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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance
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  #11  
Old 09-02-2008
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I would personally go

I like 6V golf cart batteries and have used them on several boats. On this boat I can't fit four batts (yet) so I have three 12V. 6V batteries offer the most amp hours for the least $$$ and have long cycle life due to plate thickness and design.

IMHO the "gourmet" batteries are better suited for serious cruising where you need a fast charge and maintenance free batteries that can't spill. If you have the boat budget money to burn by all means buy a set of "gourmet batts"! I've been sailing and boating for my entire life and have survived all this time on wet cell batteries. Crazy I know... I go back to the "replace every five regardless" mentality and unfortunately I'm slow to change. I personally don't trust any battery off shore if it's older than 5 years that has seen a hard cycle life on a sailboat. Maybe I should but I prefer new every five..

Considering I live very close to a major battery wholesaler (supplies many of the boat yards and marinas in Maine) and Hamilton Marine I see the pallets of marine batteries that have been exchanged as cores and there are LOTS of AGM's on those pallets. Enough so that I am surprised by it.... The way folks talk about them you'd think they'd last for ever but clearly they fail just like wet cells..

The XBM may have an alarm parameter but I don't use it. I just glance over every now and then and check it..
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Last edited by Maine Sail; 09-02-2008 at 11:59 PM.
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  #12  
Old 09-03-2008
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I like 6v golf cart batteries for my applications and also for yours.

Why? Because they're ABUSE tolerant. Trust me, you're going to make mistakes with your battery system several times and it's nice to not have to buy new batteries every time you F*&%! up.

I got 6 golf carts, (trojans and dynos) which had been sitting discharged for an indeterminate period of time in exchange for 2 bottles of rum. The first thing I did was wire them up on the dock and dead short them together. I then left them dead shorted for several hours and pondered things like, "why is my voltmeter telling me the positive terminal is negative voltage" and "why are they boiling." After this abuse (and MUCH more) they served me well for 4 years including a 4 month sailing trip where I relied on them at anchor for up to 2 weeks at a time and only had a 15w solar panel and my alternator.

Gels and AGM are for when you've had a battery installation for several years and THEN you can decide if the pros and cons are worth it.

The best piece of advice I can give you is to get a really good charger. I can't say enough about the truecharge 20. I'm sure that it, and really good quality batteries are what made my system work. It will even reverse damage from batteries that have been abused by doing a special charge cycle.

Other than that, I wouldn't worry too much about spending $$$ on charging abilities at anchor. Get a good sized bank (4 or maybe 6 golf carts) and I bet you'll do just fine. If occasionally you do spend more nights at anchor than your bank can handle you just turn on the motor for a few hours and you're fine. You can also just go without the freezer for trips if you're worried, buy ice and put it in the freezer to help etc.

Spending thousands of dollars on charging equipment is really for folks that cruise a significant part of the year. Most folks would do just fine with the inevitable motoring that goes along with a trip, the occasional dock tie up (plug in charger and top up) and once in a great while running the engine at anchor if you've found a spot you really like.

Start small, go slow and build the system slowly as you need it.

MedSailor

PS I have NO idea of the quality but Sam's Club had golf carts for $60ea last time I checked.
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  #13  
Old 09-03-2008
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Stillraining is a jewel in the rough Stillraining is a jewel in the rough Stillraining is a jewel in the rough
true charge 20...Sensitive buggers too..My boat was unplugged for two weeks..I was at the boat Saturday and plugged it in just for grins to see how things acted..The true charge fired up for 20 seconds and shut down. The reason I was at the boat was to reinstall the crank pulley and pull the dink ( it has a bad valve ) and I needed to roll the motor over to see the orientation of the key way so I hooked up a remote switch to the starter solenoid to be able to do that right at the engine..as soon as I hit the starter the true charger came on and again shut down in about 15 to 20 seconds..I was impressed.

PS: Where the heck can you find Zodiac valves..Iv given up on Zodiac web sites..Dont think I will ever buy a zodiac again Zero coustomer service..Got one email back from a rude snob giving me zero help at that...woops sorry dont mean to hijack..just send a PM

Last edited by Stillraining; 09-03-2008 at 12:59 AM.
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Old 09-03-2008
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Sab30-

