Where is that energizer bunny when you need him?
As I type this I am listening to the drone of our Honda 2000 generator charging our battery bank. ZTC has 8 – 6 volt Exide golf cart batteries (lead acid) hooked in series-parallel giving us, what I believe is, 720 amp hours of power.
Note: If all this electrical talk is Greek to you, don’t worry. It is to me too and I went to college to study electronics!
Anyway, we have learned that well-taken-care-of batteries such as these tend to last on a boat about 5 years. Sometime a bit more if you’re lucky but also much less if they are not taken care of well. Ours are now 4 years old (there is a date stamp on them) and are leading us to believe that they are not doing so well. What are the clues?
- The voltage is dropping to 12.2 (this represents a 50% charge, the lowest we should let them go) each morning and occasionally in the evening as well. With zero load on them it “might” be 12.3.
- Some of the batteries look swollen.
- Some of the batteries require the addition of water more than I think they should.
Note: Lead acid batteries require distilled water to be added to them occasionally as it gasses off during the normal course of their producing electricity. Do not let the plates inside get exposed to air. Always use distilled water, never tap or water from the watermaker.
I have yet to check the specific gravity of each of the cells which, I have been told, is the only way to really know if they are screwed or not. I also could try to equalize them although doing so while not on shore power would be a pain (we would have to run the Honda for 12 hours or more straight, with us on board monitoring the situation).
We also might be able to get another year out of these guys but this leads us to a dilemma. Batteries such as these can be purchased at Sam’s Club in the US, and perhaps Puerto Rico, for about 65 bucks each. Down island, we are told, they are 160.00 each (our friend just bought some), 2.5 times more expensive!
Should we decide that we want to get new ones here, we could:
a) Sail back to Fajardo on the mainland, rent a car and go find a Sam’s Club.
b) Take the ferry back to Fajardo and try to organize the same (Did I mention that these batteries weigh about 80 lbs. each? Getting 8 of them back here on the ferry, IF they would allow us to do so, might be a bit of a challenge!)
c) Speak to Joe!
Yesterday we came across the sign pictured above and although he was closed at the time, we are optimistic. We’ll see what we can work out when we speak to him.
And just to add some variety to the post, here are a few pics taken by our buddy Jim during our sail from Luperon to Puerto Rico. Although you can’t tell from these pics, they were taken after our jib traveler self-destructed!