Lithium house bank project

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Joined
Feb 16, 2022
Messages
963
Vessel Name
Dream Catcher
Vessel Make
1979 Island Gypsy 44 Flush Aft Deck
Has begun.

Spent 4 hours in and out of the engine room and removed 2 defective units, a "Wells Power Plant" battery combiner and a West Marine, wait for it, 10A battery charger. Both non functional and the first obsolete. These old boats...

Also found that although I have 5 batteries and thought 2 house, 2 engine and 1 generator, the reality is the 5th batt which I thought was the generator was simply bridged over to one of the house batts. Which kinda makes sense as the house batts are ready for the grave.

The good news is I can pop in my spare batt to have enough juice to make it to the boat yard and have the (2) 4D's (from 2017) removed.

The bad news is I'm sure that the house bank alternator with the also now obsolete Next Step external regulator is not working either.

The good news is the new charger works and the 2 banks appear to be isolated.
 
Since you are basically ripping the system apart and starting fresh, it may be worth looking into a conversion to Lithium. I haven't done it yet, cause I've owned the boat for 7 months, but if I were in your shoes, that would be a natural next step......to at least explore!
 
Yeah, Baby!

I've thought about it. I could put (4) of the (300 AH, 200 A BMS) parallel in there and run all LiFePO4 which would be good for 800A continuous and 1600A for 5 seconds.

I'm taking the "baby steps" approach, first the 2 batts I have now for the house which the new inverter/charger will handle and then the alternator/regulator problem and if then all goes well...

But now is now and the rest is later - :)
 
Well good luck with the project! I switched over 2 years ago. Its defiantly a learning curve!
 
Well good luck with the project! I switched over 2 years ago. Its defiantly a learning curve!
I just got done yesterday commissioning my 920ah and full Victron system. It is a learning curve for sure. More than I figured.
 
Back to the boat tomorrow with high hopes and 1 of my LiTime batteries. I think it will fit in the box where that "auxiliary" battery lives and that batt is much smaller and lower. I think I can grab it with the battery tongs and get it out of the way. If it doesn't fit then at least it will be on board for the trip to the boat yard.

The main job is the hookup of the new 40A charger for the engine batts. I believe they are still in good shape as I hooked up each to a 15A portable charger over night for 2 nights and they still were not fully charged. I hope to be able to give them a full charge with the new charger and then run a couple of equalizing cycles on them.
 
If you kept the 15A charger hooked up for 2 nights and they were still "not fully charged" I would be concerned if they are good. I assume you are using voltage to determined if they are fully charged? Lots of nuances about properly measuring batteries. Good luck as it seems you have an interesting project and I am sure when finished you will have a more capable power source that is also reliable.
 
The engine batts are 6 volt golf cart batteries in series. Four total. The 10 amp charger that died caused them to go flat. So I put the 15A portable charger on 1 bank over night and the other the next day. They got to 80% according to the charger display, but I have not tested with hydrometer yet.
 
It was a good day! I got the small (still weighs 60#) battery out with the tongs and up on deck and the new 300 AH LiTime in. It just fit in the box - :)

Then hooked it up and the lights came on. Even bigger smile. Then I powered up the inverter / charger and it started charging to spec.

Then I was tired with all this work and rested and listened to the stereo for an hour with the lights all on and the fridge running and the battery voltage decreased by a whole .2 volts. Yeah Baby!

Nothing got done except some preps for the start batts, and seeing what mods I'll need to mount the new charger, and that will be next.

But at least I have a solid house battery!
 
That's an awesome feeling! Well done!
 
Back to the boat today and found all is well with the batteries. The lithium rocks! 3 hours and I lost a whole tenth of a volt. The 4 golf cart batteries look good to, hydrometer confirmed charge state of 80%, the float was just short of the green zone.

But just when all was looking good and I was enjoying a cold drink in the saloon crimping some terminals a high pitched noise started. After searching and turning off breakers I discovered it was the fridge. Think it was an overheat alarm as the cabinet was warm. I knew I was going to replace the old absorption unit soon, but the time frame has now advanced.

These old boats...

I also ordered up another LI Time battery, 280 AH same size case. I will parallel the two 300 AH units I have as they are the same and bought at same time and are right next to each other and charge them with the inverter / charger in place now. The new battery will be house 1 and I verified it is on a separate line to the switch. It will have it's own charger. Amazing how cheap these things are now, $650 - :)
 
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I think you said that you installed a new inverter/charger as part of this project? Did you have to adjust it and other chargers to properly charge the LFP batteries?
 
It has a LiFePO4 selection, but I did a custom instead with lower values.

