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Old 18-07-2020, 07:23   #31
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Re: Best batteries for $2k budget

Originally Posted by Westcliffe01 View Post
ask and ye shall receive...
3kwh, 24V 130A charge/discharge $700 each
This option isnt for everyone as it takes some investment in time and effort to learn and DIY.

But there are a number of Cruisers, on CF, going this route recently.

$82ea ◊ 8 @ 280Ah LFP cells is $656, 12v at 560Ah
Plus some shipping from China.

A BMS, a Chargery or Electrodacus (also an MPPT) with screen and programable parameters $100- $150.

You can pay a premium to others like Chris, Mark Grasser, Ocean Planet etc who have good products and have done the R&D.

Or you can save on $, but not on time going DIY.

You can also save $ but you will the cheaper stuff isnt as- configurable, efficient, safe etc.

Ie an External Alternator regulator is not inexpensive but you can charge up batteries much safer and more efficiently. Using the Temp sensors you are less likely to fry your Alternator or Battery.

Chris's Alternators are good, no doubt, but your $2,000 doesnt get much of a high output Alternator setup.

It adds up quick when you start down the HO Alternator, Regulator, Serpentine pulley kit, tensioner arm etc for that budget.

Another route is a 'School bus' alternator.

This all depends on how much learning, fidling, machining you are prepared to do. Most people I meet just want the ready made 'drop' in solution.

In my opinion, these 'drop in' kits are rarely just that. There is often some fiddling required for them too.

Good luck.

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Old 19-07-2020, 04:21   #32
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Re: Best batteries for $2k budget

Originally Posted by sailorboy1 View Post
They aren't!! The only practical difference between T105 FLA and any AGM is that you don't have to water the AGMs. For the most part all other "advantages" are marketing mumble jumble and they all have the same disadvantage of partial state of charge and capacity loss.

Sure, got all that... I was only suggesting he compare prices in case that "high middle ground"... with double the FF capacity he's considering... might be useful. Compared to T105s, 1000 cycles is 1000 cycles, but for some, there's more to life than watering batteries.

In our case, that whole "don't have to water" thing was critical; it let me stuff more batteries into an inaccessible place.

FWIW, we were getting 11-12+ seasons from our Odyssey AGMs. Didn't have the Lifelines long enough to see what longevity would have been... Our usage pattern was always pretty lightweight, though.


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Old 19-07-2020, 04:51   #33
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Re: Best batteries for $2k budget

We went from 4 golf cart batteries to 7 Firefly G31s two years ago. I was happy with our golf cart batteries, but we were expanding our battery bank to an area that would require a water system and is under a bunk; not thrilled about outgassing in a sleeping area.

We bought our batteries from in Bowie, MD - drivable for you.

Our goal was to be able to go three cloudy days without solar/generator/engine alternator charging. We've been living off dock for the entire period. We get down to 50% DOD when the weather is not sunny.

Firefly vs. FLA? I still think it depends on where your batteries are. T105s are still a great value.

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Old 24-07-2020, 08:14   #34
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Re: Best batteries for $2k budget

About 4 yrs ago I bought 4 Trojan T 105ís. Good batteries. I bought the boat with AGM. They were destroyed by improper charging. So I thought I would go the tried and true LA. When they go out I will look seriously at Lithium. But you need to have the prober charging here too.
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Old 24-07-2020, 11:26   #35
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Re: Best batteries for $2k budget

We had a 100 amp Balmar and external regulator on a Westerbeke W40. The only issue was having to adjust the belt all too often. Pully alignment was perfect. It seem 100 amps is the max a single V belt can turn. Just my experience.
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Old 24-07-2020, 11:37   #36
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Re: Best batteries for $2k budget

Sadly you can't just bolt a high output alternator on an engine and expect it to work fine. You need to size the alternator to the belts and pulleys or vice versa. You can't just pop a 1/2' belt where there's a 3/8" pulley. The quality of the belt makes a big difference in how long it lasts. But ideally you plan any changes to the alternator output with the pulleys and belts in mind.
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Old 24-07-2020, 11:39   #37
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Re: Best batteries for $2k budget

Call Hamilton Ferris, 508 743 9901. MK AGM are great and they have free (?) Nationwide delivery.

They can also help you solve or answer charging question.
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Old 24-07-2020, 20:16   #38
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Re: Best batteries for $2k budget

Buying a battery is like buying a boat, You don't buy the most expensive boat, or battery, that you can afford because then you have no funds left for maintenance or add-ons.

I would love to have LifP04s; (or whatever they are called) but I was not ready for the total system change they probably required. If you're going this way, you go whole hog.

