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Old 14-05-2013, 22:25   #16
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Re: Best House Battery at any cost?

If money is no object, concentrate more on charging (solar and/or wind) than storage.
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Old 14-05-2013, 22:51   #17
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Re: Best House Battery at any cost?

In conjunction with your battery capacity which others have given good advice on I would also look at reducing consumption via LED for navigation, domestic lighting where possible, to quote a well known supermarket 'Every little helps'.
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Old 15-05-2013, 00:33   #18
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Re: Best House Battery at any cost?

The best house-battery at any costs.

Is the one that is delivered into service at the manufactures specs, and then cared for.

It's kinda of like changing the oil in a motor.

You can love it/or hate it.

But the life is dependent on the care no matter.


Lloyd
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Old 15-05-2013, 01:04   #19
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Re: Best House Battery at any cost?

Your method of use demands a number of deep discharge cycles. Standard Lead Acid, and AGM batteries are poor performers in this area with typically a maximum of 500 deep cycles.

A Carbon Fibre reinforced battery such as the elecsol has double this.

The LIFEYPO4 has 3 - 5000 cycles.

No prizes for guessing which is more suitable for the way you use them.

I agree with an earlier poster, your 15amp charger is woefully inadequate for serious battery capacity.

I would recommend going lithium and investing in serious solar. For example I have 555 watts of solar!
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Old 15-05-2013, 01:25   #20
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Re: Best House Battery at any cost?

You've gotten a lot of good advice here.

Lead-acid batteries are consumables, with a quite limited life, so it rarely makes sense to buy the most expensive ones. Cheaper deepish-cycle ones like the ones recommended are often the best proposition from a cost-value-durability point of view. Ordinary "leisure batteries" are generally ok for those who rarely go off grid, although that is not your case.

Your charging habits need work. You should read up on the care and feeding of boat battery banks -- there's lots of good information on here in the archives.

A few tips, which by no means cover everything you need to know:

1. You need, by all means, a way to monitor the state of your batteries. Invest in a good battery monitor and learn to interpret what it tells you. Besides that, buy a hydrometer and check the specific gravity of the electrolyte from time to time -- the only way to know with real certainty whether you've achieved a really full charge, and the only way to know at all whether all the cells of your batts are healthy.

2. Once you've done that, then you will be able to know when you need to charge -- so that you don't let the batteries get below 50% charge, even so-called "deep cycle" ones. The deeper you discharge them, the shorter their lives will be.

3. Make sure and give them a really full charge on a regular basis. It can't be done in a "couple of hours" on shore power.

4. Equalize them from time to time, more often if you are not getting them up to a full charge every day or two.

5. Know your power budget. Then revise your charging systems to suit. Solar is the best off-grid power source, but it's hard to find a place to put it on a sailboat. Another extremely useful source of power is a jumbo alternator, although if you're on outboard power, this is inapplicable. In many cases, a small Honda suitcase generator is very useful for long spells off-grid, and not all that hard to store even on a small boat.

6. You might be able to reduce your power budget by converting to LED lighting, LED nav and anchor lights, investing in better refrigeration, etc. An amp-hour saved, is an amp-hour earned, to steal a phrase from another CF'er.
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Old 15-05-2013, 01:35   #21
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Re: Best House Battery at any cost?

Quote:
Originally Posted by OrangeCrush View Post
Thanks for the advice, everybody.

Over the summer I'm underway pretty much everyday for six weeks straight, and as you guys pointed out I'm not generating enough power to keep up with my consumption. I have two square solar panels out all the time. I can try to lay out more, but I don't have a ton of extra deck space, especially since by the time I can spread them out it's usually late in the day, and Maine conditions are not ideal for solar charging to begin with. Perhaps I'll need to run the motor a little more regularly for charging purposes.

I guess the lead acid batteries won't be any worse in terms of performance under this kind of battery mistreatment, which is bound to continue to some extent. Any real concerns out there over the gases produced while charging or the risk of spilling acid? Is there any coast guard regulations regarding having the batteries in the same general space as a permanent, properly vented gas tank?

The wet cell deep cycles served me well for four years and I don't mind staying the course on that if it's really the consensus.
Wet cells are definitely the best bang for the buck for this application. All the other variations of lead-acid batteries are all essentially the same technology. Some of them have certain advantages for some applications, but not too much for boats.

The gas produced by open-cell batts is hydrogen. Of course, hydrogen is a powerful explosive, when mixed with air. But it is also extremely light and disperses and flies away if you have decent ventilation. I wouldn't worry about it.

