Neato Botvac Lithium Battery Review

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Neato Botvac Lithium Battery Review

Postby viper001 » October 25th, 2016, 2:21 pm

I noticed there is a thread about folks trying to build one of these. I had been waiting for Lithium Power, Inc to finally come out with their product and they did, at just the right time for me as it turned out as one of my Botvac packs died a couple of weeks ago. So I bought one of these, with the extended warranty (and free shipping), plus they threw in a spinning side brush and a filter to boot:

http://www.lithiumpowerinc.com/neato-botvac.html

I intend to update this review over time and I encourage anyone else that has tried these out to add their comments. Battery came well packaged and was cleverly designed to fill the entire battery compartment on my Botvac. This pack is kind of triangular shaped instead of tubular like the typical packs. I installed it and charged overnight as per the instructions, on it's first mission it ran just over 90 minutes. That was always the high-water mark on a new set of Nickle batteries after they had been out a couple of times so I'm interested to see how much longer this one will go once it's cycled a couple of times. My environment is 90% low pile carpet with the rest being tile. So far so good, I'll update in the following weeks to let everyone know how this is working out. :dance:
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Re: Neato Botvac Lithium Battery Review

Postby glnc222 » October 25th, 2016, 3:25 pm

I do not think cycling for conditioning is needed with lithium batteries. That procedure is for the self-discharge deterioration in storage with NiMh chemistry, absent in lithium. In the milder cases the NiMh cells can be restored.
Lithium Power (AnewPow in Europe) http://www.lithiumpowerinc.com/neato-botvac.html

[edit] Not yet listed at European AnewPow distributor.
LIthium battery distribution is now limited by air freight safety restrictions and could take more time.
Last edited by glnc222 on October 25th, 2016, 11:13 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Neato Botvac Lithium Battery Review

Postby viper001 » October 25th, 2016, 3:30 pm

Sorry, I used the wrong term. I was just referring to the process where after you do the "New Battery" on the robots they have to re-learn how long they can go so they don't run out of juice before they get back to the charging dock. I have noticed the first time out they don't go the full distance they can, I called that cycling. "Learning" would probably be a better term.
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Re: Neato Botvac Lithium Battery Review

Postby glnc222 » October 25th, 2016, 3:38 pm

As I had found it, the initial maximum charge usage is programmed and does not have to be learned. What it learns is deterioration with age when premature voltage drop indicates the original maximum is unavailable, capacity has fallen, and it adjusts the run time to maintain a reserve for return to base. "New Battery" resets the modeling and sets the programmed maximum again, about 2ah charge usage running. A large 30 per cent margin against deep discharge is maintained. Also increasing the battery capacity will not increase the run time beyond the programmed maximum usage.
Botvac has a different capacity and system parameters than the old XV models. The Connected model has an even larger battery and run time with a higher capacity lithium battery programmed.
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Neato Botvac Lithium Battery Review

Postby djos » October 25th, 2016, 5:01 pm

I've got one in my BotVac 80 now too, it's a noticeably bigger battery than the stock nimh unit and I'm pretty happy with it so far.

We don't run ours for our entire down stairs floor so I don't know if the run time has improved much. It did however seem to provide more consistent power levels during the run just like the xv11 lithium batteries do.
Current Robot's:
Neato BotVac 80 w/ Li-NMC Battery , 2x XV11 w/ Li-NMC Battery
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Re: Neato Botvac Lithium Battery Review

Postby jayp » November 7th, 2016, 5:30 am

I ordered one from CyberTech which looks like a same battery.
https://smile.amazon.com/CyberTech-Capa ... B01K2ZUD1S

I'm not sure about their reputation and how they handle warranty claims, but it comes with 18 month warranty at same price. ($99)
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Re: Neato Botvac Lithium Battery Review

Postby viper001 » November 7th, 2016, 9:01 am

Just a quick update on the li-on pack that I ordered. I finally got to observe a run-time on this one (it normally runs when I am not at home). The single mission time had increased to right at 2 hours which was an improvement over the first run which was 90 minutes. It is possible that it could have gone longer as we had some doors closed off and it was actually able to finish all the areas on that floor in the 2 hours that it ran. I plan on doing a run when I'm able to observe and with all the door open and I'll report back, but so far this new tech is looking good.

If it can do my floor plan in just one mission per run that would be less cycling of the pack which would also be good for the longevity (I would assume?). It would also eliminate the robots running throughout most of the day as they do now given the time it takes to recharge and go again.
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Re: Neato Botvac Lithium Battery Review

Postby rival81 » November 14th, 2016, 12:02 am

Interesting, might get one myself once the current battery dies.
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Re: Neato Botvac Lithium Battery Review

Postby scotmac » December 19th, 2016, 2:50 am

glnc222 wrote: Also increasing the battery capacity will not increase the run time beyond the programmed maximum usage.


