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Old 07-11-2017, 04:58 PM   #1
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Lithiums: Is my dealer giving me the straight scoop?

We're just about ready to pull the trigger on an upgrade from our 25' FC to order a new 2018 30' Classic. (Should never have visited the dealer showroom again! )

Anyway, while there, I was discussing the subject of batteries with one of the techs. Unless I blanked out and completely misunderstood, he told me that the new 3 stage converter in the 2018's was "certified" for use with Lithium batteries and that if I wanted to do an upgrade it would be a simple matter to install them. The impression I got was that no other equipment was necessary. He said that Group 27 Lithiums could be installed in the battery box in place of the lead acid units, or a larger Lithium battery could be installed elsewhere in the trailer, say a 300W unit in the rear cargo compartment.

I don't know a lot about Lithium batteries, but I thought that a location external to the trailer (like the battery box) was not a good environment for them and that they required a special charge controller for optimum service and life. Does it sound like the tech was giving me the straight scoop? The dealer has apparently done a lot of Lithium upgrades so I would hope that they know what they are doing.
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Old 07-12-2017, 04:57 PM   #2
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No thoughts on this?
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Old 07-12-2017, 05:10 PM   #3
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What is the make and model of charger in a 2018 30 Classic? Once that is known then you can read the specs of the charger and compare them with the charging requirements of the Lithiums you have in mind.

Kelvin
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Old 07-12-2017, 05:32 PM   #4
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The Dealer you are talking to is the #1 dealer in the world, believe them. All AS with factory installed solar come with 12 V Lifeline lithium batteries, they are excellent!
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Old 07-12-2017, 05:41 PM   #5
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I am hesitant to jump in here because I am not a professional and the technology is changing rapidly. There are now Lithium batteries that purport to simply replace lead-acid batteries, charging profiles and all. But I do not know about those.
I do know that my Victron Lithiums would not like a standard charger, even if 3 stages. Most of those are only adjustable for agm, gel, and liquid, all lead-acid. You need a charger that can be set for Lithiums. So I would sincerely doubt what you are hearing. You may get a lot of opinions here, but find a battery professional for the specific batteries you are thinking of buying.
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Old 07-12-2017, 06:19 PM   #6
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Hi

Ok, there's already a bit of confusion here ....

The modern AS "solar upgrade" trailers do come with Lifeline batteries. They are AGM's. That's a form of lead acid battery. It most certainly is *not* a lithium cell.

Litiums are great batteries in terms of power per weight or power per volume. They loose out badly on power per dollar. They also are not real happy about being charged at freezing temperatures.

Lithium batteries come in a variety of chemistries. Each one has it's own "magic voltages. Any charger that will work with lithium batteries needs to be programmable. Once you have a programming feature, you can set it to use a variety of batteries, lead acid included. It is not at all uncommon to see modern chargers that are "able" to do a lot of different batteries. One needs to be careful since "able to" is not quite the same as "good at".

Since nobody seems to have dug into the guts of a 2018 Classic and taken a picture of the converter, it's only about 99% clear what's in there. Some of us would like to be 100% sure of what's there. No good reason why, but it *would* make threads like this much easier to deal with.

Bottom line - the converter may be pretty fancy. I would not rush out and toss $4,000 worth of lithiums into the battery box on the tongue quite yet.

Bob
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Old 07-12-2017, 06:55 PM   #7
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Hi

Since nobody seems to have dug into the guts of a 2018 Classic and taken a picture of the converter, it's only about 99% clear what's in there. Some of us would like to be 100% sure of what's there. No good reason why, but it *would* make threads like this much easier to deal with.

Bottom line - the converter may be pretty fancy. I would not rush out and toss $4,000 worth of lithiums into the battery box on the tongue quite yet.

