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LifePO4 batteries - The petition


Bill Strong
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This is my solution and what I wrote down for my feedback. 

 

Quote
Submitted by James Wolak

Issue: AGM and Lithium batteries are a safety concern.

Current rule:

3.13.3. All batteries located in the driver’s compartment of the car shall be enclosed in a plastic,
aluminum, or metal box.
3.13.4. Lithium-Ion (LiCoO2) and Lithium-Polymer\ batteries are NOT allowed. LiFePO4, gel and lead acid
batteries are allowed.

Proposed solution:

Two ideas. Both should be rolled out with a grandfather period of one season where tech inspection will
look for it and talk to the teams that have them. And then in the next season the rule will be enforced and
probably adjusted a bit.


Idea 1: Only allow flooded lead acid batters in drivers compartment due to their know stability and
require that non lead and AGM batteries are enclosed in a box outside the drivers compartment. Add
ventaltion requirements to both. Meaning the only way not to have a box and vent is to use a traditional
flooded lead acid battery. To do this we need to change 3.13.3 to two parts.

     3.13.3.1 Only flooded lead acid batteries can be located in the driver’s compartment of the car shall be
     enclosed in a plastic, aluminum, or metal box with ventaltion tubes/snokles out of the cabin and away
     from any hot surfaces.

     3.13.3.2 All non lead acid batteries and AGM battiers must be located in a compartment seperated by a
     firewall from the driver and fuel tank (ie engine compartment) of the car. The battery shall be enclosed in
     a plastic, aluminum, or metal box and vented out of the car and away from any hot surfaces (exhaust,
     rotors, anything on a Rotary)

Idea 2: Only allow flooded lead acid batteries. This is due to the documented increase in thermal runway
in AGM, Lithium-Ion, LifePO4, and Lithium-Polymer batteries and add ventilation requirements to
batteries in the drivers compartment. To do this amend 3.13.3 and 3.13.4

     3.13.3. All batteries located in the driver’s compartment of the car shall be enclosed in a plastic,
     aluminum, or metal box with ventilation to outside of the drivers compartment. Away from any hot
     surfaces like exhaust, rotors, or any part of a rotary engine vehicle (jk on the rotary, kinda).

     3.13.4. Lithium-Ion (LiCoO2), LiFePO4, AGM, and Lithium-Polymer batteries are NOT allowed. Only
     Flooded Lead acid batteries are allowed.


Rationale: I am seeing more and more thermal battery events now that light weight battiers are becoming more
affordable. This weekend in Willows (Jun 2021) two AGM (Valve- Regulated Lead Acid) battiers had
thermal runaway events. AGM style batteries are more prone to thermal runway then traditional Flooded
cells (https://www.nfpa.org/-/media/Files/News-and-Research/Fire-statistics-and-reports/Hazardous-
materials/RFLeadAcidBattery.pdf). Both flooded and AGM style battaries release flamable SO2 and HCl
gases. (https://ehs.umass.edu/sites/default/files/Battery%20SOP.pdf)
LiFePO4 battiery are much less likely to have thermal runway then Lithium-Ion (LiCoO2) and Lithium-
Polymer ones but are still more likely then AGM and Flooded cells. In addition the toxins released during
there runways are still harmful. (I would link you to an artical but I am running out of fracks to give)
In addition both LiFePO4 and AGM battiers are more expensive then Lead Acid Flooded and are only
being used to reduce weight.

Other Info: I spent like 3 hours on this when I should be working. I need to work now so I didnt proof read it. In the
3rd grade they told me I wouldn't be able to read or write like normal kids, they were right. Also I am
pretty sure Bruce is gonna kick me off his team for submitting this.


 

Quote

My answer is no.

 

Having been at Willow Springs where Jamie was with us, we had two LifePO4 batteries overheat, and go into meltdown mode. Over that I approached a couple of battery companies to get more information about these batteries. Yes, I overstepped my Marketing bounds, but no one else was doing anything about it.

