Motorcycle Batteries .. AGM, GEL, Wet, Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4)

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by _cy_, Jan 20, 2012.

  1. Toaster.Tan

    Toaster.Tan Toaster Rider

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    Sorry about the font/color - what reads well on my monitor I assumed would for others.... I'll stick with default settings.

    Thanks for the reply/info. It appears to operate slightly BETTER at higher temps.

    A comment was made from a guru on another LIST he wouldn't recommend Li for anything but track. He alluded to 'potential problems', but hadn't seen where anyone laundry listed those. Everything has a downside; I'm trying to asses the realistic risks to balance the cost. I can buy a couple three slosh for one of these.
  2. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    heat is usually not an issue for LiFePO4 use with motorcycles. main problem is marketing meets reality ... gross inflation of actual amp hour capacities.

    what really counts is performance during cold weather. when temps drop, battery performance drops accordingly. at 14f capacity drops in half. hence need for specific cold start procedures with LiFePO4 to warm up battery.

    small amp hour capacity is effected more by higher than normal parasitic drains. there's all sorts of reason why it's best to have a battery with OEM spec'd AH or close as possible.

    if operating a motorcycle that's only used in warm weather, always leaving from a well supported home garage. one can get by with a much smaller LiFePO4 battery.

    but if one is say 5 hours from any support during cold weather .. I'd want the largest LiFePO4 battery that I can stuff into available space.

    any chance you could provide a link to other LiFePO4 infor source? anyone that only recommends LiFePO4 for track use has not done much testing on adventure bikes. which has some of the toughest requirements.
  3. Toaster.Tan

    Toaster.Tan Toaster Rider

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    I'll PM you as the person is on another LIST and don't cross-post other folks without their consent.
  4. DanMay

    DanMay Adventurer

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    I have a Shorai LFX09L2-BS12 that I use in a total loss, race bike application. I use the Shorai BMS charger to charge it. I also have a Ballistic 4 Cell EVO 2 battery that I use as a back up. I normally charge the Ballistic with a Battery Tender. After reading this thread, I used a volt meter to check the balance of the individual cells through the BMS port on each of the batteries, and it appears they have the same pin-out. Do you think it is safe to use the Shorai BMS charger to charge the Ballistic battery ?
  5. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    not familiar with Shorai BMS charger, but it looks very similar to an RC charger with balance leads. normally intelligent chargers are menu driven with options to use charger with different chemistries and configurations.

    if charger includes an unbalanced mode for LiFePO4 .. you can charge any LiFePO4 without balance ports. most battery mfg use standard configuration.

    otherwise you need to contact Ballistic to find out how their wring configuration is done. the Shorai base battery charger will work fine if wiring confirmed to be the same. otherwise only use in unbalance mode without balance leads.

    I'm using a Cellpro Powerlab 8 which charges up to 40amps along with all sorts of testing features like regenerative discharge. Cellpro has options to charge with or without balance leads.

    [​IMG]
  6. DanMay

    DanMay Adventurer

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    I took a shot and the Shorai BMS charger does work on the Ballistic. Since the pins were identical in voltage readings when testing the individual cells, and the adapter was identical, I took the risk and plugged the Shorai BMS into my Ballistic. It quickly charged and balanced the cells.

    Had I know there were better 3rd party chargers for these batteries, I would have picked up the one you mention. Since I already have the Shorai BMS charger, I will use that.

    Thanks for all the great info in this thread.

    Daniel
  7. Dfrnt

    Dfrnt Just pluggin' along

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    Have you seen their new ads touting their ability to protect from both over and under charging? Maybe I bought mine too soon....
  8. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    nope, but this has been in the works for sometime. MOSFETS are used to isolate all current when voltage drops below 8V. All previous EarthX are equipped with internal BMS, but those are to prevent individual cells from overcharging and stay in balance.

    with ability to disconnect battery when voltage drops below 8V. this feature protects LiFePo4 from parasitic drain killing your battery.

    EarthX already has proven itself on 200amp load tests with flying colors. with lastest MOSFET high drain protection, it appears EarthX has advanced state of LiFePO4 battery technology for motorcycles to another level.

