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Old 07-08-2011, 13:22   #1
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Trojan T-145 Batteries

On Rutea, we use eight Trojan T-145 6-volt golf cart batteries for a total of 1,040 amp hours. We're on our third set of them, the current batch being installed in December of 2010 as we prepared for this cruise. The batteries have always been a good compromise between initial cost, ease of maintenance and long life. They've been very rugged, too, taking abuse without complaining. Our previous sets have lasted five years each in routine cruising.

I'm kind of embarrassed to admit it but we're power hogs on Rutea. We can easily plow through 400 amps in a 24-hour period. This is unlikely to change anytime soon and we've gotten used to about four hours of genset run time per day. Our genset is an Aqua Marine MyT-Gen which is a 150-amp alternator hung on a Kubota single-cylinder diesel (I could almost write a book about that alone) and it works pretty well. Our Beta Marine 90 propulsion engine has two Iskra alternators, a 100-amp that charges the starting battery and a 175-amp that charges the house bank. Both work as expected.

Our Xantrex Link Pro battery monitor is now telling us that our fully charged house bank (floating voltage of about 14.15) is losing almost 50% of it's charge after just an hour of a 30-amp draw. This is a recent development. Suspecting a sulfation problem, we performed an equalization process for about four hours of a 15.35 volt charge at about 70 amps. It didn't help. It was the only time I've tried to equalize the batteries - I never did equalize my other sets of house batteries. On the Trojan website, they don't recommend it unless there's a problem.

I've tested each cell with a hydrometer and they're all fairly consistent but low, even after a full charge. We haven't changed any of our electrical systems or our usage patterns. I've confirmed the battery voltage with two different volt/ohm meters so I doubt that it's a gauge issue.

Right now, we're in American Samoa and this is about as easy a place to change the battery bank as we're to experience for quite a while. But the batteries are only nine months old and have been well cared for - we keep them topped up with distilled water when they need it. They shouldn't need to be replaced for four more years!

When I ordered the T-145s, I was told that they now come as T-145 Plus. Does anyone know what the 'Plus' means? I'm concerned that Trojan found some way to make the batteries cheaper and had to acknowledge the difference in manufacture so their marketing department said, "Put a positive spin on it!"

This is our fourth year of cruising so we have a pretty good idea of what to do and expect but this one has me puzzled. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

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Old 07-08-2011, 13:34   #2
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Re: Trojan T-145 Batteries

Just curious if it's possible for you to check for a hidden power leak somewhere? Since you're saying it's such an obvious drop if you disconnect (at the terminals) the battery banks you should see rapid voltage drops. From there I'd try to isolate out battery by batter what's going on. In the end you'll probably end up getting a new bank out of all of this unless you can find a drain that's causing the issue.

There might be some better ideas but for me the troubleshooting process requires breaking things down into individual parts and testing each one of those parts.

It sounds like you have a fairly elaborate electrical system in place (considering load, bank size, genset, etc) so the odds of something going wrong in there is higher than some dude with a single battery that runs his running lights off of it.
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Old 08-08-2011, 17:38   #3
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Re: Trojan T-145 Batteries

Have you checked the Trojan web site. Here is a link to the T2 technology page (Plus).

Trojan Battery Company

Does your regulator have adjustments for different ambient temps? How about the link monitor?
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Old 08-08-2011, 18:22   #4
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Re: Trojan T-145 Batteries

nhschneider,

Before concluding that it's the batteries, I'd be very wary of what the Link monitor is telling you.

Here's a few ways to check.

1. Find a way to disconnect all loads and charging after the batteries are fully charged. Give it an overnite or, if that's not possible, then a few hours with a very light load...say not more than 10 amps. Then, using a reliable digital multimeter, measure the resting voltage of each individual battery and of the bank as a whole. You should see something in excess of 12.6V for the entire bank, and for each of the four pairs.

2. Suspect any battery or batteries which differ significantly in resting voltage from the others. If it's a big difference, disconnect that pair.

3. If you have time and inclination, do a 20-hour load test on the batteries using a resistive load of 1/20 the amp hour capacity of the battery or batteries being tested. That's the only truly reliable way to find out how much capacity the batteries have.

4. If you can find someone there with a good state-of-the-art inductance/capacitance tester -- like the Midtronics series -- borrow it and test your batteries. This is a fast and pretty reliable way to check their health. Use a setting of about 1000 MCA for the tests; the setting won't affect the actual reading, but is ballpark for those T145s.

Once you've determined independently the health of the batteries, you can deal with the Link settings/readings more reliably.

Please let us know how it goes.

Bill
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Old 08-08-2011, 18:35   #5
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Re: Trojan T-145 Batteries

You need to equalize the batteries. All the specific gravity readings need to be higher than 1.250 and preferably 1.300. Once the batteries are at full charge, begin the equalization process and maintain it until the lowest specific gravity readings rises to minimum gravity of 1.250 or more.
Until the SG is at the level above, the lead sulfate will not be reversed and the batteries will not take a useable charge. They will appear to be charged but will not have any available power as you are now experiencing.
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Old 08-08-2011, 19:05   #6
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Re: Trojan T-145 Batteries

From the Trojan web page:

Trojan Battery Company
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Old 08-08-2011, 21:47   #7
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Re: Trojan T-145 Batteries

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Originally Posted by btrayfors View Post

Once you've determined independently the health of the batteries, you can deal with the Link settings/readings more reliably.

