question

d-ebeck avatar image
d-ebeck asked

IP22 skipping Bulk, straight to Absorption

I have 2x Victron Smart 100Ah LiFePO, managed by a 12/200 BMS & SmartBMV. I connected the IP22 today as they were at 50% (102Ah discharged). Usually the solar keeps everything topped off, but we've been somewhere shady for a week.

Bulk - 1m57s - 0.7Ah
Abs - 1h56m - 42.2Ah
Storage - 10m - 3Ah
at which point I pulled the plug.

I've checked the fuse. All the connections are good, straight on to the BMS. Voltages (currently 13.47 &13.48 with all cells balanced) are correct and agree on the different devices.

Reconnecting the charger again starts the process again; this time Bulk for 4s, then straight to Abs.

I think that this started when I installed firmware 3.40. It definitely didn't do it when I first purchased it in December. Looking at the History tab, it's only been the last 5 cycles where this has occurred. No changes have been made to the setup since December.

bluesmart ip22
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I’m running the charger again today. Here you can clearly see the difference when the latest firmware was installed.

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I have had a reply from the distributor and I’ve sent it back to them for testing. It may be that they replace the unit.
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The distributor accepted that there is a fault and has replaced the unit under warranty. The new unit exhibits exactly the same behaviour with firmware v3.41.


I’ve reported this and am waiting for a contact from Victron to address this. I've not heard anything for a week.
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It would seem that this is not a fault and that Victron have changed this on purpose. Email from my reseller:

****************************************

As you know we have been chasing the importer for a couple of weeks now and apologies it’s taken so long for Victron to come back, we ended up pushing them that much that we got one of the guys high up a Victron to create a group chat with the importer so we finally got to have a back and forth with them which didn’t take days for a reply.

So it turns out there is nothing wrong with your charger, only the algorithm has changed and Victron didn’t tell anyone about this (importers & suppliers). The change only effects the lithium setting hence why our supplier didn’t see anything wrong when they were trying.

Previously the bulk of the charging was done in bulk but due to the sensitivity of lithium batteries the majority of charging is done in the absorption phase as it can adjust the current going in. hence why it was in bulk for a couple of minutes then absorption for 1h56 minutes.

They said not to worry about the phase it’s in when it’s in the lithium setting but look at the current it’s putting into the battery as this should a decent charging current.

When you first charged your battery (the one you are talking about on the forum) was your battery below 13v when you started? Just because Victron said was “there needs to be a 2h absorption when the voltage is less than 13v”. It sounds your charger is doing exactly as they said it should.


********************************************

This is obviously unacceptable for the following reasons:

1. They have materially changed the functioning of a purchased product, without notice. This renders it not fit for purpose and as such I consider it a breach of the Consumer Goods Act.

2. Nowhere in any of their other literature do they mention the “sensitivity” of lithium batteries. The Smart Battery Datasheet lists the charge current as up to 200A (recommendation <50A). One of the major selling points of lithiums is that you can throw charge at them until they are very nearly full. This is also referenced in the datasheet. Nowhere have I ever seen that current should be limited to 20A if the battery is below 13V. I know that there are issues if the cell voltage drops to 3.1V, but this equates to 12.4V and my batteries have never been that empty.
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3. Doing the majority of the charging in Absorption is bad planning. The Absorption phase only lasts 2 hours by default and then the unit switches to Storage. The current at this point drops from ~20A (not the ~28A that I used to get and paid for) to less than 3A. This means that my bank has charged 20% before the current drops and the unit needs to be manually reset. I will have to do this probably 3 times to get a full charge; 6 hours of generator use. By comparison, charging at Bulk 30A will do this in one 4 hour session. That’s 2 hours of petrol and generator wear that could have been avoided.


4. Have all their other charging products been similarly crippled? I was considering the Phoenix Smart IP43 50A charger. I’d be a lot more annoyed if that was only charging at 20A, considering how much it costs. Please ask if the change has been applied to this product as well, as otherwise I'll have to look at a separate brand.


5. If the batteries are so “sensitive”, why does the BMS 12/200 (that the IP22 is running through) allow charging at 40-60A from my alternator?


6. “...was your battery below 13v when you started?” No. As can be seen on the screenshots, and stated on the original post on the forum, the batteries were at about 13.5V. This also doesn’t hold water, as the charger flips to Absorption every time, no matter the voltage of the battery. If there was a logic in the algorithm that did this when it detected a (not very) low voltage, that would be one thing. But this is a permanent change. Again, this isn’t mentioned anywhere in the literature.

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8 Answers
d-ebeck avatar image
d-ebeck answered ·

I’ve run out of patience. I’ve returned the unit to the retailer for a refund and purchased a stronger charger from a different manufacturer.

