Setting up a lithium ion system for our teardrop being built

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Setting up a lithium ion system for our teardrop being built

Postby tdhcsc » Sat Dec 12, 2015 12:48 pm

Newby here,,,,,

My wife and I X sailing cruisers (recently sold our cruising vessel), just too much work at 70. We're having a custom teardrop built and will take delivery sometime in March. Right now I'm working on the electrical system and after doing my research have realized all the advantages of lithium ion with LifePo4 technology. On the boat we had almost 900 total amp hours running a 2,500 watt Heart inverter/charger along with all the 12 volt stuff.

We want the same kind of 'creature comforts' on the teardrop only on a much smaller scale. I've worked out a 100 amp hour lithium ion system along with 2 100 watt semi flexible solar panels and a 1,500 watt pure sinewave inverter for short term 120 volt use (coffee pot, power tools, small microwave oven, hair dryer, etc.). The biggest problem is just what lithium ion battery system to install.

I'm not interested in making my own battery and BMS. At first I explored the 'Smart Battery' lithium ion batteries but the reviews are very poor and after emailing and calling I got no response so I started talking to 'Victron'. The US sales representitive answered the phone and after discussing my wishes came up with a system that would work well. Only problem is that before I'm done I'll have spent almost 3,500.00 for the system. Victron was very good at answering my questions and has good equipment but really expensive. Too expensive for me.

It was then that I found StarkPower. That company seems to have a good deep cycle lithium battery and charger to match at a good price. I can put a lithium ion/solar off grid system together for about 1,000 more than a standard deep cycle AGM system with a weight savings of almost 150 lbs. If the batteries turn out to be a failure in a year or 2 I can switch to AGM having wasted the 1,000.00. Not bad for trying something so advanced. At the moment I'm looking at 2 - 50 amp hour deep cycle batteries with the likelyhood of adding a third if the 2 batteries don't fill the need.

I've ruled out the Smart Battery system because of the reviews and also the Victron as it's just too expensive and complicated.

Anyone on this board tried StarkPower lithium batteries and charger?

Any help appreciated.

Dan, AKA tdhcsc

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We're X long distance sailboat cruisers logging more than 25,000 miles under the keel. After 13 years the 24/7 routine became just too much. On multi day passages someone always had to be in the cockpit and we took 3 hour watches. Even at anchor we had to be ready to head to sea even if it was 3AM. We miss it but using our experience of 'self accountability' the Jeep/teardrop idea appealed to us. Our idea is to camp mostly in the California dessert (we had the Vistabule teardrop set up for off-roading) and play in the dirt with the Jeep Rubicon.

It's all new but fun!
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Re: Setting up a lithium ion system for our teardrop being b

Postby jss06 » Sat Dec 12, 2015 1:19 pm

I have not tried Stark yet. As soon as I can get the extra $$ together I plan on buying one. I had an email conversation with them and their batteries all have built in controllers to prevent over charging and over discharge.

They will work with standard rv, solar charge controllers and vehicle 12v charging set ups. You don't need anything fancy.

I have a Progressive dynamics 45 Amp converter/multi stage battery charger for shore power. A Blue Sky MPPT controller for solar. And the vehicle to charge with when towing. They told me all of their batteries could use any of these methods. You just can't use a lead acid battery dedicated battery charger because the voltage he is too high.
Last edited by jss06 on Sat Dec 12, 2015 1:25 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Setting up a lithium ion system for our teardrop being b

Postby jss06 » Sat Dec 12, 2015 1:19 pm

I just wish it did not take so long for delivery.
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Re: Setting up a lithium ion system for our teardrop being b

Postby MtnDon » Sat Dec 12, 2015 1:24 pm

Have you looked at Elite Power Systems? They have a nice 12 volt, 100 AH, 1.3 KWh system. I believe the large prismatic cells are a better product than the small cylindricals that are used in most (all?) batteries that come prepackaged in cases to appear like a standard auto battery. I would also suggest to look at Balqon, if it wasn't for the fact their financial status would seem to indicate they may be teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. But compare products and pricing. The prismatic LFP have been used by a number of folks with big RV's and ocean cruising yachts with many positive reports. Although there have also been some learning experiences.
Our 6x12 deep vee nose cargo trailer camper conversion... viewtopic.php?f=42&t=58336

We have a small off grid cabin we built ourselves in the NM mountains; small PV solar system; 624 watts PV, Outback CC & inverter/charger ... http://countryplans.com/smf/index.php?topic=2335.0
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Re: Setting up a lithium ion system for our teardrop being b

Postby OverTheTopCargoTrailer » Sun Dec 20, 2015 4:59 pm

Wow

Very nice teardrop
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Re: Setting up a lithium ion system for our teardrop being b

Postby shanna7 » Thu Jan 07, 2016 2:52 pm

I would be very interested to hear what you decide!

I have been in communication with tech support at Battery Space who was really responsive. Their 40Ah LiFePO4 Batteries are a nice price at $250-650.

