Ninthcit / BLS: Got Lishen 272Ah instead of Eve 280Ah

Hey

New Member
Hi all

I would like to share my last battery cell shopping experience with you.

Short version:

I was shopping for EVE 280Ah cells at Aliexpress. Instead of sending me Eve, the seller Ninthcit sent me Lishen cells without prior notice. I was not happy in the first place because I have spent more on an offering that explicitly stated EVE in the title. For 20 USD less (at that time) the seller had an offering for 280Ah no-name cells that was pretty much identical. I got in touch with the seller, got a 50 USD refund and I am happy now. And I found out by chance that "Ninthcit" and "BLS" are actually the very same company.

Backstory:

Two years ago I was brave enough to order 190Ah aluminum cells from "BLS Officical Store" at Aliexpress to build my first 12V camping battery pack. This was even before Will had published his first video about that type of cells and I was pretty nervous hitting that buy button. When I got the cells, everything seemed to be fine at the first glance, but I quickly realized that the internal resistance of the cells must be pretty high and I was not able to pull significant amps without a lot of voltage sag. I actually had good reasons to complain, messaged the seller and attached this chart:

sag.png
I was inexperienced and BLS Official Store managed to make me believe that this is a normal behavior and there is no reason to complain. Dumb me not to file a dispute and believe the rubbish they have been telling me. Later on I got the opportunity to use an iCharger to test for internal resistance and this is the result. Rember, the spec was between 0.1 and 0.3 mOhm:
IMG_20190727_232119.jpg

Fast forward 2 years: The voltage sag got worse and even my coffeemaker, which only pulls 500W, triggered the low voltage protection on the BMS. So I was clearly ripped off and got very bad cells with a huge spread of internal resistance across the pack. Cell number 3 being the worst. So it was time to overcome my fears of being ripped off again and order new cells. The camping season already had started and I was looking for cells in a European warehouse to speed up delivery. Also I have seen a lot of praise for the Eve cells, so I was looking for that specific brand.

Ordering of new cells:

After some research it turned out that three stores offer 280AH cells with fast shipping in the EU: Ninthcit Official Store, BLS Official Store and Lifepo4 BATT Store. Obviously I did not want to buy from BLS under any circumstances. Nithicit was the only store that offered EVE cells, so I went with them. All stores where using the same pictures and style, so the offerings visually looked all similar. Since chinese companies have a reputation for not caring too much about intellectual property, I just thought they where stealing the ad content from each other (spoiler: I was wrong).

Three business days later I got my cells shipped from Poland to Germany. I was stoked, I never got an Aliexpress delivery nearly that fast. But my joy tuned into anger when I unwrapped the cells and saw that they do not match the images and appear to be Lishen instead of EVE.
IMG_20210626_194708.jpgIMG_20210626_194719.jpg
So was I ripped of again? Since I was in a hurry to get the pack up and running I did not perform individual cell tests but formed and balanced a pack asap. But I did use the same iCharger to check for internal resistance before. Turns out that two cells show up as 0.3mOhm. For the other two cells I did not get a result. It seemed like the resistance was below the threshold the device is able to measure. At least I was hoping for that.

IMG_20210626_195506.jpg
As a next step I was running a full discharge test for the whole pack from 3.65 V down to 2.5V. Load (space heater on inverter) was about 100A / 0.3C and I was measuring with a Victron Smart Shunt configured with Lithium settings recommended by Victron.
IMG_20210626_232748.jpgIMG_20210630_161409.jpg

The test went pretty well, I pulled 275Ah. Not > 280Ah as advertised but still decent and within specs for Lishen. And more important for me: No big voltage sag and pretty uniform behavior of all cells. After that I did a full charge with a 60A charger and replicated the results.

Still I was dissatisfied with the seller Ninthcit since I got a different brand, capacity was lower then advertised and all the photos in the ad also have been showing EVE cells. So I messaged the seller and asked for a 20€ refund. I did not want to ask for a lot of money because the cells are still decent, but I tried to get compensated for selecting the more expensive EVE offer.