The other unit I have is a Progressive Dynamics 60A lithium charger but the levels are fixed at 14.6 and 13.6. I used it to pre-charge the batteries I have now and I will use it on house 1 which will also be the way I leave it when hooked to dock power. The PD stuff works pretty well. The old lead acid 80A unit is still on the boat and working. I've removed everything else on the "electrical board" and this will be the last before I get to mounting all the new stuff
 
I just got done yesterday commissioning my 920ah and full Victron system. It is a learning curve for sure. More than I figured.
Would sure like to hear how it can out! Doing mine as we speak! Full Victron, 990 AH total capacity. Zeus alternator
 
Back at it today, not long, it's a hundred degrees outside. Got the dreaded "high pressure ridge" going on and no Delta Breeze. Supposed to break down tomorrow. Got the 80A Progressive Dynamics charger out and pulled out the disconnected cable from the main electrical panel. Also took a pic of the new house battery in it's new home where the "aux" battery once lived.

53773566777_d0484cb339_c.jpg


Still working on the "red wires" you see in the front. Taking my time on this one, it's tight in the engine room and I tire quickly as I have to get out and back in whenever I need stuff I didn't pre-pack.

Every time I do something, I see more to do or a better way to do it, great hobby these boats for a DIY guy :)
 
Would sure like to hear how it can out! Doing mine as we speak! Full Victron, 990 AH total capacity. Zeus alternator
It came out great. I may have misled slightly saying its a full Victron. Its full Victron except the two 460ah Epoch batteries. I assume with your 990ah number you have actual Victron batteries and Victron BMS as well as components. In my learning about batteries and systems, a full Victron is really the way to go for the best integrated system. Especially since their battery prices came down. Not to say you cant have a fantastic system with 3rd party batteries and the rest Victron. Very happy with mine so far. But the Full full Victron is amazing and likely easier to integrate your Zeus. Ill be adding Solar soon. And the ability to monitor things from anywhere is great.



Victron Cerbo.jpg
 
Back at it today, not long, it's a hundred degrees outside. Got the dreaded "high pressure ridge" going on and no Delta Breeze. Supposed to break down tomorrow. Got the 80A Progressive Dynamics charger out and pulled out the disconnected cable from the main electrical panel. Also took a pic of the new house battery in it's new home where the "aux" battery once lived.

53773566777_d0484cb339_c.jpg


Still working on the "red wires" you see in the front. Taking my time on this one, it's tight in the engine room and I tire quickly as I have to get out and back in whenever I need stuff I didn't pre-pack.

Every time I do something, I see more to do or a better way to do it, great hobby these boats for a DIY guy :)
That battery fits perfect. Gotta love it!
 
It came out great. I may have misled slightly saying its a full Victron. Its full Victron except the two 460ah Epoch batteries. I assume with your 990ah number you have actual Victron batteries and Victron BMS as well as components. In my learning about batteries and systems, a full Victron is really the way to go for the best integrated system. Especially since their battery prices came down. Not to say you cant have a fantastic system with 3rd party batteries and the rest Victron. Very happy with mine so far. But the Full full Victron is amazing and likely easier to integrate your Zeus. Ill be adding Solar soon. And the ability to monitor things from anywhere is great.



View attachment 155413
Glad to hear your system is up and running! Mine might be finished today. Yes, I have 3, 330 amp hour victron batts with full victron system components. I was going to go with Epoch batts, but my electrical mechanic ha worked with victron and is competant with those components. So, paying a bit more made sense to me. It is working out great so far and I will post pics when complete.
 
OK, the first "side job" on the LiFePO4 project will be the addition of a tool box for the engine room. The other House 2 battery is in a nicely done plywood enclosure. The guy even fiber glassed the lower area where the battery sits. However the lid he made is a joke, a wood frame with perf board on top that sits on little stilts. I measured this area and found it 28"x12.5", an excellent fit for this toolbox I found at Grainger.

I will make a top out of 3/4" ply and sit the level about 1" below the uprights where it will fit perfect and be held in place by design. Yeah these side jobs add time but make it back later when I don't have to be getting in and out of the engine room for some tool I didn't bring with me - :)
 
Yesterday I picked up the toolbox at Grainger, had lunch and hit the boat with top board and 6 cleats prepared with a gauge cleat to make it easy to space the cleats down from the top verticals. So I get 2 installed and looking good, going well and started on the other side. Noticed that the cleat did not appear lined up with the others. What? Then noticed that the vertical had a sloped edge. Guy must have run out of wood and used a remnant.

