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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, Folks- I have a unique setup, but have tons of ideas from a number of sources (some are a bit dated, though), so I'd like to solicit some opinions from you all if you have time. My boat is an Olson 30, and I currently have 2 x 12v deep cycle marine batteries from Walmart. They've served me well for the past year- I just plug in the solar trickle-charger when we come in and done. One long weekend, we sailed for 3 days on one of the 75ah batteries running a Raymarine e7D plotter, 25w VHF, nav lights (all LED) a Ray ST-2000 autopilot and stereo for almost the entire time, and still had 12+ volts left when we got back- just sailed out on a reach straight out into the gulfstream, then came back; great trip, no problems.

I'm now thinking of doing a race (Bermuda 1-2) in June, 2015, and I think I need to replace these batteries with 2 x 6v golf cart batteries (Batteries plus is selling a Duracell/Procell 230 ah golf cart batteries for $100 each), but also need to address re-charging with something. The only additions/modifications to the system will be a Raymarine ev-100 tiller pilot, and the ST-60 wind instrument and transducer, all of which will be interconnected with Seatalk-ng. I will not (at least I don't think I will) add a ssb radio at this time- I've researched this quite a bit, and my preference is sat phone- two main reasons; portability and cost (I can rent). As far as charging options go- I've debated solar panels (Solbian, Aurinco, et al), but I just don't think that would be worth the expense for a race that will last only one week (and that is a long estimate), and I'm thinking of just using my portable Yamaha 2000w generator to top off the batteries if they really need it. Another option is to being a spare (3rd) battery.

I think that's about it- unless I've forgotten something...

What think ya'll?

Ray
 

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For just one race I would look at just using your main engine to top off the batteries if needed check rules but shouldn't break rules as long as you don't use the engine for propultion. That's about the cheapest way I can think of doing it the next best would be your portable Genny just secure it on the stern.
 

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Or get four 230ah/6V have 460ah/12v and maybe a slightly larger solar trickle charger, Amazon has a 15 watt for just under $100.00
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Someone (via email) is suggesting I avoid 6v batteries. Reason being- if one goes down, then the whole system goes down (unless I have enough back up batteries)... I may just stick with 2 x 105ah 12v deep cycle batteries wired in parallel, and keep one spare on hand.
 

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You have two, 12v 75AH batteries, yes? That's a total of 12V 150AH.

And you plan to buy two 6V 230AH batteries, which would give you 12V 230AH, a good 50%more AH than what you have.

What you need to do before you even look at that, is spend some time with a pencil working up your actual energy budget. Every device that you will use has a power rating, in watts or amps. And you can figure out, or guestimate, how many hours you will use each device.

For example, if you're racing at night, you will be using nav lights. You may have one 20-watt combination light, or three 20W lamps. Sunset to sunrise may be 12 hours on race day, so those lights could take 20W for 12 hours (240 watt-hours) or 60W for 12 hours (720 watt-hours). You have to run the numbers. Add anything else you may use, autopilot, radio, stereo, cabin lights. A VHF is usually figured as 90% on receive/squelch only, 10% on transmit, and the manual will give power consumption for both.

Once you figure out all the watts or amps you will burn, compare THAT to your battery capacity, and only then do you worry about having enough power or needing to buy more. Remember that lighter is faster, so the less battery you lug around, the faster you will race. Sometimes all you need to do is replace all your lighting with LED lighting, and good LEDs aren't cheap, but then you may be able to stick with smaller lighter batteries and not need to buy anything else.

If you're using an ice box...also consider shifting to pre-frozen foods so you don't need ice. Or use dry ice, it is lighter than water (block) ice. "More" isn't always better or faster. If you run the batteries down to 80% discharge instead of the more typical 30-50%, that's OK for occasional use like "one big race" too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I actually have one 75 ah and one 95 ah battery. The 75 is old, and not holding a charge for very long. Although I use it for local racing, I am going to return that (as a core charge) when I buy the new batteries. My energy budget is anywhere between 350-550 watt-hours- the variation is due to sea conditions and the effect they have on the autopilot. That is by far my biggest draw on the batts- the lights are all LED's (inside and out- a single masthead tri-color LED), and the e7D draws so little, and would be considered near-negligible due to intermittent use. So, worse case scenario (just to play it safe), my watt budget is safely within 550 watt-hours unless I'm in storm conditions, and then I'm likely hand-steering for a good part of the sailing and burning "spaghetti-watts" out of my own musculature :). No refrigeration- I like the dry-ice idea.. hadn't thought of that..
 

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Your energy budget is for the duration of the race, not per day, correct? I have similar electrical loads to you (X5 autopilot and e7d are my biggest loads) and 550wh will last me many days.

A 30 watt panel is pretty small and does a great job of keeping up with my loads, even here in the north. I do use a better than average Genasun MPPT charge controller. The whole setup, including mounting hardware, was under $200.

That plus a new battery to replace you aging one sounds like it would meet your needs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Hi, Alex- the uncontrolled variable is primarily the autopilot, but also available sunlight (if I'm to include a solar panel or two). 550 watt-hours would be on a day where the AP is struggling to maintain course- say spinnaker up and quartering seas coming from two different directions. I think even sailing on a close reach with waves coming from two directions might cause similar drains on power, unless I give the AP a break and hand-steer a lot.
 

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You already have a generator, right? Replace the knackered battery, you choose to decide if you want to up the ah in your banks, and just go. Use the generator to connect to your shorepower charger. If you don't have one of those, the generator is useless.
 

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Six volt golf cart batteries are usually much tougher than an 12 volt deep cycle battery. I have 4D's as my deep cycle on my boat now. But, after having run 6 volt batteries in my golf cart, there is no doubt in my mind that I am using 6 volt batteries in my boat next time it needs them.

Golf cart batteries are almost made to be abused, and as pointed out in an earlier post, they also come out ahead in the amps usage and storage.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I'm pretty sure (99% at this point) that I'm going to be using an 80-watt solar panel (probably the Solbian sx), but I do have a portable generator for backup in the event the sun decides to do what it's doing along the east coast right now. About the batteries- If I were going to repeatedly be doing this race (or other similar races) or cruising extensively with my wife, I probably would go the 6v route, but since this is just a 2 week long event (roughly), I think I'll stick to 2 main 12v 105 ah batteries with a 3rd spare- all new and fully charged. The main reason is just in case I somehow end up running only one one battery, I can limp home fairly easily.
 

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With golf carb batteries, I would *NEVER* just use 2 put in series. Rather, my battery bank would be 4x....wired in series/parallel. This would give you approx 400 amp hours. However, you'll need a stronger alternator as well as a much stronger battery charger so that you dont abuse these batteries by not fully charging them up after discharge. This would also mitigate the issue with one battery going down and taking down your whole battery bank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Yep- I'm trying to keep it simple-simple-simple. I do not have an alternator (the boat only has a 5hp outboard, with no little alternator to allow charging batteries). This is an Olson 30, so there's not really enough space to have a "house bank" of 4 batteries of that size. I'm also racing, so I'm trying to limit weight somewhat. I want to stay safe, but also be practical, so I think keeping with 12v batts is more practical.. at least for this boat and for my application.
 
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