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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance
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  #1  
Old 08-18-2007
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Charging problem and AGMs

Hello All,
This is a copy of a post I put on the Kelly Peterson owners website.

I am considering buying some new AGM batts . We currently have 10 6v
wet cell 105 ah Trojans,8 for house &2 for starting. I realize we
only need 1 ,12v for starting but this is the way I bought the boat
this spring.
the batts are charged by a 2000W heart interface , freedom 20 and
controlled by a remote, I believe it is a link 10.we also have 3 ,75W
siemens solar panels and a wind genny. When we put the boat in the
water in May and plugged into shore power the batts seemed to be
charging fine, but after awhile (2 hrs) i noticed the batts were
bubbling profusly,so I turned off the charger and carefully added
water. Later when a portable GPS was plugged into the 12v socket
while we were once again charging with shore power I noticed that the
voltage was jumping around very inconsistently. We sailed the boat
North for a week and had no issues charging the batts from the engine.
I am reluctant to by the new batts before I have this problem
figured out, unfortunately I am a novice when it come to electricity.
The batts are located under the sail locker in the walkthrough. When
they were venting i realized there is no way for the gas to be vented
overboard so I would like to install sealed batteries for thet reason
alone. I have read many if not all the posts an AGM's on this board
and it seems that the poor experiences some members have had with
AGMs it as at odds with what other people on the sailnet forums have
experienced, could this be a brand issue?
I will be moving on board in 67 days and am not near the boat now but
would appreaciate ssome help in narrowing down this problem so that
when I do speak to a marine electrician I will be able to give him
some usefull info.
Thanks very much.
Kevin& Melissa
SolangeIV KP44
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Old 08-18-2007
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Kevin,

Would need to know more details about your onboard electrical setup before enlightened recommendations could be made, but here are a few observations based on the info you provided in your original post.

1. No need to worry if the flooded batteries (Trojans or any other) aren't vented overboard. It's only necessary to vent the battery compartment itself. Gasses given off by flooded batteries under charge aren't normally a big problem.

2. AGMs are a superior technology, little doubt, but at about double the cost for similar capacity. Some cruisers have experienced catastrophic failures; most have not.

3. Some bubbling is normal. Vigorous bubbling occurs when flooded batteries are "equalized", i.e., specially charged at voltages exceeding 15VDC (for a 12-volt battery bank) periodically to help keep the plates free of lead-sulfate (PbSO4) crystals.

4. Hydrocaps or WaterMiser caps greatly reduce the loss of water in flooded batteries. Hydrocaps must be removed when equalizing; WaterMiser caps can stay, but they are somewhat less effective than Hydrocaps.

5. AGMs can accept a charge MUCH faster than flooded batteries. You would need to be sure your alternator and regulator (presumably and highly recommended: external smart regulator) are set up for AGMs.

6. You don't need T-105s for starting batteries. While they will work, they're not designed for the high-current release needed by engine starters. It might be better to think about a single large 12V starting battery. You can keep it charged via an EchoCharge or similar device, and connect all onboard charging sources....alternator, battery charger, wind charger, solar panels....directly to the house batteries via an appropriate controller, of course.

Suggest you discuss your setup and needs with a qualified marine electrician. Don't know where "north" is in your post, but if it's the Chesapeake region I could recommend several good folks.

Good luck,

Bill
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Old 08-18-2007
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Thanks Bill
North is Oriental NC. The eng has only one 110 amp Balmar alternater and I also plan on getting a honda 200w gen , there is no diesel genset. i am getting a basic knowledge of the pros cons of the various different battery types and am willing to spend the extra $ for AGMs if (and it does seem to be a big if) i can get a charging system that will keep them charged corectly.
What other info would you like I will see what else I can find
Kevin
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Old 08-18-2007
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Where are you at in Oriental? I'll be done there next weekend and would be glad to take a look at what you have, if you would like.