First the seller was hesitant and was trying to talk me into believing I could have been discharging down to 2.0V (what?!) or that maybe the temperature was not right during my measurements, yada yada yada. I did not buy any of this BS, I had leaned my lesson. So I told him that I was only pulling 0.3 C and so at 1C the cells would even show less then 275Ah at any temperature. I made it clear that this would be his last chance to do a refund and that my Aliexpress and DIY Solar Forum review was already in preparation. It seems like he realized at this point that I knew what I was talking about and that his reputation was in danger. The tone changed to super friendly and he offered me to refund 50 USD over Paypal, which is twice as much as I have been asking for. So I took the money and thanked the seller although it felt like accepting hush money.

The tiny but interesting detail: BLS == Ninthcit

When I got my refund over paypal I immediately noticed that the payment was coming from "BLS". WTF? I asked them in the chat, if they are brands of the same company and they confirmed. So there you go. Even when I tried to avoid them, I was buying from BLS a second time.

payment.pngchat.png

My recommendation:
So what does all that mean in the end? I think this whole Aliexpress battery business is still a bit shady. At least this time BLS apologized and sent me a refund. But why do they not just change their ads and sell Lishen when they have Lishen in stock? Currently the momentum for this brand of cells is big and EVE is out of stock. Lishen seems to be a good alternative and they would attract a lot of happy buyers.

If you are from Europe and need some Lishen cells fast, I guess I can recommend BLS / Ninthcit with their Poland warehouse. Just go fo the cheapest offering and ask in advance what you will get. If they lie to you, immediately message them and if this does not help, ask for a refund or file a dispute.

Also the EU offerings seem to be expensive at a first glance, but be aware that all the taxes, handling fees, etc are included. If you buy from China, this can be a hefty sum to pay on top and you might even need to personally go to the customs office.
 

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Steve_S

Offgrid Cabineer, N.E. Ontario, Canada
What they sold you as BULK unmatched cells. All they do with those is Voltage & IR match at whatever storage voltage they sit at, they use a Yaorea 1035+ is a variant thereof. Bulk Cells are sourced from Cell Brokers, they can be New Old Stock, Blems, Edge Case cells ( meaning they barely make the grading level) and sadly more often than not B-Grade cells.

Properly Matched & Batched cells come with Cell Reports. This is a long process of Full Charge to Empty with various load rates with IR & IMpedance measurement every few minutes and then in reverse. Cells are then grouped according to the reports to match IR/Impedance throughout their working range, ensure that all the cells remain close together through the operational cycles.

Using 280's as teh example:
Bulk Cells will typically test out between 260-280AH often a tad lower than 280AH. 272-277AH ish. These are effectively 260AH to 270AH reliably. Maybe more if your lucky.
Matched Cells typically come in between 285-295AH guaranteeing you 280AH minimum.

Our members here have collected a LOT of experience with vendors BLS is known but not in a great way. We have at least 5 Good Solid Dependable Reliable vendors and I believe they are all on AliBaba.

Salvaging your previous 12V/190AH pack.
There is little point in passive balancing large unmatched cells.. it will only tick you off. A respectable Active Balancer though can make a big difference and get you back some power & performance. It cannot "fix" anything but can transfer hi volts from hi cells to low volt cells within the pack helping to maintain the critical balance. I myself use QNBBM Active Balancers on ALL of my packs be new,. used, bulk or even matched & batched as I like to keep everything consistent. QNBBM is not cheap but they work. There are many out there but 1/2 are crap. They can also be extremely specific for the various chemistries. HelTec produces good Active Balancers at a reasonable price.

QNBBM-4S Active Balancer
HelTec 5A Capacitance Active Balancer

Hope it helps, Good Luck.
 

Hey

New Member
Hi Steve_S

I was expecting some bulk / grade B cells and I think for my application they are good enough. The most important factor this time was delivery speed, because my old cells started to misbehave too much and I did not want to live without coffee. But maybe I have missed someting and those Alibaba vendors also offer shipping fast from European warehouses?

Can you explain a little bit more what the active balancer can do to improve my old cells? I actually have a cheap active balancer but this one only triggers at a voltage difference that my old cells never appear to have. At least not in rest. The voltage sag only happens when I pull the 40A for my coffee maker. At rest they are actually pretty close to each other and also it seems that they can be top balanced by the BMS. Cell 3 ist usually the first to hit the target voltage (3.55V) when charging. So this cell is kind of dominating the pack, because its the first one to be full, the first one to give up under load and the first one to be empty. But also cell 2 and 4 do not seem to be much better. I initially thought that I might be able to replace only number 3, but I guess afterwards either 2 or 4 will be the bad boy. So I guess I will not throw any more money at this pack atm. Maybe it's best to recycle it or to find someone that just needs a huge pack but has very low load requirements.
 
