Lithium battery & Dc to Dc chargers etc (1 Viewer)

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May 13, 2014
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I'm about to update our batteries in our Carthago to Lithium so will need a B 2 B, new Mppt controller etc

At this time after looking at lots of things online including Fogstar etc
I'm probably going to put a minimum 300Ah-560Ah battery pack together myself with a 200a BMS probably with Eve cells from Fagstar as they seem as competitive as any.
Also another option is a Chinese company called Blackcell who have CATL cells which they say are Grade A and delivery in about 5 days.

Been looking into B 2 Bs and someone has said that the Sterling 1260 B2B doesn't actually charge at 60A. His would only get to 48A and it seemed when the unit got hot it went down to 22a.
Has anyone any experience with this?
Is this common to all charges?

I do quite like the look of the Votronic 50a B2B.

At the moment the CBE has a 70A split charge relay of which I'm either going to disconnect at the CBE or use a normally closed relay like my mate Steve Greenhalgh, which is working fine.

Also if anyone has any other recommendations on Lithium battery builds, maximum safe size of B2B charges without altering existing wiring etc.
Also if anyone has used Blackcell or CATL cells that would be much appreciated.
 
Mar 30, 2022
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When I had my Sterling 60amp B2B fitted by Vanbitz they told me the highest charge rate they'd seen from one was 55amps.
That was when charging pretty depleted lithium's.
 
OP
OP
tezza-alli
May 13, 2014
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When I had my Sterling 60amp B2B fitted by Vanbitz they told me the highest charge rate they'd seen from one was 55amps.
That was when charging pretty depleted lithium's.
I've just had a reply from Ben at Sterling. He says the 1260 is 60A on the input and 88% efficient so about 50A, so 48A is probably its max charge . He didn't comment on the 22A when hot. Just wondering if another brand that's rated smaller might be more efficient.
 
Mar 30, 2022
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I've just had a reply from Ben at Sterling. He says the 1260 is 60A on the input and 88% efficient so about 50A, so 48A is probably its max charge . He didn't comment on the 22A when hot. Just wondering if another brand that's rated smaller might be more efficient.
That sounds about right as Vanbitz told me I probably won't see above 50 amps max.
 

Bobby-gg

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I've only got 110ah ecotree lithium, but with a 45A votronic B2B.

This is what I was putting in the other day after running my battery down over the weekend.
I didn't check how how it got, I will the next time

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Hoovie

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May 16, 2021
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I think the experience with the Sterling is quite common with it throttling back when it gets hot.
I am surprised to read that the rating of the Sterling is the INPUT and not the Output. As far as I am aware (and this is true of all the chargers I have used and tried myself), the rating in Amps is the output.

The ones I would recommend personally are:
The Victron Orion Smart Tr if you want to stick with Team Blue - they output to the spec quoted and a touch more
The Ablemail AMC12-12-30 - that outputs around 5% MORE than the quoted output and NEVER throttles back. I ran a AMC12-12-30 continously when testing various chargers and its output for over 4 hours was incredibly clean and constant

BT - Ablemail V_C by David, on Flickr
This for me is the best 30A B2B on the market. It may not have fancy features and it may look dated to some (such as Eddievanbitz) but it does precisely what you buy the thing for - and isn't that the most important thing?


Actually, just had a thought .... one of the chargers I tested was a Redarc BCDC 40A unit (very well regarded unit in Australia) and that only put out 36A rather than the 40A in the name. Maybe that 40A was the Input Current and not the Output, similar to the Sterling? Having said that, its output was fairly constant, although not as clean as the Ablemail.

BT - Redarc V_C by David, on Flickr
 
Oct 12, 2009
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How much charge do you guys want?

I do not have a way to measure mine but our Sterling B2B running for 1/2 hour every 2-3 days keeps our 2X90AH LA batteries well up.

Maybe we are comparatively light users as it is only to supply lighting, phone chargers and Truma fan, no coffee machines, hairdryer etc.
 
Apr 15, 2015
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I have a Votronic VBCS triple charger. It’s B2B, solar and mains in one unit. 45 amp B2B, 30 amp mains and 350wh solar. It puts out a steady 45amp charge according to the battery shunt when the engine is running. Also charges at 30amps on mains (well, 29.9 actually). It charges 300ah of lithium. Had it about 2 years with no problems.

