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Has anyone here imported LiFePO4 cells from China successfully?


Delta9
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I am interested in these cells;

https://www.alibaba.com/product-detail/3-2v-271ah-lifepo4-battery-cell_1600109147409.html

For a 16S string to get a nominal voltage of 51.2v the would cost would be $1343.68.

51.2v x 271 Ah = 13.87 kWh (3.2v x 271 Ah per cell x 16 cells = 13,875Wh).

So at $1343.68 for 13.8kWh of power = $96.84 per kWh which is very cheap but where lithium is headed over the long term....downwards in price and we are already seeing this in the reduced cost of the Pylontechs.

The thing is, these are on Alibaba and its FULL of scams. There must be some legitimate sellers as well - but how to find the good ones?

There is the cost of freight to add to these cells - they are duty free and zero rated for VAT. So to this we need to add a BMS and i would use Battrium which is expensive for sure but also good. 

I am guessing this would all come out to around $150ish per kWh, so attractive.

But how to find a good seller in China where you get the product you pay for with no scams or rip-offs?

 

Any ideas? Anyone gone this route ?

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1 hour ago, Delta9 said:

There is the cost of freight to add to these cells - they are duty free and zero rated for VAT.

If you only intend buying 16 cells, they will likely want to send it by air which is expensive. A year ago I had two 100ah LiFePo4 cells sent from China and they cost me R3500 for the two. 
You might also have the parcel inspected by customs and they may ask for your import code if you have had more than one import in the last year. 
As far as I know (I might be mistaken here) the only Lithium cells that are duty free are the 18650 cells, and all imports are charged vat, unless if China sends them DDP.

It might be cheaper and/or quicker to buy from Bain. 

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I wanted to get a number of 16s strings - so worth the effort. Problem remains the same - how to find a good Chinese seller. There are 1.4 Billion of them......they are not all crooks. But finding that elusive honest trader out of China is no easy task without a reference from someone solid.

I will most likely sea freight them in a consolidated shipment. I suppose the people who have GOOD contacts for batteries are not sharing that info - its how they are making money themselves.

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You will pay vat and import duties on the lipo4 batteries from China.

Bain is paying usd32/cell, I got a quote to fill 1m3 of space, came to usd34/cell + shipping, vat, import duties. (Im sure these were on 2nd life cells)

The only problem you have is you are never sure of what you are going to get, although the supplier seemed to be honest...

I ran into problems when I asked for the documents that are required for shipping batteries, they could not provide them and wanted to use their own shipping agent...In the end I decided to go pylontech and have 10 years of hassle free batteries.

 

https://szxuba.en.alibaba.com/?spm=a2700.wholesale.cordpanyb.2.96e2450fOQBRTr

 

you will notice "Origional Authentic Grade A" , then you get "xxxx Ahr batteries, so one does wonder exactly what you are getting.

Edited by FixAMess
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3 hours ago, FixAMess said:

Frankly, if you are looking for a DIY solution, Bain is the easiest way to go...

Also, make sure the BMS talks nicely to your inverter...

Had a look at the link you put up. Are those 2nd life batteries then? There is no mention of this on that Chinese site.

However the price per kWh seems too low. So there has to be a reason for that. I dont think new LiFePO4 are that low in price per kWh yet ??

Others that I have looked at are way too high  www.orientpower.asia  https://www.orientpower.asia/collections/lithium-3-2v-cell/products/3-2v100ah-lifepo4-battery-cell

The orient power cells seem to be reputable but silly pricing. I can buy Freedom Won cheaper then that !

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I am doing a deep dive into the whole solar thing from panels to inverter to batteries to control of it all.

Looking at posts here on this forum about Victron led me to researching the 1:1 rule. This implies a big kWh battery and I think lithium is the only way to go these days (on my second set of AGM's in the past 10 years - but that setup was never solar - only using grid to charge batteries and using inverter as a UPS for when the grid goes down)

So I need a big battery as per the 1:1 rule for my plans as I want to run a water pump. Looks like I can build a battery cheaper then I can buy one. I have watched many youtube videos on systems using Battrium BMS, so it seems feasible to build out a battery and use Battrium as the BMS.

But not so sure second life is the way to go. So lots more research to do , questions to ask. It is enjoyable though. Making power from the sun is fascinating to me and saying goodbye to the grid will be a great thing.

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17 hours ago, FixAMess said:

You will pay vat and import duties on the lipo4 batteries from China.

Bain is paying usd32/cell, I got a quote to fill 1m3 of space, came to usd34/cell + shipping, vat, import duties. (Im sure these were on 2nd life cells)

The only problem you have is you are never sure of what you are going to get, although the supplier seemed to be honest...

