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Old 22-05-2007, 01:21   #1
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optima batteries

I installed 10 of these batteries as my house bank in 2004 but they seem to be on their last legs already..any comments would be appreciated.
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Old 22-05-2007, 01:56   #2
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Which model Optima did you install?
What was your use profile (storage, charge & discharge regimens)?

Optima makes both starting (Blue Top, Gray Case) and deep-cycle/SLI (Blue Top, White Case) marine batteries.
Oprtima’s D34M and D31M BlueTop batteries are dual-purpose (starting & deep-cycle) batteries.
OPTIMA's 34M BlueTop battery is a starting battery.

The Optima Yellow Top is an automotive heavy-duty battery.
The Optima Red Top is an auto starting battery.

Optima Charging Instructions:
Technical Specs

Some additional Optima info’ from the U.K.:
Early Failure:
Optima Battery Information
Testing:
How to Test an Optima Battery
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Old 22-05-2007, 13:55   #3
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Any details on the rest of the systems? Inverter, Charger, etc.

How were you charging them? solar, alternator, wind, etc.

You say house, but did you have a seperate bank for starting?
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Old 23-05-2007, 03:16   #4
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Dear Friends

Thank you for your response to my querey, Sorry for the lack of details and my poor spelling, but I promise to do better in the future on both fronts.

I have a house bank of 9x D34M batterys and the starter battery is also a D34M( 2 seperate banks)

The batterys were installed during the build in France(may 2003) and were kept charged with a Mains power Cristec CPS2 12volt 80 amp while in the marina and the alternator from the Volvo D2 55 when away from the dock.

The Cristec is modern 3 stage charger, with 14.3v bulk and 13.6 float.

I also have a Areogen 6 and 2x45 watt solar panels with dump equipment to prevent over charging.

I live in Australia so the boat was only in use on the Atlantic side of France for the May June July period of 2004 and 2005 but in 2006 I brought it back to Sydney.

As the boat is now on a swing mooring in Sydney and away from the luxury of shore power the lack of capacity in the batterys has been brought rapidly to my attention.

On my weekends on board I always find the system is fully charged(Mastervolt Combi Panel) on arival and less than full when I leave.( the Wind and Solar seem to take care of the day requirements ~ 4amps/Hour. (radio and a bit of laptop))

I have a 5kVa genny on board and have recently installed a Mastervolt Combi Mass 12/2000 charger/inverter (100 amp) 14.25v bulk, 13.25v float, a 3 stage device.

I was thinking that maybe even with the wind and solar charging they were not getting fully charged during my periods off the boat and they have sulphated up.

A bit of a disapointment, as I was sucked in by the propergander of their low discharge qualities.

All the best

Harold.
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Old 23-05-2007, 03:51   #5
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Nine group 34's represents a serious battery bank, which should be capable of sustaining a little internal self-discharge (especially backed up /w your wind/solar charging).

Have you checked for a parasitic drain (short)?

This is a mystery, I wouldn’t leave unresolved.

In case you purchased the batteries late in '04 ...

OPTIMA WARRANTY INFORMATION
All BlueTop starting and dual purpose batteries;
18 months free replacement, remaining 18 months prorated

In the event of failure, retain your original receipt for proper issuance of credit. Claims without proper identification of purchase date will result in adjustment from the date of manufacture.

To evaluate your battery for warranty, take the battery along with your original receipt to the place of purchase for battery testing. If it isn't possible to take the battery to the original dealer, please contact the OPTIMA® Customer Service Center at 888-8OPTIMA (888-867-8462) to assist you in locating a dealer or distributor in your area.
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Old 23-05-2007, 09:17   #6
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You could try exercising the batteries. Difficult to do when you don't have shorepower but the procedure is to drain the batteries down to under 12 volts, then fully charge them. Do this a couple of times and then check the capacity.

I'm not sure if you can equalize those batteries or not. Best to check with the manufacturer. If they approve then equalization may restore them to near full capacity. Again, difficult without shorepower.
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Old 23-05-2007, 09:41   #7
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Harold, the Optima batteries are AGM type and they do not suffer from sulfating. The maker also does not suggest equalizing them, only Lifeline suggests equalizing their own brand of AGM batteries.

