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Great post Dave!!!!!!!!!! I do have a device which is called a desulfator connected to the batts. I don't know if it does what it claims to do. But like those in a slip w/ a shore power charger connected when then are away... I have my solar trickle charging and keeping the batts topped up.

When my batts need to be replaced I will make a cost benefit analysis. I don't need batts to out live me. ;-)
 

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Discussion Starter #22 (Edited)
Those batteries really have no place being used in a house battery/cycling application. Those are most likely starting batteries, (they are "sticker brand" batteries so impossible to tell) but maintenance free flooded batteries are not well suited to deep-cycle use, especially when taken below 12.2V.... That voltage dive is an indicator of batteries way beyond their useful life. Oh, and set the low voltage alarm for 12.1V -12.2V and you'll increase your cycling capabilities.....

What is a Deep-Cycle Battery?



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Thanks for the link to that very informative article!

I suspect you are right that the batteries I have are not true deep cycle batteries. I am not even sure what the threshold of the low volt alarm on my boat's panel is, or whether it is even configurable. It is the big voltage drop that initiates the alarm. The fact that putting a modest 6 amp load on the bank is enough to drop it from 12.3v to well below 12v is not a good sign when you consider the bank is made up of 5 group 31 batteries!

We have just got home from a long weekend on the boat, and it looks like I have to go battery shopping!

Unfortunately, I am about to pull the trigger on a new jib, so the budget is not there to go with the AGM of Firefly upgrade I was hoping for, but it looks like some simple GC2 batteries might be a good option. The wife wants the batteries sorted before we take the boat away for a few weeks in August, so it looks like I have to get on this soon!

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Discussion Starter #23
Yesterday when we left for home our bank was very low, and I've shown above. We motored for about 45 minutes. The alternator was putting 35-40 amps into the bank. After that time we started sailing. After a couple of hours we got low battery alarms again. The instruments plus the fridge were just too much for the depleted bank. We shut all unnecessary loads off and sailed until we ran out of wind. We then motored for 2.5 hrs the rest of the way home. When we got to the dock we plugged the boat in with the charger on.

Today I came down to the boat and the charger was floating at 13.4v and the batteries were accepting 1amp. I cycled the power on the charger which put it back into "Boost" mode (aka Bulk I assume) at 14.2v and the batteries were taking over 6 amps. Just out of curiosity I turned off the charger and ran the engine. The alternator was also supplying around 6 amps. Clearly the bank was still not fully charged after several hours of motoring and being on the charger overnight!

Looking at the manual for my Cristec CPS2 OEM charger it seems that the Boost mode, which includes both bulk and absorption phases will only be active for 4 hours after which time the charger shifts to Float regardless of whether the batteries are accepting amps. It seems to me this might be ok on smaller banks, but on a larger bank like mine it may never be fully charged. Am I correct in assuming this might lead to sulfation and premature battery failure? It certainly does not seem to be a very smart charger. More like a dumb charger with a timer circuit to turn off bulk charging!

I am thinking at the same time as I replace my batteries I should be considering upgrading my charger. Any suggestions on good smart chargers that aren't going to break the bank? If I upgrade chargers I would like it to be able to support modern battery technologies for future upgrades.

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I have had an Iota DLS 30/IQ4 charger on my boat for the last 10 years. It works, but if I were to install a new charger, I would go with a Sterling (Sterling Power USA). I believe that Maine Sail sell these.

- Yup, he does! https://shop.marinehowto.com/products/sterling-procharge-ultra-battery-chargers

The "rule of thumb" for sizing a charger, if I recall, is take your 20 hour amp capacity, and divide by 4. In my case that would be 220/4 = 55. I am sure that someone will correct me soon. ;)
 

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I don't want to dramatize, but batteries that are really toast can be fire hazards, when left on chargers for lengthy periods (ie overnight).

Unless the charger is connected to a shunt, it has no way to detect acceptance amps that I'm aware of. Therefore, it has to use time, which is a lousy way to charge a deep cycle battery from a wide variety of discharge states.

I have a Magnum inverter/charger, but it may be more than you want. Think about whether an inverter would be useful to your cruising needs though. It's the time to get it with the charger, if you think it may be.
 

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Yesterday when we left for home our bank was very low, and I've shown above. We motored for about 45 minutes. The alternator was putting 35-40 amps into the bank. After that time we started sailing. After a couple of hours we got low battery alarms again. The instruments plus the fridge were just too much for the depleted bank. We shut all unnecessary loads off and sailed until we ran out of wind. We then motored for 2.5 hrs the rest of the way home. When we got to the dock we plugged the boat in with the charger on.

