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hanschristian.org • View topic - Bruadair's new house battery bank

Bruadair's new house battery bank

Moderators: warmrain, mimoza

Bruadair's new house battery bank

Postby sv_bruadair » Tue Jun 21, 2011 9:33 pm

Our house bank currently consists of six Trojan T105 batteries. They are four and a half years old and I have to say that I'm satisfied with their performance and the years we got out of them. We kept them watered and did our equalizing every 30 to 45 days as per Trojan's instructions.

But now they are old, one is even shorted out, so its time to replace them. Deciding which batteries to replace them with was not an easy task especially considering where we are.

We looked into Trojans, being happy with their performance and life. But here in Panama the readily available T105s run $280 each, not cheap. They are rated at 400 to 500 life cycles at 50% depth of discharge, so they should last four to five years if they are well taken care of. But six of these batteries over say five years would average about $336 a year. My issue is paying $280 for a T105!

We then looked into US2200 six volt batteries from US Battery, rated at 243 amp hours they are slightly more than Trojan's 215 amp hours. But here in Panama they cost $380 each and have a rating of 500 life cycles, so not really any more than Trojans. Over five years these batteries would average a whopping $456 per year.

So then we looked at Rolls/Surrette batteries, well regarded for being the best flooded battery on the market. Marine Warehouse in Panama City imports these from Miami. The EHW220 batteries are six volts and just a hair taller than the Trojan T105s and rated at 220 amp hours. Six would give us a house bank of 660 amp hours. These batteries are rated at 1350 life cycles so should last in the 8 to 10 year range and it is not uncommon to see Rolls in service in the 12 to 14 year range with proper care. The EHW220 are $240 each and even with having to pay ocean freight and import duties these batteries, over a seven year period, would average $230 per year. These Rolls batteries also come with a seven year warranty, the first two years there it is not prorated and with Marine Warehouse being a Rolls dealer it should be easy to take care of if there were an issue.

So in the end we decided that even though we would need to wait three or four weeks we would go with the Rolls. Longer life cycles translate to longer life (if well taken care of), less cost per year average and an excellent reputation made the decision easy.

So hopefully in seven to 10 years we'll post again on if our decision was the right one or not.

By the way, we chose flooded acid batteries as they generally have the longest life cycles per dollar, therefore the biggest bang for the buck. AGM batteries are usually rated at 300 life cycles, Gels at 400, good quality flooded batteries like Trojans or Dekas at 500 and Rolls starting at 1350. Due to the low life cycles, high cost and poor performance away from the dock we chose not to go with AGM or Gel batteries.

Anyway, just thought I would share.
Damon and David
s/v Bruadair
1984 HC33 #58
www.bruadair.us
www.sv-bruadair.blogspot.com

Out cruising somewhere in Colombia or Panama
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Postby mimoza » Wed Jun 22, 2011 3:46 am

Thanks for sharing.

I currently have AGMs and they have performed well, considering the low rate of cycling, but I am concerned that they will not meet our needs after we make that Big Left Turn at Cape Flattery. I'll try to get some more cycles out of them while we are in Puget Sound, but their days are numbered.
Cap'n Bri
HC 33 "Mimoza" Hull number 43
Mimoza is the name of the Admiral, a flower, and a star - the eastern arm of the Southern Cross, also called Becrux.
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Postby sv_bruadair » Wed Jun 22, 2011 5:05 am

We had AGMs from Lifeline (Concord) in 2004. They lasted 3 years. At first they were great but that's when we were plugged in all the time. After unplugging and cycling the batteries more is when issues arose. Now most AGM battery manufacturers including Lifeline state AGM batteries are not ideal for cruising sailboats. The reason being is that AGM batteries need to be charged to 100% every time a charge is applied, otherwise one can expect a short life. If one has a solar panel or wind generator then usually a charge of some sort is applied, but never completed to 100%. Partial charges shorten the life, full charges every time a charge is applied will ensure a long life.

We dumped our AGMs (not in the water of course) after three years. We found the Trojan T105s to be great batteries and with a good charging program and Water Miser caps we only needed to add water once every four to six months. Acceptable maintenance in exchange for a longer lived battery.

