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Discussion Starter #1
Does anyone have information on the life of a unused battery of that type if it's been kept on a battery maintainer? (NB: NOT a charger, a maintainer.) I had 2 of that type from Costco, one went into a vehicle as an emergency measure 2 years ago (much gutting of the battery compartment went into that) and worked so well that it stayed there. And I don't want to get into buying true testers and so on.
 

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If it's being maintained at the float voltage it should be fine.
If the voltage is correct, it shouldn't have sulfated or corroded.

Do you have a hydrometer to test it?
 
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Most marine batteries are deep cycle so they're meant to provide a relatively low amperage for an extended period, as opposed to starting batteries that provide the high cranking amps. A lot of boats with two batteries have one of each though I've never had problem starting on a deep cycle battery. Lead acid batteries tend to develop a memory so it will discharge the way it was charged, so keeping it on a maintainer may keep it topped off, but it eventually erodes the capacity. Best practice if you keep it on a maintainer, which is a float charge, is to heavily discharge it once a month and then recharge to full capacity, which is an equalizing charge. High end charger/maintainers will do this automatically. Make sure you keep the electrolyte levels up and check that the specific gravity by hydrometer is 1.2something - can't remember the exact number right now. OK, googled it, 1.265 is the optimum sg for a lead acid battery.

One interesting fact I was told, but I've never verified, is the difference between say a 36 and 48 month battery is the space between the bottom of the plates and the bottom of the battery. Longer life batteries have more space so more sediment - sulfates, etc, can collect at the bottom before it reaches the plates and internally shorts the battery.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
If it's being maintained at the float voltage it should be fine.
If the voltage is correct, it shouldn't have sulfated or corroded.

Do you have a hydrometer to test it?
Tests fine with a hygrometer but that doesn't tell the whole story.
 

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My cousin claims 14 years from Delco batteries. Keeps his autos on a float charge when in the garage.

I guess I should rephrase and say if they are quality batteries they should be fine.
 

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Most marine batteries are deep cycle so they're meant to provide a relatively low amperage for an extended period, as opposed to starting batteries that provide the high cranking amps. A lot of boats with two batteries have one of each though I've never had problem starting on a deep cycle battery. Lead acid batteries tend to develop a memory so it will discharge the way it was charged, so keeping it on a maintainer may keep it topped off, but it eventually erodes the capacity. Best practice if you keep it on a maintainer, which is a float charge, is to heavily discharge it once a month and then recharge to full capacity, which is an equalizing charge. High end charger/maintainers will do this automatically. Make sure you keep the electrolyte levels up and check that the specific gravity by hydrometer is 1.2something - can't remember the exact number right now. OK, googled it, 1.265 is the optimum sg for a lead acid battery.
Electrical isn't really my thing, but innocent bystander is correct about boats usually having two batteries. One runs the "house" electrical (things like lights, GPS, radios, refrigerator and things like that) and the second is usually dedicated to the engine. As he also mentioned the batteries are designed to power these items for hours at a time so you don't have to constantly have the motor running. Typically with moderate usage, I only have to run the engine for about 90min in the morning and the same before bed when I'm out and not hooking up to shore power.

With the boats around here being used for a few months at a time, most owners will either keep the batteries at home on the maintainer or do the monthly discharge and recharge. But as for a lifespan, it's been hit or miss. Some really hang tough for years but I think the harsh winters we have here will take some life off at the end. Excess heat will do the same so I think local weather has a hand it lifetime average as well. YMMV.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
The battery in question is part of my home's long term backup power system and is one of the type intended to run small electrical devices when the power goes off. I guess I'll have to get busy and actually use the thing for that to see if it's still good, but before that I'm going to buy another one. The thing is, with intended use it should last for quite a while and I can foresee the power going off just as battery #1 has been discharged. (But I wouldn't actually fully discharge it, I know that's bad for them.)

It has been used once, actually. One time the car battery was dead and I had to haul it out to do a jump start. Sure I got a hernia, but we have universal health care. GI5
 

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I am using Sears marine batteries for a similar purpose. They have replaced the sealed lead acid batteries in my APC UPSes. It's nice to be able to get on line and check out the status of a storm and mom needs it for her oxygen concentrator. It saves me from having to start the generator for a 30 minute outage. The UPS keeps the batteries charged full time and they will last 3-4 years. The cheaper Sears batteries barely last through the warranty. The "REAL" Sears marine batteries are a serious hunk of lead and you pay for it but have done well. Bring a hand cart when you go to buy them.

