After the last post I have been gathering my thoughts about what I have to do to finally switch from lead acid batteries to my new, shiny, lithiums. What seemed as an easy job turned into more than a week of hunting down shops that have what I need and can deliver to Spain. What I mainly was hunting for was cable terminators of a specific dimensions. They are measured by the area of the cable they are made for and the diameter of the post, or bolt, that they fit. So a cable terminator designated 70mm x 14mm (or 70mm/M14) will be made for a cable with a cut area of 70 square millimeters and will fit on a bolt of 14 mm, or M14.
An easy job to find, right? Well, most of the companies selling said cable terminators seems to stop at M12 for some reason, at the same time as my Winston batteries are M14. I guess having a battery that continuously can deliver 3C, or three times their storage capacity, which translates to 2100A in my case, you really need a lot of surface area to be able to transfer those loads. Just that they have four poles, two negative and two positive, with M14 bolts tells me that they can deliver quite some power! If things go really crazy they can deliver 10C, or 7000A(!), for 5 seconds, if needed. Now. that is in no way optimal, neither of these. But they are guaranteed to do it. For you tech nerds out there here is the technical specification. I will most likely never reach their recommended normal charge/discharge levels, so it will hopefully extend their lifespan some.
So… 70mm/M14. As I wrote, I spent over a week to refine my search words, asked around on Facebook, and got the normal replies to “go to a store near by, they will have it” or “website x or y has cable terminators”. Well, I had already checked x, y and z. Not easy for them to know of course. But mostly people starting writing about something else. One even started to write about all the tools I needed and what I have to do to crimp the terminator onto the cable, thank you very much for that information that wasn’t asked for.
Yes, I was really frustrated.
I found two companies in the UK with just the right terminators in all the different sizes I needed, but neither would send outside of the UK… I emailed them and asked if there was any way to do it anyway. The mailserver of one of the companies was off line (or incorrectly configured) and that mail never got delivered, the other answered that they won’t. Period. So I continued to search. I found a company here in Spain that make cable terminators, and they had a list of where to buy and I clicked though the entire list (about 12 companies) and 3/4 of them ended up in the same ordering system, as they were in the same company group. A system that made snails move like lightning and a search system that was so poor that I literally started to click through every menu to see if I could find the terminators. Did I mention that the ordering system was suuuuper slow? The other companies seemed to be only delivering to companies as I had to register a company when ordering, or a Spanish personal identification number that I don’t have. Well, that’s an afternoon I’m never going to get back again. But I really liked those terminators! Damn…
So, what to do? I have some friends here in Almerimar that are from the UK and a couple are back in the UK at the moment, so even if I don’t like to ask people to help me (yeah, it’s a character flaw I have) I eventually couldn’t see any other way out than ask if they could act as a relay, so that I could order to their address and then they could pass it on to me. They are real sweethearts and didn’t mind helping me, which is really appreciated, so I ordered the terminators and in a day I got a message that they got the package and had already sent it to me. I just can’t express how much frustration and stress that released for me. I’m really happy that I have friends that can step in when I need help.
But I can’t connect everything just with cable terminators, right? I need cables too! But that was easier, since most cable slingers tend to have the sizes I need. After calculating the amount I needed and added it all up in an order I realized how much heavy duty cables really costs, wow! Well, no turning back now anyway, I just had to bite the bullet and order. (I just got an email while writing this post saying that the parcel will arrive tomorrow. 20 kg of cables…)
The last piece of the puzzle is bus bars, to use where cables split or join, a heavy duty fuse to make sure to cap the systems maximum input/output to 500A and a couple of breakers to limit the cable sizes for the windlass and the rest of the consumers, like the fridge and lights.
I found a company, in the UK as well, that could deliver. After I had placed the order and I was happy that they had what I needed but it only took a few hours before I got a mail saying that some of the items that I had ordered wasn’t in stock, and would take up to a week before they could send it, except for one item that they didn’t have nor their supplier, so it would take two to three weeks to get it.
I gave up.
I emailed them and said to hold the order as I looked for other alternatives. I. Was. So. Tired. Trying. To. Find. Suppliers… I watched a movie instead and then went o bed early.
It took a day and they got back to me asking what to do with the order. I had to handle this, even if it was draining my mental energy. And as I had already paid for it, I understand that they were keen on knowing what to do. So I reluctantly took a second look at the order and the parts that would be delayed. It seemed that the parts that would be most delayed was the covers for the bus bars, which actually wouldn’t delay the install if I don’t get them immediately and the one breaker they didn’t have I found on Amazon for a few euros more. So, all in all, things I could live with. So I told them to send the items as they arrived and reimburse me for the missing breaker and I’d be okay. As I was on Amazon I also ordered a crimping tool that hopefully is good enough to let me do what I need to do before it breaks down. There were like a dozen yellow pneumatic crimp tools with different names, but in general looked identical except that their carrying cases were a bit differently arranged. Reviews were a little all over the place so I read the worst to figure out what the issues were with these, and then I decided for a different model that wan’t the same as the others. It was a bit more expensive, but if it helps me stay away from Chinese market flooders and hopefully give me a bit more quality I’m fine with that.
So, am I set up to finish off the job now? No, not really. But I will bake a few more small orders and I will be. Primarily I need the cables from the shore power inlet (I got a new inlet too as the one I have is missing the lid and I don’t like the construction) to the transformer and then the one to the charger/inverter. And some sort of fasteners so it will look neat in the boat when I’m done. But then, then I’m done, hopefully, and can move on to new projects.
It took me another two days to post this, just because I had som angst about not sharing much pictures, so I managed to order cables not just connecting the shore power inlet to the isolation transformer, but also cables that will most likely last me forever, as I ordered 100m (yes, one hundred meters!) of cable for my AC outlets, future electric hob and oven and so on. I guestimated that I needed 50m, and it was cheaper to buy a whole cable drum with the stuff. The idea is that I want an AC outlet in each stateroom so that it will be easy to access for everyone if they need to charge anything.