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Old 11-02-2017, 11:22 PM   #1
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Default 2018 Galleria at Pomona

At the 2017 Pomona RV show I focused primarily on Class Bs. For the most part, I didnít see much of anything new, with one exception which was a 2018 Coachmen Galleria equipped with what they catalog as the Li3 option supplied from Xantrex. It employs a 600ah lithium battery, a 3000 watt inverter/converter/150 amp battery charger, a 280 amp underhood (GU) and comprehensive metering. The system replicates the pioneering improvements provided by Xantrex in the FIT RV project, but adds some additional features.

This is a remarkable evolution for the Galleria which only two years ago was equipped with a couple of inaccessible flooded cell coach batteries and no inverter option to support their induction stove. Like the FIT RV project, all the critical components in the new Li3 option are engineered or outsourced by Xantrex. IMO, this level of integration canít help but increase system reliability. Even on the Galleria models without the Li3 option, standard equipment for 2018 includes 300ah of AGMs, a 2000 watt inverter/converter, an 80 amp battery charger and an Onan 2.5k LPG generator.


Roadtrek Etrek and Galleria Li3 Comparison:

Since the price points for an Etrek and the Galleria Li3 are roughly similar, a comparison between the pros and cons of their respective systems is illuminating:

Lithium Battery(s):

The Galleria battery is designed and provided to Xantrex in partnership with Lithionics who have been building lithium batteries for 8+ years. They are well regarded for their battery design and quality control. They claim a failure rate at less than .2 %. The battery is rated at 600ah with 90% depth of discharge permitted routinely and up to 97% if circumstances require it. It utilizes a single BMS. If the Lithionics battery discharge drops below 97% and completely shuts down, the reset circuit voltage is apparently provided by a standby capacitor network that stimulates either the GU or the shore side battery charger (or both) to start recharging the battery. A plus for a charged capacitor network is that it doesnít sustain the significant degradation over time inevitably experienced by AGM batteries.

The Roadtrek Etrek employs a separate BMS for each of the 200ah lithiums provided. They donít publish who builds the batteries. The BMS is programmed to shut their battery down at around 80% DOD. They have made continuous revisions to them and the BMS. Current production is described as Generation H. If the BMS shuts the battery down, they employ a beefy external AGM battery to effect a reset boot that simultaneously turns the charging port back on and stimulates the charging from either the alternator or the converter. It works reliably but that said, while an AGM battery has much greater power density than a capacitor network, IMO, that capability is sort of overkill for a momentary reset application. All batteries degrade and ultimately fail over time and that life span is likely reduced even further if the AGM battery is charged and maintained with the same charging profile as the lithium batteries. A charged capacitor network for battery resetting avoids that issue.

Roasdtrek Etrek lithium batteries are generally under-chassis. Depending on the chassis platform and the amp hour capacity selected, these batteries may have different cable lengths with sufficiently different resistance values to potentially imbalance the charging and discharging rates among the batteries. For example, on the Roadtrek 800ah 210PC, three of the batteries are squeezed in where the Onan would be located but the fourth battery is way up forward adjacent to the macerator. Below chassis mounting helps to lower the center of gravity of the coach which is a plus.

The Galleria battery is a monolithic humongous 150 lb. crimson brick measuring 24L x 13W x 11H. Consequently, a balancing network probably isnít required. Itís stashed under the power seat on the driver side so it does take up storage space. However, in terms of temperature control, itís arguably in a better protected location than under chassis and worth the storage trade off. Another advantage is that with the battery located above chassis, the terminal connections are not subject to corrosion issues from road salts.


BMS Parasitics:

The Etrek BMS has a parasitic load of somewhere between 3 to 5 amps per 200ah battery (nobody seems to know exactly).

Xantrex claims and Lihionics confirms that their battery BMS is virtually parasitic free. All their power relays are bi-stable latchers which require power only when changing the relay state. Lithionics cites the BMS parasitic at 40ma. Xantrex cites it as 50ma and they are working towards reducing it even more. The 10ma difference is probably accounted for by the Xantrex Read-only LinkPro meter in the Galleria that that monitors Lithionics battery parameters. For a 2 inch meter, it provides quite a bit of useful information like charge and discharge rates, state of charge, time remaining etc.

Roadtrekís metering is a four digit Voltmeter with 10 ma resolution which is good, but since lithium batteries have a pretty flat voltage discharge curve, itís of limited value in determining the battery(s) state of charge.


Inverter/Converter/Battery Charger:

The Galleria Li3 has a Xantrex SW3012 rated for 3 KW continuous and 6 KW surge for five seconds. Roadtrek provides the Power Star LW3000-C which has similar continuous duty and surge specs. The Galleria unit is located under the power sofa on the passenger side. The Roadtrek units may be located on the driver or the passenger side under the power seat.