Wasn't so bad the scheme wouldn't work, I'll just put a level on the board and make the cleat tops on the bottom. Of course I didn't have a level on the boat so I'll bring one today. Ah boats...
 
The toolbox is in - :)

53794213364_b571c84ef4_c.jpg


In front is the port engine start battery. To the side is House2a which is installed and working well. And this is the dead House2 which will be replaced with my other 300 AH LiFePO4 now resting in my garage.

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The close proximity should do well for a parallel.

I think I can even remove that 120# battery at least into the crew quarters by a series of ramps. Slide the dead onto a plywood over the top of the lower batt box and then use a 2x6 to slide it up into the crew quarters. Where I can leave it for stronger backs - :) So I can install the other batt in the box and finish off this side of the project!
 
While fitting up the toolbox home I found that the front upright not only isn't cut square but also rotted on the bottom. Proceeded anyway as to verify the fit, but that board is going to be replaced. Also going to put in a proper tray in there for the new battery with hold downs. The one in there now isn't secured to anything.
 
Today's progress, got the charger and the isolator located. This stuff is for the engine start batteries which I think are still good, but needs to be done so the engines will start.

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The other charger will be mounted on the left hand upper side of the panel behind the generator. The Next Step regulator is also dead, but that is a project for another time.
 
More progress and more hardware out of the way.

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The wiring box in that charger is so small....I'm glad I wired it in the saloon as it will be much easier in the box on the other side. New 60A LiFepo4 charger in and next will be the mounting of the 700A current sharing solenoid to parallel the start batts if needed. The start batts will go to the solenoid and continue to the isolator via 2/0.

Then I will hook up all those grounds that are hanging to a new ground buss bar that will replace that unused shunt you see bottom left. All those grounds were connected to the existing bar via side screws of which there were 8.

These old boats....

I'm not doing anything to that regulator until this is done. I should have plenty capacity to do Delta stuff w/o any alternator charging.
 
Been a good day on the boat! Used engineering and not my back to remove the dead 4D, 130 pound battery that was in the wood box with no securement.

53820647513_bf04a30536_b.jpg


A platform on which to drag it out of the box and an inclined plane so I could just pull it up and out. I nursed it over the door frame and parked it in the fore cabin for those with stronger backs - :)

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Then I removed the rotted out board and replaced with my new stuff;

53818696514_06618da9d7.jpg


New front board and new supports plus a new battery tray that I added bracket supports to so I could use a standard bracket clamp instead of those straps. All looks good;

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Next trip I'll bring the second 300 AH battery and install as well as the toolbox on top and then I can finish up the other side - :)

Sixty pounds I can do myself, 130...no way
 
Got the battery / toolbox assembly completed and the second 300 AH Li Time battery in.

53826030543_b5bc0790a2_c.jpg


A negative buss bar will go in the forward upright and a shunt on the inside of the front panel. Battery is on a tray and will be secured properly. Don't mind the black cable between the positives, this will the battery feed to the shunt from the negative buss next visit when I make the parallel connection and install the battery terminal fuses. Just hooked it up to verify and not leave the boat with no bilge pumps operational.

The test worked fine and the second battery works good. Soon House bank 2 will be 600 AH and when I get some strong backs to lift out that other 4D lead-acid monster, House 1 will be another 280 AH.
 
Today I got the shunt and the negative buss installed as well as the inside battery. Made the parallel battery connection and House 2 is now 600 AH. Getting good use of my spools of 2/0, lugs and crimp tool.

Next will be addressing the panel on the other side. I'm going to re-hook all those grounds I lifted for the charger and isolator install and I still have some stuff that is not working. Since I reconnected the red wires to the House 2 bank and they still don't work, it must be the grounds.

I'm pretty jazzed! After I made the parallel I reset the charger for 100 amps and let it rip. Fan turned on and batteries were getting 100A. It was hot too, engine room and cabin over 80F. We have 10 more days of this over 100 degree temps. I run the AC on the boat but it's pretty weak, another item to address in the future.

Good day on the boat - :) It's so hot out here there were less boats on the water than I was expecting, used to see twice as much.
 
No doubts have I. Just makes so much sense for a house bank.

The before; (2) 4D Lead-acid 200AH deep cycle. Weigh 130 pounds each, best not to discharge over 50%. So you really have a 200 AH battery that weighs 260 pounds.

The after; (2) 4D size 300AH LiFePO4. Weigh 60 pounds each. Can discharge 100% and still last longer than lead acid. So you have a 600AH battery that weighs 120 pounds. Three times the capacity and half the weight.

I always say if your batteries are good don't worry about it. But if your batteries are shot...LiFePO4 is the way to go.
 

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