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Old 10-05-2019, 03:37 PM   #1
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Default My Lithium Upgrade

It started out as a modest desire to run the 700W microwave (that actually pulls about 1200 watts) without being plugged in or starting the generator. I also wanted to get rid of the 150 year old lead-acid technology and double my usable amp hours so we could boondock more than one night. Modest goals I thought.

All parts of my project are Renogy (except for Victron 75/15 Bluetooth solar controller replaced last year). Mainly because the Renogy's were the only batteries that fit (and their prices are right). I guess I was feeling flush with cash when Renogy put their 100Ah lithium batteries on sale for $719 (no tax, no shipping) back in August, I took the plunge and ordered two. After initially ordering a 2000W inverter without charger, I realized it would be easier to install a combined inverter/charger. Sent it back and reordered. The first combined inverter/charger had a recall the day after I received it, so had to wait for a replacement. This accounts for considerable delay in completing my project.

Here's what I've done
:

Inverter/charger
- Replaced the old 750 Tripplite with the Renogy 3000W Pure Sine Wave Lithium Compatible R-INVT-PCL1-30111S-BC. Currently on sale for $719 (free shipping https://www.renogy.com/3000w-12v-pur...w-lcd-display/). It happened to just fit the long and fairly skinny space I had available. Overkill for now, but I wanted the 3000W in case of future upgrades.

Truly an easy plug & play replacement for the Tripplite. It is easily programmed from it's top LCD screen. Charger rates can be set in 5A increments up to 65A. I set the charge rate for 45 amps which is the same as the old Tripplite on high charge. A comparable Victron will run you about $1300. A respected product, but at nearly twice the cost.

2 x 100Ah Lithium Batteries
- Besides being on sale for $719 at the time I purchased, Renogy had the only true Group 27 sized batteries I found (actually slightly smaller). Battleborns, besides being more expensive, simply wouldn't fit externally or internally in my application. I ended up installing the Renogy's inside, next to the inverter, by re-purposing a small storage compartment. Makes for short cable runs of 24" for everything but the Inverter positive, which is still only 36". I purchased all new cables except for the 2ga parallel cables from the old batteries.

DC-DC Charger - At the time, Renogy offered 20A ($129) and 40A ($179) models. I chose the 40A since I figured the 20 wasn't enough and the 40 would still not over-tax my engine alternator (just my guess). I effectively isolates the lithiums from the lead-acid engine battery bypassing the old Isolator to which the Ignition switch was wired. This required I move the Ignition wire that turns on the DC-DC charger on to new charger and running a new ground.

State of Charge Monitor/Shunt - To track the lithium charge levels, I purchased the Renogy 500A Monitor for $99. Comes with it's own shunt which is wired to the negative cables. It handles 500 amps and can be programmed for up to 9999 amp hours of battery, so again, I won't have to replace it if I add future battery capacity.

Unexpected Discoveries during install:
While the install when pretty much as expected and there was no smoke or fires. Moving the batteries inside and disconnecting from the chassis battery resulted in the following unwanted, but necessary changes.

1) The chassis battery no longer charges when plugged in. I also no longer have the battery boost feature that allows a weak engine battery to be started from coach batteries. Guess I'll have to buy and carry a $200 battery booster now.

2) The old battery cables to the outside are no longer used, and so, no longer power the main 12 DC bus. So I had to add a cable from the relocated batteries to the positive DC bus to power the coach's 12 DC panel. Also had to relocate the Tank Monitor power from the old Isolator location where they were no longer getting power. Both were minor, just unexpected.

3) One of the major reasons for the upgrade was to run the microwave from the inverter. But I soon realized the plug behind the microwave is not on the inverter curcuit. Oops. We are leaving on a trip in a week so I temporarily ran an extension cord behind the cabinets to the a wall outlet connected to the inverter. A permanent fix will have to wait.

4) Love how fast the batteries charge with the new system. However, the inverter fan (which only runs intermittently under load) is noticeably noisier than the old Tripplite. Still, we don't plan to run the inverter except to use power-hungry appliances like the Microwave or a hair dryer and they will drown out any additional noise from the inverter.