It’s compact and easy to fit. The risk is that if it goes wrong, you could lose all charging, but I’ve left the original kit fitted, including a smaller Schaudt B2B fitted by Carthago as original (because it’s a smart alternator). Easy enough to disconnect and switch on the original kit if needed.

I think I could use both B2Bs at the same time for faster charging but haven’t tried that as yet.

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Mar 1, 2015
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I had a sterling in my. last motorhome. This was supposed to charge at 50 or 60 amps. Not sure of the exact amount but I only ever got 22-25 amps max even when my batteries were low. Was never very happy with it. When I got any new Motorhome I. got one of the later sterling B2B charges and it was not much better. After about 8 months it failed completely and sterling no longer had them in stock and it could not be repaired. I tool the plunge, paid more for 2 Victron ones and the difference was unbelievable. Now charge at 60 amps when low and drops to 48-50 when battery is getting fuller. They do run hot though. Put a vent behind them and up to now not had any more problems with my charger. Batteries are 2 x 320amps Ecotree.
 

Lenny HB

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How much charge do you guys want?

I do not have a way to measure mine but our Sterling B2B running for 1/2 hour every 2-3 days keeps our 2X90AH LA batteries well up.

Maybe we are comparatively light users as it is only to supply lighting, phone chargers and Truma fan, no coffee machines, hairdryer etc.
When you have Lithium it makes sense to take advantage of the high charge rate capability. Most can be charged at a 100 amps and quite a few a lot higher.
 
Dec 3, 2021
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CATL is the largest Lithium battery manufacturer in the world and their cells have a good reputation. The issue with buying from China is that you don't know what is actually going to arrive regardless of what you think you are ordering.
I went through this process recently and decided to go for Eve cells rather than CATL. I bought Grade B Eve cells from Fogstar in the UK as the price was extremely competitive with buying unknown from China. Very happy so far.
 

jumar

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DC2DC chargers run hot...which is why where you fit them is most important...
If they didn't self protect, by reducing the output, I imagine the outcome could be somewhat damaging..
My Victron 12/12. 30 can provide it's full capacity when my lithium needs it.(quite often) however when reaching the latter charge state it greatly reduces...great piece of kit...essential for our style of motorhome travel.
 
Oct 12, 2009
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When you have Lithium it makes sense to take advantage of the high charge rate capability. Most can be charged at a 100 amps and quite a few a lot higher.

Lenny

I have only had my two LA batteries for 2 years but may well go LiPo4 when I change, or change MH. In which case I may switch to Victron.

Like you I stay off grid and now with changed family circumstances we might stop a bit longer in one location, especially by a beach in Greece. :giggle:

Geoff

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Jun 10, 2010
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I think the experience with the Sterling is quite common with it throttling back when it gets hot.
I am surprised to read that the rating of the Sterling is the INPUT and not the Output. As far as I am aware (and this is true of all the chargers I have used and tried myself), the rating in Amps is the output.

The ones I would recommend personally are:
The Victron Orion Smart Tr if you want to stick with Team Blue - they output to the spec quoted and a touch more
The Ablemail AMC12-12-30 - that outputs around 5% MORE than the quoted output and NEVER throttles back. I ran a AMC12-12-30 continously when testing various chargers and its output for over 4 hours was incredibly clean and constant

BT - Ablemail V_C by David, on Flickr
This for me is the best 30A B2B on the market. It may not have fancy features and it may look dated to some (such as Eddievanbitz) but it does precisely what you buy the thing for - and isn't that the most important thing?


Actually, just had a thought .... one of the chargers I tested was a Redarc BCDC 40A unit (very well regarded unit in Australia) and that only put out 36A rather than the 40A in the name. Maybe that 40A was the Input Current and not the Output, similar to the Sterling? Having said that, its output was fairly constant, although not as clean as the Ablemail.

