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A Charging Conundrum

Batteries dead or sleeping?

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#1 Ishmael

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Posted 31 August 2013 - 01:22 AM

Here's the setup:

 

Balmar 90A alternator on single belt

Balmar ARS-IV regulator

 

or

 

Xantrex Truecharge 40+

 

3 Group 31 DC Synergy (Battery Direct) Batteries, 135 AH new less than 1 yr - issues

1 East Penn G24 starting battery 7 yrs old- no problems here

 

Xantrex XBM Monitor

 

We usually anchor out so depend on engine charging, we have been going around Vancouver Island for 8+ weeks and now in Ucluelet. Batteries have been noticeably losing capacity for about 6 weeks. These days we can charge to full battery status and wake in the morning 70A down @ 11.85 V after one hour of resting the 12V system. We know where the amps are going, into our inefficient refrigeration, but the voltage is a bit problematical. I carry a hydrometer, and after reading the batteries decided it had lost calibration somehow (sunspots?) and went out and bought another. No luck, all 3 batteries are reading about 11.15 in every cell.

 

I'm trying to figure out how my electrical system could be so buggered to destroy 3 new batteries. I'm also trying to figure out how I could have got 3 defective batteries at random.

 

Ideas?

 

 

 

.



#2 jerryj2me

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Posted 31 August 2013 - 01:34 AM

tough to debug from far away. A couple of suggestions for troubleshooting:

 

Determine if your batteries, when charged, are starting to go south. You need to check the voltages they have when loaded. That requires a decent voltmeter and a test resistive load. If you fully charge up, then try the battery under load and it drops a lot on voltage (lets say down to 10V under load) then the battery is wearing out (sulfate)

 

Look at you charging cycle voltages and currents, should have a distinct charge voltage and float voltage after being charged. Also, those charge voltages are current limited.

 

The specific voltages need to be measured at the battery and your docs on the charger regulator and the battery load tester will give you specifc numbers to test for.

 

best i got from a distance



#3 Trendsetter

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Posted 31 August 2013 - 02:58 AM

Are these normal wet cell batteries? At what rate is the battery charger putting out? It could be over charging them if the voltage isn't correct

#4 dlymn

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 03:14 AM

Fridges are hungry beasts especially if you want to make ice for the mint juleps.

 

We lost 3 batteries in 2 years from overcharging. You know the drill; pull into a marina, plug into power, don't worry about the charge, the smart charger will look after everything, NOT!  If you are mostly at anchor and then motoring, I would get the regulator on the alternator checked.

 

Now we charge at shore only when the voltage drops below 12v and stop when it is showing 14.  Our next plan is to put small variable charge chargers one for each battery to account for the fact that the batteries are not identical even if they start that way.



#5 sailSAK

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 04:59 AM

How many amp hours are recorded according to the battery monitor overnight?  Don't go by the monitor's "capacity remaining" or whatever since that is derived with a little fuzzy math. 

When you say "70A down @ 11.85 V"  do you mean 70 amp hours?  Not really that much for a crappy refrigeration system. Guess here is you have one or more damaged batteries from sulfation/overcharging/impurities used in electrolyte/physical damage whatever and you are getting about 50% capacity from the bank.  Remember that one bad can drag the rest down.  Maybe try running on only one (fully charged) for the next 3 nights, switch for the next night and see what happens.  One new group 31 should about more than fully (50%, ~12 volts) discharged after 70 amp hours  but better than the figures you report.



#6 Maine Sail

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Posted 01 September 2013 - 07:58 PM

These days we can charge to full battery status and wake in the morning 70A down @ 11.85 V after one hour of resting the 12V system. We know where the amps are going, into our inefficient refrigeration, but the voltage is a bit problematical.

 

 

You need to ignore the "full status" of your battery monitor. Most, no make that every, battery monitor I work on, adjust or recalibrate is programmed incorrectly. They are not difficult but do require some understanding of how they work.

 

These monitors reset on current, voltage & time. When your regulator goes into float prematurely, as most do because the "lawyer safe" factory pre-sets are used, this can often trick the monitor into reading full well before the bank is actually full..

 

It takes 10+ hours at absorption voltage to get a bank like yours to cruiser "full" so unless you are running your engine that long, regularly and the regulator stays at 14.4V + for that time, you are likely adding daily deficits and being tricked by your battery monitor into believing the bank is "full" when it is most likely not even close.

 

Proper use of a battery monitor includes human intervention and manual re-sets, very often, when the bank is KNOWN FULL are critical to accurate readings....

 

How do we determine "cruiser full"?

 

For cruising I generally consider LA batteries "full" when the accepted net current flowing into the battery bank, at absorption voltage (14.4V), is 2% or less of the bank Ah capacity at the 20 hour rate. At a 14.6V absorption voltage I consider full at about 2.5% of capacity..

For a 100Ah bank cruiser full would be 2A flowing into the battery at 14.4V.

For a 400Ah bank cruiser full would be 8A flowing into the battery at 14.4V..


If the charger, alternator or solar has dropped to float voltage you may need to do a re-set and get it back to absorption voltage before determining full.

 

A lower/float terminal voltage will mean less accepted current flowing into the battery and this can trick a battery monitor into a premature re-set.. Many charge sources prematurely drop to float level before the bank is actually full and this only serves to extend the time it actually takes to get to full. Chargers, regulators and some solar controllers can be tricked into going back into absorption by turning them on & off. In the amount of time you run a sailboat engine a Balmar regulator should never be going into float until the bank is accepting 2% or less at 14.4V.. Sadly, like the battery monitor nearly every regulator I see has been poorly programmed and not properly set up.