Thoughts and future plans
:

I just hate the old technology of lead-acid batteries and am glad to have them gone. So far I'm in for about $2700 and that is "doing it on the cheap". I am wondering if the upgrade is worth it for the incremental benefit. Rationally no, but if there were truly a plug & play lithium battery option that worked with existing components, then for sure I'd say yes.

In my wildest dreams, there may someday be a 15,360wh beast lurking inside the old Avenue. Something that crushes the new "National Parks Edition" Travato and Boldt since I have room under the rear lounge to add up to 10 more 100ah lithiums (total of 12 x 1280wh) and still only take up a little more than half the available area.

Of course, it's just a little matter of $8000, an Easy-Start, and helalot of huge cables. Plus jettisoning the old Onan generator to keep weight to current levels.

Oh the dreams of youth (at age 65)!
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Old 10-05-2019, 04:24 PM   #2
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The chassis battery no longer charges when plugged in. I also no longer have the battery boost feature that allows a weak engine battery to be started from coach batteries. Guess I'll have to buy and carry a $200 battery booster now.
You can get the chassis battery charging back by installing a Trik-L-Start. Cheap and easy.

As for the boost switch, when I added my second-engine alternator, I left the no-longer-needed isolation relay in place and simply controlled it with a pushbutton switch, thus maintaining the "boost" function.
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Old 10-05-2019, 04:42 PM   #3
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Thanks for an excellent, detailed description of you project. It almost makes me want to go ahead!
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Old 10-05-2019, 05:27 PM   #4
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You can get the chassis battery charging back by installing a Trik-L-Start. Cheap and easy.

As for the boost switch, when I added my second-engine alternator, I left the no-longer-needed isolation relay in place and simply controlled it with a pushbutton switch, thus maintaining the "boost" function.
I went to the Trik-L-Start's rather long FAQ page. I saw no mention of lithium batteries and that may be a problem. I'm sure it works as intended between similar battery types, but it only says that it "maintains your starting battery at .2 volts below your house battery voltage".

May not be a problem since the lithiums rest at 13.2v, But since I don't store my van for any long periods and the engine battery charges when driving (like any car/truck) then carrying a set of cables or boost starter should be sufficient. I would also get the NUCO boost charger because it has a feature that unlocks the lithium BMS should it shut down due to certain conditions. So it would do double-duty.
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Old 10-05-2019, 05:31 PM   #5
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Thanks for an excellent, detailed description of you project. It almost makes me want to go ahead!
Better start a Go Fund Me page. Buying Renogy parts on sale set me back $2700 and a similar setup using BattleBorn/Victron parts would be about $1200 more that that. Since there is no actual "plug & play" lithiums out there and so you need to replace nearly everything that came stock, is sure gets expensive fast.
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Old 10-05-2019, 05:50 PM   #6
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$3k is the going rate to (self) convert. You are correct that Trik-L-Start won’t work properly with Lithium. Mine seem to rest at 13.3 and the Trik-L-Start is supposed to come alive at 13.2, I think. That is the voltage the Xantrex Echostart turns on.

I expect they will have a new one for Lithiums before long.

Hiring the conversion done starts at $7k so you can feel good about that if you don’t burn down.
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Old 10-05-2019, 06:16 PM   #7
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Not having the microwave on the inverter circuit is pretty typical, I think, and Roadtreks were the same way. We were able to rewire the microwave outlet by tapping into to kitchen outlet without a lot of hassle when we used a 1500 watt inverter.



When we went with the big power system and no generator, I wired it back the way it was and connected the inverter circuit to the rest of the the AC. All of the AC outlets are now on the larger inverter. We don't even have a standalone transfer switch anymore, as it is done in the inverter/charger.



You could probably find a way to add all the outlets to be on inverter when it is on with transfer switches, but it would be more hardware and cost.
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Old 10-07-2019, 06:32 PM   #8
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My new inverter/charger is grounded using the same wire previously attached to the old Tripplite. In checking my wiring for the temporary extension cord from the Microwave to a nearby inverter outlet, my circuit tester shows an "Open Ground" condition. Same for the other inverter outlet up front. The 120v outlets all test ok.