So, what is that maximum??? You seem to be saying that the lithium's won't increase the run-times. But I see it quoted here that people have seen their run-times go from 90 mins to 120 mins with the lithiums, which match approximately what CyberTech is saying on amazon (120~150 min for lithiums).
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Re: Neato Botvac Lithium Battery Review

Postby glnc222 » December 19th, 2016, 3:57 am

Larger NiMh batteries do not add to the run time because the expected capacity of the battery and how much of it is used, about 2ah, depending on the model, is encoded in the software (and been tried by hobbyists). The procedure to measure an unknown battery's capacity is too time consuming and requires more hardware than is practical in the vacuum itself. Neato manuals indicated a 90 minute possible run time of XV models on hard floors, less on carpets,60 minutes, with higher loads for drag; the Botvac may have a little more, haven't checked the specs (the new lithium powered models advertise longer run times.)
Putting lithium batteries in the Neato constructed for NIMh batteries, with simulation adapter circuits, can fool the methods used by the software to track the battery charge and decide when to return to base. So some additional capacity in the lithium batteries apparently works. As batteries discharge their output voltage falls slightly along precise discharge curves, part of what the computer analyzes as the robots run. The Lithium battery curves are a little different than the NIMh curves, flatter, so take longer to fall to the same voltage. Exactly what all is in Neato software is unknown, but the company has posted some and indicated a fixed amount of charge used. How they track that charge can be complicated (temperature and varied loads have all sorts of effects on the data; it gets studied a lot because of the critical role in hybrid cars.)

The lithium replacements offer longer lifetimes and are not subject to shelf-life self-discharge problems of NiMh batteries too long in inventory. Yet NiMh Neato batteries have fallen in price a lot over years, so whether the more expensive lithium replacements are worthwhile depends on your circumstances, usage pattern, and preferences. Many customers welcome their addition to the robot support available.
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Re: Neato Botvac Lithium Battery Review

Postby vwDavid » December 6th, 2017, 6:36 pm

Hi All,

First post here. We have two Botvac 65's and two Lithium Ion batteries from CyberTech, used for 11 months now. I guess I bought into the myth that lithium was unilaterally better for Neato Botvacs - but it appears that higher capacity does not translate to higher runtime for the run of the mill plug and play user, as I have discovered by reading here. Now my botvacs struggle to complete one average bedroom with carpet when in the past (Li and NiMH) it could do three bedrooms and the foyer.

Why do my lithium ion batteries seem to provide poorer runtime that OEM batteries? I have become very unhappy with my Botvacs primarily due to battery issues and runtime. It seemed lithium packs solved this but now after nearly a year of use the lithium batteries seem worse. I went back to Amazon (.ca) and reviewed purchaser reviews and noted several reviewers with my experience and level of disatisfaction.

I researched options available in the USA and saw that Cyber tech also sells on amazon USA with generally good reviews. Lithium power sells what looks to be a nearly identical battery on Amazon USA with 25 reviews averaging to 4 stars but with with several poor reviews with similar issues to mine (usually reflected in the 2 star reviews, with the one star reviews being DOA issues typically).

I am currently unhappy with my botvacs, and have the option to return my Lithium Batteries to Amazon.ca for refund. I am trying to decide what to do and some expert advice is appreciated.

Thanks,
David
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Re: Neato Botvac Lithium Battery Review

Postby glnc222 » December 6th, 2017, 7:39 pm

The original LIthium Power / AnewPower replacement batteries for the XV model two-pack system at 15v had good reports and even increases in run time. The Botvac runs on 12v harder to match to the lithium cell voltage (XV's use four -series lithium vs 12 series NiMh; Botvac 10 series NiMh, and lithiums have a 4v cell). I have wondered how they make a lithium pack for the Botvac. Neato's own newer models with lithium batteries have different voltages.

The Neato software modeling the battery for power management assumes a voltage discharge curve for the NiMh batteries, which differs from the performance of lithium batteries. On the XV's this difference, a flatter curve, apparently allowed some longer run time, but it seems on the Botvac the opposite has occurred. There have not been a lot of user reports. There could be issues with whether the full capacity of the lithium replacements is getting charged -- tedious measurements with USB data or instruments required to tell. Or the capacity is lower than advertised?

So if the batteries do not perform as claimed I would consider trying to return them. The price of Botvac NiMh batteries has fallen a lot over years. I think Lithium Power had a warranty on their's. I have returned batteries to Amazon dealers under Amazon's higher service standards.

If interested a DIY long lasting LiFePo4 battery was made for Botvac with good results (this type is the longest lasting and inherently safe lithium chemistry, used in electric bikes etc.)
http://www.robotreviews.com/chat/viewtopic.php?f=20&t=19149

A technical matter might be looked at: over USB one can see a figure for the Fuel Gauge per cent, indicating the state of charge, used by the software to monitor the battery and return to base. This parameter can be manually set over USB. If the charger is not going to near 100 per cent when the lithium batteries are full, this might indicate a partial charge and consequent short run time. Experimenting with setting it 100 manually might show a difference, no telling.
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Re: Neato Botvac Lithium Battery Review

Postby vic7767 » December 6th, 2017, 7:51 pm

Lithium Power Inc. offers a UL listed Lithium pack that contains a proprietary internal circuit board that provides cell balancing as well as charge and discharge control of its internal cells. There are other vendors that don't offer cell balancing and over time will start to offer up poor performance.
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Re: Neato Botvac Lithium Battery Review

Postby djos » December 8th, 2017, 6:25 pm

vic7767 wrote:Lithium Power Inc. offers a UL listed Lithium pack that contains a proprietary internal circuit board that provides cell balancing as well as charge and discharge control of its internal cells. There are other vendors that don't offer cell balancing and over time will start to offer up poor performance.



