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Old 02-20-2024, 08:00 PM   #1
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Looking for feedback on a lithium install

Last year I upgraded the solar in my 2018 International 23FB to 360 watts and a Victron 150/35 controller.

This year, in preparation for a long trip across Canada, Iím thinking of upgrading our battery system to lithium. To keep things (sort of) simple, Iím thinking about an all-Victron system, but before I drop a few thousand on the system, Iíd love to get some feedback from the more experienced folks here.

Iím planning to use:

1. A single Victron 330 AH battery, or possibly two Victron 200 AH batteries if they will fit into the existing battery box. Both of these have come down in price to about $550/100AH.

2. A Victron Smart BMS 12/200. from what Iíve read, this seems to also manage the charge connection to the TVís alternator. (Is that correct? Or do I need a DC-DC charger as well?)

3. Victron Smart IP43 Charger 12/50(1+1) I donít think I want to take on the re-wiring that upgrading the inverter would require, so I donít think I want a Multi-Plus.

4. Victron BMV-712 Smart Battery Monitor. (This seems to offer both Bluetooth monitoring and a physical monitor. Is there a good reason to go with a different monitoring solution?)

Does this make sense? Am I missing anything important? Are there other components that would be better choices? Iíd love to hear the thoughts of those with more experience than me.
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Old 02-20-2024, 08:28 PM   #2
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FilmGuy, sounds like a good plan. Victron makes great stuff. Last year I installed a Battle Born GC3 270Ah battery and Victron components.

I recently saw a YouTube video by Will Prowse about an Epoch 460Ah battery that has Victron communications built in for $2K, less than I paid for my GC3 and it has an 11 year warranty.

Will tore one apart and was impressed with the construction. If I had to do it again, I’d seriously consider one.
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Old 02-21-2024, 06:52 AM   #3
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Check the water and humidity ratings for anything going in the battery box. Agree on the epoch, wish I had bought one when they were in stock. It even has a class T inside. There was a thread on the solar site on a vendor recommendation of epoch if you run mainly DC loads and Victron if running inverted loads. I don’t remember the logic.
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Old 02-21-2024, 07:30 AM   #4
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think about getting the victron Multiplus to control your power and the cerbo GX to monitor everything
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Old 02-21-2024, 07:57 AM   #5
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Too lazy to do the research and the math, but I doubt two 200Ah batteries will fit in the stock battery box.
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Old 02-21-2024, 07:59 AM   #6
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If you have a frward storage compartment that you can put your batteries in rather than in the box on the tounge you'll be better off having them in a heated space.
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Old 02-21-2024, 09:09 AM   #7
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I have Victron parts, but I use (2) 100Ah LIONENERGY Lithium batteries. I think for next time, I should have gotten the biggest that will fit. That would be my suggest, the biggest batteries that will your space without modification.
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Old 02-21-2024, 09:09 AM   #8
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@FilmGuy — after reading your original post with more care, I see that you live in Maine and are planning a long trip across Canada. I get that you want to keep this upgrade more simple and less expensive, but I strongly recommend that you move the battery bank somewhere inside the trailer. Lots of benefits.
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Old 02-21-2024, 10:04 AM   #9
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One caution is that once you pick a brand and size, you have to stick with that brand and size if / when you expand your capacity with additional batteries. Battleborn, Victron, LifeBlue among others are good brands. LifeBlue (and probably others) have low temperature lithiums good to -5 F.
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Old 02-21-2024, 10:23 AM   #10
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In addition to the other astute observations:
  1. There's enough here where I think diagramming everything out is a good idea which is what I did with my upgrade to lithium, etc. (attached). It helps with figuring out the wiring and fusing and visualizing and you can share for review. I used this free app, and pasted in images I captured and scaled. It was pretty easy once you get the hang of it.
  2. Victron is great, but I don't know of anyone who uses their batteries and you have to get a separate BMS which is an added expense. Just about every other battery has its own BMS. Get batteries with low temperature charging cutoff. I opted for 4x100Ah cheap batteries. BBs and Epoch, Lion etc. are very solid and if you have the money go for it, but they didn't fit our budget and I got 4 for the price of 1.5 BBs. People will argue this, but I thought premium batteries were overkill for us with a limited travel schedule and consequently not many duty cycles. Time will tell.
  3. I totally agree with moving batteries to the hatch or inside under a bed. With all the stuff you're adding trying to cram into the battery box is no fun. And your expensive equipment and hard work is exposed to the elements. It's not that big of a deal. It also gives you a lot more battery options.
  4. I agree the MultiPlus is really nice, but I have the Victron 50A charger for now and really like it. It uses VE.Smart Networking and optimizes it's output depending the voltage drop over the charging wire. It will also coordinate any solar chargers (I have two). As a backup to the BMS I added a temperature probe which I can set the charger to cutoff below 32F or so. I like being able to monitor everything in the Victron app as well.
  5. Are you adding a solar charger? Also, I'd say yes, you will need a DC-DC charger if you plan on charging off the charging wire with lithium batteries. If so, most people use the Lynx distributor which consolidates the fusing and wiring replacing a lot of separate bus bars and fuse holders.
  6. Many people have been down this road and a search of the forums will help with not reinventing the wheel.
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Old 02-21-2024, 10:41 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FilmGuy View Post
Last year I upgraded the solar in my 2018 International 23FB to 360 watts and a Victron 150/35 controller.

