Blue Seas New Smart Charger
Keeping batteries fully charged is a science that cruisers have to master sooner or later. If todays high-capacity AGM batteries arent managed properly, valuable amp hours in can permanently trickle away through sulfation, as we saw in our test of AGM batteries (See Fighting Sulfation in AGMs, PS May 2015). Good battery management means complete re-charging that matches the charging profile of your battery, and this means an accurate sensing of battery voltage. As we saw in our recent report on battery monitors (see Best Battery Monitor Test Update, PS October 2017) a good monitor will also keep track of temperature, as this can be a limiting factor in charge acceptance rate.
A New Spin on Dependable Crimps and Splices
Our test focused primarily on the small-wire connections tensile strength, with and without solder, but we also looked at their durability under tough environmental conditions. We tested the pull-out strength without solder and the pull-out strength of soldered connections at 400 degrees by heating the connections in an oven to simulate overheating conditions. We tested fatigue by spinning a 6-inch length of splice wire at 650 RPM in a simple device that we called the wire-fatigue whirligig. Finally, testers soaked all samples for four months in salt water to accelerate corrosion, and then, we repeated the fatigue test.
Small Wire Connections: Part II
Connecting two standard-size wires is pretty straightforward: Grab a ratchet crimper, adjust it to fit the crimp connector, strip the two wires to fit into the butt connector, slide the wires into the connector, and squeeze the crimper. The required materials are readily available: butt connectors for inline splices, ring connectors for terminal blocks, and a dab of anti-corrosive grease for the bolts and rings. Done right, these connections can survive some extremely tough conditions. In a recent test of anti-corrosion greases and connections, we demonstrated how these connections can last up to five years in the worst bilge conditions.
Monitoring Your Marine Battery Bank
Two recent tests graphically demonstrated the importance of monitoring state of charge in a boats batteries. hese tests demonstrated that a sealed batterys capacity will be reduced over time, if its never brought back up to a full state of charge. But just how accurate are the monitors we use to gauge our batteries states of charge?
Testing Marine Battery Monitors
Our test gear comprised a ProMariner ProNautic 12-40P battery charger; West Marine-branded, flooded-cell, deep-cycle battery with a 75-amp hour rating; and two 120-volt, 70-watt incandescent light bulbs powered through a Heart 140-watt DC to AC inverter. This setup created a 12-amp DC load on the battery. We confirmed voltage and current draw using a Fluke Model 867B graphical meter and a Blue Sea Systems Model 8110-amp clamp/multimeter.
A Smart, Easy Way to Rewire
Running the wires for new electronics requires your best cursing vocabulary, lots of sweat, twisting body contortions, luck, and the occasional bandage. For tips on how to make this job easier, we turned to PS contributor Bill Bishop. A professional marine-electronics installer, Bishop has many ingenious ways to thread a wire from point A to point B.
AGM Batteries Test Update
In our recent test of absorbed glass mat (AGM) batteries, we cycled five different batteries through 30 deep cycles to 11.7 volts but only partially recharged them for one hour after each discharge cycle at a charge rate of 46 percent of battery amp-hour capacity. (See PS May 2015 online.) The object of the exercise was to demonstrate just how quickly sulfation, which is caused by keeping a battery in a partial state charge (PSOC), can reduce the capacity and eventually permanently ruin a good battery.
Our May 2015 report on absorbed glass mat (AGM) batteries got us thinking about wet cell-batteries. While it is easy to find distilled water suitable for topping off the battery electrolyte in the U.S., what happens when we are not near a reliable supply? Are there any substitutes? What should we avoid?
Whats the Voltage for Charging Gel Cells?
I just received the latest Waypoints e-letter about gel batteries, where you state they must be charged at no more than about 14.1 volts. We do not use gel batteries in our boat, but do in our camper van. As I understand, Trojan deep-cycle gels can be charged up to 14.4 volts and East Penn marine gel batteries up to 14.6 volts, so why are you recommending the lower voltage?
Sixteen years ago, contributing writers Joe and Lee Minick equipped their Mason 43, Southern Cross, with a Heart Interface Freedom 20 charger/inverter and a Link 2000R from Cruising Equipment, both made by companies based in Valley Forge, Penn. When both of these units were ruined during a knockdown (see PS, April 2013 online), they were forced to look for a replacement.