Amp . meter

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  • March 18, 2016 12:43 PM
    Message # 3889865

    Our battery loads on "Patricia A" are pretty small , the most being when we are away from the dock power for about two weeks at a time . We do not have a reefer , we have a small inverter  that keeps the cell phone , TV , boom box ( sat radio only ) going . Lights in the cabin are LED . 

    So anyhow to keep track of battery voltage we have a volt meter , when the meter gets down to a certain point we go out for a two hr. motor and then things seem fine . We do this about every third day . We never let the volt meter get below 11.5 V . Is that ok ?

    I was talking to a guy the other day and he was very adamant that we needed a amp. meter .

    I vaguely know you should be counting amps . But why ? I'm counting volts . 

    What do you think ?   

  • March 19, 2016 4:31 AM
    Reply # 3890945 on 3889865

    If you need to understand what your battery is doing, a battery monitor is the thing.  It tracks votes and amps and amp-hours.  You might find a used Link 10 monitor on  eBay.

    But from what you said,your use is very light.  A battery monitor is probably overkill.  Save your money.  

    Better yet, instead of meters, put the same money into a little solar panel that makes less than 2 amps (so that you don't need a charge controller)

     I would not allow the voltage to go below 11.9v at no load before recharging, 11.5 is too low. 

  • March 19, 2016 10:31 AM
    Reply # 3891251 on 3889865

    Thanks for the advice Dick , yes I'm thinking about solar . Although I don't know much about it . What do you think of a Renogy 100 W panel with a Genasun controller ? I have heard that Kyocera is better and I do believe you get what you pay for , but it's 3x's as much . Also I just found out last night my batts' have about had it . But I kind of knew that anyway . They are only 2 yrs. old , Costco's "finest" . I have it by good advice that Trojan J105's are worth the money , What do you think ?

  • March 19, 2016 11:27 AM
    Reply # 3891286 on 3889865
    Anonymous member (Administrator)


    While I'm not on the boat as much as I'd like - I think your long term plans for cruising should drive the solution.  

    I'm only out for a few days at at time at best - I find that triple stage chargers on shore power plus some motoring will keep my 2 house and 1 starter (nothing fancy) batteries lasting 5+ years if I don't allow the voltage get much below 12 V.  (like the time my head fan ran the battery dead when the shore power was moved by persons unknown to a plug that was shut off)   

    If you are cruising for longer time periods and depend on your batteries then more planning / money would be better in the long run.  

    There should be a balance between generating / storage and usage of electrical energy that determines what to purchase / install.  Search online for advise on calculating your energy needs and of course plan for additions - would be a place to start.

    If I was planning on cruising and had figured out my proposed load - I think I'd start with a full featured battery monitor/controller for the usual range of battery types. All your charging inputs (shore power, wind, solar,engine generator)  would go through the controller and it would maintain the batteries - hopefully without a lot of fussing on your part.  

    This is a large subject and I've only touched the surface. 

    I can't comment on particular products/battery types except that my 3 stage chargers do a good job for my sailing needs. 

    Fair winds


  • March 19, 2016 12:14 PM
    Reply # 3891311 on 3889865

    Hi Jay , first off I men't J150 Trojans . I can attest to the 3 stage (solid state?) battery charger, back in the old days we had a transformer type that would cook batts. if left on to long and it was very noisy . So about ten yrs. ago we got a dual batt solid state charger and a pair of Trojans , but I forget what type . Those suckers lasted 8 yrs. with that charger , man it was great . The Costcos now 2yrs. old are now only holding 12.1V . so their done for sure . Possibly I did it by letting them get down below 11.8 V . Actually the setup we have now works pretty well for us,(80 amp. alternator)  as long as the batts. are healthy . But I like to tinker with stuff and I think solar would be a modest investment that would be fun to play around with . 

    Last modified: March 19, 2016 12:17 PM | Anonymous member
  • March 19, 2016 4:02 PM
    Reply # 3891472 on 3889865
    Deleted user

    My vote is link10 or similar.  battery voltage not lower than 12.2 !  my friend is going on 11 years using this rule.  my 4 6volt interstates give me a good 150 ah before i have to start the engine if the solar is not keeping up.  I also equalize often.  i just leave the solar controller in equalize all the time.  I also have the rv watering kits so i can water all batteries from the companionway without having to turn into a pretzel.  The amp meter gives a good check on if you forgot to turn something off and you see strange amp readings.  Voltage only, you wont know until its too late.   11.8 will kill your batteries quickly.  My friend the battery guru says the only way you truly know battery condition is to use a hydrometer.  a good one. 

  • March 19, 2016 4:48 PM
    Reply # 3891483 on 3889865

    Thanks for the post Bruce , what kind of solar panel controller do you have ?

    Jay those watering kits look cool . I think Sundowner has one  . 

    Last modified: March 19, 2016 4:50 PM | Anonymous member
  • March 20, 2016 5:35 AM
    Reply # 3891985 on 3889865

    I have a flowrite kit for my four (two banks) Trojan T105's.  Not cheap but one of the best investments I've made for the boat. Prior to the flowrite maintaining the batteries wasn't impossible but not fun at all so I'd always put it off.  Post flowrite it's so quick and easy it's almost a pleasure.

    My only complaint is the rubber bulb used in the quick fill hand pump (required) is starting to deteriorate and leak around the edges where the tubing enters/exits the bulb.  This may be my fault as I stored the hand pump in the engine compartment and it can get pretty hot down there. Otherwise all the other fittings are top notch.

    Highly recommended if you have wet cell batteries that are hard to access.  Make absolutely sure the kit you buy fits your battery type. They are different between 6v and 12v.

  • March 20, 2016 12:15 PM
    Reply # 3892411 on 3889865
    Deleted user
    Mark: I agree with Dick on the 11.9 volt thing, the 11.5 could be a reason you are getting 2 years out. I try to stay above 12.05V but that is me. Some observations by myself. 1.) Costco Batteries can work out, and are less $$ (best $ spent around the home port) 2.) if you let the batt's go to low, they are not coming back. Also do not over panel 100 watt for one 85 Ahr is to much (charge control helps but it needs to be the smart new one) but would be great on a 160 amp hour setup. 3.) my flooded (costco type bats did fine until a plate fell off = 10 years old with a 2 stage charger, smoke came out of the charger and it died after. 4.) I messed up this time and let my 12 year old 510AH AGM's go to 11.2 v (They are dead now, and I don't think there are ever coming back.) They were on a 3 stage Link system. I was hoping to get 13 years but :( going forward: I am sailing local, so am Thinking hard about going Costco (deep cycle) but smaller? but not sure yet, I did like, not filling the batteries. The AGM's were great with no maintenance, but big $$$ and they like to be toped off on every charge, else they were loosing capacity. The topping off is easy when shore power was available but, when on the hook 95% was typ solar recharge level and I was loosing a little on every cycle = would est. 5 to 7 year life when not toped off. lastly I hate Batteries!!!!! but if you take care of them, you should be getting 5 to 12 years out of them. Assume 5+ for costco as long as you do not miss treat them. I am not into the high $$ bats; as an extra couple of years does not = twice the price, but that is me. Also Note: the super cheap car batteries (=not deep cycle) may last one or two years+/- and are not worth it, or the correct thing to do, in my opinion. Hope this help in some way. Norm
    Last modified: March 20, 2016 12:22 PM | Deleted user
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