I ran into problems when I asked for the documents that are required for shipping batteries, they could not provide them and wanted to use their own shipping agent...In the end I decided to go pylontech and have 10 years of hassle free batteries.

 

https://szxuba.en.alibaba.com/?spm=a2700.wholesale.cordpanyb.2.96e2450fOQBRTr

 

you will notice "Origional Authentic Grade A" , then you get "xxxx Ahr batteries, so one does wonder exactly what you are getting.

When you say you were quoted $34 per cell ++ is that from the suppliers link you posted? As you say, for the price it seems likely they are second life. Did you ask them about if they were second life?

I want about 120 kWh of battery so its sizeable and expensive. Need to get it right.

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1 hour ago, Delta9 said:

Had a read through of that thread. Great information in there but it quickly went from batteries to other topics. Still, it shows others are out there doing what I want to do, so that's encouraging. 

There's a few other guys on the forum that also went the DIY route so you should be able to get all the advice you'll need but I know most have gone the Bain's route.

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Just remember that bulk lithium battery shipments are classed as 'dangerous goods', and are pretty much restricted to ocean shipping, and even then incur a fair handling charge.  Lithium battery sellers often insist on using their own shippers, as customer organized shipments often end up getting stuck with incorrect paperwork.

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10 minutes ago, JustinSchoeman said:

Just remember that bulk lithium battery shipments are classed as 'dangerous goods', and are pretty much restricted to ocean shipping, and even then incur a fair handling charge.  Lithium battery sellers often insist on using their own shippers, as customer organized shipments often end up getting stuck with incorrect paperwork.

Thanks for that heads up.

I still have to research that angle but thinking it should be doable to get a consolidation shipment in a container. Maybe have to go to a half container even? Not sure but will dig in to find out.

What the in's and out's of sellers using there own shippers? Is it a problem or some sort of issue or a way  they drive price up etc?

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19 minutes ago, Chloe said:

Also have a look at this guys build. 

 

Thanks Chloe.

Had a good read through that. Interesting stuff for sure. I did at one time look at 18650's but came to the conclusion that 1/ I would never find enough good used cells and 2/ all those systems are mostly Lithium - Ion ....so about 500 to 1000 cycles. After lots of reading I came to the conclusion it was better to go for LiFePo4. I was interested in those ZTE 4.8Kw batteries as they have a can bus converter board to be able to connect to the Victron's but they only allow a max of 16 batteries to be paralleled which is going to be limiting to me because of the 1:1 rule.

 

Edit: The 1:1 rule. Is this a reason to look at SMA instead of Victron? I decided on Victron because there is a lot of local support for them but if SMA has a more favorable ratio, is it better to look at SMA ?

Edited by Delta9
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4 minutes ago, Delta9 said:

What the in's and out's of sellers using there own shippers? Is it a problem or some sort of issue or a way  they drive price up etc?

I didn't actually get that far. Once I started getting quotes I realized it would by much cheaper to buy from lithiumbatteriessa than to import a small quantity myself.

One seller did say that they insist on their own shippers, as they had too many purchases cancelled/disputed when the goods got held by shipping agents and/or port authorities for not having the correct permits.  International shipment of dangerous goods can be quite technical, and it is best to deal with a proven shipping agent.

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5 minutes ago, JustinSchoeman said:

I didn't actually get that far. Once I started getting quotes I realized it would by much cheaper to buy from lithiumbatteriessa than to import a small quantity myself.

One seller did say that they insist on their own shippers, as they had too many purchases cancelled/disputed when the goods got held by shipping agents and/or port authorities for not having the correct permits.  International shipment of dangerous goods can be quite technical, and it is best to deal with a proven shipping agent.

Right got it.

My preferred target kWh range is about 120kWh plus looking at maybe 50ish kWh for my ex as well (yeah I know its dumb to look after the ex as well, but what can I say, I'm a hell of a guy). So a lot of batteries. So probably worth the time, effort and expense of shipping them in. But my issue is finding a good reputable seller. I dont think my volume is enough to buy direct from manufacturer ?

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5 minutes ago, Solaris said:

This is a VERY big battery. Forgive my ignorance please, but how many panels are you going to use to charge this colossal beast? You will need a huge solar array to keep this battery full.  😁

Yeah I know. But according to the 1:1 rule that only gives me somewhere around 40 kWp of PV. Thats roughly 100 x 400w panels.

I looked at this about a18 months go and got a quote for a water pumping system and it consisted of 120 panels at that time (in the 300 watt class I guess).

Power situation is only getting worse not better. Of course I would prefer to spend money elsewhere, but it is what it is. The grid has let us down big time and there is no viable business with the grid being like it currently is, so we have little choice to either make a plan or close up.

 

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