Lithium "jump start" batteries are worthless when it is cold.

softdownsoftdown Solar Expert Posts: 2,014 ✭✭✭✭
Being a frequenter of remote areas with a few older vehicles, I invested in a few lithium "jump start" batteries. They are, of course, much smaller and lighter than the traditional lead-acid "jump start" battery.

They work fine when the weather is mild. Needed a jump in 25F weather and couldn't get a six banger to turn over in spite of using two lithium "jump start" batteries. A significant problem since low battery power is most likely in cold weather. Inability to start a motor may be a bigger problem when it is 10F than 70F.

The lithium batteries should have a much lower self discharge rate and I also expect them to last longer than the two years that I got from my lead-acid "jump start" battery. Being worthless in the cold is a significant issue for many of us.
First Bank:16 180 watt Grape Solar with  FM80 controller and 3648 Inverter....Fullriver 8D AGM solar batteries. Second Bank/MacGyver Special: 10 165(?) watt BP Solar with Renogy MPPT 40A controller/ and Xantrex C-35 PWM controller/ and Morningstar PWM controller...Cotek 24V PSW inverter....forklift and diesel locomotive batteries

Comments

  • westbranchwestbranch Solar Expert Posts: 5,123 ✭✭✭✭
    Well I got one of the smaller units (1000A,,, ?) and it started my single lung Honda 500 cc Quad that had sat for 4 days in temps down to -30* C... At first it would not start, almost  but no fire in the chamber....

    a neighbour came over on his snow machine and he had a little trick to ensure the battery bolt connection was good and tight, using a small piece of bare copper wire shaped like one of those ' M ' shaped paper clips, to 'lift' the nut  as the bolt is 'just long enough to connect in warm weather'...  2 more tries and it started.

    Make sure the cables to the battery are clean and tight... same as PV battery connections...
     
    KID #51B  4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM
    CL#29032 FW 2126/ 2073/ 2133 175A E-Panel WBjr, 3 x 4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM 
    Cotek ST1500W 24V Inverter,OmniCharge 3024,
    2 x Cisco WRT54GL i/c DD-WRT Rtr & Bridge,
    Eu3/2/1000i Gens, 1680W & E-Panel/WBjr to come, CL #647 asleep
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  • softdownsoftdown Solar Expert Posts: 2,014 ✭✭✭✭
    ATV batteries are a fraction of the size of automotive batteries. Success in starting an ATV is a pretty small victory.

    Having now studied the problem more I have learned a couple ways to make a lithium jump start battery more effective. Warm it up - if you have the time. Lithium chemistry simply does now work effectively when it is cold. The ions can be activated and warmed up, to a degree, by activating a discharge on the lithium battery. Turning on the flashlight (that comes on my particular unit) should spur some ion activity and make the lithium jump starter more effective. 

    However, hooking up the lithium jump starter to the lead-acid automotive battery should have triggered ionic activity in the lithium battery. Especially after the load of trying to start the car engine. It failed to do so. Especially disconcerting is the fact that two lithium jump starters still failed to turn over a six banger engine that normally starts very easily.

    The lithium jump starters had recently been charged to four bars - a "full charge". Yet showed only 2 or 3 bars when cold and activated to start a cold motor. This demonstrates the inherent weakness of lithium chemistry when cold. 

    I hope that charging the lithium batteries when the car is traveling will induce a higher available voltage. It is unfortunate that full charges lower the longevity of lithium batteries. It is also unfortunate that the lithium batteries are only charged via the 12 volt car battery and the cigarette lighter power supply. My lithium jump starters have no capacity for charging from an AC 120 volt power supply.

    Presently I have reached two conclusions:
    1) Cars will not have lithium main batteries unless the climate is mild.
    2) Lithium jump start batteries are not necessarily the best way to prepare for a dead car battery.

    Why do I care? The whole impetus for buying several is my habit of exploring remote areas on a year round basis with three dogs. It is not highly unusual to return to a low battery for a few reasons. 

