Solar / Battery upgrade

Just upgraded our 400 to a Battleborn 100 Ah lithium battery. Also purchased a Victron 100/30 solar charge converter. We have 200 W of solar on the roof and a 100 W portable panel.

Three questions:
1. Will I need any additional wiring / hardware to install the lithium battery and the new charge controller or will the current wiring / hardware be sufficient?
2. What to do with our current sealed battery - sell on Craigslist? - any other ideas.
2. I was considering adding another 200 W of flexible panels on the roof as we will be doing some full time travelling in our 400 soon. Do you think the extra 200 W of solar is worth it? Is the installation / wiring difficult?

Thanks for the input.
2018 [email protected] 400. 2019 Honda Ridgeline.
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Comments

  • jkjennjkjenn Member Posts: 5,642
    You might want to take a look at the McCormick's video. They replaced the converter.


    2015 320 S | [email protected] Nights: 211 | 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk

  • Michael49Michael49 Member Posts: 56
    jkjenn said:
    You might want to take a look at the McCormick's video. They replaced the converter.


     He mentions in this video changing out the fuse panel - does anyone know if this is necessary?
    2018 [email protected] 400. 2019 Honda Ridgeline.
  • BrianZBrianZ Member Posts: 1,067
    One thing you might want to consider  @Michael49, if you haven't already, is a remote temperature sensor mounted on the battery (Victron has a couple options for this) that reports battery temp via bluetooth to the charge controller.  The SCC should have a temperature cutoff setting for protecting a lithium battery if needed during freezing temps.
    -Brian in Chester, Virginia
    TV: 2005 Toyota Sienna LE (3.3L V6)
    RV: 2018 [email protected] 320S, >70 mods 
  • jrhameljrhamel Member Posts: 44
    Does anyone know if you would have to replace the converter on a 2019 400 BDL if switching to lithium batteries?
     2019 [email protected] 400 Boondock Lite and 2019 Ford F 150 4x4

    Madison, Wi
  • N7SHG_HamN7SHG_Ham Member Posts: 783
    @jrhamel yes if you want optimum and full charging.
    2019 [email protected] 400 Boondock Lite
  • MarcelineMarceline Member Posts: 635
    N7SHG_Ham said:
    @jrhamel yes if you want optimum and full charging.
    That assumes that you're mostly charging the battery through the converter (ie you've got shore power). But most people looking at the lithium switch are into boondocking (no real need to spend the money on lithium if you mostly camp with shore power). If you're someone who mostly boondocks and you mainly charge your battery through the solar controller, the converter doesn't really matter.
    San Francisco Bay Area
    2013 CS-S [email protected]
    Battered but trusty 3.5l V6 Hyundai Santa Fe
  • N7SHG_HamN7SHG_Ham Member Posts: 783
    @Marceline true, but it is a cost of the switch if you want to do it 💯 correctly.
    2019 [email protected] 400 Boondock Lite
  • jrhameljrhamel Member Posts: 44
    @Marceline, so you saying that I would need to upgrade the controller not the converter?
     2019 [email protected] 400 Boondock Lite and 2019 Ford F 150 4x4

    Madison, Wi
  • MarcelineMarceline Member Posts: 635
    jrhamel said:
    @Marceline, so you saying that I would need to upgrade the controller not the converter?
    I think that you’ll have to look at the specs for your solar controller. I’m just saying that if you’re generally recharging your battery from solar or tow vehicle the converter isn’t terribly relevant. 
    San Francisco Bay Area
    2013 CS-S [email protected]
    Battered but trusty 3.5l V6 Hyundai Santa Fe
  • N7SHG_HamN7SHG_Ham Member Posts: 783
    If you have the Victron controller that NuCamp installs, it definitely can be programmed for LiFePo4 chemistry.
    2019 [email protected] 400 Boondock Lite
  • CbusguyCbusguy Member Posts: 674
    edited March 23
    There is more than one way to skin a cat.

    First hand experience here,   about 9 months and 20 or do trips mostly dry camping boondocking.

