LiIons, and Chargers, and Panels, OH MY! - Part 2 - Lithionics Battery Factory

As we mentioned in the previous post, we visited the Lithionics battery factory in Clearwater, Florida.  We met with Stephen Tartaglia, the company owner and Chief Engineer and Jackson D’Ettore, product manager.  It was great to sit down with them in their facility and ask a ton of questions that we had about lithium ion technology.  We also got to see a bit of where the manufacturing happens right here in Clearwater, FL. 

At the beginning of the visit, I sat down with Stephen to ask him about lithium ion technology and how he got into the business. With safety in mind, we asked a ton of questions.  You can catch a nice video that explains some of the things that they do to make their system safe below:

But what makes Lithionics safer and a better option for what we’re looking for?  Well, in speaking with Stephen and Jackson, a few things:

-       Lithionics has the only UL rated 12V and 24V lithium ion battery designed for both stationary and motive installations.  UL, or Underwriters Laboratories, is a global safety consulting and certification company.  They create standards for things as small as light switches or as big as nuclear reactors.  They’re essentially interested in creating standards for safety.  Lithionics has cleared their batteries to UL1973 standard.  This is a big deal.  Companies like those in the RVIA (RV Industry Association) rely on standards organizations to verify that products, when built to standards, are safe for operation.  Lithionics is first to market and only lithium batter company to do this with a battery in the size range that we need for Wally the Airstream.  It also gives me the peace of mind that I have the safest battery on the market because it’s the only one that has passed their rigorous standard. We’d really like to avoid the risk of thermal runaway in our Airstream!

-       Lithionics uses A+ grade lithium phosphate cells.  Lithium ion batteries are in high demand right now, especially in high current applications.  Companies like Tesla (now manufacturing over 5000 cars per week) require an enormous amount of lithium ion cells and there are only so many manufacturers of those cells. Further, cells get graded on sale by the manufacturers based upon their power density, capacity, and internal resistance. They get priced out differently based upon their performance to spec.  One of the things that’s really important to us in the cell we’ve chosen is that the internal resistance is low.  High internal resistance can lead to higher heat generation which we’re trying to avoid for both safety and practicality. With an air conditioner and other high drain applications that we’ll be using, we want a highly efficient, well-made battery.

-       They have their own battery management system that’s either built right into the battery or built externally for the battery specifically using high-grade connectors. It provides protection against overcharging and over discharging, accidental short circuit, cell balancing, temperature extremes, the option for remote telemetry, and state-of-charge (SOC) monitoring. The NeverDie® BMS uses proprietary communication circuit called OptoLoop® distributed between lithium cells and the main BMS unit. This allows an installer to build large battery systems from multiple modules, connected by the OptoLoop® circuit.  Long story long, the BMS is programmed to perfectly match the battery that you’ve purchased right from the factory.  Lithionics suggests that allows them to maximize the life of the battery (2000+ charge cycles.) Further, expansion to add more batteries, if we decide down the road we want some more storage, is really easy.

-       If we ever have a cell malfunction, they’re able to replace the offending cells right in Florida at the factory.

-       The form factor that we’re looking for is a rectangular dense cell that we can keep in the front of Wally the Airstream under the front couch/dinette.  Their form factors, pictures below, fit right into what we need for the layout that we’re working toward. 

One of the other cool things that we learned and makes me feel a lot more comfortable about using Lithionics is that Walt Disney World uses their batteries to power all of their Magic Kingdom parade floats.  If it’s good enough for Disney, it’s good enough for me. Now if they can just replace the stinky old diesel trams from the parking lot with Lithionics batteries too!

To learn more about our choices and install, visit our first post about our power system: 

LiIons, and Chargers, and Panels OH MY - Part 1:

To learn more go to: Their website is great and has a ton of documents and images.  Also, you can submit your quote request and they’ll help you size your system and get what you need for your application.

Stay tuned for our next edition of this article when we get to part 3. That will include our complete system and how the Lithionics battery can be monitored with their brand-new Bluetooth monitoring system.