    The fact that a dog can easily activate modern emergency blinkers or lock the owner out or destroy a door lock by sitting on it is a gripe for another day.
    First Bank:16 180 watt Grape Solar with  FM80 controller and 3648 Inverter....Fullriver 8D AGM solar batteries. Second Bank/MacGyver Special: 10 165(?) watt BP Solar with Renogy MPPT 40A controller/ and Xantrex C-35 PWM controller/ and Morningstar PWM controller...Cotek 24V PSW inverter....forklift and diesel locomotive batteries
  • jonrjonr Solar Expert Posts: 1,188 ✭✭✭✭
    I'd just disconnect the main battery to prevent discharge.  Or carry an AGM battery that you occasionally charge with a plug-in charger.
  • softdownsoftdown Solar Expert Posts: 2,014 ✭✭✭✭
    Still thinking it was a reasonable expectation that a newish jump starter battery would turn over a six banger at 25F.

    Of course there are other ways to make a cold engine start. Like buying a new lead-acid starter battery. If I had kept the original packaging, I would simply return the lithium starter batteries. I could fairly easily walk ten miles when the weather is mild. Not so much in a 10F blizzard.

    The lesson I was trying to convey is that buying one of the newer lithium jump start batteries may disappoint folks in colder climates. Perhaps severely.
    First Bank:16 180 watt Grape Solar with  FM80 controller and 3648 Inverter....Fullriver 8D AGM solar batteries. Second Bank/MacGyver Special: 10 165(?) watt BP Solar with Renogy MPPT 40A controller/ and Xantrex C-35 PWM controller/ and Morningstar PWM controller...Cotek 24V PSW inverter....forklift and diesel locomotive batteries
  • EstragonEstragon Registered Users Posts: 3,134 ✭✭✭✭✭
    FWIW - these lithium booster thingies may not (likely are not) created equal.

    They typically seem to be sold on the basis of 'X' milliAmpHour capacity, and "peak" amp outputs, with more apparently better.

    Comparing two Panasonic 18650 cells:

    https://batteryuniversity.com/learn/article/discharge_characteristics_li

    Note that although one cell has a capacity over 50% larger, at high discharge rates the practical effective capacity is similar.  The lower capacity one also appears to be a bit better at handling low temps.  It follows that if you had two boosters with the same nameplate rating, the second cell type would perform significantly better in this application.

    I don't know if the first type has significantly different cost/mAh.  If cheaper, it wouldn't surprise me if many boosters trade function for better marketing numbers at lower cost :wink:
    Off-grid.  
    Main daytime system ~4kw panels into 2xMNClassic150 370ah 48v bank 2xOutback 3548 inverter 120v + 240v autotransformer
    Night system ~1kw panels into 1xMNClassic150 700ah 12v bank morningstar 300w inverter
  • westbranchwestbranch Solar Expert Posts: 5,123 ✭✭✭✭
    ATV batteries are a fraction of the size of automotive batteries. Success in starting an ATV is a pretty small victory.

    In one way, the big problem is that dinky sized battery has to try to turn over a single cylinder motor that as yet NEVER been started with the rip cord due to the high compression and a kick back that will dislocate your shoulder... however you can use it to get it to rotate to the exhaust cycle and then maybe it will start off the weak battery plus Booster pack....
    Also, one weak point in the design of those Li starter packs is there has to be enough voltage in the battery to allow the dashboard electronics to be energized, or it is a NO GO .... That state can also be caused by a poor conection!

     
    KID #51B  4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM
    CL#29032 FW 2126/ 2073/ 2133 175A E-Panel WBjr, 3 x 4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM 
    Cotek ST1500W 24V Inverter,OmniCharge 3024,
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    Eu3/2/1000i Gens, 1680W & E-Panel/WBjr to come, CL #647 asleep
    West Chilcotin, BC, Canada
  • softdownsoftdown Solar Expert Posts: 2,014 ✭✭✭✭
    They energized everything quite easily. What they failed to do is turn over the engine. The engine had been idle for ~ a week I believe.

