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Old 21-04-2009, 13:28   #1
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Question Odyssey TPPL Batteries ?

Just as I thought I'd solved the battery problem by going with Surrette 4V or 6V batteries for my 1,400 AH bank, I read an article by Nigel Calder in Professional Boat Builder about these batteries. Then I got a price quote from them and discovered compared to the Surrette's the price isn't bad at all. Woe is me. I hate it when I think I've solved a problem only to discover it's not really solved at all and even more confusing. Shucks, what's a sailer to do? Specifically I'm looking at the PC1800 for my 24V system.

Ideas, comments and particularly reports of direct experience with these batteries very much appreciated.

Regards,

TJ
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Old 03-05-2009, 21:12   #2
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Bump!
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Old 04-05-2009, 06:14   #3
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Nigel Calder’s PBB article on new battery technologies:
(Goto page 106 to see Odyssey TPPL)


Professional BoatBuilder - February/March 2008

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Old 04-05-2009, 09:12   #4
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I would also love to hear from anyone using Oddyssey batteries in a deep cycle application. I've read Calder's pieces and talked a lot with the Enersys reps at boat shows. They are quick to talk about the 400 cycles at 80% discharge but don't have a cycle life for 50% discharge. A very small chart in their literature would seem to indicate 800 cycles could be expected - but no one will confirm..

Here's what I've concluded:

These are AGM's that claim to be a little better than other AGM's. It seems unlikely that they are worse than other AGM's. While they used to be quite a bit more costly than other AGM's the difference is now small. Doesn't seem like much to lose.

The manufacturer is certainly high quality. These are the guys who make Hawker batteries for military applications. Unlike many battery brands, they actually own their own battery factories. Although they now have some manufacturing in China, I believe the Odyssey batteries are made in UK and US factories.

For me, the most intriguing thing about the batteries is the claimed (and "confirmed" by Calder) high acceptance rate. My current AGM batteries only accept my full charging amps for a short time, then they quickly taper down. This requires running an engine or genset much longer to get to a full charge (which AGM's need). It's a waste of fuel and not good for the engine. The Odyssey supposedly accepts full (or close to full) charge rate right to 100%. This could knock an hour off the daily engine/genset run (this sounds too good to be true - I am simply hoping for something substantially better than my current situation).

The battery I'd really like to get my hands on is a Firefly. These are (or claim to be) a major step forward in lead acid. They spun out of Caterpillar and are targeting truck air conditioning to meet California requirements that truckers can't idle their engines while they rest. This means an economical battery that can run a cab air conditioner for hours - day after day - that's cycle life! Too bad Firefly can't seem to ship them. Maybe they don't quite work.

Carl
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Old 04-05-2009, 09:47   #5
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Gord: Do you know this for a fact or is it just conjecture? I've corresponded with Nigel several times and I of course own all his books. He comes across as being a stand up kinda guy...still, he has to make a living I understand that. I would hope he would not endorse or promote products he knows to be bad, I think that would be a very short sighted strategy on his part.....but I don't know one way or the other. Do you?

Carl: I've contacted the Firefly folks, but they have yet to respond. There is nothing on their web site which indicates they are actually selling anything, but they do seem to be trying to recruit a distribution network, so perhaps it's more a marketing thing than a production thing. Still, if it were me, I'd be offering products for sale if I had the ability to ship, ya' know? Then again I'm not a Harvard MBA so perhaps I don't understand how it's really supposed to be done!

My "gut" tells me we are very close to seeing some truly improved technology. Fortunately, I have a good year before I have to actually ante up with hard cash so I'm hoping something concrete will shake out between now and then.

Regards,

TJ
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Old 04-05-2009, 12:52   #6
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The Odyssey TPPL batteries should not be confused with older designs from Odyssey. TPPL is newish and if there's any real world track record--it is a short one. So if Odyssey is unwilling to make written statements (which could be enforced as warranty talk in the US) or to provide a written warranty itself...The rest is just sales puffery (that's a legal term, honest) and can't be relied on for anything.

Sure be nice if this IS a breakthrough. Of course there's a whole world of electric car makers that haven't found any miracle deep cycle batteries, either. Only that charging routines can make a big difference in battery life, and manual charging control isn't likely to be good enough any more.
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Old 04-05-2009, 13:27   #7
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When do you need to buy you battery bank? lifepo4, lithium phosphate batteries, are comming down in price, and soon may cross the long term price over time-line. If you feel the need for a 1400ah wet/agm bank, you may be able to go with a 1000ah bank, and save a lot of weight, both because of the smaller bank, and lighter weight of the batteries thenselves. All from stuff I have read, no practical experience.

