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Old 03-04-2012, 20:32   #1
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All new wiring, batteries and engine

So, I'm finally about to start the systems on my Classic S&S after a few years of gutting her and doing a full rebuild.

I have the luxury of a blank slate now and while I have the new motor, I have not yet purchased alternators, batteries or any other systems. This includes all new wiring. As I have not yet installed the ceiling (along the frames) I can also easily install conduit where necessary.

I have settled on Energy 1 batteries though as I have had great feedback from a friend using them on a big ocean racing program.

A couple things worth mentioning.

1.) This is a wood hull with diagonal strapping (bronze) and bronze backbone and floors throughout 75% of the hull.

2.) The boat suffered in a hot marina in SF for years and that led to de-lignification of her planking under the waterline and some frames. This turned into a 50k+ mahogany bill and a full re-planking under the waterline. She was bonded but was well zinked but that's no defense against the idiots with faulty electrical and shore power cords drooping into the water. I now have a mooring.

3.) Power needs forward of the Nav station are limited to lights but I am putting the batteries (two Energy1 NSB210FT (185AH) batteries) up forward at the mast to concentrate weight there. This may be increased to three in time, but I'm going to try to get by with two.

4.) As the hull shape is very efficient she is easily driven with a 17HP engine (as original) but we have replaced that with a 26HP triple as it's even lighter than the original engine and smaller. It can easily push two high output alternators.

5.) Anticipated equipment will be limited to:
  • Pumps
  • Lights
  • Instruments (NKE HR Wind, Speed, GyroCompas, GPS)
  • Running Lights
  • Auto Pilot (NKE with Lecomble & Schmitt Drive and NEWAVECO)
  • VHF & SSB (although I rarely have the SSB on)
  • Refer (I am using a custom R50 top entry cold box so it's quite efficient and I usually pack it with Ice for long crossings to make it even more so)
  • Windlass (again, I tend to raise the anchor by hand)
  • Laptop on small true sine wave inverter a few hours a day (maybe 4 max) for routing when making passages
  • Stereo

Things that may come in time:
  • A very small watermaker
  • Radar
My objectives:
  • Above all, Simplicity
  • Second, Minimum charge time on house batteries as fuel is limited
  • Minimum power use on passages to save amps for the AP
  • Logical isolation of various components of the system

It's appreciated if answers come from those experienced with the unique challenges on classic, wooden yachts.

Thanks for your thoughts.

J
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Old 03-04-2012, 22:53   #2
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Re: All new wiring, batteries and engine

It might be helpful to explain why wooden boat electrical systems are any different than others (other than metal, of course). A hot marina is a hot marina.

You exhibit a good grasp of the basics and the needs of a system to support your well defined loads.

A basic battery system of 400 ah or more with solar backup, or complete solar, would work fine. Dual alternators on a 27 HP engine seems like overkill.

I'd start with a good basic backbone, alternator output to the house bank with a separate reserve bank if you feel it's necessary, and then go from there, since the question you've asked, globally, would take a book to answer, and there have been some great books written about the subject.

Electrical Systems 101

Perhaps you can be more specific with your question.
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Old 03-04-2012, 23:23   #3
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Re: All new wiring, batteries and engine

I would like to minimize charging time (i.e. maximize battery charging for every hour of engine run time) as much as possible.

I routinely sail long distances (up to Alaska from the PNW generally up the outside of Vancouver Island, to Hawaii, etc.) and I have very little fuel capacity and that's a hard limit to the amount of time the engine can be run.

Solar is not much of an option as we have the mizzen boom over hanging the transom and with the runners and all the other rigging there's not many safe places for a panel to live.

We fly 5 sails downwind, there's a lot of spaghetti to deal with.

As for the 'what makes wood boats any different' question; Wood boats when subjected to electrolysis suffer structural damage far faster than composite boats. Wood planking holds a significant quantity of water and that water conducts electricity which causes delignification of the cellular structure of the wood. As this is structural it's generally bad when this happens.

As the cost of replacing planking and replacing frames is something you only want to face once (we're into deep 6 figures with 50+ frames and 400+ linear feet of 5/4" mahogany planking which required new covering boards and while you're at it you may as well re-deck).

It generally also means completely re-fairing a hull when you've re-planked a large area of the hull. This can run into hundreds of hours and it's not something you do with unskilled people given the penalty if you f it up. Bring money, serious money.
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Old 04-04-2012, 08:49   #4
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Re: All new wiring, batteries and engine

Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeFish View Post
I would like to minimize charging time (i.e. maximize battery charging for every hour of engine run time) as much as possible.
Given that, and your disinclination for solar, you have two choices, not mutually exclusive:

Size your alternator according to your house bank battery size to meet this criteria and/or get a small generator, like a Honda 1000 or 2000 (if you have a hot water heater) and charge your batteries with the generator via your shorepower charger.

A good basic electrical system was described in my earlier reply.

