What kind of battery for adventuring, is Lithium up to the challenge?

Discussion in 'Parallel Universe' started by JoelWisman, Mar 6, 2012.

  1. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2011
    Oddometer:
    6,468
    Location:
    Tulsa, Oklahoma
    Using Heated Gear with LiFePO4 batteries

    heated gear don't understand PB/EQ. they draw real amps. Almost all LiFePO4 battery mfg like to use amp equivalents to lead acid batteries. that may be valid for starting requirements. but heated gear don't care... they draw regular amps.

    listed amp/watts for Gerbings micro wire. even if you don't have Gerbings, amp draw will be real close. amp x volt = watts

    1. Jacket 6.4 amp/77watts
    2. Vest 4.5 amp/54watts
    3. Pants 3.6 amp/44watts
    4. Gloves 2.2 amp/27watts
    5. Grips 3.0 amp/36watts

    let's say you've got a heated jacket, heated gloves and heated grips = 11.6amp draw

    let's say your LiFePO4 battery has an actual Amp Hour capacity of 6 amp hour. this means your battery will support your heated gear for about 1/2 hour before going dead.

    then let's factor in alternator output and amp draw from rest of bike. on short rides using heated gear, it's quite possible to use more amps from your battery than Alternator has a chance to replenish.

    when you put your bike away for the night after that short cold ride. your 6 amp hour battery may not be fully charged.

    next morning it's say 30f degrees ... you go to start your bike with a half dead battery.... fail ... one automatically blames the battery. when the fault is putting bike away with a half charged battery.

    this is where LiFePO4 batteries with BIG reserve capacities shine. Lithium batteries internal resistance goes way up with battery gets cold. this means substantially less amps will be delivered. cold start procedures calls for a load to be placed on LiFePO4 battery. this heats up battery reducing internal resistance, allowing more amps to be delivered.

    ahhhh... but there is a catch... heating a cold LiFePO4 battery takes amps... battery must have enough reserve capacity to heat battery up and start your motorcycle.

    clear as mud... nah.. it's not that hard to understand. Adventure bikes must have some of the hardest demands on a battery. if you've got a R1200GS and you are planing on climbing the Andes mountains and camping out.

    go with an AGM or if saving 10lb+ is worth the trouble... go with largest LiFePO4 motorcycle battery available.

    one year old Shorai LFX36 next to new Earth-X ETX36C
    [​IMG]
  2. cyborg

    cyborg Potius Sero Quam Numquam

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2004
    Oddometer:
    5,277
    Location:
    Pacific NorthWet
    Amazing the EarthX battery is much smaller than the Shorai, but then the Shorai's can have a lot of airspace above the flat-packs and the case is sized more for the expected application.

    As for running heated gear, GPS , heated grips etc, as long as you don't draw more than your alternator puts out, your battery will stay charged just fine. A small panel voltmeter is all you need to tell that. If it drops below 13V or so your charging system/alternator is not keeping up with the loads on the bike, and starts to draw on the battery. If you were to ride a long way in this configuration, your battery would eventually die.

    I size my loads on the bike I'm riding to always leave some overhead watts so the alternator can keep up. I don't count on any kind of battery to run my heated gear directly since they will all run down quick.

    Even my Husaberg FE390 dirtbike has 200Watts out and running a Gerbings heated jacket liner, heated grips, the EFI system, GPS and my 44Watt LED headlight, I have 80+ watts left over and my alternator on that bike easily keeps the Shorai in it as fully charged as it can be. I would think BMW's have even larger alternators.

    My KTM 990 (~450watts) has even more power out and has no problem keeping any battery on the bike fully charged along with EFI, heated gear, HID lights, navigation, etc. even on short rides. If you are managing your loads properly, you should basically never be drawing from your battery while the engine is running.
  3. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2011
    Oddometer:
    6,468
    Location:
    Tulsa, Oklahoma
    keep in mind we are talking about an adventure bike ... and we all know that nothing ever goes wrong in the middle of nowhere :lol3

    sure would be nice to be able to crank that heavy pig of a bike over .. and over and over .... clearing that bad load of fuel out, etc.

    don't know about you, but I'd want that extra amp hour capacity to deliver that reserve cranking with me.

    another factor to keep in mind is LiFePO4 batteries operate on a different voltage scale as lead acid. think in terms of pressure in a pipe... meaning charging voltage has to be higher than resting voltage of battery to push a charge into battery.

    depending on charge state of your battery, 13v my not be enough to charge your LiFePO4 battery back up to full.

