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Old 30-09-2014, 16:14   #1
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AGM or Gel?

My nearly 5 year old "LifeLine" brand 8GPL 8DL 225A/hr 12V house batteries no longer hold a charge. I have 3 of the same batteries in the service bank in our Lagoon 440. I have 2 X large centaur chargers - selected to AGM, plus input from 3 large solar panels via an Outback 80A MPPT regulator, and if required, our 11kVa generator.
Tests confirm the batteries are on the way out but would like to get feedback on experiences with Gel V AGM batteries to help me decide which way to go.
Col
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Old 01-10-2014, 01:20   #2
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Re: AGM or Gel?

Gel was a failure years ago so they created agm. Gels are a pain to use. Everything needs to be setup for it. Like external alt regulators etc
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Old 01-10-2014, 01:35   #3
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Re: AGM or Gel?

I think AGM have pretty much replaced gel.

Look up Maine Sail's posts on batteries - does a great job and makes a case for using regular lead acid batteries. Especially if you only get 4-5 years out of them.
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Old 01-10-2014, 02:14   #4
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Re: AGM or Gel?

Quote:
Originally Posted by coldar1 View Post
My nearly 5 year old "LifeLine" brand 8GPL 8DL 225A/hr 12V house batteries no longer hold a charge. I have 3 of the same batteries in the service bank in our Lagoon 440. I have 2 X large centaur chargers - selected to AGM, plus input from 3 large solar panels via an Outback 80A MPPT regulator, and if required, our 11kVa generator.
I'm surprised your Lifeline AGM battery bank has given you such poor service. I think 5 years is not good enough.

On Led Myne, her first bank of 5 Lifeline AGM batteries lasted 11 years. Her current bank of 5 Lifeline AGM batts is 3 years old.

I can only suggest you reconsider your management of your battery bank.

Al
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Old 01-10-2014, 02:30   #5
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Re: AGM or Gel?

Col,

I would go LiFeO4 same as Frank has done on his L440.

cheers

LiFePO4 Batteries: Discussion Thread for Those Using Them as House Banks

Monitoring LiFePO4 Lithium Batteries

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Old 01-10-2014, 02:38   #6
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Re: AGM or Gel?

I know Frank really well and we cruised together most of last year. I have seen his installation and agree, its pretty special. Unfortunately, the initial cost and set-up to do all the correct monitoring and management of the system is just out of my ball-park for the time being. I wish!!
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Old 01-10-2014, 02:42   #7
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Re: AGM or Gel?

A service in Gibraltar has replied to an email I sent last night suggesting he can't get Lifeline at the moment - or at least in the period while we will be there, but recommends a Canadian made AGM battery called Rolls. I've done some looking and they appear to have a good track record. They are about $100 cheaper each than the same size in the Lifeline, and are on the shelf in Gibraltar. Anyone got any feedback on Rolls Batteries?
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Old 01-10-2014, 06:45   #8
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Re: AGM or Gel?

I maintain several set's of Rolls FLA's in Solar systems, (683 to 2700 ah) Build quality, Safety & service are second to none in my opinion I can only presume the AGM's are as good, Surprised you can get them cheeper than similar, Usually most expensive of "the lot"

Quote:
plus input from 3 large solar panels via an Outback 80A MPPT regulator
You may want to check your settings, The defaults are very poor, 1hr for Absorb is too short & Charge voltage ? Also very important to have temperature sensing on all charge sources
Tim
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Old 01-10-2014, 06:58   #9
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Re: AGM or Gel?

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Originally Posted by blackswan555 View Post
I maintain several set's of Rolls FLA's in Solar systems, (683 to 2700 ah) Build quality, Safety & service are second to none in my opinion I can only presume the AGM's are as good, Surprised you can get them cheeper than similar, Usually most expensive of "the lot"


You may want to check your settings, The defaults are very poor, 1hr for Absorb is too short & Charge voltage ? Also very important to have temperature sensing on all charge sources
Tim
Ditto... YMMV...
and... hope you've ditched the gel idea...
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Old 01-10-2014, 07:08   #10
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Re: AGM or Gel?

Quote:
Originally Posted by smac999 View Post
Gel was a failure years ago so they created agm.
Really? You got sources for that myth..?

