The Offshore Voyaging Reference Site

Gel Batteries a Winner?

While researching for an upcoming article I noticed something interesting:

Victron rate their Long Life Gel batteries at 2500 50% cycles, as against their AGM Super Cycle Battery at 1000 cycles, and not a lot less than their much more expensive lithium batteries at 3000 cycles.

Could it be that the pivot away from gel cells toward AGM that occurred in the sailing community some 20 years ago was a giant mistake?

I do know that both members Dick and Ginger Stevenson, and Phyllis and I, had very good service from Prevailer Gel batteries back in the day.

Now before we get too excited it’s important to note that gels have one Achilles’ heel: they can’t be conditioned to get rid of sulphation from being left in a partial state of charge, as is common on cruising boats.

Hit ’em with any more than 14.2 volts and they are toast in very short order.

Whereas AGMs from both Victron (14.9V) and LifeLine (15.5V) can be charged at higher voltages to blow off that nasty battery wrecking stuff.

Still, these days, with cost effective and efficient solar, fully charging a lead-acid battery regularly without shore power is a lot less of a problem than it once was.

Should those who want to avoid the expense and complications of lithium be thinking of poor old neglected gels?

Don’t know, but it’s worth thinking about.

Anyone out there using gels?

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