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Old 11-07-2019, 05:57 PM   #1
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Default Lithium battery disconnect

I recently purchased a 2016 PW Ascent. This is my first time winterizing. The owners manual instructs to turn and remove a red disconnect key, since the lithium batteries should not be charged if temps are below freezing. The problem is that my van does not have a disconnect key. Apparently, it was the first year PW had the lithium batteries, and did not install the disconnect key (or more likely did not realize they had to in order to protect the batteries). Has this happened to any other Ascent owners out there? My local RV place said they could do it for $400. Does anyone have any DIY experience with installing a disconnect key for these lithium batteries? THANKS!
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Old 11-07-2019, 06:09 PM   #2
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I recently purchased a 2016 PW Ascent. This is my first time winterizing. The owners manual instructs to turn and remove a red disconnect key, since the lithium batteries should not be charged if temps are below freezing. The problem is that my van does not have a disconnect key. Apparently, it was the first year PW had the lithium batteries, and did not install the disconnect key (or more likely did not realize they had to in order to protect the batteries). Has this happened to any other Ascent owners out there? My local RV place said they could do it for $400. Does anyone have any DIY experience with installing a disconnect key for these lithium batteries? THANKS!
If it were me, I would install one of these nice BlueSea remote control battery disconnects:

https://www.amazon.com/Blue-Sea-Syst...87204155&psc=1

Easy self-install. Mount the relay near the battery, plus one short jumper wire. Run a thin wire to a convenient inside location. Done.

One word of advice: If you do decide to go with a mechanical switch, don't be tempted to use the ones that Harbor Freight sells. They will fail in no time.
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Old 11-07-2019, 06:26 PM   #3
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In 2016 they had to know they had to protect lithium ion batteries from freezing (-4F) or charging (-32F) as they are a Canadian company and temperatures got well below that right at their factory. Did they assume you had to remove the batteries from the van and store in a climate controlled space?

Just putting a disconnect on is not going to do it. The batteries will still be subject to freezing damage at -4F (-20C). You have to remove them and store inside a climate controlled space, apply heat from shore power in it stays in the van, or store the whole van in a climate controlled storage garage.

As for not charging below freezing, I think it would be a pain manually controlling a disconnect switch and will bite you in the patootie sooner or later.
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Old 11-07-2019, 06:52 PM   #4
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If it were me, I would install one of these nice BlueSea remote control battery disconnects:

https://www.amazon.com/Blue-Sea-Syst...87204155&psc=1

Easy self-install. Mount the relay near the battery, plus one short jumper wire. Run a thin wire to a convenient inside location. Done.

One word of advice: If you do decide to go with a mechanical switch, don't be tempted to use the ones that Harbor Freight sells. They will fail in no time.
Thanks Avanti. You do make it sound simple, but it also sounds like you know what you are doing. I’m not sure I would be able to do it. If it were as simple as cutting and splicing wires (like coax cable), I could do it. When you start talking jumper wires and running other thin wires, that may be above my pay grade.
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Old 11-07-2019, 06:53 PM   #5
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Thanks Avanti. You do make it sound simple, but it also sounds like you know what you are doing. Iím not sure I would be able to do it. If it were as simple as cutting and splicing wires (like coax cable), I could do it. When you start talking jumper wires and running other thin wires, that may be above my pay grade.
Suggest you download the installation manual from BlueSea. It is pretty trivial. We will help.
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Old 11-07-2019, 07:00 PM   #6
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In 2016 they had to know they had to protect lithium ion batteries from freezing (-4F) or charging (-32F) as they are a Canadian company and temperatures got well below that right at their factory. Did they assume you had to remove the batteries from the van and store in a climate controlled space?

Just putting a disconnect on is not going to do it. The batteries will still be subject to freezing damage at -4F (-20C). You have to remove them and store inside a climate controlled space, apply heat from shore power in it stays in the van, or store the whole van in a climate controlled storage garage.

As for not charging below freezing, I think it would be a pain manually controlling a disconnect switch and will bite you in the patootie sooner or later.
Thank you Davydd. I thought the same thing - how could a company in Canada NOT install a disconnect for lithium batteries?! But, apparently they manufactured the unit without one. They state that it is NOT PWs responsibility, that this was part of the design when they started using lithium ion batteries, and they claim they have every right to alter things without prior notice. When I asked about removing the batteries from the coach, they said it was not necessary - just need to disconnect (I’m in PA - I guess that figured it would not get below 4 degrees here. But good to know in case it does!)
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Old 11-07-2019, 07:01 PM   #7
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Suggest you download the installation manual from BlueSea. It is pretty trivial. We will help.
Cool. I’ll do some research. Thank you.
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Old 11-07-2019, 07:04 PM   #8
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Btw, there are two lithium batteries. I assume I need only one disconnect?
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Old 11-07-2019, 07:06 PM   #9
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Btw, there are two lithium batteries. I assume I need only one disconnect?
Correct...
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Old 11-07-2019, 08:02 PM   #10
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Thank you Davydd. I thought the same thing - how could a company in Canada NOT install a disconnect for lithium batteries?! But, apparently they manufactured the unit without one. They state that it is NOT PWs responsibility, that this was part of the design when they started using lithium ion batteries, and they claim they have every right to alter things without prior notice. When I asked about removing the batteries from the coach, they said it was not necessary - just need to disconnect (Iím in PA - I guess that figured it would not get below 4 degrees here. But good to know in case it does!)
All areas of Pennsylvania have recorded record lows below -4F and average lows below freezing for the month of January.

