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BARGES: All about barges and barging - building, buying, maintaining, equipment, handling on the water, etc.
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TOPIC: Batteries

Batteries 25 Oct 2019 03:52 #110899

Greg GOOD LUCK on the wiring.... I am on my 3rd re-wire boat adventure the 1st one I stayed with 12V, the 2nd and this 3rd one I moved to 24V, and yes new pumps etc Mainly because wires can be thinner. ( which saves money for cases of wine when you go to buy the cables for the battery to inverter ). PLUS more output with solar. The solar themselves won't put more out, but you won't need as much MPPT.
As for the harbor with a Capitaine in residence. The yacht I saw going "down down deeper and down" also had a person living in the marina. Now it was a fluke accident but still.

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Batteries 25 Oct 2019 02:34 #110896

  • Craig Campbell
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Thank you for your replies and input.

This has been very helpful. When I get back in April I will be 6-T105 or T125 to Wire in parallel and series to replace my 2 dead 12 volt 220 AH batteries. Not only will it provide me with more AHs, but they be easier to get in and out.

I have thought about the issues that Jan has raised and agree that they are a concern too. Currently all of my batteries are completely isolated, but I am in a small harbor with a Capitaine in residence on site. But in the future a battery monitoring system will be part of the system, as will rewiring the boat (the current wiring is a mess, I’ve got all the wire, boxes and connections on the boat for the job, just haven't gotten it done yet).

I will be looking into solar, I think I have space for about 300 watts. A Small 220 alternator/ generator running off of the engine is another consideration I will continue researching, to assist with recharging.

Craig

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Batteries 24 Oct 2019 13:54 #110882

I understand the sentiment of persons wanting to disconnect the batteries, because of using a cheap charger could lead to overcharging and explosion, and a lot of work when returning to the barge.

Now a battery should that not be mounted in a sealed box, with ventilation, so when ( not IF) it explodes the damage is limited to the inside of the box?

By disconnecting the battery, you also make your bilge pumps suffer from ED, so they can't perform. And yes I have seen a very expensive yacht go down during winter.....because a hull through started leaking.......the pump kept up, but ( this was in the US....and the electric net is UNreliable) the shore power went out and the pump exhausted the battery and slowly but steadily the yacht went deeper and deeper until the bedroom became the owners newest feature....an Ice skating rink !

Disclosure ....... I have posted this event before as my justification to use the Victron remote management system to be warned when my bilge pump(s) go on

Have you ever though what a broken window can use to a barge when it rains ? For a long period we kept finding a fair amount of water in the bilge, and we nearly had to go on prozac because we could not find the water originating point. Until by sheer luck we found the steel under a window being rusted through while refinishing that window, and that was a smallish hole !

So NO I wil NOT disconnect my batteries. And yes I constructed a nice box around my battery bank, with a fan controlled by the temperature. ( yes you can accuse me of having too much time on my hand :) )

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Batteries 24 Oct 2019 08:52 #110874

Hi Craig

As Balliol states the discharge time is pretty long with a fully charged isolated battery.
Even 12 months at 6% should not kill a wet cell unless the weather conspires to freeze it while at low charge (sulfuric acid concentration in a charged lead acid battery freezes at -36C).

Overcharging is a known cause of exploding batteries.

In addition battery chargers have back current (my CTEK M200 is only 2 Ah per month according to the specs) and are a fire risk. The damage that can be done by a modest 12V fire will offset 5 banks of batteries at Balliol's prices.



Cheers
Chris

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Batteries 23 Oct 2019 21:38 #110866

Hello Craig
One answer could be for complete isolation, added to this some solar charge, even a small panel will do, or another idea may be a charger set to work on a seven day timer, set to come on for perhaps two, one hour periods per week.
Exploding battery, I have seen this once on a neighbours barge, it was a battery that had frozen in severe cold conditions (below -15 at night) and a charger was switched on.
Paul Hayes

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Batteries 23 Oct 2019 17:11 #110860

  • Balliol Fowden
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I agree with Peter. All this self-discharge thing is perhaps hypothetically and technically correct, but I have never in 50 years come across a realistic problem in practice with self-discharge in a sound system, suitably isolated when not needed (terminals off if leaving for months!). Indeed we used to keep spare battery banks in the workshops for our hire boats, we were rather less than assiduous in charging them routinely off-season, but never came back to them in the spring and found them flat.

