Lithium Starter Battery

Doesn’t look too bad…

I was unfortunate enough to have the battery fail in my car recently. It had given an indication that it wasn’t well, with a few failed starts & stalled cranks. But it would start the engine and when I checked the battery it tested fine, the alternator was charging correctly and it only accepted a small top up charge. It wasn’t till I had to isolate the battery while doing other work that I noticed the corrosion above. Then…

Whoops…

…the terminal became… …disconnected??
I was surprised by this. The battery was in good condition and had very little corrosion on the terminal, a spray of lanolin protects it. I think the terminal may have had a stress crack from having a tight terminal knocked / hammered on at some point. Soft lead does not like that & neither would you. The red top and yellow top batteries are generally good value for money. I did get about 4 or 5 years service from the battery which is better than a lot of cheaper ones but this time I thought I would upgrade.

A “Start-Saver Battery” from Ev Works looked good.
Lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) cells, four in series, makes them a drop in replacement in most cars and motorbikes or just about any 12VDC system. They can handle a fair amount of abuse and don’t have the tendency to burst into flames like poorly treated lithium-ion packs. I have used similar batteries in motorbikes before and apart from the fantastic starting you would be hard pressed to reduce that much weight on a bike even if you spent twice the money.

One of the features that drew me to the EV Works replacement was;
“Built in electronics provides power to start after your battery goes flat. 12v dual purpose battery with reserve capacity effectively gives you a jumpstart at the press of a button.”
That gives a lot of protection to your investment. Even though the purchase price is higher than a lead-acid battery, the expected service life of 12years should make it cheaper in the long run.

Yellow top / red top battery clamp

I had 3D printed this clamp for the previous yellow top battery.

Clamp as it would be installed.
New clamp installed.

Since the start-saver is taller than the battery it was replacing the standard Commodore battery clamp would not fit so the printed clamp design was modified to suit the start-saver. The battery has a smooth bottom surface so use a sheet of rubber or good automotive double sided tape to stop the battery sliding around. Please ignore the cable-ties, they are a temporary measure to hold the opposite side down. The factory battery-tray in the Commodore (VX 2000) has a lip to hold the other side but the start-saver bottom flange is about half the height. I am in the process of printing up another adapter to take up the space on the other side.

The standard clamp type terminals are a tight fit in the recessed shape but can be changed over to use the screw in terminal of the battery for a neater install.

All done (apart from the cable-ties).

So far the battery is performing well with good strong starts, stable idle and correct charge voltage.
There has been the occasional morning, when it has been very cold, that the battery has been a little lazy to turn the motor over but pausing for a second the battery quickly recovers and cranks faster on the second go thanks to the current draw warming the cells up. This probably shows that I should have ordered a slightly larger battery to handle the cranking capacity.

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