A Slight 'Twist' on a Gel Battery Question.......

Discussion in 'Tech/Mech General' started by Tootles, Aug 25, 2014.

  1. Tootles

    Tootles Funster

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    Yea, I know....Gel batteries again,
    But........
    A friend bought a brand new Canadian made Gel Battery for his tug van. Never used it, and as he is now departing from caravanning, it's now mine. 11o amp hour, vehicle sized......
    Now I know there has always been a million tons of controversy about the good's and bad's of Gel Batteries, (mostly on the price of them), and I'm thinking of using this one on our narrowboat....But what I'm not sure of is, can it be used as a starter battery? Much counter stuff on the web about this, and also 'hints' about special charging facilities to be used on a Gel......But no one explains why....
    Can a Gel be charged with a standard alternator? I know they give limited 'load demand', but our boat engine is a three cylinder Lister, with very low compression for a diesel, so that's not a problem.
    Of coarse I would never buy one, but this is a freebi, and never used.
    Ta,

    Dave.
     
  2. peterc10

    peterc10 Funster

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    A gel battery has to have a different charging regime when attached to a permanent charger, as you would get with a motorhome with solar, EHU and engine charging. Most decent chargers have a switch for different settings for lead acid and gel. Sorry can't tell you the difference though!
     
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  3. jonandshell

    jonandshell Funster

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    Gel batteries require a lower bulk charge voltage and a higher final absorbsion charge voltage.
    The net result of this is lower charging currents and longer charge times than wet lead acid.
    It essential to limit the charging current with gel electrolyte because gas bubbles will form in the gel, rendering the gel less capable of conducting electron movement between the plates.
    As long as the gel battery is correctly rated for its purpose in terms of maximum currents, their use is universal just like wet cells. Generally, this means a higher Ah rating to do the same job.
     
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  4. simbadog

    simbadog Funster

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  5. Tootles

    Tootles Funster

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    Thanks Simba, I had already perused this, but I came to the conclusion that Sterling slagged off anything they they don't sell.......Strange reading really. o_O
     
  6. simbadog

    simbadog Funster

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    You may well be right there! ;)
     
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  7. hilldweller

    hilldweller Funster Life Member

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    According to first hand experience of Mr Jaws, fitting a gel battery to bikes gives a short life due to the wrong charging regime.
     
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  8. Tootles

    Tootles Funster

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    Thought that might be the case Brian. We already have a small Gel on the boat, it lives in the locker next to the fridge, (inboard). I put it there ten years ago, because the voltage drop on the fridge cables is about 1.3, (at 30 ft, using 10 mm profile cable). What was happening during the night was a reluctance for the fridge to 'fire up', but with the Gel close by, this acts as a booster. Also, because of the voltage drop, the Gel cant discharge into the main battery bank at the back.
    This gel has charged OK for ten years from the alternator, but the difference with the new one of coarse is that it will act as the main starter battery, hence my question.
    It cost nowt, so might just try it and see.......(y)
     
  9. hilldweller

    hilldweller Funster Life Member

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    So the BIG question, how bad is it if it does not start, can you push it fast enough to bump start it ?
     
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  10. Tootles

    Tootles Funster

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    It let us down two weeks ago Brian, came to start........Zilch. I have a change-over switch, which allows me to 'slave' the starter battery from the six habitation batteries.
    You can bump start them, using a team of horses, pulling at the gallop.....:)(y)
     
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  11. knokinonabit

    knokinonabit Funster

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    Can't you just free wheel down Bingley Five Rise and get enough speed up to start it ? :blush: :whistle2:



    .
     
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  12. Tootles

    Tootles Funster

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    I could borrow your Fowler Showman's Engine...........:):)
     
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  13. knokinonabit

    knokinonabit Funster

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    If you mean the one in my avatar, 'fraid not.
    It's a Burrell.
    It is Richard Preston's, of Prestons of Potto Haulage, and it is called Lightning II.
    It is the only green Burrell showmans to come out of the factory and was working in the 1950s when there was a fuel shortage of petrol and diesel.

    :getmecoat:
     
  14. knokinonabit

    knokinonabit Funster

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    That's me on a Fowler.
    The Iron Maiden, star of the film of the same name.

    I was generating the electricity for the Gavioli fairground organ and stage at Pickering at the time.
     

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  15. Tootles

    Tootles Funster

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    Ahhhhh..... Ididnt realise it was 'The Maiden'. I first saw that engine in the 50's, used by a travelling fair as a generator. They were still fairly common then. Not sure if they moved it under steam, or by low loader, in fact, it could have been running whilst on a trailer, memory fades with time.......:(
    I do remember being fascinated just watching the belt driving the genny. :)
     
  16. knokinonabit

    knokinonabit Funster

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    If you saw it in the 50s it would have been called Kitchener, it's original name.
    The name was changed for the film in the 60s and it has stayed that way since.
    It get's moved to rallies etc on a low loader but still does the odd road run.
    Not too many now as age takes it's toll and repair costs are horrendous
     
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  17. Tootles

    Tootles Funster

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    I think my step-dad told me that some years ago, hence where I got it from. I cant remember who's fair it was, but it was seen by me during a 'Wakes'Week, probably around 1955, at Eccles, Lancashire.
     
  18. Tootles

    Tootles Funster

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    How many showman engines did Fowler make?? I know their main business was in ploughing pairs, and road rollers. Our local council ran an Aveling roller for many years, well into the sixties.
     
  19. TheCaller

    TheCaller Funster

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    This is largely guesswork on my part, but ....

    I think the answer is 'Yes'. Why? ....

    One of the problems with charging a habitation battery from the alternator via a simple split charge relay is that the alternator will provide the bulk charge capacity, but not the voltage to fully charge the battery. Around 80% is the usually quoted figure. It requires an intelligent charger - either mains or battery-to-battery - to get to full charge. This is where the wrong voltage can kill a battery.

    The fact that a starter battery never gets to 100% charge doesn't really matter much. It's the ability to deliver a high current for a short time that is important. So long as the engine starts reasonably quickly, very little of the total battery capacity is used & it's quickly replaced.

    So alternators are usually set up to stop charging at a relatively low maximum voltage - around 13.6V I believe. I haven't checked, but I suspect this is below the maximum charge voltage of any battery type in common use, including Gel.

    The other question is - how long has this battery been sitting about unused & was it kept charged during this period? If it was allowed to self-discharge in storage & spent months sitting flat, it may not be much good now.
     
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  20. Tootles

    Tootles Funster

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    That I don't know.....Really I mean, however, My lead-acid starter battery has gone t**s up anyway. I cant do a load test on the Gel, as it's sealed, and wouldn't 'bubble' a dead cell anyway. I do have an alternator booster fitted to the regulator, with a max cut off at 15.5, (just below the theoretical gassing point), but I wouldn't use it on the Gel.
    The good point, (it seems), about a Gel, is that it holds it's charge far longer then a wet cell battery.
     
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