We always used to get some five + years out of a set of non-abused Crompton CXL wet deep cycle batteries, and very often we only replaced them simply on the grounds of anno domini: cheaper than having a late night call out and unhappy hirers who could read the dates we had inscribed on every battery for our own info!! As Peter says, charge up & isolate and they should be fine. Expensive batteries will not, as you seem to be wishing, help you if you have a DC stray current going somewhere, and I would be concentrating my energies on finding this before you have a very expensive severe corrosion problem.

It must be remembered that whatever the type of battery it only takes one weak cell (abused or defective) to effectively condemn a bank, since batteries should always be replaced by the bank, wholesale, not just one in a bank. Very much a case of the weakest link, so one new battery in a bank of say 4 will be dragged down to the the resistance of the weakest cell in the remainder.

I will get off the lectern of lifetime experience and leave this to the techie pundits unduly persuaded by marketing. I will be buying Trojan wet L/A's next time round. Good batteries, well up to the job, and as a five + year consumable item well priced and perfectly fit for purpose if you taker the realistic view that batteries are consumables.

Balliol.

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Batteries 23 Oct 2019 16:37 #110859

Craig, if leaving the boat unattended the electrical needs would be very low, if not zero. Others might disagree, but I wouldn't worry that batteries would need topping up during absences of up to six months. I would however want some sort of gentle charging, either from mains or solar.

That said, if you go the route mentioned by me initially, and more recently by Balliol, and get traction batteries, then these can be fitted with an automatic watering system, which would be worth having both while using the boat, and while leaving it alone.

In my view it would be a false economy to buy some cheap stop-gap batteries now, and then discard them in favour of a better system later.

Lithium batteries are the only way to go if you have a car. On a boat there is often more room, and weight is less of an issue. When I bought my boat, Lithiums weren't in the picture at all, and I was advised to buy AGMs. When I replace them I will check the price of Lithiums, but will most probably buy traction batteries of the sort Balliol has.

One final thought. The more complicated you make your system, the more chance there is that something will fail. It's great fun to have lots of toys to play with, but leave that until you move aboard and can keep on top of things. Until then, keep it simple.

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Batteries 23 Oct 2019 16:14 #110856

> I am a seasonal user right now and my travel back to the boat is irregular, 1-2 trips per year. My first winter after purchasing the boat one of my two sealed domestic lead acid batteries exploded

Not a happy story, but possibly predictable if you leave your batteries on trickle charge for prolonged periods, specially if using an basic charger. You should perhaps review the condition / spec of all your power devices and replace anything that isn't suitable.

Even the most basic lead acid battery can be left for 6 months with insignificant loss in voltage provided it is properly isolated and left fully charged. I never leave my batteries on charge although the domestic ones have solar to keep them charged. My bow and stern thruster, engine and generator start batteries are left isolated with no charging for 6 months with ill effects.

I'd suggest you ensure all batteries are fully charged, then isolated before you leave your boat for prolonged periods. They won't explode and you'll return to find them still 95% fully charged when you return several months later.

Peter

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Batteries 23 Oct 2019 15:36 #110853

if you already have Victron, use one other MPPT's. since can be integrated in the management / remote monitoring set up. I know other MPPT's could be cheaper, but having all parts talk to each other and me being able to monitor from thousands of miles away is just a safe feeling.

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Batteries 23 Oct 2019 15:20 #110852

Bimble Solar is a good place to get inexpensive panels. Also get an MPPT charge controller (NOT PWM).

www.bimblesolar.com/solar/265w-astronergy

If you buy one panel initially, and might get another later make sure the controller will handle both.

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Batteries 23 Oct 2019 14:02 #110844

  • Craig Campbell
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Thanks for the comments.

I am sympathetic to Paul and Balliol’s point of view, but I am a seasonal user right now and my travel back to the boat is irregular, 1-2 trips per year. My first winter after purchasing the boat one of my two sealed domestic lead acid batteries exploded. The boat had been on trickle, I am not sure the cause (but it was a hell of a mess to clean up). I replaced the 2 sealed batteries with unsealed lead acid batteries and all was good until I left for the season. I thought I had the batteries isolated but it was obviously not the case, since when I returned they were drained. I was eventually get them to take a charge, but they haven’t held a sufficient charge since.