I could swear I tested all outlets when I first purchased the van two years ago and don't recall the inverter outlets showing the "Open Ground" message. But two years is a long time and I practically never used the old Inverter, so I could be wrong about testing the inverter outlets.

It there something unique to rv's going on here? What should I do?
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Old 10-07-2019, 07:16 PM   #9
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My new inverter/charger is grounded using the same wire previously attached to the old Tripplite. In checking my wiring for the temporary extension cord from the Microwave to a nearby inverter outlet, my circuit tester shows an "Open Ground" condition. Same for the other inverter outlet up front. The 120v outlets all test ok.

I could swear I tested all outlets when I first purchased the van two years ago and don't recall the inverter outlets showing the "Open Ground" message. But two years is a long time and I practically never used the old Inverter, so I could be wrong about testing the inverter outlets.

It there something unique to rv's going on here? What should I do?

Yes there is an off grid difference than the rest of the world.


Basic code says that neutral and ground should be bonded together at the power source but nowhere else. When you are on shore power the neutral and ground are bonded there or upstream of there. When you are on inverter, the inverter should be bonded neutral to ground when operating.


This give issues when you through in a transfer switch because all of a sudden it also has to switch the ground from non bonded to bonded when you turn on the inverter and make sure it is unbonded when on shore power.


You need to look at however that is being done in your system as it probably is not correct at this point. If the inverter has an internal transfer switch, it should do it for you for the outlets it is connected to, but it also needs to be powered on shore power to take care of that.



A lot of the inexpensive inverter/charges don't handle the bonding correctly.
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Old 10-09-2019, 01:21 PM   #10
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Way to go Roy ! Just finishing up my 4x Battle Born installation. It has (as expected) been a challenge fitting everything in the Travato, but it will have a shakedown this weekend.
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Old 10-09-2019, 01:51 PM   #11
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Way to go Roy ! Just finishing up my 4x Battle Born installation. It has (as expected) been a challenge fitting everything in the Travato, but it will have a shakedown this weekend.
Congratulations. It's tough to find room for 4 batteries in a class b. To bring my two inside, I had to sacrifice a small 12"x13" storage area next to the inverter (tight fit). It makes for short cable runs, however. Plus, I now have the freed-up external battery compartment (behind a locked door on my Chevy Express) that I can re-purpose for storage, so gain and loss of space is a wash.

I have dreams of adding many more lithium batteries, but two was a good start since it more than doubles the usable Amps of my old lead-acid group 27 batteries. With four, you're half way to electricity independence (if there ever is such a thing).

I'm curious about your other components. None of mine were lithium compatible in addition to my inverter not being pure sine wave or powerful enough. So what other components did you replace and with what brand and model?
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Old 10-09-2019, 02:04 PM   #12
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My new inverter/charger is grounded using the same wire previously attached to the old Tripplite. In checking my wiring for the temporary extension cord from the Microwave to a nearby inverter outlet, my circuit tester shows an "Open Ground" condition. Same for the other inverter outlet up front. The 120v outlets all test ok.

I could swear I tested all outlets when I first purchased the van two years ago and don't recall the inverter outlets showing the "Open Ground" message. But two years is a long time and I practically never used the old Inverter, so I could be wrong about testing the inverter outlets.

It there something unique to rv's going on here? What should I do?

Did you ever get this straightened out?


When you did you outlet testing did you have the shore power connected?


I looked at the install manual and specs on your inverter/charger and it says the transfer switch has 3 legs of 40 amp capacity. It does not mention any neutral to ground bonding when on battery/inverter, so you may want to call and find out if it does the bonding or not. On our Magnum that is a relay separate from the transfer relay that can be enabled or disabled at setup.


If you don't have neutral/ground auto bonding, you will always have an open ground on inverter if the unit is unbonded and would have a double bond (against code) if it is bonded and you are on shore power.


