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Old 21-09-2016, 18:49   #16
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Re: Firefly Oasis Carbon Foam AGM Batteries

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Originally Posted by Kim Klaka View Post
"....for people that don't want to change all their charging sources to convert to LiFePO4."

I don't want to hijack this thread for lithiums, but I think it worth a very short rebuttal of the above statement. All I am saying is, don't assume you necessarily have to change anything in the supply side of your power just because you fit lithiums. I replaced my AGMs with LiFeP04 batteries a couple of years ago and I didn't have to make any changes at all to the charging sources (alternator and solars) or their regulators, just plug-and-play. Maybe that's because I bought lithiums already made up in 12V blocks, with their own regulators, and I am not pushing my electrical system to its limits.
Good luck with the carbon foam batteries.

you need load and charging bus cut off switches to do it right. it's a lot more complicated and a lot more stuff. (to do properly anythings)
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Old 21-09-2016, 18:56   #17
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Re: Firefly Oasis Carbon Foam AGM Batteries

I've heard and read good things about the Firefly batteries. However, they are only available in Group 31 size which was a non-starter for me. The OP wants to replace his existing 31's so that would not be an issue I would think. The prices are a bit high too. They seem to be readily available but only by a few distributors. E.g. only one supplier in Seattle are with thousands of boats and hundreds of battery suppliers. I'm sure it would be tougher elsewhere.

The comment about sailboaters always motoring enough to recharge their batteries every 7 days is not correct. I had to run my engines a lot to charge my AGMs but only for that most of the time. And the run times were long. I believe the Fireflys will charge quicker but I don't know about how much faster at the top end which is always where the longest times are required.
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Old 21-09-2016, 21:22   #18
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Re: Firefly Oasis Carbon Foam AGM Batteries

exmaggiedrum,

sounds like your engine driven charging system may be inadequately designed. can you return the amount of electrical energy you consume in 24 hours with one hour or less of engine alternator running? you don't have to exceed 80% SOC. and do you have a house bank sized to meet up to 3 days of demand? thats a good benchmark for a proper electrical energy system on an active boat. in tropical Mexico and SoCal we never stay at a given anchorage longer than 3 days running. heck, you need to leave an anchorage every 3 days just to dump the head at a respectful distance. and actual sailing hours are never 100% of transit time between destinations. hence we have run the engine solely to charge only a handful of times in 6 years of Mex & SoCal cruising. i feel your pain, we tried to live with a poor battery/charging system before getting serious. i think the biggest mistake people make is trying to "fix" an insufficient engine driven energy generation and storage system by trying to plug in "better batteries" or slapping on alternative sources like solar and wind before achieving the full potential of an optimized pairing of batteries and alternators. BTW show me an actively cruised sailboat jumping significant distances between anchorages that does not have to motor at least 4-5 hours every 7-10 days due to lack of wind and I'll show you a masochistic purist.


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Old 21-09-2016, 23:26   #19
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Re: Firefly Oasis Carbon Foam AGM Batteries

I paid some bank nearly 3 years ago for a group 27 Northstar. It is performing well at about 400 deep cycles, but I recharge it well.

After 5 to 7 PSOC's, it is much less impressive, absolutely requiring a high amp recharge to be reset to my personal -voltage held under load for Ah removed- expectations, and I watch these figures closely each cycle.

Also, the low and slow solar only recharges,( 200 watts for 90ah capacity) even to full at 0.4amps at 14.5v, do not keep it nearly as happy as getting that high amp recharge from 50% and the taper to 0.4amp at 14.5v finish, more often.

I Do not need a new battery at this point, not even close, but would love to eventually put the firefly into use and see how it responds as I accumulate cycles quickly.

I can't do a real accurate 20 hour capacity test, but, if I can easily notice changes in performance in my Northstar in ~50% DOD cycles, I'd have a basis for comparison from it, to the Firefly, and as the firefly accumulates cycles

Seems the Firefly needs some loving to be restored to 100% capacity after much PSOC, but at least it can return to 100% capacity after PSOC abuse, instead of some percentage gone forever as is the case with regular AGM or flooded when PSOC's day in and day out for a period of time.

