If you load-test (current CCA) and test for internal shorts before a passage, you should not worry about a major failure as you had. I have been testing batteries about every 3 months for at least 6 years. They fail one at a time. I did have the crappy Varta batteries fail one after another totaling 6 in two months before I could replace them. All you have to do is rearrange and disconnect the failing batteries from the bank in pairs. They are wired in series in pairs to the bank terminals. What this will cause you to do is charge more often. And if you want your battery monitor to report the correct state of remaining power, you have to change the total amps which is programmed into that monitor.
The only thing(s) that you need to do is monitor for too many amps going into the battery bank for too long (using your battery monitor), or monitor for battery compartment temperature...or both. I do both. I installed a simple two zone digital temperature device with an alarm. I think it cost me $15 in eBay. If I was doing it over, I might buy a better one, but this cheap China made device has worked flawlessly for at least three years.
After a little time you will love the simple genius of the Amel SM2k and 54 battery bank design.
BeBe Amel 53 #387
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On Jun 26, 2016 8:53 AM, "James Wendell ms42phantom54@...
Thanks James, I suspect you are right about the bugs getting worked out of new brands. I believe Lifelines are made by the Concorde Battery Co, who as I understand makes batteries for the solar power industry. I think I will go with new Lifeline 31-XTs.
I think Bill said it best - when you are cruising 4 years or so is probably a good age to seriously think of replacing. I just cannot imagine what I would have done if my batteries had failed in the middle of the ocean - not to mention the cost of replacing in some remote port. Not that replacing my 13 batteries is going to be cheap!
s/v Phantom Amel 54 #044
The Lifeline batteries referred to in my previous post were installed just before the Millenium Odyssey so it could be that the bugs have been worked out by now, I have not kept up with. I can tell you that on the course of the two year Circumnavigation that most or all of the Lifelines failed. My customer was a bit hard on them with lots of 50 percent discharges..sometimes lower. But he also did the same with the Sonennchein Prevailers and they survived. I don't have the numbers in front of me but I seem to recall that the amp hours were about 10 percent less for the gels at the time. With the lack of self discharge and from them being more tolerant of deep discharges I think that the amp gap even when new is not that great in practice. I did an amp draw down test on the removed gels after 7 plus years and they were still within 5 percent of rated. I should do another somtime to how much is left at 20 years but I can tell you that I am still using one of these batteries in my Loki and it seems pretty healthy. These batteries were being used a lot in solar applications due to the long life. I am not a battery expert but there seems to be a relationship between battery chemistries in that reduced gassing and low self discharge rates lead to lower capacity but long life and good reliability. I know that these gels use a different electrolyte than regular wet cell and AGM's.
-------- Original message --------
From: "James Wendell ms42phantom54@...
Date: 06-26-2016 8:57 AM (GMT-04:00)
Subject: Re: [Amel Yacht Owners] Battery Compartment Explosion
James, I am surprised that your customer experienced failures with his new Lifeline batteries. I was told they were the best by some of the electrical guys here in Annapolis, but now I am questioning that recommendation. I think maybe I will check out your suggestions. Do you know what model Lifeline went bad?
Wow, yours are 20 years old and my Initimidators failed at 4 years. I would have thought I would get at least 5 or 6, but I do not know the history of my batteries, as they came with the boat.
Thanks for the advice.
s/v Phantom Amel 54 #044
I had a customer that was leaving on a Circumnavigation and was concerned about the age (7+ years old at the time) of his perfectly performing Sonnechien Dry Fit German Gel batteries, 5- x 8D so a big bank. He installed 5 x 8D Lifeline AGM’s and experienced numerous battery failures on the trip starting only 6 months out in the Pacific after departure requiring very expensive air shipments. I am still using the 5 Sonneschien Dry Fit batteries removed from the boat, 0 failures so far. We reinstalled the same upon his return to the US and had no further problems up until the time he sold the boat about 8 years later which puts my batteries over 20 years old. Fort Lauderdale Battery used to sell the Sonneschien and still had some good specimens of this same type the last time that I talked to them which had lasted as long plus a lot more experience than I if you want to inquire. ( I have no connection with this firm other than battery purchases) The dry fit batteries have been replaced by an Exide "Traction” Gel Battery which has the same case and supposed to be essentially the same battery. No problems so far but my experience so far is limited to 3 years with these batteries as they are relatively new. The Dry Fits were touted as being having very low gassing btw. Despite some abuse, I have never seen any of these swell, crack or ever leak anything.
Glad to hear that the damage is less than you originally thought. Best of luck in making a good decision with preventing future problems
SV Sueno Amel Maramu 220
Thanks everyone for the support and suggestions. We are cleaning things up and it may not be as bad as I originally thought. Somehow one or two of the batteries failed and caused the explosion. I guess my lessons learned is to suspect batteries when they get close to the end of life. I did not know that.
s/v Phantom Amel 54 #044
I had thermal runaway on a set of Vetus wet cell batteries that were eighteen months old.
The incident happened at the top of the Sea of Cortez under sail, there was no explosion, I was alerted to it by the smell.
The battery box was hot to touch and I was terrified to open it. The inside was covered in battery acid, all the cables were destroyed, four batteries were cracked, eight batteries had buckled cases.
Four were serviceable which I hooked together to allow me to return to Mazatlan for repairs.
It was a harrowing experience as the temperatures of each battery kept rising for hours as they sat overnight on a dock.
I have met a number of people with variations of the same theme.
Good luck with your new engine.
Former owner of Seafever