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Thread: Lithium Race Batteries

  1. #1
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    Lithium Race Batteries

    Does anyone have any experience of Lithium Car/Race Batteries?
    I'm thinking of getting one, but wondered if there are any downsides other than the cost

    My Varley Red Top appears to be dying, it won't hold a 12v charge even when disconnected so needs to be replaced.

    A direct replacement would cost about 100. It weighs 7.3kg

    A Li-5 battery would cost about 200, but weighs 1.1kg!!!! That's an incredible /kg weight saving
    It has higher cranking power, but lower amp/hours.
    Is this a problem in a race car fitted with an alternator ? I would hope not.

    I think most battery/race car fitment guides assume no alternator, and according to those I would need a Li16, which costs about 600 and weighs 3.2Kg...not such a good /Kg bargain.

    Any knowledge or experience eagerly awaited!

    Cheers, Andy

  2. #2
    Senior Member Dan Lewis's Avatar
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    I was using a Shorai LFX battery on my car along with the standard alternator it quite happily cranked the car over and started it despite being only 1.5kg.
    The first one i had lasted almost a year of daily driving and racing although it did struggle in the cold, as soon as i stopped using it daily and left it sat for a while even disconnected it died, it then died in a really spectacular fashion after we jump started the car and drove it on a test run before a mapping session and the bloody thing melted down spewing out fumes and and gasses everywhere. Fortunately we caught it in time and got it out of the car before anything got any worse.

    The second one i had died completely in storage despite being charged with their own balance charger and left cold stored as per instructions, come back to it a few months later and as dead as a dodo.

    So to sum up, don't buy one of them!
    Great weight savings to be had but they can be temperamental compared to a more traditional lead acid / varley gel pack etc.

  3. #3
    Member Nick71's Avatar
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    My only experience with gel v lithium batteries is with 18v impact guns, my old gun with a gel battery would last all day and just get slower as the battery ran down, the new one with lithium batteries (2) doesn't last as long and just dies without warning, that alone would put me off running a lithium battery on my race car and having read Dans' experience I can say that I think that you'd be wasting your money.

  4. #4
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    OOOPS! I seem to have jumped the gun!
    Ordered a Varley Lithium battery yesterday afternoon, as I need to get the car going this weekend.

    Thanks for the replies, and at least I'll be able to add my experience which might be of use to others in the future.

    I'm concerned about the meltdown after jump starting though. I asked whether there was an issue jump starting with a lead/acid battery with the Lithium one connected, and was told no, and that it was common to start race cars equipped with a Lithium battery that way.
    I was thinking of keeping a charged starter pack in the car other than when on track.
    Guess I'll find out the hard way!

    I agree that Lithium tool batteries don't hold as much charge as the old nickel cadmium ones and die suddenly, but was hoping this wouldn't be that much of an issue with a working alternator.
    A Lithium battery with a higher cranking capacity than a lead acid one seems to have about a quarter of the amp-hour rating.

    Could be an expensive experiment!

  5. #5
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    You could buy a decent normal battery at around 7-8kgs for 50 or thereabouts

    In the grand scheme of things given weight of the vehicle....knowing you've a battery that will work under all circumstances is more than worth a few small kgs. Unless it's a race car only where you can carry a heavy booster pack around with you lol.
    speed didnt kill me, but taxation probably will

  6. #6
    22B Junkie
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nick71 View Post
    the new one with lithium batteries (2) doesn't last as long and just dies without warning, .
    If its anything like the makita batteries, then there are electronics in to prevent the cells from being completely discharged, which is why they dont grind to a halt, they just stop.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by stevieturbo View Post
    You could buy a decent normal battery at around 7-8kgs for 50 or thereabouts

    In the grand scheme of things given weight of the vehicle....knowing you've a battery that will work under all circumstances is more than worth a few small kgs. Unless it's a race car only where you can carry a heavy booster pack around with you lol.
    It is now race only, apart from driving to the circuit when it's followed by a tooled-up transit, so the idea was to carry a starter pack if necessary.

    Weight is coming down, currently 1265kg (no driver) less whatever I've saved with front plastic windows, losing the mechanisms, a lighter splitter, and of course the battery.
    I would hope to weigh in at around 1250kg this season.
    Only problem is the weight limit for my class is 1250kg WITH driver, so I've only got to lose my own weight to be on the button!

  8. #8
    Member Nick71's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by banhama View Post

    Weight is coming down, currently 1265kg (no driver) less whatever I've saved with front plastic windows, losing the mechanisms, a lighter splitter, and of course the battery.
    I would hope to weigh in at around 1250kg this season.
    Only problem is the weight limit for my class is 1250kg WITH driver, so I've only got to lose my own weight to be on the button!
    Dread to think how much mine is going to weigh, the r180 hubs and rear diff alone is a fair bit heavier than your r160 ones, then there's the 18" wheels and of course the extra ballast of the driver.......

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