Sunday, 29 March 2015

Dead leisure batteries and a Palm Sunday procession in Braunston

First the happier news.

We took part in a traditional Palm Sunday procession this morning, from the Wheatsheaf pub (well, all right, outside the Wheatsheaf) along the high street to All Saints' Church in Braunston.

The part of the donkey was played by a pony; we processed singing songs and holding up the traffic (not for long).

We were glad we'd organised this as a "rest" day as the wind grew in strength and there were several showers - but it wasn't the "solid" rain I'd been led to believe ...)

Now for the less happy news.

Oh dear. Our domestic batteries are holding very little charge. I suppose they don't really owe us anything, as they are now nearly three years old and have had no maintenance. And they are not "maintenance-free". Just now the two LED lights we had on dimmed as the inverter (powering the mains fridge) bleeped its low voltage warning and cut out. The lights hardly recovered their brightness.

This morning the water pump was taking ages to pressurise the system, so I looked at the battery voltage and was horrified to read 9.6V while the pump was running. I felt slightly guilty turning on the engine at 0820 to put some charge back in; the clocks have only just changed and there is a boat immediately behind us.

This afternoon I removed deck boards etc. so I could get at the batteries - v. difficult - and found that the little colour indicators were all clear, meaning that the batteries should be replaced (the other colours are green (charged) and black (needs charging). It's not easy to see from the photo, but the three connected batteries are under the inverter cupboard, making it just about impossible to top them up.

The boat originally came with five 110Ah batteries, which I felt was too much for our power usage; we have all-LED lights and a fridge. These, with water and shower pumps - and a bit for the DAB radio and phone/laptop charging - are all we use. No TV. I reasoned that five leisure batteries would take longer to charge than three, meaning that they might never get to the fully-charged state, and that three would be sufficient. As the former owner had given us three brand new batteries I simply connected them up and removed the three worst old batteries.

Can you have too many leisure batteries? We are moored in Braunston, convenient for the chandlery at Wharf House Narrowboats where I have had good service in the past. They will give 10% off if I buy four or more batteries, so do I buy four or five? And should I go for conventional top-them-up-yourself lead acid batteries or "maintenance-free" lead acid (£85 v £100)?

Tomorrow I feel a little wallet-lightening might be in order. Unless strongly advised here otherwise I'll go for four "maintenance-free" ones and hope they'll be all right. Now I'll have to work out the best method of connecting them up with the interconnecting cables I have.

Oh, and here is our mooring; just beyond Butcher's Bridge. We're the middle boat.

Here comes the rain again ...


nb Chance said...

Buy 5 batteries Halfie as the old 5th battery will weaken the 4 new ones, we replaced 2 out of 4 on a previous boat we had and ended up replacing all 4 again, so was not cost effective. D&J

Halfie said...

Doug/James, I didn't intend to connect all five batts - have been running on just three for three years, using two old ones as packing.

Tom and Jan said...

Have you also priced batteries at the Braunston Swindlers. If you can't easily access the batteries then I'd opt for lead acid sealed rather than open.

Martin said...

Chris Gibbons' comment on the "50% rule" has some helpful maths to show why he thinks a size of battery bank that will typically be discharged to 50% in normal use is the most cost effective.

Martin said...

Oh, and he also has an extraordinary page on wiring banks of batteries, showing why it matters.

Halfie said...

Tom, I had a look on Midland's website and their sealed batteries were more expensive than those sold by Wharf House. Thanks for your encouragement to go for sealed; as I will describe in the blog post I'm about to write I went for the sealed type from Wharf House (I like that place).

Martin, thanks very much for those useful links, especially the one about how to wire up a bank such as mine. I came close to doing it that way, but now I'm going to have to make a couple of modifications to what I've done!

Brian and Diana on NB Harnser said...

Wharf house will make leads up for you

Halfie said...

Brian, I think I have enough leads - maybe even some spares. But thanks.

Elizabeth J. Neal said...

We took part in a traditional Palm Sunday procession this morning, from the Wheatsheaf pub (well, all right, outside the Wheatsheaf) along the high street to All Saints' Church in Braunston. batteroo