As for the other choices. FLA are FLA. Most of the differences are marketing.

We have been using Trojan T105 for about 20 years (not one, set three sets). Pretty primitive, I agree, but they are simple and they work.

Last year we decided to go one level lower, a locally made 6V golf car battery that was the same dimensions, weight and specs but 50% cheaper than Trojan t-105. They have been fine. Not great, but fine. For the price, excellent.

So my advice would be to go low. Go for the Trojans and put aside the left over money. The fancy FLA batteries rarely live up to the hype, and the Lifepo4 are just too much money right now, in my opinion.

NOW, 250 ah per day? My God, what are you doing? Unless you have a giant freezer or a 54" LCD screen I can't see how that energy budget is realistic. It's too high.

You will be a slave to that power usage. Break it down and cut it down. You should be able to get to 150ah/day. I do it on 120ah/day, with freezer, with computers, etc. Many do it on less. This trend to having 1000 watts of solar and electric everything has gone overboard on my opinion, and will go overboard one of these days too.

Buy the Trojans and cut the power usage.
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Old 24-07-2020, 22:53   #39
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Re: Best batteries for $2k budget

Iím in the middle of upgrading my battery bank and primary DC distribution and after reading ďAlmostĒ every response thereís a ton of good advice here.

Based on my particular situation I would suggest less emphasis on the battery brand and or type and more emphasis on the overall system.

I could not justify lifepo4 in my current overall budget but I see the value and with money no object would buy into lifepo4 in a nano second. However limited by my budget I chose to focus on the charging and distribution side rather than the chemistry allowing for a painless future change to lithium.

Here are few of the things I feel are not only affordable but I canít imagine living without them now.

1. External Balmar Regulator with my own externally regulated alternator sourced at a local shop that specializes in rebuilding them. I would have preferred to go with a complete kit from Balmar but like most everyone else I have more projects than money.

2. Eliminated the A/B/Both switch and the alternator now charges the house bank directly.

3. Added a Victron DC to DC charger that charges the start only battery from the house bank. Itís completely programmable from your phone and allows two different chemistryís to properly interact. This device is a game changer so in my working example you have a Gel House bank being charged while motoring/solar and they charge an AGM start battery with the correct profile via the victron.

4. Added the victron long range bluetooth remote battery monitor that communicates with the MPPT charge controller both temperature and voltage at the battery. This allows me to achieve the proper voltage at the battery even though the solar charge controller is 15í of 6awg cable away. Currently this only on the house bank talking to the MPPT but Iím adding one for the start battery as well so the DC to DC charger can monitor actual temp/voltage at the terminals of the start only battery.

5. I added the Victron smart shunt and eliminated the old Heart interface and a reliance on a dedicated remote to monitor usage now itís all on the phone or iPad.

Plus all the ABYC code compliant fuses and cables creating what should be akin to a nice race car chassis ready for whatever the power train of choice is. Hopefully I now have a system thatís ready for an actual ďdrop inĒ battery change.

Long way around the mountain but for $2k you can be completely ready for lithium and fully functional on AGM, Gel or possibly even Firefly. Iíd rather have a modern backbone powered by dated battery chemistry vs my old system on lithium.
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Old 25-07-2020, 00:40   #40
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Re: Best batteries for $2k budget

Originally Posted by Adventuresail View Post
Thank you for the responses everyone.

Sailorboy1, yes FLA continues to be an attractive option from an upfront cost POV and We are a heavy full keel boat. The batteries are located central and low so the weight is not an issue at all.

Chris, I really appreciate your input. We're trying hard to keep things simple and cost effective but we could certainly fit a larger alternator on our 80hp ford lehman. I could keep the 65 for keeping the cranking battery charged like its supposed to do and add a 100amp externally regulated alternator to charge our house bank.

My concern with lithium is upgrading chargers etc drive up cost. Although i do have a friend who asked if i wanted to share the costs of his DIY build with these cells:


the 12v 100AH battery cost would be about $550 per 100 AH battery - similar to the firefly with even more useable capacity and even better PSOC.

Firefly's have the advantage of fitting exactly in our battery boxes where the T105's were.

If i am taking 4 firefly's regularly to 60% DOD their cycle chart tells me i will get 2000 cycles. If i take the 8 Trojans regularly to 30% DOD i will get 2000 cycles but i suppose the ability to restore the Firefly's after extended cycling in PSOC puts them ahead.

Decisions, Decisions....

I am switching to Super Capacitor Battery. 3,5kw Weighs 45kg 1,000,000 cycles. Charge to full in short times, and can discharge to 99%. 48v delivery. Built in converter to 110v/220v and built in MPPT.
Size 20cm x 45cm x 60cm
Note that I mentioned battery, not batteries.
One battery delivering 3,5kw!!