    ------

    EarthX is proud to introduce our newest battery management system effective 4/15/13 that now includes over discharge protection in addition to cell charge balancing and over charge protection! What this means to you is if you leave your lights on, or your key in the ignition, our circuitry will disconnect at 8V so it will not damage the battery and you just have to put it on a charger to reconnect and be on your way! We are also proud to announce a new size case for the ETX24D and the ETX36D that is the exact size of the lead acid one you are replacing. If you want a compact size, you can order the ETX24C or ETX36C.

    [​IMG]
  9. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    Joel has not been very active lately .. so I'll try to help.
    note test mule in my LiFePO4 testing thread is an R80G/S :d .. Joel is the F8 guy!

    16 cell = 9.2 amp hour actual, 20 cell = 11.5AH actual
    new style A123 are 2.5AH per cell, old style 2.3AH.

    with heated gear actual amp hour comes into play in terms of reserves remaining to start next morning. especially in cold conditions.

    LiFePO4 reaches full charge at 14.6V ... operating range is 13.3v to 12.85v (20%)

    think water flowing in a pipe ... voltage = pressure amp/current = flow

    LiFePO4 battery will charge at 13.8v, but rate of charge will be slow. at 14.2v current will be pushed into battery faster, resulting in a fully charged battery quicker.

    to check what state your battery is being charged to:

    after your normal ride, put bike away .. next morning before starting bike, measure resting voltage. (assuming no excess parasitic drain) note it's important to use a known to be correct meter. cheap $15 meters are fine, if it's been checked against a known meter like a Fluke.

    chart below will show state of charge for your LiFePO4 battery.
    if your battery shows say 13.6V after resting overnight. it's fully charged, it's probably OK.

    [​IMG]
  10. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    LiFePo4 is a completely different animal than PB. but charging systems voltages designed to support PB is an almost prefect fit for LiFePO4.

    to understand it's necessary to dive into mumbo jumbo of discharge curve of LiFePO4, which is shown in chart below.

    all LiFePO4 12v batteries are fully charged at 14.6V ... voltage drop down to 13.3v only constitute 10% of available AH capacity.

    13.3v to 12.85v represents 90% of available AH capacity .. a very flat discharge curve. hence reason why it's necessary to know if your meter is accurate.

    resting voltage the next morning before starting your bike will give an accurate state of charge assessment. if you don't have time to wait overnight to measure. simply turn on your lights for a few seconds to bleed off surface charge. but it's more meaningful to know your battery has a full charge next morning before starting your bike.

    if your LiFePO4 battery is reading 13.6V after sitting several days. that's an indication your parasitic drain is not excessive and your battery is fully charged.

    failure mode for all permanent magnet charging systems when RR goes out .. 17v+ is delivered to your battery. if left long enough will kill your battery, PB or LiFePO4. then you will be replacing both RR and battery. catch it soon enough, your battery will be saved.

    recommendation is to install a volt meter if you don't already have one. it's handy to understand your battery has 9.2AH actual capacity. this means your battery will support a 9amp load for about one hour with your charging system completely dead. so if your meter shows battery not charging for few seconds .. not a big deal, even with tiny 9.2AH reserves.

    better to carry a spare RR and stator on extended trips. which means you will not need either one :d

    [​IMG]
  11. clintnz

    clintnz Trans-Global Chook Chaser

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    So it looks like these things might be getting idiot-proof enough for me to be interested in giving one a go next time I need a battery :D

    One thing I don't get though, the max charge of 5A they quote? Even the modest output of my 640's charging system would be around 15A, how does that work?

    Cheers
    Clint
  12. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    EarthX is referring to max charge rate with a charger. lithium batteries have an extremely low internal resistance. hence reason for their excellent cranking performance to actual AH size ratio.

    initial charging or bulk phase .. LiFePO4 battery will basically absorb all the amps you can throw at it. during this phase voltage is not critical... as battery charges up, amp rate battery will absorb goes down at progressively slower rates. during this phase voltage is very important. max charge is reached at 14.6v.

    clear as mud ... :D
  13. plodalong

    plodalong Now if we just.....

