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Old 04-04-2016, 03:18 PM   #21
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My 8D battery boxes each hold 3 GC LA batts. I personally removed the 8D batts and inserted the 3 GCs. They fit fine.
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Old 04-04-2016, 03:19 PM   #22
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Not true. A car alternator yes; but not a true marine alternator.
Not true. At least of all "marine" alternators.
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Old 04-04-2016, 03:20 PM   #23
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If you are talking about Ft Lauderdale Battery and Alternator, they are a good shop and straight shooters. My advice, beyond going with AGMs instead of gels for most of the reasons given by others, primarily the similar charging profile to FLA, would be to discuss your issues with FLBA. If it is relatively easy for some husky fellows to take out and install 8Ds I'd stay with them.. manhandling and cabling a couple of golf carts in a rough space is no dream either.. and the 8Ds could well be simpler.

Make sure you check and chargers or regulators involved have not been set to charge gels, and not all of them are easy to switch back. Another excellent source of info is Ward's.

I confronted this issue with my (2) 8D 24v thruster (and miscellaneous other stuff) bank tucked in the generator room. They took a little doing to extract and replace, but the guys I had muscle them around felt it was easier than screwing around with multiple smaller alternatives… none of which I was in any shape or disposition to do myself.
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Old 04-04-2016, 04:29 PM   #24
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Properly charged gel batteries, and I am suggesting quality GEL's like the East Penn or Sonnenschein Prevailer, can be some of the longest lasting deep cycle batteries I've seen in the marine environment. The key here is "properly charged"...

I have numerous GEL banks on cruising boats in excess of 12 years and one bank in year 16. It's not just me who has noted long GEL life, Sandia National Labs has conducted numerous PV studies showing the long cycle life of GEL's.

I can only offer my experience across many hundreds of cruising vessels. You certainly can maximize the cycle life of any AGM or GEL battery but it can get expensive to do it correctly for optimal cycle life. If the batteries are not going to be treated properly; temp compensated charging, not in an engine space, correct charging voltages, regularly cycled back to 100% SOC, etc. etc. then good old flooded deep cycles can make a bit more sense in a sub optimal installation.

I install a lot of AGM batteries but they are always installed and addressed as a compete system not just a drop in replacement for flooded batteries. These day's I am doing more Firefly AGM than the others, but case sizes are limited to G-31. They are tremendously robust batteries that are designed to be PSOC cycled (partial state of charge cycling). The fact that Lifeline AGM's can be equalized makes them a standout for a PSOC environment but Odyssey & Northstar, with the ability to absorption charge at 14.7V, limits the need for EQ.. In the Practical Sailor PSOC testing they out performed the Lifeline's most likely due to the 14.7V absorption limit vs. 14.4V...

John Harries has written extensively about AGM's and it's a must read for anyone considering AGM:

Morgan's Cloud AGM's

Perhaps the best way to see how a battery could perform, against its siblings in a line up, is to look at a manufacturer who makes all types. For the Deka/East Penn brand this is how they rate their own batteries.

Important: Only ratings within a brand/manufacturer are useful. Cross brand cycle life data is often pretty useless because there is no industry standard for testing and each manufacturer may choose a different BCI test..

Most of the cycle life data from manufacturers is Disney fairy tale stuff if you try to apply it to marine market use.. Only in-house manufacturer testing across their own batteries can be compared for guidelines of "lab" data.

East Penn:
-GEL Cycles to 50% = *1000 Cycles
-6V Flooded Golf Cart - Cycles to 50% = *700-1000 Cycles
-12V Flooded 4D, 8D, 24, 27, 31 - Cycled to 50% = *350 Cycles
-AGM Cycled to 50% = *300 Cycles


*NOTE: These are usually not what you will see in the "real world" because this is white coat white glove lab data.

That is not my data but Deka's own data across their own batteries taken right out of their literature.....

As can be seen;

*They rate their 12V DC wets at 50 more cycles than AGM. (not a true deep cycle)

*They rate their 6V DC wets at 400 - 700 more cycles than AGM

*They rate GEL at 700 more cycles than AGM...

Course this is only East Penn..

The problem with GEL batteries was the folks who initially marketed them not really the batteries themselves. GEL was having a hard time gaining foot hold due to the lower voltages (14.1V) so they began telling everyone it was okay to charge them with flooded profiles. This was a mistake.. It gave GEL's a black eye and allowed the AGM makers to gain a stronger foot hold.

AGM makers then began a misguided marketing campaign about depth of discharge, initially recommending 80% DOD to justify cost. Today most recommend 50% max cycling DOD. Initially some even suggested a lack of sulfation etc., etc... They too gave themselves a black eye and had to adjust much of the early marketing.

If I was choosing a cruising bank of valve regulated lead acid batteries for my own vessel, and Firefly was not an option, it would be a bank of Sonnenschein Prevailer GEL's.

If you can charge the GEL's properly don't discount them. If you can charge quality AGM's properly don't discount them either. Lauderdale Battery knows GEL's better than anyone I know of.

