Sunday, 24 June 2012

Battery Observations

There are a number of companies providing power systems for narrowboats, broadbeams, GRP, Yachts and any other kind of vessel you can think of. One such company is Sterling. I have for some time been thinking of improving the underlying power systems on Rosie. We have a 1500 watt inverter and I have recently replaced and upgraded the battery bank from 400 to 500Ah.

The way that we use the boat means that we are either moving most days or moored up in the marina on the mains. The solar panels do provide some of the power requirement. However, if the alternator output is tailored to charge the battery bank more efficiently, it would be much better for us.

I have recently purchased a Sterling Digital Alternator Regulator. Modern Digital systems can control electrical systems in a way that would have been unimaginable twenty years ago. This will be combined with our 2nd alternator which is rated at 70amp. If at any point in time the alternator was to fail, I would consider upgrading to a 120 amp version.

The common denominator in all of the various electrical systems are the leisure and engine batteries. The use and abuse of batteries has been documented many many times. Over a period of time certain given "facts" get woven into the folk-law surrounding battery systems. Sometimes the evidence is ancient and based upon a misconception. Google "Conventional Current" and "Electron Flow" to get an idea. Electrons are negative and flow from negative to positive. Conventional current flow is from positive to negative. This is because early researchers in electricity thought electricity flowed from positive to negative, which is why they called them that in the first place.

Another one is the "Ether" During the 19th Century, scientists Michael Faraday, James Clerk Maxwell and Heinrich Hertz formulated a theory that described electromagnetic phenomena. This theory indicated that electric and magnetic forces resulted from the effect of electric and magnetic fields existing in space between electric charges. These electric charges were produced by the ether, which was thought to be able to exert electric forces on ordinary matter.

There is a lot of mystique in this electrikery stuff!

However many times a fact is repeated, if it is based on flawed knowledge or research it is still an untruth. In other words its an old wives-tale or if you prefer the modern description an urban legend.

There is a wealth of information about different battery systems available on the Internet. It pays to be a bit wary of the information available. Some wrong information has been repeated again and again. Repeated so many times, that the myth has gained provenance and patina.

Sterling have produced a number of documents where the various power system configurations have been placed under test and then Sterling has described their observations and the outcomes.

Advanced Battery Charging.
Altenator Problem Spotting.
Narrowboat Wiring Diagram.

The documents are well worth a read.


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