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Old 05-11-2007, 13:04   #16
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" They can be safe. ANY thing electrical could fail,"
Dunno, Wheels. Especially given the state of corporate "we can make it cheaper" technology. Have you seen the stats on the number of homes that burn down each year from major appliances catching on fire? Recalls by Ford/Lincoln, etc. on their ignition switches and cruise control modules, which also got a couple of garages and homes? Seen how many wall warts combust--with or without UL approvals?
Heck, I came home one weekend to find a TrippLite UPS mysteriously dead--and the autopsy showed the Panasonic batteries inside had (bless 'em) blown internal fuses before they could catch on fire. TrippLite showed no interest in the problem since it was out of warranty. More recently, the newer APC UPS quit--and I found the no-name batteries in it warped and split. In either case, the whole building could have burned down if one of those boxes had caught fire, and the TrippLite certainly looked like it was trying.

I'm kinda liking the idea of "throw the big red master switch" on the way out, and make sure none of the electrons can play around without adult supervision.
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Old 05-11-2007, 22:48   #17
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Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
"

I'm kinda liking the idea of "throw the big red master switch" on the way out, and make sure none of the electrons can play around without adult supervision.
....that's hilarious! I'm visualizing a big red battery switch on my front door.
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Old 06-11-2007, 08:50   #18
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One of the guys I know lost his house and everything in it when a cordless drill charger+battery caught fire in his garage. While marine grade stuff is supposed to be built to better standards than something you pick up for $40 at Home Depot, everything seems to be built cheaper these days.
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Old 06-11-2007, 09:49   #19
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Of course everything is built cheaper these days. Can you say "Wall Mart"?
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Old 06-11-2007, 10:17   #20
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No, but I can say Wal-Mart. Sorry, I couldn't resist.
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Old 06-11-2007, 14:03   #21
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Hmm, made in Norway...Should be good stuff then.

It was probably made in China for a Norwegian company..Anything actually made in Norway tend to be expensive and not very competetive on the market.

Just did a Google search for "Marine Battery Charger" "Made in Norway"

No results, no hits..No nothing..

Typing the same in Norwegian got this result:
http://www.bergenbatteri.no/pdf/ladacbatpakke123.pdf

The biggest charger is 30 amps/230 volts, but recommend for battery banks up to 225 amps.....Perhaps that is the one..?
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Old 06-11-2007, 14:30   #22
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battery chargers & fires

There has been a lot of marina fires with multi number of boats lost. I would bet quite a few came from battery chargers. My boat had 400a golf buggy batteries & the first charger was a "good" name charger made to marine specs (supplied to the navy?) & it was rated at 40a. Well it cut in & out (thermal overload operating). The smell of the transformer overheating filled the boat & when I contacted the supplier it was recommended to bypass the overload!! It went back for a credit. The next was a Voltmaster which was 3 times the expence but it has never failed & it can be left on without any worries. The batteries can be turned off & it will act as a stabilized power supply if needed. "Safety is no Accident"

Also the VoltMaster is a switchmode design & wieghed only a fraction of the other iron transformer charger. You should make sure the design is current limited.
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Old 06-11-2007, 15:44   #23
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I had a recent battery charger failure myself: A Xantrex 40, less than 2 years old just quit working.

Called the help-line and spoke to a guy in India. He said they could not repair it and it was out of warranty anyways.

They would sell me a new one for a 30% discount.
The 30% was off the "list price" which was over $400.00.

Instead I bid on one on e-bay and got a brand new one for $230.00

I think the charger failed because of a power surge due to heavy thunderstorm and lighting in the area..No surge protector on my shore power circuit..

(The boat has an AC curcuit breaker panel, but that did not stop the surge)

Now I always turn the charger off if I am away from the boat.
The solar panels keep the batteries topped off anyway and the 110V battery charger is only being used when pulling down the fridge/freezer before a cruise.
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Old 06-11-2007, 18:31   #24
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AFAIK a breaker panel would not stop a surge, because the surge is a fast transient event and the breakers need time to heat up and throw out. And that's even assuming lightning damage came through the panel, it could have been inductive damage from another path, etc.
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Old 06-11-2007, 19:31   #25
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AFAIK a breaker panel would not stop a surge, because the surge is a fast transient event and the breakers need time to heat up and throw out.
Yup, I found that out...

Not really a lighteing strike, all the other electronics on the boat survived just fine.

An AC surge rather.
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Old 07-11-2007, 07:51   #26
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Author Jerry Pournelle (and I've probably mis-spelled his name) used to do a tech called called "Chaos Manor" when Byte Magazine was being published. One time he detailed the damage to his home after a drunk took down a 10kv power distribution transformer on a pole down the street.

