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Old 07-07-2019, 12:55 AM   #1
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Default LiFePO4 retrofit on Travato

I have a 2017 Winnebago Travato with 200 watts of solar in two panels. I also have a 30A (PWM) Zamp Charge Controller and two NAPA 105AH (Group 31) AGM batteries which are failing. I want to replace them with two 100AH BattleBorn LiFePO4 batteries. I have several questions that I haven't been able to answer as of yet. Can you help me out with this?

First question is, can I use my current Zamp controller? If so, what battery type should I program it for? If not, do I need an MPPT controller or will the PWM be satisfactory. Will my existing generator be able to charge these batteries. What about the engine generator?

Any other recommendations you might care to make would be appreciated.
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Old 07-07-2019, 05:02 AM   #2
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Contact Battle Born, then post back with their recommendations. We have some experts here that can advise as to the validity of their reply.

I contacted Renogy and they suggested a DC to DC charger to prevent the chassis alternator from over charging and shutting down their lithium batteries. I decided to hold off since (in addition to the expense of the batteries) I'd be looking a a new charger and inverter. The cost can really add up quickly.

Then there was the question of how to get the onan generator to play nice. I hadn't even considered if that would be a problem or not. Just too many unknowns for someone with little expertise like me.
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Old 07-07-2019, 05:12 AM   #3
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The first issue to deal with is the temperature sensitivity of the Li batteries. Three solutions: 1. Stay out of freezing conditions. 2. Put them in the living area. 3. Battery heating pads.

What solution are you going to use?
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Old 07-07-2019, 05:55 AM   #4
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The first issue to deal with is the temperature sensitivity of the Li batteries. Three solutions: 1. Stay out of freezing conditions. 2. Put them in the living area. 3. Battery heating pads.

What solution are you going to use?
You donít need to worry about any of those if you choose low temperature LiFePO4 batteries. So far Relion and Zeravolt make them. We use Zeravolt in our builds.
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Old 07-07-2019, 06:47 AM   #5
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What solution are you going to use?

Not an issue. Live in a rather temperate area. Can't remember the last time I saw <25 deg temps, but it does happen. In any event, I won't be camping then and holed up in a warm house. Just disconnect the batteries so they won't charge.
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Old 07-07-2019, 07:19 AM   #6
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Not an issue. Live in a rather temperate area.
Put them in with a battery monitor and let us know how it goes. All previous people that were going to do that quit posting. With a battery monitor you can monitor voltages and make your own decisions about the changes that need to be made, if any, to meet battery specs.

Two Battleborn batteries will accept 80-100 amp charge rate. If you want to do that you will need a new charger. Install them and see what rate you get with your present charger.

As for solar, hook it up and see if it will exceed the voltage spec of 14.6 volts. It probably will not. I use 14.5 volts. Yes, I have two Battleborn batteries with an adjustable solar controller.
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Old 07-07-2019, 02:37 PM   #7
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Put them in with a battery monitor and let us know how it goes. All previous people that were going to do that quit posting. With a battery monitor you can monitor voltages and make your own decisions about the changes that need to be made, if any, to meet battery specs.

Two Battleborn batteries will accept 80-100 amp charge rate. If you want to do that you will need a new charger. Install them and see what rate you get with your present charger.

As for solar, hook it up and see if it will exceed the voltage spec of 14.6 volts. It probably will not. I use 14.5 volts. Yes, I have two Battleborn batteries with an adjustable solar controller.
For those of us who have considered a change to lithium but have not due partially to cost and partially to uncertainties, could you please post your chassis make, inverter, charger, etc?

Did you add a second alternator? Did your OEM alternator play well with the battle borns and coach charger?

If you already posted this elsewhere, can you post the link? Thanks.

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Old 07-07-2019, 03:12 PM   #8
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You donít need to worry about any of those if you choose low temperature LiFePO4 batteries. So far Relion and Zeravolt make them. We use Zeravolt in our builds.
Aren't Relion and Zeravolt lithium batteries LiFePo4 chemistry. What makes them any different with -4F absolute storage temperatures and no charging at freezing temperatures?
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Old 07-07-2019, 03:55 PM   #9
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For those of us who have considered a change to lithium but have not due partially to cost and partially to uncertainties, could you please post your chassis make, inverter, charger, etc?

Did you add a second alternator? Did your OEM alternator play well with the battle borns and coach charger?

If you already posted this elsewhere, can you post the link? Thanks.

Where have you been?

http://www.classbforum.com/forums/f2...stem-8526.html

There are other threads that a search for hybrid might get.
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Old 07-07-2019, 05:22 PM   #10
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First question is, can I use my current Zamp controller? If so, what battery type should I program it for? If not, do I need an MPPT controller or will the PWM be satisfactory.
Which model Zamp? If it doesn't have a lithium program, then it looks like you can use the AGM program.

PWM will work.

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Will my existing generator be able to charge these batteries.
What model converter does your coach have? I.E - is it a WFCO, Progressive Dynamics, or ?

