New Batteries At Last

La Mischief came with four 120AH Gel Batteries that were failing fast. It was disappointing to see that they lasted less than 3 years, but the first winter in Yacht Marine caused some issues. And 480AH in total was a bit undersized as La Mischief is somewhat hungry on the electricity front, often chewing through 25A of juice at times. I had increased the solar panels to 1000W to try and compensate but I was fighting a losing battle.

After much research, I decided it was time for some Lithium batteries, LiFePO4 to be exact. I settled on four 90AH Victron LiFePO4 batteries, which we calculated to be just enough as Lithiums can be run down to 20% quite comfortably. Having now installed them, I’m still not entirely convinced  this is enough as I’m finding I still have to run the genset in the morning for 30 minutes.  its is however going into winter so the solars don’t get as much of a run as they used to. Time will tell.

DSC_0845

Fitting Lithium batteries is not just a simple matter of swapping out the old Gels with the new Lithiums. Sanli and his helpers spent three days completing the job, 15 hours in total. Luckily, we managed to find a spot at the publicly owned Town Marina, rather than having to pull into Skopea Marina, which is the least expensive of the very expensive private marinas in town. They weren’t keen on Cats at the Town Marina, but Dee managed to sweet talk them into letting us have a berth.

Slide1
The somewhat complex charging architecture.

The Lithiums need their own Battery Management System (BMS), that controls the batteries as well as the Victron chargers and some relays to stop over charging and over loading. This BMS is a single point of failure so at some stage, I will need to pick up a spare.

DSC_0842
The various relays

The Victron Quattro Inverter/Charger needed a firmware upgrade to work with the BMS as the BMS now controls it’s charging behaviour, as well as shutting the Invertor down if the batteries get low.

The Victron Bluesolar 70/150 Charger also needed a firmware upgrade but to do this we needed a very expensive VE.Direct to USB interface cable (part number ASS030530000 for my future reference) that Sanli didn’t have. I will need to pick up in Oz. With the right firmware in place, the BMS controls the Bluesolar charger, but for the Victron rep in Turkey recommended that we stick a BMS controlled relay in to control the charging.

Battery monitoring is also an issue. I now have a Victron BMV700 battery monitor and associated shunt, together with a new Victron Colour Control GX Monitor. This Colour Control gets its information from the Battery Monitor and the Quattro. With the firmware update on the Blue Solar unit, I will be able to get the solar panel input on this unit as well.

However, I’m still not comfortable with my monitoring setup. The State of Charge can be showing 100% and I still have 150A going into the batteries. In the old days, I could use the Voltage of the batteries as a fairly good indication of their SOC but not with the Lithiums. They keep their charge high right up to when they start to go flat. I’ve been through the BMV700 manual and played around with the Peukert exponent and the Charging Efficiency factor as per the manual but still no luck getting the SOC to make sense.

DSC_0846
BMS and Mains Disconnect

The other outstanding item I need to get going is the wireless interface to Victron’s VRM Portal. From here, I can get email alerts and monitor the whole setup from my phone using Victron’s android app. I bought a Wifi dongle in Fethiye, but the CCGX didn’t recognize it so I need to get the Victron dongle. I will wait to I get back to Perth to pick this up.

DSC_0840

The good news was I didn’t need to change the existing (non-Victron) charging components from Christec and Mastervolt. All I needed to do was to place some BMS controlled relays between them and the new batteries, and the BMS took care of regulating the voltages.

Because of the complexities of the new system, I took Allan’s wise words of advice and left a couple of my old batteries in place, together with a battery switch so that in the event of a failure, I can simply switch across to the old batteries until I can sort out what the problem is, rather than having alarms going off everywhere in the middle of a night passage with no power. A very sensible idea. Allan’s been a great help as he has installed Lithiums on Camelot and I’ve been lucky to pick his considerable brain power in this area as he’s very much in love with his battery set-up.

