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Old 05-30-2012, 08:34 PM   #15
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I'm beginning to wish I'd just let you in on the 100kWhr/mo we use when cruising rather than the up-to-300 kWhr we can use when doing lots of projects on the boat

As Ivo notes, we do work from home--and home being the boat . Glad to keep you entertained, Ivo.

The big constant work related draw is a powerful computer that spends sometimes 24 hours a day crunching numbers...when it's doing its work that is. It uses about 30 W/hr on mild things, but when doing its number crunching thing, it's up to about 80 W/hr. This one is a Shuttle SFF computer, our old Shuttle SFF used 120W or so to do the same stuff and was 20x slower. Things improve over time. I use a small notebook computer for web and such, but hubby's and my work involve some things which need computer power. The computer monitor uses 20-25W/hr when we're looking at it (maybe 5 hours a day) but isn't needed when the computer is just running its programs. More or less, we're seeing a minimum of 50 kWhr/month for the computer (work-related) use. The other 50kWhr is our "regular" cruiser load of energy use for running the boat, lighting, etc. Then, when we're using up to 300 kWhr/month that is specifically when we're doing lots of "projects" around the boat involving saws, sanders, drills and so forth. Or, if we've decided to be decadent with our use of some appliance that we don't normal use (e.g. running the iron because I'm sewing). Projects can run up the power requirements amazingly fast. If you're planning on doing projects fixing up your new boat, you'll find yourself there, too.

Energy use does add up and it is a good idea to keep track of things. Many people don't bother and then they are surprised when they can't keep up with their own energy demands.

We're in a marina right now (metered electric) and have been here for several months. Last month's bill was for 123 kWhr (and that was using an iron alot for sewing, too!) Even though we work from home and thus think we're using lots of energy, the dockmaster is amazed by how LITTLE energy we use. There are at least 30 liveaboard boats here--some as small as 26ft--and the dockmaster maintains that the two largest cruising boats (ours and another nearby us) have the lowest electric bills each month. Interestingly, that other cruiser uses their approx. 300 W solar panels, doesn't work aboard, but does have both refrigeration and a freezer. We figure our work at home is about equal to their refrigeration. LOL.

Inboard generators can be very quite to operate. There are even special exhaust gas-water separators that enable you to not have that splash-splash of water as you're running the generator (the exhaust gas goes up to a thru hull slightly above the waterline and the raw water goes down to a thru hull below the waterline). Regarding deck operated generators, the quiet Honda EU2000 is well known.

Noise during the day--In some of the US harbors where people aren't supposed to be aboard overnight, there isn't much of a care about noise/work during the daytime--there's just close scrutiny of whether your dingy remains with the boat (or goes ashore) and what is happening in the early morning hours. As such, in these locations, you'd be able to easily use a generator while doing projects during the daytime but you'd have to be invisible during night and early morning.
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Old 05-30-2012, 10:37 PM   #16
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Discussion is always a good thing ...

"equalizing charge ampacity" I don't quite understand that. For the past 2 years or so I have been relying on my solar panels and using the genet every 3 days or so for a few hours and thats it. Occasionally, about once a month or so I tie up to the yacht club pontoon here for a day and night to wash down the boat etc and while there I plug into shore power and have the battery charger on.

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Old 05-31-2012, 12:10 AM   #17
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Lexx

the equalizing charge ampacity is the amperage needed to bring the batteries into a reasonably brisk bubbling stage. This usually means a charging voltage above 14-15V, ergo a lot of current too. This voltage is not exact as it depends on the internal resistance, type of plate, lead/antimony ratio, temperature and other manufacturer particulars. Google battery equalizing and find a plethora of data to make your eyes glaze over. Also on what should NOT be equalized, like gel-cells.

In short, the higher charge rate causes gassing which stirs up the acid layering that occurs otherwise. It also tends to knock of sulphation deposits. As the name 'equalizing' implies it imparts a "similar value system" on each cell, so they can all act in tandem. This is the simplistic view, but in practice it works and does improve longevity and capacity.

Recommended intervals vary from monthly to yearly, dependent on whose kool-aid you prefer to drink. The idea is to get the electrolytes fully mixed and to their highest concentration. At that point you should check and adjust specific gravity and if needed repeat later, as you do not want to run the cells warm. It takes quite a while for the acid to distribute, so waiting a few hours or a day in between is good policy.

Mucho importante is that gassing goes on for a sufficient length of time, usually several hours. ( Talking batteries here only, OK? ) Some smart chargers can be programmed to do it automatically but the el cheopos do not do it at all.

