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Old 08-06-2010, 15:48   #1
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Battery Chargers ?

Can anyone tell me, what is the difference (besides price) of a marine battery charger verses a regular charger? Providing of course, that both are of good quality and have the features you need. The only difference I have seen in reading the features of each in there advertising, is that the marine type say they are water proof. As high above the water line as my charger will be mounted, if the water ever gets that high, the battery charger,water proof or not, will be the least of my worries.
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Old 08-06-2010, 15:54   #2
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The difference is merely the word "marine", ie the profit margin is double
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Old 08-06-2010, 15:56   #3
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Here are some differences:

Auto chargers will have a steel case. Marine chargers (sometimes) are made of stainless.

Some auto chargers have a simple program- maintain a voltage. This may be high enough to damage your batteries over time. In other words, auto chargers are not meant to be attached 24/7.

Marine chargers (almost all) have a three step program that opitimizes the charge current but doesn't harm your batteries.

Marine chargers are rarely waterproof.

David
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Old 08-06-2010, 15:58   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RoJack1 View Post
Can anyone tell me, what is the difference (besides price) of a marine battery charger verses a regular charger? Providing of course, that both are of good quality and have the features you need. The only difference I have seen in reading the features of each in there advertising, is that the marine type say they are water proof. As high above the water line as my charger will be mounted, if the water ever gets that high, the battery charger,water proof or not, will be the least of my worries.
One difference is that to be certified as a marine battery charger it has to be "explosion proof", i.e., safe for use on a gasoline-powered boat or one with combustible gasses (e.g., propane).

IMHO, this is often irrelevant. Some years ago a houseboat behind me blew up because the "marine battery charger" was installed in the engine room and the owner happened to hit the switch with his foot as he climbed in to investigate some gas fume odors. (He was lucky...got blown into the water and survived).

One battery charger which is NOT marine approved, but which works extremely well on boats is the Iota series...from 15A to 90A. Great design, reasonably priced, and an excellent performer. I have two of them. Lots of others report great experience with them. Arizona Wind and Sun is a good supplier.

But, to be extra extra cautious, I wouldn't install one on a gas boat or low down in a boat with propane.

Bill
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Old 08-06-2010, 17:20   #5
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If we consider a "marine" battery charger to be one that meets ABYC standards, the main differences will be, in addition to what's already been mentioned as desirable characteristics for a marine charger:
- Complete isolation between the high-voltage and low-voltage sides of the transformer
- Overcurrent protection on both input and output sides
- Case is not connected to DC negative internally (although there will be grounding conductors from the case to both the AC and DC grounding systems)
- Charger will either have an onboard ammeter, or have an external one added by the installer

Of course, there's not much the ABYC can do to prevent your local big-box discounter from writing "Marine" on a pretty sticker and putting that on their normal car battery chargers. It's what's inside that counts: either the manufacturer will provide an electrical schematic for the thing, or you have to take it apart in the store to see if it really is a fully isolated marine charger.
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Old 08-06-2010, 20:34   #6
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The fact is that unless specifically stated a "marine" battery charger does not mean compliance with the ABYC standards, nor does "marine" signifiy a three stage or high tech charger. The fact is that major charger manufacturers often have exactly the same unit in their "marine" and industrial lines.
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