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Old 19-01-2017, 12:23   #31
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Re: What batteries are you using and where are you buying them?

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Jack,

Good to see another Brooklyn sailor on here. I'll be keeping my boat at the Sheepshead Bay Yacht club once I bring her up from the Chesapeake in March.

I guess I'll see you around then! I joined SBYC in September when I bought my boat, which I also had to bring up from the Chesapeake. Love the club so far. My boat is hauled out for the winter in Mill Basin, but I'll be back in the water as early as I can be. Stop by and say hi and let me know if you need anything in the meantime! Email me at mynameisjack@gmail.com if it's easier than PMing me here.
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Old 19-01-2017, 12:39   #32
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Re: What batteries are you using and where are you buying them?

That's awesome! I look forward to it. Not to derail this thread, but I may actually have a few questions for you about the trip up and where you tucked in for your overnights.

Assuming you're in the Demeglio's yard, I was there last year... Great guys, they're laid back, and it's an easy place to work on your boat.
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Old 19-01-2017, 12:45   #33
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Re: What batteries are you using and where are you buying them?

I was scared off lithium batteries, we use a couple of electrical engineers who both said there is a small but very real chance of fire with them.
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Old 19-01-2017, 13:46   #34
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Re: What batteries are you using and where are you buying them?

Ryan,

First, congratulations regarding your new vessel.

RE: Batteries: I have enjoyed good longevity from Trojan 6 volt batteries over the years. [If the charging system is up to the task and properly configured. This is as important- if not more so- than which battery to buy...] I replaced our house bank [8- T105 6VDC batts] in mid 2014. [More information on this page of our blog - including the centralized watering system I installed and links to related resources- if you are interested... or bored...]

Since then, Trojan has announced a Smart Carbon version of these batteries [T105 RE; RE = Rural Energy...] that is purported to be more tolerant of the partial state of charge [PSOC] we boaters often inflict upon our batteries.

I would be evaluating them if I were looking to replace my house bank...

Also of note, if you are limited to 4 batteries in your bank footprint, [or even if you aren't...] evaluate whether you can fit some of the taller battery models with the same foot print into your battery space, thus increasing your AH capacity for your future electrical needs with the same number of batteries.

Best wishes with your project.

Cheers! Bill
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Old 19-01-2017, 14:05   #35
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Re: What batteries are you using and where are you buying them?

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That's awesome! I look forward to it. Not to derail this thread, but I may actually have a few questions for you

Long story short we only stopped once at Summit North Marina in the C&D canal, then went straight home from there in about 40 hours nonstop with 30kts of wind from the south. We would have tucked in at Cape Henlopen or Cape May but the wind was going to clock around against us. It was an adventure! I'm happy to help further if you email me, apologies to all for the thread drift.






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Old 19-01-2017, 14:32   #36
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Re: What batteries are you using and where are you buying them?

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I always wonder why AGMs are recommended so often. They're no better for a daysailer/weekender in a marina. They're siginficantly poorer than FLA for a solar powered boat. They really only make good sense on a boat that runs a genset every day.
I think that AGMs are recommended as FLA replacements because the charging voltages are very similar. Don't need to install a decent regulator and/or charger. Poor reason in my opinion.
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Old 19-01-2017, 15:06   #37
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Re: What batteries are you using and where are you buying them?

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I have been following the discussions on the LiFePo batteries and so far my take is:

1. Done correctly they can offer several major advantages:
- the lowest cost per amp hour over the life of the battery
- fastest and shortest charge time IF you have the system to supply the amps they can take
- smaller, lighter installation for the same usable amp hours (emphasis on usable).

2. Disadvantages
- Very big upfront investment
- 95% certain you will also have to upgrade or modify your charging system.
- NOT plug and play. Big learning curve and require a significant investment in time to get them installed and working correctly.
- Screw up the install/setup and you have just trashed a very expensive set of batteries.

Any comments or further information on the above is of great interest.

Bottom line for me, and I do have a degree in electrical engineering, I'm just not willing to invest the time and hassle to deal with LiFePo at this time. Just seems to much work and too easy to make an expensive mistake. Then I'm also the guy that never buys version 1.0 of any software and waited several years to buy a flat panel TV. When the technology matures a little then I'll reconsider.
Excellent reply

Of course, my little tub will never need more than a discarded car battery, but I have been doing research for a battery bank to make my residential 12,180 watt rated solar array finally do what I built it for back in 2015.

