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Old 09-03-2007, 23:11   #16
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Charge rates

Seniormechanico:.."These batteries also do not require the charge current to be artificially limited, as long as constant voltage (CV) charging is used." Analize that statement and you will question, first of all, just what constitutes "artifically limited" charge current? CV charging does just that! In addition, any battery requires some ultimate limit in charge current. Is that artificial?

Long has it been known that lead-acid batteries can be charged at multiple rates of "C" with degradation of life as the coefficient exceeds one (as the Amp-hour law states). Methods of charging at coefficients greater than one has been done especially in the area of electric car competition having recharge stops necessary for completion of a long run. By the way, such high charge rates are INITIAL and not carried out in an attempt to completely 100% recharge a battery at that rate else radical gassing WILL occur rendering one cycle per lifetime realization in many cases. A low internal resistance is not the only factor in making a high charge acceptance although it certainly is a large factor. For example, a fully charged AGM battery that has no degraded internal resistance or capacity will not charge accept hardly ANY current with as much as 3.3 Volts per cell (applied for a short period) near 20 deg. C! yet it will exhibit the LOWEST internal resistance possible for any state of charge at that point!

cal40john: I challenge Wing's source credibility of data for determining his conclusions regarding the cost of golf cart batteries as compared to other lead-acid batteries. Again, many so-called technical articles and some books parrot a manufacturer's claim of data leading down the spiral path of invalid conclusions with garbage-in-garbage-out. Think about it: How many writers actually validate the number of cycles that various batteries can experience before failure? This takes literally years to do for even a few battery types, models and across manufacturing lines. Without such validated data no valid conclusions regarding cost effectiveness can be reached and I challenge that no published valid data exists today in this regard! If this is true then no one can truly claim which battery type is the most cost effective for almost any application. We can guess, but that is scientifically called "conjecture" albeit perhaps with some informed persuasiveness.

Glacier Bay's claims are not in line with the science regarding charge acceptance, charge rates and other details. Yes, I agree that as a company Glacier Bay is huge and carries some credibility yet the article that you referenced is not scientific but what I call a derived "rule-of-thumb" that works for many people with limited knowledge and ability to charge batteries. This information does not constitute a treatise on the subject.
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Old 09-03-2007, 23:42   #17
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I appreciate your post, but I'll still believe the company that makes the batteries. That company supplies cell phone towers. Take a look around at the website, there's lots of documentation there. For example, the typical lifespan of those batteries is somewhere in the 10 to 15 year range, depending on the number of cycles. Obviously the cell companies hope they're never used (no power outages), but they have got to be 100% dependable if there is an outage. If the batteries weren't, the cell phone company would lose major $$ income during the outage. That's why I got them when they were only 2 years old, and still in very good condition. When they're down 50%, I don't have the capacity to give them all they can take, (only about 80 amps + whatever the wind generator can muster) and the voltage won't rise above 13.65 for a long time. However, when they're eventually fully charged, all 8 batteries in parallel accept less than 200 milliamps of float current @ 13.65 v.


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Old 09-03-2007, 23:53   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick

cal40john: I challenge Wing's source credibility of data for determining his conclusions regarding the cost of golf cart batteries as compared to other lead-acid batteries. Again, many so-called technical articles and some books parrot a manufacturer's claim of data leading down the spiral path of invalid conclusions with garbage-in-garbage-out. Think about it: How many writers actually validate the number of cycles that various batteries can experience before failure? This takes literally years to do for even a few battery types, models and across manufacturing lines. Without such validated data no valid conclusions regarding cost effectiveness can be reached and I challenge that no published valid data exists today in this regard! If this is true then no one can truly claim which battery type is the most cost effective for almost any application. We can guess, but that is scientifically called "conjecture" albeit perhaps with some informed persuasiveness.
So if I read this correctly, we should each buy whatever battery we believe is the best because the unbiased validated data doesn't exist.

