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Old 05-24-2015, 06:24 PM   #1
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Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Ocala, FL
Posts: 593
Year: 1995
Coachwork: Bookmobile body by Farber
Chassis: International 3800
Engine: Navistar DT466/Alison MT643
Rated Cap: 1
How big is your battery? Is it big enough?

I'm seriously considering buying a LiFE (lithium iron phosphate) battery for my bus. They are very pricey, to be sure, but they have some nice advantages over lead-acid batteries.

Anyway, the biggest I can afford would be about 150Amp-hrs, but I'm not sure it's enough. It should be, but I'm curious how much capacity others have and whether they think it's enough or if they had to install more after living in it for awhile.

I've read and I understand the 12V and solar recommendations here and elsewhere. What I want to hear is actual experiences of other schoolies.
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Old 05-24-2015, 09:05 PM   #2
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Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
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Year: 2000
Coachwork: Blue Bird
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Engine: TE 444
Rated Cap: 12
the main concern with a bus battery (batteries, 2 in mine) is the output needed to start the bus, if the battery cannot output something like 1000 amps for engine startup, then is worthless no matter the cost, unless you are planning to use it as living area power, not for starting and running the bus.

also there is an issue in that Lithium batteries require controlled charging with a temperature sensor on the battery, over heating a lithium battery causes fires
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Old 05-24-2015, 09:33 PM   #3
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Join Date: Sep 2010
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Chassis: International 3800
Engine: Navistar DT466/Alison MT643
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kubla View Post
the main concern with a bus battery (batteries, 2 in mine) is the output needed to start the bus, if the battery cannot output something like 1000 amps for engine startup, then is worthless no matter the cost, unless you are planning to use it as living area power, not for starting and running the bus.

also there is an issue in that Lithium batteries require controlled charging with a temperature sensor on the battery, over heating a lithium battery causes fires
The battery I'm looking at supplies 1500 CCA for starting. I looked up some 8D lead-acid replacements and found they had lower cranking amp ratings, so I'm sure this LiFE battery would work fine.

Lithium-ion batteries that use cobalt chemistry (like those found in cell phones and computers) are prone to overheating and fire if overcharged. Lithium iron phosphate (LiFE or LFP (lithium ferrophosphate)) are chemically stable and cannot catch fire if overcharged. Obviously, overcharging isn't good for the batteries, but at least they aren't a fire hazard.

So, how much battery capacity do you have on your bus and have you found it to be enough for your use?
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Old 05-24-2015, 09:55 PM   #4
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Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Eustis FLORIDA
Posts: 12,176
Year: 1992
Coachwork: Ward/AmTran
Chassis: International
Engine: dt466
Rated Cap: 78
My two group 31's provide 1900 cca.
For $75 they are awesome!
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Old 05-24-2015, 11:21 PM   #5
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Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Colorado
Posts: 1,402
Year: 1993
Coachwork: bluebird
Engine: 5.9 Cummins, Allison 545
Rated Cap: 2
I'm with Cal on the Group 31s.... but holy cow $75 is a bargain.

i have 7 of them. 4 are the house battery for about 500AH. thats enough for my fridge and lights to run 30ish hours before recharging @50%.

its all gonna depend on your loads, but 150AH isnt much IMO.
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Old 05-24-2015, 11:45 PM   #6
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Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Salt Lake City Utah
Posts: 1,328
Year: 2000
Chassis: Blue Bird
Engine: ISC 8.3
For a house battery on my trip two years ago I used a pair of Trojan J305P-AC. These are 6 volt lead acid, rated 330 AH at 20 hours. They didn't come to me new, however -- they were take-offs from some kind of floor cleaning machine and I guess the reason they were replaced is that they didn't hold a charge like new anymore. So I can't say how many AH mine are actually good for.. In any case, I ran a residential freezer-fridge, about 22 cubic feet, 24/7 on those batteries. The Black & Decker 40 amp charger ran on a generator 3-4 hours a day to recharge. Maybe we used 80-100 AH/day for the fridge and a small amount of lighting..? I'm not sure.
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Old 05-25-2015, 12:52 AM   #7
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Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Snowflake, Arizona
Posts: 323
Year: 1996
Coachwork: Blue Bird
Chassis: All American Rear Engine
Engine: C-8.3-300 Cummins MD3060
Rated Cap: 40 Prisoners
My chassis batteries are both 8D's rated at 1300 CCA each and the truck
mechanic two doors down says that if the weather gets down cold the
engine will need that much amperage to get it started. I was thinking it
was a bit of overkill myself but the batteries that came out were 7 year old
NAPA batteries so I replaced them with the same for $350.00 a pair.
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Old 05-25-2015, 01:21 AM   #8
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Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Stony Plain Alberta Canada
Posts: 2,937
Year: 1992
Coachwork: Bluebird
Chassis: TC2000 FE
Engine: 190hp 5.9 Cummins
Rated Cap: 72
All I'm running yet is one 8D 1600 CCA, a 7 watt amorphous solar panel.

It runs my two 3 watt led lights for more than 24 hours without going under 50% DOD.

Nat
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Old 05-25-2015, 01:25 PM   #9
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Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario
Posts: 1,439
Year: 1997
Coachwork: Thomas
Chassis: B3800 Short bus
Engine: T444E
Rated Cap: 36
I have a fairly normal 1180cca starter battery and 3x XC2 12v deep cycles for house batteries. The house battery bank is 455Ah. With the ~600w panels the house batteries give us enough power for everything we've thrown at them so far.

Typically we don't run the bank down beyond 80%. On occasion we may go lower. Yesterday, for instance, we had several friends over and were running an electric raclette for over an hour in the evening. That brought the bank down to 70% SoC.

For battery longevity I think we're in a good situation. When running the table saw or pancake air compressor for a busy day of building we may get close to 50% SoC, but as long as I'm working when the sun is shining the solar panels are directly contributing to the power output..

So far I'm very happy with our system. We haven't sacrificed any electrical devices to be living off-the-grid (note that we don't have or need A/C, though).
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Old 05-25-2015, 01:42 PM   #10
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That sounds promising, Jazty. What kind of fridge and/or freezer are you running?
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