Masthead28_Dec2013 H.pub - page 25

The Masthead
Dec. 2013 Page 25
T
he photo shown here raises some interesting points
about modern battery installations:
The grey batteries in the back of the photo are AGM batter-
ies, which are defined as “immobilized electrolyte” batteries
within ABYC Standard E-10, which addresses battery instal-
lations. This is an important consideration when we look at
or consider design
criteria for a modern
battery installation,
but I’m afraid this
builder missed the
mark with what you
see in the photo.
The battery in the
forefront of the
photo is installed
inside an approved,
pre-made battery
box and it is secured
in the boat via the
nylon strap and the
wooden strips you
can just see in the
bottom left of the
photo. So that bat-
tery installation is
compliant with E-10
as near as I can tell
from the photo. The
grey AGM batteries
however miss
because of the fact that they have no terminal covers over
the positive (ungrounded) terminals, and this compartment
does get used for purposes other than simply battery stor-
age. Otherwise, they seem to meet the standard require-
ments as written.
Now, some of our readers may argue that although they
might meet all of the standards requirements as written,
they don’t exactly meet the spirit of the standards. Let me
explain.
E-10 also states that “Battery mounting materials and sur-
faces shall withstand electrolyte attack.” But, and this is
important, there is a note that almost immediately follows
that statement that goes on to say: “Consideration should
be given to: the type of battery installed (e.g. liquid electro-
lyte or immobilized electrolyte).”
Well, you may have seen the demonstration at various boat
shows over the years where they actually drill into the side
of the case on and AGM battery and no fluid leaks out once
the case is penetrated by the drill.
So, the argument
we often get during
an ABYC electrical
class is that some-
one might easily
replace the immobi-
lized electrolyte bat-
teries with cheaper
traditional flooded
cell batteries at
some point and
then the wooden
base the batteries
are resting on would
not be compliant.
Furthermore, E-10
also states that
“Provision shall be
made to contain
leakage and spill-
age of electrolyte.”
No provision has
been made in the
above installation,
but again, the same
note applies and the immobilized electrolyte aspect of the
AGM batteries is the consideration.
So, the philosophical question here becomes, do we design
for what exists or what might exist in the future?
The answer, from where I sit, is that knowledge of the
applicable ABYC standards is an imperative for all those
designing
and
working on boats. If the customer in this case
wants to swap out their AGMs for flooded-cell batteries, the
service technician needs have adequate understanding of
the ABYC standards to inform the customer that they will
need to also alter the location and configuration of the
existing battery compartment to ensure compliance with the
E-10 standard. The case for ABYC certifications is made……
Battery Installation 101
By Ed Sherman
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