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

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

  1. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    test battery charged to about 85% (didn't have several hours to trickle charge to full) .. reinstalled in G/S ... going for a test ride.

    at first blush, the BMW gel cell battery that came out spins starter motor a bit faster. but both operates starter motor just fine at 60f degree anyways. we'll see what happens when it get cold.

    all my lights are much brighter due to higher voltage at idle, instead of only seeing same voltage at higher rpm. notice my hi-tech cardboard battery cover :D
    [​IMG]

    edit: just got back from a 50 mile night ride ... lights much brighter ... starter starting to turn over faster as battery charges up.

    took an amp load reading after bike sat for about 3 hours .. garage temp 58f, engine temp 73f
    measurable peak 98 amp, 78 amp continuous for 3 seconds

    [​IMG]
    #41
  2. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    Snap-on Carbon pile load tester added, to replicate a motorcycle starter motor typical load of 75amp.

    [​IMG]
    #42
  3. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    a bit of trivial ... this antique dry cell battery (100 yr old?) is still putting out 1.35V. probably would not sustain much if any load.

    [​IMG]

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    #43
  4. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    Due to flat discharge curve of Lithium iron phosphate battery. Measuring remaining charge or capacity left is tricky, but doable with a precision digital meter. useful voltage range from 13.4v to 12.86v (DOD 80%) so we get a spread of .5v that represents capacity remaining.

    for those of us used to measuring lead acid batteries and older chemistry li-ion (lithium cobalt) some relearning is in order. discharge curve is no longer a straight line.

    1. 14.4v fully charged

    2. 14.4v to 13.4v. initial drop represents about 10% of capacity.

    2. drop from 13.4v to 12.4v represents 80% of total capacity.

    3. below 12.4 represents 10% of remaining capacity.

    Don't drop below 12.86v (80% DOD) .. battery life (number of cycles) drops dramatically, Lithium iron phosphate cells are remarkably rugged. like all types of batteries, permanent damage will occur if allowed to discharge too low.

    LiFePO4 discharge curve for one cell .. multiple by 4x for 12v LiFePO4
    [​IMG]
    #44
  5. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    Li-ion packaging and why it matters...
    seems an explanation is sorely needed on just what exactly is a prismatic cell vs a cylindrical cell.

    li-po or lithium polymer packs have been around for sometime in the form of lithium cobalt. which has higher energy density and voltages, along with it's drawback of becoming unstable when overcharged. thermal runaway (explosion)

    what relatively recent is the development of li-po packs made from lithium iron phosphate chemistry. which has a lower energy density and voltage. aside from being cheaper to mfg, it's also inherently safer. all of the lithium when fully charged is transferred the anode. so if overcharged, cell will still overheat and expand, but doesn't go into thermal runaway (explosion).

    A123 was world first mfg for lithium iron phosphate batteries. cylindrical 26650 cells was the size adopted for powertools. that's 26mm x 650mm long and the most commonly available cylindrical A123 available. Nanophosphate<sup>®</sup> ANR26650M1-B: The ANR26650M1-B is the latest A123 offering with 2.3ah 3.3v http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=anr26650m1-b%20pdf&source=web&cd=3&ved=0CDEQFjAC&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.zeva.com.au%2FA123%2FANR26650.pdf&ei=0v8zT6jCMoGC2wXXodz3AQ&usg=AFQjCNFFYowvy9rHzz2sO-VMz_bE9Gi73A&cad=rja

    so to make up a 12v motorcycle pack... it takes

    4 cell 26650 A123 = 13.2v with 2.3 AH rating.
    8 cell 26650 A123 = 13.2v with 4.6 AH rating
    12 cell 26650 A123 = 13.2v with 6.9 AH rating

    now lets move on to prismatic cells, which is the same type of battery without the steel clad construction. typically in a flat square form. but can be shaped to almost any form. like the battery inside iphone4.

    so why are prismatic cell li-ion batteries technically better for motorcycle batteries?
    or are cylindrical A123 batteries much better?

    each motorcycle battery mfg states all the reasons why theirs are better?

