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wriwanski's picture
wriwanski
Last seen: 6 days 2 hours ago
Joined: 11/7/18
Posts: 9
Lithium House Bank- Alternator Charging

I'm looking at upgrading my 4D batteries to Battle Born LiFePO4. I will be going with 300 Ah plus a lead acid start battery.

Battle Born suggests that I upgrade the alternator to the 105 amp alternator available from Catalina Direct and install a Li-BIM from Precision Circuits in order to get maximum charging benefit while the engine is operating.

I've been doing a lot of research and have not been able to find anyone comment about installing the Li-BIM in a boat. Everyone installs it in their RV. I talked to the tech at Precision Circuits and he assured me that their product is fully waterproof and compatible with marine installations.

My first inclination was to install a DC-DC charger but Battle Born got me thinking that the Li-BIM would be a better option given the Ah of batteries to charge.

Any comments from the forum would be appreciated.

Thanks!
Bill

 

Bill Iwanski
1995 Catalina 36 MKII
Hull #1480
"JenAly"
Home Port- Monroe Harbor, Chicago, IL
 

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Bill Iwanski
1995 Catalina 36 MKII
Hull #1480
"JenAly"
Home Port- Monroe Harbor, Chicago, IL
 
pkeyser's picture
pkeyser
Last seen: 2 days 22 hours ago
Joined: 5/18/13
Posts: 437

The below link is from a previous forum posting on Lithium Ion. Might be of interest in case you missed it.  

https://marinehowto.com/lifepo4-batteries-on-boats/

 

--

Paul & Wendy Keyser
"First Light"
Newburyport MA/Rye NH
2005 C36 MKII #2257
Wing, M35B

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wriwanski
Last seen: 6 days 2 hours ago
Joined: 11/7/18
Posts: 9

I have read that site many times. An alternator protection device is required to charge the lithium bank and that site recommends at a minimum a DC-DC charger. The Li-BIM (https://battlebornbatteries.com/shop/lifepo4-battery-isolation-manager/) is relatively new on the block and is what Battle Born is recommending with a house bank of 300ah or more. The Li-BIM would be the alternator protection device.

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Bill Iwanski
1995 Catalina 36 MKII
Hull #1480
"JenAly"
Home Port- Monroe Harbor, Chicago, IL
 
two-rocks
Last seen: 6 hours 27 min ago
Joined: 8/11/17
Posts: 62

I have not looked closely into the device, but a couple points...
It does not seem to limit current - your alternator will run at maximum output and needs to support a duty cycle of about 50% with the device - plus any loads that are connected to the 'start' battery where it diverts.
I don't know wht the failure mode is, but in the case of a short the alternator would charge the lithium until it (alternator) is toast.
I like the external regualted alternator setup with temp sensors and a belt saver to limit the current. ($$)

A quick search indicated the the BIM 'clicks' when the charging is off (connecting the house and start in our case) - all night long 12+ times a day. Pass for me!

Edit: do you have solar? If not, I'd add that way before spending for LI

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wriwanski
Last seen: 6 days 2 hours ago
Joined: 11/7/18
Posts: 9

Under normal charging conditions, the BIM will connect for 15 minutes every 35 minutes. That means that the BIM will connect for 15 minutes, disconnect for 20 minutes, and repeat this cycle until the house battery is charged. This would only occur when the engine is running so the clicking would most likely never be heard over the sound of the engine.

As for solar, yes, I have 2 x 160 watt panels. The reason for wanting this setup is that once the boat is launched in the spring, it goes to a mooring ball and for 6 months, rarely has the opportunity for shore power. The engine is normally used very little to get in and out of harbor. What little time it is running would be when the batteries are getting charged.

It does seem that without an external voltage regulator, the DC-DC charger is the safest for the alternator.

Just a bit undecided at this point. This is why I'm throwing the question out there.

 

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Bill Iwanski
1995 Catalina 36 MKII
Hull #1480
"JenAly"
Home Port- Monroe Harbor, Chicago, IL
 
two-rocks
Last seen: 6 hours 27 min ago
Joined: 8/11/17
Posts: 62

The BIM clicking report was from a forum about RV's and that particular user said it clicks every hour or so - not charging, and they found it annoying. Maybe they had something incorrect.