FWIW I have no real dog in this fight, I don't use lead acid batteries....
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Old 04-04-2016, 05:46 PM   #25
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For a $50 difference for an 8D AGM vs Gel I would certainly go AGM.
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Old 04-04-2016, 08:27 PM   #26
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Sounds to me that if your boat is equipped with gels and it's also properly configured to charge the gels and you're considering replacing gels....then....gels just might be the best answer. I've learned a lot from this thread! Great post, CMS!
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Old 04-04-2016, 10:30 PM   #27
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Put me in the golf cart column. Just swapped out 3 8D POS batts with 11 battery bank (8-GC2 for house+3-Group 24 to start). If you want to anchor out or cruise at all golf cart bats are the only true deep cycle (wet cells) and give you FAR more amps per dollar ratio. There are almost no deep cycle 4D, 8D, Group 27, 24, 31 batts out there. It doesn't matter what the sticker says... It just ain't so.

HOWEVER... If your situation calls for low-access, maybe you DO have to fork out the buck for maintenance-free batteries. Only you can decide that.
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Old 04-05-2016, 06:59 AM   #28
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Just to bring everybody up to speed, I have opted to go with 8D normal lead acid batteries. After doing research on the boat yesterday I found that the original inverter charger – A trace – has only two settings: one for gel and one for normal flooded batteries. The gel setting charges the batteries at 14.5 to 14.6 volts. This is more in the AGM resume and probably not suitable for gels. I am guessing this is why the current gels are no longer good.

So with the current inverter charger, I am limited to AGM's charging as gels or flooded acid batteries.

I appreciate the answer on two engines charging the house bank. That is what I suspected and that is what makes sense. I just wanted to make sure that there was nothing going on that I did not understand about charging from two engine simultaneously.

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Old 04-05-2016, 07:15 AM   #29
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Not true. At least of all "marine" alternators.
Capt Bill,

Since you seem to know what I meant by "marine" and how it's different than a car battery, why don't you explain the difference to the rest of us boys and girls?
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Old 04-05-2016, 07:30 AM   #30
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Just to bring everybody up to speed, I have opted to go with 8D normal lead acid batteries. After doing research on the boat yesterday I found that the original inverter charger – A trace – has only two settings: one for gel and one for normal flooded batteries. The gel setting charges the batteries at 14.5 to 14.6 volts. This is more in the AGM resume and probably not suitable for gels. I am guessing this is why the current gels are no longer good.


So with the current inverter charger, I am limited to AGM's charging as gels or flooded acid batteries.

Reasonable hypothesis.

I know you said servicing those house batteries would be difficult; maybe investigate battery watering solutions to mitigate.

FWIW, somebody mentioned (within the last 2-3 days or so) a brand I'd not heard of, either here or on Cruisers Forum... said it was the boss. Google "Battery Watering Technologies".

Another FWIW, our AGMs say they need a minimum 40-amps and bulk/absorption charges between 14.1 and 14.7V... quite a wide range of "acceptable." Happens our 40-amp charger does 14.7V on the FLA setting (it's old-ish and has no AGM setting or profile), and then floats at up to 13.5V... so serendipity worked.

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Old 04-05-2016, 08:47 AM   #31
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I still would have gone AGM...that is the perfect charging profile for them....or at least at the bulk phase. FLAs will fry at that rate...make sure in the FLA setting you are getting proper charge profiles for those batteries or you will be going through this again in 2 years.
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Old 04-05-2016, 09:09 AM   #32
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I still would have gone AGM...that is the perfect charging profile for them....or at least at the bulk phase.
Most of the older Trace Engineering units had two settings:

GEL = 14.1V Absorption & 13.5V Float
Flooded = 14.5V Absorption & 13.4V Float


They also had a fixed 90 minute absorption which in most applications usually pretty inadequate before dropping to float.


At 14.5V & 13.4V it can work for some AGM's but is far from perfect for others.

AGM Voltages:

Lifeline AGM = 14.4V & 13.4V
Odyssey TPPL AGM = 14.7V & 13.6V
Firefly AGM =14.4V & 13.2V
Mastervolt AGM = 14.4V & 13.2V
Full River AGM = 14.7V & 13.7V
Rolls AGM = 14.7V & 13.7V
East Penn/Deka = 14.6V & 13.6V
US Battery AGM = 14.4V & 13.4V
Trojan AGM = 14.4V & 13.5V

Trojan Flooded batteries:

Trojan Flooded = 14.8V & 13.2V

Each battery maker has slightly different suggestions for absorption & float voltage.

This is why for optimal cycle life chargers with adjustable absorption, float, temp compensation and an adjustable absorption duration make better choices than simple two or three choice dip switch chargers...
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Old 04-05-2016, 09:34 AM   #33
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A remote watering system with auto off float caps will allow you to keep FA batteries topped off without bending over and without even seeing the batteries.

Just put the hose in a gallon of distilled water and pump to automatically fill to the proper level all the cells at once, takes about 10 min once a month.

Not a bunch of cash out for the tubing and hand pump kits including the battery caps. I spent around a hundred bucks adding it to my 8 GC battery house bank.