I was curious about whether it would be something to consider for the need that has been presented, since there have been so many 5-star reviews for my stated application.

I have sailed up and down Kentucky Lake for most of my life, and one awesome trip back and forth from Miami, around the Abacos, and back to Miami. I read many posts, from many forums, and I am soooo jealous of you guys, since I am locked in this pond. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE sailing, and the relationships that have developed as different owners climb aboard different boats (invited) in this marina, and have GREAT TIMES, if only a day at a time.

I have an upcoming family vacation in Gulf Shores, AL, where I intend to charter for a 13 hour cruise. I intend to glean all the big-water knowledge I can, to add to what I learned on the Abaco trip, and maybe someday I'll take the plunge, and get out there and harass you guys!

Aarrrgh!

Fair winds, my friends
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Old 19-01-2017, 18:58   #38
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Re: What batteries are you using and where are you buying them?

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Originally Posted by jeepbluetj View Post
I completely agree. (And I also have one of those pesky EE degrees). LiFePo has some fantastic advantages. Also some drawbacks for the vast majority of users. So do AGMs I always wonder why AGMs are recommended so often. They're no better for a daysailer/weekender in a marina. They're siginficantly poorer than FLA for a solar powered boat. They really only make good sense on a boat that runs a genset every day.

Calder was on the 59 North podcast last week and said some very good things about the firefly batteries. He also said some less than optimal things about them.
Pesky is right. Real pain to get and then I went into a totally different field and didn't really use it. At least I retained enough that 12V boat systems are understandable.

I also wonder about the frequent use of AGMs in boats. I've used them in some non boating applications where they were a great choice but unless you're at a dock very frequently or run a genset hours every few days you aren't really treating AGMs the way they like for long life. Yes they can accept a higher charge rate than FLAs but the charge acceptance still tapers off as they charge and to get that last 10-15% will take hours. FLAs tolerate the typical sailboat charging regimen much better than an AGM and are way cheaper to boot.
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Old 19-01-2017, 18:59   #39
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Re: What batteries are you using and where are you buying them?

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Excellent reply

Of course, my little tub will never need more than a discarded car battery, but I have been doing research for a battery bank to make my residential 12,180 watt rated solar array finally do what I built it for back in 2015.

I was curious about whether it would be something to consider for the need that has been presented, since there have been so many 5-star reviews for my stated application.

I have sailed up and down Kentucky Lake for most of my life, and one awesome trip back and forth from Miami, around the Abacos, and back to Miami. I read many posts, from many forums, and I am soooo jealous of you guys, since I am locked in this pond. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE sailing, and the relationships that have developed as different owners climb aboard different boats (invited) in this marina, and have GREAT TIMES, if only a day at a time.

I have an upcoming family vacation in Gulf Shores, AL, where I intend to charter for a 13 hour cruise. I intend to glean all the big-water knowledge I can, to add to what I learned on the Abaco trip, and maybe someday I'll take the plunge, and get out there and harass you guys!

Aarrrgh!

Fair winds, my friends
Bring it on. I think more harassment is needed out in the big blue.
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Old 20-01-2017, 02:17   #40
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Re: What batteries are you using and where are you buying them?

Check out the oasis firefly carbon foam batteries. Ocean planet co. Advertises here on cf . YouTube videos about the battery gives you specs. These batteries are a game changer.
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Old 20-01-2017, 03:47   #41
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Re: What batteries are you using and where are you buying them?

Buy the best quality battereies you can afford.
On a budget that may mean buying old golf cart batteries, or such.
Its BEST to buy new batteries if money is not an issue.
Sealed AGM (or suchlike) batteries are the best "lead acid" type batteries to buy, however if money is no problem, then DEFINITELY buy Lithium batteries.
Lithium likely cost in excess of $1,000 per 150 AMPS, however they can be expected to last out your life.
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Old 20-01-2017, 04:38   #42
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Re: What batteries are you using and where are you buying them?

Just a note -it makes no sense to get batteries than can accept a faster charge if you aren't also going to the spend the $1000s to upgrade all charge systems. Even my "cheap" T105s can accept all the power the solar can supply. I bet for most people that get the "best" batteries for all the advantages the marketing guy spins that all they ended up with is an expense battery that they don't need to water.
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Old 20-01-2017, 05:07   #43
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Re: What batteries are you using and where are you buying them?