    However I do suspect they will be somewhat more effective after charging from a running engine rather than a still battery. As I recall the directions simply called for charging them up to 4 bars from the parked.car battery.

    I could also try thin motor oil during the winter for easier starting. Another factor is that while the outdoor temperature had risen to 25F, the temperature of the lithium battery and the car engine may have been closer to ~10-15F after a pretty cold night.

    In fairness and rosy optimism their cold weather grade has possibly improved from an F- to a D-.
    First Bank:16 180 watt Grape Solar with  FM80 controller and 3648 Inverter....Fullriver 8D AGM solar batteries. Second Bank/MacGyver Special: 10 165(?) watt BP Solar with Renogy MPPT 40A controller/ and Xantrex C-35 PWM controller/ and Morningstar PWM controller...Cotek 24V PSW inverter....forklift and diesel locomotive batteries
  • softdownsoftdown Solar Expert Posts: 2,014 ✭✭✭✭
    Presently the freshly charged lithium starter battery measures 12.32 volts after removal from a cold car environ. Turning it on along with the built in small flashlight lowered the voltage reading to 12.28 volts. Pretty disappointing. Warming it up to room temperature to see what voltage will read.

    As for now, I would say that cold weather hikers might want to keep their lithium starter battery close to their body if they harbor any doubts about their car battery.

    I have lost tissue due to severe hypothermia. Cold weather and hypothermia is an insidious threat that will eventually touch every true adventurer in northerly climates. Many have died. 
    First Bank:16 180 watt Grape Solar with  FM80 controller and 3648 Inverter....Fullriver 8D AGM solar batteries. Second Bank/MacGyver Special: 10 165(?) watt BP Solar with Renogy MPPT 40A controller/ and Xantrex C-35 PWM controller/ and Morningstar PWM controller...Cotek 24V PSW inverter....forklift and diesel locomotive batteries
  • jonrjonr Solar Expert Posts: 1,188 ✭✭✭✭
    edited December 2018 #10
    While self rescue is the preferred approach, a PLB (personal locator beacon) is a good idea.  And small - so easy to keep warm.
  • softdownsoftdown Solar Expert Posts: 2,014 ✭✭✭✭
    jonr said:
    While self rescue is the preferred approach, a PLB (personal locator beacon) is a good idea.  And small - so easy to keep warm.
    I have one of those but would frown on deploying a rescue team because my Jeep didn't start. You figure they would buy into my lithium battery story? Especially when I knew it sucked in the cold?

    In the age of the net, they would likely have viewed this thread in due time.

    If I carry my PLB all the time, wear and tear may precipitate its premature demise.
    First Bank:16 180 watt Grape Solar with  FM80 controller and 3648 Inverter....Fullriver 8D AGM solar batteries. Second Bank/MacGyver Special: 10 165(?) watt BP Solar with Renogy MPPT 40A controller/ and Xantrex C-35 PWM controller/ and Morningstar PWM controller...Cotek 24V PSW inverter....forklift and diesel locomotive batteries
  • Wheelman55Wheelman55 Registered Users Posts: 51 ✭✭
    Back in the day, adventuring in the far north of MN, we would do two things:
    1. Bury the starting battery in the snow at the start of the adventure
    2. Have a metal garbage can lid, charcoal and charcoal starter fluid in the car
    3. Upon return light the fire and place the garbage can cover with the glowing coals under the crankcase. 
    That took care of the starting issue down into the negative 40's Fahrenheit. 

    Building Off-Grid in Terlingua, TX
  • softdownsoftdown Solar Expert Posts: 2,014 ✭✭✭✭
    FWIW, warming up the lithium starter battery had no effect on measured voltage. Amazon sells a lithium starter battery that folks are generally pleased by - so far. However I did read a review wherein the user found his lithium starter battery to be junk on ~Dec. 15th. Imagine my shock. 