I'm hoping to do as much as we can with solar and DC. I estimated our power draw at 330W/day and they recommended a 70W min solar panel with the following:

LiFePO4 Batteries: http://www.batteryspace.com/12-8v-lifep ... 200ah.aspx
Solar Controller: http://www.batteryspace.com/105-350w-so ... eries.aspx

Do you have any recommendations for the best source for thin film solar panels?
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Re: Setting up a lithium ion system for our teardrop being b

Postby tdhcsc » Sat Jan 30, 2016 10:49 pm

I did the math. Our tiny VitroFrigo refrigerator will consume around 25 amp hours a day. The morning perk coffee another 15. In the end I'm looking at almost 50 amp hours a day. Since we want to go off grid for at least 3 days I'm having a system of 2-100 amp batteries and a 40 amp charger. I was going to put 200 watts of solar panels on the roof but it was becoming too complicated. Perhaps the solar at a later date. For now,,, I'm going to purchase at least 1 100 watt folding panel. 2 panels would be better. The teardrop has an outside plug for external solar.

What's killing us is the refrigerator,,, half our daily use.

On our cruising sailboat we used 250 amps of 12 volts a day (total 900 amp hours). Going down to 50 is quite a feat for us. You'll really be camping if you're using 330 watts a day.

I'm having fun with setting up an electrical system that gives us everything we want. It's costing quite a bit but then a lot less than our sailboat did. My wife being able to use a hair dryer or perc coffee pot will be more willing to go.
We're X long distance sailboat cruisers logging more than 25,000 miles under the keel. After 13 years the 24/7 routine became just too much. On multi day passages someone always had to be in the cockpit and we took 3 hour watches. Even at anchor we had to be ready to head to sea even if it was 3AM. We miss it but using our experience of 'self accountability' the Jeep/teardrop idea appealed to us. Our idea is to camp mostly in the California dessert (we had the Vistabule teardrop set up for off-roading) and play in the dirt with the Jeep Rubicon.

It's all new but fun!
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Re: Setting up a lithium ion system for our teardrop being b

Postby noseoil » Sun Jan 31, 2016 11:41 am

If possible, use propane for your cooking & coffee. I ran a test with my system on a pot of coffee. We use a group 27 AGM battery & 100 watt solar panel. The 900 watt coffee maker draws about 83 amps with the inverter running. For 15 minutes of coffee time, it uses about 20 amps out of a 95 AH battery. Ouch!

Another benefit of using propane for coffee with our system....
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Re: Setting up a lithium ion system for our teardrop being b

Postby shanna7 » Mon Feb 01, 2016 11:04 am

We do French press or Aeropress, then you only have to boil water on your propane stove. We have this GSI press for camping: GSI Outdoors Javapress French Press Coffee, 50 fl. oz. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00UTKNX64/re ... RwbXFKB1B6
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Re: Setting up a lithium ion system for our teardrop being b

Postby shanna7 » Mon Feb 01, 2016 11:12 am

Also forgot to mention that we're keeping everything on DC, and are really only powering LED lights, stereo, and USB charging of devices. We also found a great deal on the Majestic Marine TV, which only draws 1.3A. Good for really rainy days.
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Thanks all for the input.

Postby tdhcsc » Mon Feb 22, 2016 11:34 am

Thanks all.

Even though we've decided to have a teardrop instead of a larger trailer or RV we don't want to limit our 'creature comforts'. Perculator coffee in the morning was always something we did when cruising. The teardrop we're purchasing has a pass-through from the galley to the interior. Our thoughts were that we can set up the coffee pot in the pass through before we go to sleep and in the morning just hit the switch for the inverter, never getting out of bed for our first sip of coffee. We also want a refrigerator so that ice isn't a factor in having cold anything. Basically, we want an electrical system for a larger RV but in a teardrop instead.

Easiest thing to do was to just put in a large 200 amp hour lithium ion battery system, 40 amp charger, 1,500 watt pure sine inverter and a minimum of 120 watts of portable solar. Cost a lot of $$$$$ but 'what the hell',, why not? I figure I've got less than 10 years of good life left if I'm lucky but I'm not ready to sit in a rocking chair all day.

We leave for Minnesota to pick her up the end of March so we'll see how the system works on our shakedown trip to Southern California works out.

Switching from a 50' cruising sailboat to a 13' teardrop and Jeep is a big change but I think that the combination we're putting together will be a fun and comfortable experience.

I admire anyone who builds they're own teardrop to travel in. I'm certainly not up to the task.
We're X long distance sailboat cruisers logging more than 25,000 miles under the keel. After 13 years the 24/7 routine became just too much. On multi day passages someone always had to be in the cockpit and we took 3 hour watches. Even at anchor we had to be ready to head to sea even if it was 3AM. We miss it but using our experience of 'self accountability' the Jeep/teardrop idea appealed to us. Our idea is to camp mostly in the California dessert (we had the Vistabule teardrop set up for off-roading) and play in the dirt with the Jeep Rubicon.

It's all new but fun!
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