Lion Energy Safari UT 1300 - $699 @ Costco

sajohnson

New Member
For those asking about the 45% > 85% RH specs, I asked Lion Energy and they said, quote:

LE: "The humidity issue is pretty minor. We have customers in Texas, Georgia, Florida and other humid states and not problems. With some airflow, you won't have any problems. You can put the batteries under the stairs of the coach with no problem."

I also asked about recommended charge current:

LE: "You can charge up to 100 amps or 1.0C with no problems. The manual just mentions that to maximize life cycles and life span, 45 to 55 amps is the sweet spot. A lot of people will set the parameters from 90% to 10% to maximize life cycles. If you are wanting to maximize amp hours, 100% to empty is not a problem as well. It just depends on what you would like to do."

Follow up response:

LE: "The low humidity is not an issue at all. So anything under 45 RH is okay."

***Charging from alternator***:

LE: "If you are charging off your alternator, you will need to use a DC to DC charger such as the Redarc model 1225D to charge the batteries and protect the alternator."

That is something that all sellers' websites that I've seen avoid mentioning. They all say "plug and play" or "drop-in replacement". Yeah, not so much. I assume they are focused on selling batteries and they know that if they tell potential buyers that they will need a DC to DC charger and possibly a new converter/charger they will lose sales.

Question -- when the LE rep says "protect the alternator" is that because the batteries rely on the charger to control the current, and without any external regulation they will each take the max they can get, up to 100A -- which would push the alternator to full output and hold it there?
 

sajohnson

New Member
OK, I talked myself into it -- I just ordered a pair from Costco!

I didn't want to wait until the last day of the sale and find they were sold out.

I'm almost certain they will work out fine, but if not, Costco is good about returns.

The only thing that gives me a little hesitation are the terminals. Here's a good YouTube video -- I think the guy is a member here:

Lion Energy 1300 VS 1200 and Why I Dislike the Terminals

I have #4/0 welding cable feeding my inverter and the battery terminals just aren't made for the lugs I used. I'm sure I can make it work though.
 

sajohnson

New Member
Lithium batteries are NOT "plug and play" or "drop in"!

I found some info and a test video from Victron about the problems with attempting to charge LiFeSO4 batteries directly off of an alternator. You may find it interesting:

Careful – Alternator Charging Lithium (or how to not blow up your alternator):
https://www.victronenergy.com/blog/2019/10/07/careful-alternator-charging-lithium/

That certainly reinforces what Lion Energy said about using a DC to DC charger to protect the alternator!

Any RV that utilizes a "battery combiner" or "boost" relay that ties the chassis and coach batteries together when the engine is running (which is almost all RVs) must have a DC to DC charger to avoid premature alternator failure.

No doubt the vendors do not want to advertise that fact because it will cut into their sales.
 

MrNatural22

🌞SW sunshine =⚡️⚡️lit up thru the darkness✌️
😉 If you do a search that subject has been discussed in length in many posts here before.
Take some time to review them. ✌️
Also you mentioned “that guy” in your other post.
That’s Will Prowse the creator of this forum. 😉
 

cwstnsko

Solar Enthusiast
A couple notes on the last few posts.

With regard to the charging current, remember that these numbers are per battery. If you have 2 in parallel, the a 1C charge rate is 200 amps and the "sweet spot" for 2 in parallel is 90-110 amps. So with multiple batteries in parallel, there is not much concern over too much charging current.

I think the terminal thing on the Lion Energy batteries is a bit overblown. The job of the terminal is primarily electrical in nature, not mechanical. Will has clarified that it is not a current carrying concern, just that he prefers the overkill blade terminals, and the more robust, heavier case on the BB. I would upgrade to more appropriate bolts than the included wing nut bolts and torque the terminals carefully per Lion Energy's instructions (12 ft-lbs in my manual.) I would also avoid hanging any heavy items off of them and secure heavy cables rather than letting them hang from the battery.

