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Old 20-02-2011, 15:30   #1
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Check out Morgan's Cloud here for a great discussion of AGM batteries and charging.
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Old 20-02-2011, 16:44   #2
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He replaced the house bank three times in four years and now he is suddenly a battery expert !?

I'm sorry, but the 4 Lifeline AGMs we just replaced were bought 10 (that is ten) years ago ! They still got us started without fail after a week on the hook but a bettery tester showed that they were getting long in the tooth. We obviously had no problem deciding to buy four identical replacements and just hope they are indeed identical.



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Old 20-02-2011, 17:04   #3
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I would have to agree with SvenG - the link has some really bad advice in it. I can do SvenG one little bit better as I got 11 years from my original set of Lifeline AGM's.
- - But currently the prices of AGM - quality ones - has gone out of sight. So since I am cruising in an area where access to replacement batteries is simple and reasonable I switched back to the old fashioned liquid lead acid types. If you are going to be cruising in an area where access to replacement batteries is not simple or convenient then AGM make a lot of sense.
- - There is plenty of good data available on each type of battery from the battery manufacturer's websites. So that is the place to find out the "straight scoop."
- - As a generalization, old fashioned liquid lead acid batteries can take a lot of abuse and keep on functioning - but their lifespan is not very long. AGM or other exotic batteries require really good care and feeding with really good regulators and measuring equipment. Then they will last a long time as SvenG's and mine did.
- - But if you are not up to the cost of the "fancy" charging system/regulators/etc. and the monitoring equipment go with the old fashioned batteries and just be aware that they will need replacing more often.
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Old 20-02-2011, 17:19   #4
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I tend to agree with last two posters re advise on Morgan's Cloud site.

And from reading the site I certainly will not be going down the Xantrax route for inverter/ chargers.
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Old 20-02-2011, 17:22   #5
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Wow you guys must have got some good ones. I have many customers who have treated AGM's with kid gloves and still got well under 5 years out of them. My buddy Dave is a battery distributor and the average life on his return skids is under 5 years for AGM. At least Trojan gives some advice that hints at what my real life experiences with AGM's have been and that is; "Generally, gel and AGM batteries have a shorter cycle life than comparable flooded lead acid batteries. "

There will always be outliers, and I do have customers who got 6-7 years out of AGM's but the vast majority spent huge money and got less life, even with gourmet charging systems.

Remember much of the information on John's site comes directly from John's conversations with Lifeline and Justin Gobar. John is not a guy who shoots from the hip..


Quote:
Originally Posted by Justin Gobar / Morgans Cloud

Justin Gobar at Lifeline, who provided us with new batteries, is advising us on how to care for them. Put broadly, there are four ways that will yield different lifetimes based on daily 50% deep cycles:
1- Fully charge after each discharge. (We understand that is not feasible [in our case].) Estimated life: 6-9 Years.

2- Fully Recharge at least once a week and equalize once a month. Estimated life: 4-6 Years.

3- Only recharge to 85% and equalize once a month. Estimated life: 2-4 years.

4- Only charge to 85% and never equalize. Estimated life: 1 year.
Those four points came directly from Lifeline batteries Justin Gobar not John & Phyllis.

Sadly a lot of sailors fall into scenario #4 when sailing off a mooring and only charging off an alternator. The addition of solar charging for mooring sailors can greatly increase AGM life expectancy.

This quote from Trojan is interesting & will likely cause a stir but at least I suppose we could consider Trojan Battery an "expert"..

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trojan Battery

Generally, gel and AGM batteries have about 20% less capacity, cost about two times more, and have a shorter cycle life than comparable flooded lead acid batteries. However, Gel and AGM batteries do not need watering, are safer (no acid spilling out), can be placed in a variety of positions, have a slower self-discharge characteristic, and are more efficient in charging and discharging than flooded batteries (see table below). Gel batteries are more suitable for deep cycling applications whereas AGM batteries are more for light cycling and engine-starting applications.
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Old 20-02-2011, 18:03   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by osirissail View Post
I would have to agree with SvenG - the link has some really bad advice in it. I can do SvenG one little bit better as I got 11 years from my original set of Lifeline AGM's.
- - But currently the prices of AGM - quality ones - has gone out of sight. So since I am cruising in an area where access to replacement batteries is simple and reasonable I switched back to the old fashioned liquid lead acid types. If you are going to be cruising in an area where access to replacement batteries is not simple or convenient then AGM make a lot of sense.
- - There is plenty of good data available on each type of battery from the battery manufacturer's websites. So that is the place to find out the "straight scoop."
- - As a generalization, old fashioned liquid lead acid batteries can take a lot of abuse and keep on functioning - but their lifespan is not very long. AGM or other exotic batteries require really good care and feeding with really good regulators and measuring equipment. Then they will last a long time as SvenG's and mine did.
- - But if you are not up to the cost of the "fancy" charging system/regulators/etc. and the monitoring equipment go with the old fashioned batteries and just be aware that they will need replacing more often.