    that's what will be covered next ...
    #45
  6. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    it's been pretty warm in Tulsa. had the first chance to properly test 20AH lithium iron phosphate battery in cold weather. battery measured at 13.55 before going on tonight's ride to see Jeremy Lin, Knicks against Lakers... lived up to all the hype about the Jeremy Lin show!!!

    adjusted my supertrapp muffler this morning, so mixture changed. usually engine starts first crank, but not today. cranked a good 10 cycles before finally starting. garage about 45 degrees. outside 33 degree and dropping.

    finally starts, ride to my buddy house to watch the game. bike parked outside for about 2.5 hours... temp outside is 28f ... engine barely turned over.... after a few cycles battery warmed up a bit and finally started. but just barely. full heated suit on going home ...

    battery measured at 13.21 after resting an hour... hooked up meter and cranked starter a few more times. battery dipped to 10.5v under load. measured 13.13v after rebounding a bit. then trickle charged back up to 14.4v.... it's now 23f with a 15f low. will see how battery performs in the morning with a full charge.
    #46
  7. Twoupfront

    Twoupfront Been here awhile

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    That doesn't sound promising :cry
    #47
  8. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    7:37 am Tulsa, OK .. 18f outside, 36f inside garage with 81 R80G/S stored inside.
    20AH lithium iron phosphate battery installed. battery fully charged to 14.4v last night.

    balance/shunt electronics removed due to device scrubbing aprox 10% of total capacity.
    resting voltage after sitting overnight is 14.05v with ground removed to insure no parasitic loss.

    wheeled R80G/S outside at 7:15am to chill down bike before starting test.
    will be measuring: outside temp, Resting battery voltage, amp draw under load, battery voltage under load.

    [​IMG]
    #48
  9. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    Load testers are nice, but real world test are what counts!!!

    9:45am ... bike has chilled about 2 hours outside .. measured temp 14f , battery showing 14.05v resting before starter tests.

    starter cranks over engine and draws 165-178 amp range. choke is off, didn't want bike to start too quick. after about 2-3 crank cycles to measure amp load. choke is set to full. after another 4-5 crank cycles with choke on, bike still doesn't start. but the battery has done it's job turning over engine.

    battery is allowed to rest 2-3 minutes. now measures 12.88v rest, under load drops to under 9v, battery acts like it's depleted.... I give it one last crank... engine almost starts. the battery has done it's job. engine is simply not wanting to start at 14f degrees.

    fast forward to 10:15am .. temp raises to 18f degree outside, battery has recovered to 13.24v @24f ... choke is on.. engine cranks over fast... SUCCESS! R80G/S starts and runs great.

    [​IMG]

    battery warms up to 26f degree at 13.01v with all the cranking
    [​IMG]

    battery is depleted (80% DOD) with all the cranking at 12.87
    [​IMG]

    Success... fast forward to 9:15am .. temp raises to 18f degree outside, battery has recovered to 13.24v @24f ... choke is on.. engine cranks over fast... R80G/S starts and runs great.
    [​IMG]
    #49
  10. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    it's becoming obvious this 20AH test battery is more than capable of starting a motorcycle during warm to moderate cold temps above 40f degrees. what a LOT of folks including me wants to know is how will lithium iron phosphate batteries perform under old temps under 40f degrees to about 15f degrees. there are exceptions of course, but not many folks will ride much if any below that.

    more observations on how a 20AH lithium iron phosphate battery performs at colder temps

    resting voltage 13.4v @ 38f degree .. choke off, not ready for bike to start yet.
    first few cranks draws about 105amps... turns over med speed. motor wants to start even with no choke. voltage under load is about 9.5v.. jumping all over, hard to read meter.

    meter used Fluke 87V received new from Fluke. Calibration verified by Fluke and Martel MC1000 calibration tool.

    after 4 crank cycles with engine spinning over plenty fast enough to start. battery was given a rest. voltage recovered to 13.29v @39f degree in garage.

    next 2 crank cycles .. 13.29v @39f draw 155amp... engine turned over very fast. would have easily started. seems a cold battery does much better after being short cycled a few (2-3) times to warm up. then allowed rest to recover.