Alternator charging, which is relatively simple in the Lead Acid world, is obviously much more complex with LiFePO4, drop-in style or not. The question I keep coming back to is: How badly is it needed? I generally drive in the daytime and where I drive is not frequently in the shade, so the solar panels will be charging the batteries, running the fridge, etc., while I am driving. If I'm parked and dealing with a stretch of cloudy days, I'd much rather run my generator for a couple hours than run my engine on high idle for the same amount of time. The main drive engine of a vehicle with an alternator is not the most efficient tool for stationary charging.
I've decided to build my system for now without alternator charging and just cap and stow the current wire coming from the isolater in case I change my mind after I've used the setup for a while and determined if alternator charging would provide meaningful benefit to me. If I find myself arriving places with depleted batteries on a regular basis, I'll consider adding DC-DC to my setup.

Chris W
 

sajohnson

New Member
A couple notes on the last few posts.

With regard to the charging current, remember that these numbers are per battery. If you have 2 in parallel, the a 1C charge rate is 200 amps and the "sweet spot" for 2 in parallel is 90-110 amps. So with multiple batteries in parallel, there is not much concern over too much charging current.

I think the terminal thing on the Lion Energy batteries is a bit overblown. The job of the terminal is primarily electrical in nature, not mechanical. Will has clarified that it is not a current carrying concern, just that he prefers the overkill blade terminals, and the more robust, heavier case on the BB. I would upgrade to more appropriate bolts than the included wing nut bolts and torque the terminals carefully per Lion Energy's instructions (12 ft-lbs in my manual.) I would also avoid hanging any heavy items off of them and secure heavy cables rather than letting them hang from the battery.

Alternator charging, which is relatively simple in the Lead Acid world, is obviously much more complex with LiFePO4, drop-in style or not. The question I keep coming back to is: How badly is it needed? I generally drive in the daytime and where I drive is not frequently in the shade, so the solar panels will be charging the batteries, running the fridge, etc., while I am driving. If I'm parked and dealing with a stretch of cloudy days, I'd much rather run my generator for a couple hours than run my engine on high idle for the same amount of time. The main drive engine of a vehicle with an alternator is not the most efficient tool for stationary charging.
I've decided to build my system for now without alternator charging and just cap and stow the current wire coming from the isolater in case I change my mind after I've used the setup for a while and determined if alternator charging would provide meaningful benefit to me. If I find myself arriving places with depleted batteries on a regular basis, I'll consider adding DC-DC to my setup.

Chris W

Your plan certainly makes sense for your situation. Sounds reasonable to me.

In our case, we DO rely on alternator charging. We have a modest 200W solar setup, but frequently boondock, and use park campgrounds, in the woods. So much of the time we could have 600W or 800W of solar and it wouldn't make a difference. Luckily, we tend to be travelers more than campers, so relying on the alternator to charge our 2 Crown CR260s generally works fairly well, although I've noticed that even if we drive hundreds of miles they never really get a full charge. I assume that's because the Sprinter chassis voltage is lower than normal, at about 14V (+/- 0.1V). Also, the cable Winnebago used between the chassis and coach batteries is #1 and/or #2 gauge, so there is voltage drop across it.

So concerns about the load on the alternator aside, it seems that a DC to DC charger would do a better job than the existing straight connection.

A note on solar: I've been into renewable energy since the 1970s. I like to see solar used wherever it's practical. It clearly works well for some people, in some areas of the country. For others, not so much. In a best-case scenario -- summer in the Sun Belt -- people report being able to rely 100% on solar, and often say their batteries are recharged by early afternoon. Of course, a lot depends on their energy usage. For people in areas like the Pacific NW and places with a lot of cloud cover -- or anywhere, if they camp in the woods -- it just doesn't make a lot of sense.

I doubt many people routinely discharge 2 or more UT1300s every day, but charging a pair of UT1300s from close to 0% SOC up to 100% takes a large PV system and a lot of sun! Definitely doable, but only under the right conditions.

You said:

"... I'd much rather run my generator for a couple hours than run my engine on high idle for the same amount of time. The main drive engine of a vehicle with an alternator is not the most efficient tool for stationary charging."

Absolutely!

You wrote:

"So with multiple batteries in parallel, there is not much concern over too much charging current."

I'm not sure I follow. Two UT1300s in parallel will take up to 200A. That's more than the max rating of our alternator, which is 180A.

I haven't received the batteries yet, but I tend to agree with you about the terminals. They appear a bit cheesy, but they will do the job. I'm not overly concerned about it, but I am looking for ideas to lessen the stress on them. I noticed in the YouTube videos that internally, the UT1300s have multiple smaller gauge cables connected to each terminal. That's a good idea. I may do something like that. Run the existing #4/0 cables to remote lugs, and then connect to the batteries using several small cables for neg(-) and pos(+).
 

