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Savage42

Lightweight, longer lasting, better performing, lithium battery upgrade

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Hey guys!  I just thought I'd pass along some "real world" facts about the battery upgrade I did several months ago and will put the same battery in my Z when it gets to Florida next week.  I don't want you to think that this is just some "marketing hype" or anything, as I just wanted to pass on some information that some of you might find useful, especially those who are all about getting the most performance out of our cars or maybe just tired of battery issues. 

 

As Director of Motorsports & OEM Programs at Braille Battery, I thought I'd take it upon myself to test a new lithium battery that the company debuted at SEMA last year and won a "Best New Product" award from Racecar Engineering magazine.  This new model (Braille GU1R Lithium) is a "consumer market" product that was designed specifically for the "Import Tuner" crowd.  It is a 6.6 pound battery with nearly 950 cranking amps and is ideal for 4 to 6 cylinder daily driver/track cars and even small block V8 race cars.  When my OEM Group 49 flooded lead-acid battery had "given up" after 6 years in my 2000 BMW 540i 6-speed with a 4.4 liter V8, I figured I'd test the limits of this new model by replacing the 53 pound monster with the 6 pound lithium unit. 

 

I tested the car and it takes roughly 400 amps for roughly 2 seconds to start the car, so the battery really isn't working too hard to do that.  In fact, the car spun up and started noticeably faster with the lithium battery than the lead battery.  We had been getting data from the factory Corvette team in the American Le Mans backing the fact that since lithium delivers a higher, cleaner & more stable voltage, they had seen: quicker starting (especially in hot starts during pit stops), improved engine management and data logging performance, less horsepower draw from the alternator due to efficient charging (5 times faster than lead), which doesn't include lasting 3-5 times longer than a lead battery and signficant weight savings.  I've had the battery in the car for 3 months now and it's been flawless and I did notice smoother and better acceleration with the lithium unit.  Everything electric works better (fans, pumps, etc.), as it's like switching from pump gas to race fuel for the electrical system. 

 

Now, just to give you more information specifically on Braille's lithium technology, Braille was the first company to bring to market a 12 volt lithium starter battery almost 5 years ago.  Currently, Braille lithium batteries are used in every Indycar, every DTM (German Touring: Audi/BMW/Mercedes) and SuperGT (Lexus/Honda/Nissan/Subaru) car, every Le Mans Prototype (P1/P2) and GT car (including factory Corvette, Viper, BMW, Porsche) in the American Le Mans series, most of Formula 1, top teams in Nascar, drag racing (16 volt model), off-road and so on.  The product was designed for the extreme abuse and performance needs in racing and that development & construction goes into every model produced today at the facility here in Sarasota, Florida. 

 

Anyway, this battery is roughly 90% of the performance of the carbon fiber ML20C lithium model used in NASCAR, Pro Mazda & Formula Atlantic championship cars and so on, but it's 1/3rd the price.  The ML20C is only 6 pounds, is smaller and has a little more power, but you can't beat the "bang for the buck" with this one and is a quick way to take 30-35 pounds (or 47 in my BMW) out of the car and get the electrical performance benefits. 

 

The other benefit is that lithium will do 5000 cycles, which is 10 years in a daily driver and 15+ in a weekend warrior/track car.  The other benefit is that lithium does not self-discharge like lead batteries.  If there is not draw on the battery, they can sit for over a year and still have over 13 volts to start the vehicle.  I just got a call recently from Rhys Millen Motorsports and their guys pulled out the "spare" lithium battery that they go 2 years ago that had been sitting (new in the box) in their parts cabinet and it still registered 13.5 volts!  We had another parts truck pull one that had been stashed away and was 27 months old and it was at 13.4 volts.  Pretty cool. 

 

The ONLY downside (besides the extra cost on the front end, but will save you money in the long run vs an Optima), is that if used in a modern car (like my BMW) or in a car that has extra accessories/alarm/etc, the battery just has to be maintained a little differently.  We recommend using the 2 amp lithium charger if the car is going to sit for more than a couple weeks, at least for those of us with modern electrical & drivetrain upgrades.  In a more stock Datsun, the only draw may be the clock, so it could sit for a long time if that is the case.  It obviously isn't going to be able to sit for a couple months without a charger like the 40+ pound lead batteries that most of us have or do use.  (ie. Optima, etc)   

 

So, if any of you are interested in this (or other) lithium model or one of our lightweight AGM batteries (to at least shave some weight), I can hook you guys up with a club discount and can put something in the Vendors section for that.  Just thought I'd share my experience, as I had a new yellow top Optima go bad from sitting too long without use or put on a charger and it sucked to have a $200 boat anchor sitting on the shelf.  Now I know that if a lead battery is going to sit in a car (disconnected) or on a shelf, make sure to give it a "top off" charge every few months, as they self-discharge 5% or more a month, so it can go dead in 6 months to a year if just sitting there depending on several factors.  (heat, capacity, etc).  Hope that helps. 