I have the same mooring setup and have never used the on board AC charger (or shore power of any kind) in 2 seasons, all solar very little engine use (except no wind situations). Fridge always on, weekend/evening use. Looking into lithium....

Also, as I understand it (maybe wrong) the obstacle with alternator charging LI is the BMS might disconnect the batteries - the voltage spike then goes into the system and can take everything out that is connected, not just the alternator.   
 

ludo's picture
ludo
Last seen: 2 days 5 hours ago
Joined: 3/14/16
Posts: 85

Looking to that type of setup too, where do you plan to put your house batteries, and you start battery?

--
Ludovic François
​Hotel Catalina - Catalina 36 Hull #883
Marina Del Rey, CA
wriwanski's picture
wriwanski
Last seen: 6 days 2 hours ago
Joined: 11/7/18
Posts: 9

My current setup has two 4D batteries under the starboard/aft settee and my inverter/charger under the the starboard/forward settee. If I measured correctly, there is room for three Battle Born batteries and one start battery in the same location. If I use the DC-DC charger, it's quite large and I'm not sure where I'd put that right now. Possibly under the navigation table where I currently have the solar MPPT controller mounted.

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Bill Iwanski
1995 Catalina 36 MKII
Hull #1480
"JenAly"
Home Port- Monroe Harbor, Chicago, IL
 
two-rocks
Last seen: 6 hours 27 min ago
Joined: 8/11/17
Posts: 62

About to order my lithium setup today...in my case we only need 200 AH based on historical usage. I can add another battery next year if it is needed, just because we can, but over-sizing can be a detriment if not needed. My 4d's are 9 years old, but had almost no use for many of those years (before we bought the boat). They are fading fast.

I'll be using a small start battery and a victron dc-dc, everything will be in the aft battery compartment - I'd even like to move the switches from the front and all wiring, but that would be very tight and limit an additional battery if we go that way...

My only non victron item (besides the shore power battery charger) will be the Balmar SG200 monitor (already own it). Not sure what it's future is, but I may get the Victron Cerbo GX for monitoring (including from home). I have an external regulated alternator controller (no alternator yet), but wanted to avoid that for now...the simple alternator setup just works (KISS).

I have an extra 50W solar panel and controller that I'll use to keep the start battery at 100%, with the ability to turn on the DC-DC and use some of that power diverting to the lithium house. That would be manually, via the app - and only if we needed it for electric inverter work. We have a victron 800VA model.  
 

ludo's picture
ludo
Last seen: 2 days 5 hours ago
Joined: 3/14/16
Posts: 85

What starting battery do you plan to use?

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Ludovic François
​Hotel Catalina - Catalina 36 Hull #883
Marina Del Rey, CA
two-rocks
Last seen: 6 hours 27 min ago
Joined: 8/11/17
Posts: 62

The start battery, just picked up tonight - Duracell Ultra AGM SLIU1RT, tiny battery, for a Mazda Miata or lawn tractor. 

Based on user 'Main Sail' (from marine how to) information posted on cruisers forum, and the fact thet our engine starts instantly- should be plenty. We will also be able to start with the lithium if needed. 

wriwanski's picture
wriwanski
Last seen: 6 days 2 hours ago
Joined: 11/7/18
Posts: 9

I'm not sure which boat you have, but for the 36 MKII Westerbeke (Universal) M-35A that I have, the manual recommends a 400-600 CCA battery. The Duracell Ultra AGM SLIU1RT is only 320 CCA. It may work just fine, but I thought I'd mention it.

Bill
 

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Bill Iwanski
1995 Catalina 36 MKII
Hull #1480
"JenAly"
Home Port- Monroe Harbor, Chicago, IL
 
two-rocks
Last seen: 6 hours 27 min ago
Joined: 8/11/17
Posts: 62

Yes, read the manual.
I am not recommending the setup, just sharing. I have a M35BC (same engine). 
Honestly wanted a group 24 AGM, but this was 'interesting' - I'll test it soon (ok, maybe 6+ weeks), and they will take it back if it doesn't work. 
I want all the battery 'stuff' in a single area, and with no maintenance. Manufacturers statements are there to make it easy, and have to cover all situations. Over sizing a start battery is cheap and easy and needs to take wiring connections, battery aging, temperature and whatnot into account.

https://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/f14/engine-starting-video-real-world-amp-load-data-19981.html(link is external)

Some interesting reading above.
We will sacrifice longevity of the battery, as it needs to dig deep to do it's job - but being AGM will help a bit. 
If the LiFePO4 setup works out, I may eliminate the lead all together.
 

