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Thread: Earth X batteries, ok or not?

  1. #1
    Smith PA12's Avatar
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    Earth X batteries, ok or not?

    I've ordered a new Earth X battery and now I am seeing a lot of posts about them burning up. Any new information on them, should we be putting them in our planes? is there an installation issue that needs addressing? if anyone has info on why they have burned up, I'd sure like to know.

    Thanks
    RCW
    Fort St John BC

  2. #2
    Bill Rusk's Avatar
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    I had good success with mine. No issues. Will replace it this winter (it got wet)



    Bill
    Very Blessed.

  3. #3
    gdafoe's Avatar
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    I sure like mine. I use two for the EFII dual electronic ignition.
    Gerald

  4. #4
    Smith PA12's Avatar
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    bill rusk, gdofoe: any idea why the burning issues that some report?
    RCW
    Fort St John BC

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Rusk View Post
    I had good success with mine. No issues. Will replace it this winter (it got wet)



    Bill
    This quaint response deserves an "LOL" it did get wet didn't it? You are a trooper and an inspiration

  6. #6
    Smith PA12's Avatar
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    So I have to ask, How did it get wet?
    RCW
    Fort St John BC

  7. #7
    Bill Rusk's Avatar
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    I think when this technology was first introduced, there was a lot of confusion between lithium "ion" and Lithium "iron" . That one letter makes all the difference in the world. They are really two different chemical processes, and technologies, but the name is so similar that I think there were a lot of things that were misunderstood, attributed incorrectly, etc. The Li-iron technology seems to be a much safer (though somewhat less efficient) battery - and that is what the Earth -X is. I think some of the problems that the Li-ion batteries had were miss- attributed to the Li-iron batteries and thus sullied the reputation of both technologies and specifically the Li-iron batteries. I believe that most if not all the fires and runaways were in the Li-ion series of batteries ( I could be wrong, so please don't take my meager knowledge as the gospel) but you now have a couple of terms that are similar but different (Li-ion Vs Li-iron) to google search.

    Hope this helps

    Bill

    ((tried (unsuccessfully) to turn a floatplane into a submarine))
    Very Blessed.

  8. #8

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    There are some documented Earth X melt-downs on internet airplane sites. I hear there have been a couple here locally. My local instrument guy sold me an ETX900 a couple of weeks ago and told me the failures are attributed to improper charge rates. He knows my project and told me not to worry about it in mine.

    Earth X makes a nice Jump Pack. It works well, too.
    Last edited by stewartb; 10-27-2016 at 06:54 PM.

  9. #9
    Yooper Cub rotto789's Avatar
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    Ive been running my EarthX ETX36C on my experimental Super Cub for a full year now, I love it, no problems at all, the manufacture states that the service life is 3 to 8 years, if you do happen to run it down just make sure you charge it according to EarthX guidelines, 1A-5A charge rate, never exceed the max charge amp rate as displayed on top label of Battery.

    Rick

  10. #10
    wireweinie's Avatar
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    Never had a customer tell me about an EarthX burning or melting. I do know one aircraft that killed about three of them but it was a charging issue and no smoke/fire escaped from the batteries. The AeroVoltz batteries have had a couple of impressive fires, though.

    Although you can charge an EarthX with a standard automotive charger, the best charger for it is one of the models EarthX sells. They have the added advantage of having a special charge cycle for batteries that have been completely drained down.

    Web

  11. #11

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    You couldn't pry mine away from me at gun point, it's not often ( make that ever) that you can lose 11 lbs for less then $400.00. AND get a much physically smaller battery also, mine's in otherwise wasted space between the rudder pedals of my kit plane. I just set it on the plywood floor right under the parking brake valve, it can't go up or down, two tiny little angle brackets keep it from moving sideways, simple). Putting it there means I also lost yards of cable runs, more weight saved, PLUS it spins the engine faster then the heavier battery. 4 years now I think, 200 hrs+ a year, winter and summer, way past the test phase, if it took a crap tomorrow I'd buy another ASAP.
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  12. #12
    gdafoe's Avatar
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    I use the one they recommend
    Gerald

  13. #13
    supilot's Avatar
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    I used a ETX36C and it developed a bad cell just outside of the warranty window. It was good up until that point though. EarthX would not replace it, but they offered 20% off if I wanted to buy again.

  14. #14

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    Had an ETX36D and recently, for no particular reason, replaced it with an ETX900. Both batteries worked fine and spun the O-320 faster than the Odyssey. The 900 has a fault indicator built-in as an extra precaution.

