Everstart vs Everstart Maxx batteries at Wal-Mart .

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TooManyDogs

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Does anybody know the difference between these two marine batteries? I'm looking at the group 24, and the plain Everstart has a slightly higher aH rating than the Maxx but the Maxx has a better warranty and the label advertises 30%more cycles (don't know if it's just hype. 30% more than what?)

I'm also slightly annoyed that the stated aH rating is at the 1amp rate, rather than the more standard 20amp rate. It makes the battery look better compared to other brands.

The plain Everstart is dated 11-15 while the Maxx is from 06-15. Assuming you're looking for a 70-80aH battery (so either would work-this to to be paired with a 100W solar panel) which one would you choose? Thanks.

TooManyDogs
 

B and C

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If your decision is only between these two batteries, I would pick the one that weighed more.

There are other better batteries out there.
 

TooManyDogs

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I'm not really "set" on these batteries-it's just that WM is convenient, and it seems the marine batteries are basically all the same.

I don't think the 100W panel would be sufficient to keep the more expensive AGM and true deep cycle batteries happy. I've thought of wiring in a continuous duty solenoid to the starter battery and recharging via the alternator but I'm not confident in exactly how to get the wiring from the starting battery to the house battery.

As this is my first venture into solar, I thought I would start with a "cheap" battery. What battery would you suggest?
 

B and C

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Since this is your first foray into solar recharging, you need a cheap battery to murder. ;)   These are called learners.  :)

Until you figure out the load (draw in amps and for how long) on the battery, you don't know how much battery or solar you need.  I found that the group 27 battery that my rig came with was inadequate so I tried to go overboard with 325 AH of AGM batteries and working on 400 watts of solar (just need the panels).  I want reserve for those cloudy days.

The heavier the battery is (in same size group), the more lead there is and is usually thicker plates.  Marine batteries are a compromise between a starting battery and a deep cycle battery.  These are usually used for starting a boat motor and then running the trolling motor when ready to fish.  It does both.

SternWake is our resident batteryguru.

There is a lot of information here: https://vanlivingforum.com/Forum-Electrical-Batteries-Generators-Solar   

Look before you leap :D
 

SternWake

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Get the fresher of the two batteries.  They Likely weigh the same and are internally the same, the only difference being the stickers.  This is a guess with no Data to back it up, only suspicions and a huge contempt for product marketing, as practiced in this day and age.


No 'true' deep cycle batteries exist in a 12v format, but Trojan, Crown, Deka and USbattery make higher quality dual purpose/marine  batteries in group 24/27/31 sizes which cost about 25% more than their lesser Everstart, and similar marine Autoparts store counterparts.

  Even these best offerings will only have half the rated cycles as a true deep cycle battery like a T-105 golf cart battery, and these better dual purpose batteries in the same usage will likely exceed 25% more cycles before failure that their cheapest counterparts.

There are true deep cycle 12v Jars, but they are much taller such as the the Trojan T-1275 and J-185.  A group31 trojan scs225 and a t-1275 are the same price in my location, and the t-1275 has 20more AH capacity and twice the plate thickness, and 22 more Lbs of lead and is one of the very FEW 12v flooded batteries that is a true deep cycle battery

The amount of solar which can keep a battery happy is entirely dependent on the depth of discharge of the battery. The deeper the discharge of the battery, the higher the solar wattage needs to be.  Meaning a 100AH battery cycled to only 80% can be perfectly happy with 100 watts of solar, but the same battery discharged to 50% will not be as happy, even if the sunlight is of long enough duration that the charger drops into float mode/voltage. 

 The charge rate plays a big factor in battery longevity, more so on AGM than flooded batteries.  Most flooded manufacturers recommend a 10% rate, or 10 amps for 100AH of capacity and assume one has 8 hours or more  to recharge. With the slow ramp up of solar and a tapering off as the sun rises and falls, meeting specific recommendations as to charge rate becomes fuzzy, and the easiest plan is, more is better. 

With AGMS, some of them absolutely require HUGE recharging amps be applied from their most depleted states.  Odyssey say 40 amps minimum for 100AH of capacity.  Others like UB battery, say no more than 30 amps per 100AH of capacity.  But even these amp limited batteries benefit from charge rates that approach their stated maximums.   Again the lower the battery is discharged, the higher the amps it would like to see, initially, and light levels of depletion, then lesser charge rates are likely adequate.  AGM batteries are often painted with the same broad brush, but their actual requirements as to recharging vary very widely among manufacturers.  AGM batteries prices often fill the buyer with 'Super battery" status and bragging rights, but if the charging regimen is not tailored to the Specific AGM, then this super battery will give no better service, or worse service than a flooded battery that cost less than half.