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jerryr10
Last seen: 1 week 2 days ago
Joined: 4/20/08
Posts: 3

New comment

Had the Diver check out my boat and he noted and videoed that the Cutlass bearing had worked its way out of the strut forward. The only thing barely holding it in was the zinc on the shaft. Anybody have this happen before? As I remember there is no set screw on the strut.

pkeyser's picture
pkeyser
Last seen: 2 days 22 hours ago
Joined: 5/18/13
Posts: 437

There is a set screw on the strut. 

--

Paul & Wendy Keyser
"First Light"
Newburyport MA/Rye NH
2005 C36 MKII #2257
Wing, M35B

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Chachere
Last seen: 3 days 17 hours ago
Joined: 10/27/10
Posts: 624

There seems to be some thread drift here, but as to the difference of opinions between Jerryr10 and pkeyser, let me just say you might both be correct.

Some C36s have a set screw for the cutlass bearing, and some don't.  I had to go through the nasty task of replacing the original shaft strut on our '85 MkI a few seasons ago, and while the old strut had no set screws, the new replacement one does.   So this is one of those "YMMV" kind of things.

I'm rather surprised that a cutless bearing would work its way out of the strut, though, because the 2 times I've replaced it on ours using the C36IA's loaner tool, that thing was pretty tough to press out and back in.

 

--

Matthew Chachère
s/v ¡Que Chévere! #466
1985 C36 MKI tall rig fin keel M25
Homeported in eastern Long Island, NY

stephenemmerman
Last seen: 1 month 8 hours ago
Joined: 12/22/07
Posts: 21

I have two Catalina's a 1996 36 in florida behind my house and a 380 in NY at a marina. i put 160 amp alternators in both with surpintin belts and a clutch mechanism to keep the tension up. i find that I don't have to worry about charging my house batteries that are both two 4d sealed lithiuim and one starter battery I really use the stater batteries that is sealed lithium. The boat in NY is not charged offen at the marina but onunce or twice and winter is enough. I also have boat alarm so I can see from I ipad what state the batteries are in at any time on my ipad. Hopefully this is helpful. Steve

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c36 MKII 1996 #1523
North Star M35
Punta Gorda Fl - Hurricane Ivan
stephenemmerman.blogspot.com
two-rocks
Last seen: 6 hours 27 min ago
Joined: 8/11/17
Posts: 62

What is a 4d sealed lithium?
what brand is the starter lithium?

An interesting setup, how do you store them in a psoc and bms used?

Maine Sail
Last seen: 2 days 7 hours ago
Joined: 2/26/10
Posts: 321

[quote]Battle Born suggests that I upgrade the alternator to the 105 amp alternator available from Catalina Direct and install a Li-BIM from Precision Circuits in order to get maximum charging benefit while the engine is operating.[/quote]

Your factory 3/8" belt will not like this unless the alternator can be current limitied. The only good way to do this is via an external regulator.

[quote]I've been doing a lot of research and have not been able to find anyone comment about installing the Li-BIM in a boat. Everyone installs it in their RV. I talked to the tech at Precision Circuits and he assured me that their product is fully waterproof and compatible with marine installations.[/quote]

It is a product designed only to save or protect a cheap factory alternator and means very limited charging speed which is one of the main benefits of LFP batteries. For an RV owner driving many miles the LFP bank will eventually get to 100% SoC but on a boat there are better approaches.

[quote]My first inclination was to install a DC-DC charger but Battle Born got me thinking that the Li-BIM would be a better option given the Ah of batteries to charge.[/quote]

A Sterling Power BB1260 would be a choice provided you have an alternator sized to handle it but you can do better by installing an externally regulated alternator.

[quote]Any comments from the forum would be appreciated.[/quote]
 

The optimal choice would be an externally regulated alternator with a Balmar MC-614 and then use Belt Load Manager to reduce the current. Going up a size beyond your desired output then derating it via belt load manager means it runs cooler and lasts longer.  You would then install a Sterling Power Alternator Protection Device.