    These things are kind of new for most folks. I suspect many people will find disappointment in the coming months of winter, After initial Christmas Day delight...
    First Bank:16 180 watt Grape Solar with  FM80 controller and 3648 Inverter....Fullriver 8D AGM solar batteries. Second Bank/MacGyver Special: 10 165(?) watt BP Solar with Renogy MPPT 40A controller/ and Xantrex C-35 PWM controller/ and Morningstar PWM controller...Cotek 24V PSW inverter....forklift and diesel locomotive batteries
  • softdownsoftdown Solar Expert Posts: 2,014 ✭✭✭✭
    Back in the day, adventuring in the far north of MN, we would do two things:
    1. Bury the starting battery in the snow at the start of the adventure
    2. Have a metal garbage can lid, charcoal and charcoal starter fluid in the car
    3. Upon return light the fire and place the garbage can cover with the glowing coals under the crankcase. 
    That took care of the starting issue down into the negative 40's Fahrenheit. 

    Pretty dedicated effort. I might be inclined towards trying some very light weight motor oil in the coldest months.

     Oddly I rarely have a cold weather battery problem. Seems that modern cars have more slippery rings or the motor oil is better and thinner as a rule. Perhaps both.

    10W-40 used to be standard in Colorado. Now manufacturers tend to suggest 5W-20 I think. Helps with gas mileage though more engine wear and tear results.
    First Bank:16 180 watt Grape Solar with  FM80 controller and 3648 Inverter....Fullriver 8D AGM solar batteries. Second Bank/MacGyver Special: 10 165(?) watt BP Solar with Renogy MPPT 40A controller/ and Xantrex C-35 PWM controller/ and Morningstar PWM controller...Cotek 24V PSW inverter....forklift and diesel locomotive batteries
  • mcgivormcgivor Solar Expert Posts: 2,514 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited January 1 #15
    softdown said:
    Presently the freshly charged lithium starter battery measures 12.32 volts after removal from a cold car environ. Turning it on along with the built in small flashlight lowered the voltage reading to 12.28 volts. Pretty disappointing. Warming it up to room temperature to see what voltage will read.


    The 12.32V reading  would indicate an almost completely discharged 4 cell lithium ion battery, fully charged would be in the mid 13V range. 
    1500W, 6× Schutten 250W Poly panels , Schneider MPPT 60 150 CC, Schneider SW 2524 inverter, 400Ah LFP 24V nominal battery bank 
    900W  3 × 300W No name brand Poly panels, Morningstar TS 60 PWM controller, no name 2000W inverter 400Ah FLA 24V nominal as a backup system. 
    5Kw Yanmar clone single cylinder air cooled diesel generator for rare emergencies and welding.
  • softdownsoftdown Solar Expert Posts: 2,014 ✭✭✭✭
    mcgivor said:
    softdown said:
    Presently the freshly charged lithium starter battery measures 12.32 volts after removal from a cold car environ. Turning it on along with the built in small flashlight lowered the voltage reading to 12.28 volts. Pretty disappointing. Warming it up to room temperature to see what voltage will read.


    The 12.32V reading  would indicate an almost completely discharged 4 cell lithium ion battery, fully charged would be in the mid 13V range. 
    There is no option for AC charging, only from the cars 12V cigarette lighter. That is just one flaw.