    I have factory installed solar and what @N7SHG_Ham states is absolutely correct.  I changed my victron controller to the battle born recommended settings.

    The linked video is one way of doing it.   Best way???   He threw a bunch of money at it, assuming he paid for material and labor.  

    Battleborn is a drop in replacement.     It has its own battery management internally,   It will  protect  the battery on short circuit,   over temp,  undertemp,  low voltage and over voltage.   You can simply drop it in and go camp

    Redundancy is a good thing,   but many are overstating what you need to make the switch.      

    I dropped it in my trailer and went camping for a couple of months.   

     I created a problem when I upsized the wire gage to charge from the tow vehicle and installed a dc to dc charge controller to correct it.     The battery would draw 70 amps while charging from the tow vehicle resulting in warm to the touch wiring.  I was uncomfortable with it so I added a dc to dc charge controller from renogy and configured it to charge the lithium battery. This limited the charge to 20 amps.


    My thought on shore power charging is this.     The stock [email protected] power converter does just fine,    it will start float charging and the battleborn internal battery management system will stop charging when it see it is full.   the float charge from the tab power converter is 14.something,   I dont remember,  and is adequate to fully charge the battleborn.  I have watched the charge current through my Victron shunt go to zero when the battery BMS  turns off charging.

    With all that said,   There are a large number of no name lithium battery manufactures starting to flood the market  with different configurations.      Verify what you are buying and the specifications.    Lion, Battleborn and renogy are the only batterys I would consider if I found myself in the market again.


    Honestly there is no one best solution,   Only you know how you use your camper and the power needs.   Honestly the way most folks use their trailer,   good old lead acid is still the best choice.
    2009 GMC Canyon,   3.7 liter 
    2020 320s Boondock lite, With Lots of mods
  • ScottGScottG Moderator Posts: 3,465
    Cbusguy said:
    ...
    the float charge from the tab power converter is 14.something
    ...
    Unless something has changed, I'm pretty sure the float charge on the stock converter is ~13.6V. IIRC, the bulk charge is listed in the literature as over 14V, but I have never in five years seen my converter go there--it seems to remain in float at all times. Somewhere in the distant past I know there was at least one discussion on this topic.
    I don't know if this is relevant and I'm not making an argument one way or the other with regard to the current discussion. My set-up is pretty low tech (and low price) and currently it works for me. I'm just raising the question as to whether the stock converter is really able to provide the published voltage in an optimal manner.
  • CbusguyCbusguy Member Posts: 674
    @ScottG Possible,   I only know what I saw,   but I have an idea as to the why......    I was plugged into ac power at the campground.......additionally the solar could have added a second charge source to the mix bringing the the battery to full charge at 14 volts.

    calls for an experiment.    Need to pull it out of the barn,   discharge the battery a bit, remove the fuse from the solar and then plug it into ac power  see where she lands. simple enough


        
    2009 GMC Canyon,   3.7 liter 
    2020 320s Boondock lite, With Lots of mods
  • Michael49Michael49 Member Posts: 56
    Cbusguy said:
    There is more than one way to skin a cat.

    First hand experience here,   about 9 months and 20 or do trips mostly dry camping boondocking.

    I have factory installed solar and what @N7SHG_Ham states is absolutely correct.  I changed my victron controller to the battle born recommended settings.

    The linked video is one way of doing it.   Best way???   He threw a bunch of money at it, assuming he paid for material and labor.  

    Battleborn is a drop in replacement.     It has its own battery management internally,   It will  protect  the battery on short circuit,   over temp,  undertemp,  low voltage and over voltage.   You can simply drop it in and go camp

    Redundancy is a good thing,   but many are overstating what you need to make the switch.      

    I dropped it in my trailer and went camping for a couple of months.   

     I created a problem when I upsized the wire gage to charge from the tow vehicle and installed a dc to dc charge controller to correct it.     The battery would draw 70 amps while charging from the tow vehicle resulting in warm to the touch wiring.  I was uncomfortable with it so I added a dc to dc charge controller from renogy and configured it to charge the lithium battery. This limited the charge to 20 amps.


