Hi there, thanks very much for watching. Welcome to Snowmageddon! Mmm, probably not. Some areas of the United Kingdom have had
half a meter of snow but certainly not here. The ice has stopped me moving though. I knew the ice was coming. I knew the temperatures were going to go down, as most people that live on narrowboats do, they sort of keep an eye on the weather. So I moored up here, got the car close by. The ice is probably about six centimetres
thick at the moment. Over the last few days, about four days ago, it started icing over and the first night was really noisy. There’s nothing you can do because as the ice froze and you move in the boat, or the wind moves the boat back and forward, there was scratching and crunching and all sorts.
It was a bit of a restless night that was but as the ice got thicker, now Alice is rock solid in the ice, regardless of how
much you move around in the boat. It’s like actually living on land again. The ice is solid around it, although it is starting to melt already. I can sort of hear crunching noises again, so it won’t be long, probably in the middle of the next week that I will carry on moving towards the Shropshire Union Canal but for now I have been working inside. I’ve been building the electrics cupboard that I’m going to be putting all this equipment in. I’ve had the
Victron lithium batteries for just over a week now, very, very different. I haven’t needed to charge the batteries using the generator. I haven’t needed to charge the batteries using the engine and the alternator, at all. Solar has done it all. Now considering many days, a bit like this, dull are overcast, not much sun, the solar has been coping really, really well. The other bonus is the fact that I’ve got my fridge back on inside. On 24/7 no problems whatsoever. Yesterday, when building the electrics cupboard, I was cutting using a jigsaw, mains jigsaw from the inverter. 700 watt jigsaw no problems whatsoever. No engine running nothing needed, lithium batteries ‘like yeah, whatever’. The actual voltage didn’t change at all and after about an hour, an hour and a half of me on and off using it, the percentage hadn’t changed even 1%, which is fantastic. So what have I been doing whilst the ice has stopped me from going anywhere. Well I’ve been cracking on with the cupboard inside, that’s where all my electrics are going to go and it’s been quite tough because the the boat tapers in at that point, so I’ve had to chop the back of the cupboard off and bring the rear of the actual cupboard in as well as add vents and things so let’s see how I’ve been getting on.
I’ve decided to use a normal 1 metre wide kitchen cabinet as I wanted it to blend in
with the rest of the kitchen. It’s at the far end of the port side of Alice. Below the
cupboard, I lifted a section of the floor and removed some of the brick ballast. Not
only do I need to counter balance the additional weight this area will hold, but I also wanted
to create a void area within the bilge. The base plate of the boat is here and this section
of the boat is a good depth below the water level. It’s always cool and I wanted to
use this to my advantage. The cupboard will house my batteries, inverter
and solar charge controller. All these items can get warm. So, I have created additional
ventilation in the cupboard. On the bulkhead to the engine bay there is
a hole. It’s normally used to route cables and pipework. It’s big enough for me to
also include a ventilation duct between the cupboard and the engine bay where there is
plenty of external ventilation. In the engine bay, I will be fitting an inline blower. On
the command of a temperature switch, this will suck warm air from the cupboard outside.
In turn this will pull cool air up from the bilge below the cupboard. This not only replaces
hot air with cool but it also keeps the bilge nicely ventilated. As the boat tapers in here, I’ve needed
to reduce the cupboards depth. Using battens along the cupboards sides, I’ve fitted a
thick sheet of plywood for strength. And then to that the standard, relatively thin rear
board, mainly to keep the cupboard clean and looking the same. The three lithium batteries are positioned
to the left of the cupboard and to the right the Victron MultiPlus inverter and charger.
This has lots of good ventilation all around it. Plus as this is the item that gets the
hottest, the cool bilge air vent is right in front of it. After watching my last video, a really helpful
guy from Victron got in contact and highlighted there were some changes regarding the temperature
environment. The latest datasheet from Victron for my lithium
batteries has been updated to recommend charging from 5 degrees Celsius and above. I expect
this has to been changed to avoid confusion and to lengthen the lifespan of the batteries.
But it just goes to show, lithium’s don’t like being charged at low temperatures. Talking of charge, it was time to complete
my initial lithium battery charge. The manual states they come approximately
50% charged and as they are smart batteries, I could see, via Bluetooth and the Victron
Connect app on my phone, the voltage of each of the batteries cells and the battery temperature.