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    Having put a Shorai 18ah in my Thruxton a couple of years ago, I treated it to no maintance other than riding the bike. Read this thread and thought that a check of the battery voltage would be a good idea. Havn't ridden it for at least 2 weeks (hey I've got another bike and it was wet last weekend). The voltage measured 13.65v with an air temp about 3c (37f). Guess there isn't much parasitic current draw on the old carby models, though I did upgrade the voltage reg/rect to a FET model which might help in both charging and leakage current. Apart from cost and low temp performance I can't see a downside to LiFeP04 batteries...yet...it might of course die tomorrow.
  14. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    if your Shorai LFX 18 measure 13.65v after sitting at least overnight before starting bike. that indicates your battery is in a fully charged state and your bike has low parasitic drain.

    use a known to be correct meter... it's fine to use a cheap $15 meter, but check with a quality meter like Fluke to find out accurate you meter is.

    use chart below to find out your state of charge after resting overnight
    [​IMG]
  15. plodalong

    plodalong Now if we just.....

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    I worked in a calibration centre for a few years calibrating electronic test equipment and aircraft tooling. In those years I can't recall failing a digital muiltimeter on dc ranges, ac calibration is a different story. Although I havn't checked it's calibration recently I doubt my is muiltimeter more than 10mv out.
  16. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    thanks for dropping in ... accuracy nut here ... really like having NIST-Traceable Calibration standards in my lab. weight set used by State to calibrate scales. Wallace & Tiernan precision dial manometer, Snap-on electronic torque calibrator, pin & block calibration sets, etc, etc.

    pretty safe to say most instruments that make into a calibration lab are fairly high grade. cost to calibrate exceeds value of typical $15 meter.

    basic calibration checks can be done easily for free .. take a 3v primary lithium cell into any HVAC store that sells Fluke meters. measure 3v cell against new Fluke 87V or what ever store has available. primary lithium cells put out very stable voltage.

    here I've set MC1000 muti function calibrator to output 3.258V DC
    [​IMG]

    Fluke 189 measures 3.258v DC, confirming accuracy
    [​IMG]
  17. plodalong

    plodalong Now if we just.....

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    I used this clamp on muiltimeter to test out the starting current of the battery when I fitted it. Measured max current and minimum voltage at that time. 270 amps at 8.6 volts. Impressed the hell out of me.


    [​IMG]
  18. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    nice Kaise clamp meter! what was air temp?

    modern fuel injected bikes cranking times are short compared to older carb models like test mule R80G/S. at 20f starter would pulling 250+ amp continuous with Shorai LFX36 supplying amps
  19. plodalong

    plodalong Now if we just.....

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    Can't remember exactly what the temp was, but not hot or cold so probably around 20c (70f)
  20. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    reason why temperature was requested is LiFePo4 batteries perform quite differently at colder temps. at 14f loses 1/2 it's AH capacities. peak numbers while impressive are not as important as what LiFePO4 battery can deliver continuously under load.

    all lithium batteries share trait of low internal resistance which results in high discharge rates disproportional to size of battery. leading to outrageous amp hour equivalent to lead acid capacity claims (PB/EQ).

    All 12v LiFePO4 batteries uses four cells in series. if cylindrical 26650 A123 type batteries are used. capacity for each series are 2.3AH for old style or 2.5AH for new. then further series are added in parallel to increase AH capacities. LiFePO4 batteries using 8 cells = 4.6AH actual

    here's a video done by Joel W who's one of the sharpest techs on ADV. illustrates how a Shorai LFX18 successfully performs multiple short duration cranks, while sustaining a brutal discharge load in between cranks. but Shorai LFX18 will not survive even a single 200amp continuous load test.

    so if one is starting a modern bike in good tune at warm temps always taking off from a garage. AH capacities needed to support that bike are smaller than someone riding their adventure motorcycle in cold temps far from any support.

    one of the most common reason resulting in LiFePO4 failures in our motorcycles is under sizing LiFePO4 batteries. resulting from not understanding importance of factoring in how and under what conditions that motorcycle will be used.

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