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Old 11-17-2020, 10:23 AM   #11
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Thanks to all for suggestions. Lilnuts2 - our batteries are also inside under the bed, and we have no issues while we're using the van. My concern is for while the van is sitting unused and so not being heated. And Wowbagger - that's also why I want this to be 12 V - I don't leave the inverter on while the van is 'stored'. But there are some good options proposed here. I am leaning towards the OEMHeater SoliStat as it will handle 20 Amps and is clearly a very robust (if expensive) unit. It can also be set to precise trigger points - e.g. switch on at 35 degrees and off at 40 degrees, to minimize the energy use. And I'm thinking about using the OEMHeater flexible silicon heater attached to an aluminum sheet to convect the heat. I will post an update once I have decided and can report on results.
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Old 11-17-2020, 02:29 PM   #12
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There are several “battery wrap” products that I have also been looking at to address this issue. Battle Born sells a heating pad that wraps around the battery. It runs off 12V and uses a total of 30W of power when it is on. Included with the heating pad is a thermostat switch that turns the pad on when the battery temperature falls below 35 degrees F and stays on until the temperature rises above 45 F. So the pad is only on when needed. Unfortunately, they cost $220 each, and I have 3 batteries
Zerostart has a product that is also a wrap around style blanket that warms the battery core to 60° – 70°F above ambient temperature and features Thinsulate thermal insulation to help maintain battery temperature in cold weather. It does not have a built in thermostat and uses 120v 80 w power. Cost is $43 each. They also sell silicone heating pads that can be placed beneath the batteries. No thermostat switch is available for this option although one configuration comes with a bare-wire hook up (120v). The pad temperature option is either 200 or 300 degrees F.
It seems to me that the most cost and power efficient option is the OEM pad heater with a SoliStat thermostat (~ $165 per battery). I will look to PhilH for an update before I contact OEM Heaters myself.
Has anyone tried putting a 12v electric heating pad or blanket over the battery bank while the van is not in use during the winter? Would that work and be safe? We also have our LiFePO4 batteries installed inside the van (under the platform bed). I monitor my battery temp with a Victron 712 BMS. Current temp 53 degrees at the battery terminal; ambient temp 46 degrees.
FWIW Battle Born now has an option with an internal “proprietary” heater. Only adds $49 to the cost of each battery.
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Old 11-17-2020, 06:32 PM   #13
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More useful info - thanks Scott. So the pressure is now on for me to try this out and report back. And the fact that the BattleBorn wraps are so expensive actually makes me feel better about the price of the OEMHeater devices. So I think I will move forward. They have been very responsive to my email questions. But it will be a while before I can report my findings. With shipping and the time it will take me to actually install (I'm not the quickest). I'll update the thread once I have got it up and running.
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Old 11-18-2020, 06:41 PM   #14
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And for those of you follwing this (like me) who haven't bought batteries yet . . .RELion's LT series can (theoretically) be charged down to -20C; it draws power from the charger to warm the cells to 5C before starting the charge cycle.


Pricing is about 30% more than the RELion "regular" series, so an additional $300 for a 100Ah battery.



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Old 11-22-2020, 01:52 PM   #15
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Lithium

I read this with much interest. I have recently changed over to Lithium batteries. I do not spend a lot of time in freezing temperatures. My batteries are mounted outside underneath the vehicle. I have been looking at options for those times that I am in freezing temps to keep the batteries from being damaged. The bms should protect the battery and I also understand that the normal use of the battery keeps it from a freezing state. But no numbers to back this up. As for storing with no charging taking place freezing is a non issue from all the information I have come across. With this said I'm only looking for the far and few trips where I go venturing into the freeze. For me it will probably be trial and error on resolving my needs and just how much I need to do. I just hope I don't blow a battery in the process. Just wanted to chime in with what little I know and how I plan to solve this without going overboard.
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Old 11-22-2020, 07:29 PM   #16
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I'm still building my set up so can't confirm how well it will work but this is what I've got and what I'm planning on doing...

2 Battleborn 100ah lithium, insulated under my dinette bench. Under that same bench I also have a 12"L x 4"W x 6"H coolant radiator that will be fed from my Espar Hydronic heater (it has a shutoff valve so it doesn't heat up in summer months).
I also have a airtronic but I don't see the need to direct a vent to the batteries area.