Anyone hear of the screw caps leaking acid on the firefly's
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Old 22-09-2016, 05:22   #20
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Re: Firefly Oasis Carbon Foam AGM Batteries

The ability to recover from PSOC was the # 1 reason that I was willing to take the risk on the Firefly batteries.
We do sail quite a lot, as our cruising grounds are in the trade winds. Sometimes we have been able to go from one anchorage to another with out using the engines. I am no masochist,it is just fun. So we can't always get the batteries back up. Our style of use fits the specified capabilities of the batteries. I am going to get a Honda 2000 so I can use the charger if necessary.
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Old 22-09-2016, 07:16   #21
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Re: Firefly Oasis Carbon Foam AGM Batteries

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Originally Posted by Sternwake View Post
I paid some bank nearly 3 years ago for a group 27 Northstar. It is performing well at about 400 deep cycles, but I recharge it well.

After 5 to 7 PSOC's, it is much less impressive, absolutely requiring a high amp recharge to be reset to my personal -voltage held under load for Ah removed- expectations, and I watch these figures closely each cycle.

Also, the low and slow solar only recharges,( 200 watts for 90ah capacity) even to full at 0.4amps at 14.5v, do not keep it nearly as happy as getting that high amp recharge from 50% and the taper to 0.4amp at 14.5v finish, more often.

I Do not need a new battery at this point, not even close, but would love to eventually put the firefly into use and see how it responds as I accumulate cycles quickly.

I can't do a real accurate 20 hour capacity test, but, if I can easily notice changes in performance in my Northstar in ~50% DOD cycles, I'd have a basis for comparison from it, to the Firefly, and as the firefly accumulates cycles

Seems the Firefly needs some loving to be restored to 100% capacity after much PSOC, but at least it can return to 100% capacity after PSOC abuse, instead of some percentage gone forever as is the case with regular AGM or flooded when PSOC's day in and day out for a period of time.

Anyone hear of the screw caps leaking acid on the firefly's

Sternwake,

Thanks for this input. Can you quantify what "easily notice changes in my NorthStar battery after a few PSOC cycles means"? A couple observations- You do indeed need to follow the AGM battery's product manual directions. That's only fair to the manufacturer in my opinion. This means you need a charging system capable of roughly 40% of the AH capacity of the battery bank. 800Ah bank means 300A bulk charging current capable. We do not experience the PSOC "walk down" as a result, since we are compliant with the manual. Relying on solar to do this will not get you there. But then the good news is there is no need for solar. As regards "capacity gone forever" due to PSOC inside of 7-10 days before a full recharge to 105%, that is simply false with our bank. After 4 years we did a meticulous C20 capacity test and found ~90% of C20 capacity remaining. This is 90% of the manufacturers specified AH capacity. Since we did not test to confirm the capacity when new at installation time, for all we know it could still be 100% of actual new capacity. In any event, its an excellent result. Now approaching year 7 with the same bank. Cheers, J
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Old 22-09-2016, 07:32   #22
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Re: Firefly Oasis Carbon Foam AGM Batteries

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The ability to recover from PSOC was the # 1 reason that I was willing to take the risk on the Firefly batteries.
We do sail quite a lot, as our cruising grounds are in the trade winds. Sometimes we have been able to go from one anchorage to another with out using the engines. I am no masochist,it is just fun. So we can't always get the batteries back up. Our style of use fits the specified capabilities of the batteries. I am going to get a Honda 2000 so I can use the charger if necessary.
Hi Admiralslater,

As stated in my above post, recovery from PSOC with quality AGM batteries is not an issue if manufacturers directions are followed. That is, every 7-10 days a full recharge. You say "cannot always get the batteries back up" sailing from one anchorage to the next. Its important to make the distinction here between "back up to" 85% state of charge and back up to 105%. Sailing between anchorages back up to 85% is fine, and will usually be accomplished in the amount of time the engine runs to set or pull the hook. You can do this for days. Just remember to do the 105% recharge once within the 7-10 day window. Even though we frequently sail 100% from anchorage to anchorage, we never go 7-10 days when actively cruising without a long motor at some stage. Most of the fleet even in the 1,000 mile "downwind" legs of the San Diego to Cabo rallies bear this out each year. Cheers, J
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Old 22-09-2016, 08:05   #23
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Re: Firefly Oasis Carbon Foam AGM Batteries

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we are selling them faster then we can source them. so they are not too available... we buy them by the pallet. put 8 in one boat last week.
Yes but you seem to be in Canada. A very long drive for me.

