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Firefly battery quality?
I was at a presentation by Nigel Calder at the recent Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival (Sept.2018) where he made a comment about Firefly batteries that caught my attention, especially considering that I was considering installing several Firefly batteries for a power system upgrade. He said that he could not recommend these batteries due the the quality issues he has experienced during his testing. (He made a similar comment in a recent Sail magazine article.) Since I know several of you have used Firefly batteries, what has been your experience? Have you heard of any similar concerns among the installer community?
I have been using 3 on my boat now for more than 2 years, and have not had any issues. I know a bunch of other people locally in the Seattle area, as well as others who have contacted me directly who seem to love them, and not have any issues.
I do know at one point there was a supply issue, and they became harder to get. I wonder if that may be related to his comments?
I had lunch with Nigel last weekend and we talked Fireflies among other things. Here's what I know so far:
* The original U.S. manufactured Firefly batteries that Nigel tested hard and wrote positively about are still in good shape.
* In fact, the companies he's been working with to develop the Integrel on-engine-generator system that is just coming out -- see https://www.integrelmarine.com/ -- were hoping to use Fireflies for the 1kW 48v battery bank that's part of a complete kit. However, there were quality issues with batches of Fireflies they tested, which are now being manufactured in India, and they decided to use more conventional AGMs (though Integrel will work with many battery brands).
* I'm not sure where my Firefly batteries were made, but I did have an issue with one of four, though it turned out to be more about a ground wiring issue than the battery. See comments toward end of this entry:
* Bruce Schwab's OceanPlanet Energy, the U.S. marine Firefly distributor, was great about testing and replacing my bad Firefly and, in fact, the OPE-Li3 batteries he represents will likely be the first LiIon approved for use with Integrel, according to Nigel, because they have passed the most rigorous safety standard.
Ben, et. al.
Thanks for letting me know about your discussion with Nigel, and your experience with the Fireflies. I really appreciate everyone's perspective on this. Fireflies are back on my short list. They would seem to be perfect for the kind of cruising we do.
And thanks for the link to the firefly-battery-bank-working-out-the-details/ post and comments. It has been a along time since I had looked at this post so I had some catching up to do.
The generator that Triskel (Integrel) has developed is very exciting (to us geeks ;-). It's not often that you get an almost-order-of-magnitude increase in performance of such an established technology. I wonder if it is similar to technology used in new Tesla 3 motors, that is augmenting the stator with rare-earths. I look forward to reading more about it.