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Old 30-03-2016, 08:13   #1
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House bank upgrade questions

I have a Hunter Passage 42 sailboat that I purchased in October (my first boat!) which I liveaboard. This boat is well setup for cruising, has been to Alaska twice, and has fairly intense upgrades and electronics.

The previous owner had setup a house bank of 6x2V Rolls Surrette YS-15s, which are essentially 125-15 deep cycle (80% discharge) wet cell electric forklift batteries (1100 AH). Unfortunately the previous owner had a stroke and the boat sat for six years neglected and the batteries were not well maintained, and the engine will no longer crank and fridge won't run when these lose even 20-30 A. I took them to a local battery shop and they thought they had fixed them but after I put them back in they are just not holding voltage.

I've decided to move forward with replacing them with AGMs - I really don't want to risk another big expensive bank dying for lack of proper care, so maintenance free batteries seem ideal. I'm looking at either 4x or 6x of the Lifeline GPL-L16T (http://www.dcbattery.com/lifeline_GPL-L16T.pdf). This would create a 800 or 1200 AH 12V bank. Any positive or negative feedback on these batteries, or this setup? I've found a local dealer who can do these for ~$575 each. We are only going to be doing long weekend trips for the next few years, but we want to be setup to cruise in the 3-5 year timeframe, and so we want plenty of available capacity for when we hit the road. We will be setting up solar (300-500W?), but this may be a year or two or out. I'll also be adding a starter battery, connected either with an echo-charge or a charge relay (still trying to understand this stuff), but likely will be adding this sometime in the next year as it is less immediate and I need to make room. There's a generator onboard (in addition to 62hp yanmar diesel engine), which is what was previously being used to charge the house bank when they were out cruising(when not on shore power or having the engine running), but the generator oil sample test during inspection came back with traces of glycol so there maybe an issue in the head gasket. I figure instead of trying to get this thing up and running again I might as well just take it out and get a nice solar setup, make some room for the starting battery, and be on my way.

Any words of wisdom?

Cheers!
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Old 30-03-2016, 09:17   #2
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Re: House bank upgrade questions

First off why such a large house bank? Seems like 600 amps would be sufficient for a normal use on that size boat. Unless the batteries are inaccessible I wouldn't bother with AGM's because of the expense, get a bunch of 6V golf cart batteries while you figure out your cruising plans and charging regimens. Besides in 3-5 years the batteries you choose may be thinking about getting replaced for one reason or another!


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Old 30-03-2016, 09:23   #3
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Re: House bank upgrade questions

sounds like me
Can my batteries be saved?

and what i ended up doing

Balmar 614 "bulk charging"
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Old 30-03-2016, 11:54   #4
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Re: House bank upgrade questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Liefo View Post
............................................
.................................................. ...............................

I've decided to move forward with replacing them with AGMs - I really don't want to risk another big expensive bank dying for lack of proper care, so maintenance free batteries seem ideal. ................................

I'll also be adding a starter battery, connected either with an echo-charge or a charge relay (still trying to understand this stuff), but likely will be adding this sometime in the next year as it is less immediate and I need to make room.

Any words of wisdom?

Cheers!
AGMs are not necessarily the best choice. Wet cell 6V golf carts are just fine for your use, especially since you're "still trying to understand this stuff."

AGMs have some downsides too. They demand proper charging and abhor PSOC.

You can read about a lot of the issues you face here:

Electrical Systems 101 Electrical Systems 101

Good luck in your choices.
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Old 31-03-2016, 00:55   #5
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Re: House bank upgrade questions

I haven't used the lifelines but I like the L16 size and put a lot in. you can get them in flooded too to save money.


as above. they'll last ~5-8 years. so if you are outfitting the boat for crusing 5 years from now, don't bother spending the money now, and you could put in a smaller bank or flooded bank.


800+ ah isn't abnormal for a 40' boat.
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Old 31-03-2016, 11:05   #6
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Re: House bank upgrade questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Liefo View Post
I have a Hunter Passage 42 sailboat that I purchased in October (my first boat!) which I liveaboard. This boat is well setup for cruising, has been to Alaska twice, and has fairly intense upgrades and electronics.

The previous owner had setup a house bank of 6x2V Rolls Surrette YS-15s, which are essentially 125-15 deep cycle (80% discharge) wet cell electric forklift batteries (1100 AH). Unfortunately the previous owner had a stroke and the boat sat for six years neglected and the batteries were not well maintained, and the engine will no longer crank and fridge won't run when these lose even 20-30 A. I took them to a local battery shop and they thought they had fixed them but after I put them back in they are just not holding voltage.