But, earlier you posted that in your experience Trojan published the most honest data for their batteries. Most people assume Trojan when speaking of golf cart batteries. You would think that if anything other companies would inflate the capabilities of their batteries, which reduces their lifetime cost. So if Trojan isn't lieing, and the other companies are lieing, that only makes Wing's claims understated and golf cart batteries are even a better deal than he claims.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick
Glacier Bay's claims are not in line with the science regarding charge acceptance, charge rates and other details. Yes, I agree that as a company Glacier Bay is huge and carries some credibility yet the article that you referenced is not scientific but what I call a derived "rule-of-thumb" that works for many people with limited knowledge and ability to charge batteries. This information does not constitute a treatise on the subject.
The above has nothing to do with what I posted. The only thing I said was that the table at the bottom of the webpage illustrated what I thought I understood you to have posted on the best economics for getting the most amp-hrs out of the battery over its service life by discharging it down to approximately 50%.

John
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Old 10-03-2007, 05:46   #19
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I realize the benefits of AGM...

I can squeeze seven group 31 sized batteries into the allocated space.

Lifeline now offers a 2 volt AGM cell which is the same physical size (and price) as a group 31.

So... would I be better off installing seven, 12 volt batteries in paralell...

OR six, 2 volt batteries wired in series?

AND, since I have the space, would there be any wisdom or benefit in periodically rotating a seventh 2 volt battery through the bank?

I have a 100 amp alternator and adjustable external regulator plus eight, 80 watt solar panels & Outback controller to nourish them.

Biggest load is refrigerator and freezer.

I appreciate your collective wisdom.

Kirk
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Old 10-03-2007, 11:48   #20
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Guy's, you need to have some confidence in who Rick is. Or at least, who he is in his profession. Much of what companies like Glacier Bay know, are because of Rick and a few of the guy's around him have published. Maybe not a personal link between them, but much of what the industry knows and has available as electronic "tools" for battery monitoring are because of Rick.




You can slip me the 20 later mate ;-)
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Old 10-03-2007, 16:05   #21
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Sorry guys,

I didn't mean to sound so curt and dismissive. I've been frustrated in attempts over the years in revealing so many myths regarding lead-acid batteries, especially about charging and which batteries are supposed to be "best".

A comment regarding "validated data": This was in reference to being able to make a valid conclusion regarding which is the most economic buying decision for a particular battery brand and specific model. Any such conclusion would have to be based upon a known number of cycles of operation under specified conditions that yield a total amount of kilo-Watt-hours before a mean-time-before-failure statistic. It would necessarily (from a physics standpoint of total energy) not be based upon Amp-hour figures alone. Only in fairly recent years are some battery manufacturers beginning to rate their batteries in terms of true energy (kilo-Watt-hours) which is what you pay for.

Because I designed battery monitors for years and realized the value of measuring kilo-Watt-hours along with the mundane Amp-hour parameter, it was natural to compare such measurements for various batteries. I do not claim to have measured everyone's battery or model. I claim that I have seen no published results from an independent source that has so that a consumer could ostensibly make an intelligent economic buying decision.

One of the first bright lights of such measurements was the revelation that the AGM and gel-cell batteries DO, in general, store a greater energy density than do flooded-cell constructed batteries largely because of the higher specific gravity (resulting directly in higher terminal voltage) in conjunction with lower internal resistance. To be sure, I have read many claims to the contrary by certain boating magazine articles that did not claim to have actually made the measurements for validity. They often DID admit to having used the manufacturer's claims which are suspect, in my opinion, regarding Amp-hours and rarely does one find a kilo-Watt-hour specification.

I did not state that Trojan was the "most" honest, I only wrote that their information was honest...a huge difference in communication. There were several other manufacturers who published information that did not stand up to my test results. One, Fullriver, actually met the Amp-hour claim almost exactly to the Amp-hour! I found this to be the exception rather than the rule. Regardless, high reliability battery installations are based upon NEVER assuming that the published claims of cyclical operation and energy storage will be met. They are conservatively chosen in that regard and, therefore, such installations are not economic optimum designs.

