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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance > Electrical Systems > Lifeline Batteries
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Thread: Lifeline Batteries Reply to Thread
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Topic Review (Newest First)
06-04-2012 12:05 AM
jentine
Re: Lifeline Batteries

Few if any cruising sailors don't have a means of maintaining the charge in their batteries. Personally I have solar, wind, a generator and of course, the main engine. Since the state of charge never gets to a critical level, I use all batteries for the house circuit and have no back-up starting battery giving me a total of 880 amp hours of storage.
I have chosen to employ only flooded cell batteries as they can be equalized and thereby renewed regularly.

Jim
06-03-2012 11:08 AM
SVAuspicious
Re: Lifeline Batteries

Bill, Dave, and RC are--as usual--on point. I won't repeat their suggestions.

I will share my slightly different configuration and procedures in the hope someone will find it of some interest.

I have a 675 Ah house bank of six 6VDC wet traction batteries (the EU 'name' for golf cart batteries) and a 12VDC start battery. The only connection is a crossbar switch normally left open.

On my Yanmar 4JH4E is the original 55A Hitachi alternator, internally regulated, and a 110A (I think) Balmar alternator with external Balmar regulator. The Hitachi charges the start battery and the Balmar charges the house bank. My Mastervolt MASS 80A charger is wired to the house bank and the 3A trickle line feeds the start battery.

Accordingly nearly any failure (like the sense line on my Balmar breaking off last month) can be addressed by closing the crossbar switch.

Simple is better.

My battery bank is under the main, aft berth. Whenever we wash the sheets (every month or so at dock and every couple of weeks (or less with Janet aboard full time)) I dig in and check the batteries for water and record the specific gravity, giving me a check on the battery monitor.

Checking the batteries is easier and faster than making the bed.
06-02-2012 08:41 PM
clarity36
Re: Lifeline Batteries

Many thanks, crew, for sharing your experience with me. Much food for thought. Cheers. Bill
06-02-2012 01:40 PM
hellosailor
Re: Lifeline Batteries

"A batteries self discharge drastically slows in colder temps as do the chemical reactions that accelerate sulfation."
IIRC chemical reactions double/halve in speed with every 10 degrees Fahrenheit of temp change. Or is that 10C? It's been a while since I needed to know that number.

Still...that's incredible longevity.

Now, once we've solved the mystery of batteries, maybe we can figure out why mattresses have to be fourteen inches thick these days, and a six-inch thick mattress can no longer be found, much less bought. (VBG)
06-02-2012 01:03 PM
Maine Sail
Re: Lifeline Batteries

Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
I find it sadly unamusing that even the battery makers keep contradicting their own information about how each type is best treated or used. Even in Lifeline's little blurb about battery life, I'm guessing they made an "oops" because their #1 scenario for best battery life does not mention equalizing at all--and they're one of the few AGM makes who say to equalize their AGMs. While most everyone else says that is unnecessary or will kill them.
The AGM makers have changed their data & marketing sheet's many times. When they first came out it was double or triple the cycle life of wets (of course this was all "Lab" not real world). Now it is less than or comparable cycle life to wets. They also said discharge to 80% of the capacity now they say discharge to a max or 50%... The real world and realities of the marine market place seem to thin out the BS over time... AGM's have GREAT benefits IF you can take advantage of them.

I just finished an install with a bank of 4 Odyssey PC 2150's, an Electromaax 140A alternator, serpentine kit, Balmar MC-614 & Balmar Duo Charge feeding a smaller Odyssey start battery. This set up PUMPS the current and the Odyssey's take it. I ran it at 130A + output for over an hour last week and it was still under 195 degrees!!! Based on the bank size he's not taking a "huge" advantage of acceptance but he's certainly ahead of the acceptance he'd have if his banks had been wet so he's about 40Ah ahead per hour of engine run time which is all in all pretty good. Based on the stock Valeo alt on the Volvo MD 2030 he's about 110Ah ahead per hour of engine run time. I tried to talk him into a 160A or 180A alt but he was concerned about the HP loss..

Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
"BTW this is the hidden cost of the wet cells..acceptance rate and" Chef, I would note that the acceptance rate for wet cells is normally given as C/5 (one fifth of the charge capacity) while it is given as C/4 for AGMs. That means wet cells can be charged at 20% of their rated capacity while AGMs can be charged at 25%. A real difference--but not a huge one. And while many folks have reported charing AGMs way faster for years with good results, again, that's just what the folks who make them have to say about it.
Chef's acceptance story of 3 hours vs. 5 hours makes one stop to pause because based on the numbers given it does not make much sense. I am guessing it is a monitor calibration or set up issue? Very often people forget to program the Peukert number and with a 3.3A draw (based on 80Ah per day energy diet) Chef's 600+ Ah bank is considerably larger than 600 Ah so not really drawn as deeply as one would assume.... Both banks were in bulk and could take WAAAAAAY more current than they both had available so neither boat was limited by "acceptance" unless the wet bank was sulfated due to under charging.....




Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
But AGM does have one compelling case, and that's low self-discharge. If the batteries are going to sit without being trickle-charged, i.e. over the winter while the boat is on the hard with power not always available, that's where AGMs win. They can SIT for six months and pretty much come back to 100% afterwards, while a wet lead battery starts to take permanent sulphite damage at 30 days. If you're living on board or boating every week all year round, or have reliable power (dockside or solar) that's not an issue.
A batteries self discharge drastically slows in colder temps as do the chemical reactions that accelerate sulfation. Our batteries, wet, are left on-board all winter. One winter just to experiment I left them uncharged. They lost very little, and are still going strong at year six. AGM's would have lost less but ours did not lose enough in the cold temps of Maine to have any issues, based on very detailed testing. Ours have been stored on-board for over 20 years and topped up only once or twice per winter. In warmer climates self discharge is a big issue but less so for those of us storing on the hard in the cold white North..


Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
I applaude the folks like bt and Maine who have tried to set up battery banks on the bench and get some objective long-term testing done. And I'm astounded that Maine could leave wet calls all winter and get no capaity loss, cold or no cold. I only wish the industry would try as hard to lose the smoke and mirrors.
To be clear I did not lose "no capacity" but I lost less than I would have expected and I lost more than an AGM or GEL in the same situation. Of course coming from a science and chemistry background it makes sense as chemical reactions, like those in a battery, almost go into hibernation when it is cold..

I'm one of those who has to see things for myself so as a result I do loads of experimenting, Bill T. does too.... My prop drag test locked vs. spinning is but one of my favorites...
06-02-2012 12:04 PM
hellosailor
Re: Lifeline Batteries

I find it sadly unamusing that even the battery makers keep contradicting their own information about how each type is best treated or used. Even in Lifeline's little blurb about battery life, I'm guessing they made an "oops" because their #1 scenario for best battery life does not mention equalizing at all--and they're one of the few AGM makes who say to equalize their AGMs. While most everyone else says that is unnecessary or will kill them.

"BTW this is the hidden cost of the wet cells..acceptance rate and" Chef, I would note that the acceptance rate for wet cells is normally given as C/5 (one fifth of the charge capacity) while it is given as C/4 for AGMs. That means wet cells can be charged at 20% of their rated capacity while AGMs can be charged at 25%. A real difference--but not a huge one. And while many folks have reported charing AGMs way faster for years with good results, again, that's just what the folks who make them have to say about it.

After messing about with alternator data sheets, pulleys, etc. I have come to expect any "stock, built to a price" boat to simply be set up WRONG for the best charging. It starts with alternators, which simply cost more when they are sized to produce full power at low speeds (idle, cruising) while not overheating at high speeds.

I find wet lead to be a tar baby, I just know every time I get near them, something will be ruined by acid. Pants, shirt, parka, carpet...something. But that's just my luck. I try to keep sone disposable clothing and lots of cardboard and plastic around when I'm near them.

And AGM is simply pricey, no matter how you look at it. Maybe a 30% premium for AGM flat plates, 50% for spiral cells (Optima) which also have less capacity because they are a box full of tubes, so the box isn't full of lead. Case-for-case size, spirals will have about 10% less capacity.

But AGM does have one compelling case, and that's low self-discharge. If the batteries are going to sit without being trickle-charged, i.e. over the winter while the boat is on the hard with power not always available, that's where AGMs win. They can SIT for six months and pretty much come back to 100% afterwards, while a wet lead battery starts to take permanent sulphite damage at 30 days. If you're living on board or boating every week all year round, or have reliable power (dockside or solar) that's not an issue.

I applaude the folks like bt and Maine who have tried to set up battery banks on the bench and get some objective long-term testing done. And I'm astounded that Maine could leave wet calls all winter and get no capaity loss, cold or no cold. I only wish the industry would try as hard to lose the smoke and mirrors.
06-02-2012 11:03 AM
Maine Sail
Re: Lifeline Batteries

Quote:
Originally Posted by sea_hunter View Post
it's better if the batteries are rated the same.
No it is not, as related to charging as second bank with a combiner or B2B charger or via a BOTH switch.. It certainly won't hurt but it is absolutely not a necessity. Just because you have said it, and stated it as a fact, does not make it so..


Quote:
Originally Posted by sea_hunter View Post
Once you start adding external charging sources IE solar, it only takes a short time for the start battery to get cooked if not switched or correctly isolated.
Again, not true, I add these systems nearly daily. As a marine electrical systems specialist who actually specializes in charging systems, alternator, wind solar etc. I can assure you this is misguided.... Don't worry you would not be the first to assume things like this..

Quote:
Originally Posted by sea_hunter View Post
There's been many a posting here ( perhaps hundreds, even thousands) over the years with battery/charging issues suggesting there's obvious issues with the way many boats are wired.
There are postings all over the net of people with battery issues. I deal with boat owners multiple times per day and the one common denominator is that people, including many "professionals" simply don't understand them. This is plain and simple to see, based on this thread alone.. To assume these failures are because the batteries don't have a similar Ah rating is simply incorrect. Most battery issues I see are due to user error, abuse, lack of proper care, poor chargers, excessively deep cycling, wrong charging voltage settings for the batteries being charged, wiring errors & chronic under charging. Chronic under charging is the number one reason I see for short battery life. A lack of understanding of the state of charge, resulting in excessively deep cycles, would be #2 and they tend to go hand in hand.

