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Old 06-06-2018, 10:14 PM   #1
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Default Lithiums in winter

We are new to both Class B's and more specifically to ithium bateries and don't have either at present - but should have both by Fall this year!

I have been reading the manual for the PW Plateau and understand that it is not desirable to be charging lithiums when they are below freezing. The manual says to disconnect the charging line - presumably until the interior of the van warms up. Sounds easy enough and I will do that!

I am surprised that the BMS does not automatically provide such protection though - I guess it does not!

But the manual also says that if the unit is being stored outdoors in below freezing temperatures, it is recommended to remove the batteries and bring them indoors.

I am wondering how important that is for battery longevity and if folks in cooler parts of the country actually do that?

We normally head south from Canada in mid Feb each winter, so the van would be outdoors in potentially cold weather until then.

Where we live in Canada is not terribly cold - all relevant I suppose - but certainly temperature extremes in the 10-15 deg F range could be experienced.

Should the batteries be removed? Anyone live in similar locations and able to advise?

I am assuming that if I bring the batteries indoors I won't be able to charge them as I assume lithiums need special chargers?


Thanks ............ Brian.
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Old 06-07-2018, 01:24 AM   #2
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We have 4.5 kW-hrs in our 190 Roadtrek. . Son designed and fabricated the solar LFP system. The battery suite, inverter, battery chargers et al are under the bed (we have just left it as a bed). He put in a “blower” the evacuated the air under the bed to the outside which draws in cabin air once the temperature drops below 40F (5 C or so). We have an Olympic Wave 3 heater mounted on closet door which keeps cabin in mid to high 40s F. Startled us the first time it came on at 2 am.

We also have a fifth wheel that we seem to alternate in going to Yucatan. We just disconnect the battery suite of vehicle not in use
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Old 06-07-2018, 04:11 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Wingeezer View Post
I have been reading the manual for the PW Plateau and understand that it is not desirable to be charging lithiums when they are below freezing. The manual says to disconnect the charging line - presumably until the interior of the van warms up. Sounds easy enough and I will do that!

I am surprised that the BMS does not automatically provide such protection though - I guess it does not!

But the manual also says that if the unit is being stored outdoors in below freezing temperatures, it is recommended to remove the batteries and bring them indoors.

I am wondering how important that is for battery longevity and if folks in cooler parts of the country actually do that?

We normally head south from Canada in mid Feb each winter, so the van would be outdoors in potentially cold weather until then.

Where we live in Canada is not terribly cold - all relevant I suppose - but certainly temperature extremes in the 10-15 deg F range could be experienced.

Should the batteries be removed? Anyone live in similar locations and able to advise?

I am assuming that if I bring the batteries indoors I won't be able to charge them as I assume lithiums need special chargers?


Thanks ............ Brian.
I don't think it's a question of the BMS not controlling charging parameters. I don't there is a BMS at all.

At 400ah and higher battery capacity, I understand the advantages of lithiums rather AGMs. What I don't understand is the virtue of equipping a coach with a total of only 200ah in lithium. This could be just as well accomplished using AGMs for a hell of a lot less money and with no concern regarding freezing issues.
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Old 06-07-2018, 12:01 PM   #4
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I don't think it's a question of the BMS not controlling charging parameters. I don't there is a BMS at all.

At 400ah and higher battery capacity, I understand the advantages of lithiums rather AGMs. What I don't understand is the virtue of equipping a coach with a total of only 200ah in lithium. This could be just as well accomplished using AGMs for a hell of a lot less money and with no concern regarding freezing issues.
Maybe that is the answer!

But even if it is a much less sophisticated system, is there not still an advantage in that the lithium batteries hold their voltage much better as capacity is used up?

Brian.
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Old 06-07-2018, 12:16 PM   #5
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Maybe that is the answer!

But even if it is a much less sophisticated system, is there not still an advantage in that the lithium batteries hold their voltage much better as capacity is used up?

