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

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

  1. gstreff

    gstreff Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 13, 2010
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Colorado Springs Colorado

    Have decided to buy a 20 cell Antigravity for my F8 GS to have the extra backup in the cold in Alaska and Ah to run an air tire pump, etc. Do you have any issues charging these batteries with the non "SC" BMW regulator at the lower voltage? Mine runs down the road at 13.8 volts.
  2. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

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    I recently returned from a 6 1/2 month trip to South America. During the trip I started to notice that the bike was having difficulty maintaining voltage at an acceptable range when it got cold and the heated gear was on. During the first part of the trip in fairly cold weather (leaving Canada in October) I had no problems.

    When I got into South America and started using heated gear again, I began to notice voltage sometimes falling down to the 13.7 to 13.8v range. It would recover to adequate levels after 5 to 10 minutes of riding. As time wore on, it took less and less to put the voltage into the warning zone and longer to get it back to normal. Usually kept RPMs in the 4K range.

    What I have:

    • AntiGravity 16 cell battery
    • Carried a spare stator (along with a ton of other crap on the theory that if you had a part with you, you wouldn’t need it – proved correct)
    • Voltmeter on the bike is a “Voltage Sentry” Meter from Clearwater. It is one of those single bulbs that blinks and changes color depending on voltage. It apparently was designed specifically for a Shorai battery which may account for some unusual color combinations (It’ll be replaced with a simple digital meter soon)

    The extra gear on the bike that draws power:

    • · Gerbings jacket - 77 watts (with controller)
    • · Stock heated grips - 46 watts at high
    • · Denali spot lights - 20 watts
    • · Garmin GPS – less than 5 watts

    So, when I was starting to notice lower voltage, this is what I figured the bike was using:

    • · Baseline 147 watts
    • · Grips – high 46 watts (Sometimes on low – no difference)
    • · Spot lights 20 watts
    • · Jacket 77 watts (although this is the maximum draw – while the controller would have been drawing more as it got cold, it was never on the absolute hottest level)


    • · High beam was not on
    • · It was cool enough and I was going fast enough that the fan was not coming on

    Add that up and it looks like about 290 watts were being used which is well below the supposed output of the bike’s stator of around 370 watts

    So, thoughts about what could be going on would be appreciated. Is there a component starting to fail? Am I over-thinking this and there is no problem?

    I suspect I’ll be taking it to the dealer shortly as hopefully the fix will be a warranty item. Will the AntiGravity battery be a warranty problem? I could stick the OEM battery in if it would be.
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  3. _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]
  4. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

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    Thanks for that _CY_

    Joel gave me some advise last fall in preparation for my trip. I knew he wasn't around here as much so I just thought I'd see who jumped up.

    I'm a little confused. You say operating range is 13.3v to 12.85v but it will charge slightly at 13.8v. When mine gets below 13.5v the little meter on my bike has pretty well gone solid red which I thought was pretty close to the end of the world. Was 12.85v a typo?

    At what voltage does the battery start being discharged?

    I checked the voltage of my battery yesterday after the bike had sat for 5 days after a 4 hour ride. Voltage was 13.6v.

    Checked it again today after running it about 30 minutes yesterday and it was 13.7v

    Did some tests yesterday and today and with everything off that can be turned off, the voltage climbed to 14.3v and stayed there. With everything turned on including both the jacket and grips on high, the voltage dropped down to 13.5v - 13.7v @ 4000 rpm. I didn't leave it there for a long time but the voltage seemed to be deteriorating.

    So, does it make sense that the system seems to be struggling to power 290 watts worth of bike and gear?

    By the way, my meter is a cheapy $50 meter. I've never checked it against a good meter but, I'm sure I have to go into town tomorrow and maybe I'll see if I can find someone to calibrate it for me.
  5. Full Power

    Full Power Long timer

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    DID not read through this entire thread, but the DEKA ETX14 is AGM, sealed, made in USA, tough as nails, while rated 220 Cold Cranking Amps, will actually load test at least 330 CCA, and WILL crank over a big block V8 engine.
    They commonly sell for 89 dollars.
    The one in my Buell is doing fine after 5 years.
  6. WayneC

    WayneC Long timer

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    RexBuck, the alternator only outputs a full 406 watts at 7500 rpm ( 14v 29 amps ), what regulator do you have in the machine ?
  7. lawe

    lawe lawe

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    +1 on the Deka. Not as light as a Lithium but I trust it.
  8. rider911

    rider911 Shortcut Navigator

    Joined:
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    Hi guys
    I have now purchased 2 Antigravity batteries, 1, 8 cell for my enduro bike and 1, 16 cell for the 990. I have been doing lots of work on the 990 and with checking lights and fans ect the battery voltage is starting to fall. My question is, and it may have been covered elsewhere in this thread, do I really need a special lithium charger to charge these batteries? I find it strange that the bike itself doesnt know its got a lithium battery and yet still charges the battery correctly.
    I have a ctec 3.6a motorcycle charger, will this charger potentially harm this lithium battery and if yes, why?

    Cheers
    911
  9. WayneC

    WayneC Long timer

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    The CTEC chargers have a desulphation mode and this mode is not suitable for Lithium and reports are that it could damage it
    You would have to read the manual or contact CTEC to determine if that mode could be disabled, would be wise to look into it
  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. odds are everything is working exactly as designed.