As to spilling -- keep them in good battery boxes, firmly affixed. They won't spill unless you're capsized, in which case you will have bigger problems anyway.

If you can't put on more solar, and you're on outboard power on a small boat, then you've essentially got two options -- wind, and a gasoline generator.

Some people have had good luck with wind; I have not. It looks to me like wind rarely produces as much power as people expect.


If I were you, I would buy a 1kW Honda suitcase generator and a three-stage battery charger of exactly the right size to suit the generator (this is important). It should draw 500 to 600 watts, to run comfortably off the Honda generator. This generator is quite compact and unproblematic to store, and is extremely quiet when running, so it doesn't spoil your commune with nature.

Such a setup will knock your charging problem on the head so you can relax about it. When you start to get behind with your solar setup, and the batteries are down to 50% - 60%, you just do a generator run and start over again. If you're lucky, and if you've optimized your power consumption, you might not have to do that more than once every few days.
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Old 15-05-2013, 01:40   #22
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Re: Best House Battery at any cost?

Quote:
Originally Posted by nimblemotors View Post
Doesn't sound like you use a whole lot, so with a little solar and wind a big enough bank would last.
If he's using more than he produces, he will run out of power, even with a large battery bank.

Bash is correct -- production, not storage, is the main issue. A large battery bank will just delay the lights going out somewhat.
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Old 15-05-2013, 02:32   #23
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Re: Best House Battery at any cost?

An easy solution to add power is too strap a solar panel on to your pulpit at anchor.
When sailing drop it down the front hatch and it stores on the v berth

Most boats your size can do this with about 75w panel. With your limited electrical demands, even using the panel only at anchor you should get enough power.

The cheapest lead acid battery kept near 100% charge will outlast the best battery that it discharged heavily.

The best battery makers are Rolls and Sonnenshein. I have experienced great life with some of the Sonnenshein solar block batteries. The individual 2v cells are better again. They are gel batteries so there is no risk of acid spillage and little, or no gassing.
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Old 15-05-2013, 04:52   #24
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Re: Best House Battery at any cost?

I had 6 x 6V Sonnenshein gel batteries that lasts 9 years, kept topped up continually with 4 good solar panels.
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Old 15-05-2013, 06:30   #25
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Re: Best House Battery at any cost?

Quote:
Originally Posted by noelex 77 View Post
An easy solution to add power is too strap a solar panel on to your pulpit at anchor.
When sailing drop it down the front hatch and it stores on the v birth.
I'd be very careful with this approach. I have looked at a couple of salvage/cheep boats that suffered from fires because solar panels were put on a birth and the wires were incontact with the bed, when a little bit of light made it's way into the cabin, the panels energized and caused a fire.

Quote:
Most boats your size can do this with about 75w panel. With your limited electrical demands, even using the panel only at anchor you should get enough power.
As stated above, that all depends on the OP's actual energy budget. If he is using power for 8-10 hours a day for "stereo, GPS, radar, cabin and navigation lights, and other small appliances like fans and charging cell phones" with some of that use extending for another 6-8 hours per day, he may still be using more power than he is generating. I really don't know who you can estimate the panel size needed without actually doing a power budget for that equipment.

Quote:
The cheapest lead acid battery kept near 100% charge will outlast the best battery that it discharged heavily.
Agreed. My recommendation would the 6 volt golf cart batteries from Sam's Club. They are relatively cheap and would give substantially more ah then his current set up.
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Old 15-05-2013, 07:21   #26
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Re: Best House Battery at any cost?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Irish rambler View Post
In conjunction with your battery capacity which others have given good advice on I would also look at reducing consumption via LED for navigation, domestic lighting where possible, to quote a well known supermarket 'Every little helps'.

25 posts above and only one (irish rambler) suggests what seems obvious to me, I.E. cut consumption with LEDs.Going one step further, would be to get 1or 2 good quality oil lamps which would totally eliminate the biggest current draw you describe ,and of course one can be used as an anchor light and illuminate the cockpit at the same time.
Furthermore, you will always have light even if all batteries are totally dead or dropped overboard. Least expensive solution too......no math required.
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Old 15-05-2013, 07:26   #27
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Re: Best House Battery at any cost?

I find no problem keeping my batts topped up on a mooring with live aboard use all week end every weekend. We do run the engine for 1.5 hrs each day min to cool the refer. We do motor out of the anchorage and back in and often underway. We have two solar panels, a 120 amp alt w/ a smart regulator... Use the espar on the cold weekend all night long. We do turn on lights as needed. We don't run a TV or other amp hog.

Any good well cared for battery will work.
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Old 15-05-2013, 07:27   #28
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Re: Best House Battery at any cost?

