First and FOREMOST do not listen to everything Peter_Pan is telling you. He has only a few things correct, but as we know a little bit of knowledge is dangerous. I do believe he might know a lot about automobiles (ASE Certified Master Tech) and possibly the miss-use of car batteries, but his knowledge of what *really* goes on in a “Lead Acid” battery sounds very limited. Some of his statements are patently myopic and incorrect. When he makes statements such as “I will admit that at this time i''m ignorant of the workings of a 3 step charger” then it scares me . No knowledge whatsoever of such a basic marine electrical component leaves me shuddering in the thought that he is giving advise to people on this list. All it would take for some knowledge on these is a quick look at most marine Catalogs (West Marine, Boat US, etc)
Lets go through a few of his “statements”.
1) “What will fry the gel cells is being constantly charged by a shore power charger left on 7-24''s”.
Most garage and consumer (automotive) type battery chargers are bulk charge only, and have little (if any) voltage regulation. They are fine for a quick boost to low batteries, but you cannot leave them on for long periods. But properly engineered Marine Battery chargers are 3 (and sometimes 4) stages: Bulk, Absorption, and Float &(Equalization) . In fact leaving these types of chargers on 7-24 is probably one of the best things you can do to insure healthy and long life for your marine batteries.
2) “I''m a charging system expert (sic). 14.4 volts will not damage the batteries”
Possibly but the disadvantages of gel cells is that they must be charged at a lower voltage (2/10th''s less) than flooded or AGM batteries. If overcharged, voids can develop in the gel which will never heal, causing a loss in battery capacity.
As some one stated earlier ” 14.4 vdc is an ideal (room temp) value for flooded, and 14.1 vdc for gel type during bulk and absorption charge cycles. Wet cell float values should be near 13.3 vdc, with gels at 13.7 vd”
3) “What fries batteries is lack of maintinance (sic). The water level must be maintained and should be checked regularly.(i.e. once a month.)”
True, but the question was asked about Gell Cell Batteries. Most of the marine Gell Cell batteries I know about cannot have the water replaced after overcharge. Getting back to the whole point of too high of a charging voltage.
4) ” No matter who manufactures a battery or what type it is, it has a 2 year life expectancy. Anything you get beyond this is gravy”
I am not disagreeing with that fact that many poorly maintained car batteries don’t last that long. But to make a blanket statement such as above is irresponsible and totally false. The lifespan of a battery will vary considerably with how it is used, how it is maintained and charged, temperature, and other factors. Do you think the Golf Cart Industry would put up with that !?! In fact most batteries are not actually bad when they are “thought” to be no good anymore, but rather improperly cared for;. So when people say that a given battery "won''t take a charge" it’s usually a result of improper charging procedures which allowed the sulfate to harden. Yes, normally there is plenty of active material left in a battery that people “think” is bad but typically its just that the material is sulfated . Many times those batteries can be “re-claimed” by desulfation techniquies via an equalizing charge (which can slowly wear away active plate material) or via electronic “pulse technology” (safer).
5) “Personally, I buy the cheapest battery in the amp hour class i need and when it goes bad i chunk it and get another one.”
There is nothing inheritently wrong with this philosohphy. But as a consumer what you want is the greatest number of amp-hours delivered over a battery''s life, at the lowest possible cost. While the temptation to buy cheaper batteries is a strong one, smart consumers should look at the cost of the energy provided by the battery over its life when making their choice.
Lets take for instance some of the examples below
Battery Type # of Cycles $ per Ah $ per 100 Ah
Cheap Cranking 25 $0.80 $3.20
Cheap Gel 12V 100 $1.35 $1.35
SeaVolt Cranking 100 $1.00 $1.00
Cheap Deep Cycle 150 $0.80 $0.53
SeaGel 12V 500 $1.86 $0.37
SeaVolt Dual Purp. 200 $0.67 $0.34
SeaVolt Deep Cycle 350 $0.86 $0.25
SeaGel 6V 1,000 $2.22 $0.22
Lifeline AGM 1,000 $2.10 $0.21
Industrial (L-16) 1,000 $1.20 $0.12
SeaVolt 6V 700 $0.79 $0.11
(BTW…on my old boat I got 2 Sears Golfcart batteries for $55 each which supplied approximately 180 amp hours. They were still working in my old boat when I sold it last year, I abused them and they were over 6 years old!)
6) With regards to electronic regulators “All those whistles bells and buzzers you refer to do some neat tricks but are realitively (sic) useless. What these claims elude to is splitting hairs”.
This is such an uninformed statement I won’t even honor it with a direct response other that to ask you to show me some “real” data to support making such a silly statement such as that. It has been proven time and again (with REAL data) that 3 stage smart regulators are vastly superior to battery health, charge times and battery performance. (here is just one of thousands of studies)
Peter_Pan maybe the reason you have replaced so many batteries over the years is because you are giving the wrong advise to everyone. Listen to Constantin you might learn something.
NOW…..with all that said lets get back to Steve’s (sjacovino ) original question can he live with the 14.4 Volt internal regulator for his Gell Cell. Well it seems like the answer is a possible yes. (LOL)
David Snead (from Ample Power) has, for many customers, been using an absorption voltage for Gell Cells of 14.4 Volts at 77 F, (25 C). and a float voltage of 13.5 to 13.6 Volts, again at the referenced temperature.
As he says “Thirteen years later, and having seen many customers from 1987 still using the same gel batteries they installed then, I have not changed my charge regimen.”
(personally I would contact Ample power and get their comments)
Tom - BSEE