We specialize in alternators (we actually manufacture them), regulators, etc. and have been doing LFP on boats since 2008/09 (before Battleborn even existed)..

There are more alternator options, for Universal diesels, than what CD is selling. Check the link below..

Alternators & Regulators

 

--

-Maine Sail

https://www.marinehowto.com/

 
wriwanski's picture
wriwanski
Last seen: 6 days 2 hours ago
Joined: 11/7/18
Posts: 9

Maine Sail,

When you say, "The optimal choice would be an externally regulated alternator with a Balmar MC-614 and then use Belt Load Manager to reduce the current," are you refering to the Belt Load Manager function of the MC-614 or another device?

Thanks!
Bill

--
Bill Iwanski
1995 Catalina 36 MKII
Hull #1480
"JenAly"
Home Port- Monroe Harbor, Chicago, IL
 
two-rocks
Last seen: 6 hours 27 min ago
Joined: 8/11/17
Posts: 62

The belt load mamager is an electronic function built into the MC-614.

Optimal choice is an interesting wording. Look at your usage and system, then purchase what you need. We have an electric car, the optimal choice would have been one with a bigger battery ($$$), but not really needed based on our usage. This is knot a knock on Rod (Main Sail) - he has great information and products, plus the general answers here need to satisfy all. 

Will I be charging as fast as I optimally can with a 30A limited Victron Orion Smart DC-DC, no. But my usage pattern does not need that fast of a recharge. I like the shore chargers and all the fun they can offer, but I have not used shore power in 2 years....etc, etc.

WIth LiFePO4 the options can start to drive the cost exponentially, based on what can be done. 

Maine Sail
Last seen: 2 days 7 hours ago
Joined: 2/26/10
Posts: 321

Belt Load Manager is a Balmar regulator feature. It allows the maximum output of the alternator to be limited by the regulator so the alt can survive charging  LFP batteries without burning up...

--

-Maine Sail

https://www.marinehowto.com/

 
two-rocks
Last seen: 6 hours 27 min ago
Joined: 8/11/17
Posts: 62

Update, charging the LiFePO4 with a 30 amp Charles charger on the start battery through a 30A Orion DC-DC does not work.

The charger could not keep up and the Orion would then pull from the start battery until the low limit threshold was reached, rinse and repeat. To do this method, a larger charger or an Orion with less than 30A would be needed.  

Maine Sail
Last seen: 2 days 7 hours ago
Joined: 2/26/10
Posts: 321

This article explains why a 30A charger or alternator will typically not work correctly with a 30A DC to DC charger Like the Tr Smart.:

https://marinehowto.com/understanding-the-sterling-power-pro-batt-ultra-battery-to-battery-charger/

Also, be aware that at this point in time the Tr Smart is not capable of working with the SmartSense. This means that you'll be best to place it as close to the LFP bank as possble to minimize voltage drop.
 

--

-Maine Sail

https://www.marinehowto.com/

 
two-rocks
Last seen: 6 hours 27 min ago
Joined: 8/11/17
Posts: 62

The outcome with the charger was not really a surprise. I was hoping the Charles charger would overcome the losses in the dc-dc charger.

Very much like the LiFePO4 and how everything runs. 

On my MKII, where the two 4d lead acid used to live, I now have 3 Battleborn 100ah, a small AGM start battery, Orion TR smart dc-dc, Phoenix 800 inverter, Balmar smartgauge shunt. It's tight, and may require some forced ventilation- but that's a price I'm willing to pay for added storage.

 

ludo's picture
ludo
Last seen: 2 days 5 hours ago
Joined: 3/14/16
Posts: 85

can you share pictures?

--
Ludovic François
​Hotel Catalina - Catalina 36 Hull #883
Marina Del Rey, CA
wriwanski's picture
wriwanski
Last seen: 6 days 2 hours ago
Joined: 11/7/18
Posts: 9

I second the request for a picture or a diagram showing how all that fits in.

Thanks!

Bill
 

--
Bill Iwanski
1995 Catalina 36 MKII
Hull #1480
"JenAly"
Home Port- Monroe Harbor, Chicago, IL
 
two-rocks
Last seen: 6 hours 27 min ago
Joined: 8/11/17
Posts: 62

I'll start a thread at some point. I've made this one drift far enough. 

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