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M380 (Unique Issues) If you have a unique issue with your M380 model coach and it can't be answered in one of the other forums here, then this is where you can list it.....list your M380 Parts here too.

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  #1  
Old 09-21-2019
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RVinCT RVinCT is offline
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Default Conversion to Lithium and Random Comments on M380 Electrical Systems

I promised to post about my Lithium battery conversion and then moved to a campsite (lovely view with a private boat launch) that has no cell or wifi service. I'll post in multiple messages, but it will take a while. In short, we put in two 12v lithium 570AH GTX12V570A-F25-DIN batteries from Lithionics. The system remained 12v.

We've been camping with them for the last 4+ months without an electrical hookup and have given them a good workout. We have another month or so to go.

Summarizing: we are very happy with them as compared to lead acid batteries. The only downside so far is cost, but that is only getting better with time (for the rest of you) as the price of these batteries drops.

The upside is less weight, faster charging and no need to fully charge as lead acid need.

Weight:
The M380 came with three Lifeline House/RV batteries that weighed 468 pounds and provided 755 AH of capacity. The lithium weighed 238 pounds and provided 1140 AH. I saved 230 pounds of battery weight, minus the weight of the battery management system control electronics, a "combiner" for parallel connection of the two battery modules and the extra 12v 80A charger I carried to boost charge rate to 205 amps.

The lead acid batteries can only be discharged to 50%. So, the 468 pounds provided only 377.5 AH of usable power. That's 1.24 pounds per usable AH.

The lithiums can be safely discharged to 10% remaining. So that's 0.21 pounds per usable AH, or almost 6X better for the lithium. To get the same usable capacity from lead acid (that I get with the new 1140 AH lithiums) I would have to add another thousand pounds of batteries.

Charge Rate:
I charge with a Magnum MS2812 inverter charger which provides up to 125 amps of charge current. I also run an 80 amp charger. The secondary charger is a Progressive Dynamics PD9280 converter charger that I modified to just put out a max of either 14.6v or 80 amps. All of my charging has been with the diesel generator. It is truly a pleasure to be able to charge at the maximum rate my chargers can supply, and for the batteries to keep accepting that maximum until just minutes before they are full.

The 1140 AH capacity we chose largely determined the final cost. I thought it was a bit more than we needed, but a single 570 AH module would not have been enough. Since then, we had the gas control on our absorption refrigerator go bad and had to run it from the inverter for a week while debugging and waiting for the repair part to arrive. I needed lots of battery power to run an absorption type refrigerator through an inverter.

This is long enough. I'll post a photo of the new batteries in the old battery box and discuss installation and electrical issues next.

(BTW, after the dealer convinced me the Lifeline batteries in the RV I was buying were only 2 years old and in great shape, they told me (after purchase) that those batteries were totally shot and they had replaced them - I later learned with 500AH of noname marine flooded cell batteries that needed to have water added regularly. So, I actually got to remove more battery weight and improved my energy storage by much more than the numbers calculated above for high quality new Lifeline batteries.)
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Old 09-21-2019
hexspeed hexspeed is offline
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Great post, Todd -- can't wait for the next installment!

Jim
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Old 09-21-2019
badandy badandy is offline
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Looks nice and clean!
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Old 09-21-2019
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Great post, question, does the aux charger just speed up charging time?
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Old 09-21-2019
ChrisRasman ChrisRasman is offline
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Awesome post. I am going to upgrade to LiPo this winter.
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Old 09-22-2019
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In the photo posted above you can see that each battery module has a heavy duty DIN power plug coming out the end of the battery. That plug will carry 400+ amps DC. I had Lithionics build the modules with extra long power cables (3' long), since the batteries in our box have to sit end to end and the cables had to reach up and out of the battery box to the "combiner" and battery management system (BMS) to be mounted above the battery box.

Each DIN plug also has an integrated optical data cable and a separate temperature sensor cable. The battery system is pretty much plug and play with those connectors.

The batteries were delivered only a week before we departed, so my installation is not the final design, but it's close. To get the batteries installed I slid them from the back of the Jeep onto a 4' long 3/4" thick pine shelf balanced level between the Jeep and the near edge of the battery box. Then I slid the battery along the shelf until the middle of it was balanced over the near edge of the battery box. Then I tilted the battery and shelf down into the battery box with the shelf forming a ramp down to the bottom of the battery box. I just slid the battery down that ramp into position. No lifting. The shelf was just wide enough to fit into the bottom of the battery box.

