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Maintaining battery life (over winter)


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2 minutes ago, JackShaftoe said:

What is the best way to maintain batteries through winter at a permanent mooring with no power hookup and a full time job

 

If you live aboard then the only way is to run the generator for a couple of hours before you go to work and a couple of hours in an evening when you return from work.

 

If you live in bricks & mortar, take the batteries off the boat and kepp them charged up at 'home'.

 

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Livaboard or holiday boat?

 

If livaboard take one battery off at a time and take it to work to charge with a decent charger there, all domestic ones to be charged at least once a week.

 

At weekend run engine at about 1200 rpm until the current at 14.2V + has stopped dropping for at least 1 hour.

 

 

If that is not possible charge for four hours every day and at the weekend as above. 

 

Be prepared to replace batteries every year and if get longer its a bonus.

 

If a holiday boat 80Watts plus of solar should do the job well, even at this time of year.

 

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12 minutes ago, Tony Brooks said:

Livaboard or holiday boat?

 

If livaboard take one battery off at a time and take it to work to charge with a decent charger there, all domestic ones to be charged at least once a week.

 

At weekend run engine at about 1200 rpm until the current at 14.2V + has stopped dropping for at least 1 hour.

 

 

If that is not possible charge for four hours every day and at the weekend as above. 

 

Be prepared to replace batteries every year and if get longer its a bonus.

 

If a holiday boat 80Watts plus of solar should do the job well, even at this time of year.

 

A small solar panel will top up batteries but they must be fully charged regularly.  So if you have anything using the batteries whilst you are not on the boat eventually, quite quickly,  they will sulphate and die. Many modern batteries come with a warning not to  trickle charge them which is what a tiny PV panel will do.

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If it's a holiday boat and difficult to access, then consider a different type of battery chemistry that will stand infrequent / undercharging.

They're expensive though - thus ignored  / reviled by most boaters....

 

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29 minutes ago, Tracy D'arth said:

A small solar panel will top up batteries but they must be fully charged regularly.  So if you have anything using the batteries whilst you are not on the boat eventually, quite quickly,  they will sulphate and die. Many modern batteries come with a warning not to  trickle charge them which is what a tiny PV panel will do.

 

For years I had a 60 watt solar panel and even in winter it would replace the admittedly small amount of discharge over a weekend in 14 days. The batteries (wet lead acid "leisure") lasted over 5 years and were still going but I suspect with a much reduced capacity.

 

Unless a battery manufacturer can explain the reason for not trickle charging them on a sound scientific basis I will consider that  as just another get out of jail free card re-warrantee or a cynical ploy to encourage batteries to sulphate by being left partially charged.

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1 hour ago, Alan de Enfield said:

 

If you live in bricks & mortar, take the batteries off the boat and kepp them charged up at 'home'.

 

 

Just be careful how you handle them. I knew a bloke who regularly used to take them home to charge them. I'm not sure if he had overcharged them or whether he was excessively manhandling them (possibly both), but he put one down onto the balance beam at Batchworth lock and it blew up in his face! He immediately dunked his head into the canal and he was fine.

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1 hour ago, Tracy D'arth said:

A small solar panel will top up batteries but they must be fully charged regularly.  So if you have anything using the batteries whilst you are not on the boat eventually, quite quickly,  they will sulphate and die. Many modern batteries come with a warning not to  trickle charge them which is what a tiny PV panel will do.

 

Surely this depends on the trickle charger voltage.

 

If the trickle charger is an old type unregulated one then yes it will boil the batteries over time and ruin then.

 

If it is a modern charger with a float seting suitable for the battery type then the claim is rubbish.

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If you have even a small trickle charge solar panel,it needs a charge controller.

I have a 10W solar panel and no charge controller untill going to the boat last summer to find the carbon monoxide alarm going off.

After checking everything inside I checked the battery voltage,it read 16.4 volts!  The battery had obviously been gassing setting the alarm off.

Fitted a cheapie e bay controller (less than £10) and no further alarm.The controller also has two usb sockets so I can charge my phone and electric cig.

Even when the battery is fully charged,without a controller the solar panel will keep trickle charging.

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1 hour ago, blackrose said:

 

Just be careful how you handle them. I knew a bloke who regularly used to take them home to charge them. I'm not sure if he had overcharged them or whether he was excessively manhandling them (possibly both), but he put one down onto the balance beam at Batchworth lock and it blew up in his face! He immediately dunked his head into the canal and he was fine.

When they go bang they are like a hand grenade going off. One morning at work checking one boat and was an obvious voltage problem. One battery had blown to pieces with big lumps of heavy plastic battery case contained in the heavy steel battery box. We had about twenty batteries or so and checked them every week so it had given us no prior warning. Had it gone off when we were sat next to it doing the weekly test it could have been extremely serious. 

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Perhaps this uncontrolled trickle charging is what the battery makers are warning of. Does anyone have an uncontrolled charger these days apart from PV cells?

I have just fitted a Durite 20A charger to an old bank of batteries, it seems to be restoring some life to them, switching from main charge to float at regular intervals with the cooling fan cycling too. Impressed for the price so far.

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The thing about the old unregulated trickle chargers is that their output really was just a trickle, but outputs today are that much higher and the batteries don't like it up 'em, Mr Mainwaring!

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  • 2 weeks later...

We do nothing, might be controversial, and is impart because we have never got around to hooking up the little panels and Steca controller we bought.

 

However, while we make sure we leave the charged in october when we leave the boat, basically dont use any power, and often plug the charger in for four hours some time in the middle, during we only visit to check on the boat during daylight hours just to check its ok and them leave.

 

Our batteries are now toast, and we need a new set, but the last ones did 13 years with the treatment.

 

 

Daniel

Certainly, access to change them is poor, and lugging 20kg of lead, acid and potentially hydrogen around, sound like a poor idea to me!

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  • DHutch changed the title to Maintaining battery life (over winter)

I have 6 Trojans wired for 12 volts. They are connected to a Episolar 40 MPPT. When I visit the boat they always read 13.5 volts at least, sometimes 15 volts. I must admit I wonder if they are being overcharged but always assumed that the Episolar knows what it’s doing. Should I disconnect it?

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6 minutes ago, jenevers said:

I have 6 Trojans wired for 12 volts. They are connected to a Episolar 40 MPPT. When I visit the boat they always read 13.5 volts at least, sometimes 15 volts. I must admit I wonder if they are being overcharged but always assumed that the Episolar knows what it’s doing. Should I disconnect it?

 

Probably doing the Trojans good as long as you check the electrolyte level every few weeks or so until you know how fast its depleting - if at all.

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Just now, Tony Brooks said:

 

Probably doing the Trojans good as long as you check the electrolyte level every few weeks or so until you know how fast its depleting - if at all.

I do check the level regularly and it only needs a top up every couple of months👍

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