Mrgulabull

New Member
I jumped on this deal and am planning to configure 12 of them in an s4p3 configuration to get 48v. While the batteries individually have BMS’s do I need a BMS for each series as well? Any concern about individual batteries coming out of balance with the rest of the array?

Any advice is appreciated, and apologies if this isn’t the right place to ask.
 

sajohnson

New Member
I jumped on this deal and am planning to configure 12 of them in an s4p3 configuration to get 48v. While the batteries individually have BMS’s do I need a BMS for each series as well? Any concern about individual batteries coming out of balance with the rest of the array?

Any advice is appreciated, and apologies if this isn’t the right place to ask.

Twelve (12) UT 1300s?! Damn! What are you installing them in?

I'm just learning about lithium batteries myself, so I can't help you, but there are a lot of sharp people here who can.

You may get an answer in this thread, but if you don't, you might try starting a new thread with a title like, "Connecting 12 Lion UT 1300 batteries in series/parallel. Potential issues?" Something like that should get some attention. It isn't every day someone installs 12 lithium batteries!
 

Mrgulabull

New Member
Thanks for the quick reply, will take your advice and start a new thread.

To answer your question about use, I’m building a 100% off grid home in rainy Hawaii. I’m overbuilding the capacity to account for extended days without sunshine and know that it’s not wise to add additional batteries to the array later, so I’m hopefully building more than I’ll really need.
 

sajohnson

New Member
Thanks for the quick reply, will take your advice and start a new thread.

To answer your question about use, I’m building a 100% off grid home in rainy Hawaii. I’m overbuilding the capacity to account for extended days without sunshine and know that it’s not wise to add additional batteries to the array later, so I’m hopefully building more than I’ll really need.

Gotcha -- sounds cool!

I didn't mean to suggest that you had to start a new thread, but you'll probably get more input that way.

Good luck with your system! :cool:
 

mattleonard

New Member
Just bumping this back up - Costco is again selling 2-packs of the UT1300 for $1399 shipped. I just picked up another pair - I've been happy with the ones I picked up last time they had these on sale. I know DIY is cheaper - but the form-factor, warranty, and overall specs make this a pretty good deal at $0.52/wh.

They also have a 2-pack of UT700 (56ah) for $729 - which I think is actually a smidge cheaper per watt-hour.


 

sajohnson

New Member
However, some further thoughts about LIon:
IMHO Their online manual (pdf) needs proof reading and lacks detail that I would like to have.
for example:
Storage Temperature -4 ~ 113°F 45 ~ 85% RH
14 ~ 95°F 45 ~ 85% RH
So just what is that saying?
And the manual should include optimal charge rates and voltages; a power curve would be nice too.
Too much adverts for other products they sell and two otherwise black pages of lines titled "Notes".
The batteries came well packed but it would have been nice to have a warranty card and a paper manual included.

Lack of comprehensive documentation, as well as conflicting specs, is an ongoing problem.

For example, in different places in Lion's literature (specs and FAQs) you will find the following charge voltages:

* 14.6V absorption / 14.6V float
* 14.6V / 0.0V
* 13.9 / 13.9
* 13.9 / 13.6
* Any voltage from 13.9 to 14.6 (absorption)

In a recent email, a Lion Energy tech told me that the BMS will accept any voltage from 13.9 to 14.6 -- then it 'bucks' the voltage down to 13.9V. The cells are always charged at 13.9V, regardless of the input voltage.

He seemed concerned that potential buyers would consider this a bad thing, because non-technical people just look at numbers, and would assume 14.6 = better than 13.9. He said their marketing dept is trying to come up with a way to let people know how the charging works without losing sales.

I told him that as long as the advertised specs are legit -- capacity; max charge and discharge current -- that's all that matters. If Lion is using a larger capacity battery than their competitors and intentionally undercharging it by few percent, that's a good thing. That's probably why they are able to offer a 3,500 cycle (with >80% capacity remaining) warranty.

My impression is that the UT1300 is a decent battery, but Lion is sloppy with their documentation.

