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Old 22-11-2010, 13:13   #1
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AGM Battery Recommendation ?

OK, first, PLEASE don't post "discussions" about the ongoing flooded/AGM/gel debate. I'm pretty much stuck with AGM, since these go into the compartment at the base of the aft berth, and is in the living area. My understanding is that we can't use traditional flooded batteries in this location.

Also, I don't care about the debate on deep cycle versus starting, and all of the discussion regarding recharging. I understand.

Anyway, our Lifeline 4Ds are failing (actually, 1 went into meltdown this weekend...). I don't know how old they are, as there is nothing on the top to indicate their age. At least 3 years old, and likely 5 or 6 or more - from before our ownership.

I need to replace them. Our CURRENT usage is fairly minimal. A handful of times a year their use is at all critical. We have a generator, and The Admiral likes her A/C. When we take off to go cruising, that will change. But, right now, that's not in the short range plans.

So, with the Lifelines at $750 a piece, and the Universal (made in China, but with pretty decent reputations now) batteries at $300 each, does anyone know WHY I shouldn't buy the Universals? BTW, they are within 5 lbs of each other in weight (in case that discussion comes up). And my experience with battery warranties is that they are close to worthless.

Thanks!
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Old 22-11-2010, 13:31   #2
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G'day, Bill. Have your existing AGM's ever been equalized? If not, you should try equilizing them before replacing them. I usually equilized my AGM's at least once a year over the last 13 years. As far as replacing them with the lower cost AGM's. It's a tough call. If you're not planning on sailing to far afield or living on the "hook" the majority of the time, I would go for the cheaper ones. Cheers.
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Old 22-11-2010, 13:49   #3
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I'm really happy with Lifeline batteries, and I was able to get 4Ds recently for $500 USD apiece. Have you tried shopping around?

I have to take issue with the previous post. If you had a meltdown, the last thing you want to do is try to equalize that battery. That would be a good way to start a fire.
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Old 22-11-2010, 13:54   #4
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I have the same dilemma. We're on the hook, often in remote places. I'm debating between Lifeline or Trojan. (Group 31s)
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Old 22-11-2010, 14:05   #5
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Bill,
I replaced my Lifeline start Batteries last year at 8 years old and my house batteries (4Ds) are almost 9 years old. They were getting a little weak last winter so I equalized them and they seem to have come back pretty well. If you're looking to stay with AGMs I can't say anything bad about lifeline. I would do some shopping around though as $750 seems at least $200 too high, I've even seen them for less than $500 on rare occasion.
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Old 22-11-2010, 14:06   #6
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G'day, again, Bill. I would agree with Bash on my post comments if the 1 AGM actually "melted" down. You wouldn't want to equilize it if the external case shows any kind of damage. Is that the case, or will it not accept or hold a charge? Cheers.
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Old 22-11-2010, 14:08   #7
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I'm considering the slimline Mastervolt agm's - they would fit below the cabin sole in my boat like a glove. Anyone recommend mastervolts?
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Old 22-11-2010, 14:17   #8
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My Mastervolts are faultless after three years of rather abusive use
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Old 22-11-2010, 16:05   #9
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I was all set to buy Fullriver batteries (chinese), but then found Lifelines for comparable cost. I paid $505/ea for Lifeline 8Ds in March (25% heavier than 4D).

The batteries might have a two-letter date code on them somewhere. First letter is the month and second is the year since 2000. Ex: AJ = Jan 2010.

I hesitate to give advice after you said "meltdown", but it may be worth a call to Lifeline. I agree that warranties are useless, but tech support isn't. If the batteries have been on the float charger for a long time they may just be sulfated and need to be equalized. If you were going cruising right away I'd say get new batteries, but if you're not it might be better to make these last until you are.
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Old 22-11-2010, 16:31   #10
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Take a close look at the Odyssey AGM batteries. Made by Enersys who also makes Hawker military batteries. They use a thin plate technlogy that claims two advantages:

1. Longer cycle life including deep cycle (400 cycles at 80% discharge)

2. Higher charge acceptance

I've had a bank for a year. I can't comment on the life yet but the acceptance seems to be true. These things are still taking close to my full charger capacity (200 amps) at 90%+ charge. On the hook, I used to stop charging at 80% to save engine time (and my nerves) . Now I do a full charge.

Niger Calder is using them in his hybrid boat project. Here's a piece:

Hybrid propulsion research

The prices of these have come down quite a bit if you look around. Sears also sells what is said to be the same battery in group 31 100/AH size under their Diehard Platinium label for $260.

Carl
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Old 22-11-2010, 17:08   #11
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CarlF: those are some amazing numbers!

Ah, I see the other thread now: Odyssey TPPL Batteries.
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Old 22-11-2010, 17:40   #12
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OK, I equalized the batteries, and it blew up! Just kidding, of course.

On Sunday morning, the battery got too hot to keep a hand on. The caps have started to bulge.

In order to get to the side of them, where I'm assuming the date is, I have to remove them. I really only want to lift 140lbs once!
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Old 22-11-2010, 18:34   #13
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We had problems that I think stemmed from under charging our batteries. I now think we killed our AGMs.

We were in Marathon, FL at anchor and determined that our batteries were dying and dying fast. We contacted our supplier, and after trouble-shooting for hours, we contacted EnergyOne who sent us out 3 210AH batteries FREE and NO SHIPPING charge. We eventually figured that we were under charging our batteries, but since the supplier installed them and was an EnergyOne rep, we were completely covered under the warranty. We no longer use AGMs, but that is a whole other story. If you are checking out AGMs, then check out the NorthStar batteries sold by EnergyOne.
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Old 22-11-2010, 19:06   #14
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We have Fullriver FR-31 batteries -- 13 of them. Purchased November 2006. Recently had them load tested because wanted to be sure these batteries are still okay before heading towards the Red Sea. All are still perfectly fine after 4 years of use.

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Old 22-11-2010, 19:15   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bstreep View Post
On Sunday morning, the battery got too hot to keep a hand on. The caps have started to bulge.
When my gel battery had its meltdown, the plastic literally distorted. You couldn't touch the battery, and the fire fighters were only able to remove it from the boat because they have special gloves that can handle burning logs, et cetera. It stayed hot for a long time--like 24 hours.
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