  Often claims are made as to a battery working just fine, or still going strong, but the level of discharge is unknown, the total amount of accumulated cycles is unknown, the remaining capacity of the battery completely unknown,  and claims of 'just fine, still going strong' only mean the battery capacity has not yet depleted to the level that it compromises the depleter's ability to power their devices.  Whether the amount of time and cycles accumulated are just fine, or not, is highly subjective.


Now if a 50% discharged battery were well wired to the alternator via a solenoid or other non Diode based isolation device, and the vehicle driven for 15+ minutes in the morning, when the battery is at its most depleted, then the battery has a much higher chance of being happier.

As said in previous responses, most people new to living on 12v are battery murderers, and the first battery a learner battery.  Put a cheap voltmeter on it, one that you can easily see.  When discharging under light loads such as LED lights, disconnect the light loads when the voltmeter drops below 12.2v.   A voltmeter is not a true battery monitor, which counts amp hours into and out of the battery, but voltage is a clue and the more one observes voltage during charging, and discharging, the better idea one gets of the state of charge of their battery, and how it is performing as it ages.

This is not a specific product recommendation, just an Example:
http://www.amazon.com/Mictuning-Dig...1448227885&sr=1-18&keywords=digital+voltmeter

Beware of those voltmeters that plug into ciggy plug sockets, not only are some highly inaccurate, but the ciggy plug itself might be on a circuit that has other loads, which will throw off the voltage readings.  One wants the voltmeter reading the battery terminals themselves, not tapped into another circuit halfway through.  Ciggy plug voltmeters often will read low, and the user will stop discharging before they really need to.  Better for the battery, but inconvenient for the user

When discharging under heavier loads such as a laptop whose internal battery is recharging, one can go lower, to the 12.0v range as the voltage will rebound to 12.2 or so with the load removed.

50% charged is around 12.2 volts, on a well rested battery, one which has not seen charging or discharging for many hours.  This is unlikely to ever  occur in actual use whilst dwelling, so some guestimating has to be done, and a 'close enough' call made.

The battery each day during daylight hours needs to spend at least 2 hours at absorption voltage of 14.4 to 14.8v to be happy enough.  Maxing out the Specific gravity, which is the only real way of confirming a true 100% recharge, usually takes closer to 4 hours  when held at absorption voltage on a healthy battery.  An unhealthy chronically undercharged battery might need to be pushed to equalization voltages of 16v to max out Specific gravity.  Often EQ charges are applied as a final Hurrah on a battery that is too far gone to recover enough lost capacity to be useful again, but applied somewhat regularly, they can greatly extend the lifespan of the battery.

AGM batteries are 100% charged when the current required to hold them at absorption voltage has tapered to 0.5amps per 100AH of capacity.

When A charge controller drops to float voltage, this DOES NOT MEAN the battery is fully charged, it means only that the controller held absorption voltage as long as it was programmed to do so.  Many people see their charge controller in float and think their battery is fully charged, but it really means very little unless confirmed.  The amount of time a battery needs to be held at absorption voltage is different for each and every battery, its level of discharge, health, temperature, and charge rate, so a 'One size fits all' algorithm, is more like a one size fits none.  Good enough or NOT? impossible to say without confirmation.

Wiring up a simple continuous duty solenoid to charge house battery is no more difficult than hooking up a solar charge controller, but the copper should be thicker, at least 8awg, with 6 being better, 4 better still, ect.  The distance to the house battery plays a huge part in wire size needed, and batteries can accept huge recharging currents when discharged below 80%, safely.  It is the battery itself which dictates how much amperage it can accept at the voltage allowed by the vehicle's voltage regulator.  The alternator only makes as much current as required to attain the voltage the Vehicles voltage  regulator allows.  Many people think an alternator can overfeed a battery.  This can only happen if the Voltage regulator allows too high a voltage for too long, and as this is dangerous, from a lawyerly point of view, the opposite is more likely to occur, Too low a voltage held for too little time in most vehicles.

A low slow recharge, is better, only when one has 24 to 48 hours + to recharge.  When the next discharge cycle begins late afternoon, then it is much better to high amp recharge a battery via an alternator, then the low and slow solar to finish it off, to give it the best chance of attaining the highest state of charge possible before that next discharge cycle begins.