Brian.
Even the drop in replacement lithium batteries have a BMS to at least support cell balancing but the BMS may not have all the protection functions of the higher end systems. It may have protections to prevent overcharging and overdischarging the cells but may not have protections for low temperatures.

In addition to higher voltage during discharge, lithium advantages over AGM include savings in weight and volume, more usable capacity for a given number of amp hours, and the capability to take higher harge currents all the way up to full charge which avoids the several hour absorption charge phase of an AGM battery.
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Old 06-07-2018, 03:36 PM   #6
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But the manual also says that if the unit is being stored outdoors in below freezing temperatures, it is recommended to remove the batteries and bring them indoors.

Where we live in Canada is not terribly cold . . . but certainly temperature extremes in the 10-15 deg F range could be experienced.

It doesn't seem that your basic inquiry has been addressed and, unfortunately, we're not going to be able to answer it either.

It had been our understanding that the 'freezing limitation' of lithium is related to charging but that lithium, otherwise, can be exposed to temperatures as low as -4 degrees Fahrenheit. Your "manual" is the first we've heard that it may not be good for lithium to store them at temperatures below 32F. We'd like to see some authority for that proposition.

There's one thing for certain, there's no way we're going to be shuttling our somewhat ungainly 500ah lithium pack 'in and out' from its installation point under the bed. Although we live in northern climates (Michigan and northern Illinois) we've been fortunate over the past two winters to be able to park our van 'inside'.

But we've considered the issue if for no other reason that there will likely be times when we're using the van in sub-freezing temperatures. The good news is that our batteries are housed inside the van and, more specifically, within a sub-compartment of the bed only slightly larger than the batteries themselves. We opine that we could keep this area heated with a comparatively low power electric source.

Hoping that someone has the answer to safe lithium storage temperatures.
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Old 06-07-2018, 04:00 PM   #7
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It doesn't seem that your basic inquiry has been addressed and, unfortunately, we're not going to be able to answer it either.

It had been our understanding that the 'freezing limitation' of lithium is related to charging but that lithium, otherwise, can be exposed to temperatures as low as -4 degrees Fahrenheit. Your "manual" is the first we've heard that it may not be good for lithium to store them at temperatures below 32F. We'd like to see some authority for that proposition.

There's one thing for certain, there's no way we're going to be shuttling our somewhat ungainly 500ah lithium pack 'in and out' from its installation point under the bed. Although we live in northern climates (Michigan and northern Illinois) we've been fortunate over the past two winters to be able to park our van 'inside'.

But we've considered the issue if for no other reason that there will likely be times when we're using the van in sub-freezing temperatures. The good news is that our batteries are housed inside the van and, more specifically, within a sub-compartment of the bed only slightly larger than the batteries themselves. We opine that we could keep this area heated with a comparatively low power electric source.

Hoping that someone has the answer to safe lithium storage temperatures.

Thanks Winston,

The way it is worded in the PW manual is more a recommendation than a firm "must do," and I was just wondering how important it might be. Our temps here near Toronto are likely similar to yours.

Our van also will have the batteries inside under the rear sofa. I hope we will be keeping in in our driveway over the winter, so I could put a small cube heater in there just to keep temps above freezing but nt sure if it would be just a waste of electricity.

Brian.
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Old 06-07-2018, 07:40 PM   #8
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... The manual says to disconnect the charging line - presumably until the interior of the van warms up. Sounds easy enough and I will do that! ...

... But the manual also says that if the unit is being stored outdoors in below freezing temperatures, it is recommended to remove the batteries and bring them indoors...
I'd do what the manual says at least while under warranty in case the batteries should go bad.

You could also ask Pleasure Way to clarify in detail what the manual says.
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Old 06-08-2018, 12:23 AM   #9
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There are two rules with lithium batteries of which there are several varieties.