    [​IMG]

    resting a few minutes, voltage recovering
    [​IMG]

    after 4 crank cycles with engine spinning over plenty fast enough to start. battery was given a rest. voltage recovered to 13.29v @39f degree in garage.

    [​IMG]
    #50
  11. RC Pilot

    RC Pilot Shut up and fly!

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    I recently installed a Ballistic EVO 2 LiFe battery ( http://www.ballisticparts.com/products/batteries/batteries.php ) in the Bandit. Works well, but does have the same cold weather issue. Basically one shot at starting is needed to generate some heat in the battery. Second try she spins like a champ.

    Took it out yesterday to see how far out of balance the cells were after a couple cold starts ( as low as 25* F) and was surprised to find them all with in 1/10th of a volt. I then balance charged it seeing as I had it out anyway.
    [​IMG]
    #51
  12. Global Rider

    Global Rider Alps Adventurer

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    Interesting thread, because I work with batteries quite frequently at work...mostly AGM, GEL and the odd FLA.

    I also spent some time evaluating chargers. That was interesting in that most battery charger manufacturers are very good at one thing...advertizing and promising plenty of hype.

    As for batteries, I'm still a firm believer in plain old FLA batteries. That is what I put in a used sports car that I bought recently, over an available AGM. AGMs and GELs have their advantages, but none of them are important to the way I use a battery. They also have their disadvantages.

    So how long do my FLA batteries last? I can proudly say the original car battery was 16 years old when we sold the car and lasted another 2 years when I lost contact with the new owner. My present car's FLA battery that came with it when I bought it new is now in its 13th year. Both cars were/are daily drivers. The batteries were maintained and tested annually. The charging system on each car was spot on.
    #52
  13. RC Pilot

    RC Pilot Shut up and fly!

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    I actually decided to go with LiFe from experience with lithium batteries in my RC toys. Charger wise, as you can see in the previous photo, I use a quality balance charger that not only chargers the battery, but equalizes all the cells at the same time. I alos think Life and similar batteries are a good way to go with the weight savings and higher outputs. For most folks the cold weather issues won't be either as few of use ride when ti is really cold.

    That said, my outdoor power equipment is staying lead/acid.
    #53
  14. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    glazed eyeball alert....

    soooo glad you weight in with your RC experience. a few post back I promised to cover differences between prismatic cells and cylindrical cells. each has it's advantages and drawbacks.

    by the way if anyone finds anything that needs correction or clarification. please let me know. all this is from memory. which is far from infallible

    no one runs li-ion packs harder than the RC crowd. that's where one finds bleeding edge technologies for chargers and li-ion packs.

    RC folks were among the first to rip open Dewalt battery packs for their A123 26650 cylindrical batteries. technology advances/matures fastest for the most common cells. just as 18650 li-ion (lithium cobalt) had their time as the most advanced li-ion batteries available. until lithium cobalt batteries' more unstable characteristics caused way too many fires/explosions in consumer devices. prompting adoption of A123 or lithium iron phosphate chemistry. which along with lower energy density. also were much cheaper to manufacture. more importantly was very stable.

    upon reaching full charge at 3.6v all of the lithium is transferred the anode. what this means is lithium iron phosphate batteries can still overheat, but will not go into thermal runaway and explode.

    A123 cylindrical cells has the largest production numbers and contain most refinements of any battery of this type chemistry.

    now let's switch gears to battery construction types. cylindrical cells are obviously round and metal clad. advantage is metal exterior protects internals for a very robust battery. very important for power tools. drawback is metal cladding and support structure could make up 50%+ total volume of cell. another very important factor is size of cells.

