Boat Insurance for Lithium Battery installations
In the past year or two, lithium batteries for marine use have skyrocketed, even in the highly conservative boating industry. This article is meant to provide advice on Lithium Battery installations.
There are two main reasons why insurance companies were hesitant.
Firstly, the older lithium ion batteries for boats wasn't as safe as today's lithium battery chemistry Lithium-LiFePO4.
Secondly, Marine Lithium batteries behave very differently from Lead Acid. Typical chargers that measure SOC (State of charge) by Volts don't work with Lithium batteries because the voltage doesn't change very much. For Lithium we need a BMS.
A battery management system (BMS) is a device that controls and protects your boats Lithium batteries. It is the gateway between the battery and your electrical system. A BMS, as it is commonly called, controls and protects your battery from excessive voltage and excessive temperature. External factors that cause too high a voltage charge will cause the BMS to shut down the battery to protect it. The same happens if the voltage goes too low. A BMS can either be inside the battery (Drop in) or outside the battery.
How does a boat insurance company decide if your boats Lithium battery system is safe?
The best thing to do is to speak with your Insurance broker and let them know what you are planning.I recently asked an insurance broker to explain insurance companies position on Lithium Batteries.
He described that if you have a knowledgeable certified ABYC certified Technician install a lithium system in your boat; there should be no issue.
The insurance Company assumes his ABYC training gives him the knowledge to install a safe marine lithium battery system.
Insurance Companies rely on ABYC standards to see if they can insure a boat or not. ABYC is the governing body for all the Marine industry. They write the rules for proper marine installations. The ABYC standard for Lithium Batteries is E-13.
If you are planning to do a lithium installation yourself you may nullify the insurance coverage.
So if this is the case contact your Insurance Company and ask them what their rules are. You can also contact us for advice.
ABYC standards for Lithium Batteries
Key sections from ABYC E-13 standard for Lithium Batteries
The American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC)E-13 help everyone to understand safety for boats with Marine Lithium batteries. With these standards its easier for insurance companies to accept risk. There are many reason for going to lithium Batteries among them their long life and large capacities.
E-13 is the standard put in place by ABYC for Lithium Batteries. E-13’s standards take effect for systems manufactured or installed after July 31, 2023.
The new ABYC E-13 standard centers around system design and the installation of the battery. Make sure the battery you select has either an internal BMS or matched external system.
E-13 13.6 system design Note; consideration should be given to providing power for critical systems (eg engine starting, propulsion, navigation lights etc). If a BMS shuts down the battery or battery bank.
E-13 18.104.22.168 dictates that no electrical connections be made directly to the battery that could bypass the BMS. This could happen easily on a system with a remote BMS not integrated into the battery top
E-13 13.7.4 An output disconnect device shall be capable of disconnecting the output immediately when operating under the battery’s or the battery system’s maximum specified discharge rate.
1. An alternative power source for critical systems that maybe be effected if a BMS shuts down the Battery.
2. If a shutdown condition is approaching, a battery system should notify the operator with a visual and/or audible alarm before disconnecting the battery from the DC system.
3. BMS may suddenly and unexpectedly disconnect a battery from loads and charging sources
E-13.7.4 note 2 refers to the cable seen here on these Victron Batteries which connects to the external BMS. This cable notifies the operator (BMS) of an imminent disconnect.
If you need help designing a Lithium Battery setup PKYS can help
If you want to have it done professionally we have a list of 3,000 plus ABYC certified technician all around the country. Let us know your plans and we can recommend one or two.
We can also help you design a system in consultation with the installer.
If you plan on building a system yourself we can again work with you on system design so that it meets E-13 standards. If your insurance company needs more we can help there also.
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