    My thought on shore power charging is this.     The stock [email protected] power converter does just fine,    it will start float charging and the battleborn internal battery management system will stop charging when it see it is full.   the float charge from the tab power converter is 14.something,   I dont remember,  and is adequate to fully charge the battleborn.  I have watched the charge current through my Victron shunt go to zero when the battery BMS  turns off charging.

    With all that said,   There are a large number of no name lithium battery manufactures starting to flood the market  with different configurations.      Verify what you are buying and the specifications.    Lion, Battleborn and renogy are the only batterys I would consider if I found myself in the market again.


    Honestly there is no one best solution,   Only you know how you use your camper and the power needs.   Honestly the way most folks use their trailer,   good old lead acid is still the best choice.

    Thanks for your first hand experience. I actually purchased 2 Battleborn 100 Ah lithium batteries that I plan to connect in parallel in our 400.

    I did order a new Victron solar charge controller, mostly because I eventually plan on adding another 200W of solar on the roof - so I will have 400 W on the roof and another 100W portable panel - I could pulling in up to 30 amps in full sun so I purchased a Victron 100/30 solar charge controller. Also, Battleborn told me the solar charge controller is inaccurate for gauging battery levels and recommended the Victron 712 battery monitor - I still wonder whether that is really necessary but they gave me a deal on that and the second battery so I went with it - we will be full timing come end of summer (assuming things are opening up again at that point) so I think it will be worth it for us. 

    In terms of the converter it's good to hear of your first hand experience as I would rather not replace that.

    In the travels with Delaney video they had to alter the fuse box - Anyone know why? I would rather not mess with the fuse box unless I have to. 
    2018 [email protected] 400. 2019 Honda Ridgeline.
  • jkjennjkjenn Member Posts: 5,642
    Michael49 said:
    Cbusguy said:
    There is more than one way to skin a cat.

    First hand experience here,   about 9 months and 20 or do trips mostly dry camping boondocking.

    I have factory installed solar and what @N7SHG_Ham states is absolutely correct.  I changed my victron controller to the battle born recommended settings.

    The linked video is one way of doing it.   Best way???   He threw a bunch of money at it, assuming he paid for material and labor.  

    Battleborn is a drop in replacement.     It has its own battery management internally,   It will  protect  the battery on short circuit,   over temp,  undertemp,  low voltage and over voltage.   You can simply drop it in and go camp

    Redundancy is a good thing,   but many are overstating what you need to make the switch.      

    I dropped it in my trailer and went camping for a couple of months.   

     I created a problem when I upsized the wire gage to charge from the tow vehicle and installed a dc to dc charge controller to correct it.     The battery would draw 70 amps while charging from the tow vehicle resulting in warm to the touch wiring.  I was uncomfortable with it so I added a dc to dc charge controller from renogy and configured it to charge the lithium battery. This limited the charge to 20 amps.


    My thought on shore power charging is this.     The stock [email protected] power converter does just fine,    it will start float charging and the battleborn internal battery management system will stop charging when it see it is full.   the float charge from the tab power converter is 14.something,   I dont remember,  and is adequate to fully charge the battleborn.  I have watched the charge current through my Victron shunt go to zero when the battery BMS  turns off charging.

    With all that said,   There are a large number of no name lithium battery manufactures starting to flood the market  with different configurations.      Verify what you are buying and the specifications.    Lion, Battleborn and renogy are the only batterys I would consider if I found myself in the market again.


    Honestly there is no one best solution,   Only you know how you use your camper and the power needs.   Honestly the way most folks use their trailer,   good old lead acid is still the best choice.

    Thanks for your first hand experience. I actually purchased 2 Battleborn 100 Ah lithium batteries that I plan to connect in parallel in our 400.