Today I came down to the boat and the charger was floating at 13.4v and the batteries were accepting 1amp. I cycled the power on the charger which put it back into "Boost" mode (aka Bulk I assume) at 14.2v and the batteries were taking over 6 amps. Just out of curiosity I turned off the charger and ran the engine. The alternator was also supplying around 6 amps. Clearly the bank was still not fully charged after several hours of motoring and being on the charger overnight!

Looking at the manual for my Cristec CPS2 OEM charger it seems that the Boost mode, which includes both bulk and absorption phases will only be active for 4 hours after which time the charger shifts to Float regardless of whether the batteries are accepting amps. It seems to me this might be ok on smaller banks, but on a larger bank like mine it may never be fully charged. Am I correct in assuming this might lead to sulfation and premature battery failure? It certainly does not seem to be a very smart charger. More like a dumb charger with a timer circuit to turn off bulk charging!

I am thinking at the same time as I replace my batteries I should be considering upgrading my charger. Any suggestions on good smart chargers that aren't going to break the bank? If I upgrade chargers I would like it to be able to support modern battery technologies for future upgrades.

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lol dumb charger....

we have a 40 amp master volt. Easy to set as I also desulfate our Lifeline 6 volt AGM with it.
consider going to 6 volt AGM. The plates tend to be thicker than group 31. The footprint is smaller too.

I think by not filling bringing the charge back to 100% from their inception, you have reset the charge capacity memory of you batteries. The way I understand it that you self limited it. That’s why it’s important to bring them back to a full 100% as soon/ much as possible.

i too will look at Firefly the next tine I replace which should be in 7 years as I am only on year 3 of this group of Lifelines. I have been very satisfied with them. To me the whole thing is a system which needs to be matched from batteries, to charging. Since you are in a slip a lot a good branded charger is a very smart idea. I good 3 stage external regular which shows you the charge stages with a battery and alternator temps is a good idea. We have a Balmar AR5 couple with a 100 amp Balmar alternator. If we stay out for 3 days/ nights anchored , and don’t run the engine., we generally use 210 ah off our bank of 720 ( 360 usable) . The first hour the alternator runs it bangs 90 amp into the bank. The second hour generally another 70 before the battery acceptance drops at 80% full. This is where a solar panel would help, but I haven’t done that yet.

on one hand it’s a luxury having such a large bank for how we use the boat, on the other hand the large bank makes us never worry about power, unless of course something is amiss.
 

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I don't want to dramatize, but batteries that are really toast can be fire hazards, when left on chargers for lengthy periods (ie overnight).

Unless the charger is connected to a shunt, it has no way to detect acceptance amps that I'm aware of. Therefore, it has to use time, which is a lousy way to charge a deep cycle battery from a wide variety of discharge states.

I have a Magnum inverter/charger, but it may be more than you want. Think about whether an inverter would be useful to your cruising needs though. It's the time to get it with the charger, if you think it may be.
I would not buy a combined Unit. Keep them separate .
 

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Discussion Starter #28
I don't want to dramatize, but batteries that are really toast can be fire hazards, when left on chargers for lengthy periods (ie overnight).

Unless the charger is connected to a shunt, it has no way to detect acceptance amps that I'm aware of. Therefore, it has to use time, which is a lousy way to charge a deep cycle battery from a wide variety of discharge states.

I have a Magnum inverter/charger, but it may be more than you want. Think about whether an inverter would be useful to your cruising needs though. It's the time to get it with the charger, if you think it may be.
I don't think the batteries are toast in terms of having bad or shorted cells, just that their capacity is greatly reduced.

I thought more advanced chargers were able to determine when to switch to float based on acceptance current which presumably means they can measure amps internally, but perhaps I misunderstood.

Are you saying that the 4 hour bulk/absorbsion limit is common on many chargers?

Since you mention potential fire hazard I checked my batteries temps with my infrared thermometer and they are all quite cool.

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Discussion Starter #29
I would not buy a combined Unit. Keep them separate .
I do have a small inverter that the PO installed to power the bulkhead mounted TV that we never use. We have no other 115v loads on board that we can't live without when not on shore power, so don't see the need for any more inverter capacity.

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I don't think the batteries are toast in terms of having bad or shorted cells, just that their capacity is greatly reduced.
OK. Be careful.

