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Old 04-29-2021, 01:23 AM   #1
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Lithium Upgrade

We are considering a lithium upgrade. We have a 2017 ARIA and need to know if our charging system will be compatible with lithium. Thoughts?

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Old 04-29-2021, 03:08 AM   #2
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I considered lithium myself, and here is what I found. You will need to change your BIM to keep from burning up your alternator. Approximately $285. The actual change out is easy, probably a 15 minute job. Your firefly system needs to be upgraded from firefly. They want $500 for the re-program. Then you just need the batteries and suitable cables if you are changing the number of batteries or voltages. I decided to go with AGMs for now.
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Old 04-29-2021, 03:52 PM   #3
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I made the switch to lithium a couple of years ago. I have solar and the solar controller can be set to lithium so I typically see that the batteries are nearly, if not fully, charged. To be fair, we live and often camp in southern California so we see a fair amount of sunshine.

I changed the BIM as mentioned above Ė it was fairly easy but, if you do it, be sure you have the right wires connected to correct terminals.

A couple of months ago, I also upgraded the converter in the power center to get the higher voltage for charging the batteries when connected to 110. Since we boondock a lot, I donít know if that was really necessary. This cost around $300 and was also a pretty easy install, assuming basic skills and experience working around electricity.

One piece of advice, if you are considering a do-it-yourself job, do your homework with the providers and venders. There is a lot of opinion and advice here, much of it is good but not always.

Our objective was to be increase the time we can be off-line without use of the generator. I think we do pretty well. Water and sewer are our current limiting factors but I boondock solo a lot and can conserve there. With my wife, another story.
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Old 04-29-2021, 08:11 PM   #4
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Besides the information provided, you likely will also have to change out your Converter. Most of the entry level ones Thor uses will only charge flooded or AGM batteries properly. You will need to check your Converter / Charger information to be sure.
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Old 04-29-2021, 08:28 PM   #5
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Please visit the below and note this section: "Use any existing WFCO power center or converter to safely charge your lithium batteries. Our standard products will charge your lithium-ion battery, without damage or excessive heat so you will not have to worry about where your power supply will be coming from. The following products are lithium-ion compatible:"

https://wfcoelectronics.com/lithium-solutions/

What they don't say, is it will only charge lithium 85-90%. The only true way to get a full charge is to get a lithium compatible charger.

As someone said, there's a plethora of info on the subject here. Most good, some can be misleading or easily misunderstood. When in doubt, call the manufacturer and compile notes.
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Old 04-29-2021, 08:49 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The_Breeze View Post
What they don't say, is it will only charge lithium 85-90%. The only true way to get a full charge is to get a lithium compatible charger.

As someone said, there's a plethora of info on the subject here. Most good, some can be misleading or easily misunderstood. When in doubt, call the manufacturer and compile notes.
Very true. All LiFePO4 batteries have a battery manager to manage the many 3.2 volt cells (80 or more). The manager needs a steady voltage of 14.2 to 14.6 volts to equalize the cells within the battery during charging. A lithium charger only has two stages bulk and float, as there is no need to reabsorb the hydrogen gas created during bulk charging, as in lead acid batteries. The float voltage can be anything less the 13.7 volts
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Old 04-29-2021, 09:36 PM   #7
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The WF-9855 Thor used in my Magnitude does not call out Lithium Batteries as supported. That is probably the 80-90% charge aspect. WFCO does offer the WF-9855LiS, which is designed for switching between Lead Acid and Lithium.

The Progressive Dynamics PD9260 I replaced the WF-9855 does not support Lithium but I was ok with it because I don't have plans to go that route. They have a 9100L series for Lithium.

Here is a good video that overs Lithium Battery charging for RV's you may find useful.


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Old 04-30-2021, 06:26 AM   #8
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2017 Thor Aria 3901 LiFePO4 Battery Upgrade Project

We also have a 2017 Thor Aria 3901 and are about to convert to LiFePO4 batteries as well. Been doing tons of prep/research and I generally agree with the other posts thus far. There are several things you will need to consider:

1) If you have the stock Inverter/Charger (which early 2017 Aria's came with the Magnum Energy ME2012 modified sine-wave I/C); I would encourage you to upgrade to an MS series (pure sine-wave) version (i.e.: MS2012 or MS2812) as part of this project. Personally, I upgraded to the Magnum Energy MS2812 pure sine-wave inverter/charger (which gave me a big more wiggle room on wattage output - ~3000w). It also solves a few common problems with the Aria discussed in other threads on this forum.