Keep in mind this 2% acceptance is not necessarily truly full just full enough for cruising. That last few % can take many, many, many hours, like 10+ due to declining acceptance rates at higher states of charge..

Below is what full really looks like on a 390 Ah bank of Trojan L-16's..... 0.026% acceptance @ 14.4V..... 2% on this bank is 7.8A...

It takes far longer than you'll ever do on a boat to get to this level of full so we generally use something between 2% & 3% acceptance, at absorption voltage, as full.....

149308022.jpg

 

 

It is very simple to determine cruising full and then do a manual re-set of the battery monitor...

Check Voltage - is it 14.4V +/- .1V (absorption) at the battery terminals?

Check Net Current Flowing Into Battery - is it less than 2% of Ah capacity?

If yes to both then the bank is pretty much full. Whether you use 1% 1.5% or 2% is a personal preference..

I have been using this method for 18-20 years as my go to to know when to manually re-set my battery monitor to keep it as accurate as possible. My battery monitors have ALWAYS been re-set manually beased on "known full" parameters of absorption voltage/accepted current.

All you need to know is the battery terminal voltage and net current being accepted by the bank and that will tell you when you are "full".

Best practice would be to turn off all DC loads when doing this, especially if you have a marginal charge source such as a small charger or small alternator. I do not suggest doing this with solar.

If doing this with the alternator be sure you are above the alts cut-in speed and at an RPM where you know it can produce more current than the 2% etc...



#7 Haji

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 06:48 PM

Listen carefully to Maine Sail, he knows his stuff.  The only think missing re the voltage levels is temperature compensation for high/low ambient temps.  The fully charged voltage would be a bit higher in cold temps and should be lower if hot.  Most decent charging sources have temp compensation so should be happening, however as MS points out they usually go to reduced float WAY too soon.

 

Of course if you had good lithium batteries all this charging stuff would be much simpler...;-) 

However they are spendy. 

 

So take good care of those LA batts by charging them adequately.



#8 jerryj2me

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 07:50 PM

Of course if you had good lithium batteries all this charging stuff would be much simpler...;-) 

However they are spendy. 

 

Li-Ion batteries require some very fussy voltage charge profiles during both charging and discharging, that includes nasty and simple stuff:

 

voltage, current, temperature, voltage limits, charge balancing between cells

 

100X more complex than lead acid, the charging systems associated with larger Li-Ion battery packs involve multiple voltage sense, current sense, temperature sense and micro-controller systems to get the charging right and balance it across multiple cells, which becomes more of a headache as the batteries wear down.

 

One guess how I earn my living...



#9 jerryj2me

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 07:55 PM


Check Voltage - is it 14.4V +/- .1V (absorption) at the battery terminals?

Check Net Current Flowing Into Battery - is it less than 2% of Ah capacity?

If yes to both then the bank is pretty much full. Whether you use 1% 1.5% or 2% is a personal preference..

Maine Sail has good solid info. I emphasize one detail above.

 

You need that Kelvin connection for sensing the voltage, you don't want the power cables in the measurement, just the meter cables. With the meter applied directly to the battery. Better sense and control systems will have a set of sense wires that are to be connected directly to the battery posts.



#10 Maine Sail

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Posted 04 September 2013 - 11:00 PM

Of course if you had good lithium batteries all this charging stuff would be much simpler...;-) 

However they are spendy. 

 

Li-Ion batteries require some very fussy voltage charge profiles during both charging and discharging, that includes nasty and simple stuff:

 

voltage, current, temperature, voltage limits, charge balancing between cells

 

100X more complex than lead acid, the charging systems associated with larger Li-Ion battery packs involve multiple voltage sense, current sense, temperature sense and micro-controller systems to get the charging right and balance it across multiple cells, which becomes more of a headache as the batteries wear down.

 

One guess how I earn my living...

Actually the LiFePO4 bank on our boat has been quite simple. When you are charging and discharging at fractional "C" levels it is really not all that complicated.

 

..I do have a BMS but use it as a fail safe as we charge to voltages below where any cell balancing would take place. As of today we have 164 cycles on the bank most of them to 80% DOD. We physically turn off charge sources and purposely cycle to 80% DOD. Because these batteries don't need to get back to 100% to be happy I can leave them at what ever SOC I want when I leave the boat. They do not change temp when charging or discharging, measured it numerous times and early on had two temp sensors with digital displays mounted directly to them. In 164 deep cycles (more than many boaters even get out of LA batts) the cells have not budged one iota in balance.

 

I have it set right now to charge at 0.3 C via alternator and it charges beautifully and fast all the way to 98% SOC before it even begins to limit current. Cell voltages still agree out to the hundredths of a volt at 100% SOC and at 80% DOD... Setting up the Balmar MC-614 was the biggest challenge because I wanted the alt dialed to a point where it could run all day long at 120A, and this meant playing with the field settings to get it just right. I actually wound up at about 110A and that worked and kept the alt out of temp limiting..

 

I was considering going to a hairpin wound alt in the 200A range, setting it for 160A, but she charges so fast as it is that we often run the engine without the alternator even on.....

