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Old 10-02-2022, 01:02 PM   #1
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Costco LI Lion deal?

Costco had the Lion LI folks in yesterday; not sure how their 12V batteries compare, if one was considering moving to LI? The Lion rep, was advertising these to a potential "customer" who was asking about using in his SOB trailer, as being "drop in" replacement for his 12V Deep Cycle batteries, without any modifications?...

I saw couple reviews on RV site, that thought the value was good, but maybe not as solid as BB or other LI batteries, even thought the cost of the Lion is better. Has anything changed? Do folks here have actual experience with these? What is good, bad, ugly?

Lion Energy Safari UT1300 for $699.99

Features:
- 12.8V, 105Ah, 1344Wh
- Can be Used in either Series or Parallel Configuration
- 150A Continuous Draw, 100A Charge
- Lithium Iron Phosphate Battery Chemistry for Long Life and Reliable Energy Storage
- 3,500 Full Depth of Discharge Lifecycles

I know there are threads on modifying to using LI's, including solar panels, but wondering if any of you have experience with these? If so, please share...
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Old 10-02-2022, 01:23 PM   #2
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Are these in a local Costco? I don't see these batteries in Costco.com
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Old 10-02-2022, 02:13 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gypsydad View Post
Costco had the Lion LI folks in yesterday; not sure how their 12V batteries compare, if one was considering moving to LI? The Lion rep, was advertising these to a potential "customer" who was asking about using in his SOB trailer, as being "drop in" replacement for his 12V Deep Cycle batteries, without any modifications?...

I saw couple reviews on RV site, that thought the value was good, but maybe not as solid as BB or other LI batteries, even thought the cost of the Lion is better. Has anything changed? Do folks here have actual experience with these? What is good, bad, ugly?

Lion Energy Safari UT1300 for $699.99

Features:
- 12.8V, 105Ah, 1344Wh
- Can be Used in either Series or Parallel Configuration
- 150A Continuous Draw, 100A Charge
- Lithium Iron Phosphate Battery Chemistry for Long Life and Reliable Energy Storage
- 3,500 Full Depth of Discharge Lifecycles

I know there are threads on modifying to using LI's, including solar panels, but wondering if any of you have experience with these? If so, please share...
I have not personally used these batteries but I have seen favorable reviews. The smart BMS is solid and they do offer a pretty good lifetime warranty. If the Costco price is good I would buy them.
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Old 10-02-2022, 02:38 PM   #4
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Are these in a local Costco? I don't see these batteries in Costco.com
I was at North Austin Costco, off 183 yesterday while visiting in the area. They had big display with sales guy. I have seen from time to time. Think today is last day for this one.
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Old 10-02-2022, 02:39 PM   #5
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I have not personally used these batteries but I have seen favorable reviews. The smart BMS is solid and they do offer a pretty good lifetime warranty. If the Costco price is good I would buy them.
Well, that was what I was thinking also...always can return to Costco if not satisfied, right?
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Old 10-02-2022, 03:13 PM   #6
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If you do buy them be sure to register them in order to get the lifetime warranty. I think they are a good battery. You will need to change your converter unless yours is lithium compatible and add a DC to DC charger to the tow vehicle charge circuit. Both are easily done.
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Old 10-02-2022, 04:55 PM   #7
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Hi

"Drop in" is not a great term in this case. Lithium's ( all brands ) require some fiddling to get them to work right.

Bob
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Old 10-03-2022, 10:30 AM   #8
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I installed 2 of the UT1300 in my 19CB and changed the solar charge controller to a Victron and replaced the WFCO AGM converter. I also disconnected the charging wire from the 7-pin. I installed a Victron IP-22 12/30 120V charger to replace the converter which works great on shore power, however trying to charge with a generator in the NP 2 hour window only adds about 10%

I also have the Safari-ME generator to run the microwave or A/C
I have a second Victron Solar Charge controller to charge the house batteries with the Lion portable solar panels.
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Old 10-03-2022, 11:28 AM   #9
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I installed 6 Lion UT1300 on my boat for house batteries and 2 in my Airstream Interstate. I like being able to push a button on them and see the current state of charge. I have 4 Renogy 100 aH batteries on another boat and they use bluetooth to talk to my iphone. When the charge gets to low with the Renogy you can not do anything to communicate, but with the Lion the pushbutton on top allows you to see the status of the Batteries and to turn them on or off.