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What about the engine generator?
The biggest issue might be whether or not your alternator output will properly charge fully discharged lithiums without drawing too much current and tripping a breaker or overheating the alternator. Battleborn sells a special battery isolation manager that is supposed to mitigate that potential issue. It doesn't limit current though.

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Any other recommendations you might care to make would be appreciated.
  1. Check with Battleborn.
  2. Measure your alternator voltage - make sure that it's within range of the battery.
  3. Read up on the charge voltage requirements for our batteries, and make sure that both your converter and solar controller are compatible. For instance, even though my GoPower doesn't have a lithium profile, the AGM profile matches what Battleborn expects.
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Old 07-07-2019, 05:44 PM   #11
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IIRC, it is Battleborn that sets a limit on current to their batteries, but it is not internal to them. You would need to provide that protection for all your charging source that are big enough to go over their limit if that is the case.
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Old 07-07-2019, 08:36 PM   #12
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Aren't Relion and Zeravolt lithium batteries LiFePo4 chemistry. What makes them any different with -4F absolute storage temperatures and no charging at freezing temperatures?
They have heating elements inside the battery. So you technically aren't charging below freezing, you are heating the batteries, then charging. I don't know much about them but I assume it will take the current from the charge source directly to the heating element, then once the battery is warm enough, it will connect the battery and allow a charge. If this is true, it's a great design as to not heat the batteries at night when solar is the primary charge source.
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Old 07-08-2019, 04:22 AM   #13
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A lithium system is the same as a hybrid system if you leave the switch on lithium.

This is how the hybrid system is used in 24F temperatures. The lithium batteries are inside the living area.

I find that turning the furnace off and running a heated mattress pad is a better deal. I have a catalytic heater but haven't used it lately. It is a tough furnace run to get things warm in the morning. Better to take your shower at night when things are warm. At sunset both battery banks are at 100%. Bedtime FLA is at 85% Li at 100%. Sunrise FLA at 85%, Li at 75% to 85% depending on morning satellite TV use.

Generator initial charge rate is 120 amps bringing Li to 100% and FLA to 90% in less than 30 minutes. Li to FLA DC charger is then turned on and solar turned to Li. By the end of the day both battery banks are at 100% with no more generator. FLA is 225AH and Li is 200AH. To add a compressor fridge I would want another Li battery and charger.

Battery power is no longer a problem. Propane use is not a problem as you can always buy more but I have some ideas to reduce it. Using the heated mattress pad instead of the furnace was a start. I do have reflectix over the two large side windows and one back window of a Lazy Daze RB. Also reflectix separates the cab from the coach.

I'm using 60-80 amp/hours, approximatly, overnight. The generator restores about 50 amp/hours in the 30 minute run and solar does the rest during the day. The FLA will be at 100% by evening. If solar hasn't re topped off the Li then an evening generator run is in order, usually about 15 minutes with a charge rate of 80 amps. It used to be 95 amps. I don't know why the reduction.

Total cost around $3000.

This installation is in a Class C with 200 watts of solar. The Roadtrek installion uses 80AH FLA and 100AH Li and 100 watts of solar.

They both work very well. Electrical power is no longer a problem and generator runs are almost trivial. If either coach travels during the day a generator run is not necessary.

To my knowledge no one has duplicated either system but the threads explaining them still get views.
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Old 07-08-2019, 05:21 AM   #14
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The problem with lithium and temperature isn't operating temperature, it is storage temperature. As we have discussed before, going with conventional lithium batteries commits you to either removing the battery before storage, living where it never gets really cold, or having a reliable 24/7 power source during storage. If you can't meet these criteria, best to either stay with AGM or use those fancy new batteries that ARV uses that tolerate cold storage.
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Old 07-08-2019, 05:30 AM   #15
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The problem with lithium and temperature isn't operating temperature, it is storage temperature. As we have discussed before, going with conventional lithium batteries commits you to either removing the battery before storage, living where it never gets really cold, or having a reliable 24/7 power source during storage. If you can't meet these criteria, best to either stay with AGM or use those fancy new batteries that ARV uses that tolerate cold storage.
The Relion spec sheet shows a storage temperature spec of 25F-95F! There aren't many areas of the country that can meet that which means removal or a temperature controlled garage. Couldn't find a spec sheet for Zeravolt.

Storage isn't a problem for me in Phoenix. On the rare day it may get too cold I just turn the furnace on.

It would be a problem for Flagstaff or you folks in Minnesota. Wouldn't want to run the furnace all winter. Once you had winter mobility (retired) then go lithium and head south.
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Old 07-08-2019, 02:09 PM   #16
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It wouldn't take much in winter storage as most all homes by electrical code have at least one 110V 15a outlet box on the outside of a house and that's all it takes plus a cheap 30a to 15a adapter and maybe an extension cord. I did that for 11 years. You don't have to have a 30a campground like connection to provide both heat and charge to your lithium batteries. If you store outside at a remote facility you may have a problem as there are very few storage yards that provide electrical hookups of any kind. I know, I scored the last one such outlet one year in a storage yard in an area laden with winter storage mostly for boats in the heart of the Lake Minnetonka area. I've encountered just about every situation and adapted in Minnesota. Now I keep my van after moving into an HOA in a heated, remote condo garage with both 30a and 15a outlets and just keep it plugged into 15a. I could just disconnect the batteries as well and leave in place. My 800ah battery bank is not designed to remove and carry inside for storage. With the drop in profiles of lithium batteries today and putting them inside the van instead of under the floor, Valence, Battleborn, etc. maybe it would be easier but I wouldn't advise it.

