Odyssey Battery Life

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Odyssey Battery Life

Postby flyboy122 » Sat Nov 11, 2017 2:31 am

Hi All,

About 3.5 years ago I installed an Odyssey SBS J-16 battery (TSO'd version of the PC680) in my 170. It's never been an animal in winter, but gets the job done. After starting, even if I've had to crank a bit, the ammeter never seems to show it taking much of a charge...a few amps at best. Life is good. Or was.

It's been a couple weeks since I've last flown. Last night was cold, about 10-15 deg (airplane is in an uninsulated hanger). I plugged in my oil pan heater, plugged the cowl vents, but couldn't find my cowl blanket. I let it preheat all night and this morning the pan was warm and the cylinders cool but not cold. It was about 15-20 when I pushed out. When I hit the starter it thought about it for a few seconds and the slowly cranked over. This is normal when it's really cold like this. The engine fired and all was good. The ammeter, as usual, showed no significant charge.

I flew 20 minutes over to the big airport, landed, and shut down. I was on the ground maybe 20 minutes with no cowl blanket or plugs, but no wind. When we went to start, it b-a-r-e-l-y turned over. Fortunately the engine caught, but it was sketchy. Again, no significant charge. I was doing an IPC, but had it been for real I wouldn't have launched IFR. We flew 2 hours, landed for fuel, and the subsequent restart was normal.

I have a feeling the battery was just really cold. The non-insulated preheat meant it started the morning cold, and the short flight and cold ambients never allowed it to warm up, and may have chilled it further. That being said, what's the typical life on these batteries? Could I be looking at an old battery? I've flown similar profiles and never had this happen before. In fact usually after that first flight it pops off smartly the rest of the day.

Thanks,
DEM
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Re: Odyssey Battery Life

Postby gahorn » Sat Nov 11, 2017 4:20 pm

You could also be looking at a poor ground between battery, engine, starter, and airframe, as well as loose or defective cable connections.

What charging system to you have? Have you ever checked battery capacity after a flight...and after storage before starting (using a capacity tester)?
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Re: Odyssey Battery Life

Postby hilltop170 » Sun Nov 12, 2017 6:48 am

I have been using Odyssey batteries for the last 20 years or so. I have never seen the issues you describe. Check all the connections, check for current draw when the master is off, and if the charging system output voltage and current is sufficient. If charged correctly and there are no current loads when shut off, an Odyssey battery will maintain 12.5 volts or better for months and should last 6-8 years before replacement is needed. Your starter could also be starting to fail.
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Re: Odyssey Battery Life

Postby TFA170 » Sun Nov 12, 2017 8:37 pm

I believe most, if not all, Odyssey batteries are AGM. Be sure your charger or maintainer is designed for AGM - some flooded cell chargers can damage AGM cells.
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Re: Odyssey Battery Life

Postby flyboy122 » Mon Nov 13, 2017 1:35 am

All,

Thanks for the tips. To answers some questions: Alternator. It never shows a discharge under normal use and load so I'm assuming it's putting out enough power. B&C starter overhauled 250 hours ago. Voltage has been rock steady at 14v. I check the wires I can reach through the inspection door every flight, and the rest periodically and haven't had any issues, but checking again was on the list. I have not capacity checked it. Will add that to the list. I've never put an external charger on it. (Never needed it. Longest I've gone without flying the plane was 3 weeks.)

DEM
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Re: Odyssey Battery Life

Postby canav8 » Mon Nov 13, 2017 3:28 am

TFA170 wrote:I believe most, if not all, Odyssey batteries are AGM. Be sure your charger or maintainer is designed for AGM - some flooded cell chargers can damage AGM cells.

This is the correct answer. A generator is probably the worst charger for these type of batteries. YMMV Doug
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Re: Odyssey Battery Life

Postby Ron Smith » Mon Nov 13, 2017 7:13 pm

I have 2 Odyssey batteries, average life has been 9.5 years. I charge with a Batterytender when not in use. Most likely it is your connections not age. Always preheat.
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Re: Odyssey Battery Life

Postby gahorn » Mon Nov 13, 2017 7:24 pm

canav8 wrote:
TFA170 wrote:I believe most, if not all, Odyssey batteries are AGM. Be sure your charger or maintainer is designed for AGM - some flooded cell chargers can damage AGM cells.

This is the correct answer. A generator is probably the worst charger for these type of batteries. YMMV Doug


Why would that be, Doug? Why would a generator which puts out 13.7 volts (+ or -) be any worse than an alternator which puts out the same voltage?
Alternator voltage output is only different from generators in that the output at low idle is more available from an alternator. There is no other difference unless you are referring to the quality of regulation, which is a regulator issue...not a gen/alt one. Digital regulators are available for both, so that rids us of that concern as well.

The concerns often quoted by battery mfr's is that their disclaimers of poor battery performance always is attached to the SHOP chargers. None of them complain about the AIRCRAFT charging systems. The reason for that (in my opinion) is that they've sold us a bill of goods that their batteries are approved for installation in all aircraft types regardless of aircraft charging systems.
If the charging system is an issue with a particular type battery...then why and how was it ever approved for installation in an airplane with a 1940's era generator/vibrating-points regulator system?

