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Old 11-01-2017, 01:11 PM   #1
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View/Navion upgrade to Lithium Batteries and adding solar panels

My 16 Navion 24v came with one solar panel system from factory. I want to add 2 more solar panels to the system. I also want to upgrade the factory NAPA house batteries to lithium. Has anyone does this before and what are you thoughts in doing so. In reading the manuals and checking the manufactor's websites it seems that my 16 Navion is compatible to use lithium batteries without modifications. My goal is to use solar and batteries as long as possible without using engine or generator.

Thanks.

Ron
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Old 11-01-2017, 07:11 PM   #2
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I have a 2017 View 24J that came with one solar panel (100w).

As soon as I got it, I added 3 more panels for a total of 400w, changed the charge controller to Victron 100/30 mppt so I have two panels in series, both strings in parallel. This is to keep the amps low on the roof.

I also bought a Lithionics 300ah 12v LiFePO3 battery which I installed with a new inverter/charger (3kW). I wired the inverter at the input of AC so the whole coach believes it's plugged into the shore when I turn it on. Sweet to use the air conditioner or microwave.

It never needs shore power, solar is outputting tons of amps overall but I need to wait for winter to see if that'd be enough. Perhaps not if a big storm rolls in for a few days.

Once we went camping for like 3.5 days, getting only 1-2 hours of full sun per day and the battery held up totally fine, more than 50% left in the tank. We were using electric kettle to boil water in the AM, instant pot one night to cook a stew, kids watched TV and we used laptops.

Things to consider:
- charging from alternator is fine but will never charge to 100% (although to 98% probably)
- the converter that comes with the coach isn't compatible with lithium batteries so don't try to charge the lithium pack from the shore
- the zamp charge controller may not have the lithium setting which in that event, you should buy a programmable one. I really like the Victron with the bluetooth dongle for easy configuration and monitoring

I got the Magnum MSH3012H as inverter/charger but I would've gotten the Victron instead if I had known the Magnum BMK is useless with lithium batteries.
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Old 11-02-2017, 04:46 AM   #3
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Thanks for all your info. How long did it take you to do all the mods? You think most anyone could do it? Have you thought about making a youtube video on it?

Thanks again.
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Old 11-02-2017, 10:09 AM   #4
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These are tough questions to answer

Solar changes:
- Add 3 panels, half day, I used VHB tape + dicor sealant. Wiring was easy with heat shrink and heat gun
- Charge controller is easy swap although the different form factor left a hole at first. Victron is more like a non-panel controller since everything goes thru bluetooth so I reuse the hole left by the zamp controller for the inverter panel

Inverter+battery:
- Removed the old converter and inverter
- The 24J has the bed in the back so I put inverter+battery under it because the A/C input wire goes thru there, it was easy to cut it and wire it in/out of inverter
- Hole thru floor to wire the (-) of battery to chassis with 4/0 wire
- From the previous battery location (under the steps), I wired 2x2ga wire (+) to the back of the rig to get to the (+) of the battery, going thru the same hole. This way the RV gets the DC current from the same location as before and the alternator can charge safely (big enough wire). Also I could reuse the fuse that was there before for the old inverter which I removed
- Patch hole with foam and black sealant
- Run inverter panel's cable from main control panel thru wall to the inverter (pain in the butt)
- During that work, I moved the charge controller from the main control panel area down to under the bed so less voltage drop and works perfectly with Victron's controller
- Built a small wooden box for inverter/battery area

These are the main steps of the mod.

I made my own cables with a hammer crimp so I could just cut the cables and crimp them right away. If not, you'll have to have everything in place then cut the cables and bring them to a shop to have them crimp.
Keep it simple: Don't have too many different wire sizes/bolt sizes because that means more leftover wires and lugs. And more chances of the shop mixing them up (bolt size).
Drilling holes thru the floor is kinda scary at first because you can't undo it, likewise when you cut wires that come with the rig. But you get used to it

I used heat shrink on everything I could. Better than the original install.