 

For now, I'm anxiously awaiting the arrival of my Z on the transporter so I can go terroize a bunch of Porsche, Corvette and other sports car owners at Sebring, Road Atlanta, Barber and other tracks where they hardly ever see any old Datsuns, period!  :-)

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Usable Power Curve.pdf

Edited by Savage42

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Since I've had a few technical questions and I know that there are more than a few "tech geeks" that would like more info in that regard, here some some stuff to add. 

 

Charging:  Braille lithium batteries are 100% compatible with standard charging systems.  As long as there is an output voltage of 14 volts (max of 14.8 volts), the battery will stay fully charged. 

 

External chargers:  People often ask if they can use their lead battery charger and while the answer is "yes", it is not recommended in order to ensure maximum performance and life of the battery.  (not to mention warranty)   The main difference is that lead chargers typically have an output voltage around 13.6 volts and charge at a pulse rate as to keep the battery from "cooking" since they are limited in the amount of current they can take without overheating and being damaged.  Some lead chargers also have a desulfation mode to knock the crud off the lead plates and since lithium doesn't have lead, it can potentially damage the battery. 

 

Lithium chargers put out a full volt higher at 14.4 volts and at a constant rate since they can take much more than lead.  One example is where the Formula Atlantic National Champion runs the 6 pound ML20C.  Those cars run all the engine management, data logging, paddleshifters, fuel pumps, etc. for a full half hour and do it without an alternator.  The superior electrical delivery of lithium makes a dramatic improvement, especially in the paddleshifting, which is solenoid operated.  (as reported by the team)  You can throw a 25 amp lithium charger on that little battery and fully charge it in about 20 minutes with the battery handling that type of use (or abuse) for many years.  Lead batteries start losing performance and capacity very quickly in a "total loss" application like that. 

 

The most commonly used lithium model in the LMP 1/2, GT cars in the ALMS, every DTM & Super GT cars and others is the 8.8 pound B128L.  Another cool benefit of lithium and it's higher capacity and quicker recharging is that race teams can use it for alternator strategies, typically setting up a "push to pass" button or alternator cut-off  at full throttle and then kicking back in at all other times as a sort of "regenerative charging" setup. 

 

If you look at "Useable Power Curve" pdf, you will see that in high draw events, lithium delivers a stable 13 volts all the way to nearly 90% discharge of the battery where lead batteries will show a linear drop in voltage and will hit the 10 volt threshold (where most cars will just shut down) at 40-50% discharge.  This is why lithium also has a LAh (lithium amp hour) rating, which is a lead-acid equivalent needed to deliver the same run time in high draw situations. 

 

Lastly, if Peter Brock endorses and sells Braille Lithium, it has to be "the bomb"!  :-)

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This is the smallest and least expensive model designed for an automotive application.  The next smallest model in the GreenLite line is a 2.3 pound G9 that is used in powersports/motorcycle applications up to 1200cc.  There are smaller & lighter models in the MicroLite line, but then you are looking at carbon fiber casing and $1000-1250 bucks.  By going smaller (the GU1R is already 80% lighter than the stock battery), you start working the battery harder and out of spec, so while it may work for a while, it will cause premature failure and only get a couple years out of it instead a decade or more from a battery made for the application.

 

To address your comment about CCA specs, let me educate everyone on exactly what those ratings mean.  The CCA & CA ratings were developed decades ago for flooded lead-acid batteries and is a rating that does not apply to lithium batteries due to the dramatically different delivery of energy compared lead. 

 

CCA - a test to determine the amount of amps a battery will deliver sustained for 30 seconds at 0 degrees.

 

CA - a test to determine the amount of amps a battery will deliver sustained for 30 seconds at 32 degrees.

 

So, unless you have an ancient motor that requires cranking for 30 seconds to start and are in sub-freezing temps, it is a relatively irrelevant rating in today's engines.  You will see that all of the batteries on the Braille site, AGM or lithium, have a PCA rating, which is Pulse Cranking Amps.

 

PCA - a test to determine the amount of amps a battery will deliver sustained for 5 seconds at 70 degrees.   This is the most accurate rating that applies to starting events in modern engines. 

