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Old 10-18-2019, 03:14 PM   #1
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Winter Storage of Lithium Batteries

Asking for a friend who is moving from Southern Cal to Park City this month. She has a Sprinter Van that has a pair of Lithium batteries. She will be storing it in an unheated facility and it will regularly be in the teens and less, often.

I know they don't like to charged when it's cold, but how long can they 'sit' with no loads on them? Flooded lead acid will slowly discharge and then freeze, which is why I bring mine home and keep them on a trickle charger in the garage.

What's the best practice for Lithium? Is it OK to leave them in? Do they self discharge as quickly as Lead Acid, and if so, does it damage them if they discharge and also freeze?

Should she remove them and bring them into a warm environment for the winter? What is best practice?
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Old 10-18-2019, 03:45 PM   #2
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High quality cells can sit for 6-12 months without a charge without significantly decreasing lifespan, storage capacity or performance.

Note that unlike lead acids, it is not good to store at 100% charge as it can damage the cathode. Lithiums should be stored at 40-60% charge if they are going to sit for extended periods of time, and they should be completely disconnected from all potential loads (isolated).

As of this past weekend my two 300ah Victrons are hibernating 65% SOC for the winter here in Colorado....
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Old 10-18-2019, 03:49 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by wulfraat View Post
High quality cells can sit for 6-12 months without a charge without significantly decreasing lifespan, storage capacity or performance.

Note that unlike lead acids, it is not good to store at 100% charge as it can damage the cathode. Lithiums should be stored at 40-60% charge if they are going to sit for extended periods of time, and they should be completely disconnected from all potential loads (isolated).

As of this past weekend my two 300ah Victrons are hibernating 65% SOC for the winter here in Colorado....
Thanks Wulf I was hoping you'd see this post. Just to clarify...you leave yours in the trailer, disconnected, outside for the winter? If so, I'll advise her to discharge to 65% or so, then disconnect them (I'll be doing that lol) and then just leave them alone for the winter and they'll be fine in the cold?
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Old 10-18-2019, 04:41 PM   #4
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Ironically I just got done talking to a battery expert (involved in engineering batteries). He says the worst thing you can do is keep a lithium battery at 100%. He said Lithium batteries should be kept at a certain level of discharge for maximum life. Just as was stated above in the previous posts.
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Old 10-18-2019, 05:23 PM   #5
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Thanks Wulf I was hoping you'd see this post. Just to clarify...you leave yours in the trailer, disconnected, outside for the winter? If so, I'll advise her to discharge to 65% or so, then disconnect them (I'll be doing that lol) and then just leave them alone for the winter and they'll be fine in the cold?
Yes absolutely no problem storing in the cold down to ~ -40C degrees. My batteries are in the trailer under the bed, but still get well below freezing in the Colorado winter.

Note that you should avoid discharging below -20C, so don't go out there at -30C and run your jack or what have you, stay inside your house with some warm coco instead and wait for things to warm up

(again, the above applies to high quality cells, not sure what batteries you have in your system, I use Victron which are lithium pouch cells, a little different than cylindrical cells). Battle Borns for example use 26650 cylindrical cells but are of similar quality and have similar storage and discharge temperate parameters).

Fully isolate the batteries for winter - best is to disconnect positive and negative leads to be 100% certain.

In my case I use a battery disconnect to cut off all draws, with the exception of my BMV712, but that is such a small draw on such a large bank that it is ok in my particular setup (and I visit the trailer monthly to check on things).

Ok now here is a twist with battlerborns (if that is what you have)... they have a video on winterizing, and recommend you "charge to at least 14.4v, then let them sit". They recommend this likely because they have an internal BMS that is always sucking some power from the cells, and they don't want customers to run them down to zero based on this constant (albeit low) draw and permanently damage the battery from under voltage situation... nevertheless personally I would not store a lithium > 70% for a long period of time out if you plan to keep the investment for, say, 10 years.

battle born video I mentioned:

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Old 10-18-2019, 05:28 PM   #6
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A great thread, thanks.

Peter
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Old 10-18-2019, 06:55 PM   #7
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Hi

If you call up Battle Born and ask, they pretty much say to charge them up and leave them. Don't try to charge them cold (the BMS will prevent this) and try not to discharge them when it is cold (like below -4F) either.

Again, according to them, the Battle Born BMS pulls significantly less (when idle) than the BMV 712 pulls. Since self discharge drops as temperature goes down, one would *guess* the batteries actually do better in cold storage than when it's hot out.

So their recommendation is to just disconnect them and let them sit. That's what I did last winter. They claim to have a number of sites that do the same with no issues.

Bob
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Old 10-18-2019, 07:17 PM   #8
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Winter Storage of Lithium Batteries

Yeah - one of those things - kinda like changing your oil every 5,000 miles vs 7,000 miles.

Does it really make a difference? Perhaps debatable. Only time will tell if you keep your vehicle for 10 years / 150k+ miles.... I change my oil every 5,000 ‘cause I’m just kinda like that
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Old 10-18-2019, 08:13 PM   #9
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Yeah - one of those things - kinda like changing your oil every 5,000 miles vs 7,000 miles.

Does it really make a difference? Perhaps debatable. Only time will tell if you keep your vehicle for 10 years / 150k+ miles.... I change my oil every 5,000 ‘cause I’m just kinda like that
Hi

You mean you actually go more than 3,000 miles .... yikes ...

=======

Let the oil monitor do it's thing (assuming the vehicle has one). It probably knows more about the oil that you ever would want to know. I have an unfortunate lot of data on that ..... (as a sensor designer rather than an oil change guy ... )

Off topic? Who's off topic ??

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Old 10-18-2019, 08:29 PM   #10
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Winter Storage of Lithium Batteries

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Originally Posted by uncle_bob
Hi
You mean you actually go more than 3,000 miles .... yikes ...