    I did order a new Victron solar charge controller, mostly because I eventually plan on adding another 200W of solar on the roof - so I will have 400 W on the roof and another 100W portable panel - I could pulling in up to 30 amps in full sun so I purchased a Victron 100/30 solar charge controller. Also, Battleborn told me the solar charge controller is inaccurate for gauging battery levels and recommended the Victron 712 battery monitor - I still wonder whether that is really necessary but they gave me a deal on that and the second battery so I went with it - we will be full timing come end of summer (assuming things are opening up again at that point) so I think it will be worth it for us. 

    In terms of the converter it's good to hear of your first hand experience as I would rather not replace that.

    In the travels with Delaney video they had to alter the fuse box - Anyone know why? I would rather not mess with the fuse box unless I have to. 
    Because of the integration with the converter. You could reach out to them, directly. They are super friendly.

    2015 320 S | [email protected] Nights: 211 | 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk

  • Michael49Michael49 Member Posts: 56
    jkjenn said:
    Michael49 said:
    Cbusguy said:
    There is more than one way to skin a cat.


    Because of the integration with the converter. You could reach out to them, directly. They are super friendly.
    I see, but if I'm not changing out the converter I just don't see why it would be necessary to mess with the fuse box.
    2018 [email protected] 400. 2019 Honda Ridgeline.
  • N7SHG_HamN7SHG_Ham Member Posts: 783
    The converter section is integral to the fuse panel, if replacing the converter charge section, it is a matter of removing the old and installing the new. That does require a bunch of wires to be removed and placed onto the new charge section, but I am unclear how much actual re-wiring if any is needed. If you are uncomfortable with 12vdc wiring, it might be overwhelming?
    2019 [email protected] 400 Boondock Lite
  • jkjennjkjenn Member Posts: 5,642
    Michael49 said:
    jkjenn said:
    Michael49 said:
    Cbusguy said:
    There is more than one way to skin a cat.


    Because of the integration with the converter. You could reach out to them, directly. They are super friendly.
    I see, but if I'm not changing out the converter I just don't see why it would be necessary to mess with the fuse box.
    It shouldn't be necessary if you are not replacing thencinverter. They replaced the converter. 

    2015 320 S | [email protected] Nights: 211 | 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk

  • Michael49Michael49 Member Posts: 56
    edited March 23
    jkjenn said:
    Michael49 said:
    jkjenn said:
    Michael49 said:
    Cbusguy said:
    There is more than one way to skin a cat.


    Because of the integration with the converter. You could reach out to them, directly. They are super friendly.
    I see, but if I'm not changing out the converter I just don't see why it would be necessary to mess with the fuse box.
    It shouldn't be necessary if you are not replacing thencinverter. They replaced the converter. 
    Thanks.

    I spoke with Battleborn today - they are very helpful. The factory converter may not charge the lithium batteries to 100% but honestly I don't care - I bought them because we plan on doing plenty of boondocking so I am more interested in how they charge on solar than when we are plugged in. 
    2018 [email protected] 400. 2019 Honda Ridgeline.
  • MarcelineMarceline Member Posts: 635
    Michael49 said:

    Also, Battleborn told me the solar charge controller is inaccurate for gauging battery levels and recommended the Victron 712 battery monitor - I still wonder whether that is really necessary but they gave me a deal on that and the second battery so I went with it - we will be full timing come end of summer (assuming things are opening up again at that point) so I think it will be worth it for us. 

    Heads up - the new Victron SmartShunt is now available in the USA. It is essentially the brains of the 712 without the display, so you read the data on your smartphone. Unfortunately I haven't been able to install mine because of the coronavirus lockdown, so I can't provide a product review yet.

    I purchased mine from Bay Marine Supply in San Diego. https://baymarinesupply.com/victron-smartshunt-battery-monitor.html
    San Francisco Bay Area
    2013 CS-S [email protected]
    Battered but trusty 3.5l V6 Hyundai Santa Fe
  • jkjennjkjenn Member Posts: 5,642
    Thanks @Marceline

    2015 320 S | [email protected] Nights: 211 | 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk

  • dutsmillerdutsmiller Member Posts: 13
    edited March 24
    I ordered a pair of Battleborn 100ah batteries to replace the stock AGMs in our 2020 [email protected] 400.  The stock power converter will likely not bring them to a full charge, but the way we use our camper, preferring to use more rustic "tent" sites, results in rarely plugging it into shore power so that wasn't a big deal for us.

