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Old 11-17-2014, 01:56 PM   #1
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Batteries

I replaced house/crank batteries in 2011. Boat used lightly. Batteries on charger. No crank now. Before I blow $600-$800 on new - I want to just do the proper checks.

1. Is four years about fair expectations?
2. Did my light use contribute to the batteries' downfall?
3. Can someone give me a basic lesson on electrolyte maintenance?

Thanks. I should look these up, but has been heavy demand year from work and family. My maintenance practice is off.
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Old 11-17-2014, 02:42 PM   #2
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Check your charger. If old, they can be hard on batts. With charger on for several hours with no DC loads on, check batt terminal voltage with a good digital volt meter.

Also, have you been needing to add water to batts? If more than about every six months or so, charger is suspect.

Are you sure your no-start is batts? Put meter on batt terminals and watch when starter is engaged. If volts don't drop below about 10v, problem is elsewhere.
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Old 11-17-2014, 03:26 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Ben View Post
I replaced house/crank batteries in 2011. Boat used lightly. Batteries on charger. No crank now.
1. Is four years about fair expectations?
2. Did my light use contribute to the batteries' downfall?
3. Can someone give me a basic lesson on electrolyte maintenance?
Unless you're using an inverter or otherwise drawing your batteries down hard, four years would be a very short life span for a set of batteries indeed. Mine routinely go 10 years.

My first suspicious would be that your charger is either defective or not a modern charger. Did you clean the battery connections recently? Are you using a lot of water? Water should never drop to where the plates are exposed and use distilled water to top them off. With a modern charger and little use you should be using very little water.

But as the previous poster suggested, start with checking the batteries at their source and that should tell you a lot.
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Old 11-17-2014, 03:53 PM   #4
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make sure that the charger is working and batteries are charged with clean terminals.


A cheap digital voltmeter and a hydrometer also cheap is all you need..


Measure voltage with charger on, should be above 13V


measure specific gravity of each cell before you add water, should be above 1.250


If any cells are dry the battery is usually bad. If any cell specific gravity is very different than others it is probably bad.
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Old 11-17-2014, 04:02 PM   #5
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I have a Xantrex smart charger. The four stage float charger. The one everybody says is the best kind to have. I still only use my charger when my batteries are down. I never leave a charger on. It boils the water and it uses a cycle of life, even the smart ones. I know there will be tons of arguments against this and me.

I put my 6 6 volt Trojans in my boat in 1998. They are done now. Actually there were done a couple of years ago as far as going out on the hook and running the inverter. The point is, batteries have a life cycle and deep cycle or starting batteries only have so many cycles of use. Either you choose to use them with a 100% to 65% cycle before charging or you use them with a 100% 99.99% cycle the smart charger does.

No, I'm not an engineer, I'm a boater than has done this for the last 30 years and I always double the life of any of my friends. I now have a few people who do the same and they are experiencing longer battery life.

I get arguments, the what if....ones. I love what if's.

I had a sears battery that said 48 mos. This was in my first boat. I used it eight years and took it back to sears to get another one and the guy said he never saw one of those before. Must have been a new employee.

If you really have to have the charger going, turn it off when you get aboard and always only use distilled water but keep them topped off. Only put it back on when the voltage drops to 12.4 or so or when you leave if you are that concerned about a catastrophic event.

Good Luck.
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Old 11-17-2014, 05:05 PM   #6
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Check list before replacing batteries:1)Check your resting voltage and make sure to compensate for temperature in your location. 2) Check that the battery plates are all submerged in electrolyte by visually examining cell levels and measuring the specific gravity of the solution in each (SG readings also need temperature compensation).If you don't have access to a conductance tester measure the voltage when you bump the start button. Less than 10.5v you ought to replace them.

