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Old 05-06-2015, 13:52   #1
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Best mains battery charger for 12 volt Deep Cycle wet lead acid batteries

Not wanting to hijack the various battery threads already running so a new thread

Background

I have 2 boats, both with Group 31 Deep Cycle wet lead acid batteries used as the house bank. (One boat has 3 Group 31 batteries, . the other has 2).

One boat is permanent live aboard, the other is used for 3 to 4 months a year. We live out on the hook and only occasionally go into marinas.

Both boats have standard engine alternator regulators, solar panels and wind generators BUT I have no way of equalising the batteries and am starting to realise that the battery life is shorter than it should be.

I have been following with interest the AGM and Gel cell threads and feel that

• For now I want to remain with the wet cell batteries as I do not want to go through the pain of changing/updating all my charging system regulators

• My usage profile means I would not benefit from the more expensive batteries types

So the questions are.

Given my usage profile, how could I equalise my batteries?

What is the best mains battery charger for 12 volt Deep Cycle wet lead acid batteries that I can hook up to equalise my batteries on the odd occasion that I take the boat into a marina?
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Old 05-06-2015, 19:04   #2
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Re: Best mains battery charger for 12 volt Deep Cycle wet lead acid batteries

The Sterling Pro Ultra (AKA Promariner Pronautic P) has a decent equalization cycle. These chargers come in various sizes up to 60A. I believe the 40A or, better, 50A model would be appropriate for your intended use.

The Victron inverter/chargers have an equalization capability, too.

The West Marine portable charger which comes in a red plastic box with a carrying handle has an equalization cycle, is very affordable but it's equalization cycle is not very robust.

If you're talking about occasional use for equalization and are willing to watch things carefully, you could use a DC bench power supply with adjustable voltage and amperage controls. I use one (the Mastech HY5020E) as does MaineSail. These give you good control, but you've gotta watch what you're doing.

If you ever do long motoring trips, some alternator regulators like the Balmar MC612 and MC614 have equalization capability.

Bill
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Old 05-06-2015, 20:18   #3
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Re: Best mains battery charger for 12 volt Deep Cycle wet lead acid batteries

you sound to be far more advanced than me, but I see it as you get a battery which allows you to top it up, but it has to be big enough to accept a big charge. So you give it a blast with a 40amp charger, But after a time the acid concentration separates and so you have to try and 'give it a good stir' by giving it a good blast after it has been topped up. My brain tells me that you could equalize physically by just giving the battery a good shake (not practical), but just using a drinking straw to blow into it and mix it up. Just an idea.
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Old 05-06-2015, 20:33   #4
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Re: Best mains battery charger for 12 volt Deep Cycle wet lead acid batteries

tat,

Well, you get an A+ for thinking outside the box :-) But, PLEASE, don't try the straw trick....it's a good way to blind yourself!

You're right in part re: stirring up the electrolyte. When a flooded lead-acid battery sits for awhile, the process of stratification occurs, wherein there are different levels of concentration of the electrolyte .... sort of like in layers.

And, bubbling while in the absorption phase and when applying higher voltages -- as while equalizing -- helps to stir up the electrolyte and mitigate the degree of stratification.

But, equalization is more than just stirring up the electrolyte. It also helps by dislodging lead sulfate deposits (PbSO4) from the plates, dropping them back into solution and freeing up areas of the plates for energy storage. And, it also helps to even out the electrolyte between and among the various cells in the battery, hence the name, "equalization".

In normal use and with high enough charging voltages, equalization is only indicated a few times a year. If the PbSO4 crystals haven't been there long enough to become embedded deeply in the plates, equalization can be helpful in restoring some battery capacity.

All batteries are subject to loss of capacity thru sulfation. AGMs are even more susceptible to this problem than are either flooded batteries or gelled batteries, though both of these types can be destroyed if left in a discharged or partially charged state for long periods.

As I said in a presentation to the SSCA a few years ago, "Batteries Don't Just Die. They are murdered."

And we the users are the usual suspects :-)

Bill
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Old 05-06-2015, 22:21   #5
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Re: Best mains battery charger for 12 volt Deep Cycle wet lead acid batteries

I sometimes take things for granted. So when I bought my boat and it had a heart inverter in it with an equalising capability, I just used it with no other worries than keeping the batteries full of water. Untill the last couple letters, I never knew what equalising a batterie did. The batteries in the boat were a mismatched bunch that were quite different from each other. I started haveing trouble with them from the third month I had the boat. Eventually, I had them all go dead at one time in the cays Of Florida. I had to take a couple of them out and row my dinghy for about 4 miles to get them charged. This was just so I could move my boat. So after the first six months of hassle, I bought a new set of batteries all the same, Trojans from Sams club, From then until I sold the boat 8 years later, I never had a minutes problem. At the time I did the new Batteries, I also went solar. I also Used the house bank to start the diesel with. But thanks for the Info on what happens when you equalise batteries. Mac
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Old 06-06-2015, 07:42   #6
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Re: Best mains battery charger for 12 volt Deep Cycle wet lead acid batteries

Good choice.

