Battery Failure

Electrical and electronic topics for small boats
Foulweather Jack
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Battery Failure

Postby Foulweather Jack » Mon Jun 13, 2016 1:26 pm

After only two years, the batteries on my 2007 Boston Whaler Conquest 235 have failed and will no longer take a charge. I had new batteries installed in 2014. The Starboard battery failed a few weeks ago, and was replaced during its annual service with an Interstate 27M-XHD cranking battery with 800 CCA and 1000 MCA. These apparently are specs for a starting battery.

A week after I took the boat home, the port side battery has now failed and will no longer hold a charge.

I spoke to a guy at my Whaler dealer; he said to replace the port battery with another with the same specifications, so I went to Batteries Plus to get a replacement battery for the port side. I got a little confused because the guy at the battery store told me to put in a deep cycle battery for the second one.

--Is the starboard side battery the #1 battery on the switch? Looking at all of my Whaler documentation, I can't find the answer.

--Should I replace the port side battery with one with the same specifications, i.e., another starting battery? Or, should I replace the port side battery with a deep cycle battery?

The above raises yet more questions:

--if I go with a starting battery and a deep cycle battery, should I be switching to the deep cycle battery once the engine has started? The Furuno electronics package I have (chart plotter, radar, sounder) seems to draw a lot of juice, and, since I used to run most of the time on "battery 1", I wonder if that is why the starter battery failed after only two years.

--does it hurt the batteries to switch between them while the engine is running?

--are there any special situations (for instance, using the windlass) where I should have the switch in the “ALL” position?

--would installing a trickle charger for the boat be worthwhile?

--I wonder if I’ve been switching to the wrong battery for the wrong applications while running the boat, and if so, does that explain why those batteries, which were replaced in the spring of 2014, only lasted for two years?

[Battery operation] seems like such a basic function and it's not a great thing to have the boat batteries fail when you're offshore. I'm sure this seems pretty simple to a lot of you guys but I only remember enough about electronics to be dangerous.

jimh
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Re: Battery Failure

Postby jimh » Tue Jun 14, 2016 10:21 am

Your Boston Whaler boat most likely has a Mercury VERADO propulsion system. You should select the batteries for operating the Mercury VERADO propulsion system based on the recommendation by Mercury for use with a VERADO engine. Generally with a VERADO propulsion system only absorbed glass mat lead-acid batteries are recommended. Check the owners' manual of your VERADO propulsion for more advice on the proper battery to use with the VERADO.

The VERADO propulstion system has a electro-hydraulic power steering feature that imposes a high load on the electrical system. This is particularly a problem when maneuvering at low engine speeds. At low engine speeds the electrical power generated by the engine alternator is limited, and the storage battery must supply most of the electrical power for the steering system. The boost pump load can be quite high, perhaps 50-Amperes. For this reason the VERADO propulsion system has specific recommendations for the type and size battery to use.

That you experienced failure after just two years of service from the batteries on your boat suggests that perhaps they were not suited for this application.

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jollyrog305
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Re: Battery Failure

Postby jollyrog305 » Tue Jun 14, 2016 10:24 am

If you have a Verado, I would recommend getting and making an investment in appropriate AGM batteries.

I believe for the 2007 235 CONQUEST boat, position 1 is for the port battery which does the pumps, stereo, and house loads, and position 2 is for the starboard battery for the engine. The boat should be run on position 1 unless when you need to charge the second battery. Your dealer should be able to confirm this.
Roger
305 Boston Whaler Conquest / 1967 Boston Whaler Currituck/Nauset (Currset)

jimh
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Re: Battery Failure

Postby jimh » Tue Jun 14, 2016 10:31 am

You can discover the details of the electrical wiring and 12-Volt power distribution system for your Boston Whaler boat by retrieving the electrical wiring diagram from the website at

http://whalerparts.com

The applicable wiring diagram is

http://whalerparts.com/Diagrams/2007/23 ... SHT1-3.pdf

jimh
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Re: Battery Failure

Postby jimh » Tue Jun 14, 2016 10:39 am

The battery you recently purchased, an Interstate 27M-XHD cranking battery with 800 CCA and 1000 MCA, is intended as an engine cranking battery. It is a flooded-cell lead-acid battery with very high peak current capability, and it can easily start almost any outboard engine. It is not the recommended absorbed glass mat (AGM) type battery for a VERADO propulsion system.

