Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Battle Born Lithium installation

So, I lost 60 pounds yesterday. It was a struggle but I did it.

Ok, not me personally, but I ditched 60 pounds of lead from the RV. :-) I replaced my two lead batteries with lithium. Two Battle Born 100ah 12v batteries. I did not think I could do it, and I was almost correct. the local RV shop wanted almost $250 to do it, and I'm sure they would have added on another $100 or more in various parts and whatnot when it came down to it. A local truck repair place said they would do it and it would have been about $125, but I would have had to leave it for a couple days. I didn't want to do that. I bought the batteries on a cyber monday sale, and they've just been sitting in the storage staring at me accusingly every time I'd go in there since then. I've been working up to it over the past week or so, pulling the battery tray out, staring at the wires, wrapping various colored tapes around the various wires so I would remember what went where, although I ended up changing that up a little bit when I did it anyway. But yesterday I finally I said to myself, today I need to either go to Lowe's and buy a new breaker and replace the wonky breaker on my power pole, or do these batteries. I decided the batteries was less traumatizing. :-) it was a struggle, I'm not going to lie, although most of it was easier than I expected. I ended up having to take the battery watering caps off of the first battery and replace them with flat caps from an old battery. The watering caps stuck up too high and I couldn't get the battery tilted up to get it out of the tray. The second one came out without me having to do that because I could angle it a little bit. Then it was time to plan cable installation. I knew that the negative post on the right battery would be very difficult to reach after they were in the tray so I had the bright idea to attach the jumper cable to it before I put it in. I was happy that I thought of that. Getting the 3 positive cables, 1 to the inverter/charger, one to the solar, and the jumper, was not as easy as I had hoped. The Battle Born battery has a vertical metal plate with a screw hole in it that is kind of recessed in the top of the battery which is where you're supposed to attach everything to, instead of the standard large lead post and additional screw terminal that every other battery I've ever had has. This wouldn't be a problem if I had more than an inch clearance between the top of the battery and the battery door opening. the thick cable does not bend very gracefully and the connections don't bend at all. :-) I got them on, but I was already having a bad feeling about the negative post on the left battery because there were FOUR cables to attach to that. (Solar, inverter/charger, chassis ground and jumper), and they don't bend either. Well I could get the solar and jumper cable on but I could not get the 2 other cables to attach. They were just a little bit too short to reach if I had the battery pulled halfway out, and they just didn't bend the right way to attach if I had it in. At this point I was getting pretty aggravated and I had had about enough. Plus it was starting to rain a little. I finally had a light bulb moment. I had bought new 12in short jumper cables to connect the two batteries as the old ones were really looking pretty corroded. They still worked, but it wasn't that much money to replace them and so I did. I grabbed one of the old ones, connected it to the negative post on the battery and then used a bolt to connect the two ground cables to it. This is only a stopgap solution, I can't drive it like that because I only had an inch and a half long bolt left and it's sticking out way too far and too close to the rear tire. So I ordered a junction block and a  longer cable from Amazon and I'm going to connect the longer cable to the negative post and the block. Then attach the two grounds to the block and screw that block to the back wall of the battery compartment. that should solve that problem and get the wires a little better organized as well. Anyway, the new batteries are in and seem to be working fine. It's supposed to go down to 25 or 27 on Tuesday night, and that will be the big test. I'll disconnect the shore power and see how I do running the propane furnace all night. That furnace fan is a battery killer. I know this was a novel, but it was a long day. I was really proud of myself that I got it done and that I can walk this morning. :-) I have to get a dolly to move those old batteries to the shed though. I can carry them about a foot but that's it. The lithium batteries weigh half what those old batteries do. And they provide over double the power because you can run them down to nearly dead without damaging them. Whereas the lead batteries would be damaged by discharging them below 50%. It was an expensive upgrade but I think it'll be well worth it.

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