From where you're going, you may not have to deal with "hot" marinas. You could do some more studying on stray current corrosion.

Try this: http://www.westmarine.com/webapp/wcs...unding-Systems

Good luck, any ?s come on back.
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Old 04-04-2012, 08:53   #5
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Re: All new wiring, batteries and engine

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, JoeFish.

It sounds as though youíve a well thought out plan.
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Old 04-04-2012, 09:10   #6
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Re: All new wiring, batteries and engine

One other question is how would you design it so that with two alternators, each could could independently charge one of the single 185AH house batteries, or in the event of a failure, gang the bank of two batteries to charge with the single remaining alternator.

It seems we'd essentially be talking about two charging circuits that act as a live backup for each other.

That said we also have a cranking battery that needs charging. How would you add that into the mix?

Thanks,

J
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Old 04-04-2012, 09:15   #7
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Re: All new wiring, batteries and engine

Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeFish View Post
I would like to minimize charging time (i.e. maximize battery charging for every hour of engine run time) as much as possible.
Then I would very seriously look at LiFePO4 chemistry and consider a main bank of, say, 4 x 400Ah cells (3.2V nominal each, connected in series).

As for charging, if you insist on double alternators I would still use them both to charge a single house bank and charge the starter battery with an echo charger supplied from the house bank.
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Old 04-04-2012, 09:40   #8
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Re: All new wiring, batteries and engine

There is simply not space for 1600Ah is wildly excessive considering past loads. We consume maybe 200Ah a day at peak consumption when on passage.

I have not looked into LiFePO4 yet, but it seems footprint would be an issue. The Energy1 batteries we are looking at get us 372Ah in two 22x5x12" cells which can be oriented in any direction. Yes they are AGM, but they will actually fit in the boat.

Considering the boat is a yawl and balances on her sail plan beautifully, she makes very efficient use of very little power when using the AP. Other than wind instruments and the VHF there's rarely anything else on that would draw any current.

After all, this is not the Queen Mary! What would make you think we need 1600Ah?

J
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Old 04-04-2012, 09:47   #9
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Re: All new wiring, batteries and engine

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Originally Posted by JoeFish View Post
There is simply not space for 1600Ah is wildly excessive considering past loads. We consume maybe 200Ah a day at peak consumption when on passage.

[...]

After all, this is not the Queen Mary! What would make you think we need 1600Ah?

J
A misunderstanding. I probably did not express myself clearly enough.
When you connect single cells in series, capacity in Ah stays the same, only voltage adds up. So, in the above example, a single cell has 400Ah capacity and a nominal voltage of 3.2V. A string of four such cells connected in series has 400Ah capacity but a voltage of 4*3.2=12.8V (nominal).

A footprint of a single cell is 7.1cm x 45cm and the cell is 28.5cm high (that is 2.79"x17.72"x11.22" if my math is correct). Weight of a single cell is 12kg (Thundersky/Sinopoly model LS400TS used as an example).

There is a whole thread discussing LiFePO4 batteries, well worth a read LiFePO4 Batteries: Discussion Thread for Those Using Them as House Banks
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Old 04-04-2012, 09:50   #10
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Re: All new wiring, batteries and engine

Ample power makes a regulator that will control 2 alternator fields at the same time. For sake of simplicity I would keep the house bank as one large bank fed by two independent alternators, then use an acr or echo charger to charge the start battery. As an aside the ample power controller also has an output to control a solenoid to act as an acr. We have one and I love it.
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Old 04-04-2012, 10:03   #11
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Re: All new wiring, batteries and engine

Ample Power Company Home Page

As mentioned, they have great information. Download the Ample Power Primer, which had good descriptions, then wander around and ifnd the wiring diagrams.

Off the top of my head, two thoughts:

1) Why two alternators? How big an engine? OK, 26 hp. That's pretty small to drive two alternators. Our M25 is 21 hp and it takes about 3 hp to drive our 100 A alternator when the house bank is low (50%) SOC). It might be way simpler for wiring to have only one alternator working and have the other as a spare, but if it is running on the engine, make sure that it is not being asked to output or else the diodes would get fried if there's nowhere for the AO to go. I just feel two alternators is a complication that may well be unnecessary. Read on about battery acceptance.

Reasons for that?

2) With a 200 ah per day load, it seems way larger than what you've described (balanced sail plan, etc.). 200 ah sounds like you have a fridge. But you say it's really efficient. Given that load (regardless of how you got there) a 400 ah bank seems way too small. Or your budget is way too high. It should be four times your daily draw to allow efficient charging based on your first criteria. Why? Because putting the last 10%-15% back INTO the banks is the hardest to do based on battery acceptance. That's why cruisers go between 50% and 80-85% of full charge on their banks and then stop charging WITH THEIR ENGINE ALTERNATORS. That's when solar and generators come in handy, or finding a dock and really fully charging.