This year, in preparation for a long trip across Canada, I’m thinking of upgrading our battery system to lithium. To keep things (sort of) simple, I’m thinking about an all-Victron system, but before I drop a few thousand on the system, I’d love to get some feedback from the more experienced folks here.

I’m planning to use:

1. A single Victron 330 AH battery, or possibly two Victron 200 AH batteries if they will fit into the existing battery box. Both of these have come down in price to about $550/100AH.

2. A Victron Smart BMS 12/200. from what I’ve read, this seems to also manage the charge connection to the TV’s alternator. (Is that correct? Or do I need a DC-DC charger as well?)

3. Victron Smart IP43 Charger 12/50(1+1) I don’t think I want to take on the re-wiring that upgrading the inverter would require, so I don’t think I want a Multi-Plus.

4. Victron BMV-712 Smart Battery Monitor. (This seems to offer both Bluetooth monitoring and a physical monitor. Is there a good reason to go with a different monitoring solution?)

Does this make sense? Am I missing anything important? Are there other components that would be better choices? I’d love to hear the thoughts of those with more experience than me.
Hello FilmGuy,

My second time upgrading to LiFePO4 (initially from a 22FB Caravel and now updating a 25RBT Flying Cloud) and will just share my experiences and suggestions. Looking at the International 23FB floorplan, recommend moving everything under your bed & extending the power jack connection. Current battery box configuration is limited (tight fit for the standard, better with GC2 configuration) unless you upgrade the battery box.

1. We have 4 100Ah Battleborn Batteries, but there are good alternatives (second Epoch batteries after Will Prowse battery assessment on YouTube). Recommend getting the largest Ah battery to minimize connections that'll fit your space with room for future upgrade(s). Battery box is limited, under the bed would be better.

3. Reconsider the Mutiplus 2 (inverter/converter/charger in one with the battery supplement power capabilty). I'll also minimize the installation wiring.

4. 712 is good if you want physical monitoring in addition the bluetooth (I prefer to use the bluetooth. Upgrade to a GX Cerbo/Touch & Digital Multicontrol for additional capabilities.

Opted for a 2nd ground solar array at this time ((2nd charge controller/portable solar panel) instead of a D/C to D/C charger since we have a portable generator. Will definitely consider in the future as we travel more and have the battery charged as we drive to our destination(regardless of weather condition) and for additional charging if already camping.

Also recommend a solar isolator disconnect, battery disconnect switch (Blue Sea), & Victron Lynx Distributor (cleans up the wiring/fuses).

Highly recommend explorist.life for instructions and supply needs (prices are competitive & received shipment within 2 days UPS ground from CO to IA).

Battery assessment by Will Prowse on YouTube.

I used Lauren Lawliss van build as my template for simplicity (she used plan and supplies from explorist.life)


Aren't rabbit holes fun?
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Old 02-21-2024, 01:00 PM   #12
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this is what our schematic and layout look like with mostly Victron systems
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Old 02-21-2024, 04:19 PM   #13
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I don't know if you have a front facing locker on your rig. If you do, these photos might be of interest.