I call B.S. on their excuses for their battery failures blamed on shop battery chargers.... and MORE B.S. if they blame the aircraft charging systems for which they've assured authorities and customers their batteries are suitable and for which they claim were specifically-designed.
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Re: Odyssey Battery Life

Postby 170C » Mon Nov 13, 2017 9:36 pm

Richard, you have most likely given the information previously, but please advise what STC is required to use the Odyssey battery (in a 172 if you know), what the stc costs and which Odyssey battery you recommend.

Thanks!
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Re: Odyssey Battery Life

Postby canav8 » Mon Nov 13, 2017 9:48 pm

gahorn wrote:
canav8 wrote:
TFA170 wrote:I believe most, if not all, Odyssey batteries are AGM. Be sure your charger or maintainer is designed for AGM - some flooded cell chargers can damage AGM cells.

This is the correct answer. A generator is probably the worst charger for these type of batteries. YMMV Doug


Why would that be, Doug? Why would a generator which puts out 13.7 volts (+ or -) be any worse than an alternator which puts out the same voltage?
Alternator voltage output is only different from generators in that the output at low idle is more available from an alternator. There is no other difference unless you are referring to the quality of regulation, which is a regulator issue...not a gen/alt one. Digital regulators are available for both, so that rids us of that concern as well.

The concerns often quoted by battery mfr's is that their disclaimers of poor battery performance always is attached to the SHOP chargers. None of them complain about the AIRCRAFT charging systems. The reason for that (in my opinion) is that they've sold us a bill of goods that their batteries are approved for installation in all aircraft types regardless of aircraft charging systems.
If the charging system is an issue with a particular type battery...then why and how was it ever approved for installation in an airplane with a 1940's era generator/vibrating-points regulator system?

I call B.S. on their excuses for their battery failures blamed on shop battery chargers.... and MORE B.S. if they blame the aircraft charging systems for which they've assured authorities and customers their batteries are suitable and for which they claim were specifically-designed.

Real world experience George. You havent got a clue!!
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Re: Odyssey Battery Life

Postby flyboy122 » Tue Nov 14, 2017 3:15 am

170C wrote:Richard, you have most likely given the information previously, but please advise what STC is required to use the Odyssey battery (in a 172 if you know), what the stc costs and which Odyssey battery you recommend.

Thanks!


Atlee Dodge has the STC for the 170 and 180, and it requires use of their battery box. Mine was installed on a 337, and there are examples of similar 337's in the library.

I do not believe there is a STC for a 172.

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Re: Odyssey Battery Life

Postby Hawkeyenfo » Tue Nov 14, 2017 6:16 am

I've had my Odyssey battery for 3.5 years now. Being active duty, mine does sit longer than some. Only once have I had to charge it due to sitting....and it was quite a long time. I used a Battery Tender and it was fine. I also have one on my KTM 950 motorcycle. In the motorcycle world, there is a lot of talk about getting these batteries back up on voltage as they drain down (which happens a bit faster with the very tiny battery on a big).... basically, power on, then cycle the high/low beams a couple times before cranking it over. I've done it and it seems to work....at least on a bike :) Great battery, great service from F. Atlee Dodge, easy installation and a bit more useful load as a result :)
Fly Navy !!!!

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Re: Odyssey Battery Life

Postby gahorn » Tue Nov 14, 2017 3:52 pm

canav8 wrote:[,,,Real world experience George. You havent got a clue!!


Sounds personal. :lol:

Cycling headlights is a great example of energizing a battery's potential. Blowing the car-horn is another. The sudden requirement of a large amount of energy heats the plates and facilitates the chemical reaction necessary. I've witnessed this in cold weather on larger airplanes using the landing lights.
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Re: Odyssey Battery Life

Postby hilltop170 » Wed Nov 15, 2017 5:43 am

170C wrote:Richard, you have most likely given the information previously, but please advise what STC is required to use the Odyssey battery (in a 172 if you know), what the stc costs and which Odyssey battery you recommend.

Thanks!


Frank-
I have a Concorde AGM in the 170. I have firewall mounted Odyssey batteries in the 180 and 195 on field approvals. They have all given at least 6 years of service or more.
Last edited by hilltop170 on Fri Nov 17, 2017 4:43 am, edited 2 times in total.
Richard Pulley
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Owned from 1973 to 1984.
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Re: Odyssey Battery Life

Postby TFA170 » Wed Nov 15, 2017 6:23 am

gahorn wrote:
canav8 wrote:[,,,Real world experience George. You havent got a clue!!

The sudden requirement of a large amount of energy heats the plates and facilitates the chemical reaction necessary.

This is a true statement.


gahorn wrote:Cycling headlights is a great example of energizing a battery's potential. Blowing the car-horn is another.


This is not a good example of the true statement above. At least, not as written - these are momentary demands and heat, in the form of current draw, requires more than momentary demands to develop fully to the point it is of any benefit.

Truly, like most things, a battery should be exercised FULLY on a periodic and somewhat regular basis to prevent sulfidation and loss of potential within the cells...regardless of battery type. Some types are better than others at "sitting" idle, just as some are better at being very depleted before being recharged (deep cycle).
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