New Battery…New Gadget

8 Apr

So, we’ve had our two starter batteries for going on six years now. They are pretty much knackered. However, since we haven’t really been cruising (or even leaving our slip) lately, we’ve just kind been rather Zen about the “knackeredness” of the batteries. Last week we decided to start the process of upgrading them. Since they are kind of spendy, we are just going slow and buying one at a time. Since the starboard engine compartment is a bit less cluttered, we decided on replacing that one first. All went well with the installation, with the notable exception that I broke my rib on the installation. Yes, you read that right. I broke a freaking rib installing a battery. The battery compartment is located below Madi’s berth and the only way I’ve found to remove and replace the starter battery is to lay down on my side and carefully lift the battery out of the compartment. Part of the problem is that there is really no way to stand up in the constrained space. Another problem is that it is hard to get any leverage to lift and lower the heavy batteries.

That last bit is what did me in. I was laying down on Madi’s wooden bed support and I used my upper body strength to manhandle the battery into place. As I lowered the battery, I guess I put too much weight on my rib cage and I heard a very audible “snap” and a shooting pain radiated in my chest area. Dang! I guess I need more calcium in my diet. Regardless, I muddled through and buttoned up the new battery install. It was nice to press the ignition button and have the engine starter consistently turn over and to have the engine fire up without issue.

While I was laying on my side contemplating whether I should go to the hospital and get hundreds of dollars in x-rays and have them tell me that there is really nothing they can do for a broken rib, (yes, this isn’t my first experience with this) I thought how neat it would be to have some sort of permanent voltage monitor for the starter batteries. We have a monitor for our house batteries, but we’ve always had to use a multimeter to check the voltage on our starter bank. The downside of that procedure is that, since it’s kind of a pain to rip everything apart and check the voltage, we never really ever do it. For the past few years all I could tell you about our batteries is that they still kind of work but I couldn’t tell you what the state of charge is.

Wanting an inexpensive solution I hopped online and looked around for voltage monitors. Marine battery monitors are more expensive than I really wanted to pay so I looked for other options. I finally settled on a small LED volt and amp meter that also has a little USB port. Cool! The price was around 14 dollars. In the world of marine parts, 14 dollars is peanuts. Seriously, I’m down with 14 dollars. Add onto that a little switch for about eight dollars and about 10 feet of AWG 14 wire and bingo, a pretty nifty little voltage monitor. It works great and, as an added benefit, we can also see if our alternator is pumping proper voltage into the system. It’s nice to be able to see a real time readout of the state of charge. I’ll definitely repeat this for our port engine

I’ll include links to the parts that I used below.

Here is the voltage meter.

Here is the push button switch.

2 Responses to “New Battery…New Gadget”

  1. Étain April 10, 2018 at 1:22 pm #

    So sorry about your rib! That is no fun… 😦

    • four2tango April 10, 2018 at 1:32 pm #

      Thank you! I’m feeling much better.

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