I have recently had four Rolls T12 250 series 4000 200Ah batteries fail in less than 10 months of service. The batteries are supposedly covered by a 7 year Warranty but after extensive test readings and a long email string with the European Distributor – Barden UK, an explanation or even a theory as to the cause of failure was not received. Without entering into a lot of detail, the voltages and SG readings were perfect but the Ah capacity of all four batteries had reduced to approx 30Ah!! What was even more interesting was the fact that I also had a parallel bank comprising of 3 old Swedish 105Ah AGM batteries that had been subject to the same charging regime(s) as the Rolls batteries (I know - the charging voltages were probably too high at times for AGM’s) but they are still giving good service and are now over 5 years old!
To add insult to injury because of the physical dimensions of the Rolls batteries I had to replace them with more Rolls batteries but this time I went for AGM.
My complaint and warning is regarding the Warranty support from the Manufacturer and the Distributor. As most of you are probably aware it is difficult, if not impossible for an individual to transport Wet Lead Acid Batteries across borders in Europe as they are classed (quite correctly) as extremely hazardous. The terms of most warranties are that failed batteries are returned for confirmation of failure. I sent numerous emails to Barden offering to return at least one battery via their Athens Distributor (when he delivered my replacements) I even offered to have a battery cut open in a workshop, video the operation and bring any “bits and pieces” (suitably cleaned of acid) back to the UK for testing. Barden did not respond to any of these emails (spanning 2nd April to 12th May!) so when I had to leave my winter berth I had to leave the failed batteries for recycling.
Now that I have the time and a good internet connection, I have re-visited the Warranty issue with Barden who have responded such: “I am aware you offered to return one battery to our Greek distributor and that I didn’t respond to your last email but as you are claiming all four batteries we would have required all four to come back to us to provide conclusive evidence. Unfortunately as you have disposed of them without consent, we have no recourse with the factory. I’m afraid in this case we cannot therefore issue a warranty without assessing the batteries.”
The only conclusion that I can draw from this problem is that there was a manufacturing defect that probably caused a percentage of the plates to become detached thus turning a 200Ah battery into a 30Ah battery and the manufacturers/Distributor were aware of the problem which is why they were not interested in replying to my options of return. All four batteries were from the same manufacturing batch.
I never really expected a 100% contribution for the warranty but an additional discount against the cost of replacement would have been welcome. Instead I didn’t receive any real technical support from Barden and was subjected to a number of delaying tactics so that I was forced to dispose of the failed batteries thus enabling them to hide behind the terms of the warranty.
So Buyer Beware if dealing with Barden UK and Rolls Batteries
Thank you for reading, I hope it will help other Liveaboards with the decision process of selecting a Battery Manufacturer/Distributor