Wiring a new charger From Maine Sail: Marine Battery Chargers - Installation Tips & Considerations - SailboatOwners.com
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Old 06-06-2015, 10:02   #7
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Re: Best mains battery charger for 12 volt Deep Cycle wet lead acid batteries

So maybe a good idea to take out any battery and shake, rattle and roll it once in a while?
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Old 06-06-2015, 10:04   #8
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Re: Best mains battery charger for 12 volt Deep Cycle wet lead acid batteries

first, group 31`s are starting batts, not ideal for house usage! most good chargers have an 'equalize' system n their programing. get some good 6v batteries, and connect them in series. 2 6v`s, in series, makes one 12v! check google on the series/paralell method...i have a unit called the 'nanopulser' that connects to the plus/minus posts, and keeps the plates clean constantly! check it on google too..it shocks the plates to remove the crap that builds up when you remove the current slowly for small items like lights, etc...clyde
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Old 06-06-2015, 11:30   #9
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Re: Best mains battery charger for 12 volt Deep Cycle wet lead acid batteries

What Clyde says.

Group 31 batteries, even those advertised as 'Deep Cycle', are not really meant to be 'House' batteries, which is what you are using them for. Get 6 volt Golf Cart batteries. They are meant to be really deep cycled and recharged deeply.

And get a big bank of them. Four is minimum. Six or eight, better. Your 3 group 31's probably give you 300 amp hours capacity; not enough for a typical liveaboard. Four golf cart batteries would give you 450 amp hours; six would give you 675.

Wire pairs of 6v golf cart batteries together to make them 12 volts, then connect your 12 volt batteries together. My old set lasted over six years, the current set is on four years.

I prefer wet cells because they can take abuse better than the the newer technologies, IMHO. Just need to check the water levels frequently and keep them filled with distilled water.
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Old 06-06-2015, 11:35   #10
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Re: Best mains battery charger for 12 volt Deep Cycle wet lead acid batteries

Quote:
Originally Posted by bailsout View Post
So maybe a good idea to take out any battery and shake, rattle and roll it once in a while?
Or just go sailing
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Old 06-06-2015, 13:25   #11
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Re: Best mains battery charger for 12 volt Deep Cycle wet lead acid batteries

tat-
No need to blow straws or shake. Some batteries are designed with patented "channels" in the case, to encourage electrolyte to flow and circulate when it is taking a charge. Others, pretty much all the others, will circulate electrolyte and "equalize" that out in each cell within 8-24 hours.
So if you want the electrolyte to be uniformly mixed and stirred, just let it stand overnight after charging. That also allows any "float charge" to drain off the battery as well. Otherwise, electrolyte or not, the "charge" on a freshly charged battery is very deceptive, it will always be higher than what the battery really is charged to.
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Old 08-06-2015, 13:03   #12
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Re: Best mains battery charger for 12 volt Deep Cycle wet lead acid batteries

Wow, thanks for all the responses, have been out of internet range for a couple of days.

Quote:
Originally Posted by btrayfors View Post
The Sterling Pro Ultra (AKA Promariner Pronautic P) has a decent equalization cycle. These chargers come in various sizes up to 60A. I believe the 40A or, better, 50A model would be appropriate for your intended use.
Hum Sterling products

I swore I would not put up with any more Sterling products after seeking “help” from the “Helpful and Charismatic” Mr Charles Sterling on 2 products that I bought in the UK and that failed whilst still very new. One item Mr S refused to replace and the other so called “Universal” advanced 4 stage battery charger used only 8 times could only be evaluated/repaired by returning it to the UK and I was in the Caribbean

Question
Is there any after service available from Promariner for these units as when I enquired about them looking at my charger, they did not ever reply to my emails

Quote:
Originally Posted by btrayfors View Post
If you ever do long motoring trips, some alternator regulators like the Balmar MC612 and MC614 have equalization capability
I have used a Xantrec regulator in the past but I did not like the fact that on my Valeo alternator with with its internal regulator removed and the Xantrec fitted that there was no way for the provision of an alternator light which warns me if the alternator is not charging and/or the belt has broken.

