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Old 29-08-2004, 16:39   #1
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Batteries/Regulators/Monitors

Hi Gang,
Is there a definitive guide that will give me specific configurations, including brand names, of the "ideal" configuration for my purposes?

Right now, the boat is pretty much stock. Three house batteries, a starting battery, and whatever alternator/regulator Yanmar bolted to the engine. An 80amp, I think.

Everything works fine right now, but I suspect that either the batteries are going or the alternator never gets them fully charged because the house bank is usually showing about 11.5 volts after running cabin lights (limited use), anchor light, radio, CD player, and 12 volt fans overnight.

I'd like to build my wishlist and start working that direction....

Thanks,

Curtis
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Old 29-08-2004, 17:33   #2
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I like "Boatowners Mechanical and Electrical Guide", by Nigel Calder. I understand that Kevin Jeffrey also provides a good guide, but tends to deal with cats, multiple alternators, and solar and wind generators.
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Old 29-08-2004, 18:09   #3
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Ample Power

Living on 12 volts from Ample Power, one of the early comprehensive manuals on boat electrical systems and I understand they have an updated version.

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Old 29-08-2004, 18:27   #4
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Ample Power

Living on 12 volts will tell you more about batteries and 12 volt stuff than you wanted to know. BC Mike C
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Old 29-08-2004, 19:37   #5
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I'll second the vote for ample Power. All of their books are available online at...

http://amplepower.com/

I have their alternator, smart charger, eliminator for cross charging and the energy monitor. They all came with my boat when I bought it, but seem to work very well.

Woody
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Old 29-08-2004, 23:33   #6
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Question Curtis

How old are your batteries? If they are getting old they will have a hard time keeping the voltage.

And, if so, they'll work your altenator to DEATH.

A 60 month battery will start loosing it after 3 years unless you use your boat year around then maybe longer................_/)
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Old 30-08-2004, 03:25   #7
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Batteries will definitely last longer if you keep them well charged up and electrolitic levels correct. If you tend to weekend, then it is a really good solution to have a float charge going in from a solar panel.
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Old 30-08-2004, 04:20   #8
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Electrical Information

A detailed consultation/design, specific to your boat, might cost between:
$250 - $500 (or more depending upon the extent and detail required) -or- $200 - $300 if I was doing the complete installation (@ $45 - $55/Hour Labour rate) ...

The previuosly noted books and manufacturers offer good information. you might begin with some free on-line reasources:

Blue Sea Systems www.bluesea.com offers some excellent on-line technical advice, including:

2004 Catalogue: http://www.bluesea.com/Article_detai..._ID=160&id=199

ABYC Excerpts (AC Systems E-8 -and- DC Systems E-9)
http://www.bluesea.com/Article_detai..._ID=139&id=119

Wiring Inverter Load Groups (Sub Panels)
http://www.bluesea.com/Article_detai...n_ID=137&id=89

Inverter High Load Isolation
http://www.bluesea.com/Article_detai...n_ID=137&id=85

AC Source Management with Source Selector panels
http://www.bluesea.com/Article_detai...n_ID=137&id=83

The Case for Inverter Cut-Off Switches
http://206.129.99.60/Article_detail....Section_Id=145

Current Flow in 120/240 Volt AC Systems
http://206.129.99.60/Article_detail....Section_Id=145

Parallel DC Main Distribution System
http://www.bluesea.com/Article_detai...n_ID=137&id=86

Electrical Properties of Standard Annealed Copper Wire
http://www.bluesea.com/Article_detai...n_ID=141&id=91

Circuit Protection
http://www.bluesea.com/Article_detai..._ID=140&id=121

Instructions
AC Rotary Switches, Battery Boxes, Circuit Breakers, Labels, Meters, Panel Accessories, Panels, Switches, & Wiring
http://www.bluesea.com/sections.asp?...43&Parent_ID=0

Other Links:

http://www.ancorproducts.com/ (Click on “Technical Information”)


Marine Electrical Checklist: http://www.islandnet.com/~robb/marine.html

http://www.uscg.mil/hq/g-m/regs/reghome.html

ABYC Standards http://www.abycinc.org/

Wiresizer 2.0 download http://www.midcoast.com/~aft/index2.html

Peter Kennedy Yacht Services, Marine Electrical Systems
http://www.pkys.com/FAQ.htm

Marine Electrics - John Payne (Author of "Marine Electrical and Electronics Bible")
www.fishingandboats.com

Ample Power http://amplepower.com/

Xantrex http://www.xantrex.com/
Application Notes http://www.xantrex.com/support/docldoc_type.asp?type=7
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Old 30-08-2004, 13:29   #9
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I just bought a brand new Link 2000 on e-bay for $249.00 plus $15.00 shipping.

Half of West Marine prices.