A normal outlet tester will show the open situation, but I don't know of any that would show the double bond.


The whole bonding thing is kind of odd, and you can always find a set of conditions that will get you zapped when you don't have an earth ground, and even with one. The rules just seem to try to minimize things.
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Old 10-10-2019, 02:59 AM   #13
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Sorry for the length, but it isnít a easy job to describe.

Roy, my equipment was chosen for function first and size next. I almost under estimated the size needed in respect mainly for cable & wiring.

For 4X Battle Born 100AH batteries I used 2/0 cable for all battery wiring. I used welding stinger cable for maximum flexibility. By the time everything is finalized I will have ~25' of 2/0 installed. I havenít decided yet whether to charge from the engine alternator or not. The batteries charge so easily I may not. I consulted with BB when I put their batteries in my Fortravel about charging from the alternator at 14.4V and they were confident that their BMS would control the charge, that was nearly 4yrs ago so thinking may have changed. The batteries fit perfectly in the passenger side bed storage which in our opinion was to deep anyway. We lost 7Ē in depth.

The Travato comes with 200W of Zamp solar on the roof, and a Zamp controller. This is pretty useless except for storage of the rig....but who stores these things ? I can take it, relatively easily, to 450W. If I do, Iíll use a Victron MPPT controller, but I donít really think it would be worth the cost & effort.

For the inverter I used a Xantrex XC 2000. This is a inverter/charger with a 80A charger. Chosen mainly for size. This is the 4th Xantrex Iíve used and generally have been satisfied, I would rather have used a Victron, but no space. The inverter fit in the same area a WGO had installed the converter, Iím adding additional ventilation to the area to handle the heat load.

On the AC side I installed a Progressive Industries EMS-HW30C hardwired surge & shore power monitor between the Xfer sw and inverter so it monitors generator and shore power. Wiring, when finished will be Ancor 10/3 marine for flexibility and easy handling. In more than 40yrs of owning motorhomes Iíve only really experienced bad power once. I had a Foretravel with the 50A model installed and I guess it saved the bacon...or something.

For battery monitoring I am using the Victron 712 W/500A shunt. I love the Victron stuff with Bluetooth. The Foretravel had the inverter, solar controller and monitor all BT, but again no room here.

Also installed is a manual kill switch and 250A fuse.

I still have the meters for all of this "stuff" to install. Thankfully it is all light wiring so the pulls should be not much of a problem.

For any one considering a install such as this be sure and think it ALL out, and buy a hydraulic crimping tool, those hammer things are not sufficient for the loads youíll be using.

As usual, this is MY install, yours may be different, but I find this suitable for purpose.
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Old 10-10-2019, 01:49 PM   #14
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In the inverter manual page 7 showing ac wiring connections there's a note; "Automatic neutral-to-ground connection";

PJ
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Old 10-10-2019, 02:01 PM   #15
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In the inverter manual page 7 showing ac wiring connections there's a note; "Automatic neutral-to-ground connection";

PJ

I just looked again at the manual I could find for PN listed in the first post and I don't see that note anywhere.


Do you have a link?
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Old 10-10-2019, 03:42 PM   #16
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I just looked again at the manual I could find for PN listed in the first post and I don't see that note anywhere.


Do you have a link?
I may be mistaken, would not have be the first time; but I could not get the link to work so I went to tbe Renogy site, to inverters and downloaded the manual to the inverter/charger that I thought matched the model #

https://www.renogy.com/3000w-12v-pur...w-lcd-display/

PJ
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Old 10-10-2019, 03:46 PM   #17
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I may be mistaken, would not have be the first time; but I could not get the link to work so I went to tbe Renogy site, to inverters and downloaded the manual to the inverter/charger that I thought matched the model #

https://www.renogy.com/3000w-12v-pur...w-lcd-display/

PJ

That is the one that I had found, as I also found the link dead, and is the one that doesn't seem to have that reference to auto bonding connection.


