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Hi Everyone,

This is a question from someone who is not the most technical person around so if anyone can give me some basics (keep it simple please!) it would be great to hear from you.

On a decent weather day my Solar (2 x 175 watt) will show it has filled the batteries by about 2pm. I have 2 x 12-volt leisure batteries.

 

My thinking is that if I ditch these two batteries and buy 5 new 12-volt batteries (I have been told I have space for 5) then the solar (or my engine) can keep working, pumping in power until they are all full, giving me far more reserve storage.

Am I thinking this right? (Or not understanding this good?).

 

I have a Victron Inverter (Phoenix Multiplus 12-volt 1600 Va – 70 Amp, and a Smart Solar App that I took these screen shots from.

 

Any help or advice would be most appreciated.

 

Thanks,

Neil

Solar 01.jpg

Solar 02.jpg

Inverter 01.jpg

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Hi Neil!!!

 

Having more batteries does mean you can build up more reserves. We've got 4 x leisure and 1 x starter. What type of batteries do you have - any markings on them?

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Yes. Think of batteries as a simple fuel tank. Bigger fuel tank more fuel. Size needed to compare though as the capacity of each battery varies. Just remember that come winter solar is as much use as a chocolate fireguard.

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There are some "rules" suggesting you should have only enough batteries such that they become 50% discharged over your required period till recharge, but I have never subscribed to these.

In general more batteries give you more flexibility, you can possibly get through a cloudy day till the next sunny day, or only run your engine every second or third day in winter.

But....

Batteries MUST be absolutely full charged once every few days, or at least once a week. If you only have a small alternator this will mean a very long engine run. Out of high summer when you have less solar you might need to run the engine more to help the solar to get the batteries charged.

If you don't fully charge the batteries, or have a problem/mis-calculation and let them go totally flat, then you have a bigger bill buying replacements.

 

Most liveaboards like to have 4 batteries, some like six, any more and it swings towards more "serious" styles of battery.

 

...............Dave

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5 minutes ago, Kendorr said:

Morning Neil

 

I fitted these on my new build, very happy with them so far

 

https://advancedbatterysupplies.co.uk/product/4-x-advanced-sl-110-leisure-battery/

 

Kevin

They look good at the price. I use four Brit Marine batteries and they last well and a similar size to these but slightly more money. Batteries are like diesel a consumable. I still get minimum 2 years out of mine full time off grid, the current ones are over 3 years old and still very good when we go out. We are on hook up mainly now though so that is helping them along of course.

I know they are still there as the lights still work lol.

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51 minutes ago, robtheplod said:

Hi Neil!!!

 

Having more batteries does mean you can build up more reserves. We've got 4 x leisure and 1 x starter. What type of batteries do you have - any markings on them?

Hi Rob,

Thanks for the reaction. I just took a photo and I seem to have two of these:-

 

Thanks again

Neil

 

Battery 01.jpg

43 minutes ago, mrsmelly said:

Yes. Think of batteries as a simple fuel tank. Bigger fuel tank more fuel. Size needed to compare though as the capacity of each battery varies. Just remember that come winter solar is as much use as a chocolate fireguard.

Hi, and thanks for your reply (amazing that I was on the right track!). Winters I am planning to return to Whilton Marina and will use shoreline most of the time.

 

Thanks,

Neil

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43 minutes ago, Kendorr said:

Morning Neil

 

I fitted these on my new build, very happy with them so far

 

https://advancedbatterysupplies.co.uk/product/4-x-advanced-sl-110-leisure-battery/

 

Kevin

Hi Kevin,

I just checked out that website and it looks very interesting. 

Thanks for the link

 

Have a lovely day

Neil

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41 minutes ago, dmr said:

There are some "rules" suggesting you should have only enough batteries such that they become 50% discharged over your required period till recharge, but I have never subscribed to these.

In general more batteries give you more flexibility, you can possibly get through a cloudy day till the next sunny day, or only run your engine every second or third day in winter.

But....

Batteries MUST be absolutely full charged once every few days, or at least once a week. If you only have a small alternator this will mean a very long engine run. Out of high summer when you have less solar you might need to run the engine more to help the solar to get the batteries charged.

If you don't fully charge the batteries, or have a problem/mis-calculation and let them go totally flat, then you have a bigger bill buying replacements.

 

Most liveaboards like to have 4 batteries, some like six, any more and it swings towards more "serious" styles of battery.

 

...............Dave

Hi Dave,

Very interesting reading and philosophy.

I will certainly take everything on board of your knowledge.

 

I love this site as it has many views and opinions from many people with different levels of knowledge.

 

Thanks for your reply

Have a nice day

Neil

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Expensive batteries are just as easy to destroy as cheap ones. This can be done in a matter of weeks if you abuse them, days if you flatten them and leave them flat for a few days.