Quote:
Originally Posted by smac999 View Post
Gels are a pain to use. Everything needs to be setup for it. Like external alt regulators etc
AGM's are just as tough to use and set up properly.

GEL's are very easy to use they just need proper charging. When you do this the average life of a GEL battery will almost always exceed that of AGM. In the real world I have yet to see a properly charged AGM battery bank out last a properly charged GEL battery bank... The key word for both is "properly charged"...

All one has to do is take one look at a manufacturer who makes both types of batteries and their own cycle life ratings for their own batteries.

BTW the Rolls AGM's were/are made in China to Rolls specifications. There has been talk of building them in Canada but I don't know if that has happened yet. I don't see enough of them to form an any opinion on longevity...

I can only offer my real world experience across many hundreds of vessels. You certainly can maximize the cycle life of AGM batteries but it can get expensive to do it right. I still install a LOT of AGM batteries but they are always installed and addressed as a compete system not just a drop in replacement for flooded batteries. The fact that Lifeline AGM's can be equalized makes them a clear winner for me in the AGM market but Odyssey is a close second.

John Harries has written extensively about AGM's and it is a must read for anyone considering AGM:

Morgan's Cloud AGM's

Perhaps the best way to see how a battery should perform is to look at a manufacturer who makes all types. For the Deka/East Penn brand this is how they rate their own batteries.

NOTE: Only ratings within a brand/manufacturer are useful. Cross brand cycle life data is useless because there is no industry standard for testing. Much of the cycle life data from manufacturers is Disney fairy tale stuff.. Most all of them are fantasy level data when applied to real world marine use. Only in-house manufacturer testing across their own batteries can be compared for guidelines.

East Penn:
-GEL Cycles to 50% = *1000 Cycles
-6V Flooded Golf Cart - Cycles to 50% = *700-1000 Cycles
-12V Flooded 4D, 8D, 24, 27, 31 - Cycled to 50% = *350 Cycles
-AGM Cycled to 50% = *300 Cycles


*NOTE: These are usually not what you will see in the "real world".. Deka rates their batteries more conservatively/honestly than most..

That is not my data but Deka's own data across their own batteries.... As can clearly be seen;

*They rate their 12V DC wets at 50 more cycles than AGM. (not a true deep cycle)
*They rate their 6V DC wets at 400 - 700 more cycles than AGM
*They rate GEL at 700 more cycles than AGM...


The problem with GEL batteries was the folks who marketed them not the batteries themselves. GEL was having a hard time gaining foot hold due to the lower charging voltages (14.1V) so they began telling everyone it was okay to charge them with flooded equipment. BIG MISTAKE! It gave GELS a black eye and allowed the AGM makers to gain a stronger foot hold. They then began a misleading marketing campaign about depth of discharge (recommended 80% DOD to justify cost now they recommend 50% max DOD) suggested a lack of sulfation etc., etc... They too gave themselves a black eye and had to adjust much of the early marketing...

If I was choosing a cruising bank of valve regulated lead acid batteries for my own vessel hands down it would be GEL over AGM.....

I have numerous GEL banks on cruising boats beyond 11 years and one at 15....
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Old 01-10-2014, 07:19   #11
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Re: AGM or Gel?

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Originally Posted by HappyMdRSailor View Post
Ditto... YMMV...
and... hope you've ditched the gel idea...
edit: I hope you've ditched the gel idea... of.... "drop in replacements"!

It's nice to have somebody around who has a larger SOC in their little finger than the rest of us have in our noggin's when it comes this stuff...
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Old 01-10-2014, 07:51   #12
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Re: AGM or Gel?