Previously, I had a 2023 International 23FBT with 300w of factory solar in which I installed (4) BBGC2 100ah batteries and a Victron Multiplus in the forward locker. The entire rig was on the inverter. I gained a external battery box but lost all use of the front locker.

I now have a 2023 International 27FBT with 300w of factory solar and have scaled back my LiFePO4 battery upgrade expectations. Having the entire rig on a MultiPlus would have been convenient, but I went a different route.

I simply installed (2) BBGC2 batteries and a Victron Phoenix Charger in the forward locker. This left more than half of the forward locker vacant and a completely empty former-battery box for wet storage.

To suppliment this for dry camping, I have 800w of external 48vdc Anker solar planels split between two Anker C1000 power stations, or some solar panel subset therefo to charge to the house batteries directly via an external Victron Smart Solar charge controller..
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Old 02-21-2024, 06:42 PM   #14
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size it out

We have a 50 amp Victron system after a few glitches on my Cerbo set up it runs very well. Its made a huge difference on travel days. Gone are the we need a power cord worry-

Ronnie Dennis of Airstream Nuts and Bolts did the install, I paid for his skills and put the trailer into his hands. Do your research. We used BB as he is a dealer and installer. I also knew that 3 GC3's would soon be going in to a new Airstream model which happened last year. The Trade Wind.

The Mars Rover does not use Prismatic style cells. They seem best for home solar storage batteries which is Will's expertise. The last Rover sent on Mars, for example, operates using cylindrical cells. ( Battle Born uses these )


The Formula E high-performance electric race cars use the exact same cells as the rover in their battery. We have 2 270's for 540 amps of GC3 Battle Born and LOL my wife and I can draw them down 30% pretty easy over night. Get's addictive enjoying the power. Going to add a 3rd GCS soon.

Battle Born is a sold safe warranted battery company there for the end user and for an installer, but admittedly behind in the BMS technology communications of Lithionics and others. Some batteries the BMS is so good an Amps shunt is not needed. As we have already have a 712 BMV Victrron shunt and blue tooth its not a issue for us. Enjoy the search! What every you get will be updated or outdated in a year! Lots of help on the Forum for you.
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Old 02-21-2024, 08:14 PM   #15
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Thanks so much for the feedback, everyone. There's a lot to think about here.

There is a LOT of very helpful information on this forum, but with the rate of change in power systems, it's no small task to keep up. I'm sure I'll be back with more questions after I'v had a chance to research some of the suggestions made here.
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Old 02-22-2024, 01:09 PM   #16
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Battery Location

Quote:
Originally Posted by FilmGuy View Post
Last year I upgraded the solar in my 2018 International 23FB to 360 watts and a Victron 150/35 controller.

This year, in preparation for a long trip across Canada, Iím thinking of upgrading our battery system to lithium. To keep things (sort of) simple, Iím thinking about an all-Victron system, but before I drop a few thousand on the system, Iíd love to get some feedback from the more experienced folks here.

Iím planning to use:

1. A single Victron 330 AH battery, or possibly two Victron 200 AH batteries if they will fit into the existing battery box. Both of these have come down in price to about $550/100AH.

2. A Victron Smart BMS 12/200. from what Iíve read, this seems to also manage the charge connection to the TVís alternator. (Is that correct? Or do I need a DC-DC charger as well?)

3. Victron Smart IP43 Charger 12/50(1+1) I donít think I want to take on the re-wiring that upgrading the inverter would require, so I donít think I want a Multi-Plus.

4. Victron BMV-712 Smart Battery Monitor. (This seems to offer both Bluetooth monitoring and a physical monitor. Is there a good reason to go with a different monitoring solution?)

