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  Topic Review (Newest First)
04-05-2002 02:40 PM
Internal Regulation


You are correct and I am sorry for my heavy handed response. You started out by saying that Peter_Pan "by his own admittance no battery charging expert,"....But that is exactly what he said on Mar. 16 2002 11:53 AM!!

So I was concerned for the sailors reading on here that don''t know marine electrical and battery systems. They will tend to get misled when they hear someone say that "I''m a charging system expert" and then make statements that are not totally correct or misleading.

It could lead someone who doesn''t understand the issues down a road that might cost them money (or stuck somewhere with out a good battery to get home). Heck I know of no one in my marina that has to replace their batteries every 2 years (and, no, they are not using Rolls or any of the premium batteries). But if someone reads certain things and then by my intervention maybe I am saving someone a few dollars or hassles....

I apologize to the list and to Peter_Pan (Jim?) for my style, but not for my content or information.
04-05-2002 01:58 PM
Internal Regulation


<b>As always there is room for reasonable discussion</b>. While Peter Pan is by his own admittance no battery charging expert, he does have a certain amount of practical experience. On the other hand, Tom has a BSEE, researched a number of articles on the web, and also some relevant experience. I think both of you have raised valid points, given the right context. But, using inflammatory language is <b>NOT</b> constructive.

For example: On point number one raised by Tom (24/7 charging of batteries) there is some "wiggle room". Peter Pan may never have used trickle chargers in his ASE life. Not many people do unless they store motor vehicles all winter. I used a trickle charger for my motorcycle, boat, and car and my batteries have lasted significantly longer than the two year average life quoted by Peter Pan. Proper charging keeps batteries from sulphating and sulphation is usually what "kills" a otherwise functional battery.

Granted, you could try and revive the battery via equalization, but that process attacks the grids and extra care must be taken as the batteries will potentially boil. Nevermind having to disconnect appliances that cannot withstand the 17VDC the equalization process goes to on flooded cells. Only when the grids collapse and short out is a battery cell truly dead. Some high end batteries even allow you to replace individual 2VDC cells within a stack that makes up the battery.

On point number four, I can tell you from an unrelated industry (that I cannot name due to NDA considerations) that almost identical products can be sold with different warranties and at highly divergent price points. The manufacturer basically makes a bet - adding a few dollars worth of extra stuff here and there will pay for themselves and then some. After all, most consumers move before the multiple-year warranty is up, the failure rate has more to do with local conditions than the manufacturer can control for, etc.

However, it''s pretty easy with batteries to see if there are measurable differences in design and construction. Not only do the interior plates have varying thicknesses, but the cells are constructed differently, the container material may vary, etc. For a good example of this see the 300, 400, and 500 series manufactured by Rolls/Surrette. Manufacturers like Penn produce private label stuff at different price points but the basic construction is allegedly the same. You can learn a lot about batteries just by researchign them a little. If no info is available, buyer beware!

Anyway, the two year average battery life experienced by Peter Pan may simply be a reflection of the batteries he prefers to buy - this is so-called selection bias. With tender-loving-care, even bottom of the barrel batteries might last for years (i.e. never discharge them 100%, trickle-charge, store in a cool dry place, etc.) before the grids collpase.

Furthermore, cars are notoriously hot, absent-minded customers may leave the lights on, and the batteries are never recharged with sophisticated chargers but relatively crude, but cheap units. Hence, car repair experience may not be as relevant to boating situations due to environmental considerations as RV experience for example. Furthermore, car systems merely start a combustion engine while RV systems actually power a mobile home that has electrical characteristics very similar to those of boats.

Anyway, I hope that the two of you can somehow make peace. There is enough trouble in the world as it is. Personal attacks do nothing but discredit the rest of your message: Readers notice the attack instead of the argument you are trying to present.

Thus, while I disagreed with a number of technical points by Peter Pan, I have tried to stay cordial, provide background information, etc. to convince him and other readers that my position was rational, that relevant industry experience existed, etc.

While I agree on a number of technical points with Tom (and had previously linked my site to a number of resources he listed), I totally disagree with his aggressive writing style.

Perhaps both of you can unilaterally edit your posts. It would be to the benefit of everyone. Good night.
04-05-2002 12:53 PM
Internal Regulation

One more should get your ego out of your behind and admit you don''t know everything on batteries or charging when you even admit "that at this time i''m ignorant of the workings of a 3 step charger" !!!!!

