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Old 11-15-2022, 05:31 PM   #1
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What is the right charger for LiFePO4 batteries

There is a running discussion on the Rockwood trailer subforum about problems with the WFCO WF-8955-AD-MBA "smart" charger. It is supposed to recognize the type of battery in your unit (lead-acid, AGM, Li-Ion) and set up the charging routine for it. Unfortunately, the charger is dumb. Mine will not recognize my LiFePO4 batteries, even after having the firmware upgraded. Others are having the same problem.

So I'm starting this thread to see what people are using to properly charge LiFePO4 batteries. And yes, I know "regular" chargers can charge them, but the charging requirements of these batteries is unique and I'm looking for a charger that will work specifically with these batteries. Please note, this is an AC-DC charger and not a DC-DC charger.
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Old 11-15-2022, 06:18 PM   #2
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my 2021 surveyor came with the "non-smart" version of the WFCO converter/charger. based on other threads here, I went with the Progressive Dynamics PD4135K converter/charger. it has a small switch inside to select lithium/non-lithium. I bought it from etrailer.com, and at the time it was free shipping. I would suggest talking or live-chatting them to find the right PDI replacement for your WFCO unit.

there were two small glitches in the swap, in my case.
1) the cutout for the WFCO unit was slightly oversized, and unfortunately the body of the PDI was slightly smaller in width. I had to make a fill strip from a piece of scrap lumber. not a big problem.
2) my WFCO had a 30 amp main breaker and 5 branch circuit breakers. they are 1/2 size breakers, which I was familiar with having used "dual" breakers at home in the past. however, when I removed the WFCO I found that the breakers were truly 1/2 size, not dual (2 breakers in the footprint of a normal breaker). so I had to special order from Home Depot a combo 30 amp/20 amp breaker for the first position, and used the 30 for the main breaker and the 20 for the AC. then I bought 2 "normal" 15/15amp dual breakers for the other 4 branch circuits. only cost me a few days to wait for the special order to arrive.

the good news is that the cooling fan in the charger is much quieter than that in the WFCO, plus the fan only runs when triggered by the internal thermostat, rather than whenever the charger is operating as was the case with the WFCO.

Ken
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Old 11-15-2022, 06:24 PM   #3
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I was using the original WFCO 8955 to charge mine (I have solar to finish the job). When it died, I replaced it with Progressive Dynamics PD9160L two stage converter/charger. The only issue was the WFCO was direct wired and the PD had a power cord. To protect my warranty, I cut the end off an extension cord and wired it in to power the PD.

I've followed the "auto detect" thread and still haven't figured out their algorithm to tell what battery is there. It would be handy if you were swapping batteries back in forth but I think most users have one or the other and a simple switch would work fine.
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Old 11-16-2022, 08:02 AM   #4
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I've used a Progressive PD4655L Wilkat replacement converter section, a Progressive PD9160ALV 2-stage, deck mounted converter and now a Victron Phoenix Smart IP43.

Although more expensive than traditional converters, I feel as though my Victron does an excellent job charging our batteries. It's a 50A charger and I chose the 12/50(1+1) version.

It is super flexible with user input, allowing one to set all charge parameters manually or choose from preset parameters. I use the preset Li settings and it does well. It also has Bluetooth built in so it allows you to monitor operation parameters. If you are using a Victron BMV shunt, the charger can be networked with the shunt to allow it to charge the batteries based on actual conditions.

When not in charge mode, I leave ours set to power supply mode with an output of 13.15V, which keeps our two BattleBorn batteries at around 70% SOC. You can also leave it in charge mode and it will charge the batteries to the voltage set and then switch to a lower float/storage voltage.

https://www.victronenergy.com/upload...0-240V-EN-.pdf

https://shop.pkys.com/phoenix-smart-...240-volt-input
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Old 11-16-2022, 08:51 AM   #5
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"Smart" is relative. Yep, some chargers/converters are smarter than others.