    [​IMG]
  4. tdcarter

    tdcarter Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2012
    Oddometer:
    79
    Unless you are doing under five minute rides, and/or you have to use several amp hours worth of battery power to start the bike, your alternator will be able to recharge the battery. But I agree that the best way is too watch a volt meter and make sure you are staying above charge voltage. If you are bringing it home with a half charge you should put it on a tender, LiFe or lead acid. If you are out on a multi-day trip, no tender is needed as most likely not a short ride.

    If you are climbing the Andes mountains, you are not taking short rides.
  5. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2011
    Oddometer:
    6,468
    Location:
    Tulsa, Oklahoma
    good point ... but folks following mfg recommendations don't realize their actual amp hour capacity could be low as 4amp hour.

    as you point out above, when things go with ideal conditions as in warm weather. things stay hunky dory... but if/when anything happens out of the ordinary. there's little to no reserve. would you want to be in the middle of no-where with your pig of an adventure bike with no kick starter and no reserve in your battery? (not me.. R80G/S has a kick starter and carries a big honking battery:D)

    then factor in performance reductions when temps goes down. note difference temps makes in chart below

    [​IMG]
  6. cyborg

    cyborg Potius Sero Quam Numquam

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2004
    Oddometer:
    5,277
    Location:
    Pacific NorthWet
    I was just tossing out a voltage higher than 12V as an example for a voltmeter. Actual charging minimum voltage needed depends upon the battery type as you pointed out. My running engine voltages on 2 bikes generally run 14+ V and have so far been enough even on short rides to replace the energy used up from starting.

    Of course we would all want the maximum capacity battery for the unexpected. However unless EarthX, for example, is being untruthful about their AmpHour capacity within the stated environmental envelope, then it should be the equivalent of the lead/acid it replaced. If that's not the case we will find out.

    In the EarthX case the 'correct' battery for my bike is the 18Ah. The 24Ah and 36aH all fit in the same "C" case as the 18aH. The 18aH is $209, the 36aH is $339. If I was going super remote, and didn't trust the battery manufacturer I would get the biggest LiFe I could (or get an AGM), but in general why spend the bucks if the proper size works at least as well as the lead/acid it replaces.

    I do and have taken my adventure bikes very remote and extreme temperatures at times over the last 40+ years of riding and so far so good. Never been stranded by a bad battery yet, not even a Shorai. :lol3
  7. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2011
    Oddometer:
    6,468
    Location:
    Tulsa, Oklahoma
    see my LiFePO4 testing thread for detailed info on Earth-X actual amp hour capacities, as measured by regenerative discharge with a Powerlab8. which is one of main differences of my tests vs Joel's has no actual amp hour capacity tests.

    Earth-X in tests so far, flat delivers huge cranking amps. using Joel's testing methodology of 200amps for 30sec, 10sec and 20sec. ETX24 delivered the goods!!! very impressive performance. in terms of cranking power, outperformed Shorai LFX21 by a considerable margin. note tests done at room temps so far for Earth-X. performance under real life cold conditions is what counts.

    Shorai LFX36 is still the big dog ... yes Shorai LFX36 survived three complete Joel cycles (180 sec @ 200amp) discharges without missing a beat. had to stop test due to overheating Snap-on carbon pile tester. LFX36 had lots left when tests was stopped.

    Earth-X36C discharge tests coming up soon.
  8. Jeff B

    Jeff B Socially Awkward

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2008
    Oddometer:
    6,334
    Location:
    SW PA.
    I remember somewhere further back on this thread that Joel was recommending [not] to go to a larger AWG size from the Stator to the R/R in an attempt to lessen the resistance. Can someone who possesses the knowledge please expand on this.