What I really wanted to know is, suppose you are cruising somewhere and one or more of these batteries fails. With my Sears battery, I can usually get a ride to town and get a replacement. West Marine batteries would be similar. It seems it would be difficult with these batteries and that could be a disadvantage.
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Old 22-09-2016, 08:29   #24
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Re: Firefly Oasis Carbon Foam AGM Batteries

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we are selling them faster then we can source them. so they are not too available... we buy them by the pallet. put 8 in one boat last week.
I just picked up two Firefly's a few weeks ago from the Maryland distributor. The owner there said the same thing about getting a pallet at a time, and had sold 15 the week prior.

I also know a guy who likes his battery enough, when he bought a different boat, he took the battery with him.

So far, from what I've read, they're holding up with the hype. They do seem like really good batteries. While the two I got is for my house bank, I do wish they had other sizes, that I could use for starting battery.
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Old 22-09-2016, 08:35   #25
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Re: Firefly Oasis Carbon Foam AGM Batteries

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sternwake View Post
I paid some bank nearly 3 years ago for a group 27 Northstar. It is performing well at about 400 deep cycles, but I recharge it well.

After 5 to 7 PSOC's, it is much less impressive, absolutely requiring a high amp recharge to be reset to my personal -voltage held under load for Ah removed- expectations, and I watch these figures closely each cycle.

Also, the low and slow solar only recharges,( 200 watts for 90ah capacity) even to full at 0.4amps at 14.5v, do not keep it nearly as happy as getting that high amp recharge from 50% and the taper to 0.4amp at 14.5v finish, more often.

I Do not need a new battery at this point, not even close, but would love to eventually put the firefly into use and see how it responds as I accumulate cycles quickly.

I can't do a real accurate 20 hour capacity test, but, if I can easily notice changes in performance in my Northstar in ~50% DOD cycles, I'd have a basis for comparison from it, to the Firefly, and as the firefly accumulates cycles

Seems the Firefly needs some loving to be restored to 100% capacity after much PSOC, but at least it can return to 100% capacity after PSOC abuse, instead of some percentage gone forever as is the case with regular AGM or flooded when PSOC's day in and day out for a period of time.

Anyone hear of the screw caps leaking acid on the firefly's
For optimal performance of Northstar or Odyssey TPPL batteries, in a PSOC use environment, a 14.7V absorption works significantly better at not loosing as much capacity as quickly...
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Old 22-09-2016, 08:46   #26
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Re: Firefly Oasis Carbon Foam AGM Batteries

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Sternwake,

Thanks for this input. Can you quantify what "easily notice changes in my NorthStar battery after a few PSOC cycles means"? A couple observations- You do indeed need to follow the AGM battery's product manual directions. That's only fair to the manufacturer in my opinion. This means you need a charging system capable of roughly 40% of the AH capacity of the battery bank. 800Ah bank means 300A bulk charging current capable. We do not experience the PSOC "walk down" as a result, since we are compliant with the manual. Relying on solar to do this will not get you there. But then the good news is there is no need for solar. As regards "capacity gone forever" due to PSOC inside of 7-10 days before a full recharge to 105%, that is simply false with our bank. After 4 years we did a meticulous C20 capacity test and found ~90% of C20 capacity remaining. This is 90% of the manufacturers specified AH capacity. Since we did not test to confirm the capacity when new at installation time, for all we know it could still be 100% of actual new capacity. In any event, its an excellent result. Now approaching year 7 with the same bank. Cheers, J
If you are PSOC cycling there is walk down occurring even in a short 7 day window, no way around that. Whether you notice it or not, without lab grade equipment, is another question.

If the batteries are charged to full often enough, you can certainly fight the permanent damage fairly well. Every cycle you don't get back to 100% does result in less usable capacity on the next PSOC cycle. This starts as early as cycle 2 or 3 off a full recharge and applies to all AGM batteries..