I met with one of them when I attended SEMA last November and had a really good meeting with him. I mentioned a presenters note that a rep from his company gave at the SCCA National convention in 2019.

https://www.scca.com/downloads/43829-lithium-batteries-in-racing-presenters-notes/download

 

Easy fix.
From my experience seeing meltdowns, and trying to remove batteries from cars that the LifePO4 battery is melting down.

 

If you use a LifePO4 battery, you must do the following.

  • Install outside the drivers compartment. Sealed box our not, it must be outside the compartment with easy access.
  • Toolless quick disconnect for the cables to the battery. Like these https://www.summitracing.com/parts/tay-21518
  • Toolless battery hold down. This will make it easy to remove a runaway battery from the car and putting it in a place it can't cause more damage.

 

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And if adding cost and complexity to using a LifePO4 battery in your race car concerns you, then use a traditional lead acid battery. 

Those LifePO4 batteries already have a big cost associated with them. What's another $100.

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@Jamie  Explain yourself.  If this is important we are gonna need you to tread on yourself and provide some additional information/sources/details to justify a change that would cost many racers time and money to comply with.

 

This petition is hella confusing.

 

Quote

Two ideas. Both should be rolled out with a grandfather period of one season where tech inspection will look for it and talk to the teams that have them. And then in the next season the rule will be enforced and probably adjusted a bit.

Idea 1: Only allow flooded lead acid batters in drivers compartment due to their know stability and require that non lead and AGM batteries are enclosed in a box outside the drivers compartment. Add ventaltion requirements to both. Meaning the only way not to have a box and vent is to use a traditional flooded lead acid battery

To do this we need to change 3.13.3 to two parts.

3.13.3.1 Only flooded lead acid batteries can be located in the driver’s compartment of the car shall be enclosed in a plastic, aluminum, or metal box with ventaltion tubes/snokles out of the cabin and away from any hot surfaces.

3.13.3.2 All non lead acid batteries and AGM battiers must be located in a compartment seperated by a firewall from the driver and fuel tank (ie engine compartment) of the car. The battery shall be enclosed in a plastic, aluminum, or metal box and vented out of the car and away from any hot surfaces (exhaust, rotors, anything on a Rotary)

Idea 2: Only allow flooded lead acid batteries. This is due to the documented increase in thermal runway in AGM, Lithium-Ion, LifePO4, and Lithium-Polymer batteries and add ventilation requirements to batteries in the drivers compartment.

To do this amend 3.13.3 and 3.13.4

3.13.3. All batteries located in the driver’s compartment of the car shall be enclosed in a plastic, aluminum, or metal box with ventilation to outside of the drivers compartment. Away from any hot surfaces like exhaust, rotors, or any part of a rotary engine vehicle (jk on the rotary, kinda).

3.13.4. Lithium-Ion (LiCoO2), LiFePO4, AGM, and Lithium-Polymer batteries are NOT allowed. Only Flooded Lead acid batteries are allowed.

 

 

How is a bottle of acid (AKA a lead acid battery) in the drivers compartment safer than a lifepo4 or AGM battery?

 

Why does a battery not in the drivers compartment need to be in a box and vented out of the car?

 

Why would we want to put a battery which is allegedly prone to thermal runaway into the engine bay?

 

What thermal runaways are we seeing with LiFePO4 batteries designed for automotive use?

What thermal runaways are we seeing with AGM batteries designed for automotive use?

 

What's wrong with AGM batteries?  Major auto manufacturers have been using them in the trunk or under the seat for years.

 

Straight Li-po batteries are already banned - 

 

3.13.4. Lithium-Ion (LiCoO2) and Lithium-Polymer\ batteries are NOT allowed. LiFePO4, gel and lead acid batteries are allowed.

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The two batteries in question that melted down were LifePO4 designed for motorsports use. One was in 2020, and the other in 2021 with both happening at Willow Springs.
I was there for both of those.

One was blamed on a bad voltage regulator and the other was never determined.
Both were in Japanese cars. A 280Z and RX7.

I know we have hundreds of these types of batteries in use in this series. So two failures is a very low percentage. But keeping out the fumes that smell like purple from the interior and making it easy to remove a battery going into meltdown mode is an easy and safe fix.

