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Old 01-22-2022, 09:07 AM   #1
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4 year old Lifeline and dead?

Hi,
Took our first trip out after almost a year and was surprised to be woken up 6 hours after shutting down the gen to a low battery alarm and a voltage of 11.4v. Batteries were in float before i shut down and i was drawing about 60a per my Maretron as my heating system was on. Would love some advice on best next steps. Even at a 60a draw I should have got at least 12 hours before I hit 60 percent which is what i try not to go under. Unfortunately I didnít realize I had the mute switch flipped on my alarm so I donít know when it went below 50.

Details:
1800ah of Lifeline L16s at 12v
Xantrex 3012 inverter/charger set to AGM profile and correct bank size.
Balmar MC-614 (200a alternator, single engine)

Questions:
-Could something have happened while on shore power that damaged the batteries or could the charge controller have been tricked into under charging? About 2 years ago while in a yard someone did knock the shore power cable loose causing the batteries to drop to 10v or below, that said lifeline didnít seem too concerned by that as it was noticed quickly. Also last summer I had the 3012 set to 5a as I was on a private dock with only 15a 110, but without much use I canít see how that would have harmed things since float uses way less than that.

-Any initial tests I should run?

-Is it worth equalizing the batteries? I know most agms thatís not recommended but lifeline seems to say itís ok.

-Could the few times I run both the gen and main engine at the same time cause an issue or long term damage?

Any other suggestions or advice would be appreciated! Iíd like to avoid a major retrofit of my batteries/charging as with supply shortages Iíd worry I wonít get it done before our bigger trip north. Not to mention I have other boat projects Iíd rather spend the money on.

Thanks much!
Arthur
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Old 01-22-2022, 10:38 AM   #2
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AC
On two different occasions I've had AGMs go bad when sitting at low voltage for "too long." This was after 4 years of general thruster service. Suggest you recheck all your battery connections, Maretron and wiring. Also, check and monitor each battery for a dead cell.
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Old 01-22-2022, 10:58 AM   #3
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Those batteries appear to be 400 ah at the 20 hour rate which equates to a 20 amp load. If you triple that youíd be lucky to get six hours. You say you have an 1800 amp bank which doesnít appear to add up. How many of these batteries do you have? As far as killing these goes I regularly load test my 8dís to the equivalent of 11 volts to do an equalization cycle and they do fine. Going on six years I still get back to full rated capacity. There are a couple of ways to kill these batteries, but I donít think you have done so. Charge them back up and load test them, then charge them again and do an equalization charge. If youíve lost capacity then you have a problem with your charging.
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Old 01-22-2022, 11:41 AM   #4
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They are 400ah at 6v, and one correction, too early in the morning when I posted that, I have 2000 ah total capacity, 10 total batteries total. The 20a at 6v would be 10 per battery if I understand it at 12v so 100a discharge rate for my system.
I think my system may be set to 1800 total ah which is what made me think of that but would need to confirm, I donít think that would damage anything however.
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Old 01-22-2022, 11:41 AM   #5
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Are both the Xantrex and the Balmar using a battery temp sensor? Are those accurate? Is the temp comp set to the right value for Lifeline? Is the float voltage set for Lifelines (lower than many AGM)? I've seen problems with each of those things.

When the yard tripped over the cord and said it was noticed "quickly", what did they mean? Even a week or two at 10V will be very hard on the batteries. I'm at 14 years on the (carefully treated) Lifeline bank on the sailboat, and yeah they are due for replacement. I just replaced the ones on the trawler at 10 years.
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Old 01-22-2022, 02:38 PM   #6
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Temp sensors on all and they are within a few degrees if the Maretron sensor which is my independent one.

Really good question on float voltage, Iíll verify next time Iím at the boat.

I believe the batteries were 10v for a day or two as I noticed the remote monitoring and cameras went offline.