Even my 2005 vintage WFCO power center has a "smart" converter. Not smart enough to supply the voltage needed for lithium batteries but smart enough for my golf cart batts.

-- Chuck
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Old 11-16-2022, 12:16 PM   #6
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Amazon still has the old straight lithium charger before the went to the stupid AD.

https://a.co/d/iYcHzae
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Old 11-18-2022, 11:56 AM   #7
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My plan is to buy a lithium battery charger like a NOCO and use that for battery charging.
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Old 11-19-2022, 08:11 AM   #8
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lifepo4 batteries have a fairly flat charge curve so voltage is not the greatest way to determine state of charge.

topping it up to 100% is not a good idea 90 -95% is the usual target
once in a while you may have to go higher ... so the BMS can top balance

a couple of good solar panels and a good blue-tooth charger can allow enough time to balance the battery cells

and you get the benefit of adding some solar!

The main thing to look for in a solar charger (or any charger)
is blue-tooth control so you can set a bulk charge about 14.4v
then a float 13.6

the unique thing about lithium is that all you got to do is supply the voltage and current ... they suck it up and are happy (layman's term)

the more current (amps) you can supply the faster the battery will charge.
keep the current to under 50amps (100ah battery) and you'll be right.


A good lithium battery will also have blue-tooth so you can watch the charging and cell balancing

I am just beginning my learning about lithium so am not going to say .... product x is good.

Look on youtube for 'charging lifepo4' or 'DIY solar lifepo4'

my fav channels are:
Off-Grid Garage and
DIY Solar Power with Will Prowse

you can learn a lot from these two guys
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Old 11-22-2022, 05:59 PM   #9
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Goodbye WFCO

I've given up trying to get the WFCO "smart" charger to work. Sent it back today. Looking into a Progressive Dynamics PD9260ALV -- dedicated Lithium charger that is described as working with LiFeOPO4 batteries. Will be ordering one tomorrow.


Thanks for all the suggestions and comments. Learning more each day. The solar seems to be working after doing some programming of the Epever controller. Working to get a resting voltage of 13-4-13.5 volts.
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Old 11-22-2022, 07:47 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2WheelJon View Post
I've given up trying to get the WFCO "smart" charger to work. Sent it back today. Looking into a Progressive Dynamics PD9260ALV -- dedicated Lithium charger that is described as working with LiFeOPO4 batteries. Will be ordering one tomorrow.


Thanks for all the suggestions and comments. Learning more each day. The solar seems to be working after doing some programming of the Epever controller. Working to get a resting voltage of 13-4-13.5 volts.
The resting or float voltage should be 13.6v. Good lithium cells after fully charged to 3.65v per cell or 14.6v for battery after setting for 24 hours will rest st 3.4v per cell or 13.6v for battery.
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Old 11-23-2022, 09:59 PM   #11
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Anything I need to know about installing PD9260ALV

As mentioned in a prior post, I've sent back the WFCO "smart" charger and today purchased a Progressive Dynamics PD9260ALV charger. Anyone install one of these where a WFCO charger was and, if so, anything out of the ordinary I need to look for?
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Old 11-27-2022, 09:35 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2WheelJon View Post
As mentioned in a prior post, I've sent back the WFCO "smart" charger and today purchased a Progressive Dynamics PD9260ALV charger. Anyone install one of these where a WFCO charger was and, if so, anything out of the ordinary I need to look for?



Keep the old WFCO as a spare don't toss it.


before you start pulling anything apart.
Take photos of the connections or draw a sketch of the wires ... in case anything goes wrong and you have to re-install the WFCO

Does your NEW converter supply any significant increase in charging amps

IF yes..... I would make sure the existing DC OUT wiring can handle the extra amps to the battery.


