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  #1  
Old 11-25-2012
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Normal battery water usage

Yup, searched it, but couldn't seem to find what I wanted. I've used about 4 oz./month lately on my group 27s; all used about the same amount and they are identical.

What is the normal range of water usage? I'm certain this varies a good deal with use--storage vs. cruising, size of bank vs load, charging method, whether charger adapts to temperature changes--but all answers are of interest because...

a. Readers will have boats of many sorts and many practices.
b. I operate in different modes too, as most of us do.

My current problem is that I have both solar and plug-in charging, and for the first time I'm using both. Ordinarily, I only use the plug-in if I'm with the boat, other wise relying on the solar regulator to avoid dueling chargers; however, I'm testing dehumidifying equipment which is requiring me to leave the shore power on.
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Old 11-25-2012
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Re: Normal battery water usage

Quote:
Originally Posted by pdqaltair View Post
Yup, searched it, but couldn't seem to find what I wanted. I've used about 4 oz./month lately on my group 27s; all used about the same amount and they are identical.

What is the normal range of water usage? I'm certain this varies a good deal with use--storage vs. cruising, size of bank vs load, charging method, whether charger adapts to temperature changes--but all answers are of interest because...

a. Readers will have boats of many sorts and many practices.
b. I operate in different modes too, as most of us do.

My current problem is that I have both solar and plug-in charging, and for the first time I'm using both. Ordinarily, I only use the plug-in if I'm with the boat, other wise relying on the solar regulator to avoid dueling chargers; however, I'm testing dehumidifying equipment which is requiring me to leave the shore power on.
4 oz per month is quite a lot of water usage and enough to lead to diluting the electrolyte rather quickly. This becomes a catch 22 scenario where they suffer and die more rapidly. They need water or they'll die but more water dilutes the electrolyte and also causes death...

I suspect your batteries may be sulfated and coming up to "voltage" quickly. When batteries become sulfated the current can't penetrate the plates well and a surface charge builds. The voltage of the battery rises quickly and stays there until the charger or controller goes into float. With healthy batteries it should take the batteries a long while to come up to "absorption" voltage. Once batteries approach 14.2V + they can begin boiling off water (temp dependent). The faster they come up to voltage, and are held there, the more water is used.

In warm climates this gets exacerbated when a voltage like 14.4 - 14.6V is used at temps over 80F.. Anytime your batts get over 80f the voltage should ideally be dropped to compensate for the battery temps.

What solar controller and what battery charger do you have..?
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Old 11-25-2012
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Re: Normal battery water usage

This controller (Morningstar "Prostar" 12 Volt 15 Amp Solar Panel Charge Controller w/ Digital Display) with 2 x 85w panels feeding 3 x group 27 batteries. Yes, it is set for wet cells. No, I do not often see charging voltages over 14V and never higher than 14.2V.

The batteries are not old (8-2012) and have not been flat or dry. It is only very recently that I have noticed the water dropping, just the last month, as I checked them before I started leaving shore power on. I suspect the Freedom unit may actually be the problem, as the charging voltage is higher now. Previously I used < 2 ounces per month. IS it possible that the 2 chargers simply don't play well together?

I'll need to check the electrolyte gravity next visit. My understanding is that the normal gravity varies somewhat with the application (cars being lower than deep cycle). I'm assuming that in this weather about 1.285 SG is expected at full charge.
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Last edited by pdqaltair; 11-25-2012 at 11:29 PM.
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Old 11-26-2012
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Re: Normal battery water usage

" IS it possible that the 2 chargers simply don't play well together?"
In theory, I think, what "should" happen is that when one charger sees voltage from the other, it will say "OK,batteries are full now, I can drop back to float charge" and if they both do that, you'd wind up with a failsafe where the chargers would NOT charge properly and the batteries would be getting charged way too slowly/gently.

In practice...most every charger is a "too damned clever" smart charger these days, and I'd hate to guess what might be possible, depending on what each one sees in what stage of the charging cycle and how it decides to reset itself. They're just not intended to live and play with ANY other kids in the same sandbox.

To find out what is really happening, I think you'd need to buy a dmm that has a data logging function, or an RS-232 output to store data on a PC (serial port required) and then actually watch the charging voltages to see what mischief the silicon kids were getting into.