Do this and even a low/ middling quality marine battery will give good enough service

As far as alternator charging goes:
 http://www.expeditionportal.com/for...ke-a-cheap-isolated-dual-battery-setup-for-50

While the diagrams show that he takes power for the solenoid from the engine battery, Another option for those seeking more alternator contribution to depleted batteries is to  take power for solenoid from alternator(+) stud instead, as this can make for a shorter circuit, meaning less $$$ copper, and it also bypasses the OEM alternator charging circuit wiring, which is too small for the additional load of an additional depleted battery tacked onto the end of the circuit.  The other benefit is the that the vehicle's voltage regulator will be able to 'see' the depleted battery and allow higher voltages to be held for longer, but how long and how high is highly platform dependent.  Voltage is electrical pressure, so a higher pressure allows more amperage to flow.

A depleted battery hooked to an alternator over thick copper can present a huge load to the alternator.  The Alternator's life will be shortened to some degree due to the incredible amount of heat it can make when maxed out.  Some alternators can produce huge currents at idle.  Such alternators at Idle, their internal fans are not spinning fast and not moving much air through them.  Combine this with not much airflow moving through the engine compartment when not moving, and the alternator 'might' quickly fry itself.  I recommend NOT idling to recharge, but driving instead, unless one can confirm their alternator is not above 220F when idling.  The cooler the better, but 220F is a tipping point that will quickly degrade the diodes and bearings in an alternator.  An Alternator at max output or near maximum output will heat up faster than the engine spinning it.

Some other alternators might not be able to produce much current when idling when hot, and idling can do very little but burn gas.  Again, highly platform specific so without the ability to see how much current is actually making it to the battery, Idling to recharge might be a foolish wasteful endeavor.

If one's alternator is very expensive, and requires lots of labor to replace, then it makes little financial sense to burn it up trying to keep a battery happy.  One can limit its output by using thinner cabling to the house battery, such at 8 or 10awg, and still get a good 18 to 35 amps, where as 4 awg would allow 60 to 70 amps or more to flow initially and an overall higher amperage rate whilst the engine is running.

The alternator only makes as much current as needed to hold the system voltage at a preset level controlled by the voltage regulator. A depleted battery might require 70 amps to be held at 14.4v, but 85% charged battery might need only 9 amps.  The alternator rating means very little in actual use.  Alternator ratings are established in a Lab, with a cold alternator spinning very fast feeding huge loads over thick copper cabling.  Ideal situation, which has little resemblance to an alternator in a vehicle in actual use.

My Alternator takes me less than 15 minutes to replace, and has a Lifetime warranty, and basically is hooked with 2awg cable, and will pass 110 amps maximum for briefly, given enough rpm and a depleted enough battery.  I still got 8 years out of the alternator before the stator shorted and O'reilly's gave me a new alternator under warranty.  But previous to that alternator, I exercised that warranty much more often, as I did not have Solar then, nor a good understanding of battery charging.

While I recommend having alternator recharging as an option, many people can and do use solar only to recharge, successfully, so far.

How much longer their battery might have lasted had they had the option of alternator recharging, is unknown, but if the sun goes behind clouds for days on end, the person who can recharge while driving, doing a supply run, is going to have that much more electricity to use for longer. The person who resupplies and does not take advantage of the alternator's ability to recharge enroute, is going to dream of thick copper between house battery and alternator and solenoid.

Alternator charging can always be accomplished  later on, IF/when the solar alone proves to be inadequate, and when one feels more comfortable with their skills to install it themselves.

Keeping a battery happiest is almost impossible.  Ideally it would be fully charged, and kept of a Float charger and never discharged at all.  that is ideal from the battery's point of view.  A battery that is actually discharged regularly has to be recharged properly to be happy enough.

Happy enough is a pretty wide spread and highly subjective to the human who purchased the battery and can only really be determined my most people, when the battery fails to meet their capacity requirements.  Before failure it is 'just fine' and 'going strong', and like a switch was thrown, the next day the battery 'no longer takes a charge'.

It really comes down to a total accumulated cycles over a certain timespan as to whether any given recharge regimen is good enough, and the battery longevity good enough.  Total cycles accumulated per dollar.

I once was going through wally world batteries every 6 months, the actual $$ spent not all that much, but it was a Pain in the Ass when the battery capacity was so little that i had to constantly worry about if I had enough juice to power what I wanted to power, and if I could actually get to a walmart which would warranty the battery.

Not being a people person, I find dealing with Wal-mart, its employees and clientele, to be stressful, and it really promoted my learning of how to keep a battery happy, so as to avoid unpleasantries which occur when they need replacement, prematurely.
 