Do enough PSOC cycling back to back and that unconverted sulfate becomes permanent. 90% of capacity at 4 years is not abnormal for well cared for TPPL batteries charged at the proper voltages and charged with high current. Let them sit there below 100% for longer periods and they fall off the proverbial cliff just like other AGM batteries. Proper care is critical for all batteries not just AGM..


In the next month I will be yanking the Firefly batteries off of chronic PSOC abusive boats for yearly capacity testing. Neither boat has solar or wind and both boats are on moorings, anchor and are off cruising for 6-7 months per year. One boat just returned from Newfoundland a week ago. At year one neither boats Firefly's had lost any capacity this despite almost never getting back to 100% SOC in 6-7 months of year 1 use. I know very well what that type of abuse nets other AGM's and it gets very, very expensive.

I am still abusing the Firefly used in the Practical sailor testing, including sitting at 20% SOC for four months straight, in my black asphalt roof garden shed, with temps exceeding 120F regularly. That battery is also still putting up 100% of the tested as new capacity, something I am still shocked by.
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Old 22-09-2016, 09:06   #27
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Re: Firefly Oasis Carbon Foam AGM Batteries

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I think Nigel Calder's testimonial sums up what is unknow about these batteries perfectly. More data needed...


Here is Nigel's follow up to that:

"After discharging the 24v series/parallel Firefly pack to 38% SoC last August I left the batteries disconnected all winter over (over 8 months). When I got here I did a normal recharge with the 4 batteries in 24v series/parallel mode. I held the absorption voltage overnight (i.e. no specialized voltage/current; just an extended timer on the absorption for a mild overcharge without equalization voltages), ran the batteries in boat use for several hours with a float charge, then did a C20 capacity test. I got right at 110 Ah per block at the C20 rate, so this looks really good. I recharged with a voltage limit of 28.8v (14.4v/block) and a current limit of 0.25C. The 4 batteries maintained an amazingly consistent voltage on discharge and recharge. All-in-all, this is very positive. Nigel"

I think most of us know what 38% SOC for 8 months does to most lead acid batteries, they turn into scrap lead.....
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Old 22-09-2016, 09:54   #28
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Re: Firefly Oasis Carbon Foam AGM Batteries

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exmaggiedrum,

sounds like your engine driven charging system may be inadequately designed. can you return the amount of electrical energy you consume in 24 hours with one hour or less of engine alternator running? you don't have to exceed 80% SOC. and do you have a house bank sized to meet up to 3 days of demand? thats a good benchmark for a proper electrical energy system on an active boat. in tropical Mexico and SoCal we never stay at a given anchorage longer than 3 days running. heck, you need to leave an anchorage every 3 days just to dump the head at a respectful distance. and actual sailing hours are never 100% of transit time between destinations. hence we have run the engine solely to charge only a handful of times in 6 years of Mex & SoCal cruising. i feel your pain, we tried to live with a poor battery/charging system before getting serious. i think the biggest mistake people make is trying to "fix" an insufficient engine driven energy generation and storage system by trying to plug in "better batteries" or slapping on alternative sources like solar and wind before achieving the full potential of an optimized pairing of batteries and alternators. BTW show me an actively cruised sailboat jumping significant distances between anchorages that does not have to motor at least 4-5 hours every 7-10 days due to lack of wind and I'll show you a masochistic purist.


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I had four new Lifeline 6v batteries with 440 Ah. I had a 160A HD alternator which could reliably put out 120A when the batteries could accept it. It was driven with a Balmer 612 alternator controller. I had about 400w of solar with a good MPPT (at that time) controller. I had a Honda generator which I ran the Freedom 20 inverter/charger for charging at anchorage. At the time it was pretty much state of the art for a reasonable budget. I had replaced every single battery cable/switch.

It was more than adequate at anchorage. The solar could not recharge the batteries to 100% SOC (which AGMs really need really often for long life), nor with only an hour, or even two hours of running the motor. The issue is that the batteries go down at a pretty steady rate regardless of the SOC, at least at the high end. They accepted a high rate of charge up to the 92-95% SOC range, but that last 8-5% took "forever" to get them to full charge. The batteries just would not accept more so I watched the amps go down and down as the motor droned on and on. Solar could never/ever push them up to 100% unless we were not using the batteries.

