Feedback requested on new batteries / solar charging setup - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 10 Old 02-19-2018 Thread Starter
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Feedback requested on new batteries / solar charging setup

The current setup on our boat (1984 Hunter 40) consists of the following:

- x6 Lifeline GPL-4CT 6v batteries run in series/parallel for 12v
- x1 (unreadable brand) flooded start battery
- x4 Renogy RNG-100D 100W solar panels in parallel
- Morningstar/ProStar PS-30 solar charge controller (PWM only?)
- Balmar 150A alternator w/ ARS-5 regulator

All the above batteries are 6+ years old, appear to be shot (not surprising) and need replacement.

The PS-30 solar controller seems to be working but I don't like it's lack of adjustability (other than the selector dial: Flooded/Gel/AGM) and I wish it had more capacity in case I go to larger panels in the future. It also appears to be PWM and not MPPT but I'm uncertain how much this should concern me. Lastly I don't care for the systems lack of tracking power in/out, bank/battery status etc.

My thoughts are to replace the 6 Lifelines with 4 (12v) Firefly batteries, replace the PS-30 with a Victron BlueSolar 100/50 controller and then add a Victron BMV-712 Monitor (with Bluetooth).

In my mind the above changes would give me an updated system with AH capacity similar (or better?) than the Lifelines (if they were good) with a better capacity more future-proof controller and a good, simple solution for tracking AH usage and the status/etc of the system.

Oh and in regards to the start battery - not sure what to do there. Put a new, regular flooded cheapy in there (not sure how the AGM charge settings would affect it), put an AGM start in there or just start off the house bank?

Can anyone offer me any feedback? Am I on the right track here? Am I missing something?
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post #2 of 10 Old 02-19-2018
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Re: Feedback requested on new batteries / solar charging setup

Your plan sounds fine to me.

As for the start battery, I would just use a cheap car battery and let it charge at whatever the Firefly charge profile is through a combiner. It will be close enough for it.

Mark
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Re: Feedback requested on new batteries / solar charging setup

Quote:
Originally Posted by colemj View Post
Your plan sounds fine to me.

As for the start battery, I would just use a cheap car battery and let it charge at whatever the Firefly charge profile is through a combiner. It will be close enough for it.

Mark
Thanks Mark. I'm leaning towards going that way (cheap) with the start battery, I'd have a hard time forking over the boat bucks for a good AGM just for a start batt.

Anyone else have any feedback for me? Trying not to make an expensive mistake on my selections here.
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Re: Feedback requested on new batteries / solar charging setup

Quote:
Originally Posted by dbrimm View Post
Thanks Mark. I'm leaning towards going that way (cheap) with the start battery, I'd have a hard time forking over the boat bucks for a good AGM just for a start batt.

Anyone else have any feedback for me? Trying not to make an expensive mistake on my selections here.
Brimm - just curious how your current batteries are stored/set-up. We had the 89 Hunter 40 and had everything under the aft bed - and hooked solar into all that (with a set-up almost exactly like yours, except 3X100). It was a great setup...

More Range, More Freedom, Less Fuel ? Part 1 | SMACKTALK!

More Range, More Freedom, Less Fuel ? Part 2 | SMACKTALK!

From where these two posts leave off, I ended up doing a lot of clean-up with the wiring, adding a LinkPro, etc. - and I had to replace the original cheap controller with the Morningstar like yours - but with the LED readout which provided all the readings you're talking about.



But all in all, the system pretty easily kept up with all our power needs for several years - with cheap SRM-27 batteries.

Cheap is always a gamble. But I just didn't have room in that space for golfcart or bigger form-factor batteries. It worked for us.
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post #5 of 10 Old 02-19-2018
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Re: Feedback requested on new batteries / solar charging setup

Sounds fine.
The only thing you are missing is the understanding that many cruisers are imbiciles when it comes to electricity.

Keep it simple.

If anyone says u need a 6v battery to take a 12v charge and store it and then make it back to 12v to use it you know they're Crackers.
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Re: Feedback requested on new batteries / solar charging setup

Quote:
Originally Posted by smackdaddy View Post
Brimm - just curious how your current batteries are stored/set-up. We had the 89 Hunter 40 and had everything under the aft bed - and hooked solar into all that (with a set-up almost exactly like yours, except 3X100). It was a great setup...

