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Old 15-12-2012, 09:36   #1
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Battery charger wont't start

I may have made a big mistake here. I'm visiting my boat today which has been on the hard since Nov 1 and off any shore power. I was last here on Nov 17 to check in and run the charger for a few hours. I left with the voltage reading 12.7 on my main panel. I thought everything was powered off except the panel itself. Today on arrival everything was dark except two LEDs on bilge pump switches, and they were dull. I plugged in shore power expecting my charger to kick in but it didn't happen. I have a Trace U2512SB inverter/charger. I confirmed the Trace is getting 115 volts to its A/C inputs. Unfortunately I also measured my battery voltage at only 3.5 volts. Ugg. I've read through the Trace manual. I get absolutely no lights/indicators on the device and nothing happens when I press the on/off button. It seems I should at least have something light up. Don't know if it matters but its about 35 degrees F on the boat. This all seems simple enough, except its not working, and I'm out of ideas. Help!

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JR
H
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Old 15-12-2012, 09:46   #2
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Re: Battery charger wont't start

Sound loike you had a power surge and burnt out the diodes. As for the batteries chuck em

Peter
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Old 15-12-2012, 10:02   #3
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Re: Battery charger wont't start

Many chargers won't kick off with that low of a battery voltage. You may need a "Dumb" type of ferroresonant automotive charger that make voltage even when disconnected from the battery to start off. Your batteries may be able to be salvaged if you can charge then equalize them.
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Old 15-12-2012, 10:03   #4
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Re: Battery charger wont't start

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Originally Posted by Sailmonkey View Post
Many chargers won't kick off with that low of a battery voltage. You may need a "Dumb" type of ferroresonant automotive charger that make voltage even when disconnected from the battery to start off. Your batteries may be able to be salvaged if you can charge then equalize them.
Page 43 of this .pdf
http://www.xantrex.com/documents/Dis...ucts/875-1.pdf
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Old 15-12-2012, 10:08   #5
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The boat was not attached to any external power or anything else for the month I've been away, and no one else has been onboard. So there was no chance for a power surge. Also the ac breaker was off and the inverter was off so it shouldn't have been scavenging any battery power. I have approx 400 ahr of batteries so they should take a lot to discharge, and I'd really prefer to keep them. I'd had previously been off the boat for three and the batteries only dropped about .4 volts. I've been keeping notes on them.

I have to wonder if the extremely low battery state makes the charger not even try.
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Old 15-12-2012, 10:20   #6
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Re: Battery charger wont't start

Sailmonkey is correct. We see this all the time at the boatyard.
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Old 15-12-2012, 10:24   #7
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Re: Battery charger wont't start

If your batteries really are at 3.5volts they are done. No amount of equalization charge will bring them back. They may show good voltage after an equalization charge (if your charger is capable of this) but they certainly will not hold the voltage for very long.

Take this from a guy who just tried to save $2k worth of Rolls Surette single cell batteries (unsucessfully).
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Old 15-12-2012, 10:48   #8
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I've had batteries discharged like that. They were still serviceable. Like said above: smart chargers may balk at charging the battery (lame design). You could put something in series with the charger - like the electric heater - to limit the current to a reasonable level. Then remove it after a few hours.
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Old 15-12-2012, 10:51   #9
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Thanks all. Had to get off the boat for a while to get warm and read more. I found some info in an obscure paragraph in the manual about needing to use an external charger if the batts get too low. So that advice above was correct - thanks. Will try that tomorrow and then search for the cause of the drainage, and disconnect the banks physically when I'm off the boat.

JR
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Old 15-12-2012, 11:12   #10
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Re: Battery charger wont't start

Quote:
Originally Posted by jr_spyder View Post
Thanks all. Had to get off the boat for a while to get warm and read more. I found some info in an obscure paragraph in the manual about needing to use an external charger if the batts get too low. So that advice above was correct - thanks. Will try that tomorrow and then search for the cause of the drainage, and disconnect the banks physically when I'm off the boat.

JR
JR,

Most all "smart" chargers have a low voltage cut off. This keeps them smart. Charging into a low voltage can mean the batteries have an internal fault or shorted cell. Charging into a fault can have the potential to blow the batteries up. This can be annoying but is really a good safety feature.

When on he hard ALWAYS disconnect the neg or pos battery cable from the bank to prevent parasitic loads from killing the bank. I find disconnecting the neg side on many boats easier due to less terminals on the battery post.. Most boats have some level of parasitic load whether from a stereo, LPG sensor, battery monitors, combiners, Echo or Duo type chargers, solar controllers or a myriad of other devices...

Also be sure to charge them to 100% capacity before leaving them. With the temps over the last month your batteries may recover but if they do will likely have a diminished capacity..

Get a dumb charger to bring the voltage up then let the Trace take over.
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Old 15-12-2012, 13:28   #11
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Re: Battery charger wont't start

Try and get the charge back up as quickly as possible. The time spent at this very discharged state seems critical to the chance of returning them to reasonable health.
Hopefully this discharge has been only slow and they have only recently reached this very low voltage.
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Old 15-12-2012, 14:56   #12
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Re: Battery charger won't start

Funny, I was thinking of exactly this question on my drive home. Thanks for reading my mind. Will get this going tomorrow.
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