After a few weeks cruising I’m starting to get my head around the new system. One thing I’m not sure about is the Load Disconnect function of the BMS. My understanding is that the BMS will automatically disconnect the Victron Cyrix Li-Load  Relay when a cell’s voltage drops below 2.8V. At one stage, I saw the voltage of the batteries drop to 11.9V, which worries me as I would have thought the Li-Load relay would have permanently tripped by then. The BMS should also shut down the inverter at the same time, but this was still running. Further investigation is required. In the meantime, I’ve set a low voltage alarm at 12.5V on the BMV700 battery monitor, so I can start the genie if I need to. Victron and Allan – expect a phonecall.

Waiting, Waiting, Waiting

Our cunning plan to get back from our road trip and get the batteries installed hit a few snags. Firstly we hadn’t banked on Kurban Bayrami – the “Feast of Sacrifice”. Our batteries had arrived in Turkey but were going nowhere until they got through Customs. This proved to be an issue as public servants got an extra two days holiday on top of the four that the rest of the population got to celebrate this great festival of Islam. So off we went cruising whilst we waited. This plan turned out to be also problematic as all the bays were filled with Turkish holiday makers on their boats. Never the less we managed to find some space to anchor as we checked out the wonderful cruising grounds the Gulet cruises call “Twelve Islands”.

DSC_0781

We then made our way up to Marmaris and spent a few days there checking out all the beautiful bays we hadn’t anchored in last time as well as the town. Then we made our way out of the bay and around the corner to Turunc, where we were delighted to see Paul and Tess on Paradise. We first met in Atlantic Spain and caught up with each other a few times before we went our separate ways in the Balearics two years ago. It was nice to catch up and enjoy some meals and drinks together again.

DSC_0798

On the way back to Gocek, we stopped in Ekincik Bay and went around to the entrance of Dalyan River to check out the nice beach there. We had thought about spending the night there but it was quite exposed and when it started to get a bit rolly so we thought better of it and headed back to Ekincik.

DSC_0788

We then headed back to Gocek to find that the batteries had arrived but Victron hadn’t provided Sanli with the necessary drawings they had promised. Everyone was getting hung up on the Mastervolt Alpha Pro chargers I had on the alternators. So Sanli, bless his heart, hopped on a plane to the Istanbul Boat Show to get things sorted. I also took the opportunity to pick Allan’s brain and took his advice to add a selector switch to a couple of the old batteries as an emergency fall back.

Whilst all this was being sorted out we headed into town to watch the AFL Grand Final with Ross, Ros, John and Leonie from Gone With the Wind 2, a Lagoon 620 with a Fremantle registration. It’s impossible to find the AFL on TV in a Turkish bar so we reverted to my subscription of WatchAFL.com on my laptop over breakfast. At least the breakfast was good as we watched the Hawthorn machine ruthlessly win yet another AFL premiership.

At least the rugby was on at a sportsbar, which also happened to double up as a bowling alley of all things. It was run by a nice Scottish lady who was right into her rugby, so we managed to watch a few great games of world cup with the guys from Gone With The Wind.

To fill in more time, we organised  a paragliding adventure at Oludeniz. It turned out to be so much fun.   Paragliding from the top of Mt Bagadag down to the coast at Oludeniz is said to be the best coastal paragliding spot in the world – who am I to disagree.

DCIM100GOPRO
Paragliding from the top of Mt Bagadag down to the coast at Oludeniz

DSC_0807

The drive up the mountain on a narrow road was quite scary. In fact, it turned out to be much more scary than jumping off the top of the mountain attached to my pilot. The view from way up there was spectacular, looking straight down on the Blue Lagoon and out to St Nicolas Island. I got a turn at flying as we cruised around with about 20-30 other paragliders. We landed next to the beach on a walk-way amongst all the tourists walking in front of the Oludeniz shops and restaurants.

After the excitement of the paragliding, we hopped back in our Hire Car and drove over to Kalakoy, which gained a certain amount of fame from a great book called “Birds Without Wings”. Kalakoy is a deserted town, dating back to 1923 when all the Christians were sent across to Greece, in exchange for all the Muslims in Greece, just after the Turks had won their war against the invading Greek Army. It was great to wander this deserted town, after just having read the book.

DSC_0825
Bird Whistle straight out of Birds Without Wings
DSC_0820
The Ghost Town of Kalakoy

Playing over, it was time to head back to Gocek for our new batteries.

For photos of Marmaris click here

For photos of paragliding, click here