Over the years I have purposefully sought out electrochemists who design batteries for the manufacturers. There are not many of them. They admitted to me that the information published by the manufacturers did not come directly from them but was generated by someone else down the chain of technology who was tasked with the difficulty of printing information to be understood by the layperson....not necessarily the "whole truth" from a technicological standpoint of view. One electrochemist claimed that he would change the battery design if he knew that it would be charged with an Amp-hour-law charger or even a proper 3-step approximation (of the Amp-hour-law) charger thereby resulting in better overall performance. Instead, the design had to tolerate poor charging techniques compromising attrubutes that you and I would like to enjoy.

The technical data available for stationary batteries (see IBE, for example), aerospace and military specific applications is fairly good. The data for Prevailer/Sonnenshein and some others is fairly good. The data available to consumers like in the automotive, RV and marine markets is abysmally limited, as you might notice if one compares the info, yet it is getting better as "true" battery monitors that measure true energy along with Amp-hours become more prevalent and affordable by everyone making checks much easier than in years past.
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Old 10-03-2007, 16:33   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alan Wheeler
Guy's, you need to have some confidence in how Rick is. Or at least, who he is in his proffesion. Much of what companies like Clavier Bay know, are because of Rick and a few of the guy's around him. Maybe not a personal link between them, but much of what the industry knows and has available as electronic "tools" for battery monitoring are because of Rick.

You can slip me the 20 later mate ;-)
Well since you specifically bring up Glacier Bay I assume in part you are talking about my posts. I did look at Rick's profile before I started posting. I have not stated anything that has disagreed with his information.

Unless I completely misunderstood Rick's point, I was trying to back him up with a table from Glacier Bay that I believed showed clearly what he was trying to say. In my second post I tried to point that out and that his response about the information on the rest of the page had nothing to do with my post, I wasn't trying to make any claims about the correctness or lack of for the rest of the page.

As to Wing's book, once again I did not disagree with Rick. Rick never states that an AGM is economically better than a flooded cell battery, he says that for equal amp-hr ratings the AGM is a better choice because of higher terminal voltage and therefore contains more energy in kW-hr. He does say that Wing's graph comes from manufacturers, and that that data is possibly flawed. I used Rick's experience with one manufacturers data to point out that if the other data is flawed one would guess that it tilts the balance even more in economic favor of the flooded cell.

I will concede that the part about choosing whatever battery we believe is best was a bit of a poke, because of the tone I read into his dismissal of Wing's data. I'm sorry.

I'm very curious. Are my posts that unclear?

John

Edit:
Both of my last posts were made before seeing Ricks.
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Old 10-03-2007, 16:52   #23
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Now I have a question about using kW-hr versus amp-hrs for Rick. If I'm not a power hungry latest tech boat pulling hard on my batteries I would think that I don't care much about the difference above. If I'm drawing low enough current out of the battery, the terminal voltage drop difference will be minimal. Also for many devices as the voltage drops, the power used by the device drops, so I get just as much use out of my battery. The solenoid valve for the propane stove will work with lower voltage, and will draw less current, so I get the same use out of it. Same for incandescent lights except I notice it with dimmer lighting. Now with hi-tech devices this is not necessarily true as smart electronics can draw more current to make up for a defiency in voltage. If you have a lot of those devices on your boat then I can see your point completely.

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Old 10-03-2007, 17:44   #24
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Quote:
I'm very curious. Are my posts that unclear?

John
No no no, absolutely not. (by the way, I really must proof read much better when I post first thing in the morning)
I just wanted ALL to realise that Rick is a real authority on this stuff. I know Nigal Calder has great info, but Rick is our very own resident Guru that probably wrote much of what Nigal used to get his knowledge from. What I am trying to say is that we can ALL whole hartedly trust Rick with any information he prescribes here.
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Old 10-03-2007, 23:36   #25
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Load-specific applications

Cal40John brings up a very valid point about the question of the relative significance of higher battery terminal voltage and lower internal cell resistance between battery types. Loads such as incandescent bulbs (halogen and related bulbs included) and some pumps and solenoids operate at lower temperatures with lower terminal voltages. A battery sized so that such loads present a tolerably insignificant voltage drop will probably actually be a better choice than a higher terminal voltage battery.