I have found a review on line that said the Wal-Mart batteries were almost as good and a heck of a lot cheaper. I went the other day but they were out of the Marine MAXX 29DC batteries.

There are people off grid who are using golf cart batteries or refurbished fork lift batteries (L16). Ideally I hope to move that way soon. They would last for all but the worst outages and for ones that long, I need the generator anyway.
 

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My cousin claims 14 years from Delco batteries. Keeps his autos on a float charge when in the garage.

I guess I should rephrase and say if they are quality batteries they should be fine.
I had similar luck with Delco Marine batteries in my trucks. I really liked the combination of side or post terminals and a strap to carry it with.

Concerning shelf life for SHTF, best way to store is to have them new/dry and a supply of electrolyte you can add when you need to use them. Then a means to charge them (generator, solar, wind, water....). Should store many years new/dry. Not an option for sealed cell types.

But this won't help if you need one right when the power goes out.
 

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For Marine batts I used a pair of group 24 Delco Voyagers in my boat, fwiw..

Like Mad Trapper states perhaps a Distributor could set you up with dry batts and you could then store batts indefinitely?
 

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Somewhat tangent to the discussion:
30+ years ago I worked in an emergency light/power manufacturer business. Lights & exit signs & inverters etc...that go on when the power fails. We shipped a lot of "wet acid batteries" (a.k.a. "stand-by" batteries have a traditional car battery appearance with filling ports on top) in 'dry packaged' or 'dry ship' form, where the battery acid is in a separate plastic bladder to be poured in before use.
'Dry ship' transported better and had indefinite shelf life (without a float charger/maintainer). Only real problem is that when you add the acid pack the battery needs to be on a strong charger for a day before actual use. Good perhaps for a preper with a bugout cabin and generator.
Any 'wet' battery is like a living thing, it has a lifespan. The acid eats at the plates and the debris collects in the bottom & swells the plates - eventually debris shorts the plate or the plates short directly to each other. We gave pro-rata warranty on our wet batteries of 10, 20 & 25 years (yup - years) if they were kept on our charging systems. Type of battery also matters, Wet-Pocket Plate NiCad and Wet Lead Acid live the longest.
These were all manufacturer as 'stand by batteries' so generally a lot more costly than an automotive or marine. I don't have a connection to the link below but it gives an idea of the dry store battery:
http://www.basementwatchdog.com/Basement_Watchdog_Standby_batteries.php

Dougboffl
 

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more info

I bought my fishing boat used in 2005 . both batts were used but not very old so say only a year to guess on time . my cranking batt is a deka still in use . my trolling and aux power for live well bilge lights and stuff is a ac delco marine voyager deep cycle still in use so say 10 years now . the ac is a sealed with charging eye now the fluid level is starting to show as low in the eye. I recently bought 2 new ac delco marine voyager deep cycle top of the line . the new one are pop top so you can add fluid . a big + in my opinion. I wanted to go Trojan or other golf cart batt but the ac were $98 with exchange retail about $126 the Trojan are about 210 for a 12v or 150 for a 6v X 2 to get to 12v. so for the $ for a Trojan I went with ac getting 2 for the price of 1 trojan , knowing the great service they give too. also for warranty claim easy to find ac delco dealer . rule of 3's -- 3 is starting point because 2 is 1 and 1 is none theory.
 

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I think you have asked the "Unanswerable question". As you guys have asked me, many times..... "What's the mission?"..... If my battery backup system was part of my OPSEC then it would have a high priority. If it was for convenience lighting, etc the priority would be lower.

With my personal experience with heavy equipment, marine vessels and automotive.... I would rotate a battery out about every 4 years and put it into a lower priority role.

When I hear a question like this I always refer to "Murphy's Law".........

Hobo

http://www.murphys-laws.com/murphy/murphy-laws.html
 

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I know that Optima batteries hold a charge for a long time, a buddy of mine has one in his truck and it sits for long periods [up to a year] and it starts every time he gets into it. They are not cheap though.

Casey
 
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