With all these new ways of monitoring and charging batteries it gets very confusing and it is nice to be able to isolate the components. That said I have 2 Battleborn 100 aH with solar and a Zamp controller in my 2015 AS FC28 that were professionally installed and they have worked great for two years trouble free. Where as the systems I installed by myself are driving me nuts......

Otherwise I like the Lion Batteries and will probably buy more for the next toy.
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Old 10-03-2022, 11:29 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by gypsydad View Post
Lion Energy Safari UT1300 for $699.99

I know there are threads on modifying to using LI's, including solar panels, but wondering if any of you have experience with these? If so, please share...
The Lion Energy website says "We recommend using the battery in a climate controlled location." LiFePo batteries have issues with use when they are cold (eg charging when near freezing can damage them). Some battery manufacturers address these characteristics with internal heating and/or a battery management system (BMS) that disables low temperature charging. I couldn't find anything on the Lion Energy website regarding the battery management system being capable of low temperature management. Battleborn and others do.

I'd also suggest you check out Will Prowse on YouTube or his website. He's "the man" when it comes to batteries and solar power systems.
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Old 10-03-2022, 02:28 PM   #11
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A couple of years ago I did this Costco/Lion Energy upgrade on my 23fb with 180 W solar. Simple plug and play swap out, I did not change inverters. I could not be happier - practical capacity compared with AGMs is beyond compare, add weight savings and simplicity of installation this was a great purchase. We can stay out many days without shore power although sometimes I do run generator for wifes blow dryer.
I should also stipulate that I am in the southwest so solar charging is very effective and freezing temps are not an issue.
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Old 10-03-2022, 04:51 PM   #12
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Google search produced this:
https://www.costco.com/lion-energy-schedule.html
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Old 10-03-2022, 08:30 PM   #13
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I have three of them that I’ve been using for a bit over three years now. I’m very happy with them. I wouldn’t use the thread-in terminals they come with though to hold down your lugs - replace them with some stainless bolts from Ace (M6 I think?) that use the full depth of the terminal. Also use lock-tite on the threads and a lock washer above the lug. I originally used their threaded terminal to hold down my lug, but the threads are too short and it eventually vibrated loose. The resistance of the loose connection then melted the battery around the terminal under heavy charging current. They sent me a free replacement battery even though the issue wasn’t really even a problem with the battery so much as the installation.
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Old 10-04-2022, 07:38 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cloudlesssky View Post
The Lion Energy website says "We recommend using the battery in a climate controlled location." LiFePo batteries have issues with use when they are cold (eg charging when near freezing can damage them). Some battery manufacturers address these characteristics with internal heating and/or a battery management system (BMS) that disables low temperature charging. I couldn't find anything on the Lion Energy website regarding the battery management system being capable of low temperature management. Battleborn and others do.

I'd also suggest you check out Will Prowse on YouTube or his website. He's "the man" when it comes to batteries and solar power systems.
Hi

Another few wrinkles to this:

When this or that battery gets torn down, they can only talk about what was in *that* battery. Some of these outfits change the guts of the battery without changing anything obvious on the outside. It had one BMS "back then" and has a different one now. There are some "repeat" videos showing this on various brands.

Even with a BMS that should cut out charge at cold, how well it does this (and other things) depends on a bunch of fiddly design details. There are some very well known brands out there on their third or fourth try at a "bug free" BMS.

Weird little details matter in an RV application. The BMS pulls power off the battery even sitting in storage. It may not pull much, but there is a drain. The batteries also self discharge. On some designs, the BMS drain is way below the self discharge numbers (even a cold when self discharge is quite low ). On others, the BMS load is a bit high .... Not something you will find in most spec sheets.

Bob
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Old 10-04-2022, 12:50 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by uncle_bob View Post
Hi

Another few wrinkles to this:

When this or that battery gets torn down, they can only talk about what was in *that* battery. Some of these outfits change the guts of the battery without changing anything obvious on the outside. It had one BMS "back then" and has a different one now. There are some "repeat" videos showing this on various brands.

Even with a BMS that should cut out charge at cold, how well it does this (and other things) depends on a bunch of fiddly design details. There are some very well known brands out there on their third or fourth try at a "bug free" BMS.