Because nominal 12V battery voltages range between 8 Volts at a low state of charge with high loads and 12.9 Volts at a full state of charge and very low loads overall efficiency (battery stored energy converted to load work) is often improved with integral switch-mode converters that keep load efficiency relatively constant and perhaps even optimal. One example is with the use of integral switch mode converters in white LED lamps and flashlights (excluding those using antiquated linear regulators which waste heat energy). I even have a switch-mode dc/dc converter driving my propane solenoid to keep it cool under all battery voltages even up to 17 Volts...no more burned out solenoids.

The future in high efficiency lighting is with cold-cathode flourescents and HID lamps, so far expensive due to the integral electronics required to drive the lamps yet far superior to even LED lamps. The battery input voltage to these units can vary radically without a change in output lumens or color temperature.

With most switch-mode converters, including power inverters, overall energy efficiency is fairly linearly increasing with battery terminal voltage, usually for a given range set by the design. It just does not make any sense to operate 12V only specialty products like toasters and microwave ovens when compared to the operating efficiency using a power inverter and off-the-shelf 120VAC products (or 220VAC in some cases). The overall efficiency even with the inverter losses is much better and less costly (in general). With starter motors the efficiency is lower and lower as the battery voltage drops below the designed peak-power point for worst-case starting loads. With windlasses the retreival rate drops with dropping terminal voltage. These are the loads which AGM and gel-cell batteries have proven to be superior to flooded-cell constructed batteries, in general.

To be sure, the Pardey's could care less about modern technology, unless they need a tow against the current and wind to gain access to busy harbor environments. Most modern cruisers who have learned that suffering and deprivatrion is not a requirement do not fall into that catagory (O.K., I'm being catty here). Even they now have a battery (flooded-cell the last time I saw) and dim yellow lights, which is better than what they had the time that I saw in their boat years earlier.

Notice that brushless dc motors are proliferating along with converter driven loads. Those of you who have the newer water pressure pumps with variable speed drives may have seen much longer times between replacement (if required at all) and better operation with AGM batteries. It will not be long before ALL the loads are better served with the higher tech batteries. In fact that time is here for those of you who do not have 12Volt incandescent bulbs or non-converter driven solenoids. Note that the Blueseas battery combiner solenoid (made by Kilovac) actually has a microprocessor inside to PWM the solenoid hold-in current so that it runs cool with minimum current for a relatively wide range of battery voltage.
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Old 11-03-2007, 01:22   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rick
A comment regarding "validated data": This was in reference to being able to make a valid conclusion regarding which is the most economic buying decision for a particular battery brand and specific model. Any such conclusion would have to be based upon a known number of cycles of operation under specified conditions that yield a total amount of kilo-Watt-hours before a mean-time-before-failure statistic. It would necessarily (from a physics standpoint of total energy) not be based upon Amp-hour figures alone. Only in fairly recent years are some battery manufacturers beginning to rate their batteries in terms of true energy (kilo-Watt-hours) which is what you pay for.

Because I designed battery monitors for years and realized the value of measuring kilo-Watt-hours along with the mundane Amp-hour parameter, it was natural to compare such measurements for various batteries. I do not claim to have measured everyone's battery or model. I claim that I have seen no published results from an independent source that has so that a consumer could ostensibly make an intelligent economic buying decision.

One of the first bright lights of such measurements was the revelation that the AGM and gel-cell batteries DO, in general, store a greater energy density than do flooded-cell constructed batteries largely because of the higher specific gravity (resulting directly in higher terminal voltage) in conjunction with lower internal resistance. To be sure, I have read many claims to the contrary by certain boating magazine articles that did not claim to have actually made the measurements for validity. They often DID admit to having used the manufacturer's claims which are suspect, in my opinion, regarding Amp-hours and rarely does one find a kilo-Watt-hour specification.