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jfackrell avatar image
jfackrell answered ·

I recently purchased the IP22 on Amazon and mine is doing the same thing. I am sending it back for a replacement. I hope the new one isn't defective. How do I know it's defective and not related to how I have it connected or a problem with my batteries? While troubleshooting the issue, I had a feeling the charger was somehow thinking it was connected to 14.2 volts and moving to ABS due to some fault within the charger. To test this theory, I disconnected my battery as well as the cables connected to the charger. I plugged it back in and logged into the App. With nothing connected, it was showing it was in ABS at 14.2 volts. This appeared to validate my theory, but I wanted to be sure so I went into the settings and switched to power supply mode then back to charger mode. I quickly clicked on the status tab and watched as the voltage quickly climbed up to 14.2 volts and into ABS. Something inside the device is faulty or there is something wrong with the latest firmware. Either way, the problem was isolated down to the device itself. I suggest others having this problem do the same test I did. If others doing this test have the same results, it will provide further proof of an issue with the device and hopefully provide Victron with what it needs to diagnose and correct the problem going forward.

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That’s some good thinking. It’s not quite what I am seeing; both my IP22 and BMV are reporting lower than the 14.2 specified in the settings as the Abs voltage.

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jfackrell avatar image
jfackrell answered ·

I just received the replacement IP22 and it's doing the exact same thing as the one I had. With nothing plugged in, it is moving over to ABS mode @14.2v within about 4 seconds. Maybe this is the typical behavior of this device. I'm not sure because I'm new to using it, but my cheap Chinese lithium charger recognizes when a battery is not connected and doesn't send voltage. Not sure why Victron doesn't recognize when a battery is not connected if this is in fact the typical behavior. Maybe someone from Victron or an expert with this device can confirm?!?!? At any rate, I did find a way to get it to stay in Bulk. I was using 10AWG wires @ 1 meter length and decided to try connecting 6AWG wires to see what would happen. The 6AWG connection worked and it's bulk charging now. I measured my wires to confirm the gauge. I am also using copper-stranded wire. It should work with 10AWG, but it doesn't. I am not sure yet how I am going to splice 3 6AWG wires into the negative terminal given that I'm using the 3 port model, but at least it works with one battery connected. What's even stranger is that it moved immediately to ABS when I switched dropped the output to 15A instead of 30A using 10AWG. It can't even tolerate 15A through 10AWG wire even though there are claims on this forum where people are using 10AWG wire. Hopefully, Victron can update the firmware to fix the problem with it not recognizing when a battery is not connected. It also seems like an easy thing to have the device ramp up to the set amperage quickly and be able to detect when the resistance is too high to hold the current, then simply self adjust to the correct amperage to hold it in bulk mode until it reaches the target voltage. I understand I am not an expert with this device, so again, maybe an expert can tell us if this is possible and why it doesn't do these things to begin with?!?!


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I use 6AWG (16mm2) as standard for all my “big” connections, as it’s rated at 110A and my battery fuses are 100A, or 40A in the case of the IP22.
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You need to be aware that the charger is designed to charge fully discharged batteries, as well as lithium that a BMS has disconnected the cells. Hence the ability to charge a virtually OC battery.


Also your assumption that the charger is faulty due to progressing to absorption phase quickly without a battery connected is wrong.


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kevgermany avatar image
kevgermany answered ·

I'm pretty sure that like most manufacturers Victron state in their terms that they continually try to improve their products.

Clearly they have good reason for making these changes, and I'd guess that their technical reasons are good and valid. Instead of complaining about fit for purpose on a volunteer forum, suggest you try to understand things properly.

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You are guessing that they are trying to improve their products. I am asking for a reason as to why the product is materially worse than when I purchased it. There's a difference.


The email quoted above listed their reason as the "sensitivity" of LiFePO. They don't list a technical reason for this to be so and it also contradicts all the literature they have published for both this charger and the batteries themselves.
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Where's the degradation to make it materially worse? It's different, for sure. But who's the expert, you or Victron?
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d-ebeck avatar image d-ebeck kevgermany ♦♦ ·
I can observe the downgrade in performance.
  • It charges in one stage, not multi-stage.
  • It charges at 20A, not the 30A specified.
  • This leads to a 50% increase in time, fuel and wear on the generator.
  • It no longer behaves according to the documentation or basic product description, leading to unpredictable situations, like having the manually reset the unit approximately every 2 hours.

If you think this is acceptable, then that's your prerogative. I don't. And the distributor agreed, as they replaced the unit under warranty (although the new unit behaves in exactly the same way).

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Mark avatar image
Mark answered ·

The charger will remain in 'bulk' stage with maximum current output until the 'absorption' voltage has been reached, then it will move into 'absorption' stage.

The length of time in 'bulk' stage depends on how discharged your batteries are, the battery bank capacity and the charge current - it could be many hours for a deeply discharged battery or only a few minutes if the battery is close to full (or immediately post a short delay if the battery is 100% full or if no battery is connected).