I did temporarily reinforce the edge of the battery box to take the weight of that transition. Repeat for the second battery.

The original batteries were enclosed in the battery box with a cover that I did not use. The cover was held on with an aluminum "ladder" hold down clamped at its four corners that I did use. In the photo above you can see a piece of high density black foam about 2" thick. I used that packing foam and glued it to the bottom of the "ladder" hold down. See photos below. After clamping, I mounted the 3/4" pine shelf to the top of the ladder.

The BMS and combiner were bolted to the wooden shelf, which was attached with releasable HD zipties to the ladder. You can see the shelf, BMS and combiner in the photos below. I ended up turning the combiner on its side to make it easier to connect the DIN plugs that came up out of the battery box.

The 80A charger was also installed on the shelf. All of this was positioned and installed on the shelf before putting it onto the ladder. The shelf and mounted BMS etc. is removable as a unit.

The BMS has several connections for data monitoring and two 4/0 cables (DC pos and neg) that connect to the inside of the battery box where the old Lifelines connected. The DC power then goes to the system wiring.

Lithium batteries are capable of dumping 10s of thousands of amps, and are significantly more energetic than lead acid if you short them out. Care is definitely required when working with them. There are battery connection covers that came with the BMS that I use to cover everything. I will eventually move the 400A fuse so that it is right at the BMS output (I will mount it on the shelf). The BMS has a power off button that improves safety when working on it, but great care is still needed.

The battery modules have a hose connection that is supposed to carry any toxic gases away in the event of a catastrophic fire. I ran that to the battery box vent in the bottom of the box. Unlike lead acid, the lithiums do not emit hazardous gases during normal charging, so connecting those exhaust pipes probably wasn't required. Other people often mount these batteries in the living space to keep them warm, and in that route of mounting it would be essential for safety.

Next post I'll try to cover the electrical issues, such as charging rates and voltages, setting up the Magnum MS2812 and PD9280, and charging from the alternator while on the road.
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Old 09-22-2019
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dc2x4drvr View Post
Great post, question, does the aux charger just speed up charging time?
Yes, lithiums just gobble it up.
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Old 09-22-2019
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dc2x4drvr View Post
Great post, question, does the aux charger just speed up charging time?
Yes. The batteries will accept over 1000 amps if the intervening connectors and relays would handle it. They won't. The maximum charge rate is 400 amps in my system. That's about 5KW of power and Bertie has a 12KW generator. The Magnum charger alone is rated at 125 amps, of which some is stolen by other 12v loads, so I only see about 105 amps or 1.3 KW. By adding the second charger I'm putting in another 80 amps or about 2.3 KW total is going into the lithiums.

Since I'm getting all my power from a generator (not as quiet as modern inverter based generators) the second charger cuts my generator run time by about 46%. I like that, and so do my neighbors.

I'm considering adding another charger to go to 250+ amps of charging. However, generators can sometimes get unhappy trying to power big chargers.

When I next plug into shore power, I will turn off the AC breaker that powers the second charger PD9280 so it isn't used.
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Old 09-22-2019
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Excellent recap! The only important piece of information missing is cost. How about a recap of that?

IF you can handle their up front price and one does not use them in extremely hot or cold conditions there’s no question Lithiums are the way to go. For a CT coach, putting them inside the old plastic battery tub might work for the winter cold in a heated bay. But doing that definitely would not be the way to go for a coach that operates in extreme summertime desert temps (without supplemental cooling). Not sure how manufacturers are advertising such wide operational temperature ranges. I find them hard to believe. The lithiums in my scooter will not change properly above 105 degrees. Also, I don’t think I’d risk taking their SOC below 20%. That’s what I set on my scooter and 10 years later they’re still working fine. The deeper you draw lithiums down, the greater the risk of “bricking” the pack - i.e. turning them into very high priced bricks.

With your new battery setup I am curious why you are still messing around with LP gas and that old ice cream melter?
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Old 09-22-2019
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Great info! Thank you for sharing.
How did you decide on lithionics brand?
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