 

Another cool thing about lithium is that it performs better is cold temps.  They will often work better in cold temps down to -30C (22 below zero F), as they self-warm when used.  The first crank may be a little weak the first time, but will get stronger and stronger as you pull on the battery.  Another method is to turn on the headlights before starting for 30-60 seconds to warm it up and you will get full cranking power, same as in warm conditions. 

 

The GU1R combo has a LIST price of $629.99 plus shipping.  For a limited time, I can set you guys up with the combo (charger lists for $104.99 itself) for $549.99 plus shipping and throw in a universal FRP mount kit that has shorter j-hooks if you are mounting in the stock location or relocated but still using a j-hook setup. (kit retails for $20.99)

 

http://www.braillebattery.com/index.php/braille/product_batteries/gu1r_combo

http://www.braillebattery.com/index.php/braille/product_accessory/universal_frp_kit_8_j_hooks

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One thing to consider is the voltage.

 

In our standing mile car, we are able to simply use the tuning software to set the charging voltage and I believe you might need to have whatever regulates your alternator modified to charge at the battery's happy voltage.

 

If the battery you chose runs more than 14.1 volts, remember that S130 and Z31 electronics such as climate control and a other systems react to voltages higher than it expects by shutting down or glitching.

 

Do the research first so you don't end up posting an angry and misinformed review if things don't go well because you didn't do the research.

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Savage42,

 

Living in FL all year round, my first question regards life in the tropics. In Sarasota, the typical 84 month battery lasts about 36 months. (Of course this means buying the best battery you can get at Walmart and getting a free replacement every 30 -36 months under their generous warranty program that resets the clock to zero with each new battery).

 

From your description, track experience suggests a much better result than standard lead acid cells. But how well will it survive the sun in our Florida mall parking lots?

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HowlerMonkey, the battery I reference is 100% compatible with all standard charging systems. A lithium battery has a testing voltage is 13.8v (lead is usually 12.8v) and typically alternator output is 14v. That being said, there is no way for the battery to deliver higher than 14.1v (in regards to the issues you referenced), so unless the alternator puts out to much voltage, it won't be an issue.

 

Djwarner, this battery is much more reliable and robust than any lead battery. When it comes to extreme use/conditions, it will outperform lead batteries by 5-10 times the life cycles. In a daily driver, in temps ranging from cold to hot, you should expect to get the 5000 cycles, which is 10+ years.

 

For reference, Corvette Racing was one of the first teams in the American Le Mans to use a Braille lithium battery. They used to go through lead batteries every couple races (6 per car per season) and they just sent back a pair for testing. They have been run hard in racing conditions for 3 years and when tested, the specs are actually 3% better than when they left the facility brand new. That is the kind of abuse, heat & vibration that will never been seen in a street car.

 

Hope that helps.

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I would say most but V8 sedans that are heavy with electronics, but outside of that, you are right. It's just a matter of knowing how to maintain the battery if not a daily driver. That's about it.

 

Now back to watching John Morton run the 240Z and several other Z cars here at Road America at the Runoffs. Watch it live in 5 min on www.speedcasttv.com I'll be ready to get back to Florida tomorrow, as it's dang cold here!

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Absolutely. It's really the cars with Nav, security system, multiple computers, etc. that have a huge draw and parasitic draw that are the cars that need a big battery. The only reason most cars have 40-50 pound batteries these days is to be able to sit for a few weeks with all the draws and not kill the battery. For older cars like ours, which don't have much of a draw at all, it's all good. Just don't sit somewhere cranking the stereo for an hour without the car running. :wink:

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I've been looking into the battery thing heavily for a few days, and found out a few things about the Braille battery lineup.

 

For one, all of their AGM's are made by Deka/East Penn battery...peeled the lables on a few Brailles down at the local battery shop and got Deka part numbers molded into the plastic.

 

What makes a Braille worth the 2x-3x cost for the same battery from another supplier? Are they double QC'd or something?

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I can certainly help clarify some confusion here. 

 

First, you will not find ANY lithium batteries at East Penn, as they are an American battery manufacturer (one of the largest in the world) that does lead-acid/AGM batteries.  Just like Johnson Controls (who has nearly 20 major brands including Optima, Die Hard, etc. but just because they are all the same company does not mean the batteries are all the same), East Penn manufactures many batteries to different companies, some by just rebranding and others are contract manufacturered to a certain specification.  I do know for a fact that the minimum power/performance levels of the batteries made under contract for Braille is much higher than the companies that will just take any battery pumped out and throw a sticker on it.  Just because a manufacturer may use the same casing does NOT mean that the batteries (internal build design/quality or performance-wise) are all the same!  There are many custom bike builders, race shops and even factory race teams (MazdaSpeed, most Grand-Am DP teams, circle track racers) that use the Braille stuff because the lower cost stuff just doesn't have the power to crank over their vehicle.  Braille also is the only one who's batteries come with solid brass terminals and a full racing warranty.  If you actually put a tester on an off-the-shelf Deka and a Braille, you will certainly see much different/higher cranking power numbers. 