The 25A charger and short port-side stay make it unlikely the cells ever get to a full charge, as once you get to the trickle charge stage you are only at around 90-95% capacity. The charge rate becomes very slow indeed, so by the time you sip your brewski at sundown you're only at perhaps 96%. Now the 50-60A charge brute forces the cells to 14V and more and to accept charge. If internal resistance is high the voltage will go up even more but that means you have a poor battery right there.

Anyway, the trickle stage is effectively bypassed. Be very careful to not cook the cells. Keep checking water level as you are boiling (dis-sociating) it off into gas so keep a reasonable temperature. Not much above warm to the hand at best. Wet towels and spray can help or choose a cool day.

Amazing how these nutshell answers grow...
Good luck googling it as there is lot more detail to it.

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Old 05-31-2012, 10:25 AM   #18
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Sometimes to much information really is to much information ... I am a simple sailor and have been for many years. I do okay and get by in most circumstances so think I will stick with what I got and what I know.

Oh my battery charger has a normal mode, a supply mode and a recondition mode ... so I guess I could try the recond mode now and again and have a look see at the batteries.

Seriously they are fine and I really have never had any battery probs.

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Old 05-31-2012, 06:50 PM   #19
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Lexx, that recondition mode looks so much better for selling the units than "equalizing mode" would. Equalizing smells of taxing or transferring wealth from the 99%rs to the 1%rs and I know I lose either way.

Speaking percentages, its 99% sure that "recondition mode" is the same thing as equalizing and has the same effect. Just check and see what the voltage out does. It should ramp up as the charge progresses and hold steady at a certain point. Possibly it may stay on for a timed period. Better read the manual as it may be YOU who is responsible for not overdoing the time and extra heat generated.

It sounds like you have it all going well anyhow.

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Old 05-31-2012, 08:40 PM   #20
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<snide> Ampacity? Amperage? I love it when you guys talk dirty, learning all these new technical terms. </snide>

The solution to all this is to use the newer calcium cells, which don't need such treatment and are totally sealed. Wet cell batteries in a boat probably aren't a good idea anyhow. Also, if you do this be aware that outgassing is highly explosive (it is pure hydrogen) and so battery conditioning should NEVER be done in a confined space.

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Old 06-01-2012, 02:33 AM   #21
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Confined space. Make sure the location/locker whatever which contains your battery boxes is ventilated allowing that corrosive gas to exit the boat.
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Old 06-01-2012, 05:43 AM   #22
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Rob and Bopeep

fortunately hydrogen from the over-charging is the lightest gas out there, twice lighter than helium even. So, as long as there are no domed ceilings or fixtures below or inside which it can get trapped ( and wait for you to flip that little sparky light switch ) you really are OK. It needs about a 4% level to go kaboom and a 1% one is still considered safe.

Considering how fast a kid's lost helium balloon rises you can picture those little hydrogeniters zipping up like air bubbles from an aquarium diffuser. They would be out of sight PDQ, so just keep space above the batteries open and you'll be ok.

Accidents have occurred mostly in wholly enclosed or unventilated rooms. I'd be much more concerned about Klutzenheimer dropping a metal wrench across opposing bare battery terminals. That will create some real fireworks right above the bubbly gas source and could blow a battery apart. Really bad karma, especially for unprotected eyes.

You all do use goggles when messing with your batteries, right?

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Old 06-01-2012, 05:07 PM   #23
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Venting, explosion is a reason to do so, yes. But l mentioned "corrosive" as hydrogen gas can form (with other materials) hydrides (causing enbrittlement). I'm not concerned about explosion as much as I'm concerned about corrosion and damage to other boat systems. Also, hydrogen gas will set of the Carbon Monoxide detectors on the boat.

ABYC is also concerned enough about this to require action of a vent or dielectric shield above the battery. Here's a FAQ about their req.

"Q. ABYC E-10 requires that I have a 12" "Dielectric shield" above my battery for the purposes of gassing. I understand this requirement when installing traditional "Lead Acid" type batteries, however, I am installing gel-type batteries and do not see the need for this spacing.
A. First, E-10 does not differentiate between traditional (lead-acid) and newer types of batteries (gel) that minimize or eliminate hydrogen gassing. Keep in mind that a battery is not permanent. At some point in time, the unit will have to be replaced. Generally these batteries are replaced with what the owner can afford or what the owner finds is available at the time. The suggested method of installation found in E-10 takes into account this common situation. Since hydrogen gassing can affect most materials used in component construction (e.g. aluminum cases on chargers/inverters, fuel lines) the standard calls for the 12" of dielectric shielding."
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Old 06-01-2012, 05:51 PM   #24
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OK, points noted. The dielectric shields are I believe primarily for the prevention of shorts, hence need for the dielectric. Now once the hydrogen passed the shield, then what? It doesn't get neutralized or absorbed by the shield. The corrosion imho is likely more from the sulphuric acid vapors that kinda come along with the fizz and pop of the bubbles. Perhaps the shield is a splash-guard as well ? Short-term hydrogen gas by itself I believe is not very deleterious to metal. Except when packed into a hydrogen bomb, of the variety "nucular" as they say in Texas.
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Old 06-01-2012, 07:10 PM   #25
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sorry for sloppy typing above OR should be vent AND shield. You're right on about preventing shorts. I'd thought that FAQ I'd copied included vent info, sorry.