That is battery charging basics 101 ~~ You need to go back to school (and refund those poor people you are charging $$ to replace their batteries )...Like you said "a fool and his money are soon parted"......sounds like your customers

04-05-2002 12:43 PM
Internal Regulation


I am truly sorry if you thought I wasn''t civil. But you made NO effort WHATSOEVER to respond to the TONS of information refuting your "statements" that I have provided in the previous email. I guess you will always go through life not reading a thing and only believing make me laugh!!....Because you did NO RESEARCH it is YOU that "have learned NOTHING". Anybody that read your response to my email will immediately recognize that it is YOU that is "ignorant and stupid". All you can do is call me some names (how juvenile). BUT THERE IS NOT ONE SHREAD OF FACTUAL RESPONSE TO DEFEND THE INCORRECT STATEMENTS THAT YOU MADE. If you feel so strongly about your statements then lets see some REAL facts…..not just some myopic conjecture.

So I would think that most people that have read this thread would have to surmise that you have nothing to back up what you say and that you are wrong on some points (I did not say all points). Just because you get paid $xxx.xx per hour means nothing (lol….you think highly of yourself don''t you….lol)……Do you know what the definition of an expert is?….."Its someone that knows just a little more than the other person they are talking to on a subject". Its funny that you "think" you are so right on the specifics I brought up, but the hundreds of other people ( backed up with hard data) that dispute what you claim are wrong…….(it is you, that needs to get your head out of the sand)

So again I am sorry if I was rude and obnoxious , but there is NO way I am ignorant nor stupid ESPECIALLY on these subjects. So I will leave it up to you to respond to the technical issues I brought up with FACTS….not a diatriabe of ignorance.

Tom - Bachelor of Science Electrical Engineering, Univ. Of New Hampshire

Ps….why don''t you do yourself a favor and actually READ the information on the links I provided instead of just dismissing everything out of is NOT battery marketing literature.
04-05-2002 04:22 AM
Internal Regulation

I wish you fair winds , smooth seas and God speed.
Good Luck.

I appreciate our conversation. I have been enlightened.

I tried to be civil and shared my knowledge.
I''m usually paid over $100.00 per hour for my knowledge and skill. Here i''m paid nothing. You are rude, obnoxious and not just ignorant but as well, stupid. You will live in darkness though you are surounded in light. A few old sayings. A fool and his money are quickly parted. If you can''t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with your bull sh--.
I''ll not cast my pearls before swine. I''m gratified that you got what you paid for. You have learned nothing. I''ll dust off my feet and bid you all good day.
Ole Pete
04-04-2002 01:41 PM
Internal Regulation

First and FOREMOST do not listen to everything Peter_Pan is telling you. He has only a few things correct, but as we know a little bit of knowledge is dangerous. I do believe he might know a lot about automobiles (ASE Certified Master Tech) and possibly the miss-use of car batteries, but his knowledge of what *really* goes on in a “Lead Acid” battery sounds very limited. Some of his statements are patently myopic and incorrect. When he makes statements such as “I will admit that at this time i''m ignorant of the workings of a 3 step charger” then it scares me . No knowledge whatsoever of such a basic marine electrical component leaves me shuddering in the thought that he is giving advise to people on this list. All it would take for some knowledge on these is a quick look at most marine Catalogs (West Marine, Boat US, etc)

Lets go through a few of his “statements”.

1) “What will fry the gel cells is being constantly charged by a shore power charger left on 7-24''s”.

Most garage and consumer (automotive) type battery chargers are bulk charge only, and have little (if any) voltage regulation. They are fine for a quick boost to low batteries, but you cannot leave them on for long periods. But properly engineered Marine Battery chargers are 3 (and sometimes 4) stages: Bulk, Absorption, and Float &(Equalization) . In fact leaving these types of chargers on 7-24 is probably one of the best things you can do to insure healthy and long life for your marine batteries.

2) “I''m a charging system expert (sic). 14.4 volts will not damage the batteries”

Possibly but the disadvantages of gel cells is that they must be charged at a lower voltage (2/10th''s less) than flooded or AGM batteries. If overcharged, voids can develop in the gel which will never heal, causing a loss in battery capacity.

As some one stated earlier ” 14.4 vdc is an ideal (room temp) value for flooded, and 14.1 vdc for gel type during bulk and absorption charge cycles. Wet cell float values should be near 13.3 vdc, with gels at 13.7 vd”

3) “What fries batteries is lack of maintinance (sic). The water level must be maintained and should be checked regularly.(i.e. once a month.)”
True, but the question was asked about Gell Cell Batteries. Most of the marine Gell Cell batteries I know about cannot have the water replaced after overcharge. Getting back to the whole point of too high of a charging voltage.

4) ” No matter who manufactures a battery or what type it is, it has a 2 year life expectancy. Anything you get beyond this is gravy”

I am not disagreeing with that fact that many poorly maintained car batteries don’t last that long. But to make a blanket statement such as above is irresponsible and totally false. The lifespan of a battery will vary considerably with how it is used, how it is maintained and charged, temperature, and other factors. Do you think the Golf Cart Industry would put up with that !?! In fact most batteries are not actually bad when they are “thought” to be no good anymore, but rather improperly cared for;. So when people say that a given battery "won''t take a charge" it’s usually a result of improper charging procedures which allowed the sulfate to harden. Yes, normally there is plenty of active material left in a battery that people “think” is bad but typically its just that the material is sulfated . Many times those batteries can be “re-claimed” by desulfation techniquies via an equalizing charge (which can slowly wear away active plate material) or via electronic “pulse technology” (safer).