So I don’t retire for another 2 years, until then I need a system that can be unattended for periods of time. My concern with unsealed batteries is that I would be concerned leaving them on a trickle charge without being able to monitor the water level.

From what I have read here the 440 AH I have on the boat should be sufficient for my needs, LED lighting, 12 volt fridge, webasto, and Water pump. I don’t have a battery management or monitoring system on the boat with the exception of my Victron, it sound like that is something I should consider. I thick I could fit some solar panels on the boat and that might be worth looking into, especially for trickle charging during my 5 - 11 month absences.

Craig

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Batteries 23 Oct 2019 09:32 #110828

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It might be pertinent to reiterate what I have said in the past on this perennial topic, and my thoughts agree with Paul's. There is little point spending a fortune on batteries. Reasonably good wet deep cycle lead acid batteries are fine. We used them for years throughout our 30 strong narrowboat hire fleet, and have always used them on our ship.

Most recently (April 2014) I spent £765.00 on 8 x 6 volt Trojan T125 batteries (from Battery Megastore, net of a bit of discount and zero rated), giving 480 a/h @ 24 volt. That was in April 2014 and those batteries are still going strong with no discernible drop in performance. I don't use any form of battery monitoring but I will know when they start to drop off because I will hear it from our big 24 volt hydrophore. I have never had to routinely top up these batteries. We have reduced the loads a bit recently by moving towards LED lighting (perhaps 50% LED now) but the overall 24 volt demand is still high (100' ship, 5 cabins, 4 bathrooms, 2 fridge/freezers (via inverter), 7 pumps, 80 + light bulbs..............) . Even in the extreme heat of this summer with 8 people on board, freezers and showers running flat out etc. we had no battery capacity problems. We have a 50 amp Victron charger plus 65amp 24V engine alternator and 35 amp 24V generator alternator. We plug in to the shore on our mooring but never when cruising. We leave the ship for up to 6 weeks at a time with nothing plugged in and batteries isolated. No solar. No problems.

The only change I might make is that if we upgrade to a bigger inverter in the future (presently only a 1500 watt Mastervolt and 20+ years old, so could fail anytime) would be to fit another four batteries. (240a/h), this only because with a bigger inverter (Multiplus?) we might be tempted to run the dishwasher etc. through it and use it to top up our shore supply.

If I were to be leaving the ship for the winter I might fit a very small solar panel just to trickle charge the batteries, but as things stand the batteries are always good when we get back to the ship. I would never advocate leaving any ship plugged in with charger etc. working when unattended.

I really think that there is too strong a tendency to over specify batteries, in terms of capacity and costs. If the present 66 month old Trojans fail next week I will have had my money's worth, but I suspect that they will go on for a year or so yet on present performance, so we are talking about two or three pounds a week less scrap value.

Balliol.
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Batteries 23 Oct 2019 01:35 #110820

Hi Craig

Are you live aboard or a seasonal user?
If the latter then sealed lead acid of some form self discharge at about half the rate (3 Versus 6% per month) of standard. This assumes you do not leave boat plugged in with some form of multistage charger and isolate the bank so there is no drain.
The con is some care in avoiding over charge and over heating is needed,
In season: some/many alternators are not smart and just plug away at around 14 V not adjusting for heat or SOC. For short runs this would be irrelevant, long days in a hot engine room could be an issue for both systems.

Regards
Chris

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Batteries 22 Oct 2019 18:52 #110796

Paul Hayes wrote:

Jan Pieterse wrote: Paul

whenever you are in the neighborhood....come over for 'marine' beef and drinks......

See you at Sail Amsterdam next year?


Sorry Jan, but no Amsterdam is not on the schedule, but we can have a beer if we ever meet up, with pleasure. Wow, Eating Beef.... I have to stand outside a burger bar just to get a whiff of it... We are sharing a Chipolata for dinner. :-)

Paul

Paul. Red Cross food parcel on the way.

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Batteries 21 Oct 2019 21:37 #110756

Jan Pieterse wrote: Paul

whenever you are in the neighborhood....come over for 'marine' beef and drinks......

See you at Sail Amsterdam next year?