A typical install has the converter near the distribution panel ... (fuse panel)

Distribution panel also is connected to the Positive (+) battery.
it is this wire...... from distribution panel to the battery that needs to be checked.
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Old 11-27-2022, 09:53 AM   #13
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I knew I was going to install a larger inverter so I decided to get a 3000 watt continuous/9000 watt surge inverter-charger with a 95-amp charge rate and adjustable voltage settings. I just turn off the WFCO circuit breaker.
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Old 11-27-2022, 10:17 AM   #14
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My new PD9160L fit into where the WFCO 8955 was (just barely). Now I'm rethinking that and am considering moving it over to be closer to the batteries.
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Old 11-27-2022, 10:46 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by TacomaJoe View Post
My new PD9160L fit into where the WFCO 8955 was (just barely). Now I'm rethinking that and am considering moving it over to be closer to the batteries.
measure the voltage at converter output.
then measure voltage at battery across the terminals.

If they are the same... you are good no need to move or upgrade the wiring

If the battery reading showed a lower voltage... need to look at converter location or the wire size...

It would be cheaper to move the converter close to the batteries...
120v wire is cheap and doesn't have the inherent voltage drop / distance that the DC wires have.
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Old 11-27-2022, 12:52 PM   #16
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Thanks for the advice, guys. I had to return the WFCO "smart" charger. Had too much money in it to let it sit on the shelf. I do still have the original WFCO charger that came with the trailer -- for lead-acid batteries.


I can't get the charger closer to the batteries because, unlike you guys with basements, my batteries are in a box on the tongue. So I'm just going to have to check voltages, as advised, to make sure I've got wires that can handle the charger.


When I get over the flu I will install the charger and post my results.
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Old 11-27-2022, 01:45 PM   #17
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yup... keep the original charger it can still charge the lithium enough to get you out of trouble.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Only need to worry about the wire size if you bought a charger with a much higher charging rate (amps) than the original.

example ... you put in a real big battery and want to charge it at 80 amps
the original 12v wires would be inadequate.

I like the battery on the tongue ... makes alternator and solar charging easier.

If you really need to increase wiring..
you could look at a waterproof 120v junction box near the tongue.. or use some of the pass through space.

wire the 120v converter circuit to this new box. or in the pass through. Then use the largest wire size you can from 12v output to battery.

Possibly easier/better than trying to increase the 12v run from battery to fuse.

much depends on on your trailer... my fuse panel is close to 15 foot from battery.
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Old 11-28-2022, 03:52 PM   #18
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It's in

The Progressive Dynamics charger is in, replacing the dumb WFCO charger. It's charging at 14.4 VDC. I had to cut out the back of the plastic housing the WFCO charger sat in because the PD is wider. Outside of that installation was straight forward.


The voltage at the charger was 14.4 and at the batteries it was 13.8. Charging at 15 amps. Question for the group -- is this .6 voltage drop something to be concerned about or not? The charger to battery wiring seems to be 8 gauge.
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Old 11-30-2022, 09:25 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 18LT View Post
I knew I was going to install a larger inverter so I decided to get a 3000 watt continuous/9000 watt surge inverter-charger with a 95-amp charge rate and adjustable voltage settings. I just turn off the WFCO circuit breaker.

I installed a Samlex EVO-3012 Inverter/Charger in 2019. It has a programable 130 amp battery charger with a lithium profile. It is nice to be able to recharge my Battle Born batteries at 130 amps. I set my float voltage at 13.25v.

I unplugged my OEM PD9170 but left it installed as a backup.
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Solar Power & Battle Born batteries
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Old 11-30-2022, 09:44 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rk06382 View Post
I installed a Samlex EVO-3012 Inverter/Charger in 2019. It has a programable 130 amp battery charger with a lithium profile. It is nice to be able to recharge my Battle Born batteries at 130 amps. I set my float voltage at 13.25v.

I unplugged my OEM PD9170 but left it installed as a backup.
Will the battle born batteries take the 130amp charge ok? Once I read they were 100 discharge rate but only a 50amp recharge rate. Even with 2 batteries your 30amp over WHaT the 2 BMS are rated for.
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