Thanks for the ideas on what to check!
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Old 01-22-2022, 03:53 PM   #7
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Really if you want to know the state of your Lifelines you might consider taking the steps in the manual. Specifically steps 5.5, 5.6, 5.7. You can even recover some performance after a deep discharge such as what you described. And once done there is a reconditioning charge as well. A true cap check as outlined in the manual will tell you exactly where you are in the life of those batteries. It does take some specific equipment to do these tests but with some research you could probably cobble together a set up for not too much.

I recently found out that Lifelines were nearly identical to the aircraft Concordes that are the industry standard in aviation (same manufacturer). They are excellent batteries. In aviation these batteries are capacity checked every 24 months and I have been involved with that since they began using them in aircraft (maybe 20 years). Many times we will remove a battery from the aircraft and send it to the battery shop for cap check. Many times the cap check fails and we then do the conditioning charge and then redo the cap check. A gain in capacity of 10-20% is not unusual and many times the capacity can be brought back to nearly 100% if the battery is not damaged. As a matter of fact generally warranty will not be available unless the conditioning charge has been done followed by a second failed cap check.

The only issue is you really cant just wing it for these procedures If it says do a constant current charge for the deep discharge recovery procedure you really have to know what that entails and have the automatic equipment to do it...or manual equipment that you monitor every 15-20 minutes during the process.
A good power supply with both voltage and amperage control and enough AMPs for the procedures isn't cheap. But then again neither is your battery bank.




https://lifelinebatteries.com/knowledge-center/
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Old 01-22-2022, 05:03 PM   #8
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I suspect your batteries have sulphated and are toast. But following the recovery procedure you might get some capacity back, in some if not all of them. Most people are aware that chronic undercharging leads to sulphation. Less common is sulphation from keeping fully charged, but not cycling the batteries.

How I came to discover this phenomenon..... 1700Ah of batteries only 15months old..... was due to looking after an ill family member 4000km away. I did not use my boat for 5 months. Victron charger set with "storage" function at 13.2V, and solar to keep charged, 13.5V float, if I lost shore power, kept the batteries fully charged. Sweet, or so I thought. But deep cycle batteries need to be cycled. Just how much and how often is not clear, but they do not like sitting at full charge without cycling.

In your post you said "first trip out in almost a year". To me that was the give-away. I'm told that some brands of batteries are more susceptible to this failure mode than others, and think Lifeline would be one of the better brands. You might recover some, or some capacity. I've just installed 900Ah of LFP.
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Old 01-22-2022, 07:16 PM   #9
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i always found the first trip out of the season the batteries didn't perform very well. these were agms. not lifelines, but good agms. after a few cycles they'd come back just fine. they were always great at the end of the season, performed better than expected. after the winter hold over, not so good again.
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Old 01-22-2022, 09:54 PM   #10
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I have to ask. What type of heat system were you using? Just to verify, that was 60a at 12v and not 60a at 120v.
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Old 01-23-2022, 01:53 PM   #11
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Also to verify, is that all batteries in parallel, or are you doing series/parallel strings to create a higher voltage system?
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Old 01-26-2022, 01:13 PM   #12
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The life of the battery is going to be determined by how deeply you deplete and recharge them and how many cycles this deep depletion occurs. I understand that AGM is better than flooded when it comes to repeated deep cycling, but that doesn't mean it's not going to shorten their lifespan. Even a deep cycle AGM battery would have a longer life with a high frequency of shallow depletion and recharge cycles.

I would expect if you're running A/C or heat off of an inverter, you're both loosing amps in the inversion process, and you're regularly drawing down the house bank deeply. This is what is shortening the lifespan IMHO. 60A draw is huge.

I've been able to get my Lifeline AGM house banks to last over 10 years.