I did not state that Trojan was the "most" honest, I only wrote that their information was honest...a huge difference in communication. There were several other manufacturers who published information that did not stand up to my test results. One, Fullriver, actually met the Amp-hour claim almost exactly to the Amp-hour! I found this to be the exception rather than the rule. Regardless, high reliability battery installations are based upon NEVER assuming that the published claims of cyclical operation and energy storage will be met. They are conservatively chosen in that regard and, therefore, such installations are not economic optimum designs.

First of all I see how I misquoted you, and I follow that there is more to look at than amp-hrs, and that published claims can be off, and I'm not a Wing fanatic, and can see that he might have methodology errors and that his numbers are only based on published data so that even though he reports in $/kW-hrs, that is most likely an artifical number created from amp-hrs. By the way he does go into details on his assumptions, such as assuming that you are only going to get a fraction of the discharge cycles from the battery out of the published claims for making his calculations.

But his cost comparison in 1993 was $0.05/kW-hr for golf cart versus $0.35/kW-hr for gel cell (looking at the minimum values). That is a factor of 7. Some assumption on Wings part or a manufacturers claim has to be pretty far off to negate all of that difference.

I grabbed a price for a 6 volt AGM and a 6 volt deep cycle from fisheries. Factored out the amp-hrs and get a 2.8 to 1 ratio in price/amp-hr for AGM to flooded.
So life cycles, terminal voltage differences (to get W-hr comparison) and everything else has to add up to 2.8 times better for an AGM than a flooded cell to break even. I don't know the answer, and you say that you have not seen such data published by an independant source, but does it seem reasonable that all the other advantages to an AGM lumped together make that large of a difference in the price factor?

John

Edit: Seems it takes me long enough to write a post that I don't see your posts Rick, until after I've posted mine.

Anyway I see that with modern appliances you are chipping away at the price difference, and you are adding to the advantages that won't show up in a $/kW-hr comparison test.

I'm not in the camp of self-deprivation, I'm in the camp of this is going to have to be cheap or I won't have the money to do a temporary early retirement and go cruising.
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Old 11-03-2007, 11:31   #27
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Price-effectiveness of AGM vs. flooded-cel

Good quality AGM batteries my not be more cost effective than good quality flooded-cell batteries over the useful lifetime, I truly do not know that answer. Aside from the usual advantages outlined in favor of AGM batteries there are two factors which may tip the scales in making a buying decision for cruising boats using equipment made to reduce tension (I call radar a tension-reducing device; I call a windlass a back-saving device; I call a power inverter a marriage-saving device).

First, the self-discharge of good quality AGM batteries is incomparable to that of the best flooded-cell battery. This translates to a smaller kilo-Watt-hour storage degradation over time. Second, and related to the first, the degradation of cell resistance over time for high quality AGM batteries over their life of good performance is about 4 to one. Good quality flooded-cell batteries having the same "Amp-hour rating" (but not kilo-Watt-hour rating, which is less) start off with double to triple the internal resistance as to compared to an AGM and degrade faster over time (about twice as fast).

A good quality AGM battery 10 years old that has been cycled in a cruising application yet treated well when recharging may exhibit a 40% to 50% degradation in kilo-Watt-hour capacity yet have a relatively decent internal resistance. A flooded-cell battery 10 years old will probably be degraded over 50% and have an internal resistance that causes intolerable terminal voltage drop for use with power inverters and heavy loads. This discussion is not as valid for start-only-start flooded-cell constructed batteries which start off life with a much lower internal cell resistance and spend essentially no time in a state of significant discharge that accelerates the internal degradation. Internal degradation of a deep-discharge battery is proportional to the time X average depth of discharge at an average temperature over life.