No reason not to have one on every boat as far as I can tell, your batteries will last longer and happier lives.
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Old 04-05-2016, 09:53 AM   #34
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Scottee

Neither my house or starting batteries require water monthly. I'd guess a few CCs per month could be added but the question seems how often does a good battery with a decent charging system need water? Guess it varies.
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Old 04-05-2016, 10:14 AM   #35
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Let me put on my lecturer's hat and explain the difference between "marine" batteries and others, as well as "marine" alternators and others. Non geeks can skip to the next post.

In terms of batteries, I take "marine" to mean deep cycle house use which requires a battery to handle hundreds of discharge/charge cycles but at moderate amp output over long term- maybe 10 amps. Some have used "marine" to refer to batteries with better mechanical properties to keep the plates from banging around while pounding in their cigarette boat, but I don't really believe there is any difference anymore, if there ever was.

A starting battery has lots of of thin plates which let it put out a lot of current for a few seconds- the CCA rating. But heavy discharge and recharge over hundreds of cycles will cause those plates to look like swiss cheese over time due to sulfation plate losses.

So deep cycle batteries have heavier plates and golf cart batteries at least, have more clearance under the plates to accumulate the sulfate that sloughs off. They also have more headroom for electrolyte over the plates to allow for some electrolyte losses in between waterings. That is why a GC battery is taller than a Group 24,27,31.

Most, maybe nearly all Group 24, 27, 31 and 8D batteries are not built like this and are not true deep cycle no matter what they say. The only flooded cell true deep cycle batteries that you can count on are golf cart batteries.

The foregoing does not apply to AGMs and as best I can tell, there are no real differences in starting and deep cycle AGMs, whether they are golf cart size or otherwise. So if you have to have 12V batteries, use AGMs.

Switching to alternators:

There are no marine alternators, only OEM internally regulated alternators and high output, externally regulated alternators. Cummins puts a Delco on their engines, Yanmar uses Hitachi. Those OEM alternators are regulated to a fixed voltage, about 13.5 V which is ok for minimal recharging of the few amp hours used for starting, but will not recharge a 50% discharged marine battery very fast.

To charge at high rates from a deep discharge you need an external, three stage regulator that will increase the alternator's output voltage up to 14.5 or so to push out the amps, but drop back to the float voltage of about 13.5 V when the battery is charged.

Some say that you can take your OEM alternator to an auto electric shop and have them open it up and bring out the field wire to an external terminal so you can connect to an external regulator. That will work, for a while.

High output alternators, like those made by Balmar, Ample Power, Powerline and even Leece-Neville have heavier windings, heavier diodes and a better fan and cooling to handle the long term high amperage output. Trying to make an OEM alternator that was designed to put out a few amps for a few minutes run at near 100% for hours at a time is destined to fail.

But from the perspective of a long term, live aboard sailor, who switched to power, most trawler owners don't need a high output alternator. We run our propulsion engine to get from place to place, unlike a sailboat, and that run if long enough will recharge the batteries even with the OEM alternator. Also many trawlers have gensets and a high amperage inverter/charger that will recharge the batteries quickly at anchor.

But if you don't have those capabilities and you anchor out in one place for more than a few days, consider a high output, externally regulated alternator.

David
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Old 04-05-2016, 10:20 AM   #36
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This is why for optimal cycle life chargers with adjustable absorption, float, temp compensation and an adjustable absorption duration make better choices than simple two or three choice dip switch chargers...
Yep...I just installed a Magnum Energy Inverter/Charger with their BMK and remote panel running off of 5 Odyssey AGMs.....I am diggin it so far.
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Old 04-05-2016, 10:50 AM   #37
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Scottee

Neither my house or starting batteries require water monthly. I'd guess a few CCs per month could be added but the question seems how often does a good battery with a decent charging system need water? Guess it varies.

I have a solar system and it is solely responsible for the day to day charging of my house banks as well as engine, gen-set and thruster batteries by way of 3 Belmar 12v to 12v DC chargers working off the house batts.. It works great and always maintains 100% charge as shown by my SOC gauges.

However as it takes only a few mins. to grab a jug of distilled water every months or so and give a few squeezes until the pump gets hard indicating full batteries so why not? I am sure I don't NEED to fill them once a month but I just top them off as part of my monthly checks. My batteries are in boxs down below and not real easy to get to but then again I don't have to.


http://www.janwp.com/mm5/merchant.mv..._Code=JWPCHART


I was always puzzled by folks that buy expensive AGM or Gell batteries stating that they are too hard to water but don't consider an inexpensive and easy to use watering system. The advantage of an inexpensive, rugged and forgiving set of good old heavy duty golf-cart 6 volt batteries are hard to beat and can be found anywhere.




Battery Watering Systems, Marine Dock Products, Solar Dock Lights: OFF GRID Application- 6V L16 8D HUP ROLLS
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Old 04-05-2016, 08:45 PM   #38
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George, I am having the batteries delivered by Fort Lauderdale battery. They are charging 500 for gels and $550 for AGM.
AGM's easy for that price.
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