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Old 08-12-2010, 04:53 PM   #1
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Hello Equipment Forum!

Looking for the best value in a battery for a small sailboat. (PY26, Outboard). Our old battery is dying, and I am concerned about our ability to safely sail at dusk/night.

Details that might affect your recommendation:

- Under $200

- No cranking amps needed, the engine is a pull-start.

- Equipment is: VHF, Cabin Lights, Stern/Bow lights, Mooring Light, Running/Mast Light, Depth Finder, Autohelm.

- No alternator onboard/no dock power... we currently rely on a solar panel to keep a 3 year old hybrid marine battery in some state of "charge". Because of the lack of alternator/regular power source, a low maintenance battery that doesn't mind being drained quite low at times would be ideal.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 08-13-2010, 02:59 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jgerrits' date='12 August 2010 - 09:47 AM View Post

Hello Equipment Forum!

Looking for the best value in a battery for a small sailboat. (PY26, Outboard). Our old battery is dying, and I am concerned about our ability to safely sail at dusk/night.

Details that might affect your recommendation:

- Under $200

- No cranking amps needed, the engine is a pull-start.

- Equipment is: VHF, Cabin Lights, Stern/Bow lights, Mooring Light, Running/Mast Light, Depth Finder, Autohelm.

- No alternator onboard/no dock power... we currently rely on a solar panel to keep a 3 year old hybrid marine battery in some state of "charge". Because of the lack of alternator/regular power source, a low maintenance battery that doesn't mind being drained quite low at times would be ideal.

Thanks in advance!
Hi

You don't say where you are. Solar is a solid answer in some locales but not in others. And how big is the panel?

While no battery likes to be taken below 50% state of charge some really don't even like that. The best bet is a 12 volt deep cycle battery. To avoid high prices I would avoid brands like Trojan and stick to the others. Maybe Sam's Club or Wal Mart. If the solar panel is quite small you are going to be hard on the battery at times so might as well keep the price down as much as possible. You should be able to get a good battery for your needs quite a ways under your budget.
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Old 08-13-2010, 10:17 AM   #3
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Along with anchoring issues, I think battery power is another of those "most discussed" issues for cruisers. I'm not much of an authority on this, but I've sure listened to a lot of the discussions.

As Tiempo says, batteries don't like being drained below 50%, and draining it that far frequently is going to shorten the battery's life. Only a deep cycle battery can take the deep draining and then slow recharging that you will be subjecting it to. You don't want a starting battery, and even a dual-purpose battery isn't as good for your purposes as a deep cycle battery.

You need to decide how much battery to buy. That is done by estimating the demands on the battery from your lights, autopilot, etc. If I remember correctly, one needs a battery with a capacity about twice that of your estimated draw - useful amperage is going to be half the battery's rated amperage.

Then you can start shopping. In the coastal states of the SE US you can find deep cycle batteries in automotive stores, such as AutoZone. Often the same battery there is cheaper than in the marine stores, but you need to look around.

We were looking for a marine starting battery recently. One of our Optima AGM batteries - dual purpose - was failing. We found that the same product at AutoZone was a bit cheaper than at West Marine. Still, USD $200 looks to be about the price for one adequate to your needs. Starting batteries are cheaper, but they won't give you the service you need.

You probably would be as well served with a flooded lead/acid battery rather than the AGMs - a bit cheaper. But the AGMs are lower maintenance.

Do you have a regulator on the solar panel so that you don't overcharge your battery? That is important.

Since you can't charge the battery other than with the solar panel, I assume that the boat is on a mooring rather than at a dock?

I hope this is a decent start to your search.
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Old 08-16-2010, 06:26 PM   #4
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This really is a great start, gave me some new things to think about, and some confirmation that I am heading in the right direction!

There is no regulator on the solar panel. That will be the first purchase. Going to take a trip by West Marine this week to pick up something suitable.

Thanks for the replies,

Jeff
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Old 12-09-2010, 06:13 PM   #5
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I believe some of the smaller panels, like those purchased at Wal-Mart, have some sort of regulator built-in?
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