Some of his computer surge protectors worked--others fried. Bulbs (fluorescent and tungsten) popped, appliances died...The damage was extensive and almost random, in terms of trying to figure out why any individual piece blew out. Even though he had "a lot" of protection by the standardds of the time, them old electrons won't be stopped when they decide to party.
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Old 07-11-2007, 08:23   #27
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CSY, I am on my second Xantrax 40. The person in India also told me to "Have a nice day" so I took mine apart and found that water gotten in and coroded a few PC board traces. I jumped them and now have a spare.

BTW, I think the guy in india said No Waranty but damed if I could understand him. It must be why they use this technique for service.
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Old 07-11-2007, 08:33   #28
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CSY, I am on my second Xantrax 40. The person in India also told me to "Have a nice day" so I took mine apart and found that water gotten in and coroded a few PC board traces. I jumped them and now have a spare.
Yeah, I took mine apart as well, no water intrusion, but I checked all the internal fuses, they were just fine.
Not sure where the problem was, the charger wouls still charge at around 2 amps or so...Kind of a trickle and not completely dead, but useless for my purpose.
I went with the same make and model as I already had the remote panel and the remote temp sensor installed..Kind of stuck with the type charger.
It has good grades in the marine community however, no reason to change even if service and warranty sucks.

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The damage was extensive and almost random, in terms of trying to figure out why any individual piece blew out
Well, if I had a lighting strike I guess I was lucky as only the charger "blew".

Hmm, same happened with previous charger: A different type and make, it lasted 15+ years but finally gave up the ghost and only showed a minute charge if anything.
I really should install a surge protector on my dock circuit.
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Old 07-11-2007, 11:04   #29
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For the sake of about 15cents worth of a part, a surge protector should be installed in the appliance. I have noticed many appliances not having surge protectors installed anymore. Sadly, All in the aid of cost cutting. The device is simple. It is a voltage dependant resistor VDR. Normaly found in the powersupply of the appliance, It is placed across the phase and neutral, immediately after the fuse that should be found in the phase line. Once the voltage rises above a value of the VDR, it simply suddenly shorts and blows the fuse. The VDR goes open circuit again. I don't know what value would be found in 110V appliances, but 240V here in NZ, would see a VDR of about 300V.
There are also more complex overvoltage protection circuits avalable as well. However, I doubt any would protect against a lightening strike.
In the situation of an appliance catching on fire, I doubt this is an overvoltage issue. Or even lightening strike. I would imagine it is an output circuit issue. There are some major high current transistor switchign devices in the output. They are subject to cracking the joint around the legs. Once this happens, if the current and frequency is high enough, they can become like mini arc welders and will start to cook up the board around them. A problem occurs called Carbon tracking. This is where the PCB gets chared enough to produce carbon and of course, carbon is conductive. Once that happens, the board shorts and can continue to arc till either a major circuit is cut through and the unit dies, or worst case is the board can catch fire and burn up. The only protection in this instance, is having a fire proof case the PCB is housed in and the case needs to be mounted on something non-flamible.
Of course, in the most extreme situation, there is a fan in most of these high current devices which becomes a nice little supplier of oxygen to the BBQ and can even become a blow torch of sorts.
Still, in saying all this, it is rare to have this ever happen. But wehn you look at the vast numbers of appliances out there, staistics will say, that is is still possible.
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Old 07-11-2007, 13:56   #30
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" I have noticed many appliances not having surge protectors installed anymore. Sadly, All in the aid of cost cutting. "
Yes and no. The problem is that adding "protection" circuitry means you know have at least one more thing that can and will fail--violating the KISS principal and making the box less reliable as well as more expensive. Case in point, Delco has some newer alternators that have spike-protection diodes built in, to clip spikes before they can get out into the power system. Well...those spike protectors eventually fail, from clipping routine spikes and "wearing down". And as a result those newer safer alternators "blow" sooner than the old unsafe ones did!

So spike protection can be a mixed blessing, especially since it raises costs, lowers reliability, AND is invisible and incomprehensible to the average buyer--so it can really hurt sales.

Me, I cheated. Last time I did major rewiring I added dual spike protection (varistor and zener both) on the power feed to the instruments, then also added a piezo alarm which should sound if any overvoltage condition (spike or otherwise) gets past the protection. And crowbarred the fuse--so the instrument power SHOULD fail completely if anything more than a transient gets past, or if the protection fails in short circuit mode.

Totally violates the KISS principle--but it's all an external box on the power line, so it can always be "fixed" with a fire axe and some jumper wires.<G>
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