Sorry Jan, but no Amsterdam is not on the schedule, but we can have a beer if we ever meet up, with pleasure. Wow, Eating Beef.... I have to stand outside a burger bar just to get a whiff of it... We are sharing a Chipolata for dinner. :-)

Paul

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Batteries 21 Oct 2019 20:54 #110754

Paul

whenever you are in the neighborhood....come over for 'marine' beef and drinks......

See you at Sail Amsterdam next year?

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Batteries 21 Oct 2019 20:03 #110745

Jan Pieterse wrote: @paul
to be honest I am one of these guys who only buy "Marine" labelled ...which did have my butcher of raising cows on a boat for me so they are really marine meat :)


Hi Jan

Glad that you can afford the "Marine" label, for example a certain "Marine" pressure jet heating boiler is manufactured as a "domestic" boiler and as such is sold at 50% of the cost. Those that have to make a penny go a long way know these things. :-) These savings mean we can afford some diesel in the summer.

Best Paul
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Batteries 21 Oct 2019 19:57 #110743

Craig Campbell wrote: I currently have 2-220 AH lead acid batteries that I assume were damaged by a complete discharge, due to a unknown power drain. They will still take a charge, but won’t provide sufficient discharge voltage for very long after being disconnected or turning off the boat engine. Before being severely discharged I could easily go 3-4 days with out turning the boat on or plugging in.

I had a similar experience with four 5 year old 220Ah AGMs (I am 24V, so that's 440Ah). Not knowing about Daniel Boekel's offering, I bought a couple of 144Ah refurbished Valence Li batteries through Ebay, on another member's recommendation, for £500 each. A Victron Gel 130Ah is about £300.
My calculation was
LI can discharge happily to 10% so 140AH batteries give, say 120Ah, i.e £4 /Ah
Gel can discharge happily to 30% so 130AH batteries give, say 80Ah., i.e £3.75 /Ah

The equivalent Victron Li batteries would be over £1000 each.

Some of us are great at wet battery maintenance and regular watering. I'm not (ok, lazy!)and prefer maintenance-free things. If you're into maintenance, Heavy duty, e.g. 'traction' batteries are almost certainly the most cost-effective, long term at the moment

Pete

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Batteries 21 Oct 2019 19:54 #110742

Hi Jan
A couple of things come to mind.
A) I am quite happy with lead acid and have been for twenty years or more.
B) Even at 50% of that cost they would be well out of the reach of a person on a UK pension of £158 (165 E) a week.
Thank you for your advice.
Paul Hayes

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Batteries 21 Oct 2019 17:07 #110731

@paul
to be honest I am one of these guys who only buy "Marine" labelled ...which did have my butcher of raising cows on a boat for me so they are really marine meat :)

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Batteries 21 Oct 2019 17:06 #110730

Well Paul...I know the LI I bought were not even close to that 2200 price...a lot lot lower...
Li does have more usable capacity then lead and water.....so to be fair 220 AH lead water is not the same as 220 Li
But as I suggested you can always as Daniel Boekel for a quote...Quite a few DBA member have bought his.

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Batteries 21 Oct 2019 16:03 #110726

Hi Craig
I'm a lead and water man, simple cheap and if looked after decent life. Here's a reason in Euros why
www.mylithiumbattery.com/shop/12v-lithium-ion-battery-packs/lithium-battery-12v/12v-250ah-lithium-ion-battery-lifepo4-powerbrick/?utm_source=googlesho

250 Ahr = 2 200 Euro 10 times the price of lead acid, 10 times the benefit? I don't think so. Gel were made initially for Military and aircraft use (inversion proof), Ocean sailors thought "We sometimes roll over that would be good for us", so started using them, then they became marketed as "Marine" and people on barges thought "I have a ship I must use "Marine", so started buying them. My well looked after lead acid are proving to last longer than as at least two Gel installations that I know of that have had to be replaced long before my lead acid.
Paul Hayes

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Batteries 21 Oct 2019 03:24 #110696

haven’t found any lithium ion batteries similarly priced to gels. >> contact Daniel Boekel , also a DBA member

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Batteries 21 Oct 2019 02:52 #110694

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Thanks for the replies.

My battery use is the domestic batteries. In general I can get away with out inversion since everything on the boat is 12 volt.