Roadtrek supplies a remote on-off switch for the inverter but no remote display. There is a display on the unit but because of its location itís, not easy to read. The Galleria provides a full remote display (SCP) either via a Cat5 cable or alternatively with a wireless module on their unit that permits viewing system status and programming from the ownerís tablet or cell phone.

The Roadtrek battery charger is capable of delivering 70 amps but apparently it isnít set up for power sharing so the factory typically adjusts the maximum battery charge rate to 35 amps to prevent tripping the breaker. For an 800ah configuration, the factory set it for 36 amps.

The Xantrex battery charger in the Galleria employs power sharing and adjusts the allocation between converter loads and battery charger load to ensure the total AC draw is below the breaker tripping point. Since the coach may be plugged into an AC outlet that might vary from 15A to 30A, with the Xantrex, the owner can define the amperage limit of the AC source on the control panel and the converter will adjust power sharing between coach 120 VAC loads and the battery charger to prevent breaker tripping.

For the Roadtrek battery charger to function, itís inverter must be turned on. In the event of an inverter failure, the shore side charging source is disabled and charging is limited to the GU alternator. The Xantrex inverter and converter/charger are electrically independent and the failure of either function does not affect the operation of the other.

The Xantrex unit provides battery temperature compensation which is relatively easy when addressing a single battery container. I donít think the Roadtrek battery charger is is designed for temperature compensation, but even if the charger is, since multiple batteries are being addressed that might be at substantially different depths of discharge, I donít know how temperature compensation to separate batteries from a single port could be practically accomplished.


The Xantrex inverter draws 3 amps when idling under no load. The Roadtrek inverter idle draw is estimated in the whereabouts of 5 amps. It used to have a power saver sleep setting but it was deleted when it caused a problem with the microwave. The settings are currently ON or OFF. The Xantrex inverter does have a manually activated power saver sleep setting.


Alternators:

Roadtrek uses the Nations alternator with the Balmar MC-614 regulator. The Galleria Li3 uses the same alternator and regulator but adds an additional feature. When the Nations alternator is bulk charging, it combines with the Mercedes engine alternator to increase alternator charging amperage to the lithium batty. When the Nations alternator reverts to absorption charging, the OEM alternator separates. Iíd like to learn more regarding where these instructions are generated. I wonder how they get an OEM alternator that probably has a Canbus network controlling its parameters to cooperatively parallel with another alternator without hacking the OEM Canbus. But if it works as claimed, it could help mitigate the Etrek Voltstart ďdeath spiralĒ syndrome when running a roof AC for long periods while off grid.

Autostart:

Roadtrek offers a Voltstart option that will start the engine when the batteries are significantly discharged. Xantrex also offers an Autostart feature but Coachmen decided not to include it in the Li3 package. Iíve heard some rumblings that Mercedes is not happy with the extended use of any Autostart feature because of the potential for degrading their DPF system which is expensive to repair or replace. Perhaps thatís why Roadtrek is now ordering their Sprinters with the high idle option.


Solar:

Roadtrek provides an EP Solar solar controller and panels ranging from 200 to 600 watts depending on the coach model and/or the options selected. The controller is buried in a cabinet and there is no panel display. A remote display is available which provides system status and programming choices. The Roadtrek solar system addresses only the coach batteries.

The Galleria has a standard 100 watt solar panel with a 200 watt option. Traditionally, the Galleria employed a Go-Power dual charging controller that supported both the coach and engine battery. But with the introduction of a lithium coach battery into the mix, the chemistry disparity between the lead acid engine battery and the coach lithium battery precludes dual charging with a single protocol. Consequently, with the Li3 option, the dual charge option is deleted and the solar controller addresses only the coach battery.


Warranty:

The current Roadtrek Etrek warranty for a lithium equipped coach is 6 years from the date of purchase with no mileage limitation. The warranty for the AGM battery is one year. The warranty is transferable to subsequent owners. Unless authorized by the factory, warranty repairs and replacement must be diagnosed, authorized and accomplished at a Roadtrek dealership or repair facility.

The Galleria warranty is for one year for tanks, plumbing etc. However, the Xantrex warranty for the equipment they supply for the Li3 option is for three years from the purchase date of the coach. The warranty is transferable to subsequent owners. Warranty repairs or replacement can be done at a Coachmen dealership but Coachmen advises that their dealers are independent franchises and are under no obligation to provide warranty service. Warranty work required on Xantrex equipment can also be done at one of their repair centers. They have 21 depots scattered throughout CONUS & Canada.