 

The real benefits for us have bee:

 

No voltage sag

Light

Compact

80% of the capacity is actually usable vs. 30-35% with LA

Charges as fast as you can dish it out all the way back to 100%

The fridge actually runs less because the compressor works better at 13.2V rather than 12.2V

Not impacted by large inverter loads and voltage barely sags, even with 100A plus loads.

 

What's different:

 

Separate loads bus and charge bus

Low voltage cut contactor for low voltage protection

High voltage cut relays for alternator and solar for high voltage protection

 

I will top balance each winter and as of this point they don't even need it.. The technology is simply amazing.. Our on-board equipment such as 12V refrigeration and Espar heat have never been happier, they have never run so well.. Voltage rarely if ever drops below 13.2V...

 

Oh and I built it for about the same price as buying four Odyssey PC2150 group 310 AGM's...

 

A build like this is well above most DIY's but the technology will catch up...

 

400Ah LiFePO4 Compass Marine Battery & BMS Module

148866254.jpg

148769974.jpg



#11 jerryj2me

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Posted 07 September 2013 - 12:49 AM

Fancy battery system, I stick with a simple lead acid system myself.

What did that battery pack cost, if I may ask?

 

A lot of the Li-Ion systems end up having charge balancing issues as the devices get older. Want these systems to be as plug and play as much as possible. 



#12 Maine Sail

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Posted 08 September 2013 - 09:23 PM

Fancy battery system, I stick with a simple lead acid system myself.

What did that battery pack cost, if I may ask?

 

A lot of the Li-Ion systems end up having charge balancing issues as the devices get older. Want these systems to be as plug and play as much as possible. 

 

 

Cost is here: http://forums.sbo.sa...69&postcount=44

 

Balancing issues thus far....zero....

 

I will top balance each winter, needed or not, but this is no differnt than a year equalization.

 

These were testing results from last week using the meter I have been using as my "control" meter. It is a NIST calibrated Fluke 179. The Fluke is the meter I have been basing everything off since the beginning..

Here's what I measured:

Unloaded resting @ 77% SOC - Cell temps 72F:

Cell #1 = 3.361V
Cell #2 = 3.362V
Cell #3 = 3.361V
Cell #4 = 3.361V

Loaded @ a -15.5A average load @ 75% SOC - Cell temps 72F

Cell #1 = 3.314V
Cell #2 = 3.315V
Cell #3 = 3.315V
Cell #4 = 3.314V


Charging @ 116A 13.72V - 13.73V - Cell temps 72F

Cell #1 = 3.430V
Cell #2 = 3.431V
Cell #3 = 3.430V
Cell #4 = 3.429V

Charging @ 32A - 34A (current dropping quickly) 13.81V (regulator voltage limiting) - Cell temps 72F

Cell #1 = 3.451V
Cell #2 = 3.452V
Cell #3 = 3.452V
Cell #4 = 3.451V

Not half bad for 164 cycles, approx 75% of them to 80% DOD, and no cell balancing since the initial top balance.



#13 Pinching

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Posted 09 September 2013 - 12:42 AM

Nice job MS.

What is the physical size and weight of your bank? Looks compact and lighter than LA from the pics in your link.



#14 Maine Sail

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Posted 09 September 2013 - 11:11 AM

Nice job MS.

What is the physical size and weight of your bank? Looks compact and lighter than LA from the pics in your link.

 

400Ah LiFePO4
Length 18 7/8"
Width 12 7/8"
Height 12 3/4"
Foot Print = 19" X 13"
400Ah yields 320 Ah's of usable Capacity or 80% of the bank. (100% SOC to 80% DOD)
Weight 134 Pounds



#15 Pinching

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Posted 09 September 2013 - 03:02 PM

Thanks -- sounds like about half the weight of lead acid for more usable AH.  Impressive



#16 Ishmael

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Posted 09 September 2013 - 10:19 PM

Thanks for all the answers, we're finally back at home base and I dragged the batteries into the dealer. He did voltage tests, load tests, and hydrometer tests. Apparently both of my hydrometers, while agreeing, are wrong; he got 12.25 out of each cell when I was getting 11.15. So that makes me feel a bit better, but I'm going to have to invest in better hydrometers. 

 

Now for the nitty-gritty. We have powered for 13 hours at a go, after 4 hours the batteries are getting less than 6A @ 14.4V and the XBM is reading full, which agrees with Maine Sail (I think). After 10 hours there is a bit less. I checked the batteries independently, unhooked, at the battery posts, and my Ancor digital meter agrees with the Xantrex monitor. If the XBM says 11.93, it's true. I don't have a meter that will take more than 10A so I'm relying on the shunt for the Xantrex but I don't have any reason to doubt it at this point. I'll see if I can borrow a clamp ammeter to check that.

 

I have been using Nigel Calder's voltage numbers for state of charge instead of believing the Xantrex, but the disparity is huge. Our last night on the boat we were fully charged up after 5 hours of motoring, when we went to bed at 9 the voltage was 12.95; at 7 the next morning the voltage was 12.10 (rested without load for 30 minutes) with 52 A removed from the 400A bank overnight...so instead of being 25% gone, they were 75% gone. Are my numbers and assumptions that wrong?

 

Oh, yes...after 4 years on the same alternator belt, I changed it out because it was looking a little frayed. I am now on my third belt in three weeks, they keep disintegrating under load and the duration is shortening each time. While it hasn't been at a critical time so far, there have been a few occasions where losing the motor at that time would have been catastrophic. Any good ideas forthcoming on that one? Any recommendations for cleaning off all the glazing on the pulleys which has been building up while the belts have been self-destructing? Any recommendations on better belts? I haven't found a cogged belt to fit.