From Yuasa manual:
Temperature: 7 degrees Fahrenheit
Percent Hydrometer Unloaded
charge reading voltage
100 1.242 12.49
75 1.187 12.16
50 1.137 11.86
25 1.097 11.62
0 1.077 11.50
Temperature: 17 degrees Fahrenheit
Percent Hydrometer Unloaded
charge reading voltage
100 1.245 12.51
75 1.190 12.18
50 1.140 11.88
25 1.100 11.64
0 1.080 11.52
Temperature: 27 degrees Fahrenheit
Percent Hydrometer Unloaded
charge reading voltage
100 1.248 12.53
75 1.193 12.20
50 1.143 11.90
25 1.103 11.66
0 1.083 11.54
Temperature: 37 degrees Fahrenheit
Percent Hydrometer Unloaded
charge reading voltage
100 1.252 12.55
75 1.197 12.22
50 1.147 11.92
25 1.107 11.68
0 1.087 11.56
Temperature: 47 degrees Fahrenheit
Percent Hydrometer Unloaded
charge reading voltage
100 1.255 12.57
75 1.200 12.24
50 1.150 11.94
25 1.110 11.70
0 1.090 11.58
Temperature: 57 degrees Fahrenheit
Percent Hydrometer Unloaded
charge reading voltage
100 1.258 12.59
75 1.203 12.26
50 1.153 11.96
25 1.113 11.72
0 1.093 11.60
Temperature: 67 degrees Fahrenheit
Percent Hydrometer Unloaded
charge reading voltage
100 1.262 12.61
75 1.207 12.28
50 1.157 11.98
25 1.117 11.74
0 1.097 11.62
Temperature: 77 degrees Fahrenheit
Percent Hydrometer Unloaded
charge reading voltage
100 1.265 12.63
75 1.210 12.30
50 1.160 12.00
25 1.120 11.76
0 1.100 11.64
Temperature: 87 degrees Fahrenheit
Percent Hydrometer Unloaded
charge reading voltage
100 1.268 12.65
75 1.213 12.32
50 1.163 12.02
25 1.123 11.78
0 1.103 11.66
Temperature: 97 degrees Fahrenheit
Percent Hydrometer Unloaded
charge reading voltage
100 1.272 12.67
75 1.217 12.34
50 1.167 12.04
25 1.127 11.80
0 1.107 11.68
Temperature: 107 degrees Fahrenheit
Percent Hydrometer Unloaded
charge reading voltage
100 1.275 12.69
75 1.220 12.36
50 1.170 12.06
25 1.130 11.82
0 1.110 11.70
Just went through this on a couple of boats in the last week.


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Old 11-17-2014, 05:47 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben View Post
I replaced house/crank batteries in 2011. Boat used lightly. Batteries on charger. No crank now. Before I blow $600-$800 on new - I want to just do the proper checks.

1. Is four years about fair expectations?
2. Did my light use contribute to the batteries' downfall?
3. Can someone give me a basic lesson on electrolyte maintenance?

Thanks. I should look these up, but has been heavy demand year from work and family. My maintenance practice is off.
Having just gone through this exercise last week I will throw in my two cents worth.

My batteries gave up the ghost after two years.They were also a dual crank/house set up(Federal 908DF),a cell died in one of the batteries and as the batteries were linked in parallel this damaged the second battery, resulting in the replacement of both batteries!That cost me $1,400.00

After quizzing the electricians who sold and installed the original wet cell batteries,the company that manufactured the batteries, the company that sold me the new up market charger/inverter and the company that sold me the new replacement AGM batteries I have the following observations;

1/ the battery manufactures will always blame the charger, it is their default position

2/ the company who built the charger will blame the battery manufacturer for providing sub standard batteries

3/ the company who sold and installed the wet cell batteries will cite the 12 month warranty condition , and then charge you $120 to confirm the batteries they originally sold you are kaput

4/ the new company providing the AGM batteries will confirm that the original wet cell Ferderal batteries were not deep cycle marine batteries but tricked up Truck starting batteries, with very thin plates that were bound to fail

5/ you will bear the financial cost for any and all of the above.

6/ your hair will either go grey or fall out altogether, and your dentist will advise you to stop grinding your teeth.
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Old 11-17-2014, 10:17 PM   #8
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Battery life

Like most things in life...or on a boat, you have to do your best. Buy the best that you can afford, then do your best to understand how it all works...and then maintain it within those parameters. For batts, I have Lifeline AGM deep-cycle for the house and their starting batts for starting. They are sealed and hassle-free. But I don't deeply discharge them if I can help it. I certainly don't let them stay down very long. And I never have problems. These are four years old now. I also have ten year old wet batts in my golf cart and they are fine. I had Surettes for years and had no problems. For those wet ones, use only distilled water and keep them charged with a good charger that has the correct protocol for that specific batt type (so that you don't just boil them dry). Hope you have good luck !
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Old 11-18-2014, 12:47 AM   #9
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Like most things in life...or on a boat, you have to do your best. Buy the best that you can afford, then do your best to understand how it all works...and then maintain it within those parameters. For batts, I have Lifeline AGM deep-cycle for the house and their starting batts for starting. They are sealed and hassle-free. But I don't deeply discharge them if I can help it. I certainly don't let them stay down very long. And I never have problems. These are four years old now. I also have ten year old wet batts in my golf cart and they are fine. I had Surettes for years and had no problems. For those wet ones, use only distilled water and keep them charged with a good charger that has the correct protocol for that specific batt type (so that you don't just boil them dry). Hope you have good luck !
In bold, no truer words have been spoken on the Forum. All of it great advice, IMHO.

I'm a big fan of Water Miser battery caps. Not a huge investment in a product to limit water loss in lead acids. I find that they truly help, but it's hard to quantify. I estimate the caps reduce my watering by as much as 40%.....probably 25% minimum. I'll never own a deep cycle L-A battery without them.
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Old 11-18-2014, 06:53 AM   #10
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Batteries on charger. No crank now.

