Lithium (LiFePo4) batteries offer massive benefits for narrowboat life off-grid and a well-designed system transforms the way power is used and managed onboard. Lead-acid is delicate, weak & totally impractical in comparison.
I’m happy installing a complete system from scratch, working on a specific component or make improvements and additions to an existing setup – such as alternator/charging upgrade or battery monitoring and control. I only supply and install lithium batteries that use an external Battery Management System (BMS). As an alternative to Victron I offer a complete setup built from the very best raw components – using Winston Thundersky cells and a REC-BMS. and I keep a 12V REC Active BMS in stock. Sometimes it’s possible for my customer to supply the cells of their choice and I will build the battery in my workshop.
One key benefit of Lithium is the virtually limitless recharge property. This means you have to ‘lithium proof’ the alternator. I specialise in installing Wakespeed WS500 and Mastervolt Alpha Pro regulators – see my external alternator regulator page for details on why it’s the best approach.
The majority of factory alternator setups even on current engines being fitted to new narrowboats right now are not designed with Lithium batteries in mind. I’ve developed alternator upgrades for specific engines which take full advantage of the lithium system – more detail on my alternator upgrade page.
I have the equipment to program and setup all of the Victron, Mastervolt & Wakespeed equipment and systems.
I’m frequently asked to install the ‘hybrid’ lead-acid/lithium system. Recent US ABYC regulations state different chemistries cannot be mixed in a single battery bank. Because these rules guide professional standards in the UK it’s not something I can get involved in. It’s a DIY route done to save money with compromises, some experimentation and accepted risks.
Any queries please call Ed 07922 163072.
Example of Victron-Lithium install on a 10 year old narrowboat.
My customer wants a simple and reliable system for true off-grid living 365 days/year. I recommend and install 2* 200AH Smart Lithium batteries. VE.bus BMS. BMV Smart monitor. Cerbo GX + Touch 70 display. Batteries are moved inside for low temp winter charging. With 1500 watt of solar there’s absolutely no engine running in the Summer with 100% renewable power. Automatic hot water, electric kettle, slow cooker, induction hob, microwave toaster and worktop cooker.
Engine charging from the factory Beta 43 175A Iskra. Controlled by a Wakespeed WS500 creating an awesome optimised alternator charging system: a full winter recharge takes <2.5 hrs. The WS500 now integrates with Victron system and displays running data on the touch screen display.
Example of 400AH Winston + REC-ABMS + Victron install.
Live-aboard totally offgrid boat. I install 12V 400AH Winston Thundersky cells with REC-BMS. The BMS features active cell balancing and shunt based current monitoring. It sends data using CAN-bus to a Victron Cerbo GX which controls a Victron Multiplus II 12-3000-120 and Victron Smartsolar controller and displays data on the Victron Touch GX display and interface. The Cerbo connects to the internet and allows remote monitoring & control through Victron’s vrm remote portal. The REC-BMS integrates incredibly well with the Victron Cerbo GX.
The new Multiplus II is more efficient than ever and has a 2nd programmable AC2 240V output to enable automatic immersion heating or aircon options for the Summer (dependant on solar setup) and programmed based on many different paramaters. A Mastervolt Alpha Pro controller, 150A Bosch alternator upgrade with Victron Cyrix-Li-ct relay gets the very most out of the limited single alternator Vetus M4.14 setup.
With an efficient base of a 12V boat my customers can go for 5+ days between recharge in deepest winter. On their offgrid Shropshire mooring a bankside Honda EU2000 generator provides efficient and convenient charging.
400AH Victron Install + Alpha Pro Regulator.
Simple 2* 200AH Victron Smart Lihtium batteries, VE.Bus BMS, SmartSolar 100/50, BMV712 Smart installed on a liveaboard totally offgrid narrowboat. DC system rewired and brought upto spec using the original Victron 3000/120 Multiplus.Mastervolt Alpha Pro fitted to the factory 175A Canaline 42 alternator for 135A+ continuous winter charging. My technical engineer customer installs a Rasperry Pi to get the full Victron VRM online portal monitoring working.
400AH Winston Thundersky cells + REC-BMS install.