#17 Pinching

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Posted 10 September 2013 - 11:04 AM

Clamp ammeter will not read DC, only AC.



#18 Maine Sail

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Posted 10 September 2013 - 11:09 AM

Clamp ammeter will not read DC, only AC.

There are plenty of AC/DC clamp meters out there. I own at least thee or four....



#19 Maine Sail

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Posted 10 September 2013 - 11:48 AM

Thanks for all the answers, we're finally back at home base and I dragged the batteries into the dealer. He did voltage tests, load tests, and hydrometer tests. Apparently both of my hydrometers, while agreeing, are wrong; he got 12.25 out of each cell when I was getting 11.15. So that makes me feel a bit better, but I'm going to have to invest in better hydrometers. 

 

Now for the nitty-gritty. We have powered for 13 hours at a go, after 4 hours the batteries are getting less than 6A @ 14.4V and the XBM is reading full, which agrees with Maine Sail (I think). After 10 hours there is a bit less. I checked the batteries independently, unhooked, at the battery posts, and my Ancor digital meter agrees with the Xantrex monitor. If the XBM says 11.93, it's true. I don't have a meter that will take more than 10A so I'm relying on the shunt for the Xantrex but I don't have any reason to doubt it at this point. I'll see if I can borrow a clamp ammeter to check that.

 

I have been using Nigel Calder's voltage numbers for state of charge instead of believing the Xantrex, but the disparity is huge. Our last night on the boat we were fully charged up after 5 hours of motoring, when we went to bed at 9 the voltage was 12.95; at 7 the next morning the voltage was 12.10 (rested without load for 30 minutes) with 52 A removed from the 400A bank overnight...so instead of being 25% gone, they were 75% gone. Are my numbers and assumptions that wrong?

 

Oh, yes...after 4 years on the same alternator belt, I changed it out because it was looking a little frayed. I am now on my third belt in three weeks, they keep disintegrating under load and the duration is shortening each time. While it hasn't been at a critical time so far, there have been a few occasions where losing the motor at that time would have been catastrophic. Any good ideas forthcoming on that one? Any recommendations for cleaning off all the glazing on the pulleys which has been building up while the belts have been self-destructing? Any recommendations on better belts? I haven't found a cogged belt to fit.

Sounds like your batts may have reached "end of life"... Have one tested with a capacitance tester such as a Midtronics analyzer.... A 1/2 hour rest is also insufficient for an open circuit voltage reading. It is likely you could have regained another .1 - .2 volts if allowed to fully rest for longer.. There are only two good tests to know the condition of a battery.

 

1- A true 20 hour capacity test (no battery dealer really does this)

 

2- A capacitance tester such as a Midtronics. Midtronics is the industry standard and nearly every West Marine and Wal*Mart has one..

 

When you first fire up the alt, when 52Ah's had been removed, how quickly do you reach 14.4V??



#20 Ishmael

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Posted 10 September 2013 - 03:22 PM

Thanks for all the answers, we're finally back at home base and I dragged the batteries into the dealer. He did voltage tests, load tests, and hydrometer tests. Apparently both of my hydrometers, while agreeing, are wrong; he got 12.25 out of each cell when I was getting 11.15. So that makes me feel a bit better, but I'm going to have to invest in better hydrometers. 

 

Now for the nitty-gritty. We have powered for 13 hours at a go, after 4 hours the batteries are getting less than 6A @ 14.4V and the XBM is reading full, which agrees with Maine Sail (I think). After 10 hours there is a bit less. I checked the batteries independently, unhooked, at the battery posts, and my Ancor digital meter agrees with the Xantrex monitor. If the XBM says 11.93, it's true. I don't have a meter that will take more than 10A so I'm relying on the shunt for the Xantrex but I don't have any reason to doubt it at this point. I'll see if I can borrow a clamp ammeter to check that.

 

I have been using Nigel Calder's voltage numbers for state of charge instead of believing the Xantrex, but the disparity is huge. Our last night on the boat we were fully charged up after 5 hours of motoring, when we went to bed at 9 the voltage was 12.95; at 7 the next morning the voltage was 12.10 (rested without load for 30 minutes) with 52 A removed from the 400A bank overnight...so instead of being 25% gone, they were 75% gone. Are my numbers and assumptions that wrong?

 

Oh, yes...after 4 years on the same alternator belt, I changed it out because it was looking a little frayed. I am now on my third belt in three weeks, they keep disintegrating under load and the duration is shortening each time. While it hasn't been at a critical time so far, there have been a few occasions where losing the motor at that time would have been catastrophic. Any good ideas forthcoming on that one? Any recommendations for cleaning off all the glazing on the pulleys which has been building up while the belts have been self-destructing? Any recommendations on better belts? I haven't found a cogged belt to fit.

Sounds like your batts may have reached "end of life"... Have one tested with a capacitance tester such as a Midtronics analyzer.... A 1/2 hour rest is also insufficient for an open circuit voltage reading. It is likely you could have regained another .1 - .2 volts if allowed to fully rest for longer.. There are only two good tests to know the condition of a battery.

 

1- A true 20 hour capacity test (no battery dealer really does this)

 

2- A capacitance tester such as a Midtronics. Midtronics is the industry standard and nearly every West Marine and Wal*Mart has one..