Weird little details matter in an RV application. The BMS pulls power off the battery even sitting in storage. It may not pull much, but there is a drain. The batteries also self discharge. On some designs, the BMS drain is way below the self discharge numbers (even a cold when self discharge is quite low ). On others, the BMS load is a bit high .... Not something you will find in most spec sheets.

Bob
Why not just install a mechanical disconnect switch like we do on other batteries?

I see the post above #11, by KenG stating he did not have to change out his converter to charge these? I have the Boondocker 1260HW 4 stage converter I installed 5 years ago, and I thought it supported Li at the time also...Just called Randy to see if it will work; waiting for his call but person on the phone was not sure. But if it does not work, she said just changing out the converter is all that may be required and it will fit in same location/mounting as I have with my model...

I know some of you add "other" monitoring gear when you have done this installation...not sure what is really needed or just nice to have? Likely I will not be adding any solar on top for time being...when I added the front roof vent rain cover, it interfered with the solar connector that came standard with that model on the roof, and the tech asked if it was ok to plug it up...I said "sure"...it was either cover it up or not have the rain cover over the vent...maybe a bit short sighted on my part??
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Old 10-04-2022, 01:16 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by gypsydad View Post
Why not just install a mechanical disconnect switch like we do on other batteries?

I see the post above #11, by KenG stating he did not have to change out his converter to charge these? I have the Boondocker 1260HW 4 stage converter I installed 5 years ago, and I thought it supported Li at the time also...Just called Randy to see if it will work; waiting for his call but person on the phone was not sure. But if it does not work, she said just changing out the converter is all that may be required and it will fit in same location/mounting as I have with my model...

I know some of you add "other" monitoring gear when you have done this installation...not sure what is really needed or just nice to have? Likely I will not be adding any solar on top for time being...when I added the front roof vent rain cover, it interfered with the solar connector that came standard with that model on the roof, and the tech asked if it was ok to plug it up...I said "sure"...it was either cover it up or not have the rain cover over the vent...maybe a bit short sighted on my part??
Recommend a Victron Smart Shunt (or equivalent) that you can read data from via bluetooth as part of the minimum configuration. Without a smart shunt, you don't really know how much energy is in the batteries at any point in time.

Monitoring voltage to try and determine the state of charge is not effective for lithium batteries because their voltage discharge curve is pretty darn flat until the batteries are nearly empty.
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Old 10-05-2022, 07:55 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gypsydad View Post
Why not just install a mechanical disconnect switch like we do on other batteries?

I see the post above #11, by KenG stating he did not have to change out his converter to charge these? I have the Boondocker 1260HW 4 stage converter I installed 5 years ago, and I thought it supported Li at the time also...Just called Randy to see if it will work; waiting for his call but person on the phone was not sure. But if it does not work, she said just changing out the converter is all that may be required and it will fit in same location/mounting as I have with my model...

I know some of you add "other" monitoring gear when you have done this installation...not sure what is really needed or just nice to have? Likely I will not be adding any solar on top for time being...when I added the front roof vent rain cover, it interfered with the solar connector that came standard with that model on the roof, and the tech asked if it was ok to plug it up...I said "sure"...it was either cover it up or not have the rain cover over the vent...maybe a bit short sighted on my part??
Hi

If you charge a lithium battery with a converter that only gets to 13.6V you never get it into the "equalize" stage of things. If you go back a couple decades folks did indeed run this way. It worked for many of them. Others had their battery stacks eventually catch fire. It did not happen immediately, but it did happen.

Some converters for lead acid batteries get up to 14.4 V. There also are battery chargers out there that put 18V on a lead acid battery. Most stock converter / chargers in RV's stay down around 13.6V or below. Without actually testing this or that converter, it's never really clear what it does.

Without a shunt you really don't know a lot about the state of charge on a lithium. A charger that gets to 13.3V will get them past half full. A quarter of a volt either way takes you up into "pretty full" or down to "not so much".

Charging at cold can be stoped with a disconnect switch. The gotcha is that you can't always know when it's going below freezing. We've had at least 10 nights so far this trip that *should* have been above freezing and it wasn't ( frost on the window is a pretty good indicator .....). Yes, that a 6 month trip, so not a whole lot of days. Depending on a disconnect switch while out and about would not work for us.

