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Old 04-15-2024, 01:53 PM   #1
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AGM To Lithium in 26U

I am thinking about switching from agm to lithium batteries in my 2018 26u. I am trying to do this progressively to not break the bank. I contacted WFCO about a replacement for my lead/acid converter/charger which is part of the panel assembly and they have lithium converter/charge that is an even match and fit for the one in the AS at present (replacement part #-WF-8955-AD-MBA). Eventually I want to replace the old agm batteries with new lithium batteries and locate them inside in a storage area under the dinette bench which I do not use.
The idea is to utilize as much of the original wiring as possible.
1) What other things should I consider?
2) What have I missed in the process?
Thanks in advance for your input.
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Old 04-15-2024, 03:17 PM   #2
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First let me say I haven't done this yet but I'm interested in the upgrade and have been following the trials and travails of people who've done so. It looks like the model WFCO told you about is one that "auto senses" the presence of lithium vs lead-acid batteries. I've read reports that this detection is unreliable, though that may be an earlier model of the converter.

BestConverter sells one that has a jumper to force it to a lithium charge profile. I have no relationship with BestConverter other than having been a satisfied customer in the past, but I'd probably choose something from them vs. WFCO. Hopefully someone who's actually done this will chime in.
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Old 04-15-2024, 05:08 PM   #3
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I have a brand new in the box converter - itís yours!

Rainmaker, I happen to have that exact WFCO converter, new in the box. It was gifted to me by another AF member, Life is a Highway.

Itís yours if you want it, just cover the USPS shipping (cheapest way).

PM me with your address. BTW, we met at Alumalina last October. Iím also a friend of Hans627.
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Old 04-15-2024, 06:53 PM   #4
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an

At a minimum, besides an upgraded converter as you mention, you’ll want a battery monitor such as a Victron SmartShunt or BMV-712. Without that you won’t be able to reliably know what your battery charge is.

If you want the batteries to charge while you drive down the road, albeit minimally since most TVs don’t provide much current, you’ll need a DC boost charger. Victron makes one that adapts to the current it’s provided, the Orion Smart 12/12 18A.

You’ll want a battery disconnect that truly disconnects everything while in storage.
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Old 04-15-2024, 07:13 PM   #5
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Good points by daleyocum!

Rainmaker, you might want to check out Post#3 on this thread.. GOUSC did what daleyocum recommended - he installed a SmartShunt along with a pair of Battle Born GC2ís in the battery box.

As mentioned, itís a good idea to install a manual battery disconnect switch to isolate the batteries while in storage. No need to remove them from the battery box at the end of the season, just make sure theyíre charged up and turn the switch.
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Old 04-15-2024, 08:44 PM   #6
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Welcome to the rabbit hole. I heartily discourage going with the WFCO-AD. There are are a number of threads discussing it, and in my experience it was a PIA to get it to detect lithium batteries, and I heard it will sometimes revert back to lead-acid. Also, I found out it didn't come close to the 50A it's rated at, I was getting more like 18A. So I'd invest in a PD, Boondocker, or I ditched it for a Victron Phoenix 50A and I gave away the WFCO. The PD is not much more than the WFCO and a lot of people are happy with it.

Converting to lithium is definitely worth it. You will get twice the amount of power in the same space, lithium charges faster, is easier to store in the winter, lightweight, etc. With an older trailer you don't have quite as many electrical demands as our newer camper (the electric refrigerator mostly). We boondock and have computers, Starlink, and other demands as well so I put in four 100Ah batteries inside. If you've been getting along just fine with two AGMs, two 100Ah lithium should be adequate. I like them inside since there's much more room to add components like a shunt (necessary) and a battery switch and less worry about charging temperature and wire runs are shorter.

You won't have to beef up any wiring if you don't increase any of the loads. With my upgrade I use 2/0 wiring to connect the batteries but kept the Airstream wiring to the inverter and positive bus bar.