AGM batteries have many advantages, but getting over ten years of life out of them, while cruising, is very unusual indeed!

Regarding the "short lifespan" of wet batteries. Well, this is more true of 12v wet batteries sold at West Marine, but not ALL wet batteries.

Two Trojan L-16... 6v batteries, in series to make 12v, make a nice 380 ah house bank. These are the footprint of golf cart batteries, have thick plates with separation baffles and a REALLY deep sump in the bottom. They stand 16" tall, and together they weigh about 300 pounds! We use hydro caps on ours.

L-16s are used in the stand behind forklifts that they use in warehouses, and can stand more abuse than about any other battery. They have twice the service life, (cycles), of Trojan's 12v batteries.

If taken care of, these can regularly last over 10 years, and I doubt that this is a regular event with most peoples AGMs. (Not that you guys didn't get this from yours...)

AGMs have the clear advantages of being maintenance free, having very low "self discharge", keeping their v. better during use, and quicker to take a charge, BUT... Trojan L-16s or L-14s will (IF maintained), generally out "cycle", AGMs, a couple of times over, and at a fraction of the price. This was the decision maker for us.

Not that I wouldn't switch if I could afford to, but I would not expect 10 years of hard use out of them...

BTW... Wet battery technology IS the stone age, but if built for longevity...

I had a friend who ran his 12v solar powered home and farm with surplus 2 v. MONSTERS that he bought from the phone company. (6 in series for 12 v.) These were several feet tall and hundreds of pounds each. He used them for over ten years, and the phone company only sold them because they were then 20 years old. SO, they were 30 years old and running! ALL wet batteries are not the same...

Mark
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Old 20-02-2011, 18:24   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Johnson View Post
AGM batteries have many advantages, but getting over ten years of life out of them, while cruising, is very unusual indeed!
I am not claiming 10 years while cruising. Before we bought Senta I think she had been mainly day-sailed.

With that said, the 10 year old batteries were not noticeably degraded. After 10 day cruises with only a few hours of stock (max 50 Amp ?) alternator input for the duration they were still very happy to start the Perkins 4-108. If I had not borrowed a battery tester because the surveyor suggested that they might be questionable I would not have known they were on their last legs. I am assuming that the receipts we found in the boat paperwork was indeed referring to these same 4 Lifeline AGM batteries and those receipts did show the batteries to be 10 years old when we bought the identical replacements.

We have not yet installed a battery monitor so I can't give any more detailed info.



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Old 21-02-2011, 06:25   #8
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Re: Odyssey Batteries - Now, Two Years Later

as far as can tell this post has nothing to do with Odyssey batteries - the discussion is about Lifeline AGM's - so why the title?
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Old 21-02-2011, 06:58   #9
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Re: Odyssey Batteries - Now, Two Years Later

The original post about Odyssey batteries disappeared, and I was responding to that one.
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Old 21-02-2011, 09:42   #10
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Re: Odyssey Batteries - Now, Two Years Later

Trying to talk about battery life in terms of years is very misleading. Even honest battery rep's don't do that. Battery life is a function of "cycles" - discharge and recharge. Depending upon how deep the discharge is before recharging you can vary the battery life expontentially.
- - A battery that is kept at a full state while the battery charger is supplying power to the boat will greatly outlast - calendar time-wise - a battery that is discharged everyday and then recharged every evening. Which is a typical full time cruiser characteristic.
- - So extremely long -calendar life- can occur while the same battery in a typical full time cruiser application will not last as long.
- - Quality of the battery also makes a radical difference in lifespan. You get what you pay for.
- - However, buying the 3 to 4 times more expensive "exotic" AGM type batteries and using up their "cycle-life" in a typical full-time cruiser situation - to me - makes no sense. I can purchase ordinary deep cycle or truck batteries 4 or 5 times before I equal the cost of one quality AGM. I typically get 2 to 3 years out of an ordinary battery and 4, maybe 5 years out of an AGM while full time cruising.
- - The new maintenance free liquid lead acid batteries are sealed and do not present a spill hazard so that argument is long dead. So that leaves only the question of how easy and convenient is it to get replacement batteries. If you are cruising to really remote and out of the way places then the time, trouble, and cost of AGM's makes sense. Otherwise, you can save significant money by going with old fashioned batteries.
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Old 21-02-2011, 09:52   #11
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Re: Odyssey Batteries - Now, Two Years Later

