It doesn't matter where the house batteries are located, just make sure the wires between them are oversized, and don't waste any time "worrying" about "balancing". It's almost an urban myth.
IS IT BETTER TO HAVE ONE OR TWO BATTERY BANKS FOR HOUSE USE?
(By Nigel Calder - I DIDN’T write this!!!)
This appears in Calder’s excellent Boatowners Manual
. I bought the 2nd edition in 1998.
The [formerly – pre-1990s] popular arrangement of having two house banks alternated in use needs scrutiny before I go any further.
LIFE CYCLES: As we have seen, the life expectancy of a battery in cycling service
is directly related to the depth
to which it is discharged at each cycle - the greater the depth
of discharge, the shorter the battery’s life.
This relationship between depth of discharge and battery life is NOT linear. As the depth of discharge increases, a battery’s life expectancy is disproportionately shortened. A given battery may cycle through 10% of its capacity 2,000 times, 50% of its capacity 300 times and 100% of its capacity around 100 times.
Let’s say, for arguments sake, that a boat has two 200-ah battery banks, alternated from day to day, with a daily load of 80 Ah. Each bank will be discharged by 40% (80 Ah of one of the two 200 Ah banks) of its capacity before being recharged. The batteries will fail after 380 cycles, which is 760 days (since each is used every other day). If the two banks had been wired in parallel, to make a single 400 Ah battery bank, this bank would have been discharged by 20% of capacity every day, with a life expectancy of 800 days, a 5% increase in life expectancy using exactly the same batteries!
But now let’s double the capacity of the batteries, so that the boat has either two 400 Ah banks, or a single 800 Ah bank, but with the same 80 Ah daily load. The two separate banks will be cycling through 20% of capacity every other day, resulting in a total life expectancy of 1,600 days. Doubling the size of the battery banks in relation to the load has produced a 210% increase in life expectancy. The single 800 Ah bank will be cycling through 10% of capacity every day, resulting in a life expectancy of 2,000 days - a 25% increase in life expectancy over the two (400 Ah) banks, and a 250% increase in life expectancy over the single 400 Ah battery bank!
There are two immediate conclusions to be drawn from these figures:
1. For a given total battery capacity, wiring
the (house) batteries into a single high capacity bank, rather than having them divided into two alternating banks, will result in a longer overall life expectancy for the batteries.
2. All other things being equal, any increase in the overall capacity of a battery bank will produce a disproportionate increase in its life expectancy (through reducing the depth of discharge at each cycle).
FOR BATTERY LONGEVITY, A SINGLE LARGE (HOUSE) BANK, THE LARGER THE BETTER, IS PREFERABLE TO DIVIDED (HOUSE) BANKS.