Bottom Line:

To date, to get cutting edge advances in electrical technology in a Class B, you pretty much had two choices: either Roadtrek or Advanced Research (ARV). Unquestionably, ARV still offers the ne plus ultra for electrical equipment with respect to design, execution, reliability or rarely required followup support. Their Silverleaf control system is as good as it gets; their innovation in alternator modifications is truly impressive and their current testing of a Volta 48 Volt system may truly be a harbinger of things to come. But that said, their coaches are custom built to owner specifications and consequently they are pretty expensive.

Roadtrek offers an electrical package thatís substantially less expensive, but there is a tradeoff: in terms of design, execution and reliability, the Etrek system seems more like a work in progress than a finished product.

IMO, what Coachmen has come up with with their Galleria Li3 option is a potential game changer. Itís a coherent integrated system designed by Xantrex engineers that clearly know what they are doing and apparently this option will deliver at the same general price point as the Etrek. Midwest Automotive also was showing their Class Bs at Pomona and although they didnít have one to display, they said they would be offering a similar system.
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Old 11-02-2017, 11:39 PM   #2
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We are finally entering the era of technology that many of us have been predicting and hoping for a long time. EG, we are seeing intergrated, single source, non RV manufacturer, battery, charging, etc systems. With Xantrex in it now, ARV starting to use the Volta system, and Victron also going into fully integrated systems, we are going to have companies that actually know what they are doing designing power systems.

I think the integrated, third party, systems will continue, even if lithium itself gets displaced by something else, which is always possible. The one thing we really haven't seen a lot about is how all this stuff is handling cold weather storage issues, and how are heated if used in cold weather, which is the weak spot for lithium.
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Old 11-03-2017, 03:54 AM   #3
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That's a pretty thorough report Cruising7388. Coachmen is leaning Advanced RV's direction. BTW, ARV has gone away from Outback to Xantrex for their inverter, I think because they can communicate with the Silverleaf system better than Outback, and plus Xantrex has come out with a better inverter than before. I don't know all the details. I'm not sure how their Volta system is advancing I think they are still beta testing with one van. They may offer both as they are convinced if you don't need much for air conditioning their existing system is fine. They are convinced the Nations alternator will not keep up, high idle or not with extreme southwest conditions and that's why the went with Delco. Their pursuits with air conditioning are still ongoing. They recently released this video in testing four systems and are installing the test winner in a van with a volunteer beta tester. They aren't saying just yet what it is.

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Old 11-03-2017, 05:41 AM   #4
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I think the integrated, third party, systems will continue, even if lithium itself gets displaced by something else, which is always possible. The one thing we really haven't seen a lot about is how all this stuff is handling cold weather storage issues, and how are heated if used in cold weather, which is the weak spot for lithium.
I think lithium batteries will eventually go the way of the do do bird. While they have awesome power density and can deliver and accept high amperage levels, they are really pretty fragile with respect to tolerance of ambient temperature extremes. There seems to be a consensus regarding high temperature limits and 32F as the low temperature limit for charging. However, there seems to be no consensus regarding tolerable standalone freezing temps. -4F is often recited but I have some doubts about this figure considering that in wintertime Minnesota, sustained temps at or lower than -15F are not unusual. Tesla claims their lithiums will not sustain damage above -22F. The latest claim I have heard is that a properly designed lithium battery could survive -40F.

By comparison, while a lead acid battery might not produce much power at -40F, if fully charged, it will survive.

FWIW, temperature extremes can involve more than batteries. Everyone appreciates the problem with excessively high temperature for electronic equipment. What is less appreciated is how this same equipment may function at very low temperatures. I had a Xantrex Prosine 2.0 that wouldn't turn on in temperatures appreciably below zero. Above zero, it would turn on and perform normally. When I queried the factory regarding this symptom they responded that to guarantee operation below zero, various devices would have to meet Milspec which would make the unit substantially more expensive.
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Old 11-03-2017, 06:55 AM   #5
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A very well written summary cruising7388. I am not too much into an electric power camping but my dream is to have a fully integrated and well-EE engineered system which would include various AC power output accommodating various customer needs with appropriate energy sources such as solar, engine while driving, and my dream - about 300 W IC 24 hours generator with an idiot light indicating that it is running. I would love to see a Fuel Cell but doubt it will ever happen.

It seems as Xantrex is waking up from its dormancy, good news, from my boating time I remember them as a great company.

Battery wise, we not there yet with Li.
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Old 11-03-2017, 04:52 PM   #6
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this is a statement in email to me straight from Elite Power Solutions the supplier for GBS lithium ion batteries for Advanced RV.

"Temperatures below -4įF (-20įC) will cause the electrolyte to freeze which will cause permanent damage to the batteries if it does not kill them entirely. If storage temperatures will go below -4įF then you will need to heat the batteries to above -4įF to prevent damage to the battery. There is no exception to this."