In any case, I don't think there is a way to do it progressively. At a minimum you need the batteries, charger, and a shunt (it's next to impossible to judge lithium state of charge from just voltage). If you want to save, I'm probably in the minority, but while Battle Borns are the best, for the few duty cycles of a camper there are many decent quality batteries that are much cheaper. I have bargain basement HQST in our million-dollar camper and they are working just fine. It's a big rabbit hole by itself, but I'd recommend batteries that have low temperature charging protection.

You'll find with a search there are lots of battery conversion threads from simple approaches to complex.
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Old 04-16-2024, 12:40 AM   #7
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Oh, one other thing I forgot to mention, you canít really start with a couple of Lithiums and add a couple more in a year or two. The batteries donít assist at one another quite like lead acid do because of their flat discharge curve. You could start with two and go on a couple of week trip and see if thatís enough, just donít wait long before adding more.

You might consider something like the Battleborn Gamechanger 270ah battery if it fits in your application. You get a little more capacity and no worries about two batteries matching one another.
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Old 04-16-2024, 09:32 AM   #8
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Hi

As others have mentioned, the WFCO converters are often problematic. That's true of the lead acid versions, it's also true of the ones that will "do lithium". I would strongly suggest you get a better converter and buy it from somebody you can talk to on the phone. There are multiple options, some in roughly the same price range as the WFCO.

What do you *need* to do to go to lithium?

1) Convert the cables to attach to the lithium batteries. Drop the batteries in the existing battery box.

2) Switch a charger that will properly handle lithiums (unless you already have one).

3) Disconnect the charge wire from the 7 pin. (your TV will not properly charge lithiums).

4) If you have solar, reprogram the controller for a lithium profile (or replace it if it's not programable).

That's pretty much it as far as the absolute lowest cost "need to do" for lithiums. You will get 2X the energy storage in the same volume. Monitoring will be no different than it was before (you are guessing based on a voltage). Charging will be faster.

Note: this is not in any way to say this is what you *should* do or that this is what most people do. It's only what the minimum level of work is.

Independent of this, other things that are a pretty good idea:

1) Put in a smart shunt. (There are multiple versions out there). This is a good idea with lithium or with lead acid. They are much more accurate in terms of "how much do I have". There are some wiring games involved in hooking one up.

2) Put in a DC/DC converter. (again, there are multiple versions out there). This hooks between that previously disconnected charge wire and the batteries. It lets you charge them as you roll down the road. They actually are a useful thing with lead acids. With lithium, they are the only practical way to "charge in motion". Wiring wise, they are pretty easy to put in.

3) Add lots and lots of batteries. While you *can* do this in stages, with any battery bank, having everything "same / same" is the best approach. There are some cabling issues as you add batteries that also get into the act.

4) Put in a full disconnect switch. This is every bit as useful with lead acid as lithium. You *do* need to disconnect batteries in long term storage. Your stock trailer does not come set up to do this. If you don't already have a full disconnect, might as well put one in.

5) Replace the inverter and converter with a hybrid unit. This puts both the charge function and your inverter in a single box. There is less cabling and you typically have better control over what's going on. Often a bigger inverter is part of this.

Even for the minimum level of install, you will need to be able to deal with crimping connectors onto big fat wire. A hydraulic crimp tool is the minimum hassle way to do this. You can get a cheap one on Amazon for $50 or so. You can get a good one for around $200.. The main difference is metric vs US dies. Metric dies are a bit fun for some of the US connectors.

Any electrical project will require a multimeter. If you don't have one already .... shame on you . Now is the time to get one. You can spend anywhere from < $20 to > $300 on one. It's very much a "you get what you pay for" decision.

If you are going to move the battery location, you will need to run some really fat cables to that location. This may well involve pulling the belly pan off the trailer. You need to get power to the inverter and to the "house" 12V switching. You also need to get back to whatever might be hooked up in the battery box (solar plug, power jack .....). Normally you buy the "fat cables" in a roll, work out the length, and swage connectors onto the cables.