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Originally Posted by Teknav View Post
Space requirements will not allow catalytic hydrogen generation installed on most sail boats. The suggestion of having a portable Honda generator, is sound. Even though you'll have to deal with another issue; gasoline storage. Mauritz
Wouldn't you also have to deal with carbon monoxide?
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Old 15-05-2013, 07:32   #29
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Re: Best House Battery at any cost?

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.................. Going one step further, would be to get 1or 2 good quality oil lamps which would totally eliminate the biggest current draw you describe ,and of course one can be used as an anchor light ............................
It's funny how many times the discussion of using LED anchor lights comes up and someone will post saying that anchor lights have to have a USCG approval stamped on them to be legal.

The way I understand it, the requirement is performance based, i.e. visible for X number of miles. An oil lamp should be able to meet these requirements and I believe at least some folks use them and have been using them for years.

As a power boater with a large house bank, I won't be going that route, but I have converted all the lighting on my boat to LEDs.
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Old 15-05-2013, 09:36   #30
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Re: Best House Battery at any cost?

Wow, you guys. This is a ton of great advice and information. It will definitely take me a while to digest everything.

I don't have any refrigeration to worry about (just ice blocks in coolers). I do have an LED cabin light for the one that I use most. The rest are incandescent but I rarely turn them on. I also have a propane camping light that I use most evenings while we're cooking and hanging out. The biggest power draws seem to be the radar (which I use while sometimes while sailing at night or whenever there is fog) and the stereo (which I do like to use lots of the time but when the batteries are in danger of getting low I switch over to a AA powered portable ipod unit or nothing at all). I will continue to work on my overall efficiency, but there is only so much I can do on that front. For the record, I do monitor the battery voltage closely and check the electrolyte twice a year or so.

And yes, of course I didn't really mean that money was no object, but I enjoyed those wild replies regardless. What I meant was that I was willing to pay two or three times as much for the batteries themselves if they would take my abuse and perform better. Since that doesn't seem to be the case, I will stick with lead acid. I'm not sure I understand the 6V approach, though. Would they be hooked up in pairs in series to get the 12 volts I need? It seems like I would need more batteries, they would take up more space and weigh a lot more. Maybe Iím better off sticking with two large 12v batteries. The Lithium Iron Phosphate option does seem pretty good for the kind of use I'm putting them through, but if I'm going to invest significantly in charging them better maybe there isn't enough money left in my battery budget.

As for upping my ability to generate, the Honda generator seems like a sensible (albeit smelly and annoying) way to solve my issue. I already keep a can of unmixed gas for my dinghy outboard (my main gas tank is mixed), and I wouldnít have any problem using some of that for the generator. The smallest such generator (Honda eu1000i) seems to run around $800, which is already much larger than my original battery budget, but still well worth it if it is saving me additional nights at a marina. They make a set of DC charging wires for $10 and it says the generator puts out 15A, but Iím sensing that people think I would need a specific charger that plugged into the generator for better regulation. Can anyone tell me how I would find one to match the Honda generator? Would a generator like this be prone to spills when not in use?

Of course, if Iím dropping $800 on a generator that I would only run periodically, I could also drop $1000 and get a wind generator that would be easier to run more frequently. Unfortunately I just donít have much of a place to put this type of thing on my little boat. I think the generator may be my best bet out of concern for space.

I have another important question regarding my setup and habits. I have the batteries separated on a switch. The two negative battery terminals are connected directly together and to the bonding system of the boat, but the positive leads go through the switch so that I can have one or both on at a time. The charging wires from the outboard are connected to the positive house connection on the switch, so that whichever battery is drawing current is also the one getting charged when the motor is on. The solar panels plug into my outlets, so they also will charge whichever batteries are switched "on". The shore power charger is connected with alligator clips to one of the batteries. I can charge both of them together by keeping the switch turned to ď1+2Ē, but I noticed that it rarely gets up to 100% this way (perhaps too much wiring to go through?) so I am in the habit of keeping them isolated with the switch and charging them up one at a time by moving the alligator clips. Is this an appropriate arrangement and practice? And when it comes to my longer stretches off the grid, is it best to run one battery down at a time so I know that Iíve still got half my capacity in reserve for important things like radar/GPS, or is this only hastening their demise since I am more likely to drain one of them too low before reaching my halfway point?

When I do plug in to shore power, I usually plug in overnight. I thought the 15A charger was big enough for my applications, as well as to avoid charging them too quickly and potentially doing damage or boiling off liquid. Is this wrong? If so, any suggestions on what to replace it with?
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