 

As for the lithium batteries, every Braille lithium unit is built by hand in their Sarasota facility and then shipped globally.  You will NOT find any of these units under any other brand (other than a couple OEM situations) and is the only lithium battery run by nearly every factory race team worldwide, as stated in the first post of this thread. 

 

Did you know that there are only 2 antifreeze manufacturing facilities in the country and that every brand you see on the shelf comes from one of the two?  There is no doubt that there are differences (additives, cooling properties, color, etc.) and they do come in different jugs with different stickers.  Some of the "green stuff" variations might be the exact same, but most do have something different.  Just like different grades of gasoline....you get what you pay for.  (most of the time)  ;^)

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Savage42,

 

From your earlier posts, I thought you were a snowbird wintering in Sarasota. I see now that Braille is there.

 

Can I invite you to join our central Florida club, the SunCentral Z Club. We're having our annual get together next month. Woul like to meet you there.

 

http://suncentralzclub.com/

 

https://www.facebook.com/SunCentralZClub

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DJWarner, thanks for passing on the info.  I recently "liked" the club FB page, as I just got my Z shipped from Oregon (where it's been for 3 1/2 years since moving) to Sarasota.  I am still working on a few things that need to be finished on the car before I take it out, but I may still be able to make it to the gathering.  Would get great to get to know the other Z guys here in the area.  I may be going to the Houston Indycar/World Challenge race next weekend and Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta the middle of October, so I hope those dates don't conflict.  Is my page and the page for Braille for those who really want to get a better idea of who has run the product with great success. 

 

https://www.facebook.com/BrailleBattery

 

https://www.facebook.com/garysavage42

 

Oh, I forgot to mention that Peter Brock (yes, of BRE fame) is also a Braille dealer?  We had his V8 Datsun 510 (Datzilla) as a Braille feature car at SEMA last year.  Pretty darn cool. 

 

 

Edited by Savage42

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On a slightly different note, we have hundreds of C6 Corvette owners (and many more than that overall) who run the B3121 AGM battery in place of a stock battery, Optima, etc.  This is a quick way to save 20 pounds and you definitely want to have a sealed AGM battery in your car to keep the acid from eating our prized possessions.  I was at a show in Orlando a few weeks ago and there was a brand new Viper there with the B3121 in it and the owner made to sure to mention that the very battery in that car was previously run in this last gen Viper, as well.  Pretty cool.  Since they are not far off in price, it is another possibly upgrade to at least save weight even if it doesn't offer the electrical benefits and increase lifespan of lithium.  Always good to have options.  :)

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I'm reviving this old thread to rave about the new Braille battery I just bought and installed in my 1971 240Z. I recently purchased a GU1R Braille lithium battery, along with a custom Skillard mount, and was able to install it on the floor behind my passenger seat, completely out of sight (see picture). I have the 495 hp version LS3 crate engine in my 240Z (10.7:1 compression ratio). I needed a battery for one of my other cars and decided that, if I took the red top Optima out of my 240Z, I could upgrade to a lithium Braille unit that I've been thinking about since reading this thread four years ago. The Braille is much smaller than the Optima and about 30 pounds lighter. The improvement of the Braille battery was immediately apparent. I have a push button switch that I use to prime my fuel pump before starting the car. When I first pushed this switch after installing the Braille, the fuel pump ran noticeably much faster. Then, when I turned the key, the engine cranked over and started up like it was a small four cylinder. I was immediately impressed. I've started and driven the car several times this past week after installing the Braille and get a warm feeling each time I crank it over. If the other benefits described earlier in this thread are true (long shelf life, long life span, etc.), I now wish I had done this swap years ago. I understand that Braille is replacing the GU1R with the G30 model, which has the same performance specs, but is about an inch shorter and a few ounces lighter. I would highly recommend this to anyone that is considering a battery upgrade. Obviously, it wasn't cheap, Optimas are going for around $200 now and I paid $550 for the Braille from Summit but I feel that the performance, light weight, small size and Braille's clientele and track record justify it.

Mike Mileski

Tucson, AZ

Braille.jpg

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