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RufusR

Trojans or gel Batteries?

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Hi all 

we have just moved to a new mooring where there is no power hook up , it’s idyllic however so worth that. Looking to add more solar and upgrade my battery bank . Currently we have 4 x 135Ah wet batteries and they are at end of life . I am looking at the following options after taking a lot of advice , 5 x 120 Ah 12 v gel Batteries or 5 x similar rated Trojans wet batteries . 

 

Which is best ? Advice please 

 

Obv wets need topping up which is a pain in my boat as there is poor access to battery bank but they are cheaper . I am leaning towards the more expensive gels at present due to dod and low maintenance 

 

Regards 

Simon

 

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I would get anything that is maintenance free.  Topping up poxy batteries is up there with polishing painwork and brass, life is way way too short. 

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5 minutes ago, mrsmelly said:

I would get anything that is maintenance free.  Topping up poxy batteries is up there with polishing painwork and brass, life is way way too short. 

What like changing the oil and filters you mean?

 

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My thoughts too though others wax lyrical about wets . I have them now and have to take ea h battery out of its housing individually to top up major ass ache I guess I am trying to see if trojans offer significant advantages over gels to make it worth it other than cost that is 

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1 minute ago, ditchcrawler said:

What like changing the oil and filters you mean?

 

No, absolutely not, I am fastidious with oil changes as they are important. Shiney brass aint.

1 minute ago, RufusR said:

My thoughts too though others wax lyrical about wets . I have them now and have to take ea h battery out of its housing individually to top up major ass ache I guess I am trying to see if trojans offer significant advantages over gels to make it worth it other than cost that is 

I always buy cheapish sealed leisure la batteries. I get a minimum of two years if fully off grid, a considerable time longer if a mix of off grid and plugged in. I buy the Brit marine ones which at present give stirling service. These are two and a half years old, the only reason I know they are still there is I cop a glimps of them when changing engine oil.

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2 minutes ago, mrsmelly said:

No, absolutely not, I am fastidious with oil changes as they are important. Shiney brass aint.

But its another maintenance task like topping up the batteries, and greasing your tube :ninja:

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7 minutes ago, mrsmelly said:

No, absolutely not, I am fastidious with oil changes as they are important. Shiney brass aint.

I always buy cheapish sealed leisure la batteries. I get a minimum of two years if fully off grid, a considerable time longer if a mix of off grid and plugged in. I buy the Brit marine ones which at present give stirling service. These are two and a half years old, the only reason I know they are still there is I cop a glimps of them when changing engine oil.

We are now living fully off grid and need to minimise engine run time as my work means we have limited time 8am to 8pm available hence want max depth of discharge without damage just in case and max cycles . Plus I am a bit of an eco warrior . Planning increase my solar from 330 watt to over 1 kw soon so need a battery bank that is synonymous with these goals 

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9 minutes ago, RufusR said:

We are now living fully off grid and need to minimise engine run time as my work means we have limited time 8am to 8pm available hence want max depth of discharge without damage just in case and max cycles . Plus I am a bit of an eco warrior . Planning increase my solar from 330 watt to over 1 kw soon so need a battery bank that is synonymous with these goals 

Of course the other option is lithiums. More expensive and not a drop in replacement, but otherwise all the advantages you need and want.

 

Between gel and Trojan wets I don’t think it’s a clear cut choice. Gels are I think more expensive and perhaps easier to wreck eg by over charging. If the gels are not more expensive than the Trojans, probably they aren’t very good quality. One of gel’s big advantage is tolerance of being at a funny angle - great for sailing boats but not an advantage on a canal boat. The other possibility is AGMs which I think are a bit cheaper than gels?

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Li ion are mad expensive about a grand each so not an option for me plus they are not tolerant of direct alternator voltage so need an expensive dc dc converter as well , hence gel or Trojan agm wets as a choice unsure which is best and have got conflicting advise hence my question here 

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43 minutes ago, RufusR said:

Li ion are mad expensive about a grand each so not an option for me plus they are not tolerant of direct alternator voltage so need an expensive dc dc converter as well , hence gel or Trojan agm wets as a choice unsure which is best and have got conflicting advise hence my question here 

Depends what your alternator puts out. I have 36 LifePo4s on my boat so know how they work very well, and how long they last if looked after. Google Dr Bob and Moonim Papa they both have them with an alternator setup, I use pure solar as my boat is electric drive

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I sure I read somewhere, probably here, that AGMs need a higher charging voltage (about 0.2v extra) than wets. The solar controller might be programmable but the alternator... Not sure if gels are the same. 

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Gel batteries really come into their own in boats when heeled over. I don't see that as an advantage the average narrowboat pilot needs. I'd be going the sealed battery route (a half decent one which has an evaporate recovery system will largely eliminate the electrolyte loss issue) in your situation where under charging might well be a problem. You can write off both cheap and expensive batteries quite quickly in your situation. Listen to @mrsmelly on this one... but don't neglect your brass work. ;)

 

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Remember that if you do not keep your batteries fully charged for most of the time sulphation will kill expensive ones as fast as cheap ones. If you can't guarantee a high state of charge then you might be better off with cheaper batteries and accept batteries are consumable items.

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6 hours ago, ditchcrawler said:

But its another maintenance task like topping up the batteries, and greasing your tube :ninja:

You old git :D I dont want a knackered engine, but knackered paint doesnt matter. In fact it lasts longer if you dont pee about polishing it, polishing just removes paint!!