BT - Redarc V_C by David, on Flickr
The ablemail sounds interesting, my setup is a bit different as I have a 24v vehcile alternator and a 12v hab alternator, I'm currently running a hybrid battery bank of 200ah LiFePo4 in parallel with a 220ah Gel, its running a lot better than the gel by itself enabling us to use a lot of 230ac appliances for much longer but where it falls down is the 12v alternator (I think) is either seeing too much resistance or too high a voltage and is reducing output long before the LiFePo4 is full, its a 60a alternator and where I was getting 30a at the batteries Im now only getting 15 ish, handy thing is that the solar regs are charging at the same time though so I'm only having an issue on cloudy days. I'm debating whether to go full lithium and b2b ditching the second alternator or whether to fit a better alternator?
 

Hoovie

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May 16, 2021
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The ablemail sounds interesting, my setup is a bit different as I have a 24v vehcile alternator and a 12v hab alternator, I'm currently running a hybrid battery bank of 200ah LiFePo4 in parallel with a 220ah Gel, its running a lot better than the gel by itself enabling us to use a lot of 230ac appliances for much longer but where it falls down is the 12v alternator (I think) is either seeing too much resistance or too high a voltage and is reducing output long before the LiFePo4 is full, its a 60a alternator and where I was getting 30a at the batteries Im now only getting 15 ish, handy thing is that the solar regs are charging at the same time though so I'm only having an issue on cloudy days. I'm debating whether to go full lithium and b2b ditching the second alternator or whether to fit a better alternator?
If the alternator is fitted there is probably no reason to dump it. I like redundancy in systems so one interesting option could be to have a pair of B2Bs, one on the 12V alternator and one on the 24V alternator. They would operate together fine to give up to 60A of output. You could have one AMC 12-12-30 on the 12V alternator and a second AMC 24-12-30 on the 24,V alternator.

How is your Hybrid battery cabled up ref the Lithium and Lead connection? I have my Lithium (200Ah) and Lead (300Ah) in parallel for all the chargers and it works fine as it should, with the Lithium getting the lion's share of the charge until full and then the Lead carrying on after the Lithium disconnects itself through the VSDR. Then when no charging and needing to provide a load, the Lithium reconnects with the Lead and does the work.
I wouldn't be inclined to dump the Lead and got full Lithium as apart from the cost, I reckon having the Lead and Lithium mix is actually better than 100% Lead OR 100% Lithium. Once configured right it's a very nice combination with a number of advantages over the "normal" setups and in many ways is the best of both worlds.
 
Last edited:

Lenny HB

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Oct 18, 2007
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The ablemail sounds interesting, my setup is a bit different as I have a 24v vehcile alternator and a 12v hab alternator, I'm currently running a hybrid battery bank of 200ah LiFePo4 in parallel with a 220ah Gel, its running a lot better than the gel by itself enabling us to use a lot of 230ac appliances for much longer but where it falls down is the 12v alternator (I think) is either seeing too much resistance or too high a voltage and is reducing output long before the LiFePo4 is full, its a 60a alternator and where I was getting 30a at the batteries Im now only getting 15 ish, handy thing is that the solar regs are charging at the same time though so I'm only having an issue on cloudy days. I'm debating whether to go full lithium and b2b ditching the second alternator or whether to fit a better alternator?
Jon am I right in thinking your Gels are quite old if so that may be part of the problem. I've come across Gels that are old taking ages to charge I wonder with age if there internal resistance increases.
 
Jun 10, 2010
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If the alternator is fitted there is probably no reason to dump it. I like redundancy in systems so one interesting option could be to have a pair of B2Bs, one on the 12V alternator and one on the 24V alternator. They would operate together fine to give up to 60A of output. You could have one AMC 12-12-30 on the 12V alternator and a second AMC 24-12-30 on the 24,V alternator.

