New Litium Iron Battery for Kodiak 201QB - Dutchmen Owners

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Old 07-28-2019, 04:52 PM   #1
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New Lithium Iron Battery for Kodiak 201QB

Awhile back I posted that I was looking at getting a new battery for my rig. The one it came with (Interstate) was having trouble holding a charge from my solar panel so a trip up into the mountains became a bit of a gamble.

Last year I purchased a 100 watt panel and upgraded my wiring to 6 gauge. The panel is tethered to 25 feet of cable so it can be moved around to get more direct sun. We try to be careful with our power usage - with the water pump likely being the biggest user of power.
About three months ago I purchased a new LI battery, 100 AH, from BattleBorn. At the same time I bought a new controller ( which they said I needed since my existing one wasnít programmable) from them as well going with a Victron MPPT 100/15 based on their recommendation. They programmed it for this battery before sending it out. Also based on their recommendations, I located the controller and battery inside (I chose the pass through) fairly close to each other.

A typical camp trip for us lasts between 7 -10 days. As I mentioned, we try to be conservative with our power consumption. This first trip with the new battery lasted seven days. I was able to get about three hours of full direct sun on the panel each day. The controller has three function lights on it; Bulk, Absorption, and Float. The Bulk light was the only one lit during the entire stay meaning it was allowing any produced power into the battery. The battery status display inside the trailer indicated a full charge during the entire trip.

In short, I never experienced any power issues during our entire seven day stay, including using the battery to raise and lower the hitch at the end of the trip. Last year, on an almost identical trip, the battery was dead at five days. At this point I donít have a generator for emergency power backup but hope to change that status soon.

All in all, I am pleased with how the new battery performed. Granted, it has only been one trip but I can say this unit performed much better than the battery which came with my trailer, which, I suspect may have been compromised by having been allowed to go completely dead one or more times before I ever received it.

One issue I had when installing everything was with the controller. As I said, I had upgraded my trailerís wiring from the solar electrical port to the old controller and battery to 6 gauge. Part of this was based on recommendations I got while reading up on solar rv power, partially because of the 25 feet of cable I went with, and partially because I wanted the option to add more panels down the line. Unfortunately, the new Victron controller would not handle anything bigger than 10 gauge - and although likely not a problem for me now, it was a very frustrating limitation requiring me to splice 10 gauge wiring to the 6 in order to hook everything up. IMO, it really wouldnít be a big deal to build the controller to accommodate 6 gauge (or bigger) at the factory in the first place. Hopefully that will start to happen (eventually). In the mean time, be aware of that limitation and maybe consider going with a different controller that can handle any heavier gauge wire you might have put in place.
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Old 07-28-2019, 07:33 PM   #2
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Thank you for posting your experience with the new lithium battery. I may consider doing that myself.

I do not see the need to splice a 10 gage length of wire to the 6 gage wire. Assuming the 6 gage wire is multi stranded, you can remove enough strands to get the end into a fitting sized for 10 gage. 10 gage wire has ampacity for 30 amps so it is safe and effective. Your panel will probably never generate more than 8 amps.

The main reason for using 6 gage wire is to reduce resistance in the 25 foot length. The smaller end on the 6 gage wire will not have a significant effect on resistance.

People install 6 gage wire from their roofs to the controller which is near the battery. The main reason is to allow lower resistance and for future additions to roof top panels. It is difficult to string a wire from roof to interior so they install a high capacity wire with possibility of future additions.

In a free standing panel situation like your, you can use a 10 gage cable for one 100 watt panel. Even two 100 watt panels will work fine using 10 gage.

The place heavy gage wire is more important is between the converter and the battery. Keep it short and heavy gage there.
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Old 07-28-2019, 09:39 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by persistent View Post
Thank you for posting your experience with the new lithium battery. I may consider doing that myself.

I do not see the need to splice a 10 gage length of wire to the 6 gage wire. Assuming the 6 gage wire is multi stranded, you can remove enough strands to get the end into a fitting sized for 10 gage. 10 gage wire has ampacity for 30 amps so it is safe and effective. Your panel will probably never generate more than 8 amps.

The main reason for using 6 gage wire is to reduce resistance in the 25 foot length. The smaller end on the 6 gage wire will not have a significant effect on resistance.

People install 6 gage wire from their roofs to the controller which is near the battery. The main reason is to allow lower resistance and for future additions to roof top panels. It is difficult to string a wire from roof to interior so they install a high capacity wire with possibility of future additions.

In a free standing panel situation like your, you can use a 10 gage cable for one 100 watt panel. Even two 100 watt panels will work fine using 10 gage.

The place heavy gage wire is more important is between the converter and the battery. Keep it short and heavy gage there.
Originally, my plan was to simply cut the wire down as you suggested but it is a super flexible cable with really small strands and trying to cut it down enough, without cutting too much, to fit it in to the holes on the controller was a pain. Simpler to just splice to a smaller gauge.
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Old 07-29-2019, 01:01 PM   #4
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It is of course your call. A splice adds a tiny amount of contact resistance.
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Old 08-04-2019, 02:43 AM   #5
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Just for fun, I thought I'd add in some thoughts on wire size for solar in RVs. I use two criteria, on is simple NEC ampacity, the other is called voltage drop index (VDI). Voltage drop index is calculated by VDI= (A x feet) / (% Vdrop x V) where:
A = max amps in the wire
feet = total ONE WAY feet in the wire
% Vdrop = the percentage of voltage you are willing to lose, usually 2-5%
V = the voltage of the system, which on most RVs is averaged to 13V

You then look at the chart below, and select a wire size first based on VDI, then verify that it has sufficient Ampacity.

So you see that 6AWG has open air Ampacity of 80 amps, so the limiting factor would always be the VDI. If it takes 35 feet of wire to get from your panels to your charge controller, then 10A would give be the VDI limit of 6AWG wire. Many people will connect their panels in series to give higher voltage and lower current, then use an MPPT charge controller to covert back to the 14V required to charge batteries. This is a great way to go, but you have to have really good panels or shading will kill your power production from your panels.


wire size awg CU VDI Ampacity

4/0 99 300
3/0 78 260
2/0 62 225
1/0 49 195
2 31 140
4 20 105
6 12 80
8 8 60
10 5 40
12 3 25
14 2 20
16 1 10
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Old 08-05-2019, 08:38 PM   #6
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Here is a pic of the new battery installed inside the pass through. Controller and on/off switch with fuse also visible.
As you can see, upgrading to heavier wiring from existing solar port as well as moving battery inside necessitated removing a section of the pass through paneling. Installed a piece of nicer grade plywood to cover the hole as well as to give me something heavier to fasten things to.
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Old 08-05-2019, 10:44 PM   #7
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Correction, that is not a fuse but a circuit breaker that was installed.
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