1. None should accept a charge at below freezing. Ideally not below about 41F. That means the temperature of the battery, not the air temperature. Batteries in use charging and discharging could be 10-20F above ambient. The simplest way is to monitor the cell temperatures of the batteries and automatically disconnect from charging or you will forever worry, wonder and constantly monitor when on the road in transitional weather. If you don't want to disconnect charging, applying external heat to the batteries can do it. Inside batteries is easy underway when the van is occupied. External batteries can be insulated and electric resistant heating pads are the easiest way. In storage and unoccupied disconnecting is probably easiest. I suspect an electric cube heater on Pleasure-ways batteries would be satisfactory. Personally, I think it is stupid to depend on the cabin's heat to bring up the battery temperature when underway especially if they have no method of monitoring the cell temperature. It becomes a guessing game of how long and you can't charge during that time.

2. The batteries should not go below -4F while in storage. Again that is the battery cell temperature and not the air temperature but while in storage that cell temperature will seek balance with the air temperature. Toronto can get that low but I suspect an electric cube heater will suffice in a Pleasure-way applied directly on the battery case. With your Pleasure-way it probably is possible to store them inside but might be a pain in the ass. With other upfitter supplying 400ah and above battery systems in discrete block assemblies it probably is not practical to remove them. Removing them also disables the electrical functions of your coach and for the most of the winter you may desire that use.

There are some new chemistries in lithium batteries being offered, but still the no-no charging below freezing still applies but the batteries can withstand temperatures to -40F which is the same as AGMs. Those are LiFeMgPo4 batteries as opposed to LiFePo4 batteries. I think the Volta System batteries can withstand lower temperature as well.
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Old 06-08-2018, 01:03 AM   #10
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There are two rules with lithium batteries of which there are several varieties.

1. None should accept a charge at below freezing. Ideally not below about 41F. That means the temperature of the battery, not the air temperature. Batteries in use charging and discharging could be 10-20F above ambient. The simplest way is to monitor the cell temperatures of the batteries and automatically disconnect from charging or you will forever worry, wonder and constantly monitor when on the road in transitional weather. If you don't want to disconnect charging, applying external heat to the batteries can do it. Inside batteries is easy underway when the van is occupied. External batteries can be insulated and electric resistant heating pads are the easiest way. In storage and unoccupied disconnecting is probably easiest. I suspect an electric cube heater on Pleasure-ways batteries would be satisfactory. Personally, I think it is stupid to depend on the cabin's heat to bring up the battery temperature when underway especially if they have no method of monitoring the cell temperature. It becomes a guessing game of how long and you can't charge during that time.

2. The batteries should not go below -4F while in storage. Again that is the battery cell temperature and not the air temperature but while in storage that cell temperature will seek balance with the air temperature. Toronto can get that low but I suspect an electric cube heater will suffice in a Pleasure-way applied directly on the battery case. With your Pleasure-way it probably is possible to store them inside but might be a pain in the ass. With other upfitter supplying 400ah and above battery systems in discrete block assemblies it probably is not practical to remove them. Removing them also disables the electrical functions of your coach and for the most of the winter you may desire that use.

There are some new chemistries in lithium batteries being offered, but still the no-no charging below freezing still applies but the batteries can withstand temperatures to -40F which is the same as AGMs. Those are LiFeMgPo4 batteries as opposed to LiFePo4 batteries. I think the Volta System batteries can withstand lower temperature as well.

Very specific and helpful information Davydd, Thank you!

I am hoping that we will be able to keep our trailer in our driveway year round. There is a local bylaw saying RV's only in driveways during the summer
months, (6 months actually) but wen I spoke with the bylaw officer he toldme that they only enforce it if they get complaints.I have spoken with neighbours and they all seem fine with it being in our drive - but you never know! As long as I can keep it at home I will just stick a cube heater in if temps are likely to be near the point of potential damage If I do ever need to put it in winter storage, I guess I had better remove them! Thx ........... Brian.
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