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2) You will need to configure the charger profile on your Inverter/Charger to accommodate the LiFePO4 battery charging requirements. The good news is that most LiFePO4 batteries are 'drop-ins' and have intelligent Battery Management Systems (BMS) that can work with a variety of chargers and configurations usually designed to accommodate FLA or AGM configurations. You can configure the charger profile one of three ways: Option 1) Use a compatible existing charge profile via the Firefly preset battery configurations (i.e.: many LiFePO4 batteries will work with the AGM profile on the Magnum Energy Inverters), Option 2) Use an external Magnum Energy Remote (ME-ARC) and connect directly to the I/C to do a custom charge profile configuration, Option 3) Work with Firefly Integrations to customize your software on your control panel/screen to accommodate custom charging profiles. Option #3 is the path I personally chose for my install (along with an upgrade from the 4.3" B/W screen to the 7" color display)...but it has the highest price tag:

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3) Decide on your LiFePO4 battery manufacturer, capacity/configuration. After reviewing several options, I decided on Battle Born LiFePO4 batteries (qty. 6 100 Ah BB10012 for a total usable capacity of 600 Ah). They just arrived and are ready for install:

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4) Upgrade your Battery Isolation Manager (BIM) to one that is Li-ion compatible. The Precision Circuits LiFePO4 Li-BIM-225 is a good choice and an easy swap with the original BIM-225. Same physical footprint makes conversion easy.

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5) Consider adding a battery monitor capable of measuring your LiFePO4 battery plant's state of charge (SOC). The Firefly control panel will do little for you in measuring the batteries available capacity since it only shows voltage...and voltage is so consistent for a Lithium-based battery. I personally went with the Victron BMW-712 with Bluetooth so that I could get the readings via an app on my phone.

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If you have any questions or want to discuss in detail, let me know.

Thanks,
Hunter
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Old 05-24-2021, 10:45 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aznytfury View Post
We also have a 2017 Thor Aria 3901 and are about to convert to LiFePO4 batteries as well. Been doing tons of prep/research and I generally agree with the other posts thus far.

Great post! It seems you know what you're talking about. Wish you weren't in Arizona, or I'd drop the rig off with you and throw money at it until you tell me it's done. LOL
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Old 06-06-2021, 09:41 PM   #10
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Smile Completed our 2017 Thor Aria 3901 - LiFePO4 Lithium Battery Upgrade Project

The conversion to LiFePO4 is complete!! Couldn't be happier with how it turned out. Here is what we did:
  • 600 ah of Battle Born LiFePO4 batteries
  • Li-BIM 225 Battery Isolation Manager
  • Victron Energy BMW-712 battery monitor and 500 amp shunt
  • Firefly Integrations custom software package to interface the Magnum Energy MS2812 I/C and set custom charging profile
  • Battery cutoff switch in the house battery compartment (oddly, there wasn't one included in the Thor Aria from the factory)
  • Victron Energy Temperature monitor probe (we live in AZ...it's a concern)

Battle Born 600 ah LifePO4 batteries:
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Li-225 BIM (Battery Isolation Manager):
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Upgraded Firefly Integrations software to control the MS2812 I/C charge profile:
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Victron Energy BMV-712 Bluetooth battery monitor (shows actual State of Charge (SOC) for LiFePO4 batteries):
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Victron Energy Bluetooth App:
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Victron Energy Solar Charge Controller MPPT 100 | 30 that supports custom charge profiles for LiFePO4 batteries:
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Old 06-07-2021, 03:10 AM   #11
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Very nice!
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Old 06-11-2021, 02:08 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aznytfury View Post

Battle Born 600 ah LifePO4 batteries:
Attachment 31173
Nice job. Just a quick note: wiring the batteries in parallel that way is supposedly the 'old' way. The new way is to tie them all directly to a bus. That ensures equal participation by all batteries in the bank.

You'll have to decide if you want to take on the effort and expense of the 'upgrade'.

https://diysolarforum.com/threads/ne...67/post-221301
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Old 06-12-2021, 07:40 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The_Breeze View Post
Nice job. Just a quick note: wiring the batteries in parallel that way is supposedly the 'old' way. The new way is to tie them all directly to a bus. That ensures equal participation by all batteries in the bank.