The Link has been highly recommended for keeping track of battery usage and managment, etc.
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Old 31-08-2004, 01:47   #10
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Gord has given you some seriuose homework to do.
Don't know if I can be anymore help, but my suggestion is a very good 3 step charger. NOT JUST a trickle charger as they are of little use. Correct charging will lengthen the life of your batteries dramaticaly.
Plus, if the Alternator has no form of charge controll, then just because the voltage reaches a high level, the bank still may not be fully charged.
To your first post question, the bank dropping to 11.5V depends on what was in the bank to begin with and then what you take out and finally, what you then put back in again. The voltage of a bank is a little miss leading. Although it can give you a good indication of the state of the battery, the real important numbers are the Amp Hrs. This is how much energy is in storage and how much you have used and how much you have to put back in.
I presume the Link 2000 is something that will give you that info?
Then it also depends on the type of battery that your bank is using. It needs to be a deep cycle design. A starting type design will not last as long if allowed to deep cycle. Even deep cycles still don't take kindly to being discharged too far and will shorten their life expectancy dramaticaly. Then Deep cycles tend to like a slightly different charge controll than a start battery. So having a three stage, two or three bank charger becomes important.
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Old 31-08-2004, 04:02   #11
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Dead @ 11.6 OCV

Curtis:
A battery with an open circuit voltage (OCV) of 11.5 Volts, at 70 Degrees F, is essentially "dead". Though Open Cct. Voltage is a poor indicator of state-of-charge, a fully charged battery should have a "rested" OCV of over 12.7 V (12.2V @ 50%).

A better measure is Specific Gravity; which should read between 1.26 (100%) and 1.20 (50%). A SG under 1.17 is essentially a dead cell.

Yanmar (Hitachi) alternators are usually rated either 35A or 55 A output - not that you’ll ever actually see a charging rate that high.

Methinks your intuition is correct - you probably have a dead/dying battery(s).

Check Battery voltage (test leads on Battery Posts) first thing in the AM (you indicate 11.5V)
Then check while engine & alternator are running (very shortly after start-up) - should see something over 13.7V (perhaps as high as 14.4V or more). If not - definate Alternator (or regulator, if equipped) problem.

Gord
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Old 31-08-2004, 16:38   #12
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Hi Gord,
Thanks for the specific response. The readings I'm referring to are from a voltmeter mounted on the panel....not specific battery post measurements. The voltmeter does go right up to just under 14 volts upon starting the engine in the morning. As far as I can tell, there is no separate regulator...just whatever is built into the stock alternator.

To measure specific gravity you need one of those turkey baster thingies, right? The batteries are crappy Interstate sealed "maintenance free" batteries that don't have openings to check. I'm sure I need new batteries...just trying to make sure I don't waste the investment by not having the charging system up to snuff first....

Curtis
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Old 31-08-2004, 18:38   #13
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It sounds like you may not have deep cycle batteries. These will not last long if allow to discharge much, such as using lights and such over night.

Woody
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Old 01-09-2004, 01:33   #14
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Curtis:

Replace your batteries, then run your engine, to ensure full charge (expect >14V then dropping to <13.7 V).
Let rest, then note Voltage (expect >12.6 V)
Run them down to about 12.3 Volts (60% Charged or 40% Discharged).
Run the engine to recharge.
Let rest, then note Voltage (expect >12.6 V).
If so, your Alternator is probably OK.
If not, take Alternator to a Alternator shop, or read “The 12 Volt Doctor’s Alternator Book” by Edgar J. Beyn. Alternator testing is slightly technical, but I cover some first basics in my post “Basic Alternator Testing” @ http://cruisersforum.com/showthread....rnator+Testing (under Yacht Maintenance, ...)

Don’t worry about harming your New Batteries. One failed recharge cycle won’t hurt anything.

Your Panel Meter is not likely an accurate measure of Voltage at the Batteries, but will give a general approximation of what is happening (will indicate increasing or decreasing Voltages, but not accurate numbers).

HTH,
Gord
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Old 01-09-2004, 06:00   #15
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Gord,
That sounds like a reasonable plan. I guess the one modification that I'll propose, based upon the info gained here, is to leave the AC charger on for a few days prior to use to ensure that the bank is getting a complete charge. I replaced the charger right after buying the boat about six months ago....it had an elcheapo automotive charger that I replaced with a 30A Charles 5000.

All,
I guess the real point of this thread is to gain an understanding of what I can expect out of this relatively basic system. I've calculated our DC budget to be a VERY conservative 264 amp-hours per day. Our cruising style is pretty white-bread right now, too. We do weekends primarily with the occasional week or two cruise when the kids have school holidays. Because we have an engine-driven refrigeration system, we run the engine for about an hour in the morning and about an hour in the evening....usually when we are coming and going to whatever anchorage we are using.

If I can get everything working to spec (replacing batteries is likely) will this setup provide me with adequate reliable power? Or, do I just resign myself to buying a new big alternator, an external regulator, a power monitor, a battery isolator, and a fibrilating phizbitz? Believe me, there are many other things that this father of three boys can spend the money on! I do not, however, want to spend my time and money peeing up a rope.

Thanks for the help, everyone.

PS. Is it good practice to leave a charger like the Charles on when away from the boat? I've been turning all the AC off at the dock....
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