Once in 'absorption' stage the charger output current will gradually reduce to whatever current is required to maintain the absorption voltage. The reduction in charge current is necessary or else the battery voltage will keep rising and be damaged, once the battery capacity is getting close to full it cannot absorb any more energy.

There had been no change to this behaviour and it is the normal charge process. In lithium mode the absorption time is fixed and set to 2h by default, if you want less then you can change it.

If your charger is moving from 'bulk' to 'absorption' stage when the battery voltage reaches the absorption voltage it is operating correctly.

If the charger energy output (Ah) is far greater during 'absorption' stage then 'bulk' stage, this is likely because a) the 'bulk' stage duration was very short (because the battery was already close to full) and b) you have loads active at the same time and that energy is going directly to power your loads, rather than recharging the batteries.

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There has been a change to this behaviour. The charger cuts to Absorption almost immediately, well before the voltage reaches the 14.2V specified in the settings. You can see this in the screenshots above where the charger is in Absorption at 13.5V. This is change specific to the Lithium algorithm that Victron have changed in v3.40 of the firmware.

I generally run my Smart Lithium batteries down to about 50-40% before I think about running the generator to charge them. I used to run the generator for about 4 hours to charge them up. After the firmware change, it now takes 6 hours to do the same. Would you be happy if your fuel costs went up by 50% due to a compulsory software patch?

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If you are sure that the absorption voltage is set to 14.2V and the charger is switching to absorption stage at 13.5V and maintaining that voltage, that is definitely an issue.

Please share screen images of the settings you are using so I can review them - expand the expert mode settings so I can properly see everything.

Which model IP22 BSC charger do you have, the 15, 20 or 30A version?

If I don't see an obvious issue, I have an IP22 BSC 12/30 and can try to replicate the behaviour.

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sandmac avatar image
sandmac answered ·

I have experienced the exact same issue that the unit is going to absorbtion at the 13.5V mark.

Furthermore the unit is getting really hot and the fan doesn't seem to work properly anymore, only spinning for a couple of seconds until it turns off again.

Is there any way to try everything with an older firmware? Since that seems to be the time when it all started going sideways.

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Firmware downgrades are possible. The instructions to do so are here:
https://www.victronenergy.com/media/pg/VictronConnect_Manual/en/firmware-updates.html#UUID-705fe0d3-30d8-e6e6-aad1-856f4ac6e3b3

Quite where you can obtain the v3.25 firmware to revert to the previous behaviour, I'm not sure. It doesn't seem to be posted anywhere I can find it.

Apparently, the v3.40 is not a mandatory upgrade, but I use the iOS app for my interface and it didn't give me the option to ignore the update.

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Yes I have found the place, but as you've said, no luck with the older firmwares or any for this device.

I'll let you know if I find something by any chance.

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Daniël Boekel (Victron Energy Staff) avatar image
Daniël Boekel (Victron Energy Staff) answered ·

Hi all, I'll ask internally at Victron if/how this is changed to 13.5 volt.

In the mean time: you can change the charge voltage under 'advanced settings' in VictronConnect to toe charge voltage you need.

ps I'll mark this answer as 'accepted' to get it to the top of the list.

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I have unmarked this as it isn’t an answer. All the settings are what they should be, but the charger does not behave as advertised.
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While it didn't work out in your case, I am happy to confirm that it did work for me.


I've changed the absorption voltage to 14.3V in a custom profile based on the lithium setting.

This time my battery was around 75% depleted when I started the charger and the cycle completed as expected around 10h later. Delivering 30A for the whole duration.


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bagarn86 avatar image
bagarn86 answered ·

Hello,

as many other I am experiences exactly the same thing with my IP22 charger which is rated to 20A. Mine is hooked up to 2x80Ah LifePo4 batteries in my boat without BMS system and worked fine initially, i.e bulk charging the majority of the time up to almost 95% and then going into absorbtion for the last few percent. Haven't really made the connection to a firmware update previously, but now as I read about it here, my problems most probably started after the update too. Experiencing the same phenomena as most here, bulk charge for about 4s then straight into absorption with decreasing current and longer charge time as a result. My fuse is fine and I expect the wiring to also be fine since the charger worked absolutely fine at first. Using the boats OE wires where the old charger that was of a higher rate also was connected.

So, any news in this matter and a way to resolve it? As a temporary solution I made a custom profile changing the absorption time to like 6h so that I dont have to reset the charge cycle every 2h. But it will charge the batteries at a slower rate as the current is decreasing slowly during the charge cycle and not delivering a steady 20 amps as the bulk charge would. One of the benefits with Lifepo4 batteries is that they can recieve a high charge rate up to almost full, so not being able to take advantage of that is a big issue.

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