 

When you first fire up the alt, when 52Ah's had been removed, how quickly do you reach 14.4V??

 

That's something I never really paid attention to. I guess it really depends on whether we're traveling, in which case there's a lot more juice going in at 2500 RPM compared to if we're sitting at anchor charging at idle speeds. I'll see if I can pull some numbers together. It's tough to do a 24-hour rest when you're in the middle of nowhere with a reefer full of food. <_<

 

I'll pick up the batteries from the dealer today (he was pulsing them overnight for desulfating) and drop by my local WM and borrow their Midtronics unit. We'll see how that works out.

 

Thanks for the input, I was hoping you'd show up.



#21 jerryj2me

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Posted 10 September 2013 - 04:43 PM

Maine Sail - really nice charge balancing numbers I would have expected to see at least 50mV of spread after things had been used for a while.

 

Thing is, you got some serious money ($2700) in just the battery system.

 

It's probably only for those with deep pockets.

 

***********************************************

 

4 - 400Ah Winston Cells = $1032.00 (this was a special deal today they are 2k/$500.00 per cell)
Shipping Cells = $250.00 (they come in very well packed wooden crate truck freight)
Tyco EV200 Contactor = $79.00 (this is the load cut relay)
House Power BMS Board = $75.00 (Clean Power Auto LLC.)
Cell Modules = $54.00 (Clean Power Auto LLC.)
Aluminum for end plates/compression = $64.00
3/8" Polycarbonate = $27.00
Anodizing Aluminum = $60.00 (minimum charge)
Nuts, Bolts, Threaded Rod, Washers etc. = $12.80
Bus Bar = $4.80 (Blue Sea)
Switches, Alarm Buzzer etc. $44.00
Terminals = $9.50
High Voltage Cut Relays $24.00
Total Materials (my cost) = $1731.60
Total at current cell pricing $2704.10



#22 Maine Sail

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Posted 10 September 2013 - 07:25 PM

Maine Sail - really nice charge balancing numbers I would have expected to see at least 50mV of spread after things had been used for a while.

 

Thing is, you got some serious money ($2700) in just the battery system.

 

It's probably only for those with deep pockets.

 

***********************************************

 

4 - 400Ah Winston Cells = $1032.00 (this was a special deal today they are 2k/$500.00 per cell)
Shipping Cells = $250.00 (they come in very well packed wooden crate truck freight)
Tyco EV200 Contactor = $79.00 (this is the load cut relay)
House Power BMS Board = $75.00 (Clean Power Auto LLC.)
Cell Modules = $54.00 (Clean Power Auto LLC.)
Aluminum for end plates/compression = $64.00
3/8" Polycarbonate = $27.00
Anodizing Aluminum = $60.00 (minimum charge)
Nuts, Bolts, Threaded Rod, Washers etc. = $12.80
Bus Bar = $4.80 (Blue Sea)
Switches, Alarm Buzzer etc. $44.00
Terminals = $9.50
High Voltage Cut Relays $24.00
Total Materials (my cost) = $1731.60
Total at current cell pricing $2704.10

I have $1731.60 into the bank and already had all the rest of the items. If you watch for specials, as I did, you can snap them up and build a bank for a comparable price to AGM... When the specials pop up the cells go FAST.. I got mine and three days later they were out...



#23 Pinching

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Posted 10 September 2013 - 07:31 PM

Cool.  I've gotta get one of those clamp on hall effect DC current meters.  I guess I'm only 30 years behind the times...  



#24 Throatwarbler-Mangrove

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Posted 10 September 2013 - 07:39 PM

Maine Sail,

When you get a chance, can you post a circuit diagram?

Tnx



#25 Maine Sail

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Posted 10 September 2013 - 08:01 PM

Maine Sail,

When you get a chance, can you post a circuit diagram?

Tnx

For what?? The LiFePO4?

 

Even if I did post it you don't want to see my chicken scratch.. I pretty much wire from my head and don't use circuit diagrams. I need to make one but it takes time to do that, so I've not done it.... I have some layouts in a notebook but thats it... Read the threads on CF if you want a good primer....



#26 Throatwarbler-Mangrove

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Posted 10 September 2013 - 10:48 PM

Read the threads on CF if you want a good primer....

Did, but couldn't visualize how it all fit together. 

 

If you don't have one, never mind... I'm just curious.

 

Just do the next owner of your boat a favor....



#27 Moonduster

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 10:09 PM

There are some good diagrams on Bruce Schwab's web site ...

 

Good luck!



#28 jerryj2me

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Posted 12 September 2013 - 04:37 AM

Read the threads on CF if you want a good primer....

Did, but couldn't visualize how it all fit together. 

 

If you don't have one, never mind... I'm just curious.

 

Just do the next owner of your boat a favor....

if you got questions on this stuff, rattle my cage you know how...



#29 jerryj2me

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Posted 12 September 2013 - 04:39 AM

Cool.  I've gotta get one of those clamp on hall effect DC current meters.  I guess I'm only 30 years behind the times...  

30?

 

LOL!

 

:)

 

Those widgets have been around longer than that, especially if you count the ones with the analog readouts.



#30 B.J. Porter

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Posted 12 September 2013 - 01:01 PM

Thanks for all the answers, we're finally back at home base and I dragged the batteries into the dealer. He did voltage tests, load tests, and hydrometer tests. Apparently both of my hydrometers, while agreeing, are wrong; he got 12.25 out of each cell when I was getting 11.15. So that makes me feel a bit better, but I'm going to have to invest in better hydrometers. 