    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. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

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    Interior BC, Canada
    The regulator is the OEM that came with the bike. Don't know if they have changed that over time. My bike is a 2011.

    The electrical output available is what is concerning me. I realize the alternator is rated for 406 watts but I came across a copy of some numbers Joel had put up previously measuring 378 watts output at 4500 - 7500 rpm.

    However, the loads I'm putting on it are well below even that level and, even if all my gear is cranked up to the max, theoretically I should never be discharging my battery. My onboard voltmeter is saying that my voltage levels are now lower than they were 6 months before with the same loads. So, something has changed.
  12. Treadless

    Treadless Long timer

    Joined:
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    above the soil's surface


    It could be something as simple as your "on board voltmeter" is not what it was. Double check it's accuracy first.
  13. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    numbers you posted earlier are under 300 watts pegged out. most heated gear controllers use pulse width modulation. seldom are you using full rated output.

    29 amp at 14v output is plenty to sustain loads you mentioned. resting voltage of 13.6V after sitting several days indicates your battery is getting fully charged before stopping.

    in other words .. nothing is wrong .. ignore that silly red light .. once you get a volt meter installed and verify it's accuracy. so long as voltage meter remain above 13.8V or so ... current is flowing into battery slowly. unless battery in discharged condition, then 13.8v will push current into battery at faster rate.

    voltage = pressure ... charging voltage must be higher than battery's voltage to push current into battery. 12v charging systems designed to support PB normally are 13.8v to 14.2v at mid rpm.

    at max charge rate of 14.2v .. it's all but impossible to overcharge your LiFePO4 battery. which requires 14.6V to keep pushing current into battery to reach full charge.

    clear as mud ... I know ... :D
  14. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

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    Went into town and had my multi-meter checked against a Fluke - my meter reads about 1% low. Checking the onboard flashy meter against the multi-meter and I get the early warning around 13.7 - 13.9v which you are saying is fine. It looks like I also had some readings as low as 13.5v when it was cold and at altitude (over 14,000 feet).

    So, I'm not going to fret further about it for now. I still have a nigling voice in the back of my noggin wondering why it seems to be operating at a lower voltage now than before under similar conditions (temp, not altitude). Will be able to watch it closer with a proper onboard meter that has real numbers on it.
  15. WayneC

    WayneC Long timer

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    Rexbuck, I can confirm the OEM VR will go low at low temps, happens with mine on the GS single, in one of the threads Joel posted that BMW updated VR spares stock with a higher output voltage one and we saw confirmation of that with pic's of a replacement one of the guys purchased, when they updated the VR on the production line we dont know
  16. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    glad to hear your multi meter is now calibrated.

    bottom line is regardless of what voltage your RR is putting out and what ever loads you are placing on charging system. if your LiFePo4 battery is showing 13.6v after sitting overnight. that battery is fully charged and your charging system is supporting loads just fine.
  17. RexBuck

    RexBuck Long timer

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    As long as the stator and regulator is hunky dorey, I'm good. I understand that while I'm riding and seeing 13.8 or so, I'm golden. What I need to understand is at what voltage that I see while I'm riding do I need to start turning off heated gear? :vardy
  18. _cy_

    _cy_ Long timer

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    using chart below ... you really don't tap into LiFePO4's real AH capacity until voltage drops to 13.3v ... so any voltage above 13.6v will be in safe territory. at 13.6v not much current is flowing into battery with none coming out.

    current will be flowing out of your battery below 13.3v continuous ... that's when you need to turn off heated gear. relax .. that's not going to happen so long as your charging system is working.

    your system is rated for about 400watts .. max load is under 300watts and likely to be less than 250watts with heated gear not turned up to max. very seldom have I ran my heated gear on full blast for very long, that's riding at 20f ...

    my R80G/S is running a 400watt upgraded alternator with EarthX ETX36 (14AH actual) or the largest LiFePO4 that will fit into space. but airheads need much higher amp hour capacity when starting at low temps. modern motorcycles require much shorter crank times, even at low temps. after several long hard cranks .. 29amp @14v was measured flowing into Shorai LFX36.

    starting at 20f R80G/S could need multiple 30second+ cranks at 250amp+ draw.

    [​IMG]
  19. bikerfish1100

    bikerfish1100 Adventurer

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    Location:
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    first- Joel, thanks for all this hardwork. it is appreciated.
    2nd- I ended up balancing cost and quality, and decided that the Antigravity, at 3x the price, was not quite what I needed. I did some searching, and came up with this smoking hot deal on what seemed to be the #1 contender for an AGM batt..
    http://www.tristatebattery.com/etx14-deka-powersport-battery-p-975.html
  20. RoundOz

    RoundOz Plenty of seasoning

    Joined:
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    I am still making my way through this brilliant thread but it is slow going trying to absorb it all. Maybe someone can answer the following. ..not many replies on the thread I started...
    Has anyone fitted a 16 cell antigrav in a 990...this is what Scott at AG is recommending to me but the dimensions don't seem to jibe with those of the oem batt...upright or laying down. Second...what are people finding as a normal voltage output for the 990 RR? High enough to top off the Lithiums?

    Sent from my SCH-I535 using Tapatalk 4