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Posted By Discussion Topic: Battery charging

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Battery charging| Battery charging question| Battery Charging| Battery Charging| solar battery charging| Battery Charging|

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jrskip
Oct-01-2019 @ 9:25 AM                           Permalink
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Thanks Annville
As I say not bothered about the cost so much as surprised it used to much electric for just keeping charged up. Having said that we will be looking at a solar panel anyway as it would be very handy.

kfurbank
Oct-01-2019 @ 12:05 PM                           Permalink
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Hi Jrskip,

Is your battery charger an advanced or multi stage charger? With lead acid batteries it is extremely important that they are always left fully charged if being left for extended periods of time. In addition if at all possible they should be left on charge if using an intelligent multi stage charger that will fully charge them, perform an equalisation charge and then sit in float mode until it starts the whole procedure again. The Sterling chargers are all 4 step chargers and excellent at keeping batteries in prime condition.

It's important to realise that all lead acid batteries will self discharge when left even if disconnected. Often as much as 4% can be lost per week, or 5amps per week. A standard 110amp leisure battery will be severely depleted if left for 16 weeks over the Winter period and as a result of this will also sulphate very badly leading to premature failure of the battery.

In my opinion you are far better off leaving your shore power on over the Winter and keeping the batteries toped up and conditioned using a suitable 4 step charger.

The attached picture is from a recent new battery I purchased.




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kfurbank
Oct-01-2019 @ 12:37 PM                           Permalink
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I realise the above advice I have given, may appear to be contradictory to some of the other advice people have given on this thread so I thought the following may help explain my reasoning.

Four step or intelligent battery chargers normally provide a boost charge to fully recharge the batteries, followed by an absorption or equalisation charge, followed by float mode followed by reset.

The first step is designed to fully recharge the battery. The second step is when the voltage is raised to 14.4V to 14.8V to reduce sulfation and stop battery stratification. The third step is where the voltage is reduced to a level that the batteries are not under any stress and effectively not being charged. Step 4 occurs after a set period of time when the whole process is reset and started again, thus ensuring the batteries are maintained.

Charging a battery at a lower voltage, around 13.2 to 13.6V is kinder to the battery in some respects as it does not cause the battery to gas or boil, however over a period of time stratification will occur and this in turn leads the plates to sulphate. Battery acid is a mix of acid and water and over a period of time the heavier acid will settle to the bottom of the battery with more water settling nearer the top. The tops of the plates will then sulphate reducing the ability of the battery to take and hold a charge. An equalising charge of about 14.4 to 14.8V is essential as this effectively overcharges the battery in a controlled way and does cause limited gassing or boiling of the battery. This process mixes the acid and water properly again and thus in the long term reduces the sulfation and improves the health and life of the battery. I mention two voltages, 14.4V and 14.8V because it really depends on whether you have sealed or unsealed batteries. If sealed, then the water cannot be topped up, so the 14.4V setting is better. If you can top the water up then the 14.8V setting is better. All good 4 step chargers will have setting for various battery types.

It's also important to realise that if you are charging directly from an alternator you will never reach a good equalisation charge voltage. If as most people do, you also have a split diode to prevent one battery discharging into another, you also have anything up to a 0.6V drop across the diode. This means that the actual voltage reaching the battery is lower than if you had connected the alternator directly to the battery. Even with the advanced alternator regulator, you do not overcome this voltage drop across the split diode. Battery chargers are always connected directly to the batteries and often have multiple outputs so that you can charge separate banks at the same time without risk of discharge into one and other.

For all the reasons above, I would always favour shore power and a decent 4 step battery charger to keep your batteries in the best condition. If out and about and away from shore power for a period of time, then an advanced alternator regulator may help you put a fuller charge back into your battery quicker if you are a heavy overnight user of your batteries, but in my opinion is far less beneficial than a good charger on shore power.

I have just replaced a couple of batteries that were 15 years old. They have always been left on shore power with the charger turned on. I do not have an advanced alternator regulator.

VetChugger
Oct-01-2019 @ 3:44 PM                           Permalink
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Thanks for all that explanation Keith. Good reference for many people to refer to. You make no mention of the use of a solar panel for maintainance? I have a panel permanently connected to mine and, touch wood, my batteries have been kept at full charge. I have no access to mains power on my current mooring so this would seem to be the next best solution.

Trevor

kfurbank
Oct-01-2019 @ 4:32 PM                           Permalink
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Hi Trevor,

I've not much personal experience of solar as I don't use them on the boat. From what I've read they will deliver a top up charge, probably somewhere around the 13.2V mark which will keep the batteries topped up without gassing or boiling them, but ultimately will not deal with the longer term problem of sulfation.

Some people now do advanced alternator regulators that will provide four step charging, but off course you need to be running the engine long enough for it to go through all it's stages to get to the equalisation stage, and off course you still have the problem of the voltage drop across the split diode.