I've decided to move forward with replacing them with AGMs - I really don't want to risk another big expensive bank dying for lack of proper care, so maintenance free batteries seem ideal. I'm looking at either 4x or 6x of the Lifeline GPL-L16T (http://www.dcbattery.com/lifeline_GPL-L16T.pdf). This would create a 800 or 1200 AH 12V bank. Any positive or negative feedback on these batteries, or this setup? I've found a local dealer who can do these for ~$575 each. We are only going to be doing long weekend trips for the next few years, but we want to be setup to cruise in the 3-5 year timeframe, and so we want plenty of available capacity for when we hit the road. We will be setting up solar (300-500W?), but this may be a year or two or out. I'll also be adding a starter battery, connected either with an echo-charge or a charge relay (still trying to understand this stuff), but likely will be adding this sometime in the next year as it is less immediate and I need to make room. There's a generator onboard (in addition to 62hp yanmar diesel engine), which is what was previously being used to charge the house bank when they were out cruising(when not on shore power or having the engine running), but the generator oil sample test during inspection came back with traces of glycol so there maybe an issue in the head gasket. I figure instead of trying to get this thing up and running again I might as well just take it out and get a nice solar setup, make some room for the starting battery, and be on my way.

Any words of wisdom?

Cheers!
Hi Liefo,

It sounds like the previous owner had a great set-up for your house bank. I would keep that in mind for the future when you are preparing to go cruising full time.

In the interim I concur with the logic recommended by some others on this thread: For now, install an appropriately sized and cost-effective bank that you plan to upgrade before going cruising.

RE: Maintenance free batteries: I'm assuming you are referring to the need to keep the water level topped-up in flooded lead-acid [FLA] batteries because they all need appropriate monitoring, level of discharge management, and charging maintenance to optimize battery longevity.

Today, FLAs will be your price-point. Install a centralized watering kit and that task becomes trivial.

Without knowing more about your charging capabilities or energy budget, I'll bet you will find a 600-900AH bank of 6 volt batteries will more than suit your needs over the next 5 years or so as you prepare for full time cruising, and save you some boat bucks for other items...

We went through this same exercise in 2014 with our [then new to us] boat. Here is my blog post which includes more details if you have further interest in this approach.

Best wishes getting your house [bank] in order...

Cheers!

Bill
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Old 31-03-2016, 11:32   #7
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Re: House bank upgrade questions

I echo the thoughts of others on the blog. An 800-1200ah battery bank is huge and you just don't need that much for weekend trips. Of course, apart from weight and money, there is no disadvantage to having a big bank but for now, if I were you, seeing as you have charging options, 500-600ah is probably plenty. Buy cheap for now and plan on replacing them in a few years.

A maintenance free battery isn't really maintenance free, it just means that you don't have to monitor the electrolyte level like you do in a wet cell battery. All batteries, if fully discharged and left for a few years still connected up to the boat will likely die.
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Old 31-03-2016, 11:41   #8
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Re: House bank upgrade questions

I too would vote for 6 or 8 golf cart batteries. Lots of capacity and can get them for $80-100 each. If treated nicely can last 5-7 years, or longer. Do need to feed them distilled water periodically and that can be a bit of a pain depending on where they are.

When you get ready to go cruising you can decide if you want you need more capacity, and hopefully by then there will be a new battery technology that is cheaper. Even if you have want to buy new golf cat batteries then, you are at less than half the cost of the AGM's.

Bill
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Old 31-03-2016, 12:16   #9
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Re: House bank upgrade questions

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Originally Posted by wrwakefield View Post
Without knowing more about your charging capabilities or energy budget, I'll bet you will find a 600-900AH bank of 6 volt batteries will more than suit your needs over the next 5 years or so as you prepare for full time cruising, and save you some boat bucks for other items...
Yup, and you'll find these will do just fine for when you leave, too.

Maintenance free batteries are usually NOT deep cycle.

Good luck.

Electrical Systems 101 Electrical Systems 101
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Old 31-03-2016, 13:16   #10
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Re: House bank upgrade questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Liefo View Post
I have a Hunter Passage 42 sailboat that I purchased in October (my first boat!) which I liveaboard. This boat is well setup for cruising, has been to Alaska twice, and has fairly intense upgrades and electronics....

If first boat, you will be well served by spending some time on the boat before major modifications. The advice about 6V FLA batteries in lieu of the AGMs is well founded. AGMs have some issues, and at the price quoted, may not be the best approach. The wet cell 6V are the most cost effective by a wide margin.

There's a generator onboard (in addition to 62hp yanmar diesel engine), which is what was previously being used to charge the house bank when they were out cruising(when not on shore power or having the engine running), but the generator oil sample test during inspection came back with traces of glycol so there maybe an issue in the head gasket. I figure instead of trying to get this thing up and running again I might as well just take it out and get a nice solar setup, make some room for the starting battery, and be on my way.

I don't know the particulars about your generator, but I absolutely would investigate repairing/retaining it. It should last 10,000 hours if properly maintained. It sounds like the prior owner set this boat up properly. Save your money for beer and rum, the necessities.

Any words of wisdom?

It takes a year or two to really get to know your boat. Proceed slowly. There is a steep learning curve, especially with new boaters. Books are helpful, as is the web, but nothing compares to miles under the keel.

Cheers!
Safe sailing! And post some pics!!
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Old 31-03-2016, 13:17   #11
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Re: House bank upgrade questions

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Yup, and you'll find these will do just fine for when you leave, too.
Thanks for clarifying, Stu.