My future next van, though I no longer have a need for it it, will have those "fancy" new batteries that ARV uses as one of three lithium battery options. The Valence batteries (LiFeMgPo4 - Lithium Manganese Phosphate) with a drop-in profile can be cold stored down to -40F (-40C) which is the same as AGM spec. I trust they can be stored just about anywhere outside because only a fool would not take extraordinary temporary precautions in that kind of weather.
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Old 07-08-2019, 11:27 PM   #17
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Part of a good electrical system is a good monitoring system. I have a dedicated internet connection for my van's electrical system (it's only $40 for the entire year through freedom pop with 1gb per month) and I get alarms based off of several conditions with one of them being temp. If the temp is too cold (or too hot as I live in Vegas now so this is more of a concern for me than too cold), I get an email. It's been up near 110 outside, but the van is in a semi shaded spot and it hasn't gotten hotter than 102 at the battery terminal:





If you already have a Victron BMV, you can buy a $35 raspberry pi, $25 VE.Direct to USB cable, a $100 LTE modem and a $40 data plan per year and monitor your BMV remotely.
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Old 07-14-2019, 07:19 PM   #18
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I have a 2017 Winnebago Travato with 200 watts of solar in two panels. I also have a 30A (PWM) Zamp Charge Controller and two NAPA 105AH (Group 31) AGM batteries which are failing. I want to replace them with two 100AH BattleBorn LiFePO4 batteries. I have several questions that I haven't been able to answer as of yet. Can you help me out with this?

First question is, can I use my current Zamp controller? If so, what battery type should I program it for? If not, do I need an MPPT controller or will the PWM be satisfactory. Will my existing generator be able to charge these batteries. What about the engine generator?

Any other recommendations you might care to make would be appreciated.
MPPT is vastly superior to PWM, especially if your panels are higher voltage. Mixing FLA with other types presents a problem for your vehiclesí charging regulator, since float and bulk voltages arenít the same. As a result, your coach bats will be ruined in short order. In my opinion, unless you want to replace all your batteries, VRLA batteries work great for both applications and no need to mess with the engine voltage regulator.
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Old 07-14-2019, 07:59 PM   #19
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MPPT is vastly superior to PWM, especially if your panels are higher voltage. Mixing FLA with other types presents a problem for your vehiclesí charging regulator, since float and bulk voltages arenít the same. As a result, your coach bats will be ruined in short order. In my opinion, unless you want to replace all your batteries, VRLA batteries work great for both applications and no need to mess with the engine voltage regulator.

As with all this kind of stuff, it all depends on the system, IMO.


MPPT is definitely better if the system is capable of using that capability, but can actually be equal or even slightly worse in other cases.


If you have small panels, even high voltage ones, on a system that requires more recharging power than the panels can generate, the voltage will be pulled down to lower than the absorption setting for essentially all the charging done over the day. As soon as you drag down the voltage from the panels, MPPT is of no advantage anymore.


Using a flooded starting battery with AGM coach batteries really doesn't seem to be an issue as long as the voltage is good for the AGM batteries. Starting batteries are made to take a large variation of conditions and won't have any problem with voltage regulator that is charging at 14.4v. With any coach battery system, I would always recommend a disconnect switch from the engine charging so you can turn off the charging when they are full, as the alternator will not go to any kind of reasonable float voltage.
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Old 07-14-2019, 08:28 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Steamjockey View Post
I have a 2017 Winnebago Travato with 200 watts of solar in two panels. I also have a 30A (PWM) Zamp Charge Controller and two NAPA 105AH (Group 31) AGM batteries which are failing. I want to replace them with two 100AH BattleBorn LiFePO4 batteries. I have several questions that I haven't been able to answer as of yet. Can you help me out with this?

First question is, can I use my current Zamp controller? If so, what battery type should I program it for? If not, do I need an MPPT controller or will the PWM be satisfactory. Will my existing generator be able to charge these batteries. What about the engine generator?

Any other recommendations you might care to make would be appreciated.
I thought about this and backed away considering the expense and the risk of being bleeding edge. Idid look at smart batteris, https://www.lithiumion-batteries.com/ they have lithium ion battery with a bit of electronic trickery between the terminals and lithium to emulate agm etc. They also a chart showing how temperature de-rates the storage capacity.

I don't have them, I'm not associated with the company. But I thought these might get round the problems of upgrading to Li without throwing away all your other charging tech.
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