It might be now fuzzier and fuzzier as to how to make an economic cost-over-lifetime comparison between the two. For me, it comes down to performance that I can get with my limited space available for the batteries themselves. I HAVE gotten over 10 years out of beating up sealed batteries. I never got over 5 years of beating up flooded-cell batteries before they had to be replaced (even tho useful but not to me...they would not perform up to my requirements). Certainly if I had more space for a larger overly-sized bank of batteries then I could have stretched the replacement time out some.

A warning note: If you don't have a proper shore charger having a 3-step charging regimen that you can adjust the acceptance voltage higher on (like fooling it by telling it that the temperature is zero degrees when it is 25 deg C, for example) AND if you don't have a alternator regulator that adjusts to give over 14.4Volts OR if you don't have a pv panel sufficiently sized to charge at over 14.4V for your bank AND any long-term charging source applied well regulated (line and load regulated) to give a 13.9V @ 20deg C float voltage AND if you do not have an accurate battery monitor that can at least tell you Amp-hours then DO NOT bother buying an AGM or gel-cell battery.

Hope this discussion helps spark a thinking along non-simplistic lines that otherwise might not happen.
Regards,
Rick
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Old 11-03-2007, 19:09   #28
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Re ricks quote.
A warning note: If you don't have a proper shore charger having a 3-step charging regimen that you can adjust the acceptance voltage higher on (like fooling it by telling it that the temperature is zero degrees when it is 25 deg C, for example) AND if you don't have a alternator regulator that adjusts to give over 14.4Volts OR if you don't have a pv panel sufficiently sized to charge at over 14.4V for your bank AND any long-term charging source applied well regulated (line and load regulated) to give a 13.9V @ 20deg C float voltage AND if you do not have an accurate battery monitor that can at least tell you Amp-hours then DO NOT bother buying an AGM or gel-cell battery.

from Beau:
Ok I am going with AGM, I don't have a shore charger, what do I need Brand and Model if possible to Charge my 800 amp/hr AGM battery bank from a 150amp alternator.

Also what brand/ model battery monitor would you recommend.
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Old 11-03-2007, 20:00   #29
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Consider carefully first that you need 800 A-h. Consider then the Magnum Energy ME2012 sine-inverter/pfc-charger with ME-RC controller. Buy a unit with a higher charging current if you can afford it. You need the pfc charger if you have limited shore current available and you get that with the sine wave inverter almost "for free" (or vice-versa).

I am partial to the E-Meter (Link10) or Link 1000 (which also displays start battery) for high accuracy measurements.

Consider the Incharge alternator regulator (if available) as being easiest to set up and install. Otherwise consider the Balmar 612 regulator (naturally the most expensive). I have not enjoyed the lower cost Balmar regulators and they are all a pain in the ass to set up beyond their default settings (yes, you will need to change from the default settings with your AGM batteries.

My experience with small-frame 150 alternators is that they are not ultimately reliable for cruising away from spare parts. Get a large frame 165A alternator if possible, they have huge bearings for the incremental size differerence (about 1inch larger in diameter than the smal frame alternators). For such a large bank with high charge acceptance a small frame alternator will not be a wise choice.

If you are stuck with a small frame alternator consider using a 100A limit. I do not recommend the Balmar alternators because they cost more (than a competitive unit) and are powder coated which radically reduces the air cooling capability of rough casted aluminum. Believe me you don't need the "pretty" factor here.
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Old 11-03-2007, 20:18   #30
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rick,

I am in Australia not all this stuff is available. Though I am happy to import it.
I will need 800 and even 1000 amp hour because i want to use a 9,000btu air conditioner on the hook at night.
I have been able to get a good price on Fullriver 200amp/hour AGM's at AUD$395 or USD$ 299.00 which is pretty good over here.

I don't think I can afford pure sine and will have to go modified sine inverter,I was looking at a 2500watt.

What about the Xantrex battery monitor and the Xantrex Alternator regulator. They are expensive here (there is only one supplier) so I might have to get them direct from the USA, through Westmarine or even Amazon. Any other suggestions?
Thanks Beau
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