Long-term sustainable battery power
Whisper Power’s new Ion Power Basic is a safe lithium ion battery formulated to provide a long-term sustainable alternative to the conventional lead-acid battery. Thanks in part to the automotive industry’s developments in the field of electric/hybrid cars, the battery industry has developed at a rapid rate. The key advantages of the lithium battery are the long service life and the lack of a false memory effect caused by repeated recharging at different charge states. Often a lithium battery has a chemical composition of lithium cobalt oxide, which is mainly used in consumer electronics and not for more demanding applications because of their sensitivity to overheating and spontaneous combustion.
A new, safer lithium chemical composition was developed based on lithium, iron and phosphate, which has now been developed to such an extent that the lithium ion battery has become a viable replacement for the lead-acid battery. As is the case with lithium ion batteries, the life span is up to three times longer, the battery is 50% lighter and more compact, and importantly 100% of the battery capacity can be used instead of 30 to 50 %. Also, the capacity loss in cold environments is minimal, and unlike lead-acid batteries a lithium battery can be placed in any position or space, and can be charged extremely quickly using a battery management system. In addition, the output voltage is constantly stable and the peak power remains high even if the battery is partially or almost completely discharged. Other features include the fact that the battery is maintenance free and does not have to be continuously connected to a (trickle) charger if it is unused for any period of time.
Cell balancing, which ensures that each of the cells in the battery receives the correct voltage, is integrated into the battery. To prevent total deep discharge, a switch-off relay can be supplied to be fitted between the battery and the consumers. Also, a bistable relay is offered as an option that can be integrated between charging systems, in the form of either a battery charger, a solar panel or an alternator. An energy monitor ‒ the WBM (Whisper battery monitor) ‒ is also available as an option.
To keep these batteries performing on a 24/7 basis, Whisper Power have developed WhisperSolar 185 Wp and WP Suntrack Pro 80 MPPT. WhisperSolar 185 Wp is an all-black solar panel capable of delivering on average between 700 and 900 Wh per day in northern Europe from April to October. This is sufficient to maintain a battery bank on a boat with a small refrigerator, lighting, water pump, telephone/tablet/laptop, radio and TV. In the Mediterranean and other southern waters, this power yield will be quite a bit higher.
Produced in Europe, these panels are made of high-quality monocrystalline solar cells, with a high light sensitivity so they generate energy even in low light. The panel sits in a black anodised aluminium double-walled frame with holes for drainage and can, via the matching fixing brackets, be mounted securely so as to be stormproof. The hardened glass makes the panel impact-resistant. The guarantee period of the panel is 20 years. Several panels can be run in parallel or in series for connection to a 12, 24 or 48 VDC battery.
The Suntrack Pro 80 MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracking) charge regulator is a crucial component that connects between the panel and the battery. It optimises the output of the panel by continuously adapting the voltage to the changing conditions (sunlight and temperature). In addition, it acts as a multistage battery charger with temperature compensation that charges the batteries quickly and safely. A maximum of six 185 Wp panels can be connected simultaneously to the Suntrack Pro 80.
As well as the rigid WhisperSolar 185, there are also flexible panels, the Flex 100 TC and the Flex 108 FC, for those that want a flush coachroof fit. These thin, flexible panels have a capacity of 104 and 108 Wp, respectively. They are completely waterproof, resistant to salt water and can be walked on. All panels are fitted with bypass diodes in order to prevent any voltage loss during the low-light/night hours.
All this renewable energy is of little use without a means of turning it into usable AC power, which is where the new WP-Sine 12/3000 sine wave inverter comes in. It is capable of providing the ‘clean voltage’ essential for appliances like espresso machines and induction hobs. It can produce a continuous output of 3000W and can briefly peak at 6000W to cater for the short, sharp start-up demands of air conditioning. Ten years ago you would have been pushed to get a basic inverter capable of providing for the energy needs of substantial electrical appliances without a big price tag. The beauty of modern-day power inversion is that with a big enough battery bank (which lighter batteries make possible), many boat owners can actually consider not having a generator.
The WP-Sine 12/3000 is ready to go as a plug-and-play installation. It is equipped with DC connections and an AC socket for the consumers. There is also an internal 230V connection for a fixed connection to the 230V system. As an extra feature, there is a USB port on the front of the unit for charging a phone etc. The minimum required battery capacity for the 12/3000 to be effective is 145Ah. However, if there are large consumers on board, such as air conditioning and an induction hob, the capacity must be increased accordingly.