I absolutely agree and didn't mean to imply they were temporary [ours aren't...]

What I did a poor job of suggesting in my first post is- since cruising is 5+ years out, and since that is a reasonable [abbreviated] life-span for these batteries- if the OP wanted to save $ with a smaller interim bank to get by on for now, and upgrade/resize it when they get ready to go cruising full time, this is one approach.

Thanks again.

Cheers!

Bill
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Old 31-03-2016, 13:36   #12
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Re: House bank upgrade questions

You can get remote fill systems to maintain battery fluid level. Makes adding fluid to the batteries a neat and clean few minute operation. Fried one set of batteries because they had to be pulled out to check and refill the electrolyte and I wasn't diligent enough in checking fluid level. Now just plug in the squeeze bulb to the filling system, give it the necessary squeezes and Bob's your uncle. This is just one system, there are many others out there. http://www.amazon.com/Volt-Pro-Fill-...ttery+watering
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Old 01-04-2016, 04:05   #13
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Re: House bank upgrade questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Liefo View Post
...I've decided to move forward with replacing them with AGMs ....We are only going to be doing long weekend trips for the next few years, but we want to be setup to cruise in the 3-5 year timeframe, and so we want plenty of available capacity for when we hit the road....
We were almost in the same boat literally - Hunter passage 420 was our first boat - so after a lot of research Lifelines were our choice. We have 5 x 210Ah which fitted easily under the floors - all without boxes, these are now 11 years old. A large bank means you only have a low DOD each day and therefore the life cycle of the batteries are much much longer. We even run our air con from the batteries.

We spent 4 years learning about what was needed and kitting it out for continuous cruising. The main upgrade was the charging system to get the best out of the Lifelines - new Balmar alternator and external regulator - a 280 amp DC genset - 120 amp inverter/charger - air con - watermaker - wind genny and solar - SmartGauge and other current monitoring kit - etc., etc....

You don't have to "make room" for a starter battery just buy a RedFlash AGM and l lie it on its side in the bilges, they are tiny but powerful and have the same charging voltages as the AGMs.

I would like to challenge one of Stu's comment ...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stu Jackson View Post
AGMs have some downsides too. They demand proper charging and abhor PSOC.
I have challenged this in many posts here and no one has come back with well researched proof that this is really true. Lifeline themselves say that their batteries must not be left too long in a PSOC - and they published well documented ideas about the lifecycle of their batteries with different charging regimes. No other company has published such detail - but they go on to say that all manufacturers say the same thing - batteries MUST be charged to 100% regularly - and that means before the Lead Sulphate crystals become too hard to be removed with a full charge, or with Equalisation. Where is the proof that Lifeline AGMs suffer more than FLAs? Lifelines can, and are recommended, to be equalised - unlike most other brands of AGMs which may well suffer more from PSOC.

Not all AGMs are the same!
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Old 01-04-2016, 04:38   #14
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Re: House bank upgrade questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by roverhi View Post
You can get remote fill systems to maintain battery fluid level. Makes adding fluid to the batteries a neat and clean few minute operation. Fried one set of batteries because they had to be pulled out to check and refill the electrolyte and I wasn't diligent enough in checking fluid level. Now just plug in the squeeze bulb to the filling system, give it the necessary squeezes and Bob's your uncle. This is just one system, there are many others out there. Amazon.com: 36 Volt Pro-Fill Golf Cart Watering System (Universal): Industrial & Scientific
Hi Guys, just wanted to toss in my 2 cents in here....I've owned a golf cart business for the last 15 years and have seen and sold every type of watering system there is.....in my opinion there is only one system worth buying. "Battery Watering Technologies", This company must be the only manufacture of watering systems that has actually used there product. Most systems once installed show their failings almost immediately. here are examples of just a few of the common faults of watering systems. Most systems leak, don't have or have enough indicators to let you know each cell is filled properly, have opaque connecting tubing which prevents you from seeing if water is flowing to each battery and so on.

I've used every system there is on my Irwin with 6 Golf cart batteries and and "Battery Watering Technologies" is the one you want.

Here is a link to there website, "Battery Watering Technologies", Battery Watering Technologies
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Old 01-04-2016, 06:30   #15
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Re: House bank upgrade questions

I can only convey my experience.... Shiva came 30 yrs ago with lead acid wet cells and they had to be watched, add water and so on. They eventually died and were replaced by gel.. maintenance free... they lasted perhaps 6 or 7 years or so. I went with a pair of 8D AGMs. re built the battery box and entire 12v electrical system. The first pair of AGMs lasted 7 or 8 years and I am on the second set.

I have 2-55w solar panels, stay on a mooring or anchor and store in water in the winter with a shore charger connected to the batts.

I think the key is to NOT let the batts discharge... so you may have to use a high out smart regulated alternator... with solar or shore power.

7 or 8 years works out to $100/yr or $8 / month

The main hassle is getting them in and out.. and I have to pay someone to that.
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