Lithium LiFePO4 Battery Upgrade with Enerdrive DC to DC Charger


G’day, I’m Brett. In this video I’m upgrading from an AGM battery to a lithium iron phosphate battery. Both are deep cycle, but the lithium has many characteristics which make it an exceptional choice, although far more expensive. So lithium ion batteries – they’re fairly new on the market and there’s still not much information on them, and the information that is available tends to vary quite widely. But I’ve searched around and I’ve managed to find this one on sale for around 1200 Australian dollars. Now the primary reason I purchased the lithium was because my car was overweight. When I kitted it out fully with all my fuel, water, food and camping gear, I was going to be overweight so had to start cutting down the weight wherever I could. So I removed some of my camping gear, some rock sliders and the only other place I could find was converting from the AGM to a lithium. So the weight difference between an AGM and lithium is dramatic. This is 30.5kg. This is 13.6kg. So, so much easier to lift up. That’s a hundred amp hours in just this one box. You can get them smaller but this is made as a direct-fit replacement for an AGM. So it fits into any normal battery compartment. So let’s run through some of the specs: With lithium you’re saving up to 70% in volume and weight compared to the traditional AGM or lead acid batteries And the lithium batteries can accept much higher charge currents such as this one which is rated up to 150 amps charging or discharging. So it can take a large load of power into it very quickly to recharge. So this battery is rated at 100 amp hours and this AGM at 130 amp hours. But AGM again I can only use that down to around 50% depth of discharge Before I risk starting to reduce the lifespan too much, which would give me 65 usable amp hours compared to the lithium where again I could take it all the way down – either 80% would give me 80 amp hours or all the way to 100% would give me the full 100 amp hours available. So it’s dramatically better for storing energy. Now typical life cycles for lithium batteries are generally about three times as many as AGM batteries. So this AGM, will get around 700 cycles of discharging, charging, discharging charging at 50% depth of discharge. Now the lithium at 50% depth of discharge can get around 2800 cycles. But with lithium you can actually take them far further down, as much as 100 percent all the way. Although that’s probably not recommended but it is possible, and some manufacturers will claim they have no long-lasting effects if you do so. But at 80% depth of discharge you can still get 2,000 cycles out of this battery, which is dramatically more than – or three times more than an AGM. So you get deeper discharge, higher cycle life, faster charging, lighter weight. So there’s many pros if you intend to keep it for a longer time, but you will need typically a lithium dc-to-dc charger or solar regulator that is set for lithium in order to charge them properly. But again, depending on manufacturers some say you can connect direct up to your vehicle’s alternator and it will charge normally. This is a table comparing the two different batteries I had: a Giant Power AGM and the DCS Lithium Iron. I paid AUD295 for the AGM and AUD1200 for the lithium. If we work out the price per amp hour, it’s AUD4.53 for the AGM and AUD15 for the lithium. So AGM is still much better value for money But if you’re having issues with your vehicle being too heavy or you have limited space, the AGM was 30.5kg and the lithium 13.6kg. Working out the amp hours per kilogram, you only get 2.13Ah for the AGM and 5.88Ah for the lithium iron. So the lithium is much more energy dense per kilogram. So it’s the far superior choice where weight or space is an issue. But you do need to factor in additional costs of setting up a lithium system, which will mean most likely replacing your solar regulator or DC to DC charger with one of the latest models, which has a profile which suits lithium. Whereas AGM, most chargers purchased in the last several years will most likely have a profile already for AGMs. So looking further down at the weight comparison, you could put 2.2 lithium’s in the space of one AGM for weight. But where weight is of absolutely no concern and you have plenty of payload or space available, you could have purchased 4 AGM’s for the price of one lithium, which would have given you 260 available amp hours versus 80Ah for the lithium. But if we do look at the cycle life comparison, a single lithium can outlive around three and a half AGM batteries. So it’s still a very good choice as an alternative. These numbers are hypothetical and real-world usage will change them but it gives you an idea as to whether lithium is a better option for your particular energy needs. So I’ll get to installing this now and I’ll show you the DC to DC charger, I’m using to charge this unit. Now I’m pairing the lithium battery with an Enerdrive DC to DC charger with an MPPT solar regulator built-in. This will allow me to charge the battery with both the vehicle’s alternator and the solar. Now it’s rated to a 40 amp output, which is quite a lot. So I have to redo some of my wiring and install thicker cables. I’m hoping this unit is plenty strong enough for the rugged outback Australian terrain I’ll be traveling on, as well as vibration resistance. So let’s get this installed now. The charger is mounted with four screws and the slotted screw holes allow for easy adjustment. So this is nicely bolted in. Now let us take this bottom cover off to expose all the terminals. There’s plenty of room to fit cable lugs on the terminals. So the display will run through different information – 14.2V for the lithium, It’s getting zero amps at the moment because it’s fully charged, and it says it’s in float mode as the battery’s full. You have the three channels over here: channel 1 is the lithium, channel 2 is the solar and channel 3 is the car alternator. So the one that’s staying on is the one that’s charging the battery currently and the one that flashing says that it’s connected, but it’s not the preferred choice. If we push menu we can go through and see what the voltages are 20.6V for solar, and 12.5V for the alternator at this point in time. Now this runs through multiple different profiles with different battery chemistry’s. To set it up for lithium, you hold in the Menu button and it can do gel AGM flooded lithium and a program mode for something different. You can set up yourself, but we’ve got it set to lithium You now go through different modes, the bulk charge mode. It’s set to 14.6V, the float mode so set it to 14.2V. The maximum current input for recharging – I’ve got it set to 25 amps although it goes all the way up to 50 amps but 25 is about the right size for the cables I have installed. Then it has a cutoff point, which when the battery starts to only accept 2 amps it will stop charging and it will consider the battery full. And that’s basically the lithium setup. Otherwise, it will swap between solar and the alternator depending on which one has the most charge at that point in time. Please subscribe if you enjoyed this video. Visit my website www.roamingtheoutback.com for Australian travel destinations, vehicle preparation ideas and gear reviews. If you’d like to help support the creation of new videos, please consider becoming a Patreon. Click on the Patreon button on the screen now. Thanks.

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