A great reply indeed. Before we purchased our 2006-built Lagoon 440 Cat from its original German owner in Croatia, it had spent a lot of time in a marina in Sibinek, plugged in to shore power. The owner tells me his first set of batteries i not sure what type or brand, failed after 3 years so he installed the current 3 X AGM 255A/hr Lifeline batteries. After I bought the boat, we added 3 X 275W solar panels - fully adjustable array on gas struts and the Outback 80Amp MPPT controller. My 2 X 80 Amp Centaur chargers are also original, and are set to AGM as they should be. My generator is a 11kVa Onan. While I believe the settings on the Victron battery regulator are correct - and we have done some adjusting, I'm still unsure if the batteries are indeed full when they reach "100%". They charge at about 14.4V of the generator, but settle back to about 13.3V after we turn the Gen off having reached 100%. Within an hour of normal use they are at about 12.7V. Again, with modest use, - we have all LED lighting, 2 X 12V fridges on thermostats, and don't leave lots of lights on, we are down to about 12.2V by morning, and sometimes as low as 11.5%. From all that, I can only presume the batteries are at the end of their life. Each battery has a Megapulse unit attached, and the LED is always green suggesting they are powered-up. I'm OK mechanically, but lack any expertise in electrical beyond the basics. Despite what I'm reading, the local guy here in Majorca still swears by Gel over AGM after 20 years in the business but fully agrees, they must be set up correctly, as of course should the AGM's be.
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Old 01-10-2014, 10:22   #13
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Re: AGM or Gel?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maine Sail View Post
Really

GEL's are very easy to use they just need proper charging. When you do this the average life of a GEL battery will almost always exceed that of AGM. In the real world I have yet to see a properly charged AGM battery bank out last a properly charged GEL battery bank... The key word for both is "properly charged"...

All one has to do is take one look at a manufacturer who makes both types of batteries and their own cycle life ratings for their own batteries.

...


The fact that Lifeline AGM's can be equalized makes them a clear winner for me in the AGM market but Odyssey is a close second.

...

Perhaps the best way to see how a battery should perform is to look at a manufacturer who makes all types. For the Deka/East Penn brand this is how they rate their own batteries.

...

East Penn:
-GEL Cycles to 50% = *1000 Cycles
-6V Flooded Golf Cart - Cycles to 50% = *700-1000 Cycles
-12V Flooded 4D, 8D, 24, 27, 31 - Cycled to 50% = *350 Cycles
-AGM Cycled to 50% = *300 Cycles


*NOTE: These are usually not what you will see in the "real world".. Deka rates their batteries more conservatively/honestly than most..

That is not my data but Deka's own data across their own batteries.... As can clearly be seen;

*They rate their 12V DC wets at 50 more cycles than AGM. (not a true deep cycle)
*They rate their 6V DC wets at 400 - 700 more cycles than AGM
*They rate GEL at 700 more cycles than AGM...


The problem with GEL batteries was the folks who marketed them not the batteries themselves. GEL was having a hard time gaining foot hold due to the lower charging voltages (14.1V) so they began telling everyone it was okay to charge them with flooded equipment. BIG MISTAKE! It gave GELS a black eye and allowed the AGM makers to gain a stronger foot hold. They then began a misleading marketing campaign about depth of discharge (recommended 80% DOD to justify cost now they recommend 50% max DOD) suggested a lack of sulfation etc., etc... They too gave themselves a black eye and had to adjust much of the early marketing...

If I was choosing a cruising bank of valve regulated lead acid batteries for my own vessel hands down it would be GEL over AGM.....

MS, does anyone make 6V valve-regulated gel deep cycle "golf cart" batteries?

I haven't been able to find that option in various 'net searches...

-Chris
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Old 01-10-2014, 10:36   #14
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Re: AGM or Gel?

I bought a set of gels in Gibraltar for about 40% less than they wanted in Turkey, Greece, Italy, or Spain. I got about 7 years of full time cruising (at least 300 days unplugged from the dock) out of the gels. I used a 500 amp-hr bank on a boat with 90-150 amp-hr/day electrical load, and only had 200 watts of solar.

In my experience, gels are sensitive to over-charging, and AGM's are sensitive to under-charging. I still prefer gels.
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Old 01-10-2014, 10:38   #15
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Re: AGM or Gel?

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Originally Posted by ranger42c View Post
MS, does anyone make 6V valve-regulated gel deep cycle "golf cart" batteries?

I haven't been able to find that option in various 'net searches...

-Chris
You want an 8GGC2 battery. East Penn/Deka/Mk Battery and others make them. The 8GGC2 is the form factor.

I have 8 that are down to 50% capacity after 4 years away from the dock.
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