 

Now for the nitty-gritty. We have powered for 13 hours at a go, after 4 hours the batteries are getting less than 6A @ 14.4V and the XBM is reading full, which agrees with Maine Sail (I think). After 10 hours there is a bit less. I checked the batteries independently, unhooked, at the battery posts, and my Ancor digital meter agrees with the Xantrex monitor. If the XBM says 11.93, it's true. I don't have a meter that will take more than 10A so I'm relying on the shunt for the Xantrex but I don't have any reason to doubt it at this point. I'll see if I can borrow a clamp ammeter to check that.

 

I have been using Nigel Calder's voltage numbers for state of charge instead of believing the Xantrex, but the disparity is huge. Our last night on the boat we were fully charged up after 5 hours of motoring, when we went to bed at 9 the voltage was 12.95; at 7 the next morning the voltage was 12.10 (rested without load for 30 minutes) with 52 A removed from the 400A bank overnight...so instead of being 25% gone, they were 75% gone. Are my numbers and assumptions that wrong?

 

Oh, yes...after 4 years on the same alternator belt, I changed it out because it was looking a little frayed. I am now on my third belt in three weeks, they keep disintegrating under load and the duration is shortening each time. While it hasn't been at a critical time so far, there have been a few occasions where losing the motor at that time would have been catastrophic. Any good ideas forthcoming on that one? Any recommendations for cleaning off all the glazing on the pulleys which has been building up while the belts have been self-destructing? Any recommendations on better belts? I haven't found a cogged belt to fit.

 

 

One thing I've not seen mentioned in this thread (maybe I missed it)...when was the last time you plugged it in to shore power for a full charge and equalized the batteries?

 

Its not unheard of for batteries that aren't charged to 100% regularly (i.e. on any boat that spends a long time on the hook or on moorings instead of a slip) to develop some sulfation.  That can lead the batteries to surface charge - the battery voltage rises quickly when charging - which fools your charging system into thinking you batteries are charged when they are not.  The battery voltage will also peel off very quickly when the charge stops; this does not sound dissimilar to what you are describing in year old batteries.

 

Wet cells are more prone to sulfation than AGM's, but it is not true that AGM's are immune.  Even Lifeline suggests an equalization for their AGM batteries.

 

It may be that a high voltage kick in the pants is most of what your house bank needs.



#31 Ishmael

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Posted 14 September 2013 - 06:15 PM

I did an equalization while we were plugged in to shore power for a couple of days, didn't do anything that I could see, but then again my hydrometers weren't working (how does a glass tube hydrometer lose calibration?). The dealer did a pulse charge while he had them to knock down any sulfation as well. 

 

The dealer did a test with the Midtronics unit while I was there, all the batteries came out better than rated and all scored good. I dunno, maybe I'm just expecting too much from my batteries, plus as BJ says there is the ongoing charging deficit that tends to build up.


For now, I'm just going to have to live with it.



#32 Dex Sawash

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Posted 15 September 2013 - 12:45 AM

 

Sounds like your batts may have reached "end of life"... Have one tested with a capacitance tester such as a Midtronics analyzer.... A 1/2 hour rest is also insufficient for an open circuit voltage reading. It is likely you could have regained another .1 - .2 volts if allowed to fully rest for longer.. There are only two good tests to know the condition of a battery.

 

1- A true 20 hour capacity test (no battery dealer really does this)

 

2- A capacitance tester such as a Midtronics. Midtronics is the industry standard and nearly every West Marine and Wal*Mart has one..

 

When you first fire up the alt, when 52Ah's had been removed, how quickly do you reach 14.4V??

 

 

I'm not a fan of the Midtronics testers, especially in marginal situations.

We've had two Midis at my shop. Both will fail batteries that prove to be good and pass batteries that are for sure bad.

The false rate is pretty low, but when you are chasing a loop of charge/store/load/parasitic drain diagnostics there is too much voodoo in the Midi for me to rely on it.

 

The Midtronics is good to keep warranty costs down for the battery manufacturer since it doesn't take smarts to use or interpret the answer it gives. 

I think the tool's main reason for being is to avoid the situation where a battery retailer just hands a new replacement battery to everyone that walks in with a battery that has warranty remaining and asks for another. 

An employee with low training can test batteries for exchange at a pretty low false fail rate.

 

The only thing I ever want the Midi to do for me is spit out a warranty test code for a claim after the old school methods have confirmed a bad battery diagnosis.

The Midis can have different SW in them, it is possible that some work better than others.

 

The false fail rate is high enough that I haven't had to buy a battery for anything I own in a long time though  :D

So I guess I am sort of a fan of the Midtronics tester, so never mind.



#33 Maine Sail

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Posted 15 September 2013 - 06:59 PM

I did an equalization while we were plugged in to shore power for a couple of days, didn't do anything that I could see, but then again my hydrometers weren't working (how does a glass tube hydrometer lose calibration?). The dealer did a pulse charge while he had them to knock down any sulfation as well. 

 

The dealer did a test with the Midtronics unit while I was there, all the batteries came out better than rated and all scored good. I dunno, maybe I'm just expecting too much from my batteries, plus as BJ says there is the ongoing charging deficit that tends to build up.


For now, I'm just going to have to live with it.