While you're docked, can you just disconnect the solar side and see if the Freedom is charging properly when left by itself?

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Re: Normal battery water usage

[QUOTE=hellosailor;953182]
While you're docked, can you just disconnect the solar side and see if the Freedom is charging properly when left by itself?

-----

I think that is the next plan.
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Old 11-26-2012
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Re: Normal battery water usage

[quote=pdqaltair;953220]
Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
While you're docked, can you just disconnect the solar side and see if the Freedom is charging properly when left by itself?

-----

I think that is the next plan.

PDQ,

There are no issues with multiple controllers or charge sources except that the controller, charger or alternator reg with the highest voltage wins. When a controller, regulator or charger senses a higher voltage than they are set for they simply shut off or discontinue charging until the voltage falls to their set point where they again begin "voltage limiting". Even with two identical units both set to 14.4V one will always be set slightly higher than the other causing the other to shut down first. Of course if the source with the higher voltage has the lower current and you need more current the two will "cycle" back and forth. Usually best to set the source with the most current availability to have a slightly higher absorption voltage.

It sounds to me like you have a charge voltage set too high or the shore charger is perhaps set to an automatic equalization. You may also have a defective battery?

In six years, on my own wet cells, I have used perhaps 8 oz per battery in total. They've only needed water three times in six years or about every other year. Most of my customers use a similar amount with similar situations except for my customers with Rolls batts & the larger 6V's which do tend to use more.. Perhaps some hydrocaps might be in order?

You really need to monitor the charging voltages to see what is going on. Dropping absorption back to 14.2V will decrease the water usage.

This video might help put it into perspective?
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Last edited by Maine Sail; 11-26-2012 at 09:02 AM.
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Old 11-26-2012
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Re: Normal battery water usage

all good but explain the circumstances of your battery water usage mainsail. I'm in the tropics, avg daily temps in the 90's. Putting in about 100 Amps per day on a 480 amp 6v golf cart battery house bank...New batts in Septemeber, and can advise on a 3 month cylcle here, but my historic usage quite a bit more then yours....Sure our usage is different, even in NZ my use was higher, similar to yours 6 months, maybe the temperature a bigger factor?
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Re: Normal battery water usage

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Originally Posted by aeventyr60 View Post
all good but explain the circumstances of your battery water usage mainsail. I'm in the tropics, avg daily temps in the 90's. Putting in about 100 Amps per day on a 480 amp 6v golf cart battery house bank...New batts in Septemeber, and can advise on a 3 month cylcle here, but my historic usage quite a bit more then yours....Sure our usage is different, even in NZ my use was higher, similar to yours 6 months, maybe the temperature a bigger factor?
Yes heat causes more water to be used and can also lead to over charging if not temp compensated correctly. 6V type batteries also use slightly more than a typical 12V "deep cycle" battery will..

Our batteries rarely if ever get above 80F and are usually more in the 60-70F range and this helps minimize water usage.

Our sailing season averages about 7 months for us (April 15 to late Nov) but I do use the boat nearly daily. Not all of those days see deep cycles though. Our bank has been sized so that our average DOD is just 30% of capacity. Still 4 oz per month, per battery, is a LOT of water for a 12V battery to be taking.

I am beginning to suspect some contamination in the batteries perhaps from non-distilled water or perhaps external contamination when the caps were removed. Errant metals in the electrolyte can cause a "poisoning" of the negative plate which can then reduce the gassing point as low as 2.2V per cell or 13.2 volts if bad enough. This may be the problem....
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Last edited by Maine Sail; 11-26-2012 at 03:48 PM.
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Old 11-26-2012
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Re: Normal battery water usage

Quote:
6V type batteries also use slightly more than a typical 12V "deep cycle" battery will..
We have 2v type batteries (six of them in series) and go thru a few gallons a year. I think battery type has something to do with it and that it's more important to keep track of a change in water consumption rather than comparing water consumption between battery types.
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Re: Normal battery water usage

I had a steady use of a liter and a half every 3 months for the old 6v batteries, interesting to see how the new Trojans hold up.
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