My philosophy about outboard engines and batteries is simple: if you cannot pull-start the outboard engine, you better have two batteries on the boat that can each, by themselves, crank and start the engine.

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Re: Battery Failure

Postby jimh » Tue Jun 14, 2016 10:41 am

I believe for the 2007 235 CONQUEST boat, position 1 is for the port battery ...and position 2 is for the starboard battery...


I do not see any indication in the wiring diagram for a 2007 235 CONQUEST boat that provides guidance about the location of battery #1 or #2 in terms of Port and Starboard. You will have to deduce this yourself by tracing the wiring.

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Re: Battery Failure

Postby jimh » Tue Jun 14, 2016 10:45 am

--does it hurt the batteries to switch between them while the engine is running?

Most primary power distribution switches with the usual OFF-1-BOTH-2 design are now make-before-break switches.

Movement of the battery switch while the engine is running is not likely to harm the batteries but it could be very damaging to the engine. Consult the owner's manual for your VERADO propulsion system for advice on this.

In general, the switch can be moved between 1, BOTH, and 2 while the engine is running as long as the switch is a make-before-break design, but in no case should you ever move the switch to the OFF position while the engine is running or move the switch through the OFF position when operating it while the engine is running.

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Re: Battery Failure

Postby jimh » Tue Jun 14, 2016 10:50 am

I believe for the 2007 235 CONQUEST boat...the port battery...does the pumps, stereo, and house loads, and...the starboard battery [is] for the engine.


From what I see in the wiring diagram at

http://whalerparts.com/Diagrams/2007/23 ... SHT1-3.pdf

the electrical system of a 235 CONQUEST boat does not provide for any isolation of any loads. All electrical loads operate from the same source as selected by the OFF-1-BOTH-2 switch, with the exception of these three loads, which are always powered by Battery #1:

--the memory keep-alive circuit of some entertainment device; a minuscule load

--a bilge pump circuit, designed to expel water from the sump even when the main switch is set to OFF

--a forward bilge pump circuit, designed to expel water from the sump even when the main switch is set to OFF

The electronic devices at the helm will be powered by the battery selected by the primary battery switch. There is no attempt in the power distribution to isolate those loads from other loads (like the engine itself).

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Re: Battery Failure

Postby jimh » Tue Jun 14, 2016 10:51 am

--are there any special situations (for instance, using the windlass) where I should have the switch in the “ALL” position?

Setting the primary power distribution switch to BOTH can be used in the following instances:

--when neither battery alone has enough capacity to crank the engine

--when it is desired to charge both batteries from the engine alternator simultaneously

The situation you propose, to combine the batteries to provide power to a very heavy but non-engine-starting load, is probably the WORST choice. You could easily drain the stored electrical charge from BOTH batteries in using them in parallel for a non-engine-starting load. Then you'd be unable to start the engine. The only time you might consider this is when the engine is ALREADY STARTED and running.

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Re: Battery Failure

Postby jimh » Tue Jun 14, 2016 10:59 am

--would installing a trickle charger for the boat be worthwhile?

Installation of a 120-VAC dual-bank charger to maintain the batteries when the boat is at the dock and the engine is not running is generally worth the very modest expense of such a charger. They only cost about $150. Considering the overall cost of this boat is likely one-thousand-times greater, there seem to be no financial drawback to adding a $150 charger.

Be sure to get a charger that has precision voltage regulation. Sustained charging of a battery at an excessive voltage can cause permanent damage to the battery. In particular, the absorbed glass mat battery is VERY PRONE to damage from over-charging. Do not leave a charger connected to an AGM battery for extended periods of charging unless the charger is a precision voltage regulated charger.