Does this make sense? Am I missing anything important? Are there other components that would be better choices? Iíd love to hear the thoughts of those with more experience than me.
Hi Film Guy,

I had upgraded 2 years ago with a pair of Battle Born 100 ah, along with all the necessary equipment. I placed my Batteries in the outside box, they do fit, I live and travel in the Northeast and haven't had any issues with extreme temperatures. I do disconnect them in the winter. All my hardware is tucked inside the cabin in hidden spaces that don't effect any of the original storage space inside or outside accesses. I don't use solar only dc 2 dc when trailering and occasional generator back up.
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Old 02-22-2024, 05:07 PM   #17
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Too lazy to do the research and the math, but I doubt two 200Ah batteries will fit in the stock battery box.
The Victron 200s will. But I've come to think that isn't the best place for them. And that maybe they're not the best choice. Still sorting through those choices.
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Old 02-22-2024, 05:09 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by field & stream View Post
@FilmGuy ó after reading your original post with more care, I see that you live in Maine and are planning a long trip across Canada. I get that you want to keep this upgrade more simple and less expensive, but I strongly recommend that you move the battery bank somewhere inside the trailer. Lots of benefits.
Tes, between the benefits of a more temperature-controlled environment and the potential moisture/water issues in the battery box, I'm thinking you are right.
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Old 02-22-2024, 05:40 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffKim View Post
In addition to the other astute observations:
  1. There's enough here where I think diagramming everything out is a good idea which is what I did with my upgrade to lithium, etc. (attached). It helps with figuring out the wiring and fusing and visualizing and you can share for review. I used this free app, and pasted in images I captured and scaled. It was pretty easy once you get the hang of it.
  1. Thanks for that. I was beginning to do something like that in Illustrator (because I have it and know how to use it) but I'm going to give this app a look.

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JeffKim View Post
  2. Victron is great, but I don't know of anyone who uses their batteries and you have to get a separate BMS which is an added expense. Just about every other battery has its own BMS. Get batteries with low temperature charging cutoff. I opted for 4x100Ah cheap batteries. BBs and Epoch, Lion etc. are very solid and if you have the money go for it, but they didn't fit our budget and I got 4 for the price of 1.5 BBs. People will argue this, but I thought premium batteries were overkill for us with a limited travel schedule and consequently not many duty cycles. Time will tell.
  3. I totally agree with moving batteries to the hatch or inside under a bed. With all the stuff you're adding trying to cram into the battery box is no fun. And your expensive equipment and hard work is exposed to the elements. It's not that big of a deal. It also gives you a lot more battery options.
  4. There's so much to unpack about batteries! I certainly agree that Battleborns are too expensive, given the current offerings on the market. The Victron do need an external BMS, but the version I was looking at appears to also do the work of a DC-DC charger (still trying to absolutely confirm that) so that cost is close to a wash. (The new, cooler-running DC-DC costs a bit more, the older one a bit less.) When I was thinking of putting the batteries in the box, Victron 200s allowed me to put 400 Ah in there for $550/100 Ah, and an all-viltron system seemed like a good idea from a troubleshooting point-of-view. (No second party to point a finger at when something doesn't work.) But if I move them inside, there's the Epoch 460 @ 435/100 Ah. Given its reviews, that's looking like a winner at the moment.

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JeffKim View Post
  5. I agree the MultiPlus is really nice, but I have the Victron 50A charger for now and really like it. It uses VE.Smart Networking and optimizes it's output depending the voltage drop over the charging wire. It will also coordinate any solar chargers (I have two). As a backup to the BMS I added a temperature probe which I can set the charger to cutoff below 32F or so. I like being able to monitor everything in the Victron app as well.
  6. So are you still using the original inverter? I've been thinking I would do that and just replace the converter, but I don't want to do it all again in a year, so I'm trying to think through the value (to us) of having more available inverter wattage. We have yet to use the microwave in our new-to-us Serenity, but we've only done week-long trips so far. Taking a 3-month trip across Canada might find us wanting a bit more of the comforts the trailer affordsóeven when we're in a Provincial park with no hookups. A MultiPlus would at least double the inverter capacity, and 400 Ah of battery would seem to be able to support it, but I don't want to fall into a trap of using power because we can and running the batteries down faster than they recharge. (One of my objectives is to be able to leave the generator with its need for gasoline at nome.)

