Many bluewater cruisers are now taking the opportunity to swap out their old lead-acid or gel batteries for lithium batteries. Why a lithium battery install? The advantages are many. Read on and make sure to watch the video too!
You get more output for the same space (at least double the power in the same physical space as lead-acid), they’re easier to maintain, lighter (about 1/5 of the weight of a lead aside battery), can be discharged to almost empty, drastically reduce the need for generator use (saving you money in servicing costs), there’s no hydrogen gas generated, charges up almost five times faster than lead-acid, lasts 10 times longer than a lead-acid battery and unbelievable holds its charge for up to one year without a load.
What’s the downside of Lithium Batteries?
Well…until recently the cost has been too high to consider. And they’re still not cheap. Furthermore, they’re not a plug and play or ‘drop-in’ system that some manufacturers would lead you to believe. Several things need to be considered before making a swap.
You want to make sure that all your charge sources can be set to work with Lithium so that includes your converters, solar charge controllers, battery charger, alternator(s) and inverters. Furthermore, you’ll want to find out how you will be able to log onto the system or update the systems to reconfigure their battery settings. Lead-acid have float, absorption and bulk settings whereas Lithium does not.
Prior to doing a swap out determine if your systems are new enough to know what Lithium is.
Find out what’s required to change the settings. For us, we had to buy a new Mastervolt Charge Controller and a device that allowed us to plug the controller into our computer.
Anyway, watch our Lithium Battery Install video below to see how we set our system up. Every boat is different but by watching our set-up you’ll get an idea as to the benefits, what’s involved in the ‘drop-in’ process, any issue we had to work around and Simon details what it cost us to move over to Lithium. (Read more below for specifics on the exact set-up we have).
Lithium Battery Install Video – On Britican
On Britican, our lead-acid batteries were adequate for our needs, however, we had to run the generator every day. Previous to getting solar power, we had to run the genset multiple times per day. Bluewater cruisers are always looking for ways to increase free power and make servicing easier. With the system we now have we use solar to keep our batteries charged and only ever use our genset when we want to do a variety of things all at once such as cook, make water and do a load of laundry.
Gone are the days of using the generator to charge our batteries!
With the reduced use of the generator, we will spend less on servicing costs and enjoy a quieter boat too!
Britican Energy System Set-Up
– Engine: Perkins Sabre’s 115t engine with a Mastervolt 150 AMP Alternator & Sterling IP86 Surge Protector
– Genset: Westerbeke 7.5 kw genset with alternator that charges only the start batter
– Charger: Mastervolt Mass 24/100-C
– Solar Panels: 3 x 325w Panasonic Panels
– Solar Charger: Classic Midnight
– Inverter: Mass Sien 24/5000 (5000 watts)
– Batteries: Battle Born BB10012 100 amp hour 12v LiFePo4
What differences have the solar and batteries made to our system?
Since getting solar power at the end of last year and the new lithium batteries this year our energy world has changed. No longer is the genset needed to charge the batteries. No longer do I have to turn the generator on to do a couple of loads of laundry, heat the hot water tank, cook on all three burners or bake in the oven. Heck, I don’t even need the genset to run the air-conditioning for a few hours!
As long as I’m not running everything at once, and I keep an eye on how much draw I’m taking, I can run everything that I use to run from the genset off the batteries.
As I said in the video it just makes life feel more normal. Rather than having to plan our genset use and cram three or four operations in at once I can now take my time and do things when I want to do them. In the past, I’d make dinner (at 10 in the morning!) do a load of washong and make water while topping up the batteries. Sure, I was productive and getting the most from my genset but who really wants to make dinner at 10 am in the morning?!
Now…if you start off with a boat that has lithium batteries you won’t know the difference. You’ll simply think that all boats have systems that you can turn on when you so choose. If however, you’ve been living on lead-acid power for a while the lithium swap over can really be a game-changer.
Any questions or comments on our Lithium Battery Install?
Please leave them below.