 

Best to learn how to look after your batteries with cheap ones, and only when you are confident you understand how far to discharge them (about 50% or 12.2 volts when they are off load) before recharging, and how to tell when they are fully charged (when the charging voltage is over 14 volts and the charge current has dropped to <2% of battery capacity and has remained constsnt for 30 minutes or more) buy more expensive batteries.

 

I worked with batteries throughout my career and have Lifeline AGM batteries that were 12 years old last November and still going strong. They came with the boat and the previous owner rarely left the marina. They have even survived being left partially charged for a few months last year, when the boatyard undertaking the repaint forgot to put them on charge. 😣

 

Not sure if I will replace like with like because Lifeline batteries, whilst being very good, are also eye wateringly expensive. I might go to Lithium Ion batteries if an affordable commercially available BMS becomes available.

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4 hours ago, huami said:

Hi Everyone,

This is a question from someone who is not the most technical person around so if anyone can give me some basics (keep it simple please!) it would be great to hear from you.

On a decent weather day my Solar (2 x 175 watt) will show it has filled the batteries by about 2pm. I have 2 x 12-volt leisure batteries.

 

My thinking is that if I ditch these two batteries and buy 5 new 12-volt batteries (I have been told I have space for 5) then the solar (or my engine) can keep working, pumping in power until they are all full, giving me far more reserve storage.

Am I thinking this right? (Or not understanding this good?).

 

I have a Victron Inverter (Phoenix Multiplus 12-volt 1600 Va – 70 Amp, and a Smart Solar App that I took these screen shots from.

 

Any help or advice would be most appreciated.

 

Thanks,

Neil

Solar 01.jpg

Solar 02.jpg

 

Your batteries have gone into float before they are charged unless you have a load on. I wouldn't want to see more than 3 amps at 14.4 volts to show the batteries are charged. Sorry I don't know how to change the settings.

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4 hours ago, ditchcrawler said:

Your batteries have gone into float before they are charged unless you have a load on. I wouldn't want to see more than 3 amps at 14.4 volts to show the batteries are charged. Sorry I don't know how to change the settings.

Hi Brian ....  From what you say "Your batteries have gone into float before they are charged" then should I get in touch with an electrician or the guy that installed the solar?

 

Thanks for your comments

Neil

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5 minutes ago, huami said:

Hi Brian ....  From what you say "Your batteries have gone into float before they are charged" then should I get in touch with an electrician or the guy that installed the solar?

 

Thanks for your comments

Neil

No, its just that the monitor is not set up correctly for the batteries,

It may think your battery bank is bigger / smaller than it is, It may be that it is not set up for the correct type of batteries.

 

It just needs reprogramming / re-setting.

 

It can possibly be done via your phone and the Victron App.

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1 hour ago, Alan de Enfield said:

No, its just that the monitor is not set up correctly for the batteries,

It may think your battery bank is bigger / smaller than it is, It may be that it is not set up for the correct type of batteries.

 

It just needs reprogramming / re-setting.

 

It can possibly be done via your phone and the Victron App.

Which is something I dont have first hand knowledge of, but it is a common problem

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Could it just be the nature of the charge controller? I know virtually nothing about solar but my battery charger goes onto float too early in the cycle so I just trick the charger by switching it off and back on again when it first goes onto float with say 6 amps going in and then it will go onto float again when it has just 1 or 2 amps going in. There are no settings I can change to make it go onto float later in the cycle. I think it's controlled by some sort of timer.

 

Is it possible to do the same thing and trick a solar charge controller to go onto float later in the cycle by switching it off and back on when it first goes onto float?

Edited by blackrose

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4 minutes ago, blackrose said:

Could it just be the nature of the charge controller? I know virtually nothing about solar but my battery charger goes onto float too early in the cycle so I just trick the charger by switching it off and back on again when it first goes onto float with say 6 amps going in and then it will go onto float again when it has just 1 or 2 amps going in. There are no settings I can change to make it go onto float later in the cycle. I think it's controlled by some sort of timer.

 

Is it possible to do the same thing and trick a solar charge controller to go onto float later in the cycle by switching it off and back on when it first goes onto float?

Hi Blackrose,

An interesting thought. I have someone advising me at the moment and he also mentioned that if he switched it off for a short while it may reset it'self.

 

Thanks for the suggestion

Neil

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15 hours ago, huami said:

On a decent weather day my Solar (2 x 175 watt) will show it has filled the batteries by about 2pm.

Maybe it has, or maybe not.  Going into float is not an indication that they're fully charged.

 

If I'm reading the correct manual then section 1.9 reads:

1.9.1. Bulk During this stage the controller delivers as much charge current as possible to rapidly recharge the batteries.

1.9.2. Absorption When the battery voltage reaches the absorption voltage, the controller switches to constant voltage mode. When only shallow discharges occur, the absorption time is kept short in order to prevent overcharging of the battery. After a deep discharge the absorption time is automatically increased to make sure that the battery is completely recharged. Additionally, the absorption period is also ended when the charge current decreases to less than 1A.