If any one of your chargers is putting out excess voltage, above Optima's own specification for the batteries, they can easily be ruined from that. Once an AGM battery is "cooked", there is no way to fix it.

My first suggestion would be to confirm the charging specs from Optima, and then to take a voltmeter and make sure of what the various chargers were putting out, especially the Mastervolt charger.
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Old 23-05-2007, 10:42   #8
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HS, I may be wrong but I was under the impression that all lead/acid batteries can sulphate. Are you sure that AGM batteries are imune?
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Old 23-05-2007, 10:53   #9
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Deepfrz-
From what I've read, the sulphates cannot drop off the plates and form up into the insoluble mass at the bottom of the battery, simply because of the starved electrolye design. They can still form on the surface of the plates--but they are trapped there, they form much slower, and they re-absorb more readily.
An AGM can sit for 6+ months with insignificant self-discharge, and no damage from it. A wet cell "drops" sulfates that form a mass at the bottom in as little as 30 days--and there's no way to get them back into solution.

Immune? Dunno. After all, there's LifeLine saying "equalize" and everyone else saying "don't even think about it." Your mileage may vary. But for all practical purposes? No, AGM's have nothing comparable to the sulfating problem of wet cells, as best I've heard.
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Old 23-05-2007, 11:40   #10
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sulphation, sulphatation, sloughing

ALL lead-acid batteries sulphate, it is the normal electrochemical reaction during discharge. Sulphation is reversible, sulphatation is irreversible, sloughing is when the sulphate or sulphatate separates from the plate (not normal and usually associated with vibration) which can drop to the bottom of the case in the case of flooded-cell constructed batteries.

The Mastervolt combi system is a good one yet does not have proper AGM settings and always result in undercharging them. The float voltage needs to be 13.9V @ 20 deg C and 14.4V or 14.5 V during acceptance. Unless you "fool" the charger by using a resistance in place of the temperature sensor (even then it may not quite get the voltage up high enough) or by using the not-to-oft-sold manual control panel to increase the voltages.

You will not damage the optimas with a slightly high acceptance voltage and, yes, they can be equalized if you have the proper equipment and know-how regardless of what any Optima distributor says.
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Old 23-05-2007, 16:15   #11
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Thanks for the claritication Rick.
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Old 24-05-2007, 02:33   #12
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Thank you all for your good advice.

I think my next move is to bang off an email to Optima and see if I can perhaps do some sort of "equalising", failing that i will write them off as a very expensive mistake and go for a batch of bargain basement AGMs from the Orient (which are getting very good reviews down here) and try again.

Kind regards

Harold.
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Old 11-06-2007, 16:25   #13
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With all that said in the thread,

Optima..... West GEL or West AGM for house bank. I have 8 to replace now.... this week. I may be able to get a good price on all. Wholesale on the optima and port supply on the west. The West have an 18 month replacement and a 5 year pro rated warranty. I am leaning toward the west's due to the 5 year warranty
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Old 11-06-2007, 20:35   #14
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I too have had 2 optimas go south on me after about a year and a half in an automotive application. Both were replaced free of charge. My suspicion is that they discharged too deeply and were permanently damaged. I wouldn't buy another optima.

Brett
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Old 11-06-2007, 21:27   #15
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Brett, which Optima did you have? Optima will be the first to tell you, as they expressly told me, that if you use Red Tops in an application where they will not be used every week--you will deep cycle them beyond the design point and ruin them. In fact they suggested to me that if I used the red top, which had a shorter warranty than the yellow top, I could probably get them replaced free under warranty more often because I'd be ruining them more often, while technically still using "the right" battery for SLI use.
Optimas are not all the same.

SeaKing, bear in mind that Optima are round cells in a rectangular case, so they will have some 10% less capacity than flat-plate cells in the came group size. A good point in favor of flat plate AGM since a 10% difference on each of 8 batteries is almost one whole battery of capacity.

I can't see any reason to use gel cells these days, I'd go for the flat plate AGM and look for a prime manufacturer--since West adds a second profit level and a second shipping/distribution level into their prices. A pro rata warranty is also a captive thing: If you aren't happy with how the batteries last, you're only buying back into more of them--but at LIST PRICE pro rated, not selling price. So the pro rata warranty can wind up meaning very little.
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