For many years I have used a ProMarine dual-bank 120-VAC operated battery charger that is permanently installed and wired into my boat electrical power system. A typical charger is the ProMarine model ProMar1 5/5. For more details see:

http://promariner.com/products/waterproof-on-board-marine-battery-chargers/promar1-series/

A low-current charger like the one above cannot rapidly recharge a high-capacity battery that is deeply discharged. If you need a high-current charger, look for other models in that same line with higher ratings (and higher cost).

jimh
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Re: Battery Failure

Postby jimh » Tue Jun 14, 2016 11:06 am

I spoke to a guy at my Whaler dealer; he said to replace the port battery with another with the same specifications, so I went to Batteries Plus to get a replacement battery for the port side. I got a little confused because the guy at the battery store told me to put in a deep cycle battery for the second one.

As a general rule, I would not take advice about the electrical system of a Boston Whaler boat from "a guy" at the battery store. Read the owner's manual of your Boston Whaler boat for advice about operating the electrical system of the boat.

If the two batteries on your boat are identical in brand, size, model, and age, there will be advantages. Most likely, they should both be absorbed glass mat lead-acid batteries as recommended by Mercury for use with a VERADO propulsion system, be the same age and, of course, identical in model.

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Re: Battery Failure

Postby jimh » Tue Jun 14, 2016 12:20 pm

--I wonder if I’ve been switching to the wrong battery for the wrong applications while running the boat, and if so, does that explain why those batteries, which were replaced in the spring of 2014, only lasted for two years?


Reduced service life of a lead-acid storage battery is generally caused by these factors:

--failure to properly re-charge the battery completely after it has been discharged;

--allowing the battery to remain in a deeply discharged state without re-charging for long periods;

--cycling the battery in charge-discharge cycles where the discharge is to a highly discharged state and the re-charge is to only a partial re-charge state;

--high ambient temperatures or extreme cold temperatures;

--loss of electrolyte;

--poor electrical connections between the battery terminals, the loads, and the charging current source.

Inasmuch as no reader knows the entire service life history of the batteries on your boat, how they were charged or discharged, and what uses were made of them, it is not reasonable to deduce a specific circumstance that caused their service life to be so short.

Storage of electrical energy in a lead-acid battery is a chemical reaction. The chemistry of your particular batteries has suffered. The most likely cause of the short service life was insufficient charging and prolonged rest in a deeply discharged state, but that is just speculation. Many other factors could have contributed to a short service life.

Foulweather Jack
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Re: Battery Failure

Postby Foulweather Jack » Tue Jun 14, 2016 2:17 pm

Thanks, Jim, for your detailed replies. This has been very informative. I'm surprised that the dealer installed lead acid batteries knowing that I have a Verado.

I do appreciate the reference for the wiring diagrams; I've actually gone onto the website in the past and I have downloaded and saved all of the pdf's pertaining to my boat in a separate folder on my computer, but I've never really understood wiring diagrams.

I determined last night that the starboard battery is indeed the number two battery on the switch. For years, I've tried to switch evenly back and forth between each battery to balance charging time for each one, and I've done that while the motor is running without any apparent ill effects.

I'll look at the battery switch and see if I can determine if it is a "make-before-break" design.

jimh
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Re: Battery Failure

Postby jimh » Tue Jun 14, 2016 11:07 pm

You can test for make-before-break at the battery switch as follows:

--set battery switch to #1

--turn on navigation lamps

--slowly move battery switch to BOTH and then to #2

--observe if navigations lamps go off at some point in the switch movement

If the navigation lamps stay ON during the slow movement of the switch from position to position, then the switch is a make-before-break switch.

Foulweather Jack
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Re: Battery Failure

Postby Foulweather Jack » Wed Jun 15, 2016 10:26 am

Thanks, Jim. I'll give it a try re the switch.

I've written the dealer and asked why they replaced my batteries with lead acid batteries in 2014 instead of AGM's. I copied and pasted the relevant portion from the Verado manual that I found. I've had all kinds of problems with my Furuno electronics suite, and I wonder if that is simply because the Verado power steering drains so much juice that there wasn't enough juice left over for the other electronics when the batteries got to be a bit low. Just speculating.

