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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance
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  #1  
Old 11-26-2006
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That battery thing

I've been out of sailing a while, but now I'm upgrading a Nicholson 32 for my cruising purposes and am pondering the battery situation. On my previous boat, I had a dual-output alternator and was quite satisfied, but now I'm trying to save money by basically going with what I have, which--I'm happy to say--includes a Freedom 12-25 inverter/charger and an Arco M65 solar panel.

After reacquainting myself with the basics and following a lot of threads here, this is, simply put, what I'm thinking of doing: installing a large "house" battery bank into which both the AC charger and the solar panel connect. It would, in practice, be the only battery bank on the boat and serve for starting as well as house power. But not really. I'd also connect, via the old 1,2,Off switch, to a designated starting battery. I would never bring this batter online, however, except in an emergency. I could charge it occasionally with the engine, and, as a failsafe, I'd hook it to a solar trickle-charger.

I know there are a lot of fine engineering minds out there who will want more specifics, but suffice to say, the house bank will be about 200 amp hours. Off the grid, it will serve mostly lights, boat electronics, one inverter outlet for charging a laptop and one inverter outlet for the very occasional hair dryer and curling iron to entice distaff crew members aboard.

Am I on the right track? Thanks.
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Old 11-26-2006
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cardiacpaul is a jewel in the rough cardiacpaul is a jewel in the rough cardiacpaul is a jewel in the rough
you're doing great. consider a couple of 8d's as the house bank. The only other thing... Braun makes travel curling irons that are run on butane.
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Old 11-26-2006
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I would separate the house and starting battery as you suggest, however, use the 12 volt starting battery to actually start your engine. Combine the housebank and starter battery with a switch (automatic combiner) so that all the batteries stay charged. I know you are trying to cut costs, but cost cutting at the expense of best practices is not a good thing, IMHO.

The solar panel needs a regulator (charge controller).

hth,

Deep
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Old 11-26-2006
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200 amps gives you a working availability of 100AMPS. The rest of your plan sounds good but I'd suggest a larger bank for cruising purposes. Do you plan to add refrigeration and will you be using an auto-pilot?
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Old 11-26-2006
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I'm with Cam, beef up the bank to 400 or so.

We spend 6-8 weeks aboard each summer in the PNW, run the fridge 14-16 hrs/day. While this is typically a light air region in the summer resulting in a fair bit of motoring, we do occasionally sit on the hook for several days.

This year we upped our bank (house, separated from engine starting) from 200 - 400 and can now sit for much longer (3 days was our limit before) if necessary or desirable.

The only downside we've found to the large bank, is the increased recharge time, as we only have a 35 amp alternator (for now).

At the risk to your budget I'd advise getting a Link 10 or similar battery monitor, it really helps to know what state your bank is actually in, much like it's nice to know for sure how much fuel is left in your tank.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cardiacpaul
The only other thing... Braun makes travel curling irons that are run on butane.

I remember my mom had one of these in the early '80's. Are they still considered safe? A stick on fire wrapped in my wife's hair sounds like a bad idea. Maybe they are ingeniously designed.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zfactor
I remember my mom had one of these in the early '80's. Are they still considered safe? A stick on fire wrapped in my wife's hair sounds like a bad idea. Maybe they are ingeniously designed.
Ive seen them and they seem safe enough.
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zfactor,
it depends on how much you like the wife.
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go to semarine.com and get their battery sizing spread sheet
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Old 11-27-2006
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Electrical Needs

Wungout,

Here are my opinions and rationale:

You should probably seriously consider upping your house bank. We are upping ours to about 840ah, plus a seperate starting battery. I do have 2 kids, so my loads are more than yours... but I would be surprised if they were that much more. Our budget every day is about 160ah. THat includes a water maker, but that is only about 35-40 ah/day. Remember you should only use 50% of your total bank capacity... max. Always avoid going below 50%. Also, by adding more batteries, you will exponetially add years to your batts.

After my research, I think the best batteries for cruising are probably the Lifeline AGM's. They do not need maintenance, do not have to be mounted flat, and take a recharge very quickly (compared to wet cells). In theory, they are rated at 1100-1250 50% discharges. A typical wet cell, for example, might give you in the three hundreds if you are lucky. A 4d (Lifeline AGM) is about 210 ah.

So the basic process you should follow is:

1) Add up your total estimated usage/day. THis is your electrical budget.
2) Add up your total house size and divide by two. This is the max you can go before recharging.
3) See if you can live with it. THus, if you have refridgeration (50-60 ah/day), Lights (about 30-35 ah), use your inverter much at all(10-15 ah), and run a tv or computer at all (20-30), you will easily be at or over 100 ah/day. So, if you had a 200 ah/bank and burned 100 ah/day, you would need to run your engine every, single day.
4) You can supplement this with alternate forms of energy. Wind generation is the cheapest. Solar is the most expensive. We have invested in both. We are using (four) kyocera 130s with an Outback MX60 MPPT controller and an AirX wind gen. Jury is still out on all of them. Better get ready to break out the checkbook on the solar though if you go that way.
5) Go with a high output alternator and a multistage charge controller. You can put both in for under a $1000, and especially if you use AGM's, you will charge your batteries fairly fast and completely. If you are not going to invest in alternate forms of energy and/or a good charger with a generator... this should be mandatory as it will charge your batteries completely and quickly while not plugged in.

I hope that helps. Please let me know if you have any questions. You can PM me if you wish.

- CD
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