More Range, More Freedom, Less Fuel ? Part 1 | SMACKTALK!

More Range, More Freedom, Less Fuel ? Part 2 | SMACKTALK!

From where these two posts leave off, I ended up doing a lot of clean-up with the wiring, adding a LinkPro, etc. - and I had to replace the original cheap controller with the Morningstar like yours - but with the LED readout which provided all the readings you're talking about.



But all in all, the system pretty easily kept up with all our power needs for several years - with cheap SRM-27 batteries.

Cheap is always a gamble. But I just didn't have room in that space for golfcart or bigger form-factor batteries. It worked for us.
Hey Smack - do you not have the Hunter anymore?

Our current setup has 4 of the batteries behind the aft bed bulkhead on the starboard side, the remaining 2 batteries are under the bed (again to starboard) and our start battery (a stupid large one) plus a spare are to port under the bed as well. The center area under the bed is mostly taken up by our large GRP waterlock/muffler. I'm still debating whether to just put the 4 Fireflies back behind the bulkhead where they'd fit in the 'rack' already back there with slight modification (they're 3" longer each than the Lifelines) or to try and 'force' them under the bed. I think I could manage that with some very creative Tetris moves. I think.

Thanks for your linked articles, good stuff.

Silly as it might sound if I had the PS-30 with the display I'd probably keep it but since I don't and I might upsize the panels next year I figure I might as well swap out the controller now while I'm working on things.

I'm usually all about the cheap approach but I'm hoping the Fireflies are all they're hyped to be as far as how far they can be discharged, tolerance to PSOC conditions, etc.. guess we'll find out one way or another. With our planned trip south to Panama and then across and up the Windwards and our 'allergy' to marinas and shore power I'm hoping for a system that's pretty simple, low maintenance and durable for that fairly remote slog. Fingers crossed.



Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkofSeaLife View Post
Sounds fine.
The only thing you are missing is the understanding that many cruisers are imbiciles when it comes to electricity.

Keep it simple.

If anyone says u need a 6v battery to take a 12v charge and store it and then make it back to 12v to use it you know they're Crackers.
Haha.. thanks. I'm thinking my proposed system is pretty simple (if not a little on the newer tech side with the Fireflies), do you think so too? I've always run T105s in the past but had problems with the last 2 systems and wanted to try and stick to straight 12v this time.
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Re: Feedback requested on new batteries / solar charging setup

brimm - no we sold Dawn Treader right before Christmas. My oldest is about to head to college this fall so our summer cruising is over for a while. The plan now is to buy a cruising cat in the next 2-3 years in the Med and hang out for a while then see where the wind blows me next. In the mean time - it's the beach cat on the lake, baby!

On your battery locations - I see now. We had a Phasor generator in that space behind the bulkhead so that wasn't an option.

Keep us updated. I'll be interested to see how you rig everything for your trip. Are you keeping a blog for the trip?
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Re: Feedback requested on new batteries / solar charging setup

Quote:
Originally Posted by dbrimm View Post
The current setup on our boat (1984 Hunter 40) consists of the following:

- x6 Lifeline GPL-4CT 6v batteries run in series/parallel for 12v
- x1 (unreadable brand) flooded start battery
- x4 Renogy RNG-100D 100W solar panels in parallel
- Morningstar/ProStar PS-30 solar charge controller (PWM only?)
- Balmar 150A alternator w/ ARS-5 regulator

All the above batteries are 6+ years old, appear to be shot (not surprising) and need replacement.

The PS-30 solar controller seems to be working but I don't like it's lack of adjustability (other than the selector dial: Flooded/Gel/AGM) and I wish it had more capacity in case I go to larger panels in the future. It also appears to be PWM and not MPPT but I'm uncertain how much this should concern me. Lastly I don't care for the systems lack of tracking power in/out, bank/battery status etc.

My thoughts are to replace the 6 Lifelines with 4 (12v) Firefly batteries, replace the PS-30 with a Victron BlueSolar 100/50 controller and then add a Victron BMV-712 Monitor (with Bluetooth).

In my mind the above changes would give me an updated system with AH capacity similar (or better?) than the Lifelines (if they were good) with a better capacity more future-proof controller and a good, simple solution for tracking AH usage and the status/etc of the system.

