Technology is entering into every part of boats now, from carefully formulated resins and vacuum-bagged hull construction to integrated monitoring and remote notifications of onboard alarms. But original and aftermarket equipment providers are constantly looking to improve their products and engineer in better performance, quieter operation, and smarter use of resources. The best news: those suppliers are succeeding now, so there’s no need to wait. Here are six ways to rethink an upgrade or refit on your boat.
There are those who say Mr. Murphy must have been on a boat for a long weekend before he returned to his legislative office and drafted his namesake law. And if that is true, one can bet that his voyage involved a marine battery in one way or another. If you’ve had similar experiences, you may be both surprised and relieved to learn that there are companies working on this problem.
One such company is Valence Technology, which works in battery chemistries that fall under the Lithium-ion umbrella. But there the similarities with your laptop battery end. Those laptop and cell phone batteries are generally Lithium cobalt oxide, and we’ve all heard about laptop batteries catching fire— obviously that technology would not be welcome aboard in a large marine application.
“Lithium phosphate as a chemistry is very different: It is intrinsically safe, and it’s almost impossible to cause it to have a thermal event,” says Robert Kanode, president of Valence Technology. “So it really is night and day between the different Lithium-ion chemistries.”
This type of battery would seem to have a lot to offer beyond basic safety. “Compared to lead-acid, we don’t out-gas, there’s no maintenance,” says Kanode. “If you store a boat in New England during the winter, you have to take the lead-acid batteries out and trickle charge them. With Valence batteries, you just leave them in the boat all winter without any charging or concern of damage.” According to Kanode, the batteries are also lighter, smaller, and offer higher capacity than a lead-acid battery for a similar application.
We’ve come to realize that nothing on a boat is truly “no maintenance,” but those from Valence seem to tend to themselves. “Our batteries have about 60 logic points that they report out three times a second,” says Kanode. “So you can have real-time reporting on battery performance, temperature, and state of charge. For any potential problems that you may be concerned about, like low voltage, the battery system will automatically give you an alarm, should a problem occur.” The system is designed to make unanticipated, catastrophic failures a thing of the past.
Refit Considerations: Explore newer battery technology, add monitoring, and reduce maintenance.
Valence Technology, (888) 825-3623; www.valence.com