House batteries are the heart of our boat that keep everything running. Our AGM gel batteries are only 4 years young and probably have another 3-4 more years of life left. However, we are in NZ and we finally have access to lithium batteries, expertise to install and knowledge of how to re-program C-Zone for the new lithium batteries.
Matt has always known we would switch to lithium batteries; we were just waiting for the right place to purchase them. I think he started talking about switching to lithium back in 2016, then again considered switching when we replaced all the electronics in Costa Rica after the lightening strike. But in the end we waited…until now.
We contacted several dealers and settled on Cleagh Limited because Matthew Duckett has a significant amount of experience and expertise with C-Zone and Mastervolt. We are a Mastervolt boat so for the most part it “should” be a plug and play with the batteries. However, we have to update C-Zone and all of our electronics which will take a day or two.
Also, the Mastervolt warranty and our insurance both require a licensed electrician to do the install which is where Matthew Duckett comes in.
As a dealer, he was able to secure our Mastervolt MLI 12/6000 at a very reduced price. We saved hundreds of dollars!!! So, far loving this guy!
Removal of the AGM Dry Fit Batteries
We currently have (8) Sonnenschein Batteries A512 12V 115A Dryfit 500. They are long-life batteries that are similar to AGM but much better. They each weigh in at about 42kilos / 93lbs. Hope to sell these guys to recoup some of our money.
Installing the new Mastervolt 12/6000
The new batteries look like beasts when they arrive, but in actuality they will take up a lot less space and weigh much less than our original batteries.
We are replacing 8 Sonnenschein batteries with 2 Mastervolt lithium batteries. These are slightly bigger but they weigh considerably less at 49 kilos / 108lbs. So we are removing 336kilos / 744lbs and adding 98kilos / 216lbs. This is a weight savings of 238kilos / 524lbs! That is significant on a boat! yeah us.
It is an awkward space to be in as you have to work around the “seat holes” upside down. Both Matt and Matthew were in the hole for the better part of two days. Matt Mitchell is in red shirt (middle photo) and Matthew is bottom photo.
Matthew connects up with Tim who works at Mastervolt and has to review and certify our system. It took a few tweaks, but after a few hours we were totally configured and up and running. This is a screen shot of Matthew’s computer as Tim was diagnosing and reviewing our systems.
Originally Matthew thought it would take 2 weeks to complete the entire job, but then he amended it to 1 week. As it turned out, it only took 2.5 days because Matt did a lot of prep work in removing the old batteries, reconfiguring the wood slats that hold the new batteries in place and built the strap system that secures the to the floor.
Feeling super excited to see how our power consumption, usage, and recharging improves with these beautiful Mastervolt batteries!
And look how much room we have for storage!
Time to Stay Connected: Starlink
As most of you know, we struggle with internet connectivity especially in the remote places of Fiji and French Polynesia. Here in New Zealand we have had great access, but we won’t always be in the land of plenty.
Starlink was running a discounted special here in NZ at the end of 2022. We couldn’t resist since it was almost half the price of what the units were selling for in the U.S. Matt was like a kid in the candy store when the big gray box arrived.
He ordered the residential unit and will add portability when we leave NZ. He also ordered the ethernet box which he plans to butcher to make work on 12volt.
The unit does not draw a huge amount of power, but it is more than we expected. Luckily our new batteries can handle it!
In an effort to save some money, we downgraded our Iridium Unlimited plan for the next 4 months. We will most likely reinstate it when we move to Tonga in May just as a back up in case Starlink does not connect while underway.
We have seen really great speeds. In the first image you can clearly see where we started using Starlink vs the local marina wifi and our Vodafone connection.
Not the prettiest solution for our dish, but it works while we are on the dock. It has to be free and clear of obstructions and away from our solar panels and radar. So, for now, here she is.
This could be a game changer for us! Stay tuned.
Events from this blog occurred in mid-January 2023. Our blog posts run 6-8 weeks behind actual events. We enjoyed the Highland Games in our last blog, did you read about it?