Perhaps I did not read the OP carefully enough. Your batteries are failry new and as such they may not even be broken in yet. It can take numerous cycles to 50% DOD or so to get them to produce full capacity. You may find that one day you'll wake up and all of a sudden they are holding voltage significantly better....



#34 Maine Sail

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Posted 15 September 2013 - 07:12 PM

 

 

Sounds like your batts may have reached "end of life"... Have one tested with a capacitance tester such as a Midtronics analyzer.... A 1/2 hour rest is also insufficient for an open circuit voltage reading. It is likely you could have regained another .1 - .2 volts if allowed to fully rest for longer.. There are only two good tests to know the condition of a battery.

 

1- A true 20 hour capacity test (no battery dealer really does this)

 

2- A capacitance tester such as a Midtronics. Midtronics is the industry standard and nearly every West Marine and Wal*Mart has one..

 

When you first fire up the alt, when 52Ah's had been removed, how quickly do you reach 14.4V??

 

 

I'm not a fan of the Midtronics testers, especially in marginal situations.

We've had two Midis at my shop. Both will fail batteries that prove to be good and pass batteries that are for sure bad.

The false rate is pretty low, but when you are chasing a loop of charge/store/load/parasitic drain diagnostics there is too much voodoo in the Midi for me to rely on it.

 

The Midtronics is good to keep warranty costs down for the battery manufacturer since it doesn't take smarts to use or interpret the answer it gives. 

I think the tool's main reason for being is to avoid the situation where a battery retailer just hands a new replacement battery to everyone that walks in with a battery that has warranty remaining and asks for another. 

An employee with low training can test batteries for exchange at a pretty low false fail rate.

 

The only thing I ever want the Midi to do for me is spit out a warranty test code for a claim after the old school methods have confirmed a bad battery diagnosis.

The Midis can have different SW in them, it is possible that some work better than others.

 

The false fail rate is high enough that I haven't had to buy a battery for anything I own in a long time though  :D

So I guess I am sort of a fan of the Midtronics tester, so never mind.

That has not been my experience at all with conductance testers. On numerous occasions I have compared my Midtronics and Argus analyzers to a true 20 hour capacity load test. I have found them to be pretty darn accurate in translating CCA or MCA/internal resistance to overall health of the battery. Are they 100% perfect, no, but other than a true 20 hour, temp and current controlled capacity test, nothing is. The nice thing about the Argus is that it gives me the internal resistance of the battery....

 

I have no idea about the cheaper Midtronics models designed for only car batteries but my Midtronics EXP-1000HD, designed for larger and deep cycle batteries, has never yet incorrectly diagnosed a battery. I also own a 500A carbon pile and designed and built a 20 hour capacity load tester.

 

The Midtronics is about as good as it gets and unfortunately due to a pattent fight you can no longer get the Argus 500.... I can find many batteries that pass a 500A load test & SG, but that fail to deliver even 70% of the actual rated Ah capacity... The conducatnce testers are not fooled by this. Perhaps you have the meters designed for thin plate car batteries..?



#35 Dex Sawash

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Posted 15 September 2013 - 11:23 PM

 

 

 

Sounds like your batts may have reached "end of life"... Have one tested with a capacitance tester such as a Midtronics analyzer.... A 1/2 hour rest is also insufficient for an open circuit voltage reading. It is likely you could have regained another .1 - .2 volts if allowed to fully rest for longer.. There are only two good tests to know the condition of a battery.

 

1- A true 20 hour capacity test (no battery dealer really does this)

 

2- A capacitance tester such as a Midtronics. Midtronics is the industry standard and nearly every West Marine and Wal*Mart has one..

 

When you first fire up the alt, when 52Ah's had been removed, how quickly do you reach 14.4V??

 

 

I'm not a fan of the Midtronics testers, especially in marginal situations.

We've had two Midis at my shop. Both will fail batteries that prove to be good and pass batteries that are for sure bad.

The false rate is pretty low, but when you are chasing a loop of charge/store/load/parasitic drain diagnostics there is too much voodoo in the Midi for me to rely on it.

 

The Midtronics is good to keep warranty costs down for the battery manufacturer since it doesn't take smarts to use or interpret the answer it gives. 

I think the tool's main reason for being is to avoid the situation where a battery retailer just hands a new replacement battery to everyone that walks in with a battery that has warranty remaining and asks for another. 

An employee with low training can test batteries for exchange at a pretty low false fail rate.

 

The only thing I ever want the Midi to do for me is spit out a warranty test code for a claim after the old school methods have confirmed a bad battery diagnosis.

The Midis can have different SW in them, it is possible that some work better than others.

 

The false fail rate is high enough that I haven't had to buy a battery for anything I own in a long time though  :D

So I guess I am sort of a fan of the Midtronics tester, so never mind.

That has not been my experience at all with conductance testers. On numerous occasions I have compared my Midtronics and Argus analyzers to a true 20 hour capacity load test. I have found them to be pretty darn accurate in translating CCA or MCA/internal resistance to overall health of the battery. Are they 100% perfect, no, but other than a true 20 hour, temp and current controlled capacity test, nothing is. The nice thing about the Argus is that it gives me the internal resistance of the battery....

 

I have no idea about the cheaper Midtronics models designed for only car batteries but my Midtronics EXP-1000HD, designed for larger and deep cycle batteries, has never yet incorrectly diagnosed a battery. I also own a 500A carbon pile and designed and built a 20 hour capacity load tester.

