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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
As my first Bolt approaches it's third year, thoughts turn to that short-life lead acid battery going on the fritz. I've looked at some lithium replacement batteries. Some have a built-in battery maintenance system, so they would be compatible with Bolt charging system program. I'm wondering if anyone has yet tried one of these? The lithiums are pricey and based on the amperage. Since the battery doesn't need to crank an engine, perhaps a lower amp (cheaper) lithium battery could be used?
If so, the price begins to be competitive with a "good" lead acid.

What do you think?
 

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There was another thread that pretty thoroughly discussed this, but search is broken...

To summarize, the problem is that lithium ion batteries shouldn't be charged below freezing or they will be damaged. Since the Bolt battery is under the hood, it's subjected to both high and low temperatures that are better tolerated by Pb-acid.

I'm running a 20 Ah LiFePO4 I bought for $120 in my Prius, but that battery lives inside the cabin and isn't subjected to extreme temperatures. I didn't design any battery management stuff since LiFePO4 is fairly well suited to run in automotive applications without management.
 

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I would think the lead-acid battery is living a pretty easy life in the Bolt and will last several years if regularly driven. IMO, I wouldn't waste the time or effort in switching battery types for the infrequent-ness of it's failure, which should be in the 6-plus year range given it's application. A hard freeze should be the only thing that gets to it to shorten it's life.
 

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Fully (saturate) charge your Bolt's 12V battery once a month or so to increase it's life, using an (intelligent) trickle charger (that works with AGM-type lead-acid batteries).

The original battery might have been damaged (or "had accelerated aging") due to how it was shipped/stored after being built. If the car sat on a lot for weeks and weeks without being plugged in, the 12V battery probably sat between 12.0-12.4V for a long period of time, which just isn't good for the health of the battery.
 

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I'd say the only likely thing to kill the Pb battery prematurely is accidentally draining it too far.

I forgot to mention there's a cheaper way to test battery replacement. Buy a $25 5Ah (4s) lithium ion hobby battery to test with. You won't be able to run the radio with the car off for long, or leave lights on, but it should be just fine if the vehicle is regularly driven.
 

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I wouldn't get a lithium 12v, no way.
Your average lithium pack lasts about as long as a PB battery, and costs many times more, and should one of the balance circuits fail, you are either stranded or worse it starts on fire.

Those lithium car batteries are really intended for race cars to keep weight down (not by much in the case of the bolt's baby battery)

There are reasons old tech still exists, it's reliable- incandescent lamps lead acid/gel cells, alkaline batteries carburated generator engines- when the crap hits the fan, you want it to work.
 

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Fully (saturate) charge your Bolt's 12V battery once a month or so to increase it's life, using an (intelligent) trickle charger (that works with AGM-type lead-acid batteries).
I trickle charge my 12V overnight, once a month (last night in the month). The charging device (~$25) is always blinking on plug-in and always solid in the am. It is easy to do and I think this will keep my battery in good shape.
 

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I hope I didn't read here that the large lithium Bolt battery can't be charged below freezing temperatures. That can't be, because many charge these batteries in their unheated garages overnight. I guess the reference was to the small lithium battery replacement to the lead acid battery. Right?
 

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I hope I didn't read here that the large lithium Bolt battery can't be charged below freezing temperatures. That can't be, because many charge these batteries in their unheated garages overnight. I guess the reference was to the small lithium battery replacement to the lead acid battery. Right?
You're correct that we're talking about replacing the small lead acid battery, but incorrect about charging the large lithium Bolt battery below freezing. It would actually damage the battery if the Bolt wasn't able to heat it.

fire_qc was unable to DCFC his Bolt in very cold conditions because he had ran the battery so low. The Bolt won't use DCFC energy to warm the battery, and instead requires the car to be connected to L2 to warm the battery.

That experience was shared in this post:

https://www.chevybolt.org/threads/l3-charging-on-winter.23385/
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for the different observations folks. I think I'll use the once per month "conditioning" of the OEM battery and see how long it lasts. If I can get at least 4 years out of it, I'll just continue with lead acid. But there are some nice Lithium aux. batteries out there with built in controllers to prevent accidental misuse. But, I'll follow the old rule, "If it ain't broke, don't try to fix it".
 

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I hope I didn't read here that the large lithium Bolt battery can't be charged below freezing temperatures. That can't be, because many charge these batteries in their unheated garages overnight. I guess the reference was to the small lithium battery replacement to the lead acid battery. Right?
See the manual (page 135):
The 2017 Bolt Manual (page 135) said:
BATTERY TOO COLD, PLUG IN TO WARM

This message displays during extremely cold temperatures, when the vehicle will not start until the high voltage battery is warm enough.

Plug the vehicle in to an AC charging station and make sure POWER 鈴 is off to allow the charging system to warm the high voltage battery, then the vehicle can be started. DC charging cannot be used to recover a cold high voltage battery.
For this to happen, it has to be really cold outside, the car needs to have sat undriven, and the battery needs to be in a very low state of charge.

If you're driving the car, the battery will be fine. And if the battery has a reasonable state of charge (> 40% as I recall) it will keep itself from getting problematically cold. It will allow itself to get cold enough that charging will be slow.

In general, if you have a Bolt in cold conditions, if you can plug it in before you drive it. Even a 120V outlet will make a big difference, but a Level-2 charger will let the Bolt heat up quicker. (Besides warming the battery, preheating the cabin from wall power is nice, too.)
 
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