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Why make a rule that is battery-specific? Would rather the rule be the same for all batteries that are permitted, regardless. It's safer and easier for racers/tech to know what should be installed. It will cost everyone some money to implement, but increasing driver safety shouldn't be a cost that matters all that much.

Edited by freshmaker_phd
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23 hours ago, Bill Strong said:

And if adding cost and complexity to using a LifePO4 battery in your race car concerns you, then use a traditional lead acid battery. 

Those LifePO4 batteries already have a big cost associated with them. What's another $100.

 

I have often wondered why expensive/light-weight batteries were allowed (or free) in the first place.  Does not seem to fit the spirit of "affordable" racing, but that ship sailed long ago it seems.  I don't believe Optima works with lithium, so their prior sponsorship shouldn't hold much relevance.

Edited by Grufton
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1 hour ago, Grufton said:

 

I have often wondered why expensive/light-weight batteries were allowed (or free) in the first place.  Does not seem to fit the spirit of "affordable" racing, but that ship sailed long ago it seems.  I don't believe Optima works with lithium, so their prior sponsorship shouldn't hold much relevance.

 

My LiFePO4 battery cost about half of what the lead acid OEM replacement we were using cost.  The cost argument doesn't hold water. 

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1 hour ago, Hugh Jass said:

 

My LiFePO4 battery cost about half of what the lead acid OEM replacement we were using cost.  The cost argument doesn't hold water. 

 

I don't buy it.  Let's see the numbers.

 

Edit:  Here are my numbers

1992 miata battery from Autozone = $190

Since I'm on a budget, I'm going to get a comparable Interstate Battery (for a Honda Civic) from Costco = $100

A comparable Antigravity from Pegasus is $261, though maybe you could get by with the $198 version - but if that's true, it should probably compare that to a lawn-mower battery for cost.

Edited by Grufton
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I use this => https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07JVL1HFN/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

 

Never a problem. It cranks over a 2.5L 6cyl no problem. Doesn't very much like cold ambient temps tho.

 

Some marketing jargonhttps://www.batterytender.com/Battery-Tender-6.1AH-360CA-Lithium-Engine-Start-Battery-w-Smart-BMS

 

The ‘heart’ of this battery is the built-in protection circuit module / board (PCM / PCB) and it's the key to making your battery smarter. This circuit board protects the battery from common issues that can lead to damage and prevents the battery from being overcharged, over drained, or over-discharged. The Battery Management System (BMS) automatically shuts off the battery to prevent permanent damage if overcharge or over-discharge (voltage below a certain threshold) is detected.

A smarter, safer battery, these batteries are factory-activated and ready to go!

 

 

Edited by MichaelPal
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1 hour ago, Grufton said:

 

I don't buy it.  Let's see the numbers.

 

Edit:  Here are my numbers

1992 miata battery from Autozone = $190

Since I'm on a budget, I'm going to get a comparable Interstate Battery (for a Honda Civic) from Costco = $100

A comparable Antigravity from Pegasus is $261, though maybe you could get by with the $198 version - but if that's true, it should probably compare that to a lawn-mower battery for cost.

 

I should have kept my mouth shut, but I might as well share what I'm doing as it's no secret these batteries are a cheap way to cut weight. A light weight hardtop is about $1500 delivered and saves 30lbs. This solution saved 24lbs for me. The battery is low hanging fruit. 

 

Bought this battery on Jan 28th of this year for $110.50. Works great and weights a lot less than what I had.  I was using Auto Parts store Gold that weighed 27lbs that we paid right about $209+NY Tax when we cooked our original battery with an unregulated alternator at WGI in 2019. 

 

NOCO Lithium NLP14, Group 14, 500A Lithium Powersport Battery, 12V 4Ah Motorcycle, ATV, UTV, PWC, Scooter, Jet Ski, Quad, 4 Wheeler, Lawn Mower and Miata Battery - Harley Davidson, Seadoo, Polaris https://www.amazon.com/dp/B091P9QXX7/ref=cm_sw_r_apan_glt_i_1JJP7CAE8NVSA3Y37RBA?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1

 

 

PXL_20220130_170936157.MP.jpg

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Guess I am not too worried about thermal runaway since I have the same battery lots of people use in ChampCar about 2 inches from some very sensitive bits every time I go for a ride…

 

IMG_20220318_142500__01.jpg.d655b4601e98857ed78de720985f18c9.jpg

 

Lithium batteries was a big debate about 5 years ago in the motorcycle world, but you never hear of it anymore. Everyone has just accepted that they are the way to go, dirt bikes even come with them from the factory now.