Can most anyone do it?
- Sure, I did! Haha

YouTube video?
- No.. not good at it. If you live near Sac, I'll gladly help you out.
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Old 11-06-2017, 05:26 PM   #5
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Fourgonbound,
Did you buy the battery with the BMS or without?

Is this the battery you bought: 12V 330 Lithium Amp Hours 8D Case with Internal NeverDie BMS | Lithionics

How much have you used the system. Any long term usage, like a 2-3 week trip w/o shore power or generator?

BTW, I installed 400AH of lithium and 650 watts of solar on my 29' Winnebago Class A.

In 2016 on our Alaska trip we traveled 149 days, only 2 days with shore power in an RV park and only ran the generator for a couple of hours one day because of 4-5 days of cloudy weather.
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Old 11-06-2017, 05:32 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RonR View Post
My 16 Navion 24v came with one solar panel system from factory. I want to add 2 more solar panels to the system. I also want to upgrade the factory NAPA house batteries to lithium. Has anyone does this before and what are you thoughts in doing so. In reading the manuals and checking the manufactor's websites it seems that my 16 Navion is compatible to use lithium batteries without modifications. My goal is to use solar and batteries as long as possible without using engine or generator.

Thanks.

Ron
Forgonbound gave an excellent summary of his install, but left out a lot of the details.

Here are several links with lots of details about solar and battery charging. Although nothing about lithium.

HandyBob's Blog Solar & Elect
Jack Mayer RV Electrical
The 12volt Side of Life (Part 1) Batteries
The 12volt Side of Life Part Solar & Inverters
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Old 11-06-2017, 05:33 PM   #7
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Mine is BMS and it's this one:
GTR 12V 300 Lithium Amp Hours 5DR Case with Internal NeverDie BMS | Lithionics

I've used it a bunch since I installed it in April. Several 3-4 day trips (long weekend) and 5 weeks in Colorado/CA.
All my trips have been w/o generator nor shore power. This is why I am trying to get rid of my generator. I don't need it.

149 day trip? Damn, I want that
If we hit an overcast patch of weather like you did, we would probably just use the alternator to recharge the battery.
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Old 11-06-2017, 05:35 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by al1florida View Post
Forgonbound gave an excellent summary of his install, but left out a lot of the details.
Thanks!
And yeah, it's hard to give all the details over a forum post. It took me a while to learn about the general idea and then implementing it involved a lot of YouTube, questions asked, forum reads, etc.
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Old 11-07-2017, 05:53 AM   #9
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Sounds like you have an excellent system.

Did you get the remote monitor?

I was looking at the Lithionics website and I am impressed with amount of documentation they provide about their batteries. I have looked at several other "drop in" battery providers and they give almost no info about the BMS or charging/discharging parameters. Kind of, just trust us, don't concern yourself about safety or details. Some don't even state that you must not charge when the battery temps are below 32* F

The website has a statement that the batteries must be charged once a month with an approved charger. Any details you can provide about that?

What was the price of your battery and any other accessories that you bought from Lithionics? The web site doesn't give any info about prices or how/where to buy.

I have emailed them about prices, etc.

I am not so much interested for myself, but for general info to pass on to others.
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Old 11-07-2017, 09:47 AM   #10
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The remote monitor from Lithionics? No, I didn't get it. I was hoping to use the Magnum BMK but it doesn't work well with it. It keeps resetting the in/out AH every day instead of leaving it alone. So the SoC is all irrelevant.

I'm not sure what "approved charger" really means. I asked them about my inverter/charger and my solar charge controller and they said they're fine. So I guess they are approved chargers? In any event, my charge controller keeps charging the battery every day.

I went through them directly to get the battery. It was way cheaper than on websites online. Almost comparable to drop-in prices.
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Old 11-07-2017, 05:01 PM   #11
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Fourgonbound, thanks for the info about your Lithionics batteries.

I am impressed by the amount of info provided by Lithionics, unlike all the other drop-in lithium batteries I have seen.