    We have the factory solar panels and a Victron solar controller which Battleborn said would be sufficient to fully charge the batteries (albeit slower than via shore power).   So, between the solar panel and the power from the TV, we expect to be in good shape for our typical long-weekend camping trips.
  • Tundra57Tundra57 Member Posts: 390
    If anyone is interested, I changed just the converter inside the fuse box on my tab 400 2019. The replacement is drop in. 5 wires and that's it. There is a jumper you can change which will correctly charge and maintain lithium batteries.
    I also up sized the wire from the converter all the way to the battery as I was getting considerable voltage drop.
    If anyone wants the part number I'll take a look at the paperwork.
  • Denny16Denny16 Member Posts: 302
    Yes please, thanks
    cheers
    2018 TaB400, Jeep Gladiator truck, Northern California Coast
  • Tundra57Tundra57 Member Posts: 390
    @Denny16 the part number is a Wildkat PD4655 MBA. Phone 888-828-1893. It is specifically designed to replace the converter onlu on a WFCO 8965. It slots right in. It also has a 6 foot wand which shows current status and allows you to override the current mode. I replaced the wire from the converter through the isolation switch and breaker to the battery with 4 gauge. Also swapped the 40Amp breaker for a 60A one. They are available from Levine's Auto Parts.

  • Tundra57Tundra57 Member Posts: 390
    Forgot to say I got mine along with great free advice from Best RV and Truck Supply.Enterprise AL.
  • Denny16Denny16 Member Posts: 302
    Grand, thanks for the update and info.
    cheers
    2018 TaB400, Jeep Gladiator truck, Northern California Coast
  • Michael49Michael49 Member Posts: 56
    Tundra57 said:
    If anyone is interested, I changed just the converter inside the fuse box on my tab 400 2019. The replacement is drop in. 5 wires and that's it. There is a jumper you can change which will correctly charge and maintain lithium batteries.
    I also up sized the wire from the converter all the way to the battery as I was getting considerable voltage drop.
    If anyone wants the part number I'll take a look at the paperwork.
    I'm curious - did you ever try charging lithium batteries with the stock converter? I'm just not sure it will be worth changing out the converter. Between the stock converter and 400W of solar on the roof I'm not sure its really necessary.
    2018 [email protected] 400. 2019 Honda Ridgeline.
  • ckjsckjs Member Posts: 17
    Michael49 said:
    I'm curious - did you ever try charging lithium batteries with the stock converter? ... Between the stock converter and 400W of solar on the roof I'm not sure its really necessary.
    I agree, though it depends on how often you go from a hookup site to a shady boondock location.  
    Our 100AH lithium battery fills up to “float” just fine with 2*160W panels. I’ll plug it in the night before a trip, just for pre-chilling the refrigerator. If it is sunny I won’t even do that. 
    Charles & Judy, Santa Cruz, CA
    2018 [email protected] 320 CS-S; 4 cyl 2020 Subaru Outback Onyx XT
  • CbusguyCbusguy Member Posts: 674
    @Michael49 My set up is exactly that,   To charge from AC I use the stock [email protected] battery charger,  I didn't change anything on that side.   

    My battery charges till the BMS turns it off and it is something in the neighborhood of 14.5 volts.     @ScottG pointed out that seems outside the range of the stock battery charger,   Very well could be,   and maybe my roof solar, even in shade,  was able to charge it from 13.8 to 14.4.     


    With that said,   you will not damage your batterys using the stock charger the battery bms will not allow it,   it is possible that you might under charge them.    if I am on AC power who cares,   and when I am boondocking/dry camping I am on solar anyhow.   
    2009 GMC Canyon,   3.7 liter 
    2020 320s Boondock lite, With Lots of mods
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