 

The Midtronics is about as good as it gets and unfortunately due to a pattent fight you can no longer get the Argus 500.... I can find many batteries that pass a 500A load test & SG, but that fail to deliver even 70% of the actual rated Ah capacity... The conducatnce testers are not fooled by this. Perhaps you have the meters designed for thin plate car batteries..?

 

Your 1000 series tester is a different animal, I never looked at Miditronics' full line until just now.

We have a $500ish one it is automotive, a GM special tool.

It is programmed to just give a good/bad/charge and retest and then output a test code with a "bad" result.

All the test data is programmed to not be displayed on ours.

Have seen but not used the same unit we have that did display actual data.

(at least the paperwork said it did)

 

My external inductive amp clamp exploded on my 35+ year old carbon pile tester. Gotta replace that somehow.



#36 Throatwarbler-Mangrove

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Posted 16 September 2013 - 01:12 AM

There are some good diagrams on Bruce Schwab's web site ...

 

Good luck!

Had a long chat with Bruce at the Newport Boat Show.  Very interesting.



#37 40grit

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Posted 02 October 2013 - 10:55 PM

to me, after reading the thread, It sounds like the regulator is not set up properly, Possibly the charge voltage for the AGMS is not corect?

 

it also sounds like the pulleys are not turning the Alt fast enough, look at pulley sizes. and it needs  a double pulley double belt. that alternator I believe is in the 9K range

 

I also believe the Batteries might be a little small, I had a similar problem with combiners not combining, and assorted low voltage problems aboard a fishing boat, of similar size and needs. I got rid of the Group 31s and upsized to 4-Ds and it solved all problems. all this from a Shade tree engineeres point of view.



#38 jzk

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Posted 02 October 2013 - 11:25 PM

Hmmm.  Your alternator is eating belts?  Why is that happening?  Are you using the right belts?



#39 Ishmael

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Posted 09 October 2013 - 01:11 AM

I took a straightedge out and checked alignment, and the alternator was sitting back a bit from where it should have been. I took the alt into the shop and had them shim out the pulley 3mm. Alignment is much better. I'm thinking the whole problem with the alternator was the alignment was a tad off and a tad off at 80+ amps is too much. I have no idea how the last belt lasted for years. Must have been a mutant.



#40 oceaneer

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Posted 09 October 2013 - 03:09 AM

Hi Ish..

The belts from Lordco if thats where you have been getting them were a problem (Dayco) 

the Gates ones are better.. Dont know if that helps at all. 

Oceaneer. 



#41 Sailabout

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Posted 14 October 2013 - 08:07 AM

what is the belt section?

90 amps is a big ask from a single belt ( assuming ti can get there?)

How about the alternator rpm/output graph versus what speed the alternator is actually doing or can do?

then the belt wrap angle and all that other stuff...



#42 Ishmael

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Posted 18 October 2013 - 11:21 PM

what is the belt section?

90 amps is a big ask from a single belt ( assuming ti can get there?)

How about the alternator rpm/output graph versus what speed the alternator is actually doing or can do?

then the belt wrap angle and all that other stuff...

 

It's an A37 belt; I tried finding a cogged belt in this profile, but no luck. The latest crappy Dayco belt is holding up OK and I have two spares on board plus a universal urethane belt if all else fails. The first two belts to disintegrate were OEM belts I got from my Yanmar shop (at huge expense). I'm going to get a couple of Gates belts too, my alternator shop recommended them also.

 

I had one opportunity to check out the new & improved system last week, I went out overnight and left on as many lights as I could to drop the batteries down. In the morning, the alternator had no problem putting out 50A @ 1100 RPM with no sign of belt dusting or rubber smell. I think we may have a winner here. Fingers and gonads crossed...



#43 Dex Sawash

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Posted 19 October 2013 - 01:19 PM

Shouldn't be too hard to get an AX37 (notched)

http://www.grainger....TON-VBelt-6L235

I sometimes buy industrial belts from Autozone if I know the number.

 

Is the top of your belt flush with pulley OD?

There may be room for a B section belt if the pulleys have room.



#44 Ishmael

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Posted 20 October 2013 - 12:34 AM

Shouldn't be too hard to get an AX37 (notched)

http://www.grainger....TON-VBelt-6L235

I sometimes buy industrial belts from Autozone if I know the number.

 

Is the top of your belt flush with pulley OD?

There may be room for a B section belt if the pulleys have room.

 

Top of the belt is flush, no room for a deeper belt. Living up in Canuckistan means a lot of US suppliers are expensive to access with cross-border shipping...thanks. 



#45 Moonduster

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Posted 20 October 2013 - 01:13 PM

95 Amps at 12 volts isn't a big ask from a single belt. At 50% efficiency, you're asking for 3HP out of the belt, which is nothing for a high quality notched belt. And your only taking 95A while you're in the bulk charge phase, which is likely rather short. I've driven 220A at 12V successfully. Gates belts are really worth the hassle it takes to find them.

 

Alignment isn't that critical, either - at least within a few degrees or a few millimeters. What is critical is that the belt is well tensioned and fully supported on its sides; it shouldn't touch the bottom of the V in either the crankshaft or alternator sheaves. And the sides of those sheaves must be completely burr free and not polished to a super shiny surface. The polishing can happen if you've been having belt slippage. It's really worth pulling both sheaves and checking them thoroughly and replacing if there are doubts. Any machine shop can resurface and/or deglaze, too.

 

Good luck!






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