How is your Hybrid battery cabled up ref the Lithium and Lead connection? I have my Lithium (200Ah) and Lead (300Ah) in parallel for all the chargers and it works fine as it should, with the Lithium getting the lion's share of the charge until full and then the Lead carrying on after the Lithium disconnects itself through the VSDR. Then when no charging and needing to provide a load, the Lithium reconnects with the Lead and does the work.
I wouldn't be inclined to dump the Lead and got full Lithium as apart from the cost, I reckon having the Lead and Lithium mix is actually better than 100% Lead OR 100% Lithium. Once configures right it's a very nice combination with a number of advantages over the "normal" setups and in many ways is the best of both worlds.
I must admit the redundancy element is attractive as is the gel acting as a buffer. Its just the travelling charging that lets it down. I simply unbolted thd gel and inserted the lithium. I have just googled VSDR and yes that could well be a good solution
 
Jun 10, 2010
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Jon am I right in thinking your Gels are quite old if so that may be part of the problem. I've come across Gels that are old taking ages to charge I wonder with age if there internal resistance increases.
Yes Lenny, I have also wondered about replacing the one remaining Gel with a new smaller LA starter battery and adding some more lithium in

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OP
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tezza-alli
May 13, 2014
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CATL is the largest Lithium battery manufacturer in the world and their cells have a good reputation. The issue with buying from China is that you don't know what is actually going to arrive regardless of what you think you are ordering.
I went through this process recently and decided to go for Eve cells rather than CATL. I bought Grade B Eve cells from Fogstar in the UK as the price was extremely competitive with buying unknown from China. Very happy so far.
What size cells did u go for? What are their grade B cells like. Is the capacity as you’d hoped and are they bloated at all.
 
Dec 3, 2021
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What size cells did u go for? What are their grade B cells like. Is the capacity as you’d hoped and are they bloated at all.
Sorry, I missed your question. I bought 280ah cells and they are so far excellent. Fogstar guarantee them to provide at least 277ah. I have done two capacity tests and got 281ah each time. There was very tiny bloating on one of the cells. I registered this with Fogstar so they are aware but it has no impact on the performance of the cell. I'm using a JK BMS and the cells all charge and balance to within 1 to 2 millivolts.
 
May 17, 2016
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How much say does the alternator have in determining how much amps will go to batteries via the B2B?

I've not used my van enough to get a good idea of my new set up but the couple times I have checked I only seemed to be getting 8 amps in to 250ah of batteries through a Victron 30amp B2B when engine running. Seems a bit low?

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Lenny HB

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How much say does the alternator have in determining how much amps will go to batteries via the B2B?

I've not used my van enough to get a good idea of my new set up but the couple times I have checked I only seemed to be getting 8 amps in to 250ah of batteries through a Victron 30amp B2B when engine running. Seems a bit low?
30 amps shouldn't be a problem for the alternator.
What size cables is it wired with & what length? Also is there plenty of ventilation around it as if they get hot they regulate the output.
 
May 17, 2016
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30 amps shouldn't be a problem for the alternator.
What size cables is it wired with & what length? Also is there plenty of ventilation around it as if they get hot they regulate the output.
I'm not sure, I put it in to a workshop for them to do the work so I'd have to check. It's screwed to the inside of the sofa/seat which I think is okay for potential heating. I'm not sure how low the batteries were when I took it out for the few drives I've had since the work. More investigation needed but I did expect to see more than 8 amps.
 
Jul 5, 2013
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I'm not sure, I put it in to a workshop for them to do the work so I'd have to check. It's screwed to the inside of the sofa/seat which I think is okay for potential heating. I'm not sure how low the batteries were when I took it out for the few drives I've had since the work. More investigation needed but I did expect to see more than 8 amps.
Did they disable the existing split charge relay? If not that may limit the charge to what you had before the B2B was fitted.
 
May 17, 2016
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Did they disable the existing split charge relay? If not that may limit the charge to what you had before the B2B was fitted.
Gotta be honest I'm not sure. They've fitted a load of these things so I'd like to think they have. My fault for not confirming also. How can I check?
 

Lenny HB

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Gotta be honest I'm not sure. They've fitted a load of these things so I'd like to think they have. My fault for not confirming also. How can I check?
Check where the positive input & output are wired. With an EBL you can wire the output from the B2B into the starter battery connection on the back of the EBL then the B2B feed through the split charge relay but sometimes the relay contacts are a bit carboned up and this can reduce the charge rate.
If they have bypassed the EBL you need to check that they have disconnected the starter battery input to the EBL by either removing the connection from the EBL or pulling the 50 amp fuse by the starter battery.

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