Also, like most of their competitors, they should not claim the UT1300 is 'plug-n-play' and a 'drop-in lead-acid replacement'. That's simply not true.
 

sajohnson

New Member
A couple notes on the last few posts.

With regard to the charging current, remember that these numbers are per battery. If you have 2 in parallel, the a 1C charge rate is 200 amps and the "sweet spot" for 2 in parallel is 90-110 amps. So with multiple batteries in parallel, there is not much concern over too much charging current.

I think the terminal thing on the Lion Energy batteries is a bit overblown. The job of the terminal is primarily electrical in nature, not mechanical. Will has clarified that it is not a current carrying concern, just that he prefers the overkill blade terminals, and the more robust, heavier case on the BB. I would upgrade to more appropriate bolts than the included wing nut bolts and torque the terminals carefully per Lion Energy's instructions (12 ft-lbs in my manual.) I would also avoid hanging any heavy items off of them and secure heavy cables rather than letting them hang from the battery.

Alternator charging, which is relatively simple in the Lead Acid world, is obviously much more complex with LiFePO4, drop-in style or not. The question I keep coming back to is: How badly is it needed? I generally drive in the daytime and where I drive is not frequently in the shade, so the solar panels will be charging the batteries, running the fridge, etc., while I am driving. If I'm parked and dealing with a stretch of cloudy days, I'd much rather run my generator for a couple hours than run my engine on high idle for the same amount of time. The main drive engine of a vehicle with an alternator is not the most efficient tool for stationary charging.
I've decided to build my system for now without alternator charging and just cap and stow the current wire coming from the isolater in case I change my mind after I've used the setup for a while and determined if alternator charging would provide meaningful benefit to me. If I find myself arriving places with depleted batteries on a regular basis, I'll consider adding DC-DC to my setup.

Chris W

I've come around to your position on charging (except we'll be using a generator with occasional solar assist). Rather than spending $500 on a Redarc DC-DC charger (the only sealed unit I could find) and going to the trouble of installing it, we will just run our generator while we are driving and use the MS2000 to charge the UT1300s. The MS2000 charger can put out 100A+, which is what Lion recommends -- about 50A per battery. It can be set for 13.9V absorption which is what the Lion tech I've been exchanging emails with tells me is the actual recommended voltage (NOT 14.6V) -- since the BMS will knock any charge voltage down to 13.9V anyway. The MS2000's float voltage can be set as low as 12.0V.

The MS 2000 charger will charge the batteries twice as fast as the 50A Redarc -- in about 2 hours, and that's if we discharge them completely which will almost never happen.

Like you, we'll just just cap and stow the current wire coming from the isolation relay. If the 'boost' feature is ever needed it will be easy enough to connect it to the UT1300s temporarily.

After receiving the UT1300s and getting an up close and personal look at the terminals, I agree with Will -- they are pretty lame. They seem to be designed for small cables or wires, which is very strange considering their 150A continuous output rating. We have #4/0 welding cable running to our MS2000 inverter/charger. The cables have very heavy ring terminals with 3/8" holes in them. I just don't trust 6mm hardware (smaller than 1/4") that can only be torqued to ~7 lb.-ft. (per Lion specs) to secure them.

So I purchased 4 each mil-spec battery lugs -- the smaller I.D. neg (-) ones that are 16 mm I.D. at the top -- and will install them on the posts, sliding them down so they are in contact with the top of the battery case for added stability. That will give me 3/8" bolts to attach the #4/0 cable terminals. I found that removing the UT1300 handles gives more clearance for the terminals.

BTW -- the Lion specs I saw most recently say the recommended torque for the posts is only 5.9 lb.-ft.! That PDF came from the tech at Lion. For some reason it is slightly less than the recommended torque for 6 mm machine screws in the terminals. In any case, be very careful.
 

DIYVan

New Member
So you jumped to a whole bunch of conclusions on what you feel, not on any empirical data. Got it.

Why would you not believe them when they say it will buck a 14.6v down to 13.9v? That's what makes it "drop-in" capable.
 

sajohnson

New Member
So you jumped to a whole bunch of conclusions on what you feel, not on any empirical data. Got it.

Why would you not believe them when they say it will buck a 14.6v down to 13.9v? That's what makes it "drop-in" capable.