    I have a Kaw Versys. I'm tired of burned up stators. [I'm on my 3rd in 75,000 miles]

    I bought a Compufire Series style R/R and I'm pivoting on how to go forward on the install.
  9. JRWooden

    JRWooden Long timer

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2008
    Oddometer:
    4,346
    Location:
    The great state of confusion
    On some other bikes folks have beefed up wiring from the R/R to the battery (not from stator to R/R)...
    maybe that is what you are thinking of?

    We discussed that some pages back....

    On the 3-wires coming from the stator....Joel has one or more bikes in test that have a resistor added to each stator lead of about 0.1 - 0.2 ohm (IIRC), the idea being to limit the max current from the stator windings thus keeping them from getting quite as hot, and also reducing maximum output of the stator by some amount ... 25W - 50W reduction (again from memory). He did this by soldering a short length of nichrome wire into each lead ...

    I don't think he's talked about the results of that experiment....
  10. Jeff B

    Jeff B Socially Awkward

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2008
    Oddometer:
    6,334
    Location:
    SW PA.
    The Compufire series R/R came w/nice 10ga pos and neg wires. I'm taking those babies right to the batt posts w/a waterproof 30amp fuse.

    It's what Joel said about resistance [being a good thing] that has me nervous about the 3 AC stator wires.

    The stator I had rewound from CUSTOM REWIND has 14 AWG wires coming off the windings and there is enough length to make it all the way to the R/R.

    The 3 AC wires that run through the stock harness looks like they are 16 AWG, witch is one size down from the stator wires. And there is a tap on one of the phases that trips the headlight relay.

    My logic says bigger, shorter, and less connections = less resistance= better.

    Obviously Joel know this stuff better than me, but I'm wondering if what Joel was saying only relates to a shunt style R/R.

    Maybe w/the series style R/R, bigger is better. I'm hoping some of you folks know this stuff enough to advise me so I can move forward w/some kinda confidence.

    Also I noticed Joel is no longer posting. Has he left the ADV community?
  11. bross

    bross Where we riding to?

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2005
    Oddometer:
    4,775
    Location:
    Osoyoos, BC
    Sorry I don't know much about this either, but I replaced my R/R on my Honda CBF1000 after my stator fried, with the Compufire unit and it ran fine after that. Didn't get quite as many miles on the bike as the first stator so not sure if the Compufire totally fixed it or not but at least it didn't fry again while I owned it. Some CBF owners are on their third stator as well.
  12. Jeff B

    Jeff B Socially Awkward

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2008
    Oddometer:
    6,334
    Location:
    SW PA.
    The other issue that puzzles that Joel mentioned is that the AC circuit from the stator to the R/R is not fused?

    Can anyone explain to me why this is?

    If there was a way to fuse these three wires, then maybe it could be a way to protect the stator from frying?
  13. WayneC

    WayneC Long timer

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2008
    Oddometer:
    2,913
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    Joel was basically adding some small resistance into the circuit to reduce current and hence reduce the power output of the alternator as a stop gap measure to reduce temperature of the stator. This will not suit all people but without improvement to the cooling of the stator as per the BMW changes the failures will continue.

    Fusing the stator output while a good protective measure against shorted wiring will do nothing to address the stator temperature problem
  14. Balsta

    Balsta Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2008
    Oddometer:
    400
    Location:
    Chilly Northern Europe
    I opened up a box with a new Shorai LFX18 for my KTM 990 today. It's my second Shorai and I wanted to make sure it's ok before firing up the bike. My (about 40 US$) voltmeter said 12.9 V out of the box (ambient room temp.). I charged it with Shorai's charger and it "beeped full and ready" at 14.05 volts after less than 10 minutes. When disconnecting the charger, the battery voltage drops to 13.85 after some couple of minutes and then stays there.

    I repeated the charging a couple of times and it always tells "full" at between 14.0 and 14.05 volts. The store mode charging stops when my voltmeter indicates 13.0 volts.

    I am suspicios on the condition of my new Shorai since 1) the Shorai charger stops at 14.05 volts while the table above in this thread tells 14.34 volts at 100 %. For comparison, my old (almost dead) Shorai reched only 13.3-13.4 volts at full charge with the Shorai charger. Is perhaps the new Shorai already on it's way downhill??!!