Regarding ventilation for batteries, my own issue remains degradation of (metallic) materials in the boat whereas the regulatory/industry standards are focused on the explosion potential. Here is a link about hydrogen damage to metals http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrogen_damage

--for USA owners of boats, here is the US Coast Guard requirements for battery installations and the NFPA requirements. Both require vent system to discharge hydrogen gas but don't get into details.

USCG
33 CFR Sec. 183.420 Batteries.
"(a) Each installed battery must not move more than one inch in any direction when a pulling force of 90 pounds or twice the battery weight, whichever is less, is applied through the center of gravity of the battery as follows:
<(1) Vertically for a duration of one minute.
(2) Horizontally and parallel to the boat's center line for a duration of one minute fore and one minute aft.
(3) Horizontally and perpendicular to the boat's center line for a duration of one minute to starboard and one minute to port.
(b) Each battery must be installed so that metallic objects cannot come in contact with the ungrounded battery terminals.
(c) Each metallic fuel line and fuel system component within 12 inches and above the horizontal plane of the battery top surface as installed must be shielded with dielectric material.
(d) Each battery must not be directly above or below a fuel tank, fuel filter, or fitting in a fuel line.
(e) A vent system or other means must be provided to permit the discharge from the boat of hydrogen gas released by the battery.
(g) Each battery terminal connector must not depend on spring tension for its mechanical connection to the terminal."


NFPA 302-7.3
“A vent system or other means shall be provided to allow the discharge from the boat of hydrogen gas released by the battery. Battery boxes with a cover that forms a pocket over the battery shall be vented.”
“Batteries shall be secured to provide immobilization to the extent practicable.”
“Batteries shall be located in a liquid tight tray or battery box of adequate capacity to retain normal spillage or boilover of electrolytes. The tray shall be constructed of or lined with materials resistant to deterioration by the electrolytes.”
“A non conductive, perforated cover or other means shall be provided to prevent accidental shorting of the ungrounded battery terminals and cell conductors.”
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Old 06-01-2012, 09:21 PM   #26
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Cher BeBopAloola

thanks for the links. Mine eyes hathed glazeth over well even before I got to the "pitch-catch mode shear wave velocity" part. ( That's just after the "creeping wave" bit in wikipedia )

So yes, "Yeah, slimy things did crawl upon a slimy sea" and my apologies if I hath mis-quothed the "Ancient Mariner" and Chaucer or whoever penned that. Been up since 4:30am, it's been a long wild day so far. I'm hors de combat and crawling off the field!
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Old 12-19-2012, 01:42 AM   #27
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Experiences after a month aboard:

Struggled by with one tired 100Ah battery until last week, when I replaced it with a pair of brand new Century Marine Pro AGPs. I have two panels totaling 180W of charging capacity and find that by 11am the controller is blinking - indicating excess charging capacity available - but currently I'm being very frugal with external lights due to being on a swing mooring.

I've ordered two new 80W panels to bring the total to three, and the 100W panel that came with the boat will be going to Brisbane to be fitted to Shenoa, the Hartley Tasman I bought a fortnight ago. I'll also be fitting a 100W wind generator to supplement these.

The batteries can be used individually via an A/B switch or, as I'm doing now, in parallel (A+B.) When used individually they charge more efficiently because the solar panels work best at 17.6V and that can't be achieved while they're loaded down. This feature may be useful in lower latitudes such as Tasmania.

While I haven't yet tested the theoretical limits outlined in my original post, I have been using a PC for up to 6 hours a day, LED lighting for 4 hours, TV for 2 hours, as well as charging 18650 batteries (e-cigarette), battery drill and phone. The macerator head and pressurized shower also run off 12 volts. The inverters are being used occasionally for 240V things like my soldering iron and jigsaw.

It all seems to work, so I'm happy.
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Old 12-21-2012, 12:13 PM   #28
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haiqu, I don't know if this non-technical blurb will be of any help, but here goes. We have a Beneteau 41 down in the BVI's that sees about 9 months of use annually. We have an icebox that has been converted to a 12V refrigerator. One of our group is an EE and he recommended a solid state controlled South West Wind Power Air Breeze 12V wind turbine to keep our 2 AGM 12V house batteries topped off. With our constant tradewinds, it works like a champ! gts1544
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