Can't really add much to what has been said here, but would highly recommend golf cart batteries if you're going to need a 400+ amp-hour battery bank. If you need less than that, go with 12 V batteries, or you will have no redundancy should a battery fail. A 2-golf cart battery 225 amp-hour bank is worthless if either battery punts—with a four or more battery setup, you still have a 12 V battery bank of reduced capacity.
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Old 09-03-2008
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Sab..you are not in a full time cruising situation and your batteries mostly sit at the dock being charged. You would be wasting your money to get anything other than standard deep cycle batteries at Wal-mart etc. as cycle life is not a big issue. Thus...I only recommended AGM's for their fast charginging capability IF you went with a high output alternator. Otherwise they are a waste of money as are any other premium batteries for YOUR purposes. I am a supporter of AGM's and premium 6V wet cell solutions for full time cruising.
As to the 50% rule...there is no alarm I am aware of which is why I recommended the link10 or similar monitor. You will KNOW how many amp hours you have drawn from your bank and when to recharge. The 50% is simply the best level to discharge to to maximize long term battery life while still providing a workable number of amp hours. Recharging at 60% is even better...recharging at 40% is somewhat worse. What you never want to do is let the batts go flat or close to it.
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Old 09-03-2008
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My studies of this issue boil down to two broad concepts: 1) Knowing how much you need in the way of amps determines not only how much battery capacity you need, but what means of creating it; 2) There is rarely one ideal battery type or configuration that will meet all your needs. Acknowledging this will dictate a certain open-mindedness.

For instance, I like AGMs not so much for the fast charge as for the low discharge rate. Consequently, I like AGMs on the mooring, or when a boat goes out infrequently. The fast-charge aspect is a bonus, as is the ability to find them in unusual, non "cement-block" form factors that can be put on their sides in otherwise unusual spots.

I like 6VDC golf carts for their ruggedness, their world-wide availability and their ease of maintenance in terms of "hydrometer, distilled water, good to go". To my mind, they make a lot of sense for the long-term cruiser leaving the customary Purolator/UPS service areas.

Given that I will likely settle on my passagemaker with a large 6VDC "wet" house bank, a single 12 VDC "wet" or AGM starter battery on an echo charger, and a single big 12 VDC AGM on the rarely used and rapidly charged windlass battery, I'll need a way to monitor, combine, isolate and co-ordinate all that, plus the means to convert variable wind and sun into acceptable charging voltages for the house banks.

Your situation is more simple in some aspects. As Cam points out, you would be best served in a "mostly always on shore power" situation to just buy stock auto batteries and use the savings to better insulate your fridge, to switch to LED nav lights and cabin lights and to put in decent battery monitoring. Beef it up if you are worried about having enough juice to start the engine after three days by all means, but is this truly an issue?
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Question for MaineSail:

Why did you pull the Link 10 for the XBM?

Specks seem to say they preform the same function..

If wanting a fancier unit why not the TM-500A?
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Old 09-03-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stillraining View Post
Question for MaineSail:

Why did you pull the Link 10 for the XBM?

Specks seem to say they preform the same function..

If wanting a fancier unit why not the TM-500A?
Because I had it left over from a previous boat I sold. I also like it's user friendly menu system, the back lighting options and it's slightly lower draw. I still have the Link 10 as a back up and yes it does everything the XBM will. I have both and as personal preference I prefer the XBM to the Link..
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Old 09-03-2008
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Thank you all..I have done a lot of reading but mostly on peoples setup.... not why they chose that particular setup. As always... tremendously helpful information provided here...thanks for taking the time to respond.
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Old 09-03-2008
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Trojan 105's

I have not (yet) checked the general sailnet opinion on golf cart batteries, but the thing to remember here is that 'golf cart' or GC2 is just a size, the battery quality and manufacturer matters too. And of course cost. There may be good or bad golf cart batteries.

The most common one I see mentioned is the Trojan 105. I have four Trojan 105's golf cart batteries for my house bank and in spite of the abuse I've given them I've made it five full years, and I'm pleased with that.

For battery charge level monitoring - you don't have to have a fancy expensive system or gizmo - you can use a digital volt meter ($29 from Radio Shack) and just measure the resting voltage. 12.7 is 100%, 11.6 is dead. Measure as close to the battery as possible.

As for why I went with what I have - In my case the boat came to me with new 105's and a pair of older 8D's, which went belly up in year one, before I knew about the impact of flatting out a battery was. That's the same winter I found that golf cart batteries start an engine just fine. In my case, I wanted to minimize the power I needed to maintain a charge on my batteries via solar while on a mooring. I needed fewer amp hours since you loose about 1% per day. So I downsized the 2 8D's for a pair of group 31's as the starting bank, and kept the Trojan 105's as the house bank. BTW - I never want to move another 8D, those suckers are big.

Last edited by TaylorC; 09-03-2008 at 04:27 PM. Reason: Add info about selection.
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