I never let them get below 12.1v and usually wanted to charge then at 12.2v. They lasted for over 10 years, first with me for 6 years and then with the second owner for 4 more. My first two years with them were just doing weekend, week long and a two month long shakedown. I think I gave them pretty darn care and they lasted longer than those same batteries with many cruisers.

When in Mexico I rarely stayed at a marina except in the one summer I stayed while the Admiral went back to the states to work. I was on shore power that summer. The rest of the time in Mexico and across the Pacific was at anchor or at sea. At sea the solar charging was hit or miss since (as said from someone above) the panels were often partially or mostly shaded. The autopilot (on a lot), chartplotter (not on much), lights, etc. would lead to charging every other day.

People who stay in marinas mostly usually don't have a problem with AGMs as they are on shorepower a lot. I have friends and people I know who killed their AGMs within two years in Mexico when they stayed on the hook most of the time. They never wanted to run the engines long enough to recharge them and basically would stop running their motors when they got up to about 90% charge. They would run their Hondas for hours and still not get to full charge. They mostly did not have as good a charge setup as I had. I now would never recommend AGMs now to anyone who I think will not be diligent in managing them and can and will top them off regularly, which unfortunately is a lot of cruisers.

I have Lifeline AGMs now (three 8Ds) that are in good shape although from a few years ago put in by the previous owner. He kept the boat in marinas 97% of the time. There is a 275A DC genset with a 120A main engine alternator, both controlled by Lifeline controllers. It is an OK setup for local cruising but I am replacing them with LiFePO4 (in progress now). When cruising full time in the future, I don't want to recharge 3 8Ds from 12.1v as often as they would require. There is no free lunch. If I only let them get to 12.3v I would be charging them for much longer to get them to 100% than if I let them go down to 12.1-12.2v per Ah. And this would have to be done weekly. I have much more solar now (650W) which will help. Even if I cut my usage way down, I still have to push those last few Ah with as much power as I would have to do (I'm perhaps exaggerating but not much) to get the first 40% of capacity. BTW, the first thing I always did at anchorage was to pole out the boom to give full sun to the panels.

If the Fireflys can live with a PSOC for their lifetimes, then that would be a major advance in regards to the charging requirements as the power (and power over time) to recharge them to 80% is much less. Less noise, less heat, less fuel, less maintenance on the engines/alternators, just less trouble and expense overall. If they came in different configurations other than just Group 31 I would have pursued it more. I just don't want to figure out a place to put as many of them in the spaces I have available. They wouldn't just fit where the 8Ds are so I would have to expand the footprint. They are also expensive and relatively scarce.

So I am going with the relatively very expensive lithiums which will dollar for dollar for the same lifetime span cheaper. They do not like to be at 100% SOC and even if they did, they don't push back between 20% and 100% SOC. So Amps produced equal Amps going in. My charging system is robust and I don't plan on changing anything, except that I may add a Sterling battery charger to supplement or replace the use of my old inverter/charger.

I expect to run my engines much less often and use less fuel and have less maintenance and in general have a much better quality of life on the hook or cruising off shore. It is taking me a considerable amount of time designing the system as it is not a simple plug and play on a DIY basis. I am confident I will be able to pull it off with all the great help on this forum from folks like Maine Sail, Mbartosch, Ocean Planet, and others.

Also, your style of cruising is not the same as ours. We often stayed at one anchorage for 2-3-4 weeks at a time, even in Mexico. I don't see that changing. We will regularly have to go out to pump out as it is rude and frankly insane to poop in your own anchorage much less in other people's anchorage. The motor will be run for that time. I don't really expect to need the engine for those times (a couple of hours) as the solar will take care of three days on the hook fine.

Ten day passages are different. I will have to use the below deck autopilot as I cannot fit a windvane pilot given the configuration of my stern and arch (which I wish were different). My old Monitor on the previous boat died halfway across the Pacific so we used the hydraulic AP a lot and at night running lights took a lot of power. Now I have LEDs which will cut down on that requirement a lot. And LEDs in the cabin and a low power Vesper AIS for nighttime watch instead of turning the radar on and off and then still worrying about it being on at the one time it needed to be.