Now we'll have to see if the Rolls lives up to its reputation.

One note regrading life cycles. Most battery companies will rate life cycles based on 50% discharge but a few companies will rate it based on a 20% discharge giving high numbers and the appearance of a longer life. So check to see how they are coming up with their life cycles when looking at batteries.

And less discharge cycles means more life cycles. For example the Rolls EHW220 is rated for 1350 life cycles 50% discharged. But if only discharged 30% the life cycles increase to almost 3000! Go in the opposit direction to 80% discharged and life cycles drop to around 500.
Damon and David
s/v Bruadair
1984 HC33 #58
www.bruadair.us
www.sv-bruadair.blogspot.com

Out cruising somewhere in Colombia or Panama
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Postby sv_bruadair » Thu Jul 28, 2011 10:18 pm

Our new Rolls batteries arrived on Monday and it took us an hour and a half to pull the Trojans and install the Rolls. Being that they are very similar in size (within 3/16") it was a pretty easy swap. As per Roll's recommendations in their owner's manual we charged the batteries to 100% and then equalized them for a couple of hours. Having had them in the boat now for a few days its really nice to have fully operational batteries again.
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Damon and David
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1984 HC33 #58
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www.sv-bruadair.blogspot.com

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Postby stormbay » Wed Aug 24, 2011 4:27 pm

Hi Damon and David,

I really enjoy reading your blog, I find it to be both informative and entertaining! We've been following your blog for quite sometime now (even before we bought our Hans Christian) and you've been a real inspiration to us.

We own a 41' Hans Christian and we're looking to replace our alternator (Ours is completely shot and cannot be rebuilt :() I'm curious to know a little bit about your electrical system and how you recharge your batteries. Do you have solar panels and wind generators? How much output is on your alternator? I see your battery bank is about 660 amp-hours. Ours is very similar and I wonder how high of an alternator we would need if used in conjunction with solar and wind. I'm curious from a cruiser's point of view, what a cruising boat generally consumes and how often one needs to recharge via engine. Any info would be very, very helpful. Thanks!

Yu
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Postby bruadair » Sat Aug 27, 2011 4:53 pm

Hi Yu,

Just saw your post. I'll write something offline and post it here in a day or two. Thanks for being patient, and thanks for the compliments!!
D&D
s/v Bruadair
1984 Hans Christian 33T #58
Exploring the Western Caribbean,
Currently resting in Bocas del Toro, Panama
www.sv-bruadair.blogspot.com
Bruadair is now for sale, more at
www.hanschristianforsale.blogspot.com
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Postby bruadair » Sat Aug 27, 2011 9:39 pm

Hi Yu,

I can only tell you what we have done on Bruadair after years of trial and error, what would work best on your boat may differ. Our battery bank is 660 amp hours.

Alternator: When we bought Bruadair she had the stock Hitachi 35 amp alternator. We replaced it with a 100 amp Balmar alternator and a 612MC Balmar smart regulator. At the time the 100 amp alternator was the largest we could fit without having to upgrade to a dual pulley system. We used the 100 amp alternator for two months and in that time we came to the conclusion that it was too big. It got hot very fast, and with the alternator temperature sensor connected the output was quickly reduced so we never really saw full output. 100 amps also put a lot of strain on our little 33hp engine. We returned the alternator for a 70 amp Balmar which really ended up working much better. Less strain on the engine and better output as it didn't heat up as much. It's been working flawlessly for eight years now. Since the alternator is not our primary means of charging we didn't feel that we needed a larger alternator. For someone relying primarily on the alternator for charging then I can see needing to go larger.