That was before they even came out of their boxes. I could see each battery required a firmware
update. This was all done using the app. As my batteries will be used in parallel I
could charge all three at once but to avoid one of the cells reaching the over voltage
faster than another from a different battery, I charged each battery for its initial charge,
separately. I used the MultiPlus to complete this initial
full charge and supplied its power from my generator. Before I do that however, I needed to update
the Firmware of the MultiPlus’s VE Bus. This adds functionality to work with my lithium
batteries. This is not for the faint of heart and needs
a thorough understanding of what you are doing. If in any doubt, I’d strongly recommend
you ask a Victron Engineer to complete this next stage for you. The firmware will reset your MultiPlus back
to its default settings and if you use the wrong firmware version, you can damage the
MultiPlus. But in the true spirit of Journey with Jono, here is how I did it. I downloaded and installed the latest VE Flash
software version from the Victron website. I’ve included links in the description below. It is suitable for windows computers only
so I, using a Mac, ran windows via Parallels. When you remove the front cover of the MultiPlus
you will see the main circuit board. On the front of the large chip to the top left of
the board there is a sticker with a 7-digit number. As you can see, mine starts with 2609. Write
that number down. At the bottom right of the MultiPlus there is a label with the serial
number, it starts with HQ. Contact your Victron representative with both numbers and ask for
the correct Firmware file. I made sure there were no other items connected
to the MultiPlus. I downloaded and ran the VE Flash software and chose ‘Update the
firmware’. I followed the software commands and selected the correct firmware version.
It’s important to ensure the first 4 digits of the firmware file are the same as the first
4 digits of the label on the chip. In my case, it was 2609. I auto selected the port that the USB communicates
on and turned the MultiPlus off. I connected a network cable to one of the
MultiPlus’s network ports. Using a Victron MK2 to USB interface I connected it to the
network cable from the MultiPlus and plugged the MK2 into the computers USB port. I then switched the MultiPlus on and the software
recognised it and started to upload the firmware file to the chip.
After a few nail biting moments, the firmware was fully updated. Phew, time for some nice
snow scene shots to lower the stress levels! I then downloaded and installed VE Configure.
The purpose of this software is to communicate with the MultiPlus, tell it, I now have Lithium
batteries and also add a small programme to it, called an assistant. After running the VE Configure and connecting
to the MultiPlus I navigated to the Charger tab. As you can see the MultiPlus was configured
for flooded deep discharge batteries. Clicking the Battery Type button, I selected Lithium
Ion Phosphate. It updates the MultiPlus to the following
settings. As this was the first time I was charging
the batteries, Victron recommend you charge at a low rate of C/20 or less. Or 5% of a
100Ah battery which is 5 Amps in my case. So, I changed the charge current to 5. It’s also recommended to give the batteries
an absorption voltage of 14.2 volts for several hours to initially fully balance the cells.
So, I changed the absorption time from 1 to 3. Next I clicked on the Assistants Tab.
I clicked the Add Assistant button and selected VE.Bus BMS from the dropdown menu.
Once it was installed I clicked the Start Assistant button. The Battery management system from Victron
communicates with the MultiPlus and in a low battery voltage situation it changes the MultiPlus
from inverting to charger only. In a high battery voltage situation, it regulates the
charge voltage to allow for the cells to fully balance. The VE Bus BMS assistant was then fully installed. That’s all the settings I needed to change
so I clicked the send settings button to the left of the main area. Selected modified settings
and the changes and new BMS assistant were sent to the MultiPlus. I connected one battery at a time to the MultiPlus
and started the charging. I purposely moored up away from other boats and houses. As the
charge amperage was only 5 amps I knew I would need to run my generator a long time. Each
of the batteries were luckily about 60% full to start with but it did take a good 8-9 hours
for each battery to increase in voltage and charge. I kept a close eye on each of their
charges using the Bluetooth Victron Connect App. The charge seemed to go up to around
14.17 volts and around 3.6 volts for each cell. They stabilised and then started to
drop. I knew then that the batteries were full. Two days later I connected them in parallel
to my Victron Power In panels which I am using as covered bus bars. I’ll be discussing
those and my new battery monitor in the next episode. Until then, see ya later.