https://www.plantmaps.com/pennsylvan...rature-map.php

If P-W says all you should do is disconnect your battery I guess they mean at the terminal since you say they didn't provide a switch. Are you sure there isn't one? However, that still won't protect your battery from permanent damage if stored in the van outside if temperatures go below -4F.
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Old 11-07-2019, 08:11 PM   #11
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In 2016 they had to know they had to protect lithium ion batteries from freezing (-4F) or charging (-32F) as they are a Canadian company and temperatures got well below that right at their factory. Did they assume you had to remove the batteries from the van and store in a climate controlled space?

Just putting a disconnect on is not going to do it. The batteries will still be subject to freezing damage at -4F (-20C). You have to remove them and store inside a climate controlled space, apply heat from shore power in it stays in the van, or store the whole van in a climate controlled storage garage.

As for not charging below freezing, I think it would be a pain manually controlling a disconnect switch and will bite you in the patootie sooner or later.

Actually, if they did know, they didn't tell anyone. We saw the early units at the RV show in about that time frame, and I asked about heaters, cold shutoffs, etc and the folks in the booth knew nothing about any of it. They called back to the dealer, to the PW rep, etc without anyone knowing anything. They were telling potential customers that no difference from other batteries but just better. They also had uncontrolled van alternator charging and plain old shore chargers in them. Totally clueless IMO.


This is not surprising to me at all
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Old 11-07-2019, 08:46 PM   #12
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All my Class B RV's had battery disconnect switches. I would be surprised if Pleasure-way didn't provide one especially on lithium batteries since they have made a big deal more so than almost any company in providing a prominent one. This is the one on my 2005 Pleasure-way Sprinter Class B. It was hard to but it was behind a fancy cabinet door on the side of the built-in ottoman.

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Old 11-07-2019, 09:09 PM   #13
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Most RV I have experience with had a battery disconnect, a simple manual switch or a remotely controlled like a BlueSea one. A switch should be on the red positive finger size cable somewhere close to the battery and before the fuse/CB panel, you could try to trace the cable.
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Old 11-07-2019, 09:13 PM   #14
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Most RV I have experience with had a battery disconnect, a simple manual switch or a remotely controlled like a BlueSea one. A switch should be on the red positive finger size cable somewhere close to the battery and before the fuse/CB panel, you could try to trace the cable.

Our Chevy Roadtrek didn't have a main battery disconnect, only the 12v power to the coach bistable relay. If you wanted to kill all power to everything you had to pull the cables to both batteries.
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Old 11-07-2019, 09:20 PM   #15
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Thank you!
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Old 11-07-2019, 09:20 PM   #16
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Thanks. I’ll take a closer look and trace the cables further.
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Old 11-07-2019, 09:21 PM   #17
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Thanks Davyydd.
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Old 11-07-2019, 09:22 PM   #18
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Actually, if they did know, they didn't tell anyone. We saw the early units at the RV show in about that time frame, and I asked about heaters, cold shutoffs, etc and the folks in the booth knew nothing about any of it. They called back to the dealer, to the PW rep, etc without anyone knowing anything. They were telling potential customers that no difference from other batteries but just better. They also had uncontrolled van alternator charging and plain old shore chargers in them. Totally clueless IMO.


This is not surprising to me at all
Interesting, and not very comforting to hear! Thank you.
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Old 11-07-2019, 09:25 PM   #19
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If you have an inverter a disconnect could be between the battery and an inverter. Do you have an access to the electrical schematic?
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Old 11-07-2019, 11:23 PM   #20
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Hi Ron: I have a 2016 lexor TS. Same situation as you. I have the lithiums outside the coach in metal box close to generator. No red key. I just posted on PW facebook and asked about this. Only one person has a PW van with lithiums and no red key? I am concerned about charging while driving thru very cold weather. I live in an area of the country where it does not freeze. Be careful to make sure you disconnect the solar panels(if you have them). Lithiums are charged via shore power, generator, car alternator or solar panels. All sources need to be disconnected.
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