Costs between $2000 - $3000 depending where it is sourced from.
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Old 25-07-2020, 01:20   #41
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Re: Best batteries for $2k budget

Originally Posted by witzgall View Post
Chris from Balmar here. With the 2k budget as your total, I would take a hard look at the Firefly Carbon Foam batteries. . . .

How does it makes sense to run 460AH of Fireflies for 152% of the price of 900AH of golf cart batteries? I really don't get it. I'm open to being enlightened if I'm missing something. But other than weight, I don't see any possible advantage. With the same cycling, you will be working the Fireflies twice as hard, which will nullify their advantages, including cycle life, AND efficiency. Fireflies might make sense provided you are willing to bite the bullet and spend a whole lot more money, and don't downsize the bank. Then you get something qualitatively different since you have reduced PSOC issues. But you accept that you will pay for that. To try to make Fireflies work by downsizing the bank is just madness in my view.

Lead acid works pretty darn well PROVIDED the bank is large enough that you can comfortably work within comfortable charge range. The OP, it sounds like, could easily live on a fraction of the nominal capacity of a bank like that which would make golf car batteries work really well and last a long time with reasonable operation (regular full charge).

I would for sure go with Trojans in the OP's case, or else, go straight to LiFePo4 cells. As far as I can tell, you have to go to LiFePo4 to get something which is really qualitatively better than golf cart batteries, AND which can actually save money.

But as I said -- if I'm missing something, will be glad to be enlightened.
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Old 25-07-2020, 08:13   #42
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Re: Best batteries for $2k budget

I replaced all my 6volt fla batteries with 12v no main Optima blue top batteries. These are sealed and can be mounted upside dpwn of necessary. They can be routinely be drawn down below 50% without I'll effect. Never buy an 8d of any brand. They are too heavy! Buy two smaller baths instead. Optima are about $300 each. I have 10 for house bank powered by 12 100watt rated solar panels. I'm lucky if they produce 1/2 that. I also have a 4.5kw diesel gen set for back up and a 3 battery start bank. One bit of necessary info. What area are you cruising in. And get rid of the elect stove. Get propane. My main draw is a 5# ft freezer and small refer. They both run off inverter. I turn then both off overnight. Freezer is 1/2 full of water bottles so no worries if off overnight.
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Old 25-07-2020, 09:38   #43
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Re: Best batteries for $2k budget

Following. We've been using 6 T-105s for the past 19 years, with good success; we're on our 3rd set now, as we've ended our full-time live-aboard and are now cruising only 6 months at a time. Our 675 installed amp-hr are now de-rated down to 500 amp-hrs (age of the system), but as the Admiral prefers to cook on her electric stove/galley, we run our genset daily. That 1 hr of run-time(spelled battery charger) + our 240watts of solar+ windgen keep our bank near full up daily. Our LA Trogens seem to work very well, and are universally available when they need replacing!
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Old 25-07-2020, 09:54   #44
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Re: Best batteries for $2k budget

Six 6V golf cart batteries from Sam's for a total of 600+ Ah @ 12V. Stick with propane for cooking. Cost less than $600. If you want bragging rights I guess you could spend $2000 but it wont get you much more. Splurge on two more golf cart batteries for a total of 8 if you must.
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Old 25-07-2020, 16:50   #45
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Re: Best batteries for $2k budget

Originally Posted by Adventuresail View Post
We are refitting our 45 foot cutter and have recently removed 8 x old Trojan t105 225 AH 6v batteries from the boat so that we can replace them with brand new batteries before we set off on an indefinite ocean voyage (Pacific crossing etc).

With a budget of around $2k for the batteries i am trying to decide what the best bang for my buck would be.

we use about 250 amps/day, will have a solar array of 800 watts and a honda generator running an 80 amp charger as backup. smaller 65 amp alternator on the engine. may add a wind generator.

We are considering an induction cooktop but not sure if it is possible within our battery budget, but if it isn't, we will scrap that idea.

We will be living on anchor ALL the time and therefore will be trying to make the system as independent from the generator as possible.

Options i am considering right now are:

8 x trojan t105 for a 900AH bank @ $1500 (can it handle the high loads of induction cooktop without damage??)

6 x Northstar blue+ (carbon enhanced) 100Ah for a 600AH bank @ $1680

4 x firefly (carbonfoam) G31 for a 460AH bank @ $2280
60 amp alternator is far too short for charging that large battery bank. at best you will only get maybe 55 amps from the alternator. you will be running the engine hours and hours to keep it charged. the other charging bits can at best just keep up with your usage. out of balance system

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