If you decide to have a pro look at it, I highly recommend using Deatons. Both from word of mouth, and my own personal expereince with them.

Currently in New Bern, NC through August
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Old 08-18-2007
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KM...
I will ditto all of Bills comments but would also add that your Freedom 20 is a 100AMP 3 stage charger in addition to being a 2000 watt inverter. I think that you need to both check out the batteries and the charger before making any purchases though I agree that the AGM's are the way to go and that you should have enough generating capacity to get good use out of them.
One question...what do you have controlling the output of your solar and wind? You need good 3 stage regulation on those too. I am suspicious that you do not based on the quick bubbling under charge.

You should be able to monitor your battery voltage on your LINK as you are charging. With your present setup...and with the charger turned on you should not see more than 14.5V during bulk charging and it should settle in to around 13.3 as the batteries near FULL.
Since you have wet cells you can use a hydrometer to measure each cell in your Trojans to see what shape they are in. (pick one up at any auto store). Make sure your batteries have NO charging or loads on them for at least several hours before you test them and do NOT add water prior to the testing.
Once you know that your charger is working fine AND the state of your Trojans...you can make decisions on new batts.
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Thanks for the responses
I am unsure of the name of the solar controller, there is one for sure. There is also a solar panel switch on the electric panel, I can't remember if it was switched on or not during the time that the batts boiled over, it should not have made any difference though because it was dark when it happened. We had put the wind gen back up as well but it was not turning.
PB.- We are not in Oriental but a small boatyard about a half hour away Solange is on the Hard so it would be difficult to do any troubleshooting right now ,I do appreaciate the offer though and would like to take you up on it if you are still around in October, we are still at home in Alberta. I realize there is not much that can be done right now and I don't mean to waste anyones time but I am hoping to educate myself as much as possible on the various different options so I can get the problem sorted out as quick as possible as we would like to be in the Bahamas by the beginning of Dec, and it seems everything on a boat takes longer to fix and costs twice as much as I would have first thought.
Kevin
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Old 08-19-2007
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Just be aware that many wind generators have a controller that diverts power back to the wind gen to slow it down when the battery banks don't require the full energy supplied or when the wind speeds are higher.

Also, some solar panel charge controllers, particularly the older, non-MPPT ones, will essentially short the feed from the panels to cut the power to the charging circuits when the batteries are fully charged. These types of charge controllers should not be used with anything but solar panels.
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Old 08-19-2007
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k- I will probably be back in the area during Oct. I'll check back with you then.
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Old 08-19-2007
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does anyone know if the inverters internal regulator can be replaced if it is the problem ,or does the whole inverter/ charger need to be replaced? Thinking back to when we hauled her, we had to wait a few days for the weather to cooperate and while we were waiting I charged the batts up the charging was going as expected until I reached the float phase , the remote controller showed the charge as being just a trickle but the batts were beginning to bubble vigorously, not as bad as the last time because i was keeping an eye on them. Could this be the internal regulater?
When we left the boat I turned everything off including the solar panels , resoning thst if everything is off the batteries won't need chsrging therefor no need to lesve the solsr psnels switched on snd no risk of overcharging. I hsve just recently found out that wet cell batts do self discharge and the older they are the more the discharge rate. My batts are 5 yrs old and were mercilessly boiled at least once I know of. They have been sitting without any charge for 3.5 months now.Should I have someone from the yard turn the panels back on or will the batts be ok for another 67 days?
Kevin
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Old 08-19-2007
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KM...NEW, Fully charged wet cells lose about 10% of their charge a month. It is worse on older, poorly charged batts.
Get a charger on those batts as discharged batts can sulphate and have positive grid plate corrosion. I am thinking these have already been badly mistreated and may be near the end of their useful life but until you get there and do the tests, that is an open question. In the meantime, do what you can to preserve them.

You can get service on the Freedom if needed which generally involves replacing circuit boards.
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