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Johnson View Post
I had a friend who ran his 12v solar powered home and farm with surplus 2 v. MONSTERS that he bought from the phone company. (6 in series for 12 v.) These were several feet tall and hundreds of pounds each. He used them for over ten years, and the phone company only sold them because they were then 20 years old. SO, they were 30 years old and running! ALL wet batteries are not the same...

Mark
I captained a 1937 Ditchburn that was built for John Henry Molson (Molson Ale).. It had the ORIGINAL wet cell battery bank in it and the cells were as you describe from the Phone Co


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Old 21-02-2011, 10:04   #12
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Re: Odyssey Batteries - Now, Two Years Later

If you are going long-distance cruising you need to keep in mind what your replacement options are going to be in some God-forsaken place, which is where one of your batteries will fail for some reason and you will be hunting around for some sort of replacement. That is why traditional wet cells probably make more sense for the long-distance crowd. I don't care how careful you are, sometimes things go wrong or you just have bad luck and you will need to make do with whatever you can scrounge, and in most of the world the only reasonable battery you might find will be a wet cell. Wet cells are also tolerant of more abuse, like incorrect charging regimes, mixing old and new batteries, accidental deep discharges, etc. Having said this, I must admit that the longest lasting boat batteries I ever had were some of the original gell cells made by Sonnenschein. I had a set that lasted over 10 years and they were totally abused: flattened numerous times to the point they wouldn't crank over the engine, charged with totally unregulated solar and wind mostly, and frequently not brought back to full charge for days at a time. Plus, I lived aboard that whole time so they were almost continuously in use year round. I finally retired them just because I was worried they must be on the edge of death, but they were actually still working fine after 10 years!
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Old 21-02-2011, 12:58   #13
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Try 20 yrs!

One of my work and sailing pals has a gell on board that has lasted 20 years and is still in use. He had a matched pair on board and was haveing isues couple of years ago and justifiably thinking it was the batteries, replaced one as that was all he could afford at the time and place. He soon discovered the problem was the voltage reg. on his Yanmar 2gm. This was 2 years ago. I don't know if they still make gels like that anymore but when it comes time to replace mine I will be looking that direction.
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Old 21-02-2011, 14:15   #14
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Re: Odyssey Batteries - Now, Two Years Later

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maine Sail View Post
Originally Posted by Trojan Battery

Generally, gel and AGM batteries have about 20% less capacity, cost about two times more, and have a shorter cycle life than comparable flooded lead acid batteries. However, Gel and AGM batteries do not need watering, are safer (no acid spilling out), can be placed in a variety of positions, have a slower self-discharge characteristic, and are more efficient in charging and discharging than flooded batteries (see table below). Gel batteries are more suitable for deep cycling applications whereas AGM batteries are more for light cycling and engine-starting applications.
I have been kicking this question around for five years, since we bought and started to pull apart our steel cruiser in prep for distance sailing. I have come to the conclusion that the price and tolerance for overcharging of AGMs is not in fact worth the premium for house banks, and that a large lead-acid house bank from a reputable builder (like Trojan...our boat came with still-functional 18 year old Trojans!) subject to regular maintenance and proper cycling makes better sense for long-term cruisers. Yes, a visit to a dock for equalization is necessary and yes, you have to bugger about with hydrometers...but so what? If you are designing the battery stowage so that you are lifting a set of stairs on gas pistons...big deal.

Other people like the "hook up and forget" aspect of AGMs because the batteries are not easily got at. Fair enough.

Now, as for start batteries, I actually prefer AGMs, because they don't lose charge as quickly and I think are safer as the one battery that's going to be closer to the engine.

So different strokes for different boats. If I won a lottery, I'd go for LiOns, because my kid could lift a 4D and you can discharge them until 3/4ths dead.

But they make AGMs' cost look like Chinese AAs from the dollar store.
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