Batteries are heavy (even lithium's). Any install needs to include tying them down solidly. You very much do *not* want them wandering around.

Time and skill wise, the minimum stuff is a DIY sort of project. Maybe you get it done in a weekend, more likely in two weekends. There's always a "gee, I need one of those !!" sort of discovery . Going to a full up all the options and move the batteries gets pretty involved.

Fun !!

Bob
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Old 04-16-2024, 11:20 AM   #9
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I'm bookmarking @uncle_bob's response. This topic comes up again and again and this is the most complete and concise summary of what's involved I've seen.
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Old 04-16-2024, 11:54 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by JeffKim View Post
I'm bookmarking @uncle_bob's response. This topic comes up again and again and this is the most complete and concise summary of what's involved I've seen.
I agree. THANK YOU uncle_bob!
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Old 04-16-2024, 03:53 PM   #11
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I switched my 19CB to lithium .... AGM would not last long enough and I was having solar charging issues with the OE Solar charge controller, the Victron MPPT is worth the upgrade.

"....What do you *need* to do to go to lithium?
1) Convert the cables to attach to the lithium batteries. Drop the batteries in the existing battery box.
2) Switch a charger that will properly handle lithiums (unless you already have one).
3) Disconnect the charge wire from the 7 pin. (your TV will not properly charge lithiums).
4) If you have solar, reprogram the controller for a lithium profile (or replace it if it's not programable)....."

This is pretty much what I did... I replaced my AGM with two Lion UT1300, Victron BMV-712, Smart Solar MPPT 75/15 and Blue Smart IP22 30A Charger.

The 30A charger is a bit slow, however the plan is to add a Victron MultiPlus 3000VA, so I can run all 120V through inverter and it will become the charger.

I fished the BMV-712 cable up the wall and installed it where the OE controller was.
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Old 04-16-2024, 04:34 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rainmaker View Post
I am thinking about switching from agm to lithium batteries in my 2018 26u. I am trying to do this progressively to not break the bank. I contacted WFCO about a replacement for my lead/acid converter/charger which is part of the panel assembly and they have lithium converter/charge that is an even match and fit for the one in the AS at present (replacement part #-WF-8955-AD-MBA). Eventually I want to replace the old agm batteries with new lithium batteries and locate them inside in a storage area under the dinette bench which I do not use.
The idea is to utilize as much of the original wiring as possible.
1) What other things should I consider?
2) What have I missed in the process?
Thanks in advance for your input.
I added 540Ah (two Battleborn GC3's), a Victron 3000 Inverter, Cerbo GX and shunt to my 2018 26U. I installed the components under the curb side of the couch. Wires to the distribution box are routed though the flip-up storage under the front of the couch to the street side space under the couch, sink, drawers and oven.

The photo attached is one of the few I took during installation. Let me know what other details you might need.
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Old 04-17-2024, 06:56 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by JeffKim View Post
I'm bookmarking @uncle_bob's response. This topic comes up again and again and this is the most complete and concise summary of what's involved I've seen.
Hi

No problem.

Hmmm .... Let's see, how many typos did I have in that post .....

Bob
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Old 04-21-2024, 07:40 PM   #14
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Explorist.life

I know you want to do this in phases. However to avoid extra cost by duplicating work or replacing parts from previous phases, I suggest you look at what you eventually want to end up with. Take a look at Explorist.life to get some ideas.

I originally thought I’d upgrade in phases but ended up doing it all at once. I went with 4 100ah Battlebornes and all Victron gear. All said & done I figured it cost me about $7K and I did all the work myself. We have a 28 rear bed so I put everything under the L shaped lounge up front.

I know I can get batteries cheaper than Battleborn but I wanted to stick with something that has a proven track record.

We’re pretty happy with the upgrade.
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