I've also got the ANewPow BotVac Li-NMC 7200mAh battery in my BotVac 80 - it's supposed to be the same as the Lithium Power Inc battery but a different brand for AU/EU.

Anyway, mine is now so degraded it needs a charge after a single Spot run ... needless to say Im pretty unimpressed as it was $139 AUD.

Compared to my Scooba & Neato XV Lithium Power batteries which are much much older and still going strong, it's pretty frustrating. :(
Current Robot's:
Neato BotVac 80 w/ Li-NMC Battery , 2x XV11 w/ Li-NMC Battery
iRobot Roomba 561 w/ NiMh Battery & Aerovac Bin, Scooba 380 w/ Li-NMC Battery

Previous Robots:
iRobot Roomba 562PE w/ Aerovac Bin & Sealed-bearing CHM
Evolution Mint 4200
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Re: Neato Botvac Lithium Battery Review

Postby glnc222 » December 9th, 2017, 6:00 pm

Neato Robotics models with OEM lithium batteries -- Botvac Connected series -- use the higher voltage of the XV series compared to the 12v system (10 series NiMh) of the non-WiFi Botvac's:

BotvacLithiumBattery.jpg


If a 12v battery is made of 3-series LiIon (vs 4 series for XV models), it will work in the top end of the discharge curve but voltage could fall too low discharging, making only a portion of the capacity usable. The LiFePo4 cells have lower voltage than LiIon so a 4 -series matches the 12v system better.

There is a serious question whether the Lithium Power Inc / AnewPow Botvac replacement batteries will work properly if LiIon, not LiFePo4.
Balancing mentioned is a different matter releated to long term use only.
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Re: Neato Botvac Lithium Battery Review

Postby djos » December 9th, 2017, 6:43 pm

glnc222 wrote:Neato Robotics models with OEM lithium batteries -- Botvac Connected series -- use the higher voltage of the XV series compared to the 12v system (10 series NiMh) of the non-WiFi Botvac's:

BotvacLithiumBattery.jpg


If a 12v battery is made of 3-series LiIon (vs 4 series for XV models), it will work in the top end of the discharge curve but voltage could fall too low discharging, making only a portion of the capacity usable. The LiFePo4 cells have lower voltage than LiIon so a 4 -series matches the 12v system better.

There is a serious question whether the Lithium Power Inc / AnewPow Botvac replacement batteries will work properly if LiIon, not LiFePo4.
Balancing mentioned is a different matter releated to long term use only.


If I were designing a battery for the older BotVac series is use a buck / boost converter to supply a constant 12v.
Current Robot's:
Neato BotVac 80 w/ Li-NMC Battery , 2x XV11 w/ Li-NMC Battery
iRobot Roomba 561 w/ NiMh Battery & Aerovac Bin, Scooba 380 w/ Li-NMC Battery

Previous Robots:
iRobot Roomba 562PE w/ Aerovac Bin & Sealed-bearing CHM
Evolution Mint 4200
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Re: Neato Botvac Lithium Battery Review

Postby glnc222 » December 10th, 2017, 12:19 am

Looking at LithiumPowerInc website their Botvac battery is specified as 12v 7200mah -- twice the original NIMh Neato battery. This probably is because only a portion of the capacity can be used on the upper end of the discharge curve for 3-series lithium cells nominal 3.6v (max 4.2v charged). They also show Li-NMC chemistry, the best for safety now, but the LiIon voltage higher than LiFePo4. Slight loss of capacity might affect the upper end more and cause loss of run time. Analysis with instruments or USB data would be needed to be sure. It does not sound economical to use excess capacity to compensate for voltage mismatch. As shown, Neato uses the XV voltage levels with their lithium powered Connected Botvac's. Battery voltage varies over a 3v range or more between fully charged maximum and minimum fully discharged.

I think LiFePo4 is 3.2v nominal per cell vs 3.6v LiIon, so 4 series 12.8v matches the 12v system well. Only a recently improved cell capacity made it practical in Botvac, with older cells usually lower capacity in this safer, longer lasting chemistry, needing 3-parallel to meet Neato loads, not practical (a full experiment having been posted here with XV using a 5 series 10 cell LiFePo4 battery, with too little capacity). The newer cells made it work in Botvac. There is great variety in cell characteristics, and just the right cell is needed for robot batteries. Typical 18650 (18x65mm) size is needed to support the current loads, even though packs can be made of AA size cells -- which don't support the loads except briefly before wearing out (another experiment posted).

RoboMow robotic lawn mowers use LiFePo4 cells, with room for larger packs.

I don't think there is space for a buck voltage converter, with inductor and large cspacitors, in the Botvac -- along with sufficient capacity cells.
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