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Batteries - which are the good ones!


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Hi

My newly purchased second hand narrowboat only has a 12v supply with a domestic battery in poor condition and engine battery in weak condition according to the recent boat survey. Apparently the batteries were connected to a Sealey BT02 battery analyser to obtain those findings.

So what do you think this all means? Do they simply need recharging as I have just bought the boat and it's been lying in the boatyard unused for many weeks?

If I would be better off buying a new set of batts what would be the best ones to buy?

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Not sure how accurate those analysers are, but likely that both batteries are shot. Recharging is part of a normal regime in battery usage, so it's unlikely a simple recharge will bring them back to as new capacity. Budget to replace both.

 

Leisure batteries which may be similar to ones you are replacing can be used as starter and domestic. Some of the best prices from the Battery Megastore

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I'm about to fit new leisure batteries and I'm told that Trojan batteries are the best to buy. I'd be interested in other folks' view on this though.

 

I've also been told that you shouldn't use a drop tester on leisure batteries and I'd be interested on comments about this too.

Yes-ish, and yes.

 

Yes-ish because Trojans aren't the best batteries to buy, but IMO they are the best value for money, best compromise if you like, especially the T105s which seem to be cheaper per WH than the others.

 

Yes, you shouldn't use a drop tester on leisure batteries because it doesn't tell you anything useful and is probably not particularly good for them.

Edited by nicknorman
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Don't forget that you can ruin expensive batteries just as quickly as cheap batteries.

 

If you are not going to religiously make sure they are fully charged on a regular basis then I would personally stick with cheaper leisure batteries and factor in changing them every two or three years.

 

We are currently using Varta batteries.

  • Greenie 1
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What batteries are better than the Trojans? I'm after quality with this purchase and not looking to save money. I've only got one leisure battery wired up so need it to be a good one. I also want to buy a good reliable engine battery.

Thanks

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A load tester will give the same "Fail" reading for a flat battery as a dead battery. If you have the tools and the time charge the batteries on a clever charger and see whether they work well before buying anything. If you don't have the tools then buy replacement batteries anyway.

 

Batteries last or not according to how well you treat (charge) them. If you are going to charge them carefully then better batteries may last longer, if you are going to leave them discharged then batteries of any price or quality will fail very quickly.

 

The minimum life reported on here is one month, the maximum life is ten years. The difference between those is more down to care than price or quality.

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What batteries are better than the Trojans? I'm after quality with this purchase and not looking to save money. I've only got one leisure battery wired up so need it to be a good one. I also want to buy a good reliable engine battery.

Thanks

I think Rolls and US batteries are probably better, but bearing in mind all batteries are consumables there doesn't seem too much point in paying twice the price for a battery that will last 50% longer. Trojans are way better than ordinary "leisure batteries" but not that much more expensive.

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I fitted Trojan T105s over three years ago after poor performance ( failure ) from AGM and carbon fibre batteries.

They are still in excellent condition and, in my opinion, the best choice for live aboard use.

 

I've read about li-ion batteries and they appear to be the best option available but I don't have £17,000 and upwards to invest.

 

Keith

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Thanks everyone. It looks like Trojans will be the best for me then as I will be using the boat for occasional weekends and holidays so they are not going to be on full charge all the time.

 

What would you say would be the best strength f battery then. It will need to run the 12v fridge, 12v tv, lights, and more importantly (for my 13 year old son) his xbox on an inverter. I have a feeling that xbox is going to cause severe battery drainage!

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IMHO it's more a matter of type - first and then brand/ manufacturer.

Leisure types are just that - occasional use.

 

If you want the best then Rolls or even forklift truck types.

 

As to capacity then I'd say 600 amp-hours for starters. You said cost wasn't an issue - so don't come back and say 'ow much'...

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Thanks everyone. It looks like Trojans will be the best for me then as I will be using the boat for occasional weekends and holidays so they are not going to be on full charge all the time.

 

What would you say would be the best strength f battery then. It will need to run the 12v fridge, 12v tv, lights, and more importantly (for my 13 year old son) his xbox on an inverter. I have a feeling that xbox is going to cause severe battery drainage!

 

Then do not buy any decent ones that is the fastest way to wreck batteries.

 

Buy 'bog standard' leisure batteries and set up a small solar panel to keep them charged when not using the boat.

 

Leave the X-box at home. wink.png

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Thanks everyone. It looks like Trojans will be the best for me then as I will be using the boat for occasional weekends and holidays so they are not going to be on full charge all the time.

 

What would you say would be the best strength f battery then. It will need to run the 12v fridge, 12v tv, lights, and more importantly (for my 13 year old son) his xbox on an inverter. I have a feeling that xbox is going to cause severe battery drainage!

I suspect that with the usage you have indicated , your single battery will not last the evening out. You should do a power audit to ascertain just how much power you will need. Remember a rule of thumb is not to discharge your battery more than 50% this means if you have a 110 amp hr battery only half of that 110 is realistically available to use.

Phil

Edited by Phil Ambrose
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Thanks everyone. It looks like Trojans will be the best for me then as I will be using the boat for occasional weekends and holidays so they are not going to be on full charge all the time.

What would you say would be the best strength f battery then. It will need to run the 12v fridge, 12v tv, lights, and more importantly (for my 13 year old son) his xbox on an inverter. I have a feeling that xbox is going to cause severe battery drainage!