You'll have to decide if you want to take on the effort and expense of the 'upgrade'.

https://diysolarforum.com/threads/ne...67/post-221301
Good point and observation. Appreciate the recommendation. I might consider adding a shelf and 4 more batteries to give me 1000ah overall capacity...if I do, I will likely take the time to put in bus bars and wire it up that way. I have some materials on order right now to be able to run the air con. selectable on Inverter or Shore/Gen. Running the air con. on Inverter/battery (even with a healthy solar plant) will not run long on 600 ah.
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Old 07-29-2021, 12:08 PM   #14
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That looks like an amazing setup. I am trying to get Firefly to work with me ion this. Do you mind saying what they charged you for the programming? I have already upgraded to the Bluetooth on mine but need the custom battery settings
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Old 07-29-2021, 01:36 PM   #15
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What was your total investment?
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Old 07-29-2021, 05:19 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by D2D Mike View Post
That looks like an amazing setup. I am trying to get Firefly to work with me ion this. Do you mind saying what they charged you for the programming? I have already upgraded to the Bluetooth on mine but need the custom battery settings
I paid $2500 total, but it was part of a package of several customizations I did all at the same time (i.e.: SeeLevel tank monitor software integration too). I believe I was quoted about $1,100 for the custom charge profile mgmt. specifically by itself.
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Old 07-29-2021, 05:43 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aznytfury View Post
The conversion to LiFePO4 is complete!! Couldn't be happier with how it turned out. Here is what we did:
  • 600 ah of Battle Born LiFePO4 batteries
  • Li-BIM 225 Battery Isolation Manager
  • Victron Energy BMW-712 battery monitor and 500 amp shunt
  • Firefly Integrations custom software package to interface the Magnum Energy MS2812 I/C and set custom charging profile
  • Battery cutoff switch in the house battery compartment (oddly, there wasn't one included in the Thor Aria from the factory)
  • Victron Energy Temperature monitor probe (we live in AZ...it's a concern)

Battle Born 600 ah LifePO4 batteries:
Attachment 31173

Li-225 BIM (Battery Isolation Manager):
Attachment 31174

Upgraded Firefly Integrations software to control the MS2812 I/C charge profile:
Attachment 31175

Victron Energy BMV-712 Bluetooth battery monitor (shows actual State of Charge (SOC) for LiFePO4 batteries):
Attachment 31176

Victron Energy Bluetooth App:
Attachment 31177

Victron Energy Solar Charge Controller MPPT 100 | 30 that supports custom charge profiles for LiFePO4 batteries:
Attachment 31178
Very Nice Job! Looks professional or better
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Old 07-29-2021, 07:24 PM   #18
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Well.... I'm inches away from pulling the trigger on a lithium upgrade for my SV34.

Battle Born has a sale right now and the 100Ah LiFePO4 on sale for $150 off. There are a lot of cheaper ones on the market now but from the research I have done their BMS, warranty and reputation is the best in then business. The big thing for me is I leave the coach plugged in during the winter months when its stored in the garage up north and I am down in Florida. The BMS has a cold charging protection system and is a major plus. Many of the LiFePO4's out there don't have that capability.

I am going to replace my four 6V batteries for three 100Ah Battle Born's, a LI-BIM 225 and the Porgressive Dynamics PD9160ALV Converter. I already have a Renogy 30A Solar Controller that is LI capable so I am already set there.

I figure the 300Ah is going to perform much better than the flooded 435Ah and with the lifecyle and warranty, I could transfer them to another coach if I were to decide to sell the SV34 at some point.

I'll hold on to my 6V batteries and converter and put them back in if I would ever sell the coach.


*EDIT*

I just happened to stumble across Big Battery for LiFePO4 options. They also have a 10-year warranty and they seem to offer more power per dollar. There smallest battery is 170Ah and it is on sale for $979. They also have a good BMS with it as well.

https://bigbattery.com/by-voltage/#12

Looks like I will be doing a bittle more research.....
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Old 07-30-2021, 01:11 AM   #19
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Now I'm leaning towards the Big Battery LiFePO4 -170Ah after reading several review and watching a few YouTube Videos. The specs are better the Battle Born 100Ah with a higher continuous discharge rating and a higher peak current rating (good for starting the genny).


Max Continuous Discharge Current: 175A
Max Continuous Power: 2240W
Max Discharge Peak Current: 350A (6 Seconds)
Voltage Range: 9.8 – 14.6V


The other features I like about the Big Battery LiFePO4 are:

- BMS Cold Temp Charging Protection

- They have a LED display showing the battery voltage

- Each battery has it's own on / off switch


I also found 10% discount coupon online. I can get two of the Big Battery 170Ah units to give me a total of 340Ah for $1841 shipped (apparently no tax) vs buying three of the Battle Born 100Ah units giving me 300Ah for $2544.

I'm going to sleep on it and then make a decision in the morning. If I am going this route, I would like to get everything delivered next week so I can get it installed before our 7-week trip.
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Old 07-30-2021, 02:47 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chateau_Nomad View Post
What was your total investment?
Total investment for 600 Ah Battle Born LiFePO4 batteries, Firefly customizations, BMV-712, BIM, new cables, misc materials was about $6900 total.
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