Thursday, April 13, 2023

Switching to Lithium ( LiFePo4 ) batteries. ( Pt. 3 )

So close - nearly completed the LiFePo4 install 

It was a very soggy day in Fort Lauderdale today but we decided to go ahead and make progress installing the LiFePo4 batteries.

Down at the boat I removed the battery hold down beams and then the 4 Trojan T105 6v batteries. That didn't take long. It took longer to clean up the battery bay box and remove the Aluminium angle bars that were part of the old battery hold down bracing.

As planned, I used the Oscillating cutter to remove a rectangle from around the Battery Disconnect Switch so that the switch could be installed and secured in place with it's large locking nut. Ok, it's not a locking nut, I just have to tighten it down as much as possible.

With the switch installed, next was the -ve Bus Bar, 4 holes and 4 screws - done. Next I cut the existing 1/0 Yellow -ve Cable from the Shunt to fit to the -ve Bus Bar. The wire is 1/0 Tinned Copper stranded wire. The new Terminal just fit in the crimper but I realized that the new ring terminals I had purchased were 1 AWG, not 1/0 AWG, so I only had 3 1/0 AWG Ring Terminals. 

I made a quick phone call to East Coast Electric to see if they had any 1/0 5/16" Ring Terminals, nope! But they did suggest Wards Marine Electrics and they did have them. Not cheap! it cost $61 for 14 terminals. Phew!  Worst, my Hydraulic Crimper cannot handle those 1/0 terminals - Grrrr.

Ok, I didn't want to leave the boat without power overnight while I find a suitable crimper. So I made up a couple of 10AWB wires and terminals to connect the 1st of the 3 LiFePo4 batteries up to power the boat overnight.  That took about 10 minutes and we had power. I didn't connect the Victron Batter Sense wire nor the Battery Temperature sensors, so the Victron is not reporting the status of the system except for the power consumption ( that data comes from the Shunt ).

So the boat has power for the bilge pump, the solar is turned off and there's no shore power also the engine will not be run till we're finished with the install.

I found a Hydraulic Crimper on Amazon, it's on it's way. Should be able to finish the job on Wednesday.

It arrived the next day ( Tuesday ) and  I went down to the boat to complete the install on Wednesday

Looks like a decent crimper, only issue is that the dies are marked in Metric mm2 but their user manual has a conversion chart.

If you watched the weather in SoFla this week, you'll be aware of the major flooding storm we had in Fort Lauderdale - we were on the boat when that started.

The good news is that we installed all three of the LiFePo4 batteries and completed the wiring. The new Crimper worked great. Before we left from the boat 3 of the 4 old Trojan T105 batteries were in the back of the truck. We often hear about the benefits of LiFePo4 v Lead Acid batteries. Well moving the Trojans out of the boat is a task! Getting them individually to the dock is a challenge then onto the dock and up the 5 steps across the lawn down 5 steps out of the back yard and up into the truck took some efforts. I can carry 2 of the 100Ah LiFePo4 Chin batteries in one hand! The weight has a big impact. I'm wondering if it will affect the boats normal lean to Starboard. We're moving over 300lb and replacing it with just over 100lb. True, they are pretty close to the center line, but definitely on the stbd side of that.

With the batteries installed and the wiring complete, it was time to head home, truck windscreen wipers working overtime. I first checked that the Victron system was up and running, but as mentioned, all of the chargins sources were off so I didn't complete the programming of the Solar Controller, Multiplus and the Balmar Alternator Regulator.  Plan was to return to the boat after the storm to complete that.

Thursday - Storm has passed, it dumped 25" yes, over 2 feet, of water, our dock was 20" underwater but the pilings kept the boat from impacting the dock and our normal 8 lines kept the boat in a safe place.

I headed down to the boat this morning but could not get there. The Broward Blvd Exit from South Bound I95 was closed. Trying a detor via Sunrise Blvd and surface streets, I was unable to get to Broward Blvd. When the vehicle in front of me had water higher than the lower edge of their doors, I decided it was nuts to keep going and re-routed back home.

So, will try again another day. There's plenty of power in the batteries to keep the system up and runing for several days, but I would like to get the solar system reprogrammed and turned on, but better safe than sorry.

Another update soon.

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