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Old 12-09-2012, 10:11   #1
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Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: London (Boat in Turkey)
Boat: Admiral 38 Cat
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Automatic Charging Relay/Xantrex Battery Combiner


can anyone give me some help with this issue: I can't seem to work out the problem with my battery charging and Xantrex battery combiner. Basically the house and starter batteries won't charge in parallel. My boat is in turkey and its difficult communicating with the local electricians (who just say replace the system with diodes which I don't want to do).

I can replace the battery combiner if necessary, but I'm not certain that is the problem (I had some work done on the engines and maybe something was not correctly connected).

This is what happens: I start the engines with batteries not charged (e.g starter 12.9v, house 12.4 v). The alternator is giving about 14v. The starter batteries are receiving about 14v but the house batteries are not getting charged (remain at 12.4v). The light on the Pathmaker stays orange (disabled i.e. not in parallel) even after running the engines for some time. They should automatically go into parallel once the voltage increases

If I hold the override switch (parallels the batteries for emergency starting) to the right it goes green (batteries in parallel). It stays green if held for long enough (a minute or so) and all the batteries are then being charged. The manual override is really for emergency starting and I'm not sure if I should be doing this regularly to override what should happen automatically

If I start with fully charged house batteries e.g. from shore power the pathmaker green light comes on straight away and the batteries are automatically paralleled (green light comes on straight away). I could understand this if the house batteries are charged first and have to reach a certain charge before the battery combiner parallel’s the starter batteries – but from manually checking its clear the starter batteries are being charged first, so the house batteries never receive a charge from the alternators (unless I manually override it).

So to put it another way - the house batteries won’t charge from the alternators unless they are already charged – and that can’t be right.

I'm not sure if its relevant but for background the set -up is:

Catamaran with 2 x 27 hp Yanmars

One engine has a new Bosch 100 amp alternator the other the original Hitachi (about 60 amps I think)

There is a Pathmaker 100/3 (Xantrex – discontinued product) battery combiner

This is linked to a Smart Alternator Regulator v3 (Ample technology)

Batteries: there is one starter battery for each engine and 3 house batteries in each hull (i.e. 6 house batteries and 2 starter batteries)

Any suggestions on what might be wrong here/what to check greatly appreciated. Also if any one has any input on the alternatives (e.g. Balmar Duo Charge, Xantrex Echo Charge, Blue Sea Automatic relay) that would be great

many thanks

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Old 12-09-2012, 11:00   #2
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Re: automatic charging relay/xantrex battery combiner

Does the combiner close/go to parallel when you are charging from shore power? Your post says it does that when the house bank is full from shore power, but how about while charging from shore power?

If that is the case then I would suspect that one of the voltage sensing circuits is dead. Would be relatively easy to test, swap the starter and house connections on the combiner, if it then combines properly on alternator but not on shore power that would tell you that one side of the combiner is not working properly. You'll need a really long wrench to reach from London to Turkey

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Old 12-09-2012, 11:21   #3
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Re: Automatic Charging Relay/Xantrex Battery Combiner

It sounds like to me, that the alternators should be attached to the house batteries rather than the start batteries. When you force parallel, the house voltage comes up, letting the controller know that there is charge current available to the house bank, then it parallels the two banks.

So to make it simple, attache the output leads from the alternators to the house batts, when they're charged enough to allow the voltage above preset point (maybe 12.8V) then the start batts will be fed the small amount they require.
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Old 12-09-2012, 19:26   #4
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Re: Automatic Charging Relay/Xantrex Battery Combiner

The Pathmaker has a history of problems like you describe. Maybe that is why it is no longer made. I suspect yours is bad. Yandina and Blue Seas make similar products and they don't cost much. We have had both of those products with no problems. Yandina has a lifetime warranty and will replace for any failure at any time.


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Old 13-09-2012, 06:12   #5
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Re: Automatic Charging Relay/Xantrex Battery Combiner

I concur with the last two posts. Either the combiner isn't getting up to the relay closing voltage or it is broken. Why people still charge their start banks first remains beyond me, but they all seem to do it in the UK. We've had many discussions about this philosophical difference of opinion between the UK and the USA on Yachting and Boating World - Sailing and motor boats for sale, forums, news | ybw over the years.

A Yandina combiner would be a straight swap. You don't need to spend the extra money on a Duo Charge unless you have different battery types in each bank; if you had a combiner then you most likely don't anyway. An echo charger would be perfect to charge your start banks if you run your alternator outputs to the house banks.
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Old 13-09-2012, 07:14   #6
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Re: Automatic Charging Relay/Xantrex Battery Combiner

The pathmaker uses (used to) adjustable set points that on some models the user could adjust. You may be able to save it by lowering the set point to about 13 volts if it is available.

We eliminated all adjustmens on the Yandina Combiners in 1994 for a number of reasons.
1. You don't need to be able to adjust them, it is not critical.
2. They FAIL. We give unconditional warranty and can't do that with part that will fail.
3. By allowing adjustment you can't make it 100% waterproof. Once the threshold was set by using precision components we were able to pot them in epoxy so they will even operate submerged.
4. It reduced production cost of the potentiometer(s) and saved time on the production line.

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