TooManyDogs

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Thank you for the very detailed response, SW. I feel like a battery: I can suck up the bulk feed of info initially but up to a certain point, my mind can only take in a trickle charge. :) I'm going to have to come back and reread your post. Really appreciate you taking the time to type that all out!
 

wayne49

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Thank you SW.

I have experienced the destruction of an alternator (was already underperforming before I connnected to house batteries) trying to charge undernourished house batteries on a long highway trip.

The 100 amp marine fuse I put at the takeoff point proved its worth as the suicidal alternator destroyed the vehicles dual AGMs (also past their prime when I bought the van). That fuse blowing saved the house batteries. SW thank you very much for fusing recommendations.

The feeling I had when I opened the hood to see a hot, smoking alternator with the AGM batteries mounted in boxes under the frame. I realized I could not cut power to the alternator to prevent a fire. Luckily it did no go beyond destroying the bad alternator and the bad AGMs. I was going to replace them soon anyway.

Now I have the solar panels up on top and the house batteries can get their fill of solar goodness while I am parked or driving. Driving along at highway speeds with 14.4+ flowing into the house batteries. Nice.

I also dumped the PowerMax charger and got a PD unit with the pendant to manually switch to Boost phase.

I am giving thanks this Thursday for SternWake putting up with us.

-Wayne
 

SternWake

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Depleted AGM batteries can, with their lower resistance and higher charge acceptance, easily overwhelm alternators when the wiring to and from is very thick, and there is a LOT of AGM battery capacity to refill.

Solar is good at taming down the gluttonous greed of a depleted healthy battery when presented with a nearly unlimited charging source, like a capable alternator spinning fast with a thick copper circuit.  An hour or 3 of sun before starting the engine could be the difference between alternator overload, or not.  If I sleep too late and Start my engine after the sun has gotten the battery upto 12.7+ volts, then the AGM voltage quickly rises to 14.9 volts( my VR is a bit obscene) and only requires 45 amps to get that high.  IF I start my engine before the sun rises, with a heavily depleted AGM, At Idle 62 amps will take several minutes before battery voltage rises above 13.6, and at higher rpms it can ask for 80 amps or more from the alternator.  For a 90 AH battery, 80+ amps is a huge recharge rate.  Until my Depleted battery achieves 14.9v, it is sucking up everything the alternator can make at the rpm and temperature it is at. 

Do note a sulfated battery will more quickly rise in voltage when charged, than a healthier battery, and it will require less charging amperage to quickly rise in volts.  Also, when a depleted  but otherwise healthy battery is first presented with a large charging source, the voltage might rise a bit faster than expected and the amps might not be as high as expected, but then as the battery wakes up, the voltage will drop and the amperage, if available, will increase, so there can be some initial wackyness with the voltage at first when huge charging currents are available and one has the tools to measure voltage and amperage, and of course the desire and interest to watch them.

It sounds like the Internal voltage regulator on your alternator went haywire and allowed too high a voltage and the unhealthy AGM batteries went into thermal runaway, perhaps from being pushed beyond the 30% maximum charge rate listed by some AGM manufacturers.  This is one reason to get a high$$ AGM, like Odyssey or NorthStar or Lifeline, They pretty much have no easily achievable upper limit on charging amps, but they also Need a minimum level of charging amps applied regularly when deeply discharged, which makes them no so great as a solar only recharge battery.

I have 200 watts feeding a 90AH AGM battery, and no way can this amount keep it happy with 50% discharges. It simply needs high charging amps, and it also needs to attain a true full charge.  I've been plugged in for the last 4.5 hours, holding 14.7v and the amps have yet to taper to 0.4 or less at which point I will manually  lower the voltage to 13.6v.  My battery is unhappy from 3 days of not quite getting to full from Solar alone, and its absorption stage is taking forever, more than twice as long as it normally does, and my discharges the last 3 nights were not deeper than 35%, not my usual 50% or perhaps even deeper.  5 hours ago I was running some errands.  8 hours ago I was on this dang laptop and the Solar could not get the battery the battery to 14.4v despite being a fully sunny day, and my battery monitor claimed 16AH from full, and I plugged in and it initially took 22 amps to bring the battery to 14.4v.  When I was driving around the battery was only taking 4 to 5 amps at 14.9v, and when I returned I was still 13AH from full.
Right now my battery monitor reads 2AH from full, the battery is accepting 0.6 amps at 14.7v.  Close to full, not quite 100%.  It is more like 0.5Ah from full, not the 2AH from full my battery monitor claims.  Pretty darn close though.  Time to reset it since the sun is down.