5) “Personally, I buy the cheapest battery in the amp hour class i need and when it goes bad i chunk it and get another one.”

There is nothing inheritently wrong with this philosohphy. But as a consumer what you want is the greatest number of amp-hours delivered over a battery''s life, at the lowest possible cost. While the temptation to buy cheaper batteries is a strong one, smart consumers should look at the cost of the energy provided by the battery over its life when making their choice.
Lets take for instance some of the examples below
Battery Type # of Cycles $ per Ah $ per 100 Ah

Cheap Cranking 25 $0.80 $3.20
Cheap Gel 12V 100 $1.35 $1.35
SeaVolt Cranking 100 $1.00 $1.00
Cheap Deep Cycle 150 $0.80 $0.53
SeaGel 12V 500 $1.86 $0.37
SeaVolt Dual Purp. 200 $0.67 $0.34
SeaVolt Deep Cycle 350 $0.86 $0.25
SeaGel 6V 1,000 $2.22 $0.22
Lifeline AGM 1,000 $2.10 $0.21
Industrial (L-16) 1,000 $1.20 $0.12
SeaVolt 6V 700 $0.79 $0.11

(BTW…on my old boat I got 2 Sears Golfcart batteries for $55 each which supplied approximately 180 amp hours. They were still working in my old boat when I sold it last year, I abused them and they were over 6 years old!)

6) With regards to electronic regulators “All those whistles bells and buzzers you refer to do some neat tricks but are realitively (sic) useless. What these claims elude to is splitting hairs”.

This is such an uninformed statement I won’t even honor it with a direct response other that to ask you to show me some “real” data to support making such a silly statement such as that. It has been proven time and again (with REAL data) that 3 stage smart regulators are vastly superior to battery health, charge times and battery performance. (here is just one of thousands of studies)

Peter_Pan maybe the reason you have replaced so many batteries over the years is because you are giving the wrong advise to everyone. Listen to Constantin you might learn something.

NOW…..with all that said lets get back to Steve’s (sjacovino ) original question can he live with the 14.4 Volt internal regulator for his Gell Cell. Well it seems like the answer is a possible yes. (LOL)

David Snead (from Ample Power) has, for many customers, been using an absorption voltage for Gell Cells of 14.4 Volts at 77 F, (25 C). and a float voltage of 13.5 to 13.6 Volts, again at the referenced temperature.
As he says “Thirteen years later, and having seen many customers from 1987 still using the same gel batteries they installed then, I have not changed my charge regimen.”

(personally I would contact Ample power and get their comments)

Tom - BSEE

04-03-2002 06:39 AM
Internal Regulation

Hi Peter,

I agree with you that internal regulation can work. However, a internally regulated alternator cannot usually properly account for voltage drop to the battery. A typical approach is to set the voltage a couple tenths of a V higher and hope that cable losses account for the rest. A slow slide is a nice general approach, but it does not offer the profile control that a modern 3-step alternator has.

If I recall correctly (and I bow to your industry experience), some of the Dynasty battery literature I read mentioned that different charging regimens led to different product lives (constant voltage vs. other ones). Naturally, trickle-charging was the least damaging while rapid recharges attacked the positive plates. I doubt Dynasty, a battery manufacturer, would make these claims since they have nothing to gain from charger manufacturing. So how the battery is charged does make a difference?

Furthermore, I have been much happier with my external system than the internal one it replaced. Not only does the present system develop far more amps, it also compensates for temperature - an important safety feature. You might call it splitting hairs, I call it insurance. Lastly, where my present system uses 100% of capacity to bulk charge the batteries, my old internally-regulated 40A OEM Perkins amp bulk charged (at most) 27A during WTO. This is not to say that more sophisticated internal regulators than those used by Perkins do not exist.

As for battery costs, I agree that you can get cheap batteries at places like Wal-Mart. What I attempted to do with my cost model was to evaluate such batteries within the context of a normal charging system. With our boat, even cheap batteries turned out to be quite expensive w/respect to AGMs due to their lower charging efficiency and higher maintenance requirements. Basically, more charging translates into more engine wear, gas costs, etc. Don''t just consider initial purchase cost if you don''t have "free" shore power!