I'd either build a bigger house bank, use alternative methods of heating, or accept the duty cycles based on use.
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Old 01-31-2022, 12:25 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tiltrider1 View Post
I have to ask. What type of heat system were you using? Just to verify, that was 60a at 12v and not 60a at 120v.
Its a hydronic system powered by an Olympia boiler. My total draw was about 60amps 12v on the bank, not just the heater. Heating system uses 12-22amps 12v as measured by my battery monitor on the bank as its a mix of 110v for the boiler and 12v for the fan units. The variability is because each fan unit/space has an independent temp control that switches them on and off.
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Old 01-31-2022, 12:33 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shrew View Post
I would expect if you're running A/C or heat off of an inverter, you're both loosing amps in the inversion process, and you're regularly drawing down the house bank deeply. This is what is shortening the lifespan IMHO. 60A draw is huge.

I've been able to get my Lifeline AGM house banks to last over 10 years.

I'd either build a bigger house bank, use alternative methods of heating, or accept the duty cycles based on use.
Is 60amps really that high for total draw on a decent sized trawler?, it is in terms of sailboats but 60amps at 12v doesn't power much.

(2) fridges isotherm 200s = 6-12amps total
Heating = 10-20amps
Bridge Electronics = 15amps
Inverter =1-2 amps = 24ish at 12v
Lights are a small draw as all led.

Just trying to understand where I would cut back. The inverter powers a bunch of random stuff, tvs, ice maker, apple devices, etc.

Thanks
AC
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Old 01-31-2022, 12:37 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pjtemplin View Post
Also to verify, is that all batteries in parallel, or are you doing series/parallel strings to create a higher voltage system?
Series/parallel to jump from 6v L16s to 12v.
But I also discovered that the last two batteries were not installed the way I would have done it, basically the two which didn't fit in the original battery box tacked onto the string versus extending it. Im going to have the yard fix that before I do anything more as I noticed higher amp draw from the 6 versus the 2 that sit next to the box.

Once I have that fixed I'm going to equalize them a few times, it was interesting that lifeline recommends doing it frequently.

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Old 01-31-2022, 05:01 PM   #16
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You've said 10 batteries, and that's how you're arriving at 2000ah, but you say 6 batteries in the box and 2 next to the box (which is 8, not 10). 60A for 12 hours would be 720AH; shouldn't take you below 50% SoC unless the starting point wasn't 100%.



You mention equalizing them. Perhaps something like the https://www.victronenergy.com/batter...ttery-balancer to help deal with the midpoint of your string(s)?
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Old 02-01-2022, 01:59 AM   #17
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You are correct, not sure why I put 6, too many projects/questions at once… I’m headed up to the boat tomorrow and will draw out how they are connected, I don’t know if the current wiring will cause issues but it doesn’t seem right.

I hadn’t seen the balancer before, I could see that being useful.

As far as equalizing I believe my xantrex 3012 will do it and I’ll follow lifelines “conditioning” specs, what is interesting is they say it can be done frequently so I might do a series of them over the next few months. Only issue is having to kill my dc system while it’s running as I wouldn’t want 16v being pushed to all the electronics.
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Old 02-01-2022, 02:15 AM   #18
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The equalisations are worth a try. Lifeline is the only AGM manufacturer I'm aware of that allows it, the others typically say do not exceed 15V.

It might just bring them back a bit for you, but I still suspect that lack of frequent cycling has them partially sulphated.
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Old 02-01-2022, 02:44 AM   #19
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Yeah I’m worried about that, but if I can get enough back to make it through summer (hopefully installing a gen auto start) I’ll be fine to replace them later. I’d like to go to LiPo on my next set but it would make sense to also swap the inverter/charger, etc and with such limited stock for all this stuff Id rather wait.
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Old 02-01-2022, 07:15 AM   #20
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Once you get a handle on how your battery bank is set up you can work out a system to keep them properly charged. You will need to need to do proper discharge test to get a baseline. If you have 5 independent 400 amp banks, begin by isolating and testing one bank at a time. You probably should do this at the battery not through the inverter to insure accuracy. The inverter has probably been lying to you for a variety of reasons. I would also recommend using a separate charger for recharge and conditioning on the isolated bank. Let the inverter manage the rest of the banks for now. If the batteries canít hit the 10 hour rate, youíll need an equalization cycle or three. If that doesnít bring them back, then they are done, and you need to figure out why before buying anything else.
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