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ABS Review – Leisure batteries for a narrowboat

Michael Tyler

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The story….

Purchased these batteries on the 1st May, 2016, most specifically because of their ‘3 year warranty’, (which has now risen to 4!).

Great deal for £70 each, you would think.

Here’s the bumf I read before buying the batteries for my narrowboat.

abs LP110 Leisure battery review
abs LP110 Leisure battery

A 4 year warranty!

abs LP110 Leisure battery usageNo ‘huge demand’ appliances, such as heater or large wattage equipment.

My 35w fridge and a few 20w lights and the occasional 32w TV would be fine, you’d think…..

It’s not the case.

Winter bye bye

After one winter, these batteries are useless, or as the guy at Kwikfit put it, “totally dead“.

When the weather turned colder, back in January, suddenly it was like some one turned the lights out, or dimmed them at least….

One day, they were charging up fine, and discharging over the course of a day or so.

The next day, after one or two days of harsh weather, they were discharging within around 2-4 hours.

Now that has dropped to 2 hours.

Before

After

10:08am: 13v

Right after charging.

09:58am 13v

Right after charging.

10:51am: 12.5v

Around forty minutes after charging.

11:08am 13v

An hour after charging.

11:25am: 11.5v

advanced battery supplies abs lb110One hour and 25 minutes after charging, the batteries, 2x abs 110lp’s, are down to 11.5v.

12:08am 13v

Two hours later, after charging up my mobile on the inverter.

1:30pm: 10.5v

advanced battery supplies abs 110lpWhen I return to the boat at  1.30pm, 2.5 hours after charging, voltage has dropped to 10.5v. This is the ‘cut-off’ level for the compressor on the fridge, and it will cease to fire.

All my food will rot.

I will catch food poisoning and die.

21:20am 12v

12 hours after charging, the batteries are still on 12v.

 Cycle period

After charging, 2 leisure size batteries hold charge for 2 hours. That’s day-time usage, with only one device running, a 35w Shoreline RR46A fridge, on a setting of 1 (the lowest).

At night, it’s the same environment with the addition of some lights, (low wattage LED).

Testing the operating environment

One of the problems with a narrowboat being that the contacts can become corroded, causing a slight short, which can place an extra strain on the batteries.

I wondered what had gone wrong, so measured all the appliances, such as the lighting, water pump, 12v sockets, and the 12v loom in general.

I did this by

  1. fully charging the batteries.
  2. isolating the batteries from 12v mains
  3. measure
  4. connect the mains (check loom)
  5. measure
  6. connect the lights
  7. measure
  8. connect the waterpump
  9. measure
  10. connect the fridge
  11. measure

It was obvious, once the fridge was connected, the charge started falling off quickly.

So I checked the fridge.

Shoreline RR46A fridge

This is a 12v marine fridge. Cycles at around 30% on a setting of 1, (the lowest).

Energy usage around 35w, which is the usage on lowest settings, taking into account a fridge of this age.

You can find out about the Shoreline RR46a and it’s operating specs and the power usage in the manual. It’s actually the manual for the Danfoss BD35f compressor that runs the Shoreline RR46A fridge Danfoss_bd35f_compressor.

Nothing abnormal here.

Some stats on standard fridge run times.

http://www.samsmarine.com/forums/showthread.php?1749-Refrigerator-run-time

Usage

MonthLocationCycles per dayTotal cycles
MayMarina260
JuneMarina00
JulyMarina00
AugustDock/Cut0/115
SeptemberCruising130
OctoberCruising130
NovemberWinter moorings260
DecemberWinter moorings260
JanuaryWinter moorings260
TOTAL CYCLES 325

Throughout the life of the battery[s], the charge has never dropped below 10v: Operating range has always been in the range of 10.5v to 13v.

That means to say, the batteries have never been below 2/3 full.

I’ve been living on the boat the whole time. Times which I haven’t, it’s been in Marina.

In summary

The ABS 110LP batteries are NOT holding charge.

Eventually, having eliminated any other causes, I contacted the supplier ABS batteries in Stockport to activate the warranty.

Problem solved

After exchanging emails, spoke to someone called Andy at ABS (Stockport). Told him all about my problem with the batteries, and he agreed to exchange and upgrade them!

He said that the batteries were not suitable for anything other than ‘light usage items‘, which in comparison to the promotional bumf, which says they’re not suitable for ‘huge use items‘(!?)

Not particularly clear in the English language. Inferal doesn’t really do it when writing technical specs….

We arranged to pick them up yesterday, (Monday), and I’ve now got some of these

agm-leisure-battery-lp120A better battery of a higher spec.

Had to go to Stockport to pick them up.

Connected them up, with results as above.

Lessons learned

What made the big difference was not the usage, but letting the charge fall off in the winter, when the weather was cold.

Although I didn’t do this in any major way, when buying cheap batteries like these, you’re going to need to keep them topped off, especially during periods of cold, and NEVER let them run flat.

I did keep mine topped off to around 2/3, but it clearly wasn’t enough.

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2017 Michael Tyler Sailor's Almanac: Further Narrowboat Adventures
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3 comments:

  1. I delivered the old batteries this afternoon. Andy expressed the view that they were not sufficient for the job, but the agreed refund was made to my credit card (could take several days to actually go through, my bank tells me).
    He said that he was not prepared to warranty the new ones under the circumstances where there were only two in operation. He said that there should be at least three, if not four. He expressed the view that the demise of the old ones was likely to have come about because they were emptied of charge – though your blog states that this was not the case, doesn’t it?
    Hope the new ones will continue to work, but I think that if they fail after a couple of years (as Andy felt they might) he’d not be keen to replace.
    I have no idea what good batteries cost but it seems POSSIBLE that another outlet might be worth considering IF additional ones are bought – as one of our friends says “buy cheap, get cheap”.
    Oh, I was not given a receipt for the new ones that I paid £210 in cash for (and was too tired to think about asking). I was given a card saying the refund would be cash, but Andy had “expected you to call and say when you’d be dropping them off” so didn’t have cash to hand.

    1. No.
      They were never empty of charge.
      Not in the time I had them.

      I’m sure you’ll get your money back.

      The problem, as I see it, was the onset of the cold weather.
      The state of charge rarely dropped below 2/3, so should have been able to handle the cold weather.

      The boat was certainly never left.
      Apart from over Christmas.
      But never for a long period.
      I was living on the boat.

  2. 10.5V there’s your problem right there.

    No way are they deep cycle no matter what they claim, they’re not tubular, they’re not fork lift batteries. They’re just bog standard (or even lite) leisure batteries. a 24kg battery is not deep cycle, not by any stretch of the imagination. They’re at the very shallow end of ‘deep’ cycle.

    Don’t go above 50% DoD

    12.2V, thats what you want to be aiming for.

    Dont let them drop below that. Also don’t leave them for a few days discharged. Start charging in the morning. Charge them after you’ve used them. I’m also willing to bet you’re not getting therm fully charged despite thinking you might have done so.

    Plus with such a small bank 220Ah, of which only 110Ah is actually usable (50% DoD) your fridge is using most of your electricity.

    It sounds like you are underestimating your electric usage, overestimating how much electric you have available, & very good chance that you’re not getting them fully charged in the 1st place.

    I found this site by googling ‘ABS battery review’, 3rd result 1st page.
    (This site is censored. This site has been removed from Google’s index)???

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