In Defense of Lithium Ion Batteries
Yes, it's true; thermal runaway can and does happen in Valve Regulated Lead Acid (VLRA) Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) batteries, and is not a new phenomenon afflicting Lithium Ion batteries alone. A Google search of "Thermal Runaway in AGM Batteries" will reveal enough technical papers on the subject to keep even the most techno-savvy occupied for a long while, and will save me trying to explain the why's and wherefore's here. The simple fact is that, given the right conditions, an AGM battery can, and will, start a self-perpetuating internal heating process (thermal runaway) that can end in catastrophic failure with the possibility of fire and explosion. So why is there so much negative publicity and bad karma surrounding Lithium Ion batteries, when AGM's are prone to much the same maladies?

IRS Form 5695 2015 Pg 1IRS Form 5695 2015 Pg 2

The US Federal Government offers a solar energy tax credit, applicable to your second home, i.e. your boat! As long as there is a head and galley onboard and it is docked in the United States, your vessel qualifies. This tax credit, extended to December 31, 2019, is a 30% credit on qualified expenditures to purchase and install solar panels, with no maximum limit for equipment placed in service after 2008. In the last few years, we hear at different boat shows the success stories from boat owners getting that 30% tax credit. This credit can be retroactive – as long as the solar system was placed into service after January 1, 2006.

Check out this updated link to the Dept of Energy's website that gives a simplified description of the energy tax credit: Want to see how simple the actual IRS form is to fill out: Your state government may also have a solar tax credit. It may be worth investigating.

Life has become so much easier for so many people since they took advantage of this tax credit. If you want solar power on your boat, it may have just become more affordable. There is still time to plan and implement your solar power project, but I wouldn't suggest waiting too much longer – December 31, 2019 will be here before you know it! Contact us at about your marine solar system.

R124a cannisterThere is much talk and discussion in certain forums about how to determine the correct refrigerant charge level for a capillary tube refrigeration system, but there is only one, simple method that will result in the perfect charge in a Frigoboat system; the frost-line method. Pressures and current draw can be monitored to confirm that these are within expected limits, but there is no better way to guage the refrigerant level than with the frost-line method.

Frigoboat R134a charge guidelines

The following is intended to be a guide for a boat operator with average mechanical skills. It will describe what symptoms to look for in a correctly charged Frigoboat system so that an evaluation can be made as to whether service is required. No refrigerant gauges are necessary for this evaluation, and their use is required only for major repairs and for evacuating the system.

Never use, or allow a technician to use, anything other than pure refrigerant R134a in a Frigoboat system. Cans of refrigerant R134a with additives must never be used, nor must stand-alone additives be introduced into the system. These additives include but are not limited to: leak detecting fluid, leak stopper, dye, extra oil, conditioner, etc. Serious damage can result from the use of such products, which are designed for use only in auto air conditioning systems.

voltage meterWe handle many calls for troubleshooting help, and the vast majority end up being electric problems, mostly with the boat’s power supply to the Frigoboat unit. While the voltmeter on the distribution panel might show more than adequate power, it is what comes out of the end of the two wires at the Frigoboat unit that counts, and there is a lot of potential in the wiring for gremlins to creep in and spoil the party.

Power supply testing on Danfoss DC powered refrigeration systems

To properly test the power supply to a Danfoss powered 12v or 24v system, the following testing procedure must be carried out. This will establish whether the power supply feeding the system is free of bad, loose and/or high-resistance connections. Reading the voltage on the panel or at the batteries is meaningless,

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