    Second reason for my suspicion is the very short time it takes to fully charge the battery. I have not tried measuring the voltage of the individual cells as described early in this thread.

    Would appreciate any comments and if I should return the battery to the dealer before firing up my KTM.

    Tonight the Shorai charger is set on store mode in my garage (a couple of degrees above freezing) and I will repeat the charging to full by tomorrow, to find out if the final voltage differs at lower ambient temperature.
  15. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2011
    Oddometer:
    6,468
    Location:
    Tulsa, Oklahoma
    LiFePO4 batteries for motorcycle are made of four cells in series. discharge curve for LiFePO4 are very flat. a specific to LiFePO4 charge typically will charge to 14.6V (fully charged)

    battery will then self discharge overnight to about 14.1v for batteries without BMS. it's normal for LiFePO4 batteries with BMS to self discharge to about 13.85V. very little power is contained within 14.6v to 13.85v.

    your volt meter sounds like it's off... check with a known to be correct meter like Fluke 87V. it's ok to use cheap meter, but you must verify accuracy first. take any primary lithium battery to an HVAC supply. then ask to see a new Fluke 87V. tell them you are check accuracy of meter. if both meters read same you are good to go. voltage coming of out primary lithium batteries are fairly stable.

    reason battery charger is kicking off early sure sounds like your Shorai battery is almost fully charged before sticking charger. notice almost entire discharge ranges about 1/2v difference. an accurate meter is a must!

    IMHO LFX18 is way too small for your KTM 990, especially for adventure travel. the only LiFePO4 batteries I can recommend for an adventure bike are Earth-X ETX36 and Shorai LFX36. both have excellent cranking power with ample amp hour reserves.

    [​IMG]

    Shorai LFX 36 after one year with excellent performance, next to Earth-X ETX36 just getting started and doing excellent.
    [​IMG]
  16. CheckerdD

    CheckerdD Long timer

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2005
    Oddometer:
    1,317
    Location:
    Dave Rankine, Reno NV
    Is anyone else wondering about putting lithium batteries in a bike if they are starting fires on Boeing 787's? Dave
  17. Loutre

    Loutre Cosmopolitan Adv

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2010
    Oddometer:
    4,061
    Location:
    :o)
    We are ADV riders after all, didn't you read the "General terms of agreement" when you joined the community? We need to be badass all the time, otherwise the Harley riders will laugh at us.
  18. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2011
    Oddometer:
    6,468
    Location:
    Tulsa, Oklahoma
    starting to see this exact line pop up all over ...

    misinformation is caused by use of li-ion label. all motorcycle li-ion batteries are LiFePO4 or lithium iron phosphate, which are inherently safe and almost impossible to cause a fire... even after wild abuse.

    VS lithium cobalt on 787 ... also call li-ion are inherently unsafe and need all sorts of safeties to keep from going into thermal runaway (explosion)
  19. ebrabaek

    ebrabaek Long timer

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2010
    Oddometer:
    4,913
    Location:
    Grand Valley, Colorado
    I am too eye'ing this. I have seen one picture of a shorai, i think, that exploded. But I will agree with you on that they are safe.... (at least enough for me to put it on my bike). A few years back at a NBAA we attended, there were quite the stir on these, but very few, if memory serves me correct was LiCo...... All was LiPo. I cannot either understand why the first went into the 787. Give it a few years, and I think unless the Chinese dumps a whole lot more crap on the market, a really great solution will present itself.
  20. WayneC

    WayneC Long timer

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2008
    Oddometer:
    2,913
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    Misinformation and confusion re the difference in Lithium battery types will occur unfortunately and some will become concerned. Beyond the Shorai pic's out there of the early faulty one's which overheated and caused minor damage to a couple of machines it would be possible for the heat generated in a failure to cause other components such as fibreglass to start smouldering. I am aware of one such situation with a LifePO lithium and the damage was considerable. It is one reason the 650GS single battery location is not so good in getting to it in an emergency situation