I have never seen a WET start battery "cooked" by being combined with other "WET" batteries because it can't physically happen if the other bank is not ALSO being cooked at the same time. In almost all cases the start battery lasts longer than the house bank because it is rarely cycled.

I just replaced a bank of Crown 6V batts last week that was 7 years old (this would have been season #8). They were the same age as the 60Ah starting battery and purchased at the same time (not deep cycle or dual purpose but a thin plate "starting") battery. The start battery is still testing within the safe range and is still usable. The start and Crown 6V's have been "combined" with a West Marine version of the Yandina combiner under "combined" circumstances for 7 years. Cooked? Really? Not in the real world.. Simply put one battery bank can not be "over charged" if they share similar charging voltage parameters... The Ah capacity of the other bank simply does not matter.


Quote:
Originally Posted by sea_hunter View Post
Keeping the ratings the same prevents over charging of the lesser battery.

Keeping the Ah ratings the same, as you've stated they need to be, does no such thing. Having batteries that are to be "combined" with similar suggested charging voltages is a good idea but the Ah capacity of the start battery means nothing.

There are some general guidelines that are good to follow when charge combining or using a battery to battery charger.

*Avoid mixing GEL & WET or GEL & AGM as one can be over voltage or the other will be under voltage. The Sterling B2B charger allows mixing GEL with other types...

*With combiners, ACR / VSR or a BOTH position try to avoid mixing battery types eg: WET and AGM.

With battery to battery chargers (B2B's) such as an Echo Charger, Duo Charge or Sterling B2B you can mix WET and AGM but unless using the Sterling I would avoid mixing GEL with other types.
06-02-2012 10:12 AM
btrayfors
Re: Lifeline Batteries

Quote:
Originally Posted by sea_hunter View Post
I agree with your point 1 and half of point 2 of your response, however, unless both start and house banks are completely isolated (which in most cases are not) it's better if the batteries are rated the same. Once you start adding external charging sources IE solar, it only takes a short time for the start battery to get cooked if not switched or correctly isolated. There's been many a posting here ( perhaps hundreds, even thousands) over the years with battery/charging issues suggesting there's obvious issues with the way many boats are wired. Keeping the ratings the same prevents over charging of the lesser battery.
Two issues:

1. On most cruising boats other than very small power or sailboats, the house battery bank is normally MUCH LARGER in capacity than the start battery. It would be totally impractical to have a start battery bank the same capacity as the start battery on these boats, and extremely expensive and wasteful. From both an engineering and a practical standpoint, this would be ridiculous.

2. On such boats the start battery is totally isolated from the house battery bank. Sometimes this is via a 1-2-Both-Off switch and a battery combiner or voltage follower device -- these are preferred methods.

Sometimes the isolation is just manual, with the boat operator using the battery switch itself to combine the batteries. This is NOT a preferred method, though it can work for some folks if they take care with the battery switching regime, if the batteries are not badly depleted, etc., etc.

By far the preferred method is to use an automatic charging relay ACR or, better IMHO, a voltage-follower device. These are totally automatic and, when no charging is taking place, they totally isolate the two banks.

BTW, the idea that you will fry a flooded or AGM battery which is already near full charge by exposing it to voltages in the charging range of 14.4-14.8VDC for a few hours is totally bogus. So long as you don't let the voltage climb above that level, a battery is going to take what it's going to take and no more.

Bill
06-02-2012 09:23 AM
sea_hunter I agree with your point 1 and half of point 2 of your response, however, unless both start and house banks are completely isolated (which in most cases are not) it's better if the batteries are rated the same. Once you start adding external charging sources IE solar, it only takes a short time for the start battery to get cooked if not switched or correctly isolated. There's been many a posting here ( perhaps hundreds, even thousands) over the years with battery/charging issues suggesting there's obvious issues with the way many boats are wired. Keeping the ratings the same prevents over charging of the lesser battery.
06-02-2012 08:34 AM
btrayfors
Re: Lifeline Batteries

Again, you persist in trying to perpetuate a myth and flatly erroneous advice.

I read your original. It was WRONG. I read your reply. It was again...WRONG.

And, I wasn't even into the Mt. Gay yet :-)

Let me put it as clearly as I can:

1. Yes, all batteries in a given bank, like the house bank, should be of the same size and type; and

2. The start battery can be of any size, but should be of a compatible type. It's amp hour capacity has NOTHING to do with the size of the batteries in the house bank.

Example:

You have a house bank of 1,000AH capacity. You have a single start battery of 100AH capacity. No problem. At all. You use a voltage follower device or an ACR to maintain the start battery.

This is how hundreds, no thousands, of boats are set up.

Bill
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