I thought more advanced chargers were able to determine when to switch to float based on acceptance current which presumably means they can measure amps internally, but perhaps I misunderstood.
I think you understand correctly, but those chargers need a shunt installed to measure current in/out of the house bank, they don't do it simply by the cabling to the pos/neg posts of the bank.

Are you saying that the 4 hour bulk/absorbsion limit is common on many chargers?
I don't know about specifically 4 hours, but cheap chargers move from Absorb to Float on a timer. That probably works for low cycling uses (eg starters), but not for random deep cycling, which will obviously take variable amounts of time to reach proper Float.
 

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I do have a small inverter that the PO installed to power the bulkhead mounted TV that we never use. We have no other 115v loads on board that we can't live without when not on shore power, so don't see the need for any more inverter capacity.

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I installed a $200 mod sine wave inverter 1800 amps with 3 - 110 outlets
use is for coffee grinder, digital tv for streaming, charging laptop/ phones if necessary, charging c pap batteries if necessary.
 

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I installed a $200 mod sine wave inverter 1800 amps with 3 - 110 outlets
use is for coffee grinder, digital tv for streaming, charging laptop/ phones if necessary, charging c pap batteries if necessary.
1800 amps???
My inverter is 1000 watts.... it is used for:
charging batters for drills, laptop etc.
vacuuming
power tools for projects like sabre saw, router
Occasional work light
sump pump for rapid de watering of the dink.
(former TV... we no long use so it's not on board)

The NUC PC & monitor is powered by a 12v >19v transformer
 

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1800 amps???
My inverter is 1000 watts.... it is used for:
charging batters for drills, laptop etc.
vacuuming
power tools for projects like sabre saw, router
Occasional work light
sump pump for rapid de watering of the dink.
(former TV... we no long use so it's not on board)

The NUC PC & monitor is powered by a 12v >19v transformer
I meant watts.....what was I thinking😄
 

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I don't think the batteries are toast in terms of having bad or shorted cells, just that their capacity is greatly reduced.

I thought more advanced chargers were able to determine when to switch to float based on acceptance current which presumably means they can measure amps internally, but perhaps I misunderstood.

Are you saying that the 4 hour bulk/absorbsion limit is common on many chargers?

Since you mention potential fire hazard I checked my batteries temps with my infrared thermometer and they are all quite cool.

Sent from my SM-G960W using Tapatalk
Lifeline AGM Marine Battery in San Diego-(619)448-5323 here is a good site for best prices. the biggest problem with batteries is the shipping costs. lots of good info and if you have questions call Jeff if he does not know then nobody knows when it comes to batteries. I have lifeline AGM 6 volt and they have been perfect for 6 years and still going strong charged with the Crestec charger with the voltage set for the correct voltage. 300 ah with just two batteries
 

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Shipping any big lead battery is foolish, or at least a last resort.

If you want Lifelines, call them and ask for a list of dealers within driving distance of where you are.

If too far, then try Odyssey or Northstar rather than paying for Lifelines to be shipped to you.
 

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Discussion Starter #37
Shipping any big lead battery is foolish, or at least a last resort.

If you want Lifelines, call them and ask for a list of dealers within driving distance of where you are.

If too far, then try Odyssey or Northstar rather than paying for Lifelines to be shipped to you.
Yes we have a couple of good battery houses nearby, one of them stocks Lifeline, Rolls and a few other brands.

I am also contemplating going all-in on a bank of Firefly batteries, so investigating that option. I was planning to upgrade to them in a couple of years thinking my existing bank had more life left than it does. I will just have to delay the new headsail until next season.

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Discussion Starter #38
So I decided to put off the new headsail for a while, and put the money into electrical system upgrades. I have ordered 4 group 31 Firefly batteries! The way I see it, we plan on keeping this boat for many years, and I would rather not have to replace the batteries again for a long time.

I do intend to upgrade our charger, and the advice I received from the company I am getting the batteries from is that I should have an 80a charger for a bank that size! That is some serious charging capacity!

Any thoughts on chargers for my shiny new batteries?



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Sterling Power ProCharge Ultra
ProMariner Pronautic P series

share internals

User custom adjustable setpoints for all types of bank chemistries, future proof.

But check against the "capacity restore" protocol, you might need a more - adjustable PSU anyway for that

so could just get a less flexible normal use charger that has a canned profile close enough to FF specs.

At least 0.2C amps capacity, even 0.4C would not be too much.

Also might want to contact Bruce @OceanPlanet see if they have a specific reco
 
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