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JeffKim View Post
  7. Are you adding a solar charger? Also, I'd say yes, you will need a DC-DC charger if you plan on charging off the charging wire with lithium batteries. If so, most people use the Lynx distributor which consolidates the fusing and wiring replacing a lot of separate bus bars and fuse holders.
  8. Agreed. If I abandon the Victron batteries with their outboard BMS, I certainly will install a DC-DC.

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JeffKim View Post
  9. Many people have been down this road and a search of the forums will help with not reinventing the wheel.
  10. There certainly is, and I've been reading avidly. It's how I got this far along. LOL!

    Thank yo use much for your detailed responsesóand the pics.

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Old 02-22-2024, 06:09 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mascardo View Post
Hello FilmGuy,

My second time upgrading to LiFePO4 (initially from a 22FB Caravel and now updating a 25RBT Flying Cloud) and will just share my experiences and suggestions. Looking at the International 23FB floorplan, recommend moving everything under your bed & extending the power jack connection. Current battery box configuration is limited (tight fit for the standard, better with GC2 configuration) unless you upgrade the battery box.
You folks have convinced me that inside is a better plan, and I went down to the storage facility to measure some of the spaces stuff will have to go. I've opened them up before for other reasons, but Man, what a rat's nest the builders leave!

Quote:
Originally Posted by mascardo View Post
1. We have 4 100Ah Battleborn Batteries, but there are good alternatives (second Epoch batteries after Will Prowse battery assessment on YouTube). Recommend getting the largest Ah battery to minimize connections that'll fit your space with room for future upgrade(s). Battery box is limited, under the bed would be better.
The Epoch 460 is looking like the battery to beat, now that I've decided to move inside. The bigger issue now seems to be making sure things that need to be accessible are accessible.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mascardo View Post

3. Reconsider the Mutiplus 2 (inverter/converter/charger in one with the battery supplement power capabilty). I'll also minimize the installation wiring.
The other reason I'd consider a MultiPlus is that it will bring all the power system components to a place where they can be accessed if needed. The converter behind the power distribution box is not exactly easy to get to. Maybe that's OK for a simple converter swap? That's what I was thinking when I was planning to keep the stock inverter and just replace the charger.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mascardo View Post
4. 712 is good if you want physical monitoring in addition the bluetooth (I prefer to use the bluetooth. Upgrade to a GX Cerbo/Touch & Digital Multicontrol for additional capabilities.
I'll have to look into that. I haven't really given it much attention.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mascardo View Post
Opted for a 2nd ground solar array at this time ((2nd charge controller/portable solar panel) instead of a D/C to D/C charger since we have a portable generator. Will definitely consider in the future as we travel more and have the battery charged as we drive to our destination(regardless of weather condition) and for additional charging if already camping.
One of my objectives is to leave the genny at home (along with its gasoline) I thought about converting it to propane, but I'd really like the electric system to keep the trailer powered for a week or 10 days with only battery capacity + solar. As we'll be traveling quite a bit this summer, I think DC-DC is a relatively cheap added power source. I might add ground solar if I can find a portable setup that I like. I liked the one AirGear.com lists, because of its size and weight. But it's out of stock, and it's not clear when it will come back in.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mascardo View Post
Also recommend a solar isolator disconnect, battery disconnect switch (Blue Sea), & Victron Lynx Distributor (cleans up the wiring/fuses).

Highly recommend explorist.life for instructions and supply needs (prices are competitive & received shipment within 2 days UPS ground from CO to IA).
I watched the video you linked. It is very helpful in confirming a bunch of things I was "kinda thinking". And it has me pretty sold on the Lynx bus system, I didn't really understand what that was doing at all. That well-organized bus and fuse system seems to make a lot of the build simpler and safer. And the explorist.life kits seem to be very well-done.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mascardo View Post
Battery assessment by Will Prowse on YouTube.

I used Lauren Lawliss van build as my template for simplicity (she used plan and supplies from explorist.life)

Aren't rabbit holes fun?
I won't lie, I love this stuff! LOL! (My wife says that when she buys me presents, she looks for the most complicated to intricate version of whatever it is, and I'm sure to like it. LOL!

There's something especially delightful in researching something that seems really complex until you realize that it's all much simpler than you thought if you approach it the right way.
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