Oh and in regards to the start battery - not sure what to do there. Put a new, regular flooded cheapy in there (not sure how the AGM charge settings would affect it), put an AGM start in there or just start off the house bank?

Can anyone offer me any feedback? Am I on the right track here? Am I missing something?


While we don’t have the solar charging component out set up is similar with 6-6volt Lifeline gal-4ct AGM with an echo charged odyssey AGM spiral as a starting battery.

Our last set lasted 10 years so I am surprised to see yours lasting only 6. Do you ever equalize/6 desulfate the lifelines. They are the only AGM which I know of you can do this. You seem knowledgeable so I assume you know the importance of trying to get back to 100% charge . I like the Lifeline also because of their smaller footprint.

We bought our third set 3 years ago so hopefully I won’t need new for 6 years but will watch this firefly tecnolgy and build quality as I like the increased cycling they claim. You are the gineau pig . So please keep us up to date,.

Lastly you are mixing wet cell and AGM when charging? Thought that you shouldn’t do that. What do you set the charging on?
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Re: Feedback requested on new batteries / solar charging setup

We also have the victron Monitor. And it’s worked flawlessly
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post #10 of 10 Old 02-20-2018 Thread Starter
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Re: Feedback requested on new batteries / solar charging setup

Quote:
Originally Posted by smackdaddy View Post
brimm - no we sold Dawn Treader right before Christmas. My oldest is about to head to college this fall so our summer cruising is over for a while. The plan now is to buy a cruising cat in the next 2-3 years in the Med and hang out for a while then see where the wind blows me next. In the mean time - it's the beach cat on the lake, baby!

On your battery locations - I see now. We had a Phasor generator in that space behind the bulkhead so that wasn't an option.

Keep us updated. I'll be interested to see how you rig everything for your trip. Are you keeping a blog for the trip?
Ah, bummer about the Hunter but congrats on the future cruising cat and the beach cat.

If I manage to fit the batteries under the bed I was considering adding an additional diesel tank back behind the bulkhead. I could totally see a genset fitting nicely in there.

We're casually vblogging and have a facebook page for the boat/trip but not a dedicated blog. I think the wife is also putting stuff on instagram or something but I'm not totally sure. Will definitely try and keep checking in here more often (famous last words) as we make our way south. Links below for our YT/FB feeds.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUw...pB603tQ/videos
https://www.facebook.com/svducky/


Quote:
Originally Posted by chef2sail View Post
While we don’t have the solar charging component out set up is similar with 6-6volt Lifeline gal-4ct AGM with an echo charged odyssey AGM spiral as a starting battery.

Our last set lasted 10 years so I am surprised to see yours lasting only 6. Do you ever equalize/6 desulfate the lifelines. They are the only AGM which I know of you can do this. You seem knowledgeable so I assume you know the importance of trying to get back to 100% charge . I like the Lifeline also because of their smaller footprint.

We bought our third set 3 years ago so hopefully I won’t need new for 6 years but will watch this firefly tecnolgy and build quality as I like the increased cycling they claim. You are the gineau pig . So please keep us up to date,.

Lastly you are mixing wet cell and AGM when charging? Thought that you shouldn’t do that. What do you set the charging on?
We just bought the boat a few months back and there are some gaps in our knowledge of the maintenance history. As far as I can determine 2 of the batteries are 6 years old and the other 4 are 8 years old. I do know that the previous owner left the boat unattended 7-8 months of the year with the batteries just getting whatever charge they could from the solar.

Since we've taken the boat I've tried equalizing twice before we left the marina but didn't notice any difference. That said the local Lifeline dealer here told me that I might need to try it a few more times before I give up. He didn't seem super confident that it would help given what I know about their history but figured I don't have much to lose in trying if I'm going to replace them otherwise. After a 'finished' charge my OCV is still only 12.2v to 12.4v at most so they're definitely in poor/sulfated shape.

We'll be headed to the dock soon and I'll try to equalize the crap out of them and see if they're recoverable before we give up and order replacements.. fingers crossed but expectations low.

If I do have to replace them and I order the Fireflies I will definitely be a guinea pig and will let everyone know how it goes.
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