I wrote:

"It [our MS2000 inverter/charger] can be set for 13.9V absorption which is what the Lion tech I've been exchanging emails with tells me is the actual recommended voltage (NOT 14.6V) -- since the BMS will knock any charge voltage down to 13.9V anyway."

Just facts.

In my previous post I said:

"In a recent email, a Lion Energy tech told me that the BMS will accept any voltage from 13.9 to 14.6 -- then it 'bucks' the voltage down to 13.9V. The cells are always charged at 13.9V, regardless of the input voltage."

"He seemed concerned that potential buyers would consider this a bad thing, because non-technical people just look at numbers, and would assume 14.6 = better than 13.9. He said their marketing dept is trying to come up with a way to let people know how the charging works without losing sales."

How is that "not believing them [Lion]"? I simply repeated what the Lion tech said. Charging at 13.9V is better for the battery. It's a good thing, but Lion is afraid that some potential buyer will simply see "13.9V" and assume the UT1300 is not as good as a battery that charges at 14.6V. They're probably correct, that might be an issue.

My very next paragraph is complementary:

"I told him that as long as the advertised specs are legit -- capacity; max charge and discharge current -- that's all that matters. If Lion is using a larger capacity battery than their competitors and intentionally undercharging it by few percent, that's a good thing. That's probably why they are able to offer a 3,500 cycle (with >80% capacity remaining) warranty."

Is there something wrong with that statement?

That said, it is hard to know what to think because their published specs are all over the map (from my post above):

In different places in Lion's literature (specs and FAQs) you will find the following charge voltages:

* 14.6V absorption / 14.6V float
* 14.6V / 0.0V
* 13.9 / 13.9
* 13.9 / 13.6
* Any voltage from 13.9 to 14.6 (absorption)

In addition, there's this:

"Lion: "This battery is ideal for emergencies, work, or play. We recommend setting all voltages to 14.6V per UT in series. End amps or tail amps need to be set as low as possible and inverter low voltage needs to be set to 11.5V." Dec 5, 2019
https://lionenergy.com/blogs/news/t...ext=This battery is ideal for,be set to 11.5V.

There are no 'conclusions' above, only data direct from LIon.

BTW -- bucking the voltage down to 13.9V does not make the UT1300 a "drop-in lead-acid replacement":

Alternator charging still requires a DC-DC charger ($300-$500) plus installation.

The terminals are still non-standard and small -- as Will Prowse points out very well. That may require changes in cables and/or cable terminals.

As with all lithium batteries (not just Lion) the temp restrictions may require relocating them and altering the wiring.

As with all lithium batteries (not just Lion) a battery monitor is almost a necessity.

A buck down to 13.9V is done (per the Lion tech) to increase the service life of the cells -- as mentioned above. That's a good thing, but it does not make the UT1300 'plug-n-play'.

If I did not think the UT1300s were a good value I would not have bought them. They have impressive specs, but they also have flaws. I see nothing wrong with pointing out those flaws -- doing so helps potential buyers make a more informed decision.
 

Jack

New Member
Lion is in a Portland, OR Costco this weekend @ $689.99/UT1300. I was originally planning on using Tesla modules, but the volatility of the chemistry was a concern. BattleBorn was the next logical choice. I watched the Wil Prose and other videos, but all of his concerns can be mitigated with good electrical practices, like anchoring your wires, so Lion at a Costco Road Show sale is my choice.

Costco does wipe the Lion sales info off of their website after the "Road Show" event, but........they do have a link of where and when the Costco "Road Show" is being held. If is

Jack
 
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Mac6792

Solar Enthusiast
Charging question. Lion specs say up to 100 amps max with better lifespan at 45-55 amps. If I have a 6 battery 24 volt pack 2S/3P I'm left with a single positive and negative post for the entire pack. Several previous posts said because the 100 amps was per battery I could increase the amps going in as I have several connected in parallel.

I'm not clear how that would really work as I still have just one positive ànd one negative post. In eAch case that voltage is passing initially through a single BMS that has a max rating. Is that voltage immediately being split between the charger connected post and the battery connected in parallel to that same post? Is it split 50/50?

Bottom line is is like to understand what the max charge voltage (for longevity as well) would be for a pack configured that way. The spec per battery is 100amps max and 45-55 for longevity
 
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