Bob
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Old 10-05-2022, 10:32 AM   #18
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[QUOTE=gypsydad;2634376

I know there are threads on modifying to using LI's, including solar panels, but wondering if any of you have experience with these? If so, please share...[/QUOTE]

We’ve had two of these for a couple of years now. Very happy with them. They’re outside in the battery box. Rain hasn’t been an issue. No experience with freezing temps. If We move to warmer places if we’re going to get that cold.

We have the PD4655 LI and moved the jumper to the Li setting when these were installed.

A straight Forward install but you’ll blow the 12V fuse that leads to the 7 pin. I found mine blown when I put the DC-DC converter on last spring. It had been blown for a couple of years and I never realized it. These batteries will draw more than the 30 amp fuse can tolerate. A Victron isolated DC-Dc converter fixed that and gives them a boost while driving if needed. I’ve never seen them fall below 50% according to the battery monitor.

Steve
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Old 10-06-2022, 12:47 PM   #19
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We’ve had two of these for a couple of years now. Very happy with them. They’re outside in the battery box. Rain hasn’t been an issue. No experience with freezing temps. If We move to warmer places if we’re going to get that cold.

We have the PD4655 LI and moved the jumper to the Li setting when these were installed.

A straight Forward install but you’ll blow the 12V fuse that leads to the 7 pin. I found mine blown when I put the DC-DC converter on last spring. It had been blown for a couple of years and I never realized it. These batteries will draw more than the 30 amp fuse can tolerate. A Victron isolated DC-Dc converter fixed that and gives them a boost while driving if needed. I’ve never seen them fall below 50% according to the battery monitor.

Steve
Guess I missed that about blowing the fuse on the 7pin connection? Are you saying you need another DC-Dc converter to charge while driving? Seems odd the trailer pigtail would not function same as with the OEM batteries? What am I missing and what do I need?
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Old 10-06-2022, 02:11 PM   #20
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Guess I missed that about blowing the fuse on the 7pin connection? Are you saying you need another DC-Dc converter to charge while driving? Seems odd the trailer pigtail would not function same as with the OEM batteries? What am I missing and what do I need?
Hey gypsydad,

If you install lithium batteries in your trailer, the lead acid based charging system in your tow vehicle is incompatible from a number of perspectives.

A "full" lithium bank has a resting voltage (i.e. no load) of around 13.6v.

A "full" lead acid battery in the tow vehicle has a resting voltage of about 12.6v

Problem #1: If your 7 pin connector stays energized when the tow vehicle ignition is off, the lithium battery will discharge into the two vehicle battery due to the voltage difference until the two voltages are equal at around 12.6v. This means that the tow vehicle battery is way overcharged at that point and the lithium batteries in your trailer are now at a around a 50% capacity level.

That's clearly not what you want.

Problem #2: Lithium batteries need to reach around 14.4-14.6v or so to allow for the batteries to complete their equalization process. This process ensures that all cells in each battery have been charge to exactly the same voltage level. However, your tow vehicle might not create a voltage that high and combined with the inevitable voltage drop in the wiring through your tow vehicle wiring harness and through the 7 pin connector to the trailer battery terminal, you might only end up with 10.5-11v at the trailer battery. That's not healthy for the lithium battery and certainly won't charge the lithium battery.

Problem #3: Your tow vehicle will not produce the proper charging profile/regimen for a lithium battery bank. This can lead to long term degradation of the expensive lithium battery bank.

There are two possible solutions to these problems:

Solution #1: Disconnect 7 pin power connection on the trailer (or tow vehicle) side of the 7 pin connector. The pro's for this solution is simplicity and zero cost. The con's are that you will definitely not be charging your trailer battery from the tow vehicle.

Solution #2: Add an isolating 12v-12v buck/boost DC-DC (like the Victron 12-12-18 or 12-12-30 smart bluetooth DC-DC's) in the trailer. This will solve or prevent all 3 of the problems listed above. Any voltage drop created by pulling a charging current through 25-40ft of wire from the front of the tow vehicle will be corrected by the boost functionality in the DC-DC. The DC-DC will isolate the trailer's higher voltage lithium system from the tow vehicles lower voltage lead acid based system and will also provide the correct lithium charging regimen.
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