The long story is that while sailing on the East Coast
of the DR we had a catastrophic failure of an external Balmar regulator
(ARS5) on a Balmar
series 6 alternator. We were able to get to a marina in Punta Cana and tried to troubleshoot there. Contrary to some folks experiences, Balmar was very helpful but the regulator
was way out of warranty. They informed me that the installation
was questionable. We then wired up the internal regulator on the alternator and made it to my home marina. Then, I decided that I'd better double check and do things right. I had assumed that the charging
system was installed correctly because the PO had "professionals" working on the boat. Well, I'm finding a lot of problems, especially with poor fusing.
I've been reading through this thread, the one that CharlieJ referred to, and a couple of others. And I'm still confused. Unfortunately the system is pretty complex so I'll start with the simplest comments and questions and perhaps move on from there.
I have three solar panels
in series, a Xantrex Freedom 30 charger/inverter with a Link 2000, a Balmar alternator, three batteries in the house bank and a single
starting battery (all are Optima D34M's). There are actually 3 breaker panels
(for power distribution) because there have been several electrical
upgrades and it seems that each time they added another panel. And a Blue Sea 1-2-both-off switch to go from one battery bank to the other.
I think that the first thing is to double check the cables
and make sure that they are in good shape and large enough (ampacity) for the respective loads.
I'd like to install a bunch of fuses
because the only one that I can find is between the Freedom 30 and the battery battery switch. I saw James S and CharlieJ 's installation
and that looks pretty nice but I'm not sure that I can find room for anything like that. However, space won't undercut safety
(at this point I'll probably overdesign). I think that I can install several of the MRBF fuses
without space problems. Reading through the threads here I don't really understand what the objections are to these, versus the class T fuses. With space considerations and strain relief, the class T fuses are going to be a lot harder to install close to the power sources. An aside: CharlieJ refers to B+ cables
. I can usually tell from context what he means but exactly what is B+??
I'm seriously thinking of using a Digital Duo Charge for charging
the starting battery and setting up the 1-2-both-off battery switch for emergency
switching. I'd appreciate any comments about that design.
I'd also prefer not to put a fuse between the starting battery and starter solenoid so I'm thinking of enclosing that cable in a "conduit" to prevent shorting due to possible chafe or other gremlins attacking it. But, I'd put a fuse in that cable too, if someone could convince me that there is a big enough one and there is a good safety
I'm still debating the need for two fuses (one at each end) of the battery-alternator cable. Maybe just one at the battery end and enclosing the cable in a conduit. I don't mind the $35-40 for an MTBF at each end it's just that it seems better to keep things simple with fewer connections.
Well, any comments and suggestions will be greatly appreciated. I've got to start ordering the parts
and pieces 'cause I'd like to get this all straight before doing any more serious sailing.