Lithium Battery Install, Charging System and more. 1 year in and here are our thoughts

How do we charge and discharge lithiums onboard, what changes have we made, what have we learned and how do we best share this knowledge with others considering changing batteries on their boats.

This video share is intended for those who have written to us on numerous occasions asking for our opinion on LiFePO4 batteries installed on Impi.

To answer some of the questions we interview Jack Peters From OUTBACK MARINE in Southport Australia – we also share some footage of Sam Brown from OVERKILL ELECTRICAL SYSTEMS in Pittwater Australia since these folks have been extremely helpful in sorting out the systems we have on Impi.

It is sometimes difficult to find professional people who will openly share their knowledge, and whilst Jack says he may not have had enough opportunity to share enough details around his comments, we decided to share it anyway since we believe it provides enough of a base to work from for ordinary people like ourselves who live and sail upon the oceans.

For this reason I must say this video is NOT INTENDED FOR EXPERTS – it is really an act of love for those who follow our travels and wish to learn a bit more about setting up their boats, what to look for when purchasing a used boat and to be able to figure out at what cost changing these systems will come at.

Now cost is something everyone asks me about. By watching the video you will understand why this varies from boat to boat and why I can’t give anyone a clear cut answer to this. On Impi we had a system that could easily be programmed for Lithium batteries and there were added items along the way such as isolators, fuses etc. that all cost additional money in labour.

So one needs to evaluate this against the systems you have in your boat since purchasing a complete system such as the Outback Marine System may seem expensive on the outset, however the system includes many of the items needed as ‘add on equipment’ and also being contained the way it is, also saves on additional labour costs.

So – with this in mind let me share the cost on Impi: 1. 400AH EV POWER LiFePO4 packs @ AU$ 3100.00 each x2 = 800AH @ AU$6200.00 2. BMS (BCU-PPAK-PLUS-4C @ AU$ 200 each x 2 (for redundancy between packs) = AU$ 400.00 So we could have purchased one pack of 400AH @ AU$3100 plus the BMS @ AU$200 = AU$ 3300.00 for a 400AH pack including the BMS Because we want redundancy we put in two packs and two separate BMS units at a total cost above of AU$ 6600.00 In addition we decided to bypass the internal relays of the BMS and run 2 LARGE commercial GIGAVAC RELAYS because of the loads we place on our system. Outback Marine already carry similar already included in their full system.

On Impi these cost as follows: 1. REL-GXL 14B2A – Gigavac Latching Relays 500A each @ AU$ 284.00 ea = AU$ 568.00 All pricing excludes Transport. Regarding the alternators: We used Prestolite 170A alternators to replace our Balmar 150A (which were a disaster on Impi – we lost 4 of these before going to Prestolite). Cost at Baxters in Sydney: AU$280.00 each The thing with the Prestolites is they have internal regulators that need to be converted to external regs. To make them ‘ready for external regs’ cost an additional AU$ 220 so the total cost per modified alternator was AU$ 500.00 ea.

This excludes brackets and other items required – e.g. Pulleys, belts, Temp sensors etc. All pricing is a year old at the time of this posting and may have changed.

Folks have asked me for contact links to Outback Marine so here goes:

Jack Peters email: (Jack is incredibly busy so please give him time to respond – they are not chasing work for obvious reasons)

Sam Brown – Overkill Electrical (Again – Sam Brown told me he is very busy so give him warning and always tell him its an emergency – lol) He is a one man business and operates by land and boat and has a workshop on the water in Pittwater.