Saturday, November 29, 2008

Battery problems must be catching…

Sue from No Problem got in touch yesterday to explain their no-show on Thursday afternoon. Then we caught up on a walk over to Fleckney.

They’ve chosen to go hi-tech, with AGM batteries
(Absorbed Glass Mat) instead of the more conventional lead/acid. These, although dearer, are reckoned to be more rugged and durable.

We’d noticed, over the last few days, a marked drop-off in performance from our batteries. I check the electrolyte levels every couple of weeks, and hadn’t noticed any problems, but evaporation of the electrolyte is only one symptom of a failing battery. Recently we’d found that occasionaly the heating would come on first thing, then shut down due to low voltage after 15 minutes or so. And the fridge would be off in the morning as well.
So today I decided to investigate a bit deeper. The levels were all fine in the cells, and with all 4 batteries connected up were delivering 11.6 volts. Isolating each battery in turn showed #1 at 10.2v, 2 and 3 at 12.0, and 4 at 11.3. So we’ve got one that’s definitely knackered, and another that’s suspect.

The industry recommends that all batteries in a bank are changed at the same time. Now I believe that if you can demonstrate that you still have viable ones, why change them. (Thinking green, as well as economical!)

# 1 and 4 disconnected.

Further checks overnight and in the morning should confirm my feeling that 2 and 3 are OK, so I’ll only replace 1 and 4.

In Sue and Vic’s case, they need to swap the lot as you can’t mix lead acid and AGM in the same bank.

Walking around the area I’ve taken numerous photos, but am often disappointed that I can’t show more of the landscape in one picture. I have both Google’s Picassa 3, and Serif’s Photoplus 9 installed on my laptop, but neither of them have the capability to “stitch” several photos together to produce a panorama.
So I had a mooch about on the old interweb, and came across Autostitch. At only 1Mb to download the demo version, it was get-able, even on my appallingly slow connection.
I’m very pleased with the preliminary results, this is 3 pictures I took yesterday from near Saddington looking south.

The application is clever enough to stitch the frames together using common features automatically, and also adjusts the brightness to compensate for any variations.

Look out for more panoramic shots in the future….


Anonymous said...

I use photostitch because it came free with my camera but I hear autostitch is as good. You may want to have a look at this: not sure if it will work in the blog but it would be good if it did. It allows stitching up to 360 and then slowly animates across that panorama. The free download is near the bottom of the page.

PS, you're right about the batteries. There is no need to change the whole bank. There's a whole bunch of sums you can carry out but the end deal is that they reckon you should swap out entire banks in case one is "bad" In this case it could draw charge from the good batteries. In reality how important is that? The energy in the entire system is still the same. There are possible problems with charging but one battery would have to be knackered to make any discernible difference to the life of the others. Most manufacturers assume boaters don't have the knowledge or ability to check every battery and hence their recommendation (that's my less cynical view on their recommendation)

Geoff and Mags said...

I'll have a go at Pixaround and post the results. Sounds interesting, especially the animation bit.

We're only running on 2 batteries at the moment, with more reliability than with all 4 connected. I reckon this pretty well confirms that the other 2 are u/s. We're passing Debdale in the next couple of days, so will pop in to see what sort of prices they have.

Regards, Geoff

Chas & Ann said...

Hi Geof, Just to let you know our experience with batteries. Our boat started off with 4 with space for 5. After a year we added a 5th. because we used up the charge most days. For some reason the new one failed. May have been problems with the Beta alternator controller. Since then we replaced all 5 and got an Adverc controller and a new alternator! Just checked them to find they are 95% full.
Regards Chas Moore

Geoff and Mags said...

Hiya Chas,
Good to hear from you.
You seem to be implying that I should replace all 4 at once. Mo (Balmaha) advises the same. I can hear my wallet screaming in protest!!
I'll have a chat at Debdale tomorrow, and if they'll do me a deal for 4 I'll see.
Regards, Geoff