Yours sounds like a case where a digital voltmeter on the dashboard might have allowed you to notice something amiss, and  prevented the smoking of the alternator.  I really recommend those with house battery systems charged Via alternator, having a digital voltmeter one can see while driving.  Then one can see a depleted battery's voltage rising to the maximum voltage allowed by the voltage regulator, and how long it takes, and how long the VR allows 14.2+ volts to be held, or whether it is even charging at all, or overcharging because the voltage regulator packed up all its toys and went home.

If one has one on their starting battery, then they can see how far it drops during engine cranking, and get a good idea when the battery is on its way out, or if it is not fully charged, or if it happy and still healthy, and see the effect that cold temperatures have on it.

I put 2 of these on my dashboard, one for house battery and one for engine.  One is currently disconnected and just reads 0.0v, as I am using my Single 90Ah Northstar AGM battery for both duties.

These are 3 wire voltmeters.  One of the wires is a voltage sense lead one should put right on the battery(+) terminal.  I got the green ones and they are too bright at night, but I tamed them down with 2 layers of 35% window tint.  This blurry pic below is pre tint.

http://www.amazon.com/SMAKN®-Digital-Voltage-Voltmeter-Three-wires/dp/B00R5VHH5I

With these in place, there is no surprise when the alternator is not working properly.  I replaced my alternator a few months back, after watching it fail slowly and be incapable of maintaining 13.7v+, even when the battery was already fully charged.

Newer cars with analog voltmeters on the dash, well, can you discern the difference between 12.6 and 13.6 volts?  Would it be noticeable to the average driver??  12.6v indicates a battery that is not being charged, 13.6v indicates one which is.  These analog gauges in newer cars with a 11 on one side, a few hash marks and an 18 on the other side, are basically completely useless as there will be some other indication of an improperly functioning charging system before the average person notices the analog  voltmeter is 1.2mm farther to the left than normal.

The 2 wire voltmeters use the power lead as the voltage sense.  The 3 wire voltmeters can have the unit powered by the ignition, and the voltage sense wire right on the battery(+).

They are also able to be calibrated via an adjustment potentiometer on the back which is required when the wiring to the battery(+) is long, and one is perhaps using very thin 28 gauge aluminum wiring salvaged from an ancient speaker system

I got some red ones to swap out for the obnoxious green ones:
018copy_zpsdea917fb.jpg


The tachometer replaced the stock Ammeter whose needle barely moved, ever.  In 2006 I did not notice my alternator had quit until the windshield wipers moved in super slow motion. Then, by looking really closely at the stock  Ammeter, I noticed the needle had moved 1/32 of an inch to the left.

A digital voltmeter showing 11.5v when 13.7v to 14.9v is Normal for my Van when the engine is running, would have let me know the precise moment the alternator failed.  The original Ammeter left me clueless.
---------

The automatic 3 or 4 stage powermax converters have a strange charge algorithm.  As soon as they get the battery to 14.4v or 14.6v depending on the model, they drop to 13.8v instead of holding the 14.4v+.  Thus charging slows by a good 80%.

The Progressive Dynamics chargers will seek  via their maximum amperage output and hold 14.4v for 4 hours after the boost button is pressed on the pendant, which leads to much faster battery charging, so the PD units allow a much higher level of control for those who do not trust Automatic 'smart' chargers/converters, or notice their batteries are never getting fully charged unless they can plug in for 36 to 48 hours.

Powermax offers an Adjustable voltage model which is fully manual.  One can set any voltage as the maximum and the charger will output its maximum capability until that voltage is reached, then make only enough amperage to maintain that voltage, for as long as it is kept powered.  It can overcharge if left at 14.x volts for too long. These adjustable voltage units are great for those who want to achieve maximum recharging in  minimal time, such as when generator recharging, or if one stops at a friends house and only has 4 hours to charge and wants to get the batteries asto as  high a state of charge as possible in that time.  Another good reason to have a High amp accepting higher $$ AGM battery and a powerful charging source that seek and hold higher voltages.

I use something similar, a Meanwell rsp-500-15 which is a 40 amp adjustable voltage power supply.  I can choose any voltage from 13.12 to 19.23, and have 40 amps available.  I could not Keep my AGM battery happy without it. I do not currently drive enough in the morning to blast it with high amperage.  Also, when it gets all petulant and requires 8 hours at 14.4v plus, well, the days are not that long it seems this time of year for my solar to complete the  prolonged absorption stage that a couple days of imperfect recharging made necessary.

There was certainly Bliss in ignorance.  It was only money after all, when replacing batteries often, but I prefer to no longer be a committer of batterycide, and hope to inform others on how to repel this moniker.
 

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