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Old 04-05-2009, 15:54   #8
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Ben looking into this a bit lately. After the last thread where I endorsed the trojan t105 line, I am now looking into agm for several reasons. One, no maintaince. 2 no leakage. During my taking on several thousand gallons of water recently in my boat, the interstate 6v golf cart batteries were underwater, and leaked corossive into my boat. So a non leaking battery is in my future... the near, since all my batteries are now toast.


Sears carries a brand, in group 31 size, the odyssey PC2150. It is a die hard labeled product, made by doyssey. 12volt, 100 amp hours at 20hour rate. 13x6.8x9.4".
They retail for 250 bucks apiece, have a 3 year warranty. Seems like a good deal. I am waiting for a good sale at sears to buy. 800 ah bank will cost ~2 K. More than the trojans to be sure, but the peice of mind, and the no checking electrolyte levels, and spillage will make it worth it IMO. Also less connections from a 6volt system will mean less resistance.


Bob
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Old 04-05-2009, 16:08   #9
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Chris: I have some time. My eyes are open. Do you have a source?

Gord: No problem mon'! Don't really feel it's necessary for you to apologize or retract what you said. It may be true, I just don't know.

Regards,

TJ
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Old 04-05-2009, 16:16   #10
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Bob, it won't be the Odyssey battery...but Deka, EastPenn, Interstate battery supplies should be able to supply a Group31 flat-plate AGM deep cycle battery for closer to $150 each. I'm not sure I'd spend the extra hundred for a different brand.
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Old 04-05-2009, 18:42   #11
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Last January I paid money to hear Nigel spend an afternoon talking about sailboat electrical systems. Money well spent.

He ended the session with an exciting summary about his experiments with the TPPL Oddyssey batteries.

Bottom line, he judges the technology as promising but is not endorsing it yet. He has not finished his destructive testing, so his jury is still out.

BTY, Nigel has received major funding for his testing (couple of million $$ sticks in the brain) and in fact sold his old boat and has repurchased a new one as his testing platform, so this is not just about some free batteries and such.

For a related thread in SSCA that I started, try this. They have their doubters there too. SSCA Discussion Board • View topic - Anybody using the new thin plate battery technology???

I think the limiter for this new technology is the alternator. The battery acceptance rate is going to exceed your alternator's capacity and burn it out.
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Old 04-05-2009, 19:50   #12
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"I think the limiter for this new technology is the alternator."
No more so than the size of the battery bank itself. Any point in the system can be a choking point, and the main limit on alternators is usually the fact that there's just no room to properly belt up a bigger one, or a second one. V-belt, dual belt, ribbed belt, toothed belt, geared....the options don't matter when there's just no space. For alternators or batteries.
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Old 04-05-2009, 23:02   #13
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Absolutely, space can be a limiter. But even if you have the space, from the thread I cited:

a 170Ah battery that can be charged 100% in 25 minutes. This would imply a charge current higher than 400A and an acceptance rate 10 times as high as old flooded tech.

However, I can't imagine:

1. the poor little thing eating 400A
2. 400A alternators on the engine
3. people using 4 of these for a house bank.... needs 1600A charge
4. 1600A alternator on engine

Even if you have the space, today's alternators would be burn up pretty fast trying to produce that kind of amperage. We don't have the alternator technology at this point to fully utilize the acceptance rate of these new batteries. That is the paradigm shift. Used to be, the battery acceptance rate was the gauntlet. No more, apparently. This is why Nigel is so excited.
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Old 04-05-2009, 23:38   #14
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I found this article on the Odyssey TPPL's and wanted to link it in this thread before signing off tonight. I only glanced at it, so i hope it's helpful.

New Battery Technology - June 2008 - PassageMaker.com Newsletter
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Old 05-05-2009, 12:26   #15
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TPPL technology

This technology is not new. It has, however, been expensive to produce requiring high-tech manufacturing equipment and quality control. Long has it been known that lead-acid batteries can be charged with "high C" charge rates, where C is the capacity rating in Amp-hours.

For example, a 100 Amp-hour battery could be charged at a 4C rate or 400 Amps for quick recharge time. Yes, it takes a charger that will output "high voltage" and high current. This has been done for years, especially with electric vehicles.

The price to pay is that, as always, the higher the charge current the greater the internal heat loss and degradation of the lead. The more pure the lead the lower the resistance (heat) loss. Even batteries designed to accept 8C will live longer at low charge rates. This is the trade-off; lifetime versus charge rate. Odyssey is no exception; Fullriver is no exception.
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