Naturally, the results depend on usage, other extras such as solar panels. However, when I see a 20% difference in life-cycle cost between my "premium" AGM battery system and a golf-cart system of comparable capacity, I take note. The inputs into the model in terms of cycle life come from manufacturers who sent me data plots. However, I cross-checked the data with sites such as wind-sun who have nothing to gain from promoting one brand of battery over another. In fact, windsun prefers premium flooded cells for most fixed installations due to longer life than VRLAs. However, these installations do not move, replacement batteries can only be shipped by land (AGMs can be shipped via air).

Furthermore, I do not think that weight in itself shows suitability - see that starter batteries can be heavy yet remain completely unsuitable for deep cycling applications. Premium deep cycle batteries have thicker plates and a lower Ah capacity than their cheaper "deep-cycle" or counterparts. The charts that Rolls sent me indicated a direct correlation between cycle life and Pb thickness - 3,000 cycles for the CS series, 1,020 for the 0.15" thick CH series. Just a few tenths of an inch for the plates and better internal support make the difference.

And Rolls stands behind its batteries with multiple year warranties. Thus, they appeal to long-term users who can take advantage of the long life. 6V Golf cart or scrubber batteries certainly offer a big bang for the buck and wide availability but I doubt that the cell grids in them will last for multiple years like those of batteries with multi-year warranties. This was one area of preference for me with AGMs - since the mat inside holds the grids firmly in place they are not as prone to failure due to vibration as flooded cells.

Please note: I was semi-sold on AGMs as a replacement to flooded cells before I started researching. That could have made my research biased. I simply like a number of features such as no gassing (under normal circumstances), no required safety gear for battery maintenance (face shield, gauntlets, apron, etc.), much less corrosion in battery compartment (venting), much higher discharge capacity (we use deep cycle AGMs to start our diesel - only one battery type on board), less charge time (due to higher conversion efficiency), etc. Naturally, I was even happier when the life-cycle cost premium of AGM over all flooded cells turned out to be negative for us. But, your mileage may vary, of course.
04-02-2002 07:30 PM
Internal Regulation

I looked at your web site and I must say it looks like you''ve done alot of work on the subject. However, I was wondering if you considered the source of the information that you were relating to. I have found that manufactures embelish the merrits of thier products considerably. Many times they incorperate jargon that is down right misleading if not just confusing. I will admit that at this time i''m ignorant of the workings of a 3 step charger but i''m well versed on how electronic regulators work. no electronic regulator, internal of external is a fixed switch that simply pours the coals on a battery. Even the simpelest cheapest electronic regulator has a complex voltage sensor that has the ability to what can only be explained as a slow slide to home from max to finish. All those whistles bells and buzzers you refer to do some neat tricks but are realitively useless. What these claims elude to is splitting hairs. How thick the plates are in a battery is less relavent than the quantitiy of lead overall. A simple rule of thumb is that the more lead the more storage the more cost. Golf carts have been using flodded cells for more years than i''m old. Ever lift one? These batteries work equally well when put in series as deep cycle or starter batteries and can stand repeated depleation. Even a pair of these is cheap in relationship to any gell cell or AGM battery on the market and can out perform then considerably. I know this first hand. People that are impressed by giltz and glamour are the prime targets for this kind of marketing. Out in the pitts so to speak is where the real work is done. For me what really matters how many amps can I buy for my buck. I don''t care how it comes or what it comes in. You can buy four 27 series 750 amp hour batteries at Wal-Mart for $36.00 ea. and have 3000 amps for the price of 1 850 amp hour gell cell. Do the math.
Ps. It would be rare, if any alternator with either an internal or external electronic regulator ever caused damage to a battery.
Ole Pete, 35 years ASE certified electronic technition.
04-01-2002 01:25 AM
Internal Regulation

Having installed AGM batteries, I also worried a bit about charging voltages. However, AGMs are so close to flooded cells that most people don''t bother with the 0.1-0.2V adjustment required. <b>But in your case, I would go ahead with the modification to the alternator</b>. There are several reasons:

First of all, a quality external regulator is usually better at charging battery banks. It senses battery voltage instead of output voltage and adjusts the output at the alternator accordingly. Furthermore, it is usually easily adjustable. So if you change battery type, the alternator doesn''t need a trip to the shop.

Secondly, quality external regulators also incorporate battery temperature sensors to prevent thermal runaway. This is a very important safety feature once you get into powerful charging systems. Even Gel batteries can gas and explode if maltreated badly.

Thirdly, a quality external amp will charge faster and/or more gently than a constant voltage charger usually found in internally regulated alternators. This is of particular importance with high-powered systems. Your batteries will last longer with a quality 3-step regulator.

As far as I can tell, you''d be penny-wise and pound foolish not to make the modification. $100 is nothing compared to getting a extra year out of your gel cells, peace of mind, etc.

For more information about battery characteristics, configurations, and charging have a look at my <a href=>battery website</a>.
03-27-2002 01:28 PM
Internal Regulation

Ahhhhhh, the beef! Bruised engineer ego''s and all it always comes down to $$$.
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