    A123 26mm x 650mm or 26650 cells are the most common size. a D size li-ion cylindrical cell has been available for years but are less common. which leads to one of the most important factors when putting together higher amp hour batteries. cylindrical cells has to be wired in parallel to achieve high amp hour ratings. the more cells contained within a single battery, the more important balancing your cells become.

    next up are prismatic cells ... which are commonly called li-po or lithium polymer packs. li-po packs can be made into virtually any shape. the most common shape is flat thin rectangular batteries. which are then stacked, making for a very space efficient package.

    drawback is li-po packs have no external protection, so are quite fragile. a very real concern for li-po packs made from lithium cobalt chemistry. drive a nail through multiples packs... probably will get smoke, fire and an explosion.

    fast forward a few years... now li-po are finally available in more stable lithium iron phosphate chemistry... think iphone 4 batteries and virtually all laptop mfg have switched to A123 chemistry cells.

    note li-ion cobalt will be with us for many more years due to electronic devices with matching 3.7v requirements. greatest danger with lithium cobalt occurs during charging. battery packs from name brand electronics with lithium cobalt will usually contain protection circuitry.

    due to higher energy densities and voltage requirements of existing gear. Lots of RC folks are still flying with lithium cobalt li-po packs. generally they are using sophisticated chargers with balancing circuits, charging at limits their li-po packs can withstand.

    prismatic cells contain the same chemistry as cylindrical cells with one important different. Size... prismatic cells due to lack of external shell contain more chemistry within it's total bulk.

    what this means is prismatic cells can be made with much higher amp hour ratings. some high as 100 amp hour per cell at 3.6v. one still needs 4x 3.6v prismatic cells to make a 12v battery. but a very high amp hour battery can be constructed with only 4 prismatic cells. less cells means it's easier to keep battery cells balanced. having balanced cells is no less important with a four cell pack, just easier to maintain balance with less cells.

    here's a pic of A123 20amp hour prismatic cell. four of these would make a NICE motorcycle battery. main drawback would be costs...
    [​IMG]
    #54
  15. RC Pilot

    RC Pilot Shut up and fly!

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    #55
  16. Anorak

    Anorak Woolf Barnato

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    I'm pretty sure that lithium cobalt and LiPo are still used in portable devices due to their greater energy capacity. A123's major advantage over LiPo and lithium cobalt is safety when charging and if physically compromised. LiPo has a better energy to weight ratio than A123 nanophosphate.
    #56
  17. 2old2Bbold

    2old2Bbold was 2bold2getold

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    OK, guys. The question is; Will the Shorai type battery work (start our 650 size ADV bikes on a 25 degree F. morning) for us normal adventure riders, that won't be rideing in really cold temps and won't be using high amp heating gear? The weight, no fluid leaks, and small self discharge are attractive. Thanks, I'm really confused.
    #57
  18. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    Fixing to find out... Just received two new Shorai lithium iron phosphate batteries from the nice folks at Shorai batteries.

    the two sizes received are LFX21L6-BS12 21AH (pb eq) and 36L3-BS12 36AH (pd eq)

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    very professionally packaged with LOTS of attention to details.

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    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    36L3 weight 4lb 14oz
    [​IMG]

    21L6 weight 2lb 15oz
    [​IMG]
    #58
  19. Danjal

    Danjal Insert wit here.

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    #59
  20. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    thanks much for sharing your link. LOTS of valuable information there. unfortunately all the information are for lead acid based batteries. which is understandable, since tests was done in 2009, Li-ion motorcycle batteries was all but unknown. feedback has grown since then. still quite new, lithium iron phosphate are just now starting hit the main stream.

    LOTS of folks have lots of questions .. that hopefully we will answer in this thread.

    originally these motorcycle battery tests were also going to cover AGM and Gel in detail. but it's obvious lithium iron phosphate is where hard data is missing. so that's why these tests have quickly morphed into covering li-ion technologies in detail.

    notice laboratory grade instruments are used through out these tests. when voltage range of .5 volts covers about 80% of total amp hour capacity from battery. your electrical meters has to be lab grade or your results are suspect. temperature degrades li-ion cell's amp output. cold li-ion batteries have to be operated differently to successfully start your engine at say 15f degrees.

    amp draw by starter becomes an important issue. li-ion batteries amp output could drop by 1/2 or more when operated at low temps. putting an internal load on a li-ion battery warms it up, bumping amp output performance back to full output.

    this video by Ballistic Batteries is very important to watch for folks wanting to switch to li-ion motorcycle batteries. does an excellent job on how to properly warm up a li-ion battery during cold starts.

    <iframe src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/AOzpYsLDUAM" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" width="420"></iframe>
    #60