My system will not be just for three day times in anchorages. I know lots of people who do that but it is not my style. My system will have to handle the variety of situations I will be dealing with so will be over-engineered compared to other styles and patterns of use and running of motors. And my previous boat was pretty much state of the art at the time. If I had had more batteries I could have waited a day longer but then I would only have more to put back in. You have to give the Devil his(her) due.

Long story, but I to address your concern that I did not have a workable system. Your setup will not work for all users for all styles of cruising. Your system will work fine for you based on what you have said and I am sure you have put together a robust and durable system. Fireflys are a major advancement if they work as advertised and reported by users. They are a risk for cruisers if they fail earlier than expected or whenever they fail in far off ports. The lead time to get replacements in even the US is hit or miss. They only come in one size. All of the various types of systems have their own risks/benefits/costs. To each his own.
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Old 22-09-2016, 16:40   #29
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Re: Firefly Oasis Carbon Foam AGM Batteries

Maggiedrum,
Thanks for that very informative summary of your experience.

Very much agree we have different cruising objectives. We would never spend 3-4 weeks in one anchorage.

We commuter cruise and really enjoy being based in nice marinas and the local cruising grounds surrounding them typically within a couple hundred mile radius. There’s a reason nice marinas are located where they are. We also enjoy the longer sails when its time to stage the boat in new cruising grounds, and find our simple charging discipline offshore scales well.

We would never try and use the engine just to reach 100% SOC battery charge. That comes free as a consequence of the inevitable motoring incurred within the 7-10 day window mentioned above.

Totally agree about AGM abuse leading to unhappy boaters. But again you cannot blame a product or technology that is asked to do something it was not designed to do.

An electric system on a boat needs a mindset and a discipline. Read the manufacturers instructions on use (not the marketing brochure – the owners manual) and do not deviate. I think its sad that many boaters interpret a “better battery” or “better alternator” or “better voltage regulator” as a way to improve their electrical system without understanding its real context in the system. Unfortunately, this perception makes money for businesses regardless of the end result.

You mention that “If the Fireflys can live with a PSOC for their lifetimes, then that would be a major advance in regards to the charging requirements as the power (and power over time) to recharge them to 80% is much less”. Can you send me a link to that claim? When we researched FireFly there was a shocking absence of any characterization data on them. Not even charge acceptance rate data. Compare that to the volume of test results from Enersys. For example, if power-in to recharge them is “much less” than comparable advanced AGMs, it should make for an amazing read. I just went to their site, and there is still nothing there except the “case study” in Practical Sailor that when read carefully simply states that if you compare a grossly abused AGM battery with a FireFly, the FireFly will do better.

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I know you don’t mean to, but in the above post you seem to imply PSOC “walk down” as the same as permanent PSOC incurred damage. As you know, observing the discipline of 7-10 day full recharges self corrects this temporal condition to a degree that it becomes unnoticeable in practical usage - which you state elsewhere in the same post.

Obviously I am keenly interested in marine electrical power systems, not trying to knock any product, just trying to follow the facts. Cheers, J
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Old 22-09-2016, 18:51   #30
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Re: Firefly Oasis Carbon Foam AGM Batteries

[QUOTE=Journeyman;2218681]Sternwake,

Thanks for this input. Can you quantify what "easily notice changes in my NorthStar battery after a few PSOC cycles means"?/QUOTE]


I typed a longer reply but it disappeared due to the time it took. Cursing ensued. Here is the short version.

I watch my battery monitor closely over nearly each discharge cycle.

Voltage held Under X amount of load for X amount of AH removed.

Without the high amp recharge, voltage held under the load for the same AH removed gets lower and lower, until it gets this high amp recharge.

The high amp recharge not only returns voltage to the high end of my expectations during house battery usage, it also cranks my engine faster.

Simply holding absorption voltage for long enough is not enough to keep my battery happy in deep cycle usage, the high amperage recharge is Key, and my plug in source can manage ~0.45c, my solar can manage 0.1c, and my alternator can achieve 1C, if only briefly.

Better click send before I get denied again and want to throw things into low earth orbit
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