I've not tried it myself, but Sterling now do a B2B charger, which is a battery to battery charger and designed to get around most, if not all of these problems. An additional bonus is that you do not need to open or modify the alternator. The input to the charger connects to the engine battery and the output connects directly to your other batteries you want to charge using 4 step charging. When the voltage drops below 13V the charger turns off and therefore your engine battery will still be effectively fully charged and ready to start the engine. When you start your engine the alternator will charge the engine battery and as it becomes fully charged the voltage will start to rise. Once it reaches 13.2V signifying that the engine battery is pretty well fully charged the B2B charger turns on and starts to do 4 step charging on your other batteries. This system ensures that your domestic banks receive 4 step charging and get fully topped up and conditioned, whilst also ensuring that the engine battery is the first battery to be recharged as soon as you start the engine. There is no need for a split diode and therefore the negative of voltage drop across a diode. The only down side I can see to this system is that the source battery, the engine battery never receives 4 step charging, because as soon as it is charged enough for the alternator voltage to rise to 13.2V the B2B charger kicks in and nicks the power to charge the other batteries. Probably the best compromise though if you don't have shore power, want to remove the loss created by a split diode and give your domestic batteries the benefit of 4 step charging and conditioning. The ultimate though is still shore power based 4 step charging to all batteries including the engine battery.

jrskip
Oct-01-2019 @ 4:57 PM                           Permalink
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Thanks Kfurbank
To be honest not sure but i'll look when next down. I would leave on charge anyway but my initial question was just what difference it would make if we didn't.

kfurbank
Oct-01-2019 @ 5:37 PM                           Permalink
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The NCC have done a very good verification scheme for batteries. If you follow the link below which is a for a Halfords leisure battery of the type I'm sure most of us have used on our boats you will see at the bottom of the page a brief explanation about the three different classes of battery. The cheaper one on this link is a class C and effectively is designed to be kept topped up as much as possible at all times.

https://www.halfords.com/motoring/bulbs-blades-batteries/leisure-batteries/halfords-leisure-battery-hlb681

There is a newer battery technology coming in now called EFB, enhanced flooded battery which is more tolerant of being left slightly discharged for longer, they also recharge faster. Halfords do one on the following link and it is a class B battery, but as you might expect more expensive. Their class A battery is even more expensive. It also uses AGM technology which many are saying will be superseded by the newer EFB technology.

https://www.halfords.com/motoring/bulbs-blades-batteries/leisure-batteries/halfords-leisure-battery-hlb700

It is worth knowing that in a recent test the Yuasa L36-EFB battery performed really well. It's also worth knowing that all Halfords batteries are rebadged Yuasa batteries and that the class B battery above is actually the Yuasa L36-EFB battery. The Halfords variant is cheaper than you will find the Yuasa one and in addition if you are an AA member you can get a voucher for 10% of most purchases at Halfords.

I have just replaced 2 of my tried and tested Bosch 15 year old batteries with a couple of HLB700s for £99 each. It's worth noting that despite the HLB700 having slightly less capacity than the HLB681, it has a claimed 200 recharge cycles. The HLB681 is verified at 70 cycles. A recharge cycle is classed as a 50% depth of discharge which is the most you should really discharge a leisure battery.

Edited to add: I do not work for Halfords Smile



This message was edited by kfurbank on Oct-1-19 @ 5:38 PM

Still-Cruising
Oct-03-2019 @ 3:15 PM                           Permalink
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I have never been too comfortable with the idea of having the mains permanently connected to provide battery charging and of course it only works when you are on hook up so we went the solar power route. We have a 100w panel with a Photonic Universe MPPT controller with remote monitor. On a bright day this setup will keep pace with the compressor fridge which is the major power user and even on a dull day it will go some way towards it. It doesn’t have the capability to match all the power used in a day if you include lights, water pump, TV etc but it does mean that substantially less engine run time is required to provide the batteries will a full charge (We have a Sterling Digital Controller). When we are on store power we have a ‘self built’ 12v power supply unit which comes on automatically and activates a change over relay disconnecting the fridge from the boats 12v supply and connect it to the power supply. The solar panel will then keep up with the rest of the battery usage. When we leave the boat the solar panel keeps the batteries well maintained at 13.7volts.

We find that the above system keeps the batteries well charged all the time with minimal use of the engine and minimal reliance /cost of shore power.


Best Regards

Bob

PO20 But NR12 as much as possible.

ADI
Oct-03-2019 @ 9:28 PM                           Permalink
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Thanks Bob been looking at 100 watt solar panels and will be fitting one this winter  Smile

Regards

Adrian  Michelle

Beck  Braydon and Mere.

Still-Cruising
Oct-04-2019 @ 3:22 PM                           Permalink
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Hi ADI.

I did a lot or research before I bought and installed the solar set up. I calculated that I really wanted a 150watt panel but they were to big to physically on the space available due to the cabin ventilators, hatches and the fold down windscreen so had to settle for the 100W panel. The solid panel was chosen over a flexible one on the grounds of cost, efficiency, ruggedness also far easier to replace if something goes wrong. A friend learned the latter point the hard way when he his stuck on flexible got damaged. Instead of the ugly brackets supplied I mounted the panel on the roof with ABS corner pieces which are attached to the roof with 3Ms Duel Lock. This installation looks neat and has the advantage of being able to lift the panel off if the roof gets dirty under it or if you needed to replace it. I have run like this for three years with out any problems I did use the PWM controller that came with the panel for the first year but they are hopelessly inefficient comparedto MPPT Controllers one of which I installed last year.

As a general point be careful of cheap controllers from flea bay as they are not actually MPPT controllers just rebadged PWM's (there are a lot of videos on YouTube demonstrating this). Electronically there is a lot of difference between the two types which is why true MPPT types are more expensive. It is possible to save a few quid from buying a Photonic Universe controller branded as EPEVER from China.  

Best Regards

Bob

PO20 But NR12 as much as possible.



Edited for Typos

This message was edited by Still-Cruising on Oct-4-19 @ 3:28 PM


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