Whose charger??? ,

an imbecile like a cheapo Guest kills more batts than the junk yard.
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Old 11-18-2014, 12:12 PM   #11
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Any modern marine battery charge, made by a name brand, is not going to harm batteries if connected full time. I have measured the current from a "cheap Guest" charger while it is in float and it is a few milliamps.

And the previous poster's strategy of only hooking up the charge when the batteries need it, may be contributing to their demise. Batteries left for weeks with a partial charge, even 75% will precipitate sulfate out and build up on the bottom until it shorts the plates.

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Old 11-18-2014, 03:53 PM   #12
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From the comments and my last 3 months observations I now strongly believe my charger to be suspect. I have a volt meter in my cabin which has shown a steady drop to the batteries. Charger has been quizzical (gauge looks dead though hums like a cat) in its meter reading and is quite old. I'm going to put a plug in charger on it to see if that impacts performance.
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Old 11-18-2014, 04:40 PM   #13
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Go put a digital volt meter on your batt terminals and see what you get. That's the best data point to use for next steps.
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Old 11-19-2014, 07:48 AM   #14
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>Also, have you been needing to add water to batts? If more than about every six months or so, charger is suspect.<

This is true for a dock queen and a not too old charger.

Water will be used with every discharge- recharge cycle , esp if its to 50% SOC and back up. Cruisiers will use water , even with Hydro Caps.

Lowering the float voltage to 13V helps at the dock with less watering , but only if DC devices on board (Like a fridge or oil furnace) do not cause the unit to start a full charge cycle each time something DC is operated.

But then water is cheap and a real smart charger or a simple converter (as used on an RV ) is not.

The Mfg call them converter/chargers , but realistically they are crap at charging , so for a cruising boat with a noisemaker a belted alt is first choice and a good big smart charger second , while cruising.

For dockside liveaboard the RV style works great if you want to crawl down to water the batt set less.

A mfg sez,

11. How long will it take to re-charge my RV battery?
Battery recharge time is controlled by many factors, such as battery size, converter output rating the number of 12-volt lights and appliances that are “ON” during the re-charge cycle and how far the battery has been discharged. In our testing a 125-AH (Amp Hour) battery was fully discharged to 10.5-volts and then connected to a PD9160 (60-Amp) Converter/Charger set to our standard output voltage of 13.6-volts. The battery reached full charge in 70-hours.
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Old 11-19-2014, 10:06 AM   #15
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All voltage and specific gravity readings need to be taken after the battery rests, not charging or discharging for an hour or more to be accurate.


Nevertheless I check both without the resting time as all battery measurements are really just a guess to condition anyway.
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Old 11-19-2014, 11:20 AM   #16
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>Nevertheless I check both without the resting time as all battery measurements are really just a guess to condition anyway.<

Depends , If tou keep a batt log , you WILL see the changes.

Start when purchasing a new set and the info is even more usefull/valuable.
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Old 11-19-2014, 01:29 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by FF;284990

A mfg sez,

[B
11. How long will it take to re-charge my RV battery?[/B]
Battery recharge time is controlled by many factors, such as battery size, converter output rating the number of 12-volt lights and appliances that are “ON” during the re-charge cycle and how far the battery has been discharged. In our testing a 125-AH (Amp Hour) battery was fully discharged to 10.5-volts and then connected to a PD9160 (60-Amp) Converter/Charger set to our standard output voltage of 13.6-volts. The battery reached full charge in 70-hours.

Seems odd. I'd have expected a bulk/absorption charge of more like 14.7/14.8V (for FLAs/AGMs) or maybe at least 14.4V (for gels). The 13.6V they used is more like going immediately to float voltage and expecting miracles.

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Old 11-19-2014, 02:15 PM   #18
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Go put a digital volt meter on your batt terminals and see what you get. That's the best data point to use for next steps.

This....Do a resting battery voltage check. No load for 24 hours, then a digital gauge on the terminals (with no load). I'm buying a boat with 5 yr old batteries....I'll replace the house bank before spending the night on the hook. (to keep the beer cold, of course!) The boat I'm buing shows a DC voltage of 14.4V with the Charles Charger active. I suspect the charger is likely boiling the batteries, or trying to push juice into Bat's that are seriously degraded. The % of charge is the best indicator of overall battery health. A reading at 50% indicates the batteries will only hold (and deliver) 50% of their original rating. At that point they need replacing. Use this as a guide:

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Old 11-19-2014, 03:24 PM   #19
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14.4 V is normal for near full charged batts under full charge.


Testing the gravity will show some more info.?
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Old 11-20-2014, 08:24 AM   #20
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I have a volt meter in my cabin which has shown a steady drop to the batteries.

That is NORMAL for every LA (lead acid) battery in existance.

A new batt will loose about 1/2% per day internally.

An old batt set will loose 3% or more Per Day!

With a new smart charger , when the set is charged 100% the voltage at the batt , with a digital meter< should show about 12.8V ,,Float voltage.

If it is higher or stays at charge 14.4V , thats where the water and batt life are going.
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