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1 hour ago, Hugh Jass said:

 

Bought this battery on Jan 28th of this year for $110.50. Works great and weights a lot less than what I had.  I was using Auto Parts store Gold that weighed 27lbs that we paid right about $209+NY Tax when we cooked our original battery with an unregulated alternator at WGI in 2019. 

 

I bought my battery tender LiFePO onsale for ~100 dollars years ago. To your point... The cost of a quality lithium battery isn't high if you look around. 

Edited by veris
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4 hours ago, Grufton said:

 

I don't buy it.  Let's see the numbers.

 

Edit:  Here are my numbers

1992 miata battery from Autozone = $190

Since I'm on a budget, I'm going to get a comparable Interstate Battery (for a Honda Civic) from Costco = $100

A comparable Antigravity from Pegasus is $261, though maybe you could get by with the $198 version - but if that's true, it should probably compare that to a lawn-mower battery for cost.


The shorai LFX18L1-BS12 in my miata is $147

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4 hours ago, Hugh Jass said:

 

I should have kept my mouth shut, but I might as well share what I'm doing as it's no secret these batteries are a cheap way to cut weight. A light weight hardtop is about $1500 delivered and saves 30lbs. This solution saved 24lbs for me. The battery is low hanging fruit. 

 

Bought this battery on Jan 28th of this year for $110.50. Works great and weights a lot less than what I had.  I was using Auto Parts store Gold that weighed 27lbs that we paid right about $209+NY Tax when we cooked our original battery with an unregulated alternator at WGI in 2019. 

 

NOCO Lithium NLP14, Group 14, 500A Lithium Powersport Battery, 12V 4Ah Motorcycle, ATV, UTV, PWC, Scooter, Jet Ski, Quad, 4 Wheeler, Lawn Mower and Miata Battery - Harley Davidson, Seadoo, Polaris https://www.amazon.com/dp/B091P9QXX7/ref=cm_sw_r_apan_glt_i_1JJP7CAE8NVSA3Y37RBA?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1

 

 

PXL_20220130_170936157.MP.jpg

Was just debating getting this for the Miata. Thanks for confirming it can work 

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I've been using Shorai LiFePO4 batteries (which do not have a charging management system) in my street and race cars since 2013. The only times I've ever had one melt down is when someone (not me) hooked them up to a jump box at maximum amps. This has happened twice with my batteries, and once with one of KSR's. They don't catch on fire, but they do get hot and smoke. I'd keep them away from wires, skin or fuel for this reason.

 

Aside from this they seem much more reliable than lead-acid batteries. They certainly hold a charge a lot better, though the light ones obviously have a lot less reserve capacity.

 

In street cars I've run LFX36L3-BS12. In my 4 cylinder race cars LFX19A4-BS12. These cost $180 but it looks like there are now cheaper options available as Hugh posted above.

 

I think it's reasonable to keep these batteries away from other things that can catch on fire, but aside from that I don't see the issue? In an open car fumes don't matter. In a closed car I agree you may want it out of the cabin, or we just trust drivers to stop driving if their cabin fills with smoke. As far as a quick disconnect to quickly dispose of the battery, who cares? They just sit there and smolder. As long as there's nothing to catch on fire I'd say it's the team's responsibility.

I do not want a 30 lb box of lead full of acid anywhere near me in a wreck. My 2.5 lb Shorai I don't care about.

Edited by Grant
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I should add I've never seen the plastic casing catch on fire. This makes me think they're not much of a fire hazard. We still have ours in an open bit of floor though, just in case.

I also really don't like having to keep it in a closed box under Champcar rules, as this is going to increase battery temperature.

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Kinda forget I wrote this until Dana texted me about it. Kinda wish I didnt now. Kinda forgot my logic.

