8 Tips To Prevent Lithium Battery Load Dumps

Preventing Instant Darkness

In the last article about lithium batteries, I defined load dumps and shared why they matter.

And, further, I wrote, and believe strongly, that we cruisers should not listen to salespeople who downplay this fundamental characteristic of lithium batteries—they will be home safe in their beds when a load dump puts our boat and our crew in jeopardy.

It's Basic Seamanship

As boat owners we should not tolerate a system that will load dump, any more than we would ignore a broken strand in a shroud or a sloppy rudder bearing.

So let's look at some ways to banish load dumps:

#1 Never "Drop In"

If you have not already bought "drop in" lithium batteries, don't.

The problem with "drop in" batteries is that, since the BMS is inside the battery, it has no way to communicate its intentions before load dumping.

This is a fundamental system architecture issue that's not ever going to get fixed properly.

For example, even if "drop in" vendors add something like a buzzer, or a warning over Bluetooth to our phone, prior to shut down, that will not help much. (See Tip 2.)

And for those who say, "but wait, plenty of people have "drop in" batteries on their cruising boat", I say "yes, and plenty of people invested with Bernie Madoff".

Already Have "Drop In" Batteries

That said, I don't think any the less of you if you have already bought "drop in" batteries. I have made far worse mistakes than that.

After all, the very words "drop in" infer something that's very seductive—all of the benefits of lithium with no added expense or modifications to our boat.

Just as the words "guaranteed high returns" are seductive—high investment returns with no risk.

Sadly, neither are true.

Still, all is not lost. If you already have "drop in" lithium batteries, Tips 4, 6 and 7 will help at least mitigate the load dump problem.

  1. One Simple Law That Makes Electrical Systems Easy to Understand
  2. How Batteries Charge (Multiple Charging Sources Too)
  3. How Hard Can We Charge Our Lead Acid Batteries?
  4. Cruising Boat Electrical System Design, Part 1—Loads and Conservation
  5. Cruising Boat Electrical System Design, Part 2—Thinking About Systems
  6. Cruising Boat Electrical System Design, Part 3—Specifying Optimal Battery Bank Size
  7. The Danger of Voltage Drops From High Current (Amp) Loads
  8. How Lead Acid Batteries Get Wrecked and What To Do About It
  9. 11 Steps To Better Lead Acid Battery Life
  10. 10 Tips To Install An Alternator
  11. Stupid Alternator Regulators Get Smarter…Finally
  12. WakeSpeed WS500—Best Alternator Regulator for Lead Acid¹ and Lithium Batteries
  13. Smart Chargers Are Not That Smart
  14. Equalizing Batteries, The Reality
  15. Battery Monitors, Part 1—Which Type Is Right For You?
  16. Battery Monitors, Part 2—Recommended Unit
  17. Battery Monitors, Part 3—Calibration and Use
  18. Do You Need A Generator?
  19. Efficient Generator-Based Electrical Systems For Yachts
  20. Battery Bank Size and Generator Run Time, A Case Study
  21. Battery Options, Part 1—Lithium
  22. Battery Options, Part 2—Lead Acid
  23. Why Lithium Battery Load Dumps Matter
  24. 8 Tips To Prevent Lithium Battery Load Dumps
  25. Lithium Ion Batteries Explained
  26. Should Your Boat’s DC Electrical System Be 12 or 24 Volt?—Part 1
  27. Should Your Boat’s DC Electrical System Be 12 or 24 Volt?—Part 2
  28. Q&A—Are Battery Desulphators a Good Idea?
  29. Renewable Power
  30. Wind Generators
  31. Solar Power
  32. Hydro Power
  33. Watt & Sea Hydro Generator Review
  34. A Simple, Efficient and Inexpensive¹ 12 or 24 Volt DC Electrical System
  35. 8 Checks To Stop Our DC Electrical System From Burning Our Boat

John was born and brought up in Bermuda and started sailing as a child, racing locally and offshore before turning to cruising. He has sailed over 100,000 miles, most of it on his McCurdy & Rhodes 56, Morgan's Cloud, including eight ocean races to Bermuda, culminating in winning his class twice in the Newport Bermuda Race. He has skippered a series of voyages in the North Atlantic, the majority of which have been to the high latitudes. John has been helping others go voyaging by sharing his experience for 25 years, first in yachting magazines and, for the last 20 years, as co-editor/publisher of AAC.

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