Even so, I don't understand having an external connection unless you had connect your own relays to do the bonding as auto bonding is normally totally within the unit.
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Old 10-10-2019, 03:59 PM   #18
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In the inverter manual page 7 showing ac wiring connections there's a note; "Automatic neutral-to-ground connection";

PJ
Quote:
Originally Posted by booster View Post
I just looked again at the manual I could find for PN listed in the first post and I don't see that note anywhere.


Do you have a link?
I don't see it my manual either. I did a word search of the .pdf file and no mention of "ground" was found.

Sorry for the delay in posting back. It's still in the mid 80's in the morning and mid 90's for daily highs, so I've taken a few days off working on the van. Tomorrow is our first good cool front of the year (high 50's tonight and mid 70's for a high). So tomorrow I'll finally try some of the suggested troubleshooting procedures like testing on generator and house power. Will let you all know what I find.
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Old 10-10-2019, 04:08 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Toyman View Post
Sorry for the length, but it isn’t a easy job to describe.

Roy, my equipment was chosen for function first and size next. I almost under estimated the size needed in respect mainly for cable & wiring.

For 4X Battle Born 100AH batteries I used 2/0 cable for all battery wiring. I used welding stinger cable for maximum flexibility. By the time everything is finalized I will have ~25' of 2/0 installed. I haven’t decided yet whether to charge from the engine alternator or not. The batteries charge so easily I may not. I consulted with BB when I put their batteries in my Fortravel about charging from the alternator at 14.4V and they were confident that their BMS would control the charge, that was nearly 4yrs ago so thinking may have changed. The batteries fit perfectly in the passenger side bed storage which in our opinion was to deep anyway. We lost 7” in depth.

The Travato comes with 200W of Zamp solar on the roof, and a Zamp controller. This is pretty useless except for storage of the rig....but who stores these things ? I can take it, relatively easily, to 450W. If I do, I’ll use a Victron MPPT controller, but I don’t really think it would be worth the cost & effort.

For the inverter I used a Xantrex XC 2000. This is a inverter/charger with a 80A charger. Chosen mainly for size. This is the 4th Xantrex I’ve used and generally have been satisfied, I would rather have used a Victron, but no space. The inverter fit in the same area a WGO had installed the converter, I’m adding additional ventilation to the area to handle the heat load.

On the AC side I installed a Progressive Industries EMS-HW30C hardwired surge & shore power monitor between the Xfer sw and inverter so it monitors generator and shore power. Wiring, when finished will be Ancor 10/3 marine for flexibility and easy handling. In more than 40yrs of owning motorhomes I’ve only really experienced bad power once. I had a Foretravel with the 50A model installed and I guess it saved the bacon...or something.

For battery monitoring I am using the Victron 712 W/500A shunt. I love the Victron stuff with Bluetooth. The Foretravel had the inverter, solar controller and monitor all BT, but again no room here.

Also installed is a manual kill switch and 250A fuse.

I still have the meters for all of this "stuff" to install. Thankfully it is all light wiring so the pulls should be not much of a problem.

For any one considering a install such as this be sure and think it ALL out, and buy a hydraulic crimping tool, those hammer things are not sufficient for the loads you’ll be using.

As usual, this is MY install, yours may be different, but I find this suitable for purpose.

Thanks for posting your upgrade. I chose to do install a combined inverter/charger since it was an easier install and saved a bit of precious space. Just one component and plug & play wiring just like the old Tripplite. I have the Victron bluetooth app for my solar controller and like it, but chose to install the non-bluetooth Renogy State of Charge monitor display so I can monitor things at a glance. The LCD display is always on but not the backlight. Backlight comes on constantly only when the Inverter is on. When charging, the backlight softly fades off and on to let you know batteries are being replenished. I really like how convenient it is.
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Old 10-10-2019, 04:18 PM   #20
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That is the one that I had found, as I also found the link dead, and is the one that doesn't seem to have that reference to auto bonding connection.


Even so, I don't understand having an external connection unless you had connect your own relays to do the bonding as auto bonding is normally totally within the unit.
The note I'm looking at is directly under the figure showing the ac connections under: Installation, AC Wiring.
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