So this morning I sent this email about prices and approved charger to Lithionics:

Quote:
I'm impressed with the amount of documentation you provide about your batteries. However there is no info about where to buy, prices or shipping charges. Also you state the batteries must be charged with your charger once a month, but you don't supply info about your charger, or how that is going to work in an off the grid setup. I am looking for prices for BMS & non-BMS 12V batteries in the 100, 200, 300, 400, & 480AH capacity, with a remote. Also info about your mandatory charger. This would be for a RV installation with charging from solar and 120V from generator or on the grid power source. Additionally what about shipping charges to San Antonio, TX.



This is the response I received:

Quote:
Hi Al,
The requirement is to use either a Lithionics charger, or, a Lithionics Approved charger, of which there are many options. We don't publish prices due to safety concerns in which we want to first confirm the application is acceptable for lithium ion batteries. Our competitors permit click-and-buy because they are flipping Chinese imports. We want to quality the client's application first, then offer the price.


For an RV, you can use a Magnum inverter IF it has the newest firmware called CCCV. Or, you can buy the attached Xantrex unit from us direct. For solar, you must use Zamp or Blue Sky Energy as these are tested and designed for lithium but we will tell you where to buy them from.


All batteries must be purchased with either an internal or an external BMS. We will do our best to call you but we have folks on vacation this week and have a long list of customer inquiries to run through. It would help if you would let us know your desired price range to confirm we have something to offer.



NOTE: Please change my email address to "[email protected]com" Thank You.

"Stay Energized!"
Made in the USA Batteries and BMS Systems
Sincerely,
Stephen Tartaglia
Engineering Manager
Lithionics Battery
1770 Calumet Street
Clearwater Florida USA 33765
In a lot of respects, much better that other places offering batteries. I do wonder why the reluctance to provide basic prices.
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Old 11-07-2017, 05:11 PM   #12
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From my experience, they build the battery on demand. That's what happened for mine. It wasn't built but they had some cells and from the demand they built mine and others. So perhaps that affects the pricing?

Stephen is the main guy there. He called me directly after I inquired about the battery. Then we talked about different configs and at first I asked for a 200-220Ah battery and the price was way too high for me.
He called me back a week or so later and proposed two other ones: 300 and 330AH and then the price made more sense to me so I settled for the 300Ah.

So it's definitely not a click-and-buy experience. Also once you buy it, you give them a deposit, they build the battery, test it, send you the graph of the test, then you finish the payment and they ship it.
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Old 11-07-2017, 06:17 PM   #13
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Thanks for the info.

I always get a empty feeling when a company doesn't want to provide basic prices for what they are selling.

Lithium LiFePO4 batteries are typically built from individual 3.2 cells put into an enclosure. So it is not like they are going to go out and build or order each individual case to put the battery cells in. They would have a number of enclosures ready to be populated by the cells.

What I have seen is builders buy individual 3.2V cells at 100AH or 200Ah capacity. Then they take these cells and put them in an enclosure and connect multiple cells together to make the AH capacity they will sell.

Still I really like that Lithionics is up front about proper use of the batteries.
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Old 11-10-2017, 04:21 PM   #14
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If your batteries are currently outside you will probably have to move them to an heated location if there is a chance you will use your coach in below freezing temperatures. This is true for all LiFePO4 batteries.

I am going to use LifeBlue batteries. The 100AH is a drop in replacement but I am using the 200AH because the $/AH is much better. I like lifeblue because they are built with prismatic cells not cylindrical. This means there are far few cells and they can monitor and balance the cells. I like the bluetooth system for monitoring the batteries. I have found the company very responsive to technical questions but they should be posting more information on the web site. They have a 10 year warranty. Finally the price point is excellent

As for your solar the manufactures seldom run heavy enough wire for solar so you will probably want to pull new wire if you add more panels and you will probably need to get a new charge controller so the "upgrade" is actually going to be a new install in scope.

Personally I find our solar system to be our best upgrade and most reliable system on the coach.
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