I'd go for 4x T105s which gives you 450AH at 12v. You will need to charge them properly though, otherwise they will fail quickly. If you leave the boat unattended for long periods, always do so after fully charging the batteries and preferably have a means of keeping them topped up such as a small charger or solar panel.

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Where did the OP mention drop testing? The Sealey BT102 is a low current tester.

He didn't- I asked that as a stand-alone question as I have a drop tester (but was sure I had heard somewhere that it was not suitable, and could even be dangerous to use on leisure batteries).

 

Also as a stand-alone question, has anybody managed to successfully revive batteries using Epsom salts, or is this an urban legend?

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Whilst on the subject of batteries, has anyone had experience of these offered by the Battery Megastore for a very resonable price given their 125 Ah capacity claim. I noticed that the description and reference indicate deep cycle, especially as no CCA is mentioned. I'm sceptical enough to accept they are not true deep cycle and that their weight suggests little more lead content than similar sized leisure batteries, although probably having a lesser number of thicker plates.

 

Given the price I'm tempted to think they might be a suitable replacement for the five leisure batteries forming my present domestic bank, given they would be a straight swap having the same dual connection terminals.

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What batteries are better than the Trojans? I'm after quality with this purchase and not looking to save money. I've only got one leisure battery wired up so need it to be a good one. I also want to buy a good reliable engine battery.

Thanks

 

Thanks everyone. It looks like Trojans will be the best for me then as I will be using the boat for occasional weekends and holidays so they are not going to be on full charge all the time.

 

What would you say would be the best strength f battery then. It will need to run the 12v fridge, 12v tv, lights, and more importantly (for my 13 year old son) his xbox on an inverter. I have a feeling that xbox is going to cause severe battery drainage!

 

 

Taking those two posts together I can confidently predict you will have problems and short battery life as others have said and implied.

 

There is no point of buying Trojans (or any other expensive make of battery) if you are going to destroy them by over discharging and under charging so the first thing to do is a conservative energy audit. That is one that tends to overstate use rather than understate it. That will tell you how much electricity you batteries need to store. Then at least double the figure so you rarely discharge to more than 50%. Then take half your alternator output (amps) and multiply it by either the time you run the engine each day OR 4 if you run for more than n 4 hours a day. Take two thirds of the result and if that is greater than twice the result of the energy audit by all means buy expensive but make sure you can keep them charged over the winter and when the boat is not in use.

 

If the result does not comply then you need to look at extra charging or less consumption. I think many of us find a 40 to 60 Watt solar panel will recharge out domestic batteries to close to fully charged over a week in the summer and over two or three weeks in the winter when we are away from out boats.

 

One domestic battery and an electric fridge on its own is asking for problems.

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Hi

My newly purchased second hand narrowboat only has a 12v supply with a domestic battery in poor condition and engine battery in weak condition according to the recent boat survey. Apparently the batteries were connected to a Sealey BT02 battery analyser to obtain those findings.

So what do you think this all means? Do they simply need recharging as I have just bought the boat and it's been lying in the boatyard unused for many weeks?

If I would be better off buying a new set of batts what would be the best ones to buy?

Don't change them until you are ready to use them or look after them. ie. don't buy them now and just leave them sitting there until April next year.

I'm about to fit new leisure batteries and I'm told that Trojan batteries are the best to buy. I'd be interested in other folks' view on this though.

 

I've also been told that you shouldn't use a drop tester on leisure batteries and I'd be interested on comments about this too.

They are a different physical size to lots of more common brands.

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Thanks everyone. It looks like Trojans will be the best for me then as I will be using the boat for occasional weekends and holidays so they are not going to be on full charge all the time.

 

This doesn't seem a logical argument to me.

 

Either you will have some kind of sensible regime for keeping you batteries well charged, or you will not.

 

If you don't, then buying expensive ones will still not guarantee you do not quickly degrade them. If you do manage to charge them on a regular enough schedule, then I would have thought cheaper ones are adequate for the uses you plan to put them to.

 

Personally I'd start off with "standard" batteries, and see how you get on. (That is what we have done for our first 10 or more years of narrow boat ownership, where we do not live aboard and they are not left on charge, and so far I see no need to change that approach).

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Personally I'd start off with "standard" batteries, and see how you get on. (That is what we have done for our first 10 or more years of narrow boat ownership, where we do not live aboard and they are not left on charge, and so far I see no need to change that approach).

I started like that and then changed to Trojans about 5 years ago, I am not on shore supply, I try to charge as fully as possible every day when we are out and have a small solar panel connected when on the moorings. When I leave the boat I arrange it so the batteries are in a good state of charge. ie. turn the fridge off before we stop the engine on the last afternoon and on the last night keep consumption to a minimum. If possible I plan to return to the moorings late morning so we have had at least 2 hours charging following a low consumption night.

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As said many times on this forum - it is as easy to ruin expensive batteries as cheap ones.

 

If you are certain that you can maintain the charging regime for deep cycle batteries they may serve you well but for the occasional weekend and holiday use cheap FLA batteries should suffice.

 

Even if you do spend several days at one location without running the engine and reduce the battery charge to zero the cheap ones will cost little to replace.

 

Alan

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