On our boat, we have ten house batteries and one starting battery. The house batteries are Trojan brand T-105 6V batteries paired to make what is essentially five 12V batteries. They are divided into two battery banks one of 6 and one of 4. Our starting battery is a Deka Group 31 deep cycle starting battery. We recently replaced all the batteries which cost about $149 each if you can get them for a good price. Our starting battery also runs our bilge pumps.
The evolving mystery is this….twice in the last year, our starting battery has been too low to start our diesel after being away from our boat for about 6 weeks. We have 7 solar panels, a wind generator (this was turned off) and were plugged into shore power when this has happened. We have three barrel switches that select the charging method for the batteries, the bank that the house operates on and one isolates or connects the house and starting batteries. Normally the start battery is isolated. According to Nigel Calder this setup is optimal for a larger boat with two battery banks. The catch is that you need to use “Shottky” diodes to protect your batteries from discharge. These diodes essentially act as a “one way” valve for current to flow into the batteries with a slight drop in voltage (between .15 and .65 by most accounts). The simple fix has been to switch the batteries to “all” and let the house bank top off the starting battery. After about five minutes all is back to normal. I just don’t want to count on this when we are away from shore power.
I can’t imagine a circumstance where our bilge pump would run enough to discharge our starting battery and normal self discharge for this battery should be a much longer time than this. Even at 80 degrees ambient air temperature the discharge time according to many sources is well beyond 8 weeks. Normally the self discharge rate is 4% to 6% per month. I’ve checked most of the connections for excessive heat and found nothing yet.
I plan to do some more checking and troubleshooting or replacement of our diodes and I will post more as it develops…comment for suggestions are always welcome…..