=======

Let the oil monitor do it's thing (assuming the vehicle has one). It probably knows more about the oil that you ever would want to know. I have an unfortunate lot of data on that ..... (as a sensor designer rather than an oil change guy ...

Off topic? Who's off topic ??

Bob


4,8xx miles and 27% oil life left on the duramax since last change. Oil change scheduled in 2 weeks

And yes when I park the airstream for more than 2 days batts are 60% < SOC < 80%. I know I know....
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Old 10-19-2019, 12:13 AM   #11
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Thanks guys!
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Old 10-19-2019, 08:48 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wulfraat View Post
High quality cells can sit for 6-12 months without a charge without significantly decreasing lifespan, storage capacity or performance.

Note that unlike lead acids, it is not good to store at 100% charge as it can damage the cathode. Lithiums should be stored at 40-60% charge if they are going to sit for extended periods of time, and they should be completely disconnected from all potential loads (isolated).

As of this past weekend my two 300ah Victrons are hibernating 65% SOC for the winter here in Colorado....
Can you provide a source document for that tidbit? I am curious because it seems to fly in the face of the idea of Lithiums hooked up to a solar array that keeps them charged all of the time. I do not remember seeing any mention of that in the documentation that came with my Victron batteries? Thanks
Larry
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Old 10-19-2019, 09:30 AM   #13
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Winter Storage of Lithium Batteries

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Originally Posted by lsbrodsky
Can you provide a source document for that tidbit? I am curious because it seems to fly in the face of the idea of Lithiums hooked up to a solar array that keeps them charged all of the time. I do not remember seeing any mention of that in the documentation that came with my Victron batteries? Thanks

Larry

Here are a couple references below. Note the last one which is a thread between myself and victron on their forum. That thread actually triggered a call from AM Solar’s lead engineer and we also had a nice 30 minute chat on the subject (victron asked him to give me a call as they are a lead reseller in North America - great service!)

Victron is a bit of a stand out in all of this for a couple reasons: (1) they use lithium ion phosphate chemistry and is more robust in tolerating high SOC and (2) victron de-rate their cells so 100% is not really 100% of actual capacity. On a side note victron in particular use passive cell balancing - and need a 100% charge from time to time to balance the cells. But still not advised to “peg” them / float them at high SOC.

The above note on victron is an example of “you get what you pay for” in that their approach costs more economically, but produces a battery that operates to a higher standard and tolerance for more abusive use.

Nevertheless, that being said, even with my victrons I adhere to storing them at a lower SOC because it can only have upside in longevity. I do cycle them to 100% to balance but I let them discharge once cells are balanced (sometimes I’ll simply disconnect solar, which I can afford to do with such a large bank - 600ah).


https://batteryuniversity.com/index....ased_batteries

https://batteryuniversity.com/learn/..._ion_batteries

https://batteryuniversity.com/index....tore_batteries

https://community.victronenergy.com/...o-100-soc.html
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Old 10-19-2019, 10:39 AM   #14
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Thanks for the references. I think the Victron engineer said it best in that it is all theoretical or as we used to say " it is hard to pick the fly shxx out of the pepper". Clearly Victron knew what they were doing and AM Solar gave me good settings for my devices. I am floating at about 3.4v per cell and the BU data shows thousands and thousands of cycles, even if there might be a bit of degradation over time. In a practical world, based on cycle numbers alone the batteries will last longer than the trailer or even the rest of my lifetime. Moreover, I am putting fewer cycles on the batteries than I anticipated when I installed the system. Most of the concern around high SOC resting is with non-LFP chemistry, probably because of the widespread application of other chemistries in portable devices and the transportation industry. Seems like this is a minimal, even negligible concern, for Victron LFP's. I conclude it is not worth any effort to discharge the batteries and disconnect solar before "storing" for the winter. Thanks again, I'll sleep better now.
Larry
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Old 10-19-2019, 10:53 AM   #15
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Yup we are on the same page. All a bit theoretical.
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Old 10-19-2019, 11:22 AM   #16
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Yup we are on the same page. All a bit theoretical.
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Old 10-19-2019, 09:56 PM   #17
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Just be sure that you follow the instructions of your battery manufacturer. This is not a one size fits all answer. Also know all of your parasitic draws if any. That includes any built in BMS sensors. Run the math on those draws to make sure that you aren't going to run down the batteries and do damage. Good advice (for those that you that remember Hill Street Blues) "Be careful out there".
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Old 10-20-2019, 08:03 AM   #18
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Yup we are on the same page. All a bit theoretical.
Hi

Just to complete this out:

If you "charge up to full" when you head out and then discharge back to "half full" each time you come back. That's adding charge / discharge cycling to the batteries. This will wear them out. If you are an impatient person (who me? ) you likely do that at a high current level. That increases the amount of wear How many cycles is that? Depends a whole lot on your usage profile.

So: Do you loose more from all the cycling or do you loose more from fully charging? ...... We'll know in about 20 years . If we find out in 10 years or less, I have a warranty

Given my usage profile, if the batteries last out the warranty period, I figure I've come out ahead vs the alternatives. Getting to 20 years depends on a lot of factors way beyond how the batteries do.

Bob
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Old 10-20-2019, 11:16 AM   #19
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My advice from Lewster, as far as cold weather goes, is to charge my LiFePos up before the temps get too low, then use my system shut-off to prevent them being charged. They stay charged very nicely.

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Old 10-20-2019, 11:48 AM   #20
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Indeed they do seem to stay charged over the winter. Mine showed no voltage change at all between going into storage and coming out ~5 months later. That's with a 712 connected the whole time and whatever the BMS was doing.

Bob
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