My diesel heaters are wired to a programmable thermostat which activate at around 43F or 6C.

This way my batteries should always be available. It also keeps my water from freezing (my 30G tank is inside the van, under the bed). One of the airtronic vents will be directed under the bed area for that purpose and also to keep the mattress from getting too hard since memory foam isn't a big fan of cold.

Anyway, I always like to find double fonctions for all my gears. The diesel heaters won't be the exception

Cheers
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Old 11-22-2020, 08:06 PM   #17
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This is bringing out some some really good information and ideas. It does seem that the industry is getting better at providing solutions - like the BattleBorn and ReLion heated batteries mentioned earlier. Although the simplest solution seems to be for the BMS to stop charging at 32 degrees. But mine does not do that I realize I didn't specify what I have - I have three 120ah Expion360 VPR PowerMod batteries, installed in June 2019, so not quite the latest.

The idea of using the Espar sounds good, but the way my van is set up, that would heat the whole van and not just the battery compartment. I have decided to use the SoliStat thermostat to control a 60W fan heater from Omega at https://www.omega.com/en-us/industri...ers/p/FCH-FGC1. This will cost about $235 for the thermostat and heater, but some of the other prices for the heated batteries are making me feel a bit better about that. Once I have this up and working, I'll report back.
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Old 11-22-2020, 09:04 PM   #18
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It's my understanding Lithium batteries can be subjected to the cold without issue, it's when you try to charge them when they are cold is where the problems. Phil could use a battery cutoff switch for your house batteries, start the van with the engine battery and warm the van up, once warm, connect the house Lithiums.
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Old 11-22-2020, 11:55 PM   #19
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Phil, I feel your pain. I also have the Expion 360 VPR system (installed 3/2020) Gen 1. The Gen 1 BMS does not prevent charging below 32 F degrees. The Gen 2 series do ....
As you probably know, Expion does have a battery wrap available, but again, no thermostat,
Thermal Wrap EV-V120-TW $78.00ea (1 per battery).
Master 20A switch EV-BHS $10.00ea (1 per 2 batteries).
Price includes shipping.
Heating Element Link from Joel at Expion =>
https://www.amazon.com/Facon-Holding...5831861&sr=8-3

At present, I’m going to use a small ceramic heater under the platform bed at night if the temps are in the 30’s when the van is not in use. We have a Truma-Combi Eco heating system that will likely work for us while we are traveling and using the van in colder weather. Fortunately, being in AZ in the winter is a good thing, except if you love to ski. Unfortunately, it looks like this winter will be the second winter that I have been kept off the slopes due to the pandemic.
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Old 11-23-2020, 01:06 AM   #20
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I have 4 Renogy LiFePO4 batteries and 3 Renogy 160w solar panels. Where I live it's not unusual to wake up to freezing temps from mid October to mid April. So to ensure the lithium batteries stay above freezing I've added two 12v heating pads. The pads are made by Facon, model # CW-ST725, and costs $70 for a pack of two. I set the pads on the floor of the van and placed the lithium batteries on top of the pads. These batteries are stored inside in the left rear wheel well area. underneath the RB50 rear cabinets. The heating pads are marketed to RV owners to keeps their water tanks from freezing. I found them on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Each pad has a thermostat to turn on at 45F (+/-5degree) and off at 68F. Because 68F is a much higher temp than I need, and the amperage draw when running is about 7A, I added a a 12V RF relay switch that operates with a wireless on/off remote.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...e?ie=UTF8&th=1

In addition to keeping an eye on the battery temp reading on my Victron BMW-712 battery monitor, I also added a set of Inkbird ITH-20R temp monitor with 3 wireless remote sensor/probes. I have 1 probe at the batteries, 1 probe on the outside of the van to read outside temp, and another inside the van to read interior temp.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

With all this I'm able to keep the lithium batteries around 50F when outside temps are below 40F. If I see outside and inside ambient temps above 45 and rising, I'll shut-off power to the heating pads and thus save on the amps to operate them. I also use a 12v electronic timer/actuator to shut-off the power to the heating pads after the sun goes down and supplies power to the heating pads beginning before sunrise.
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