  15. #15
    CamTom12's Avatar
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    Been running my EarthX for about a year now. Accidentally ran it down to the safety cut-off once on a road trip last November or so. Hand propped, then used the FBO's start-cart to touch the battery terminals so I could energize the alternator field, then flew home for ~2 hours and it was fully charged when I got there. I stopped watching the ammeter once we got underway, so I'm not sure how long it actually took to charge. No issues with that battery yet!

  16. #16
    Smith PA12's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CamTom12 View Post
    Been running my EarthX for about a year now. Accidentally ran it down to the safety cut-off once on a road trip last November or so. Hand propped, then used the FBO's start-cart to touch the battery terminals so I could energize the alternator field, then flew home for ~2 hours and it was fully charged when I got there. I stopped watching the ammeter once we got underway, so I'm not sure how long it actually took to charge. No issues with that battery yet!
    Am I to understand with the earth X battery,900 model, if I leave electronics on overnight and the battery drains to the point where it defaults and will not start the aircraft, that even after I hand prop to start, the battery will not charge with the aircraft running?
    RCW
    Fort St John BC

  17. #17
    wireweinie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smith PA12 View Post
    Am I to understand with the earth X battery,900 model, if I leave electronics on overnight and the battery drains to the point where it defaults and will not start the aircraft, that even after I hand prop to start, the battery will not charge with the aircraft running?
    If the battery runs down past a certain voltage, an internal circuit will cut off any output in order to protect the battery. According to EarthX (see the copy/paste from their install manual, below) If you connect the battery to a charger that produces 12.8 volts or greater, it will recharge the battery. But note that some charger styles will not work. The chargers that EarthX sells have a sensing circuit that will automatically bring the discharged battery back on line.

    As for bringing the alternator on line with a handprop/dead battery situation, NO battery will bring the alternator on line if it's stone dead. If you are able to at least get the master to close, you can hand prop to start and simply turn 'on' the field and you should get the charging system to work. If you have a stone dead battery, it gets a bit more complicated if you don't want to fly home without electrics. The short story is that you need to prop the engine to start it and then get the alternator to come on line, with some source of external power, in order to start charging the battery.

    With a master solenoid, flip the master switch on then bypass the big contacts with something that can hold a short surge of power. If you have the old school primary/secondary master switch, just turn it on. Pull out all the breakers or fuses except for the charging system. Then you need to use a battery of some sort (even a flashlight battery or a 9V) and apply power, momentarily, to the field terminal on the alternator. As soon as the battery powers the field, the alternator will begin to charge and the master solenoid (if you have one) will close. Complicated but doable. Especially if you have leads and switch in place for just such a case.

    Web

    Problem
    Zero voltage at the terminals or un-stable voltage (voltage reading drifts slowly to zero). With a lead-acid battery, finding a very low voltage at the terminals often indicates the battery has reached the end of its life. With an ETX Lithium battery this may not be true. Possible Causes and Solutions
    The ETX series lithium battery has built-in over-discharge protection circuitry, which automatically disconnects the battery if the voltage drops below 11.5 volts (98% discharged). When the battery is “disconnected”, the voltage at the battery terminal should be zero.
    Some volt-meters may initially indicate a voltage, but it will decay to zero within ten seconds or so. For a drained battery, simply connect the battery to a charger to restore charge (charge with 2A for 20-30 minutes), and then re-check the voltage. If the voltage is 12.8V or greater, the battery should be ok and can be fully charged. Not all chargers will charge a battery that displays zero volts, so check our website for a list of compatible chargers, and specifically chargers that will work for recharging an “over-discharged” battery for which the BMS’s over-discharge protection has activated. This condition is sometimes referred to as a BMS reset.
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  18. #18

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    The earthx batteries are supposed to have a built in cell load balancer which is reported better than the aerovoltz. Tim

  19. #19

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    My ETX900 has a wire sticking out of the top. EarthX sent me a little LED battery status light to connect to the wire and put into the panel. If the light is on the battery is unhappy. Advance warning to pop the alt breaker and investigate the problem. Sounds simple enough. They also sold me a type-specific 110v battery charger. This isn't the same as other smart chargers I have for my AGM batteries. I don't know that I'll need it but it wasn't expensive and I figure I'll be using more EarthX batteries as my Odysseys wear out.

  20. #20
    Cub Builder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stewartb View Post
    My ETX900 has a wire sticking out of the top. EarthX sent me a little LED battery status light to connect to the wire and put into the panel. If the light is on the battery is unhappy. Advance warning to pop the alt breaker and investigate the problem. Sounds simple enough. They also sold me a type-specific 110v battery charger. This isn't the same as other smart chargers I have for my AGM batteries. I don't know that I'll need it but it wasn't expensive and I figure I'll be using more EarthX batteries as my Odysseys wear out.
    If I read the instructions correctly, the newer version of the EarthX for aviation has redundant battery management systems. If the LED on the panel (there is also one in the top of the battery) is flashing, it's telling you the primary battery management system has failed and you are running on the backup management system. Yes, it's time to investigate when you see the light.