New liveaboard owner on this 60′ Narrowboat had issues with the orignal lead acid batteries. Fit 400AH Winston Cells, REC-BMS, Cerbo GX + Touch 70 display, 3000/120 Multiplus II, SmartSolar 100/50 + 1100W solar. Charging through the Multiplus with Electrolux Travel Power generator.
The top quality REC-BMS battery management system has active cell balancing and integrates seamlessly with the Victron equipment.
Victron 400AH on a tiny 30ft Aintree Beetle Narrowboat.
2* 200AH Smart Lithium, VE.Bus BMS, BMV712 Smart monitor, SmartSolar 75/15, Multiplus 12/1600/70.
150A Bosch alternator + Mastervolt Alpha Pro + Cyrix Li-CT 230 fitted to the tiny Beta 20 engine. Alternator charging clipped to 100A continuous. I’m really proud of this alternator upgrade and it really gets the most from the tiny engine. Customer delighted and now practically gas free.
Example of 400AH Winston + REC-ABMS + 200A Alternator install.
Customer found the recent 440AH lead acid batteries not fit for live-aboard life. I install a custom 400AH Winston Thundersky + REC Active BMS + Victron Cerbo GX battery setup. Victron 100A Battery Protect handles DC loads. Exisiting Victron 1600 Multi & Smartsolar controller integrate perfectly with CAN-bus & VE.Direct to the Cerbo. The original Victron BMV Smart is ditched and the Cerbo GX provides monitoring and system control over the Victron VRM remote portal.
The original 70A Beta 38 alternator replaced with 200A Bosch. A Mastervolt Alpha Pro looks after alternator charging – Max output capped to 190 amps with ‘small engine mode’ setup for the Beta 38 and temp sensing looking after alternator temperature . Performance is incredible and relentless. The REC-BMS controls the Alpha Pro.
Example of a 400AH Winston Thundersky Lithium install.
Live-a-board customer was fed-up with the deteriating 330AH 12-month-old lead acid bank. I build a 400AH Winston Thundersky + 123BMS neatly installed inside the cabin. Mastervolt Alpha Pro + alternator upgrade to look after engine charging. The Dutch made 123\SmartBMS controls the other kit: Victron BMV712, Mastervolt Alpha Pro, Victron Multiplus, Victron Smartsolar, Victron Battery Protect etc..
Awesome power & capacity and simple setup. In the Summer options for immersion heater hot water, air conditioning, induction hob, microwave, toaster, kettle etc.. In the depths of Winter power will last for ~5 days between running the engine with a full recharge in less than 2.5 hours with optimised alternator charging. I offer this system at a fixed price with a proper 2 year callout warranty for my customer’s piece of mind – which I personally cover.
Simple Victron/Mastervolt install on a Traditional boat.
This beautiful Dave Harris narrowboat is as traditional and simple as you get. No solar. Paloma hot water. No TV. Paraffin lighting. 12V fridge. Lithium still suits it perfectly though.
Even though the boat’s moored in a marina there’s never been a landline connection. It’s possibly why the 30+ year old hull is still like new. My customer likes the strong/rugged properties Lithium offers: The ability to be left partially charged and a battery monitor that actually works. We fit a simple system – 200AH of Victron batteries with Smart BMS12/200. Victron BMV700 monitor. A Mastervolt Alpha Pro looks after a modest 90 amp alternator upgrade + custom 65mm pulley on the Lister JP3.
Example of a Winston Thundersky + Victron install.
My live-aboard customer wants to moor up for as long as possible and really doesn’t like running the engine, totally offgrid and always on the towpath. I fit 12V 400AH Winston cells + 123SmartBMS. New Victron Multiplus 3000/120 with simple powerful 120A engine charging from Dometic 3.5 Travel Power + Victron Multicontrol input current limiting to keep the travel power and a Honda EU2200i unstrained. If there’s ever an issue with the Travel Power there’s a 200A Bosch swapout for even faster charging. I also add 1000 watt of solar with a Victron Smartsolar controller to an already installed 650W system.
The solar allows for automatic free hot water & electric cooking in the Summer and there’s plans to install a small aircon unit in the bedroom. The new lithium battery works so well with the other Victron equipment and Travel Power. My customer is delighted with the new setup and it’s transformed life on-board.