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What Components Do You Need in Your Marine Power System with Lithium Batteries?

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Before installing your new lithium batteries into your marine electrical system, you will want to ensure that you have the proper components. While many of the necessary components from your lead-acid system will carry over, you need to check that they offer the proper settings for your new batteries. In addition to these components, ABYC standards require a few other components for lithium-powered marine electrical systems to keep mariners and their electronics safe while out on the water. 

Essential Components for a Marine Electrical System 

When upgrading your marine electrical system from lead-acid to lithium batteries, it’s essential to audit the rest of the system’s components. While many of the individual components will overlap, you will want to ensure that they have the proper ratings and settings to handle your new batteries.  

One of the main components of any lithium-powered marine electrical system is an inverter charger. This is used to charge the batteries and convert their DC power into usable AC power. Additionally, a solar charge controller brings solar power from any installed panels into your electrical system to recharge your battery bank, and a DC-to-DC charger allows charging from shore power and other places. Finally, a battery monitor, usually used with a shunt, will connect to the negative wire on your batteries and monitor all of the current that goes into and out of the battery bank. 

Although you will likely already have most of these components in your lead-acid electrical system, you will want to double-check that they have appropriate settings for your new batteries. Consulting your battery manual or the manufacturer directly will allow you to ensure you’re using the proper components, which will help your system work as safely and efficiently as possible. 

Additional Components Required by New ABYC Standards 

Connor Smith with Battle Born Batteries powered marine electricals system

In addition to the basic components mentioned above, new ABYC standards require a few other safety measures to maintain the integrity of your marine electrical system when adding lithium batteries. Due to the increased power that lithium batteries bring to your system, having proper fuses in place is essential. ABYC now recommends a Class T Fuse be installed within 7 inches of your battery bank to help protect your system from a direct short.  

Various disconnect switches are also key components to shut down power to high current systems when unsafe operating conditions may occur. Install a main battery disconnect switch just downstream of your Class T Fuse. This is a large, powerful switch that goes into the main conductor and can shut down the entire system if there is a problem. It is essential that this switch is rated for the maximum amperage of the circuit. A service disconnect switch for your inverter charger is also a recommended addition. Since the inverter chargers used in lithium power systems are extremely powerful, this switch connected to the positive cable can shut down power and protect your inverter from damage if a problem arises. 

The latest ABYC E-13 standards also require that lithium batteries give an audible or visual alarm before the BMS shuts the battery down if unsafe conditions arise. With the newest Battle Born Batteries equipped with Dragonfly IntelLigence, wireless, internal battery monitoring equipment monitors all aspects of each individual battery in the system. Without the need for an external monitor, these batteries can detect various issues, trigger an alarm, and send an alert to your smart device to ensure your safety and the protection of your lithium power system.  

Want to Learn More? 

Check out the full Marine 101 series on our YouTube channel or through the Academy page on our website. If you have further questions or need help designing the perfect marine power system, our technical sales team would love to help! You can reach them by calling (855) 292-2831 or emailing [email protected]. 

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