    -Cub Builder
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  21. #21

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    Hmmm.
    my EX36 will come back on line after a LVCO shut down with my self exciting EnterAv alternator. '61 PA22.

    None of that gymkhana a few have described upthread, well besides the hand propping. Somewhere around 2,000+ rpm. Don't know for sure cause my head is outside the plane where it belongs.

    It's been in my bird a couple years and I've LVCO'ed it an embaresing number of times.


    Rocket

  22. #22
    mvivion's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Rusk View Post
    I think when this technology was first introduced, there was a lot of confusion between lithium "ion" and Lithium "iron" . That one letter makes all the difference in the world. They are really two different chemical processes, and technologies, but the name is so similar that I think there were a lot of things that were misunderstood, attributed incorrectly, etc. The Li-iron technology seems to be a much safer (though somewhat less efficient) battery - and that is what the Earth -X is. I think some of the problems that the Li-ion batteries had were miss- attributed to the Li-iron batteries and thus sullied the reputation of both technologies and specifically the Li-iron batteries. I believe that most if not all the fires and runaways were in the Li-ion series of batteries ( I could be wrong, so please don't take my meager knowledge as the gospel) but you now have a couple of terms that are similar but different (Li-ion Vs Li-iron) to google search.

    Hope this helps

    Bill

    ((tried (unsuccessfully) to turn a floatplane into a submarine))
    Bill,

    Actually, I believe that lithium iron phosphate batteries are in fact one type of the generic group called "lithium ion" batteries.

    Techicalities, I know,

    MTV

  23. #23
    gbflyer's Avatar
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    We got one that was a dud and a replacement that's been great. Very good customer service.

  24. #24
    DW's Avatar
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    I've had the ETX36C in my cub for about 2 1/2 yrs. now, it spins my 0-360 with high compression bullets better then any other battery I've had....no problems so far...

  25. #25
    Olibuilt's Avatar
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    My ETX36C also spin my 360 like there is no tomorrow, even in cold weather.

  26. #26
    kestrel's Avatar
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    I have about a dozen starts now on my O-540/ETX900 combination. Some in cold weather and required a bit of cranking. It is working extremely well.
    --
    Bearhawk, RV-4

  27. #27
    WhiskeyMike's Avatar
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    Has anyone here or in a similar light plane had an actual fire or explosion?

  28. #28
    Cub Builder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WhiskeyMike View Post
    Has anyone here or in a similar light plane had an actual fire or explosion?
    I've not seen any fires from the batteries. I have seen the charging system damaged on a Jabiru with the damage credited to the EarthX battery charging demands. However, that is mostly due to the underdesigned wiring and connectors in the Jabiru charging system. The Jabiru is a 20 Amp dynamo type system that is not designed to carry a continuous 20 Amp load. The wiring connections are underdesigned. The problem with this charging system and the EarthX or any Lithium Iron battery is that while the battery can deliver huge amounts of amperage all at once, it also wants it back all at once once you are started and charging. If the charging system has poor quality connections, or a regulator or stator coil that will overheat at full load, then a Lithium Iron battery may not be the right choice.

    In the case of the Jabiru that failed, the dynamo charging system does not charge at idle. The new owner spent an inordinate amount of time on the run-up pad while working his way through the various menus in the Dynon SkyView system in his new plane. The battery was just about to the low voltage cutoff point when he finally pulled onto the runway for take off. Once the engine was spooled up, the charging system went full tilt trying to recharge the EarthX battery and continued to charge at 20 amps until the charging system went off line. The connectors between the stator coils and the voltage regulator had melted (common problem with the Jabiru at high charge) and the solid state voltage regulator failed (also not an uncommon problem). Shortly after the charging system went off line, the battery had discharged to the safety cut off, so the battery also went off line, as did the Dynon system (battery backup was misconfigured). This was the second time he had done this. The first time the charging system survived, but the battery management system on the EarthX battery had failed taking the battery off line. EarthX did warranty the battery.

    The lesson here is to make sure your wiring, connections, and charging system are properly configured to run at max charge as the EarthX battery will take a charge significantly faster than a lead acid battery, so can stress your charging system.

    FWIW, I have been really happy with the EarthX I have in my other plane. I'll likely switch the SC Clone over to an EarthX when the current AGM battery expires.

    -Cub Builder
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  29. #29
    jnorris's Avatar
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    Just make sure your charging system puts out at least 14 volts. If it's any lower than 13.8 it won't charge the EarthX battery. We found this out the hard way.
    Joe

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