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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Batteries: I've Been Meaning to...

Our last camp out was almost cancelled. We went to start the motor, but no power was going to the starter. The batteries appeared to be dead. This was bad, really bad. We use Deep Cycle Flooded Marine Batteries on the boat and they cost upwards of $200 each. We have four and when you replace one you have to replace ALL FOUR.

I was surprised that the batteries were dead, because we have 2-75watt Siemen Solar Panels on our arch (not shaded) and it had been really sunny. I instantly when into diagnose/ problem solving mode. I had been meaning to perform the maintenance on the batteries, but other things seemed to always take priority, well not today.

First thing I did was to make sure that the battery selector was on. If it had been off, then the starter would have had no power. The battery selector was on and pointed to Both (meaning both battery banks). Next, I checked the Photovoltaic Charge Controller and Battery Monitor. It indicated that charge was coming from the solar panels and that they batteries were over charged. Overcharged? I thought, how can this be. Then I started to remember the research I did on batteries, while preparing to do the battery maintenance. I remembered reading that sometimes when the water level in the batteries are low that the battery monitor will indicate that they are being overcharged. I turned the batteries off and opened the water fill points to the batteries. Well the water level in all four batteries were low. So low, that it took 1/2 a gallon of distilled water (in each) to bring the water back up to the proper level. Good thing that I had bought two gallons of distilled water in preparation to do the battery maintenance.

If I had done the maintenance earlier, we probably would not have had the issue. Good thing that I had been doing my research and had all of the items need to do the maintenance, so that our outing was not disrupted.

The battery maintenance finally got done ;).

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