Installing Lithium Batteries on a Sailboat

Equipment Installed on Sailing Vessel Delos

Lithium LIFePO4 Batteries (800AH @ 12V, 400AH @24V)

We’ve tortured tested these Lithium LIFePO4 batteries on Delos for 2 full seasons now and we are happy to say they are performing excellent!  The batteries we use are made by Dragon Fly Energy, located in Nevada USA, and have a built in Battery Management System that is top of the line.  They are distributed by Battle Born in the Americas, and Transporter Energy in the UK.  We do get a cheeky little kickback, so if you purchase these batteries please let them know you heard about them from SV Delos!

North America Distributor – Battle Born Batteries

European Distributor – Transporter Energy (UK)

This is a link to the kit we installed on SV Delos on Amazon.

Induction Cooktop

Not sure about cooking with induction power? You can get a portable Induction HOB for CHEAP and give it a shot. Even if you don’t live on a boat 🙂 Purchase one of these, put it on a gimbaled platform, or your current propane stove, and you’re good to go!

If you are ready to make the switch we have used the Kenyon electric induction cooktop with great success on Delos.  It’s easy to mount and we were able to convert our old gimbal for the propane stove in an afternoon.

Kenyon Slimline 1800W Induction Cooktop (240V)

Kenyon Slimline 1800W Induction Cooktop (120V)

Inverter and Solar Charge Controllers

The heart of our electrical system is a Victron combined inverter charger, which takes DC energy from the batteries and converts it to AC.  The inverter charger can be purchased from from Battle Born Batteries, or Transporter Energy.  On Amazon for the 110VAC unit CLICK HERE, and for 230VAC CLICK HERE.

For a solar charge controller we have had great luck with the Victron SmartSolar MPPT Bluetooth 100/50 enabled solar charge controller.  The charge controller can be purchased from from Battle Born Batteries, or Transporter Energy.  To see the product on Amazon CLICK HERE.

Battery Monitoring System

We’ve used the Victron BMS-712 with great success on SV Delos.  It even links up with your phone over Blue tooth to give you up to date battery charge status!  The BMS can be purchased from from Battle Born Batteries, or Transporter Energy.  To see the product on Amazon CLICK HERE.

Electric Convection Oven

Our electric convection oven was purchased at the hardware store in Grenada on a whim.  It’s not expensive but really works well!  Here is a link on Amazon of the unit we use.

DC to DC Converters and Spike Supressor for Alternator

If you need to step down voltages check out, check out the Ablemail line of products.  They are rock solid and work great!  We can also recommend Sterling Power if you are looking for DC to DC battery chargers, and alternator specific charging regulators and spike suppressors.

FAQ

Why Did You Switch From Propane to Induction Cooking- The first and most obvious reason is we are now cooking with a new energy source, and not dependent on propane refills where ever we go. We have greatly increased our range of time between ports. Also we have much less waste heat in the galley because the induction cooking is just so efficient. I also think Propane is one of the most dangerous things on the boat. It is a heavier than air flammable gas. We have had three distinct failures on Delos that left us unable to cook (a failed solenoid, a bad regulator, and a broken hose to the stove) . The broken stove actually led to a gas leak inside the boat and a flare up in the galley, so I am quite happy not to have this worry anymore.

What about fire and safety concerns with Lithium Batteries? We decided to go with Lithium Phosphate batteries, which are a much more forgiving and stable battery chemistry. This is not the same chemistry used in mobile phones, laptops, and most electric vehicles! Make sure to do your research and choose your batteries wisely, for example look around at marine batteries. A battery management system can further decrease any potential dangers, see below!

I heard Lithium cells are very picky about charging voltages and can overheat? Lithium cells are more picky about their voltages, so it is important to configure your charging system to the battery specs, in our case this means limiting the “bulk” charge to 14.4V . You can also damage the cells by getting the voltage too low, pulling too much current, or too high and too low temps. A good battery management system (BMS) will help you to avoid these conditions.

What is a Battery Management System (BMS)? A BMS is necessary to monitor the cells and make sure you are not doing any damage due to out of spec voltages, temperatures, or currents. In our case the batteries have a built in BMS that monitors these conditions, shutting the cells down before any potential damage can occur. We also have an external BMS from Victron to monitor our system as well.

Are Lithium Batteries Super Expensive? Lithium batteries are definitely more expensive than lead-acid. Whether or not this makes sense depends on how long you will have your boat, and how you use it. We have already changed out the battery bank on Delos three times during this voyage, if this technology was available when we started it would have already paid for itself by now. Also it’s important to consider that your usable capacity doubles, so effectively 4 lithium batteries has the same capacity as approx 7 lead acid batteries (assuming you discharge to 85%).

What do Lithium Batteries Cost? We have some sample kits below, just click on the link!

What if the power fails? Will you still be able to cook? Our backup plan is to run our generator if the inverter or battery system fails. This is more redundancy than we had with the old propane system, where there were multiple points of failure on the system with no backup.

What About an Oven? We plan on installing a small, electric convection oven. The power is approx that of the induction stove, so I think it is doable. Stand by for part 2!

Lithium Kits- European Supplier

If you live in Europe check out Transporter Energy . Justin and his team are located in the UK, and put together the kit we have on SV Delos!

Lithium Kits- USA and Outside of Europe

If you live in the US or anywhere outside of Europe check out these awesome Lithium kits!

12 Volt Lithium Bundles:

400ah @ 12V: Amazon.com -OR- Battle Born Batteries

24 Volt Lithium Bundles:

500ah @ 24V: Amazon.com -OR- Battle Born Batteries

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Don’t see a bundle that fits you? Send the guys at Battle Born a message and they will sort you out.

Induction Cooktop

Not sure about cooking with induction power? You can get a portable Induction HOB for CHEAP and give it a shot. Even if you don’t live on a boat 🙂 Purchase one of these, put it on a gimbaled platform, and you’re good to go!

All the batteries used in these kits are produced in Nevada, USA by Dragon Fly Energy!

Other Excellent Sources

While researching this project I read this blog, which I found to be very helpful: http://nordkyndesign.com/from-lead-acid-to-lithium-new-battery-technology-for-power-on-board/