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Steve_S

Offgrid Cabineer, N.E. Ontario, Canada

Various AliBaba vendors have EU locales but not all.
EU people here are also getting quicker deliveries if by Rail but I do not know the specifics as I am in Canada so a tad out of my neighbourhood.
TAG @upnorthandpersonal as he has much more extensive experience with EU based warehousing suppliers & rail orders. All shipping is a bit crazy now, regardless of where you are thanks to Covidus Interruptus.

Believe it or not, the Charging Profiles used are more important than people realize. Lithium based cells are all very picky and they need Millivot Accuracy. It isn't Lead and has zero forgiveness. I ran many tests with various gear, the worst being the Thrash Testing which was for all intents & purposes Extreme Duty and ABUSIVE (in a controlled manner) to realize what failure thresholds were and what issues ramp out. I had to do so because I am rural & remote and may even be snowed in for a week at times. When I say snowed in, means the only way out by snowmobile or skis, snowshoes if you're up for that. I'm too old and not healthy enough for that nonsense anymore.

Here is my Charge profile for my Midnite Classic-200 SCC, my Samlex EVO Inverter has a similar profile. NOTE the voltages being used, this prevents overshoot & overcharge and does keep runner cells in line. ALL BMS' have the "Difference of cell Voltage" set to 200mv to allow for differential. * I use Chargery BMS8T-300A BMS' with Solid State Contactors and a QNBBM-8S on every pack in the bank. All uniform settings relative to packs.
All equipment MUST BE Voltage Corrected & Calibrated (VERY IMPORTANT) see link in my signature on how to do it.
Divide Values X2 for 12V. Multiply X2 for 48V.
Absorb: 28.2 for 15 minutes (3.525vpc) (some call this boost)
Equalize: OFF
Float 27.9V (3.4875vpc)
MIn Volts: 22.0 (2.750vpc)
Max Volts: 28.7 (3.5875vpc)
Rebulk Voltage: 27.7 (3.4625vpc)
End Amps: 14A (*1)

(*1): End Amps is calculated from the Highest AH Battery Pack in a Bank. IE: 200AH X 0.05 = 10A 280AH X 0.05 = 14A.
NB: Victron Forum discussion says EndAmps = TailCurrent
This get's the bank charged to full with high amps (Constant Current) and then float (Constant Voltage) tops off so the cells are on average between 3.475-3.500. I am running 7/24/365 so float is used up by the Inverter + provides whatever the packs will take to top off.

** Coulumbic Efficiency for LFP is 99%

Your 12V/190AH can most likely be revived nicely by tearing it apart, doing a proper Top Balance to 3.600Vpc and allowed to saturate till they take <1A. Allow to settle for 24 hours and repeat, allow 4 hours settling and reassemble the 4S pack, adding a good Active Balancer. WHILE DOING SO, it is also the best time to revisit the connections, terminals, ensure they are clean, no burrs or ridges that the BMS leads are clean and tested between the plug end & ring terminal for the cells to make sure they are good as well.

Download this resource, which covers a whole lot of extra details and considerations and supplemental info. I wrote this up for one of our Top Vendors because the same questions are constantly repeated and to be honest it got quite tedious, so a Document was produced. Luyuan had these also printed up and are now included with all cell purchases. BTW: It totally pissed off some vendors because now they have to step up and follow Amy once again to compete. Amy / Luyuan have a Very High BAR to meet.

BTW CLARITY: I get NOTHING AT ALL for any of my work, I do this as a Public Service in my end days (I am terminal with cancer and can pop off anytime now) because I still have 3 surviving daughters who have a future and they deserve one. It also makes me a tad crusty as I do not put up with much phooey and will not tolerate FUD at all. (FUD= Fear Uncertainty & Doubt) spread by Anti Electrification Oilygarch Oil/Gas & Coal killers.

Sorry for the Readings at the top but it's best answered there.
Steve
 

upnorthandpersonal

Administrator
The most important factor this time was delivery speed, because my old cells started to misbehave too much and I did not want to live without coffee. But maybe I have missed someting and those Alibaba vendors also offer shipping fast from European warehouses?