Solar: We started out cruising with 240 watts of solar panels (2x120) expecting it to cover all our needs. What we learned along the way was that while rated for 240 watts what we actually got was considerably less. The hotter a panel is the less it will output (read specifications). Kyrocera's specifications rate their panels with up to 28% less output if the panels are very hot, as they can easily get in the tropics. With our panels rated at 120 watts we usually see a maximum of 90 watts here in Panama. Then add any shading issues and factor in the inefficiencies and we quickly came to realize that while we expected 240 watts of solar panels would give us 95 amps we in reality only got about 65 amps per day (sometimes up to 75 on a really good day). Because of the inefficiencies of batteries only about 90% of that actually went into the batteries. So a year and a half ago we installed two more solar panels for a total of 500 watts. In the tropics we usually see a maximum output of 360 to 380 watts and after considering inefficiencies our solar array on an average day will put about 125 amps back into the batteries. There are times when we are sitting at anchor just right and have less shading and can get as much as 150 amps into the batteries. Our typical consumption is about 130 amps per day so the solar really does a great job keeping us going.

Wind: We have a Fourwinds II wind generator. It's very quiet and it performs well when the wind is blowing. We usually see good trade winds three or four months out of the year. The rest of the year it really doesn't do anything except provide some shading issues to my solar panels. If I had to do it over again I would not get the wind generator but take the funds and get more solar. If our wind generator does fail we do not plan on replacing it or repairing it, it will be taking down which would give us room for another panel.

AC Battery Charger: We started out with a Truecharge 40+ battery charger. While we didn't have any technical issues with this charger it was without a doubt undersized. This charger quickly tapered down its output so we were usually charging at 25 amps or so. When at anchor on a generator it can take a considerable amount of hours to charge the battery bank. We then fitted a Freedom inverter/charger with a 70 amp charger. It worked well of our Honda generator and charged much quicker than the Truecharge and also provided better control to charging parameters. The recently when we bought our new Rolls batteries we decided again to upgrade our charging system and purchased a Magnum MS2012 inverter charger with a 100 amp charger and it's corresponding remote panel. The set up and control of this charger is so sophisticated and gives one precise control of the charging parameters that I can't even compare it to the Freedom units. The Magnum will output about 92 amps when running on our Honda generator but we have it dialed down to put into the batteries about 70 amps as recommended by Rolls. When we are at anchor the Magnum and the Honda generator is our secondary means of charging. If the sun is shining we may not use this set up for weeks at a time, if the sun isn't shining we'll run this set up every two or three days. This eliminates any need to run the diesel in board engine at idle for long periods of time which isn't good for a diesel.

Generator: Bruadair was not fitted with a diesel generator when we bought her and while we looked into the possibility it didn't fit into out budget. Not only was the generator expensive but so was the quote to install it. So we opted for the Honda eu2000i generator. When we had the Truecharge battery charger one gallon of gas would last about 8 hours. With the Freedom an Magnum one gallon of gas will last from five to seven hours depending on the load. I don't think there is a diesel generator that can compare to the Honda's fuel economy. Of course one needs to take precautions when using gasoline but I don't think its anything additional to the same precautions for handling gasoline for outboards.

Energy Efficient Items While not part of our charging system these items do contribute to our overall electrical system. We use LED lights just about everywhere. Cabin lights are the Sensibulb LEDs and really are great despite their high cost. They emit an amber light that makes it hard to tell that we don't have halogen bulbs. LED for the anchor light saves a huge amount of amps and we never hesitate to leave our anchor light on every night. Because of the cost we didn't convert some lights. Lights in cabinets that are only on for a few seconds would not have benefited from LEDs, lower running lights and the steaming light which are only on when the engine is running would not have benefited. The examples could continue. We use small 150 watt "pocket" inverters for the lap top computers, they're much more efficient than using the large 2000 watt inverter. Where we could we made sure to buy 12 volt models as 110 vac would require an inverter and thus more amps to run. Even our 13" LCD television is 12 volts (1.2 amps).

I hope this helps answers your question. Feel free to let me know if I confused you further, left something out or you need more info. By the way, we love the HC41. There is one in Cartagena Colombia for sale that we drooled over for quite some time.
D&D
s/v Bruadair
1984 Hans Christian 33T #58
Exploring the Western Caribbean,
Currently resting in Bocas del Toro, Panama
www.sv-bruadair.blogspot.com
Bruadair is now for sale, more at
www.hanschristianforsale.blogspot.com
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Postby stormbay » Tue Aug 30, 2011 1:07 pm

Hi,

Thanks for your detailed response, I found that to be extremely helpful! We're looking into getting a 100 amp alternator, our engine is 72hp, so that I think it would be able to handle it. Right now, we also have a yanmar generator, as well as a wind generator. Our battery bank, once we get new batteries, are going to be around 800 ah. We're considering getting solar panels as well, as soon as we figure out where we're going to mount them.