 

Also im just at terrible fracking writer. I envy you @enginerd and @Chris Huggins because I think you are both good technical writers. This will take me 45 mins to write and make no sense. 


So here is the backstory. There were two battery meltdown at Willow springs whenever we raced there last year. Stranely one was in an RX7 and one was in an RX8. Both of these were AGMs. Pictures of these are shown below. The scarey part was the RX7 team didn't notice it, I just happened to smell it and insisted that they opened to battery box to check it out before they put in in the trailer.  

 

This was not the first time I have heard of AGM's doing this. @Alchemy Autosport had something similar happen to them back in the day with an Optima. 

 

I also know that Bruce had a thermal event with a Lithium battery in 2020 (?) at Wiilows (I wasnt there so its second hand) and I swear I have a memory of someone at a race I wasn't at *maybe Pitt in 2018?* having a fire with a lithium battery. 

 

Anyways. When I started writing this I thought that the two batteries from Willows (rx7 nd rx8) were LiFePO4 batters that that this would be a easy rule to stomach. Once I got pictures from the owners and looked again I realized they were AGM. But I also remember Ben from @Alchemy Autosport had issues with Optimas in the past. But I also know that Bruce was running a lithium battery that had an issue and that there is this mythical east coast race fire story I have a memory of as well. I consider not writing petiton but know that if there is some nasty event in the future that I will feel terrible that I didnt. 

 

So now I have this mess of a petition, I know that lots of people run AGMs and a handful run Lithium ones and I dont want to frack anyone over so I try to come up with something that is safer while "not treading" on teams. I know lithum battery fires are scarey and the the fumes are really nasty and bad for you. AGM fires are less likely, less scarey, but they still make some nasty fumes. I cite some study that a battery engineer sent me. The RX7 team really got me because they raced with the battery like that for awhile unawarely breathing those toxic fumes, im sure they are fine but maybe next time somone passes out from it and tags a wall? So thats how I ended up proposing that we moving anything that is a non flooded lead acid battery out of the drivers compartment. Seems reasonable? But now they are moved to the engine bay that is hot as frack which would now be filled with toxic fumes that could be flammable....Okay maybe we should vent those then. IE vent there. But then I am like frack don't lead acid batteries vent toxic poop too? frack lets add a vent to that. 

 

 

Note: its 5:37pm I started writing this at 4:45? Dinner is at 5:30. I did not proof read. I will lkely come back and edit this tonight 
 

 

RX7's AGM (not this not the right way to deal with a faulty battery) 
image.png.982751586178faa2d8eb902beeb6a1fb.png

 

 

 

 

 

RX8's battery (boring but see under) 

imagejpeg_0.JPG.21e200a3323f47d390bd495192ffbb4e.JPG

 

imagejpeg_0.JPG.9a5131356728320c6056210fe33a54ae.JPG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

im going to revist chris question

 

How is a bottle of acid (AKA a lead acid battery) in the drivers compartment safer than a lifepo4 or AGM battery? They dont have thermal runaway events. this is covered well in the document I linked in the petition. (I can link later but I am already late to dinner) 

 

Why does a battery not in the drivers compartment need to be in a box and vented out of the car? Given documented increase chance of thermal runways in AGMs and LiWhatever batteries a battery box will decrease the chance of those events spreading.

 

Why would we want to put a battery which is allegedly prone to thermal runaway into the engine bay? Distance to human is increased and there is a wall engineered by OEMs between battery and human. 

 

What thermal runaways are we seeing with LiFePO4 batteries designed for automotive use? I dont have concert knowledge of the two "lithum" battery events that I know of in champcar. 

?

What thermal runaways are we seeing with AGM batteries designed for automotive use? Rotoplukers RX7, Luck Duck Racings (?) rx8, Alchemy Motorsport (I know of these 3 for sure because I have raced all these cars) 

 

What's wrong with AGM batteries?  Major auto manufacturers have been using them in the trunk or under the seat for years. Yeah I was surprised too. They are still more prone to thermal runaway then lead acid. I swear that paper I attached covered this, in addition my experences cover this. The thermal runways are controlled though

 

Straight Li-po batteries are already banned - Saw that 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Jamie
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Thanks all for the cheap fancy battery talk, no matter here, as the (good newish date code) napa garden battery CORE, I salvaged from the local parts store pile, is currently powering us, it never laid over even @ Rd atl (30 deg morning) when the ECU was getting pissy causing lots of cranking. (20 ish lbs)

 

What it matters in this convo? Zilch, just saying there are dozens ways to skin a cat.