There are European warehouses for sellers (mostly Aliexpress), but not for battery cells. Electronics and other stuff, yes, but something as heavy, space consuming, something that can break or is not really shipped on a per item thing usually comes directly form China.
Before COVID, shipping things by train was great and relatively fast, but now... Add to that the changes to the VAT rules in Europe. I have a package stuck in customs since the 6th of July without any updates. This combination of things make shipping and getting stuff from China unpredictable and a pain...
 

Hey

New Member
I will read that paper carefully and also try out to re-balance the pack. Just to be clear: You recommend to charge up each individual cell up to 3.6V and let them settle individually? Or do you think putting them in parallel for a day or two would be better?

What I still do not understand: It seems like you assume that improper balancing is the root cause of the problems with that pack. Are you thinking that my bad cell #3 is actually on a much lower SOC then the others and this is the reason why it has that extreme voltage sag? But why is this cell then also the first one to reach 3.55V when charging? Do you assume that the capacity of this cell is much lower then the other ones?

This whole sagging happens at whatever SOC. So even when the pack has just finished charging. Add some load >40-50A, boom, #3 goes down.

Sorry to hear about your cancer and thx a lot for the advice. It wasn't my intention to get advice for my old pack. But since we now have started this discussion am am getting curious if I can maybe rescue that pack.
 

Steve_S

Offgrid Cabineer, N.E. Ontario, Canada
I'm not sure what the imbalance situation is and therefore by doing a proper top-balance as I mention can be in a sense considered a reset if you will. It gets all the cells "hopefully" up to the same level and rebalanced.

Depending on what kind of charger you are using, the 190AH cells can take up to 95A max. I do not go above 40A @ 3.650V with cells connected in parallel, and then allowing for settling and then doing it again. I have also Top-Charged individual cells and set them up that way the first time because it's quicker and then followed up with all cells in parallel to balance out the entire set... but I am 24V so 8 cells per pack and 280's take a while.

Your #3 cell is what we commonly refer to as a "Runner Cell" and they also usually appear with a higher Internal Resistance. Many SmartBMS', Battgo and such can display that info. Your own photo shows 3.5mOhm for #3. Here's the bugger about runners. They can run to Hi Volt point fast from 3.400 ish and they can drop fast like a rock anywhere below 3.000. Some only do it in one direction, and then you have #3 which also happens but not that frequently. The "dual" ones actually when capacity tested often come up short on AH compared to the rest, so yes it is possible that one cell was lame to start with BUT a proper diagnostic process of elimination is the only way to know.

I had to track down an errant cell in a paralleled pack which I took apart and used one of these (180W model) which was fine for quick & dirty cell capacity testing. Quite a few folks here have used them and similar, there are bigger better & more $ ones too... Kinda wasteful just to quick check cells though. Link: https://www.alibaba.com/product-detail/8-In-1-150W-180W-Digital_62090055059.html

BUT a GOTCHA lurking in the shadows, of course. There are always a few, yes, use nasty language now.
One of the most common contributors that can not only create a runner cell but can just make one worse. The Gosh Darn Connections ! Even the slightest burr or ridge on the busbars and waxes/oils on the terminal face can and do create havoc. The BMS leads are the next most common due for the same reasons. Yes it is painful troubleshooting and especially after you've built and run a battery which has always suffered some issues. This is a subject "well discussed here" The dinkiest little thing can cause trouble. This is also the reason I was so specific in https://diysolarforum.com/resources/luyuan-tech-basic-lifepo4-guide.151/ on the prep side of it...

From your photo's your setup appears to be quite evenly setup, similar / identical cabling lengths etc. A personal thing though, I have little faith in doubling wires. I know that many accept it and that it can be fine, but I have had enough experiences with mission-critical equipment (military & Gov) where such was just not acceptable and we saw the reasons why, not pleasant. Those lessons always stuck with me, so it's just my personal thing. Additionally, consider this, every single connection = more resistance and when millivolts are measured and acted upon (even when you don't see it) and each is also a "weak link" and a potential point of failure. This is not "brute" electronics, it should be considered as sensitive electronics,

Disclosure, I'm a Type-A Personality and even worse, a pure Virgo nitpicker and am exercising restrain LOL, took me a while (decades) to chillax on that.... LOL

I hope I answered your questions. I usually add more info because other readers later may need the extra bits.
Steve
 

workbox

New Member
Before reading this thread I bought from BLS store from German warehouse. How would I know what brand they actually sent me. Eve or something else? Thanks
 
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