Bob
To your point, Bob, I am jumping the gun a bit here. My plan would be to find out more about the converter once I have one to examine in the new trailer. Initially I would swap over the newish 6 volt Trojans from my FC to replace the Group 27's in the new Classic and then figure out a strategy for pursuing an upgrade to Lithiums. I just thought I'd throw out what I'd been told for discussion to see if it made any sense at all. At best the information I was given seems worthy of further examination. Thanks to you and everyone else for the feedback.
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Old 07-12-2017, 07:34 PM   #8
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Lithiums: Is my dealer giving me the straight scoop?

The standard converter that ships with 2018 is a WFCO unit (model WF-8955PEC for 30amp service and a similar version for 50amp).

A Victron lithium battery, for instance, wants to be charged at 14.5v (will accept 14-15v) and then wants to be floated at 13.6v.

The WFCO unit produces bulk 14.4v, then 13.6 absorption and then 13.2v float.

I don't think the WFCO charger is intelligent enough to determine how to deal with a lithium battery / BMS system charging profile.

Lithiums are typically pretty advanced systems, you typically don't just drop in a $2000 battery and "hope for the best" . Give AM Solar or Lewster a call if you need advice from people who specialize in Lithium power systems. I will be visiting Lew in Oregon in the spring to outfit my 30'
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Old 07-12-2017, 08:52 PM   #9
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Thanks wulfraat. Another data point to establish would be to identify the brand of Lithium batteries used by my dealer. Perhaps their charging profile is different than the Victron batteries you mentioned...? Ultimately, a trip with the new trailer to visit Lewster in Oregon may be in order!
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Old 07-13-2017, 03:41 AM   #10
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. . .
. . . They also are not real happy about being charged at freezing temperatures.
. . .
Why then do lithium batteries make sense for any travel trailer or RV?



I understand the "plus's" of going lithium, but a "not-below-freezing" caveat would seem to be a tragic flaw. What am I missing?

wulfraat with a home base of Colorado, how will you deal with this apparent limitation?

Thanks,

Peter
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Old 07-13-2017, 04:39 AM   #11
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You can use them below freezing, but you cannot charge them. Yes, if you are a real cold weather camper it could be a limitation but the recommendation is usually keep the batteries "inside" and that will normally be above freezing. Then there is really no limitation.

Larry
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Old 07-13-2017, 04:49 AM   #12
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The standard converter that ships with 2018 is a WFCO unit (model WF-8955PEC for 30amp service and a similar version for 50amp).
If this is the case, I wouldn't even bring a brochure for lithium batteries near this thing.

In the same way TIME magazine doesn't print their magazine on an all-in-one printer/copier/scanner/fax machine, this is a power center (circuit breaker/fuse panel) with a built in 3 stage charger, although it does have "decorative doors".

The press release part of their website states that they will have a lithium capable system "coming"

I'm sorry to the earlier poster, but DON'T TRUST ANYONE who's only purpose is to get the money out of your pocket
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Old 07-13-2017, 05:10 AM   #13
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You can use them below freezing, but you cannot charge them. Yes, if you are a real cold weather camper it could be a limitation but the recommendation is usually keep the batteries "inside" and that will normally be above freezing. Then there is really no limitation.

Larry
Thanks Larry,

So it is zero Fahrenheit out, the trailer interior is at 25 F, and my lithium batteries are so depleted that I cannot run the furnace to warm things up.

My generator was not working right, but I just got it fixed.

Now I have to turn OFF the battery charger, and turn on the furnace so that I can warm the lithium batteries above freezing, in order to charge them?



What am I missing here?

Thanks,

Peter
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Old 07-13-2017, 05:58 AM   #14
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If you have a new Classic, like my AGMs with factory solar, and my converter, already replaced under warranty after two months, you will need the converter to power the 12v system that your Alde system runs on to heat your trailer. The Alde electric elements come from 120v, but the burner, fan, and pump are DC. Only on shore power will the few other conveniences like A/C, micro wave and outlets power up. Everything else is powered directly from batteries and/or converter. The week I was without a working converter, I manually charged/floated the batteries with a smart charger I picked up at the local AutoZone, that had a selector switch for lithium, AGM, standard batteries. I was at a KOA on shore power.
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