1.9.3. Float During this stage, float voltage is applied to the battery to maintain a fully charged state. When the battery voltage drops below float voltage during at least 1 minute a new charge cycle will be triggered.

 

This seems to me to be a very good algorithm, with 1.9.2 configured to give maximum battery life. 

 

However... Regardless of any other readings, if you have no loads switched on and if the controller is pushing in circa 7A at only 13.76V into say a 220Ah battery bank then I'd guess that the batteries are maybe 80% charged (it's difficult to know for sure).  With no loads connected I'd expect the current to fall to about 1A at the float voltage. Of course, if you had lots of 12V stuff running when you took those images then they don't mean much at all.

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Hi WotEver,

I read your reply with interest and also discussed it with a friend who seems to know a lot more than me (I'm not the most technical person!). 

You gave me lots to think about and I am very pleased that you took the time to explain to me.

Whatever the outcome, I have decided to buy 5 new batteries as I think this will certainly help, and as a friend explained to me if you have a lot of clothes then you should invest in some good storage.

 

Thanks again for your very comprehensive explanation.

 

Have a great day

 

Neil

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4 hours ago, huami said:

Hi WotEver,

I read your reply with interest and also discussed it with a friend who seems to know a lot more than me (I'm not the most technical person!). 

You gave me lots to think about and I am very pleased that you took the time to explain to me.

Whatever the outcome, I have decided to buy 5 new batteries as I think this will certainly help, and as a friend explained to me if you have a lot of clothes then you should invest in some good storage.

 

Thanks again for your very comprehensive explanation.

 

Have a great day

 

Neil

If you dont fully recharge them then you will shorten their lives

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This ^^^^^^^^^^

 

The converse is that as long as you do very regularly fully charge them then given the same degree of discharge that you use now they are likely to last longer because you you will not be discharging them as deeply.

 

The analogy with cloths is if you leave your posh wardrobe door open the moths will get them as fast they would if you used a paper bag.

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2 hours ago, Tony Brooks said:

The analogy with cloths is if you leave your posh wardrobe door open the moths will get them as fast they would if you used a paper bag.

Buckets, buckets with holes, buckets finally filling with silt, sponges, even theatre seats... but clothes and wardrobes is a new one on me :)

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9 hours ago, huami said:

Hi WotEver,

I read your reply with interest and also discussed it with a friend who seems to know a lot more than me (I'm not the most technical person!). 

You gave me lots to think about and I am very pleased that you took the time to explain to me.

Whatever the outcome, I have decided to buy 5 new batteries as I think this will certainly help, and as a friend explained to me if you have a lot of clothes then you should invest in some good storage.

 

Thanks again for your very comprehensive explanation.

 

Have a great day

 

Neil

 

Best to learn how to look after batteries with the ones you have now and then buy new once you know how to look after them.

 

Otherwise you may wreck your new batteries in pretty short order. As youbolan to replace your batteries you might as well use them to learn on.

 

Only 3 things to remember.

 

1. Don't discharge them below (about) 50% (12.2 volts or so).

 

2. Then recharge fully ASAP.

 

3. Don't stop charging until the battery is taking less than 2% of its capacity in amps when the charging voltage is 14 volts or more. (2 amps per 100 amp hour of capacity).

 

Edited by cuthound
Clarification

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1 hour ago, cuthound said:

3. Don't stop charging until the battery is taking less than 2% of its capacity in amps when the charging voltage is 14 volts or more. (2 amps per 100 amp hour of capacity).

Or 8pm if using engine or generator within earshot of other people (boats, houses etc)

 

This might mean you need to start charging at 8am if you aren't cruising anywhere, but you seem to be travelling a lot so might not be necessary for you.

 

Just remember that the longer you leave your batteries discharged, the more damage is caused.

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The rule of batteries is simple.

charge them all day every day.

check they are hydrated warm clean and comfortable.

Monitor them constantly.

Say thank you four times a day and wish them a peaceful night when you turn off the lights at 6pm as they are at 12.59 volts and hence going to die prematurely.

As a result they will live one day over the warranty and then die, or 2 years 1 day which ever is less. ( warranty being worthless)

Or Shove them in a deep dark hole. Forget about them. charge them when the engines running or the suns out.

Whatever you do dont try and monitor or protect them you will become obsessive.

They will last 2 years or till the warranty runs out which is worthless.

 

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3 hours ago, TheBiscuits said:

Or 8pm if using engine or generator within earshot of other people (boats, houses etc)

 

This might mean you need to start charging at 8am if you aren't cruising anywhere, but you seem to be travelling a lot so might not be necessary for you.

 

Just remember that the longer you leave your batteries discharged, the more damage is caused.

I'm thanking everyone for their contributions but I'm now even more confused than I was before I posted my question.

 

The solution... , I have decided to get the professionals in (a marine electrician). I will keep everyone informed how things turn out ...

 

Thanks

Neil

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