 

Disclaimer: I did save this link as a reminder for the next project. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B091P9QXX7/ref=cm_sw_r_apan_glt_i_1JJP7CAE8NVSA3Y37RBA?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1  I aint dumb enough to ignore prices have come down.

Edited by Team Infiniti
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33 minutes ago, Team Infiniti said:

Thanks all for the cheap fancy battery talk, no matter here, as the (good newish date code) napa garden battery CORE, I salvaged from the local parts store pile, is currently powering us, it never laid over even @ Rd atl (30 deg morning) when the ECU was getting pissy causing lots of cranking. (20 ish lbs)

 

What it matters in this convo? Zilch, just saying there are dozens ways to skin a cat.

 

Disclaimer: I did save this link as a reminder for the next project. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B091P9QXX7/ref=cm_sw_r_apan_glt_i_1JJP7CAE8NVSA3Y37RBA?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1  I aint dumb enough to ignore prices have come down.

So just received the little brother of this guy and let's say it turned a cranky 1L vtwin motorcycle over like a 250cc with a car battery. Just ripped. And the weight different was incredible vs the AGM. The terminals on it are nice too for the motorcycle crowd, but may need to redo the standard car clamps. Honestly for ~130 bucks that's a heck of a deal on a really light powerful CCA battery. Now when it's cold, story goes they are temperamental, but warming via turning the headlight on for a minute to get them warmer supposedly helps. So might not love road Atlanta in February......

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4 hours ago, Jamie said:

\What thermal runaways are we seeing with LiFePO4 batteries designed for automotive use? I dont have concert knowledge of the two "lithum" battery events that I know of in champcar.

As I posted above, I've witnessed three LiFePO4 'thermal runaway' events. They were no big deal. The battery expands, smokes, but doesn't even get hot enough to catch the plastic casing on fire. They were all caused by charging with a big jump box set to max amps. I didn't huff the fumes so I can't say how poisonous they were.

Li-ion thermal events are much worse and ChampCar is right to ban those batteries.

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13 hours ago, Jamie said:

I swear that paper I attached

 

 

 

Can you attach here please?  It did not come through in the petition form from what I can see so I have not had a chance to review.

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I am by no means a battery expert and everyone feel free to correct me, but this petition might have some "Chicken Little" in it.

My understanding is that an AGM battery is very chemically similar to our grandpa's good old fashioned lead-acid battery, if you overcharge it it will esplode  in pretty much the same way.

I believe LIFePo get lumped into a category with all the other Lithium batteries, and inherit some of the bad press lumped onto Li-ion batteries. I pretty sure  @Bill Strong @Ronh911 and @MR2 Biohazard have been using LiFePo for years without incident.

 

 

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42 minutes ago, RandomTask said:

I say no and here's my sole reason.

 

LiPo and LiFe04 batteries are expensive. The series is already experiencing serious cost creep and trying to accommodate these items will only exacerbate the issue. 

 

Did you not read above where I showed they are not more expensive and in my case was less expensive? I didn't do the change before now because I was also mistaken and thought these batteries were stupid expensive but there are less expensive options now, the cost argument doesn't hold water.  

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1 hour ago, RandomTask said:

I say no and here's my sole reason.

 

LiPo and LiFe04 batteries are expensive. The series is already experiencing serious cost creep and trying to accommodate these items will only exacerbate the issue. 

Please consider you may be costing teams who already invested in LiPo/LiFe04 extra dollars to switch.  I can tell you my LiFe04 with discharge protection has saved me multiple times from killing a traditional battery.  That alone for me is a huge cost savings and more importantly TIME savings.  The OEMS use AGM, and as anti-litigious as they are I expect they have deemed the safety to meet or exceed lead acid battery.

 

 

Edited by Hurljohn
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