In any case, haven't heard back from the dealer. Thanks for letting me know about the AGM's; if it weren't for you, I would have had no idea.

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Re: Battery Failure

Postby jimh » Thu Jun 16, 2016 10:39 am

Foulweather Jack wrote:I've written the dealer and asked why they replaced my batteries with lead acid batteries in 2014 instead of AGM's.


A battery identified as an AGM or absorbed glass mat battery is a lead-acid (LA) battery. It is also a valve-regulated (VR) sealed battery. The best description is to say the battery is a valve-regulated lead-acid absorbed glass mat battery, or a VRLA AGM battery.

For a very good reference on types of lead-acid batteries, I recommend reading the excellent literature from EAST PENN Manufacturing Co., a major manufacturer of batteries in the USA, linked below:

TECHNICAL MANUAL
Valve-Regulated Lead-Acid (VRLA):
Gelled Electrolyte (gel) and Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) Batteries

http://continuouswave.com/whaler/refere ... ry0139.pdf

Wweez
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Re: Battery Failure

Postby Wweez » Mon Jun 27, 2016 10:56 am

Something mentioned early in this string: Verado engine steering uses a lot of electrical energy. It seems to me that this would result in batteries being discharged while entering harbor and docking. The boat would be stored with partially discharged batteries, unless a battery charger were connected. Given some long idle times in channels and such, very discharged batteries. Since they do not like to be stored discharged, it would seem the battery life might well be shortened.

If the boat was stored with partially charged batteries, was left off charge, and had to begin the routine a few days later with starting and leaving port, the batteries might not ever get a full charge. A shorter trip might leave them almost fully discharged. Repeat.

The marine battery charger and AGM batteries as specified would seem to go together. It sounds like they are necessary.

A better steering system might also be a good idea for Mercury. This little detail is a hook in the hamburger we just bought, or didn't.

I hope this is understandable.

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Re: Battery Failure

Postby jimh » Mon Jun 27, 2016 11:09 am

I understood everything up to "a hook in the hamburger."

Wweez
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Re: Battery Failure

Postby Wweez » Thu Jul 07, 2016 12:46 pm

I get examples mixed at times.
Thanks for the comment Jim.

The high steering loads you mentioned would seem to be cumulative in a long slow approach to the marina, and a long slow exit from the marina area. Short cruises may never fully charge the batteries.
Were the batteries not charged fully each time, they would deteriorate sooner. AGM batteries are heavier duty.

Jim, this is the first I have read concerning engine requirements for specific batteries.
Obviously, I am behind the curve. I wonder how many of these situations exist. How many manufacturers are requiring specific products for their engines. The cumulative knowledge of the point of sale folk is much lower than they thought. Even the dealer here got it wrong.
"Buy a good battery", "If you have any house load, you need two with a selector switch", "Replace both batteries at the same time", was about all you heard.
"What engine do you have and did you bring your owners manual" may be heard more often.

I know the oil requirememts are confusing and often need the manual.

Thank You for all your hard work!

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Re: Battery Failure

Postby jimh » Thu Jul 07, 2016 10:11 pm

I don't think the reason for the recommendation to use AGM batteries with the VERADO has been mentioned. I believe the AGM battery is preferred or recommended or required with a VERADO because the AGM can absorb high charging current in a short time. That suits the VERADO because its alternator can deliver a lot of charging current once the engine speed rises above idle speeds. When you advance the throttle on a VERADO, you are also increasing its charging current output capability. An AGM can better absorb a lot of charging current than conventional batteries, so the AGM can get back more lost charge in a short time. At least, that's my understanding.

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Re: Battery Failure

Postby Jefecinco » Sat Jul 09, 2016 9:59 am

FWJack,

Re. your query about the necessity of using only AGM batteries with your Verado.

As you learned from using non-AGM batteries, they don't get the job done as well as AGMs do. You can use any old battery you want with your Verado. But experience tells you not to expect too much from them.

I suggest you bite the bullet and buy a matched pair of quality AGMs and get on with your boating life.
Butch