Online Book:

Battery Installation & Maintenance

This Online Book started as a project to solve problems that John and Phyllis had been having with premature failure of the house batteries on Morgan’s Cloud and morphed into the development of a complete, but relatively simple, protocol to get the very best life out of lead acid batteries, whether they be liquid filled, gel, or AGM. John is an electronics technician by trade and has spent some twenty years living on boats with batteries, so this is real practical information that works.

Table of Contents:

Fundamentals Of Battery Care

All lead-acid batteries, regardless of type, fail eventually, mostly due to sulphation. In this chapter we look at the cost per discharge cycle of various care scenarios.

Smart Chargers Are Not That Smart

Most marine battery chargers are, in fact, battery killers. Yes, that includes most of the fancy three stage units we all pay so much money for. Here’s why and what to do about it.

10 Tips To Buy And Install A Liveaboard’s Alternator

On a cruising sailboat the batteries will likely be charged most often by an alternator on the main engine, particularly if the boat does not have a generator. And if you live aboard, the alternator that came with the engine is simply not going to cut it. In this chapter we share how to buy and install a real cruiser’s alternator.

Installing And Programming The Right Alternator Regulator

Even if you have the biggest and best alternator in the world, if you don’t have a good regulator and, in most cases, reprogram it from the factory default settings, your batteries are not going to get the full charge they so desperately need. In this chapter we share how to buy and reprogram a regulator.

Equalizing Batteries, The Reality

Fully charging your batteries after each discharge on a live-aboard cruising sailboat is simply not practical. Instead, most of us will cycle our batteries between 50 and 80% of their capacity. The bad news is that this will ruin your lead-acid batteries (regardless of type) in a distressingly short time due to sulfation. However, there is a solution: equalization. In this chapter we cover what it is and how to do it.

11 Steps To Better Battery Life

We have written about battery charging in mind numbing detail in this Online Book. Now we will give you the summary, together with a couple of new tips not yet revealed.

It’s tempting, when selecting a complex piece of gear like a battery monitor, to dive straight into the details and features, but that’s a near-sure route to a bad decision. First let’s take a giant step back and look at the two main types of monitors and decide which is right for each of us.

Battery Monitors, Part 2—Recommended Unit

Being able to accurately monitor our batteries is a vital function for all cruisers, but which of the multitude of systems offered should we buy and install? John defines the functions we actually need, and then recommends a monitor.

Inverters And Chargers

Combined inverters and chargers have become pretty much standard on cruising sailboats but, in fact, that’s a really bad idea. In this chapter we will share why and what to do about it.

Lithium Ion Batteries

Matt examines lithium ion batteries in detail and answers the question, “Should I use lithium ion batteries for the house bank on my boat?”

Reducing AC Generator Run Time

These days, most boats with AC generators have signifigant DC (12 or 24 volt) battery banks that need to be charged regularly by the generator. But often that process is horribly inefficient. The good news is that the fix is easy, simple, and relatively inexpensive.

Q&A—Are Battery Desulphators a Good Idea?

The claims made for battery pulse desulphators seem to make them ideal for voyaging boats. A cheap, easy to install gadget that will dramatically extend your expensive batteries’ lives. What’s not to like? But do they really work? John takes a look.

Battery Options, Part 1—Lithium

John recently replaced the house battery bank on “Morgan’s Cloud”. But before starting the project he had a big decision to make: which battery type. Here’s a look at the options he considered, starting with lithium.

Battery Options, Part 2—Lead Acid

John takes an in-depth look at the benefits and drawbacks of carbon foam, liquid filled, and AGM lead acid batteries, and then reveals his thinking if faced with battery replacement today.