They are in Tempe, AZ so no worries about this. I'm in Minnesota and have endured an unofficial -43 degrees F. at my house. Last year it reached -20 at one time I believe on about December 20. Advanced RV installs the batteries in a sealed insulated box and puts electric heating pads sandwiched between battery banks, two 12V, 5 amp pads to keep the batteries above freezing on my ARV. If plugged into shore power that should work to keep batteries above freezing. With 800ah of battery on the road and charging there is little chance the 10 amps will deplete the batteries when charging that the rate of 280 amps per hour. Keep in mind lithium ion batteries stay at least 10 degrees above ambient with little load from my monitoring experience. The cell temperature would have to reach -4F not the ambient. I mentioned in the past, my first night in our ARV I camped in +5*F overnight in the ARV parking lot and traveled for a solid week of day and night temperatures below freezing culminating in a 0*F in a New Mexico Cracker Barrel before reaching above freezing temperatures.

As a belt and suspenders I bought a heated (with gas furnace) condo garage this year with shore power and remain plugged in. I moved into an HOA home that prompted this. The ARV 56v Volta system says it has a lower temperature tolerance. Knowing what I know I'm confident about my batteries. I'm satisfied. I also think this is a concern for just a few parts of the country. It initially didn't dawn on Advanced RV as for north as Willoughby, OH (Cleveland).

On the other hand, Roadtrek warrants AGMs only for one year. Why? They could last about that long. I know, I got just one season out of my AGM battery in my 2005 Pleasure-way Plateau.

Lithium ions are the best we got if you want total off-grid power all the time with all electrical systems active (120vac air conditioning, outlets, Keurig coffee pot, microwave/convection oven, induction cooking and my electric operated articulating beds in my case). That's freedom from shore power forever if you want and also no propane if you desire, and my current thinking is no solar as well. I've had RVs both ways now, and believe me, I would never go back what you call conventional and I don't feel like saying the time is not now or there are systems in the future that will replace lithium ion batteries. My future is now.
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Old 11-03-2017, 06:21 PM   #7
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Coachmen is leaning Advanced RV's direction. BTW, ARV has gone away from Outback to Xantrex for their inverter, I think because they can communicate with the Silverleaf system better than Outback, and plus Xantrex has come out with a better inverter than before. I don't know all the details. I'm not sure how their Volta system is advancing I think they are still beta testing with one van. They may offer both as they are convinced if you don't need much for air conditioning their existing system is fine. They are convinced the Nations alternator will not keep up, high idle or not with extreme southwest conditions and that's why the went with Delco. Their pursuits with air conditioning are still ongoing. They recently released this video in testing four systems and are installing the test winner in a van with a volunteer beta tester. They aren't saying just yet what it is.
I think Outback and Xantrex are pretty much on a par with respect to the quality of their hardware. My guess is that Xanbus data streaming communicates more effectively with Silverleaf.

Pumping up system voltage isn't new although you have to be an old geezer to know that as early as WW II, military Jeeps had 24 volt electrical systems.

Assuming you have a battery that will accept the desired charging rate, there is no question that a 48 Volt system could substantially decrease the engine idle period for battery recharging purposes, which would certainly make Mercedes happy. But I wonder if a 48 Volt system capable of pumping out 10 kw is perhaps a very expensive solution which for most users is a non-existing problem. Are 48V converters and inverters available off the shelf? Also, won't a DC to DC converter have to be included to power all the third party 12 Volt appliances?
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Old 11-03-2017, 06:43 PM   #8
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There was a MB rep at a recent PW rally who recommended maximum idling time to about 2 hours to protect the DPF system. After that, it would need to be driven to actuate a regeneration cycle (inactivated when stationary). Having a high idle would make matters worse.

At least that's what I heard. I have no other practical experience in this.
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Old 11-03-2017, 07:03 PM   #9
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There was a MB rep at a recent PW rally who recommended maximum idling time to about 2 hours to protect the DPF system. After that, it would need to be driven to actuate a regeneration cycle (inactivated when stationary). Having a high idle would make matters worse.

At least that's what I heard. I have no other practical experience in this.
You're probably spot on. I don't know that a high idle would necessarily make matters worse but if a regeneration cycle requires the vehicle to be in motion, high idle while stationary wouldn't mitigate DPF contamination. But what high idle does do is shorten the necessary engine idle period to sufficiently recharge the batteries.

For warranty purposes, how does MB determine whether or not DPF problems are the result of excessive engine idle periods? Can that data be extracted from the computer?
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Old 11-03-2017, 07:08 PM   #10
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I think the problem with high idle was that it would increase emission, so if idled for the same amount of time, it would increase the need for regeneration. If, on the other hand, it decreased the time needed for idling, I guess that would be a trade-off and uncertain if it's better or worse overall without data.

Whether MB logs idle times was not discussed.
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