[Am I anywhere near right in guessing that you're trying two alternators to put more back into the house bank? Even so, battery acceptance will GOVERN: REGARDLESS OF HOW HUGE the charging source is - 4,000 amps or two alternators at 150A each, the batteries will NOT accept any more as they reach the 80-85% full range. Period.]

This stuff is "basics 101" for cruising electrical systems, and why your house bank should be way bigger if that really is your daily load.

You may be well advised to wander around this part of this website and others and read about battery acceptance and how really hard it is to put in the last 15% and why folks simply don't (unless they have sources other than their engines).

An echo charger is all you need for your start (reserve) bank.

When I'm cruising, even with our very inefficient fridge, we do 100 ah per day, as noted by our Link 2000. WHAT are the components of your 200 ah per day budget? Still seems very large to me.

Again, good luck, I think you're on the right track.

Stu
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Old 04-04-2012, 10:10   #12
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Re: All new wiring, batteries and engine

Hi Joe,
I have the Energy 1's on board my Electric driven Cat and love them. However once these are ready for replacement I will go with the LiFePO4 batteries reducing weight by 2/3rds (down about a ton), about doubling my run time, and reducing the charge time. I also concur with the Echo for the motor battery charging off the house bank. Don't have any input for the duel alternators, have only a genset.

Steve in Solomons MD
Lagoon 410 SE
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Old 04-04-2012, 10:26   #13
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Re: All new wiring, batteries and engine

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Originally Posted by Stu Jackson View Post
[...]Why? Because putting the last 10%-15% back INTO the banks is the hardest to do based on battery acceptance. That's why cruisers go between 50% and 80-85% of full charge on their banks[...]

[...] Even so, battery acceptance will GOVERN: REGARDLESS OF HOW HUGE the charging source is - 4,000 amps or two alternators at 150A each, the batteries will NOT accept any more as they reach the 80-85% full range. Period.
And a switch to LiFePO4 chemistry solves exactly that problem. Instead of having 50%-85% operational capacity range with Pb chemistry, one gets 25%-95% range with LiFePO4, which is more than twice better. Weight reduction is an added bonus.
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Old 04-04-2012, 10:50   #14
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Re: All new wiring, batteries and engine

MRM,

Sounds like just what we are looking for. This is exactly the kind of explanation I was hoping for.

So what your saying is acceptance is MUCH better so they both charge faster and the usable capacity is much broader within the charge they will accept meaning we get more out of each cycle. Great.

So assuming I need 400-500Ah total capacity and what to charge it as fast as possible using only the engine, what would your ideal design look like?

Stu,

When sailing on the AP, even with the Newaveco, we still draw a lot. 200Ah is more likely in a rough sea state when the AP is working it's ass off, but running the AP 24/7 will suck the house batteries dry pretty quick, even with all the optimizations.

I did neglect to mention that the refer is running as well, but we're in a colder climate for the moment so that draw is minimal. We will however be heading south in time so I'd like to plan on higher draw from the refer.

General question about the Echo charger as I've had issues with xantrex in the past. Has anyone used Sterling's waterproof echo charger?

Thanks again for all the input. Immersion up to 1M which is probably never going to happen, but in a marine environment I'll pay more for a sealed unit any day of the week to save myself from failure when I'm in some faraway place.

J
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Old 04-04-2012, 11:10   #15
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Re: All new wiring, batteries and engine

Joe,

OK, so now I do understand that your proposed batteries will have a greater acceptance and essentially a larger storage "range" - 20% to 95%. So, for a 400 ah bank, that means you can use 75% of the capacity instead of the 35% from basic wet cells. You have properly answered my question about house bank capacity, since you've doubled your storage (35% to 75%), right?

Good for you!

You've also answered the daily draw (somewhat) and if I read between the lines, you're thinking your real daily draw would be significantly less than 200 ah, let's say 100 ah for this example.

With 75% of 400 ah available in your bank, this means you have 300 ah useable with a 100 ah daily draw, which is manageable.

The question then remains: if you're only using your engine / alternator(s) to charge, regardless of how big your storage capacity is, you still have to REPLACE the amp hours your removed, right?

Then it goes back to your original question: what's the most efficient way to replenish that amount of amp hours.

Survey says, most of time, that the engine is simply NOT the best way to do that. If, as you say, you're sailing most of the time, why run the beast?

An alternative SOURCE of energy input still seems to be your best bet, unless you want to run your engine, but if it's not being used for propulsion at say 70-80% of it's power, you'd just be idling it, which ain't good for it.

A friend sailed the last SF to Hawaii race and they used a towed generator. He said it worked very, very well for them, they only deployed it at night. Ran enough power for their SSB and lots of other stuff on a Nordic 44. Sorry, the name escapes me now, but it sure sounds like something to consider. It's right up your alley.

This is a very interesting thread, thanks again for starting it. Learn something new every day - ain't boating fun?!?

Stu
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