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So do AGMs I always wonder why AGMs are recommended so often. They're no better for a daysailer/weekender in a marina. They're siginficantly poorer than FLA for a solar powered boat. They really only make good sense on a boat that runs a genset every day.

Calder was on the 59 North podcast last week and said some very good things about the firefly batteries. He also said some less than optimal things about them.
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I also wonder about the frequent use of AGMs in boats. I've used them in some non boating applications where they were a great choice but unless you're at a dock very frequently or run a genset hours every few days you aren't really treating AGMs the way they like for long life. Yes they can accept a higher charge rate than FLAs but the charge acceptance still tapers off as they charge and to get that last 10-15% will take hours. FLAs tolerate the typical sailboat charging regimen much better than an AGM and are way cheaper to boot.

I can maybe offer a couple thoughts about "why AGMs?"

Lots of boaters are indeed at the dock often. Many who "cruise" are just using a slightly different definition of "cruise" from folks who are out all the time... I just noticed we've got something over 5K NMs on this boat now, but we're at the dock often enough to -- easily -- keep our AGMs topped off. And when we're not at the dock, the genset does a fine job of maintaining the batteries until we can get back to constant recharge.

A higher acceptance rate was a plus, but the selection process doesn't always have everything to do with recharging. Sometimes its all about ease of access for maintenance, and/or off-gassing issues. In our case, periodic maintenance is just way too much work, due to access issues. And I wanted to reduce off-gassing potential in the battery space.

Both of those features led me to AGMs or gels when I was shopping. But I couldn't switch to gels with the current charger, without replacing all 7 batteries (3 banks) at once.... or unless I added another charger and moved a new gel bank over to that, etc.... whereas with AGMs, the charger profiles were appropriate (even if not optimum) for mixed banks of FLAs and AGMs.

Replaced one bank with AGMs 11 years ago, and then replaced the other two banks with AGMs 8 years ago. At that point, i.e.,, once I chose AGMs over gels, I saw the higher acceptance rate as an eventual plus, whenever I could get around to beefing up my charging capability. The first replaced bank is just now needing replacement next season. In the meantime, I've gotten around to splitting the original three banks from a single charger, so now I can actually take more advantage of that higher acceptance rate.

So... that's my saga, and I'm sticking to it.

BUT BUT BUT...

I don't see that as a blanket recommendation for AGMs. They work well in our case, to meet our requirements and within our constraints... but that doesn't mean they would work well for everyone.

And they're pricey buggers. Worth it to me? Absolutely; some of our batteries are inaccessible enough to make sealed batteries well worth the extra cost. And now that I can charge faster, our genset recharge (and cooking) schedule when we're at anchor can be even more effective.

If folks are interested, the AGMs we landed on, first time around) are all Odyssey. Two banks of 3x PC-2150s (12V Group 31s) for combination starting/house, and one bank of a single PC-1500 (12V Group 34) for the genset. I will likely replace the oldest bank with 4x Lifeline 6V GPL-4CTs to increase capacity on that bank ( think I can squeeze those into the same amount of space). When the time comes, I may replace the other large bank with 3x Group 31 Firefly Carbon Foam AGMs; we'll see. I have no addition space in that locations, for 4x GCs won't work, but 3x Fireflies would perhaps still improve usable capacity. The small Odyssey PC-1500 works great for starting our genset (probably good for many sailboat auxiliaries) so if it ever craps out, I'd likely replace with the same thing.

-Chris
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Old 20-01-2017, 06:47   #44
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Re: What batteries are you using and where are you buying them?

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I can maybe offer a couple thoughts about "why AGMs?"

Lots of boaters are indeed at the dock often. Many who "cruise" are just using a slightly different definition of "cruise" from folks who are out all the time... I just noticed we've got something over 5K NMs on this boat now, but we're at the dock often enough to -- easily -- keep our AGMs topped off. And when we're not at the dock, the genset does a fine job of maintaining the batteries until we can get back to constant recharge.