    Oh yea, this is the net. Where everybody knows much more than me. About everything. 
    First Bank:16 180 watt Grape Solar with  FM80 controller and 3648 Inverter....Fullriver 8D AGM solar batteries. Second Bank/MacGyver Special: 10 165(?) watt BP Solar with Renogy MPPT 40A controller/ and Xantrex C-35 PWM controller/ and Morningstar PWM controller...Cotek 24V PSW inverter....forklift and diesel locomotive batteries
  • westbranchwestbranch Solar Expert Posts: 5,123 ✭✭✭✭
    Use a cell phone charger if /when you are by power... mine has a USB plug for AC recharging... https://no.co/gb40

     
    KID #51B  4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM
    CL#29032 FW 2126/ 2073/ 2133 175A E-Panel WBjr, 3 x 4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM 
    Cotek ST1500W 24V Inverter,OmniCharge 3024,
    2 x Cisco WRT54GL i/c DD-WRT Rtr & Bridge,
    Eu3/2/1000i Gens, 1680W & E-Panel/WBjr to come, CL #647 asleep
    West Chilcotin, BC, Canada
  • bill von novakbill von novak Solar Expert Posts: 822 ✭✭✭✭
    softdown said:
    mcgivor said:
    softdown said:
    Presently the freshly charged lithium starter battery measures 12.32 volts after removal from a cold car environ. Turning it on along with the built in small flashlight lowered the voltage reading to 12.28 volts. Pretty disappointing. Warming it up to room temperature to see what voltage will read.


    The 12.32V reading  would indicate an almost completely discharged 4 cell lithium ion battery, fully charged would be in the mid 13V range. 
    There is no option for AC charging, only from the cars 12V cigarette lighter. That is just one flaw.


    Car 12V systems generally operate at 13.5 volts.
  • softdownsoftdown Solar Expert Posts: 2,014 ✭✭✭✭
    softdown said:
    mcgivor said:
    softdown said:
    Presently the freshly charged lithium starter battery measures 12.32 volts after removal from a cold car environ. Turning it on along with the built in small flashlight lowered the voltage reading to 12.28 volts. Pretty disappointing. Warming it up to room temperature to see what voltage will read.


    The 12.32V reading  would indicate an almost completely discharged 4 cell lithium ion battery, fully charged would be in the mid 13V range. 
    There is no option for AC charging, only from the cars 12V cigarette lighter. That is just one flaw.


    Car 12V systems generally operate at 13.5 volts.
    Did that with two of them. Yielded 12.3 volts and 11.8 volts a few days later. Taking them back.

    I should hot have to jerry rig work arounds on brand new stuff.
    First Bank:16 180 watt Grape Solar with  FM80 controller and 3648 Inverter....Fullriver 8D AGM solar batteries. Second Bank/MacGyver Special: 10 165(?) watt BP Solar with Renogy MPPT 40A controller/ and Xantrex C-35 PWM controller/ and Morningstar PWM controller...Cotek 24V PSW inverter....forklift and diesel locomotive batteries
  • OldManOldMan Registered Users Posts: 110 ✭✭
    edited January 12 #20
    Man alive, all this talk about cold weather had me climbing in a down sleeping bag and smoking a bowl so i can go to sleep. I am literally allergic to cold, when I get cold, I get hives all over my body.
    OB On Topic: Moral of the story, either use a different battery for starting, or stay in warmer weather. Me, I'm going for door number two.
  • softdownsoftdown Solar Expert Posts: 2,014 ✭✭✭✭
    Yea, well I happen to live in the second coldest region of the Colorado mountains. This area is famous for being - cold. 