Thanks again,
Yu
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Postby bruadair » Mon Sep 05, 2011 3:10 am

Finding places for solar panels was a huge challenge for us too, and I keep thinking that if I could only find room for one more....

Good luck with your projects, let us know how they turn out.
D&D
s/v Bruadair
1984 Hans Christian 33T #58
Exploring the Western Caribbean,
Currently resting in Bocas del Toro, Panama
www.sv-bruadair.blogspot.com
Bruadair is now for sale, more at
www.hanschristianforsale.blogspot.com
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Postby wildswan » Sun Oct 14, 2012 5:13 am

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Postby bruadair » Sun Nov 04, 2012 4:13 pm

Hi Wild Swan,

After one year we're still exceptionally happy with the Magnum MS2012 charger/inverter. It exceeds our expectations. I love that we can program so many aspects of the charger including the charger's output (amps) so as to make sure we're not overcharging the batteries. With the optional MS-BMK battery monitoring kit it's a complete package. I really can't say enough good things about it.

We have the Magnum inverter/charger installed in the lazarette, way on the other side from where the lazarette door is. Actually, if you go in the aft cabin and look at the aft bulkhead, it is mounted just on the other side of that (almost under the propane locker). It wasn't easy to get to that location but it works and more importantly it's out of the way. In case there is a reapir needed it's easy to get the cover off and the boards swapped. It's also a dry location.

We built a battery box under the aft cabin to hold our six 6 volt batteries. When we made the box we designed it so that it would have the flexibility to hold a variety of sizes so it will even hold two 8d batteries should we be in a location where six volt batteries are not available. You can see our battery box project by going to our old web site at www.bruadair.us. On the left side of the screen click on Projects and Upgrades, then look for the battery box link, might be the first link at the top of the screen.

Hope this helps, let us know if you have any more questions.
D&D
s/v Bruadair
1984 Hans Christian 33T #58
Exploring the Western Caribbean,
Currently resting in Bocas del Toro, Panama
www.sv-bruadair.blogspot.com
Bruadair is now for sale, more at
www.hanschristianforsale.blogspot.com
bruadair
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Postby turbin » Sat Mar 16, 2013 9:18 am

Peter Ruyter
s/v CHRISTINA
XSA43015E787
1987 HC43Ch #15
Vasteras
Sweden
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Postby edelweiss » Wed Mar 27, 2013 8:51 am

Peter,
I would suggest increasing the output from your alternator to 100-125amp and going to a double belt. With such a large engine it will be happy to pull the belt around and it seems a waste of energy not to use it. Brudair went smaller because their engine is a third the size of yours in hp rating. You are also looking at a large ( maybe very large ) battery bank at 1000AH. It is going to take a long time to bring that back to full with solar/wind even if you cover the boat with panels. I have a 125amp Amptech battery using a single belt. It is externally regulated with a three step. I think a replacement alternator is about $100.

Mark
1980 HC 38T/MKII hybrid
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Postby turbin » Wed Mar 27, 2013 7:59 pm

Mark!
Thanks!
There are a 80 Amps generator at the new Yanmar. And this silly Yanmarengineers use a, for us, a wrong place for seawaterpump, down, back, behind. In our waters, its like enter a harbour every half hourers. Rocks, islands you name it. We have no the time to drift at its take to change impeller. I have used the front crankshaft end for another type of seawaterpump. And with that I spoiled the twin ropes pully chance. I have to trust at Ficherpanda, even if its hard. She can top at 250 Amps and will normal goes at 100 to 150 Amps. As they says..hm..If the Panda is right tuned, she will kick in rather early, before we have used too much of the battery bank. It will be a tray and error before it works well..Ithink.
Hopefully we will splash in May. Then we know!
Peter Ruyter
s/v CHRISTINA
XSA43015E787
1987 HC43Ch #15
Vasteras
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