5 hours ago, RufusR said:

We are now living fully off grid and need to minimise engine run time as my work means we have limited time 8am to 8pm available hence want max depth of discharge without damage just in case and max cycles . Plus I am a bit of an eco warrior . Planning increase my solar from 330 watt to over 1 kw soon so need a battery bank that is synonymous with these goals 

Yer a tree hugger :D

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The lead carbon batteries are interesting vs gel and I believe better for canal based use. I have installed a set of Leoch PLH+C100, got them for about £225 each off ebay, the seller was having a sale plus I bought them when ebay had one of their 20% off weekends. The technology is an enhanced AGM, absorption voltage is around 14.2 to 14.4V so not higher than the norm and they claim that they are good for duties called partial state of charge, I.e. not always going back to 100% charge. They also have a good charge acceptance up to 90% charged. However, as mine are now coming up to 1 year old it is too early to tell if they are meeting their claims and if I have made the right decision or not. I am very aware that if I mess things up I will loose an expensive bank, but if I get it right and they perform then I will have no battery topping up or changes for 7+ years.

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18 minutes ago, mrsmelly said:

You old git :D I dont want a knackered engine, but knackered paint doesnt matter. In fact it lasts longer if you dont pee about polishing it, polishing just removes paint!!

Yer a tree hugger :D

Nothing wrong with being a tree hugger, hugged a few myself, felled a fair few as well but nought wrong with hugging one or two :)

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14 minutes ago, tree monkey said:

Nothing wrong with being a tree hugger, hugged a few myself, felled a fair few as well but nought wrong with hugging one or two :)

 I luuuurvvv treees ?

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Before you go out and buy a whole bunch of batteries you might want to consider, do you really need that many? I used to have 2 leisures, wrecked 3 sets of them due to not understanding how to maintain them. I have exceptionally low power use; around 30ah/ day. It took a good while to realise that I only need one.

 

I'd suggest a power audit and only buy batteries with a capacity of 3 times your daily usage. Buy any more; it's just a waste of money, and more awkward lugging/ fitting of heavy items.

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2 hours ago, The Welsh Cruiser said:

Before you go out and buy a whole bunch of batteries you might want to consider, do you really need that many? I used to have 2 leisures, wrecked 3 sets of them due to not understanding how to maintain them. I have exceptionally low power use; around 30ah/ day. It took a good while to realise that I only need one.

 

I'd suggest a power audit and only buy batteries with a capacity of 3 times your daily usage. Buy any more; it's just a waste of money, and more awkward lugging/ fitting of heavy items.

Have separate 12v fridge and freezer I def need lots of capacity .

 

regards charging would it be better to have a generator and run it through my landline input and thus victron charger rather than raw alternator voltage ? The victron charger is very smart and manages batteries much better than raw alternator? 

 

Dont really want want a genny but it would be no worse than running engines 

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15 minutes ago, RufusR said:

Have separate 12v fridge and freezer I def need lots of capacity .

 

regards charging would it be better to have a generator and run it through my landline input and thus victron charger rather than raw alternator voltage ? The victron charger is very smart and manages batteries much better than raw alternator? 

 

Dont really want want a genny but it would be no worse than running engines 

Batteries will only accept what they can accept regardless of any technology fitted.

 

Personally, I never run my engine to charge my leisure battery. Wearing out a 5-8K lump to put a few amps into batteries doesn't make sense to me. Also, I don't like the vibration through the boat when it's running or listening to diesel engines, the low pitched drone is horrible to me. I have a little Kippor generator, think it's 700w that goes through a 20a battery charger, via the landline connection. Running this on the towpath rules out any vibration and the genny is quiet, I can barely hear it. It does around 4 hours on one litre of petrol. Less with a heavy load but most of the time there's only a few amps going in. I only need to run it from November until February because of a decent amount of solar. I run it on average every 2 days for 2 or 3 hours but that varies, depending on how much sun there is, I still get an amp or two on sunny winter days.  

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28 minutes ago, The Welsh Cruiser said:

Batteries will only accept what they can accept regardless of any technology fitted.

 

Personally, I never run my engine to charge my leisure battery. Wearing out a 5-8K lump to put a few amps into batteries doesn't make sense to me. Also, I don't like the vibration through the boat when it's running or listening to diesel engines, the low pitched drone is horrible to me. I have a little Kippor generator, think it's 700w that goes through a 20a battery charger, via the landline connection. Running this on the towpath rules out any vibration and the genny is quiet, I can barely hear it. It does around 4 hours on one litre of petrol. Less with a heavy load but most of the time there's only a few amps going in. I only need to run it from November until February because of a decent amount of solar. I run it on average every 2 days for 2 or 3 hours but that varies, depending on how much sun there is, I still get an amp or two on sunny winter days.  

Yeah beginning to think the same only worry I have is storing Petrol on boat is lpg version better do you think or am I worrying about nothing ?

 

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6 Trojan t105 6 volts or 8 if you have space.

They will outlast anything else by years and years. I know of someone who was still using theirs after 13 years, mine so far have lasted 7 years and still perform well.

If your batteries are accessible ( as they should be anyway ) topping up is easy and only really needed after about 3 years., I use an old squeezy  sauce bottle for this to make it easier.

I now top them up once a month as a matter of course. Look after them and they will look after you.

 

Keith

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On 15/09/2019 at 11:04, RufusR said:

Have separate 12v fridge and freezer I def need lots of capacity .

 

regards charging would it be better to have a generator and run it through my landline input and thus victron charger rather than raw alternator voltage ? The victron charger is very smart and manages batteries much better than raw alternator? 

 

Dont really want want a genny but it would be no worse than running engines 

Yes.Your batteries, whatever you choose, will last longer if charged via a three stage charger set at the correct voltage parameters. 

Keith

Edited by Steilsteven

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