    There probably are some adequate jump starter lithium battery packs. Somewhere. 
    First Bank:16 180 watt Grape Solar with  FM80 controller and 3648 Inverter....Fullriver 8D AGM solar batteries. Second Bank/MacGyver Special: 10 165(?) watt BP Solar with Renogy MPPT 40A controller/ and Xantrex C-35 PWM controller/ and Morningstar PWM controller...Cotek 24V PSW inverter....forklift and diesel locomotive batteries
  • tabbycattabbycat Solar Expert Posts: 46 ✭✭✭
    AGM batteries hold their charge better than FLA's in cold temperatures and, apparently, better than lithium.  An AGM makes a good standby battery because it will maintain its' charge for months without the need for a trickle charger.
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 8,076 ✭✭✭✭✭
    tabbycat said:
    AGM batteries hold their charge better than FLA's in cold temperatures and, apparently, better than lithium.  An AGM makes a good standby battery because it will maintain its' charge for months without the need for a trickle charger.
    Lithium "holds" its charge just fine in the cold.  It just has trouble releasing it.  Warm it up above 40f and it's good to go.  But that doesn't help if it's stored in your glove box at 29f
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  • softdownsoftdown Solar Expert Posts: 2,014 ✭✭✭✭
    29F is a pretty nice winter day here in the valley. Decided to just get new car batteries. $20/year for car batteries isn't a big issue. Was kind of fun seeing how many years I could "nurse" out of them. Until they leave you stranded in the boondocks that is.
    First Bank:16 180 watt Grape Solar with  FM80 controller and 3648 Inverter....Fullriver 8D AGM solar batteries. Second Bank/MacGyver Special: 10 165(?) watt BP Solar with Renogy MPPT 40A controller/ and Xantrex C-35 PWM controller/ and Morningstar PWM controller...Cotek 24V PSW inverter....forklift and diesel locomotive batteries
  • OldManOldMan Registered Users Posts: 110 ✭✭
    softdown said:
    Yea, well I happen to live in the second coldest region of the Colorado mountains. This area is famous for being - cold. 

    There probably are some adequate jump starter lithium battery packs. Somewhere. 
    You can do one of two things: Stay in the past with your FLA batteries or get a tiny propane heater to keep your lithium batteries warm. I'd still go with door number two.
  • OldManOldMan Registered Users Posts: 110 ✭✭
    edited January 15 #26
    I used to have sympathy for folks who lived in the cold because they FROZE. Then, when I was about 12 years old, I realized for sure they could move to where it's not so f-n cold and they stay there anyway. If you're in an area not conducive to using lithium batteries, you can stay or move. I'd move. I HAVE moved and others have too. So your cold batteries are by CHOICE.
  • HorseflyHorsefly Registered Users Posts: 321 ✭✭✭✭
    As another Colorado resident, I think I will just say that there are lots of reasons to live somewhere other than the places that people flock just for warm weather.  I think I'll stay here and know that @OldMan won't be.  Sounds like we both will be better for it.   ;)
    Off-grid cabin: 6 x Canadian Solar CSK-280M PV panels, Schneider XW-MPPT60-150 Charge Controller, Schneider CSW4024 Inverter/Charger, Schneider SCP, 4 x Vmax XTR12-155 12V, 155AH batteries in a 2x2 24V 310AH bank.
  • OldManOldMan Registered Users Posts: 110 ✭✭
    Horsefly said:
    I think I'll stay here and know that @OldMan won't be.  Sounds like we both will be better for it.   ;)
    I certainly hope we never meet. Never come to SW Arizona in the winter. I'm there. With my lithium batteries and high-grade Black Domina.
  • softdownsoftdown Solar Expert Posts: 2,014 ✭✭✭✭
    edited January 15 #29
    Cold weather isn't usually the problem. It is pretty easy to use a heater or put on another layer of clothes. The issue I have during the northern winter is the darkness. 16 hours of darkness is a bit creepy. Lowers productivity as well. I'd probably live in Alaska or Iceland if not for the darkness of winter. Winter landscapes are beautiful in their own way.

    Though I must say this particular winter has been a challenge. It has been unusually cloudy.

    Lived in the heartland of N. Carolina for three years. I'd take Denver's climate over the months "lost" due to heat and humidity. This particular area? It really is a bit too cold at times. 

    Was planning on a Florida retirement. Not going to happen. I prefer the north/northerners for a number of reasons.
    First Bank:16 180 watt Grape Solar with  FM80 controller and 3648 Inverter....Fullriver 8D AGM solar batteries. Second Bank/MacGyver Special: 10 165(?) watt BP Solar with Renogy MPPT 40A controller/ and Xantrex C-35 PWM controller/ and Morningstar PWM controller...Cotek 24V PSW inverter....forklift and diesel locomotive batteries
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