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ContinuousWave: Small Boat Electrical
|Author||Topic: Optima Batteries|
posted 02-05-2008 09:06 PM ET (US)
What's the straight skinny on these pricey [Optima brand] batteries? Are they a more reliable marine battery, longer lived, better constructed, worth the price, than a battery some one could buy at a Walmart?
Would some one recommend a particular model for 15-foot boat.
posted 02-05-2008 09:34 PM ET (US)
You are probably talking about a valve-regulated lead-acid (VRLA) absorbent glass mat (AGM) battery made by Optima. The price of Optima batteries has risen in the recent past. I was told by a retailer who sells Optima batteries that the rise in price was due to high demand for Optima VRLA AGM batteries by the U.S. military.
VRLA AGM batteries are often used in air craft and in military applications because of some desirable characteristics:
--can function even if punctured, such as by a shell or projectile
All of those characteristics make them desirable for use in military vehicles and aircraft.
On the downside, a VRLA AGM is expensive, has more strict charging voltage requirements, and can have a shorter life, particularly if subjected to over-charging, as compared to a traditional vented and flooded cell lead-acid battery.
Optima makes something of a premium VRLA AGM battery, and it seems to be a favorite of the Armed Forces.
If you are looking for a high-quality VRLA AGM battery, also check out the DEKA battery company. They make VRLA AGM batteries in the United States, which is something of a rarity these days. See:
The batteries sold at WALMART are most likely made in China. They are probably fine batteries, and WALMART is a very handy retailer. They have outlets everywhere, and if you have a problem with the battery it ought to be easy to get a remedy from any WALMART.
A good way to get a sense of the quality of a battery is to compare the warranty offered by the manufacturer. Some batteries are sold with a one year warranty and some are sold with a ten year warranty. This ought to be useful in establishing an inference of which is higher in quality.
posted 02-05-2008 09:57 PM ET (US)
If you want truly GOOD batteries, go with the Deka. The best, and as Jim said, made here in the States. My God! There still are some manufacturing jobs here! Deka/East Penn/Trojan, you won't be sorry.
posted 02-05-2008 10:14 PM ET (US)
Jim left out another key feature of AGM batteries. They have very low internal leakage current which translates into holding their charge for extended periods. You can pull an AGM battery in the Fall and not have to charge it for the winter storage period whereas a flooded cell battery should be charged once each month.
posted 02-06-2008 07:39 PM ET (US)
Good on topic feedback, thank you.
I agree with the consensus, you do get what your willing to pay for.
posted 02-06-2008 09:01 PM ET (US)
Here is my take on the marine Optima. I have always used the Delco marine battery without any problems mater of fact my last Delco lasted 5 yrs and I only changed it because I thought it was getting to old.
So about 6 months ago I bought the Optima. I almost always have my battery connected to a trickle charger but about 3 wks ago I disconnected it as I figured what the heck it's a Optima. I took my Whaler out last Sun and the battery died. I jumpstarted the battery ran it for about an hour and it started up with no problem the rest of the day.
I do have to say that I'm some what disappointed after all the hype.
posted 02-06-2008 10:26 PM ET (US)
Fred It might be possible that you have a slight current draw on the boat battery even when switched off. If you kept it on a trickle charger with earlier batteries, that would hide/correct the problem. Just a thought before changing batteries. Dave
posted 02-07-2008 05:10 PM ET (US)
Another possibility is that you overcharged the battery by leaving it on the trickle charger full time. You need to be careful when charging any sealed battery because lost electrolyte cannot be replaced. If you are leaving an AGM battery on a charger full time then it is important that the charger is specifically designed for this.
If your Optima battery is a starting type battery then it could be significantly degraded if it were fully discharged. For a single battery installation with an electronic load when the motor is off, a combination type batter is preferred. They are designed with heavier plates so that they can withstand multiple charge and discharge cycles.
posted 02-07-2008 09:32 PM ET (US)
[Thanks guys] for the information. I'll [check] these items out and let you know how it goes. All I can say is that after I jump started my battery and ran the boat for about an hour I had no more starting problems for the rest of the day.
Are there chargers for the Optima type batteries?
posted 02-07-2008 09:57 PM ET (US)
A VRLA AGM battery is at its heart a lead-acid battery, and it can be charged with a standard battery charger, although you should pay attention to the maximum charging voltage. Any sealed battery will be less tolerant of excessive charging voltage. If the charging voltage is too high the electrolyte will out gas, and this builds up pressure in a sealed battery. Since you cannot re-fill the electrolyte, you want to be careful not to boil it away with too much charging voltage.
I do not believe that there is anything about the Optima brand that makes its charging different from any other VRLA AGM, so all you have to do it use a charger which is suitable for use with a VRLA AGM. The better chargers have several steps in their charging algorithm which will help to maintain the battery chemistry at optimum condition.
Since an Optima is about the world's most expensive brand of VRLA AGM battery, it would be senseless to pay such a premium for a VRLA AGM battery and not get a suitable charger.
If you get an Optima VRLA AGM battery you can have the added confidence in knowing that if you take some 50-caliber shells from attacking aircraft, or if you have to operate upside down or pull negative-G's in a steep dive that the battery will hang in there with your Boston Whaler boat.
posted 02-08-2008 06:14 AM ET (US)
Thks for the info Jim. I can rest easy knowing that attacking aircraft can't keep me away from a day of peaceful boating. I checked my battery last night as it has been on a trickle charger since Sun evening and found that it's charge level is at 12.69 volts. I checked the Optima site and they say that if a standing battery gets down to 12.6 volts that it should be charged.
I think that I just might return the battery to Costco and request a new one to be on the safe side. As I intend to be at the Boat Show in Mia next week I'll try and pick up a AGM charger there.
Thks for the info & hope to see you at the show.
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