I have been looking around a bit and haven’t found any lithium ion batteries similarly priced to gels. Can you direct me to good dealers in europe?

I currently have 2-220 AH lead acid batteries that I assume were damaged by a complete discharge, due to a unknown power drain. They will still take a charge, but won’t provide sufficient discharge voltage for very long after being disconnected or turning off the boat engine. Before being severely discharged I could easily go 3-4 days with out turning the boat on or plugging in.

Solar is something I am looking into, but I still have a lot of research to do. My Victron is an older model and I am not yet up to speed on it capabilities, but I know for sure that I will need a power management system like some of you have described.

Craig

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Batteries 19 Oct 2019 00:47 #110612

I had no idea that lithiums are now not much more expensive than gels. That being the case, they are definitely worth thinking about.

Whenever I take a minicab (nearly every one is a Toyota Prius) I always ask the driver about the batteries, and whether he has ever had to replace them. So far, the answer has always been no, from which I conclude that good lithium batteries tend to last a long time.

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Batteries 17 Oct 2019 22:31 #110579

John Forbes wrote: Probably the best batteries to go for are traction batteries. They are not cheap but will last much longer than conventional batteries. I have AGMs, now 9 years old, but they were even more expensive. Gels are preferred by those who wrote the KnowledgeBase article, which is well worth a read if you haven't already done so.

While I totally agree with most of what ohn says, this needs some qualification. 'Best' is a difficult quality with batteries and there are almost as many opinions in DBA as there are members. Traction are the most robust lead-acid - if you are happy to water them regularly. AGM and Gel need no watering but (like lead-acid) vary greatly depending on their internal structure. In general Gel can be discharged further than AGM so are perhaps more useful for domestic batteries. Lithium can be even more deeply discharged and as Jan says, can be competitively priced against Gel now, from the right source. I have just upgraded from AGM to Lithium, at a premium over the Gels I might have had, for the extra usable capacity.

For monitoring, I started with and still have Smartgauge (and Smartbank); I also have a Victrom BMV. Both give much the same quality of battery monitoring, though with occasional inexplicable differences. The BMV has the slight edge for integration (at some cost!) with other electrical monitoring equipment. Many people will want no more than a basic battery monitor for which either is good.

Pete

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Batteries 17 Oct 2019 20:32 #110577

well I use the LI batteries Daniel Boekel offers, at close to the price of Gell batteries. and they are being recharged by the engine alternator when cruising and the solar panels on top of the pilot house. They are "drop-in" replacement ones, lighter and smaller !

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Batteries 17 Oct 2019 18:59 #110576

The first thing to do is to work out how much battery capacity you need. Having established that you can then work out whether your alternator is up to the task, and if not, augment it or replace it.

I don't know if you have room on your boat for solar panels, but even one 200W panel would help a great deal with charging. Batteries prefer to be charged slowly and often. You should try to recharge fully every day, and solar panels are good at this - provided you have sun. Between March and September my 550Ah of batteries are charged solely by 440W of panels, and are usually fully charged by lunchtime.

Any modern alternator should provide clean power for charging - that's what they are there for.

Probably the best batteries to go for are traction batteries. They are not cheap but will last much longer than conventional batteries. I have AGMs, now 9 years old, but they were even more expensive. Gels are preferred by those who wrote the KnowledgeBase article, which is well worth a read if you haven't already done so.

It's also a good idea to monitor your batteries' state of charge every day. The easiest way to do this is with a Smartgauge, which is very easy to fit. But there are other gadgets, and other techniques. Some people swear by hygrometers, but they are not for everybody.

That's a bit of food for thought.

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Batteries 09 Oct 2019 19:50 #110226

  • Craig Campbell
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I need to replace the power storage batteries on my boat. I currently have 2-220 ah batteries that measure about 11x22. I could to fit 6- L16 batteries in the same space, but I don’t think my alternator wouldn’t be sufficient to recharge them. I don’t have any inversion needs on the boat and would like to be able to avoid electrical hookups for extended periods. I do have an extra pully off of the engine I could add a generator to, if it produced clean enough power to recharge the system, while I am running.

I am not up to speed on power storage for boats. Any ideas, direction or resources for learning about appropriate systems would be helpful.

Thanks Craig

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