A higher acceptance rate was a plus, but the selection process doesn't always have everything to do with recharging. Sometimes its all about ease of access for maintenance, and/or off-gassing issues. In our case, periodic maintenance is just way too much work, due to access issues. And I wanted to reduce off-gassing potential in the battery space.

Both of those features led me to AGMs or gels when I was shopping. But I couldn't switch to gels with the current charger, without replacing all 7 batteries (3 banks) at once.... or unless I added another charger and moved a new gel bank over to that, etc.... whereas with AGMs, the charger profiles were appropriate (even if not optimum) for mixed banks of FLAs and AGMs.

Replaced one bank with AGMs 11 years ago, and then replaced the other two banks with AGMs 8 years ago. At that point, i.e.,, once I chose AGMs over gels, I saw the higher acceptance rate as an eventual plus, whenever I could get around to beefing up my charging capability. The first replaced bank is just now needing replacement next season. In the meantime, I've gotten around to splitting the original three banks from a single charger, so now I can actually take more advantage of that higher acceptance rate.

So... that's my saga, and I'm sticking to it.

BUT BUT BUT...

I don't see that as a blanket recommendation for AGMs. They work well in our case, to meet our requirements and within our constraints... but that doesn't mean they would work well for everyone.

And they're pricey buggers. Worth it to me? Absolutely; some of our batteries are inaccessible enough to make sealed batteries well worth the extra cost. And now that I can charge faster, our genset recharge (and cooking) schedule when we're at anchor can be even more effective.

If folks are interested, the AGMs we landed on, first time around) are all Odyssey. Two banks of 3x PC-2150s (12V Group 31s) for combination starting/house, and one bank of a single PC-1500 (12V Group 34) for the genset. I will likely replace the oldest bank with 4x Lifeline 6V GPL-4CTs to increase capacity on that bank ( think I can squeeze those into the same amount of space). When the time comes, I may replace the other large bank with 3x Group 31 Firefly Carbon Foam AGMs; we'll see. I have no addition space in that locations, for 4x GCs won't work, but 3x Fireflies would perhaps still improve usable capacity. The small Odyssey PC-1500 works great for starting our genset (probably good for many sailboat auxiliaries) so if it ever craps out, I'd likely replace with the same thing.

-Chris
Hi Chris,

Excellent post and brings up one important benefit of the AGMs that hasn't been mentioned yet in this thread IE, maintenance. For boaters with batteries that are in difficult to access locations that can be a major benefit. Also for those that forget to check the water in their FLAs on a regular basis.

I have seen plenty of reports from boaters with AGMs that had great results with many years of service from the batteries but if I recall many were on power boats that used the engines often enough to keep the batteries topped off, used a genset a lot, had lots and lots or solar, or tied up at a dock often.

I'm hoping the LiFePo gets a little easier (and cheaper) to use in the future but for now, with my off the hook plans, FLAs seem to be my best solution.
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Old 20-01-2017, 08:14   #45
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Re: What batteries are you using and where are you buying them?

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Hi Chris,

Excellent post and brings up one important benefit of the AGMs that hasn't been mentioned yet in this thread IE, maintenance. For boaters with batteries that are in difficult to access locations that can be a major benefit. Also for those that forget to check the water in their FLAs on a regular basis.

I have seen plenty of reports from boaters with AGMs that had great results with many years of service from the batteries but if I recall many were on power boats that used the engines often enough to keep the batteries topped off, used a genset a lot, had lots and lots or solar, or tied up at a dock often.

I'm hoping the LiFePo gets a little easier (and cheaper) to use in the future but for now, with my off the hook plans, FLAs seem to be my best solution.

Well, I waffled on and on, but the shorter version for the broader audience would be more about choosing "your" (the royal your) best solution.

Factors would include voltage, size (form factor), capacity, maintenance (or not), off-gassing (or not)...

And then for starting batteries, CCA/MCA/RCs relative to the engine(s) they need to start.

And also cost (an immediate bite)...

And for house batteries: cost/capacity, and some of the underlying data to do that analysis -- rated capacity, predicted cycle life (with that whole lab cylces vs. real life cycles thing to deal with)

And all of that in relationship to the rest of the system: chargers, inverters, wiring, various DC loads under various conditions...

Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

IOW, often the answer isn't as simple as "run down to Samsco and buy their East Virginia DuraClub batteries of whatever chemistry happens to strike you as good and cheap."



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