Xantrec were most un helpful in offering any advice on ways around this issue. But I will have another look at the Balmar range to see if anything had changed

Quote:
Originally Posted by clyde View Post
...i have a unit called the 'nanopulser' that connects to the plus/minus posts, and keeps the plates clean constantly! check it on google too..it shocks the plates to remove the crap that builds up when you remove the current slowly for small items like lights, etc
This sounds very interesting, I will check it out, thanks

Quote:
Originally Posted by clyde View Post
first, group 31`s are starting batts, not ideal for house usage! most good chargers have an 'equalize' system n their programming. get some good 6v batteries, and connect them in series.clyde
Quote:
Originally Posted by onestepcsy37 View Post
What Clyde says.

Group 31 batteries, even those advertised as 'Deep Cycle', are not really meant to be 'House' batteries, which is what you are using them for. Get 6 volt Golf Cart batteries. They are meant to be really deep cycled and recharged deeply. .
Unfortunately, my battery box was designed for 3 x Group 31s and it does not have the space to fit 6 volt batteries as it does not have the height required.

Maybe on the next refit I will have to design something better but the battery box is built into the infrastructure of the keel

Quote:
Originally Posted by onestepcsy37 View Post
What Clyde says.

I prefer wet cells because they can take abuse better than the newer technologies, IMHO. Just need to check the water levels frequently and keep them filled with distilled water.
I quite agree as long as you can get at them easily it is not a problem, on some boats I have seen (e.g. Leopard 40) , the batteries are under the helmsman's platform and you had to check the battery levels with a mirror, how the hell do you top them up?
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Old 08-06-2015, 13:46   #13
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Re: Best mains battery charger for 12 volt Deep Cycle wet lead acid batteries

Quote:
Originally Posted by Triumphant View Post
Wow, thanks for all the responses, have been out of internet range for a couple of days.



Hum Sterling products

I swore I would not put up with any more Sterling products after seeking “help” from the “Helpful and Charismatic” Mr Charles Sterling on 2 products that I bought in the UK and that failed whilst still very new. One item Mr S refused to replace and the other so called “Universal” advanced 4 stage battery charger used only 8 times could only be evaluated/repaired by returning it to the UK and I was in the Caribbean

Question
Is there any after service available from Promariner for these units as when I enquired about them looking at my charger, they did not ever reply to my emails

Don't know. Never heard of a problem with either the ProNautic or the ProUltra chargers.

I have used a Xantrec regulator in the past but I did not like the fact that on my Valeo alternator with with its internal regulator removed and the Xantrec fitted that there was no way for the provision of an alternator light which warns me if the alternator is not charging and/or the belt has broken.

Xantrec were most un helpful in offering any advice on ways around this issue. But I will have another look at the Balmar range to see if anything had changed

A simple voltmeter will tell you this. I regularly glance at mine when underway. If the voltage is below, e.g., 13.0VDC while the engine is running, then something is wrong and needs to be investigated.


(re: Nanopulser)

This sounds very interesting, I will check it out, thanks

The Nanopulser was among the 12 "desulfating devices" I researched a few years ago, having set up a research protocol with Nigel Calder and Scott Berg. We concluded that all of these were little more than snake oil, i.e., no discernable and repeatable positive effects on battery capacity. One equalization cycle did more than 8 or ten complete cycles with the "desulfators".

Unfortunately, my battery box was designed for 3 x Group 31s and it does not have the space to fit 6 volt batteries as it does not have the height required.

Maybe on the next refit I will have to design something better but the battery box is built into the infrastructure of the keel

I quite agree as long as you can get at them easily it is not a problem, on some boats I have seen (e.g. Leopard 40) , the batteries are under the helmsman's platform and you had to check the battery levels with a mirror, how the hell do you top them up?
Get a Trojan automatic watering device (or other).

Bill
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Old 08-06-2015, 13:56   #14
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Re: Best mains battery charger for 12 volt Deep Cycle wet lead acid batteries

Quote:
Originally Posted by Triumphant View Post
...
I quite agree as long as you can get at them easily it is not a problem, on some boats I have seen (e.g. Leopard 40) , the batteries are under the helmsman's platform and you had to check the battery levels with a mirror, how the hell do you top them up?

You add an automatic watering system, like:
Amazon.com: Flow-Rite RV2000 Pro-Fill RV Edition 2 Battery Kit: Automotive

I'm in the 6v golf car battery camp too. Best bang for buck of all batteries. A human being can lift them easy (unlike 4D and 8D). And they last and last.
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Old 29-06-2015, 09:38   #15
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Re: Best mains battery charger for 12 volt Deep Cycle wet lead acid batteries

So. Not many opinions for a battery charger?
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