy, that would be great. Also, you said ask you about the double sided tape. Has that given you any trouble?
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Old 07-19-2017, 05:49 PM   #14
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Thanks for the photos Sandy! Would you mind sharing the model number of the solar panels and what adhesive you used to attach them? Thanks. Adam
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Old 07-19-2017, 08:49 PM   #15
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You have definitely provided a valuable wealth of information for Bambi owners. The more details you can provide, the better! Who knows, the next generation of Bambi trailers could have this as standard features! Thanks for sharing your knowledge and photos!
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Old 07-20-2017, 10:49 AM   #16
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Hello Gentlemen,

I will try to answer your questions, from our experience, in three areas: the solar panel model; the wiring diagram for the solar; and then the question of solar panel adhesion tape. So, here we go.

To find the rooftop solar panel we purchased go to www.zampsolar.com. Click on the "products" page. Now, find the "deluxe rooftop solar kits" section. On this page you need two items: 100 watt Flexi Deluxe Kit (zs-100F-30a-DX) and 100 watt Flexi Expansion Kit (zs-EX-100F-DX).

Here is an image of the solar panel label so you can determine if it will match with your existing set up.
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One comment. The two panels we received did not come with Zamp (SAE) leads on them. Make sure your panels do, or that the distributor supplies Zamp leads either installed, or for you to splice on.

Wiring. Here are two shots of wiring diagrams you may find helpful:
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It is fairly straightforward. We were able to wire the solar directly to the battery.

Lastly, the tape. This is going to be tricky. Before I publish my opinion that what we are using is the best way to mount the solar panels, without drilling holes into the roof, I want to wait a couple more days. We are waiting to allow the adhesive a chance to cure. We placed sand bags on the bow edge knowing that is where the greatest wind force will be, so the adhesion has to be super tight. I will write my review on Saturday. If the tape does not hold up to our specs, we have plan B. Holes. Urgh.

Enjoy the upgrades,
Sandy

P.S. Just in case you are interested, this weekend we are lifting the whole trailer nearly 3 inches. We are tired of the back bumper dragging on the curb getting in and out of gas stations. We should be able to complete the project in a single day. Ohh, this will be fun!
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Old 07-21-2017, 06:34 AM   #17
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Thank you very much Sandy and good luck this weekend.
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Old 07-21-2017, 09:02 AM   #18
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Thanks Sandy! This is excellent information.

I do have one additional wiring question. What wires do you run to the A-frame now? Specifically, do you run 12v, solar voltage, or anything at all. I am looking at doing the same modification that Vince did. I currently have 12v going between the A-frame (where my current battery is mounted) and the cabin. Moving the battery to the inside allows me to keep that same cable as a 12v power cable, which I will need for the electric hitch. But I would like to have access to the solar panel charging voltage as well, to be able to add portable solar panels once at camp, without having to add another solar charge controller.
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Old 07-23-2017, 11:46 AM   #19
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Larry 9000,

We only have two wires running to the A-frame now that the lithium battery is inside the coach. We have the wire to leading to the power hitch, and a wire leading to the plug for the portable solar unit. That's it. The plug for the portable solar was already installed when we purchased the Bambi a year ago and it is best just to leave it there. Moreover, the portable solar unit will give us power when the rooftop panels won't work while parked under trees.


Foxlangserv,

You asked about the solar panel model number and the adhesive we used to mount the panels. The model numbers are listed on my previous note. As of this morning, I am uncomfortable publishing a recommendation for the adhesive. You see, we are not getting 100% perfect results. One of the panels is sticking well, although we will not completely know until we are driving at 60 MPH in a headwind. The other panel has some lifting issues in one corner at the curve near the bow. I do not want to engage Plan B, so we have reglued, and placed some white super sticky tape down to act like an air foil.
I suspect you want to get going on installing your own rooftop panels and I am not helping much regarding an adhesive choice. The adhesive we used was recommended to us both by Zamp and by the Zamp distributor. You can order the materials on Amazon.


Sandy and Vince

P.S.
Project Lift went really well last night. If you have a few hours and the right tools, by all means do it. But, be sure to have everything you need before you start so you are not running to the hardware store while the trailer is hitched up in the air. All that sharing deserves it's own thread.
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Old 07-23-2017, 02:05 PM   #20
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Hey Larry9000,
I have a couple pictures for you:
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The pictures illustrate the two wires leading from the battery in the coach. Both are exiting out from the black mesh tube. One is attached to the solar plug, the red one is attached to power jack. Everything else is inside the trailer.

Sandy
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