Please let us know how it goes.

Bill
Very good advice, Bill. I would suspect that one of the T-145s has developed an internal short. It can "show" a charge of 12.8 VDC (if it's a 12 VDC battery) right after a charging, but will drop to 10 VDC in an hour or so. Throw that battery as one of eight, and it is hard to spot, but the entire bank is dragged down.

But as has been pointed out, you have to take everything off and test it in isolation from loads.

I had this problem recently and just replaced the battery.
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Old 09-08-2011, 06:03   #8
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Re: Trojan T-145 Batteries

While equalizing and taking specific gravity (sg) readings hourly, the weak or dead cell(s) will become apparent without needing any further equipment. Power testing is a fine method but only when the batteries have been brought up to full power and that requires full equalization. Fully charged to 14.6v with a low specific gravity will yield results that will be disfavorable but once equalized, the results will change dramatically.
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Old 09-08-2011, 07:29   #9
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Re: Trojan T-145 Batteries

Usually the most obvious can be easily overlooked. I have had two Link amphours meters go bad just recently. They were giving the same sort of indications that just did not make sense. So I replaced one and sure enough everything is back to normal.
- - For the second bad Link amphour meter that went bad I recently purchased the BMV-600S amp hour meter at half the price of a Link. I will install it next week.
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Old 09-08-2011, 07:37   #10
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Re: Trojan T-145 Batteries

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Originally Posted by osirissail View Post
Usually the most obvious can be easily overlooked. I have had two Link amphours meters go bad just recently. They were giving the same sort of indications that just did not make sense. So I replaced one and sure enough everything is back to normal.
- - For the second bad Link amphour meter that went bad I recently purchased the BMV-600S amp hour meter at half the price of a Link. I will install it next week.
I've given up on the Link . They don't hold up well. I've changed to Victron too. I call my link the $500 volt meter (the voltage readings are still good).
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Old 09-08-2011, 08:58   #11
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Re: Trojan T-145 Batteries

I recently did a great deal of research into batteries and systems of batteries, investigating not only marine applications, but solar arrays and RV systems. There was one important item suppliers kept telling me that I seldom hear around the marinas.

"In an array of paralleled batteries, one will always be the weakest. It is virtually impossible for any two batteries to have IDENTICAL capacity and resistance. The 'weakest' battery will always discharge fastest, charge fastest, and fail soonest, often taking the the rest of the bank with it."

On my boat, I ran 4 8D and 2 4D gel cells in a parallel bank. To alleviate the 'weakest first' situation, I installed 6 new battery switches - 'backwards', so to speak: power to the switch center post and out = '1' to buss bar #1 and '2' to buss bar #2 - to enable me to both use and charge each battery seperately.

What a collosal pain in the ass to both build and maintain such a system. However, it DID work and extended the life of the 5 year batteries to 7 years, and when I replaced them, only 2 had really failed. (I knew the rest were soon to follow.) It was my constant chore to monitor and switch batteries from buss to buss to on to off every day. By the way, Buss #1 was the engine (charging) buss and Buss #2 was the solar charging and house buss. My boat came up out of the water a little once I removed that system.

I think each 12V bank needs to be removed from the system for 2-3 days while you run what you can on the others and see if one set of batteries is obviously weaker than the others.

By the way, I am presently running three cheap 8D wet cells - in parallel - while I'm at the dock and saving for the 'new' system. 2V cells of awesome capacity that can all be connected in series to eliminate the parallel problem. I will be using 12 size 31 2V batteries set up as 2 12V-640AH batteries (AGM). It's pricey, but in my opinion (10 - 12 year life) worth the money.
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Old 09-08-2011, 10:53   #12
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Re: Trojan T-145 Batteries

Hawkeye, you've given me something to think about (and to save for, I guess!).
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Old 09-08-2011, 11:13   #13
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Re: Trojan T-145 Batteries

After a good long charge, or near the end, physically feel the temperature of each battery. I suspect you have one with an internal short, and it will be quite hot compared with the others. I have had this occur twice over the years, just a defect in manufacture I suppose....
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Old 09-08-2011, 16:48   #14
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Re: Trojan T-145 Batteries

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. . . By the way, I am presently running three cheap 8D wet cells - in parallel - while I'm at the dock and saving for the 'new' system. 2V cells of awesome capacity that can all be connected in series to eliminate the parallel problem. I will be using 12 size 31 2V batteries set up as 2 12V-640AH batteries (AGM). It's pricey, but in my opinion (10 - 12 year life) worth the money.
Boat batteries have always been a very difficult problem mainly due to the need to fit new batteries into already made battery boxes/lockers made for some other type of battery. Therefore you are sort of trapped into using the same "form size" as the older batteries and have only the choice of old liquid lead acid, AGM or Gel's that have the same form size.
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