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Old 31-07-2010, 08:22   #1
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Braintrust: Upgrading My 12vdc

I've been pretty happy with almost all the threads I've posted in terms of generating good ideas and helping me come up with a better solution than I would have in a vacuum (or what you call the inside of my head)

I'm holed up in Annapolis for three months working to refill the kitty and tackle some of the boats needs before heading south towards the Bahamas Caribbean in the fall. I'm going to try and keep a thread going on my electrical system to show what I'm doing and to get input from others as to things I can do better

Feel free to contribute, I'm bound to benefit!
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Old 31-07-2010, 08:50   #2
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Current DC System:

  • 4 brand spanking new Sam's Club 6v golf cart batteries combined into a housebank (~440 amp hours)

  • Battery Isolation switch (1/2/off)

  • Westerbeke w27 with stock, 27 year old 50amp mitsubishi alternator, hooked to a battery isolation diode (which I think is killing my charging coming from the alternator!)

  • Xantrex Truecharge2 20amp version
  • Honda eu1000i generator
  • Kiss Wind Generator wired directly to house battery with 30 amp fuse
  • single 80watt Solar panel (currently not mounted anywhere, just have a long cable with a trailer style hookup wired to house battery on same positive connection/fuse as wind gen)
Issues with System:
  • poor charging voltage
    • house bank never shows above 13.2 at the battery terminal while charging with either alternator or generator/charger
    • starting battery never shows above 13.6 at terminals
  • a medusa's head of wiring at the electrical panel with pull knob style switches and separate fuses
  • lots of things wired directly to the house bank (no bueno)
  • multiple connections to same screw posts on distribution buses
  • long and ineffective charging cycle
  • no way to keep up with 12v air cooled adler barbour cold machine
What I'm planning on doing:
  • Remove isolation diode (it's redundant with isolation switch)
  • re terminate ground connections (they're 30 years old....I've cleaned the ends with sand paper/dremel to shiny copper but I suspect the wire inside the terminal is degraded....alternator shows 13.7/13.8 and charger shows 13.6 but battery posts always show significantly lower I suspect poor ground connection)
  • Upgrade Charging capabilities
    • Easiest Step is increasing charging capacity (upgrade to 40amp charger, either Xantrex Truecharge2 40 or IotaDLS45, this is something I definitely want input it on, which charger? Iota is cheaper, Xantrex is marinized and I'm thinking about the remote panel? I have small boat but the charger is in a locker that's tough to get to.....)
    • Upgrade Alternator -- this is tricky, do I
      • Go with a new 50 amp externally regulated
      • Go with a new 75 amp externally regulated
      • or upgrade to a high output externally regulated alternator that will necessitate machining a new crankshaft pulley that can support two belts? I have an old engine with an old waterpump that I'd rather not wear out......so if I'm putting in a high output alternator it'll need to be on a separate belt from my waterpump, and I imagine getting a new crankshaft pulley is going to be a major PITA
    • increase/improve solar bank
      • I want to find two smaller panels, either 80w or 60w (my current panel is too large to be practical on my boat)
      • find a way of mounting them that is out of the way and somewhat permanent
  • install circuit breaker style electrical panel
  • add more positive/negative bus bars for a cleaner install
pictures to come in the next few days of existing system
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Old 31-07-2010, 09:23   #3
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Forgot something --

Also want to improve battery monitoring, would like to add a digital multimeter with amp reader (to monitor amps in/out) good lord those things are expensive -- any recommendations there too? Thanks!
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Old 31-07-2010, 09:43   #4
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Here are some thoughts on your system and upgrades:

I am a believer in set and forget systems. Wire the alternator, charger, etc to the house bank and isolate the starting battery. Use a combiner to tie the two. Yandina, direct or through Defender, makes a tried and true combiner.

Your simple regulated Mitsubishi alternator is almost worthless for charging a house bank. A few years ago I spoke with Balmar about the largest single belt alternator they would recommend. The guy I talked to said he used a 120 amp on his 27 hp Yanmar and it worked fine. You can always derate the alternator's ooutput with adjutments to their regulator. If you install a HO alternator, use a premium belt and keep it tight. Too much time and money to install a two belt alternator for the benefits, IMHO.

Your Honda 1000 can only put out 800 watts continuously and that is about 6.7 amps DC. Check the specs on chargers. IOTA even though not "marine rated" makes nice, efficient chargers. Their 30 amp charger will be real close at 7 amps max AC. This will probably work as maximum current for most chargers only lasts for 15 minutes or so until a charge builds up in the batteries. Depends on the size of your house bank. Get the one with the integral controller.

David
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Old 31-07-2010, 10:04   #5
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Thanks for the input david -- those combiners look good, 6.7 amps AC continuous is slightly more than 800 watts, Iota claims greater than 80% efficiency in conversion -- 80% efficiency would be 643 watts, which would be enough to supply the 600 continuous watts which is the max the Iota puts out -- I know it's close but I think the honda can cut it

the xantrex 40 says only about 70% efficiency? is Iota doing some fancy marketing or do they have a more efficient charger? The Xantrex says it will automatically adjust output depending on the amount of power input.....
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Old 31-07-2010, 11:17   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brianontheroad View Post
is Iota doing some fancy marketing or do they have a more efficient charger? The Xantrex says it will automatically adjust output depending on the amount of power input.....
I suspect the current input figures are if anything, conservative. I have only one data point for this view: a Freedom inverter/charger. Even though the specs said it could pull 21 amps AC (to charge at 100 amps DC), I never saw more than 17 amps.

I don't understand the "automatic" part of Xantrex' claim. Does it sense that the Honda is about to trip its breaker and then cuts back

David
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Old 22-09-2010, 06:08   #7
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Finally getting back to this after a few months of working to save up cash to buy the goodies

I called an alternator shop about rebuilding my alternator at a higher amperage and they said no, it's too small a case and they didn't know of any alternator that would fit the bracket on the Westerbeke w27 -- I guess when I rebuilt it I should have sold it on and bought something else

Anyone know of an alternator that fits the W27 in the 100 amp range?

I'm leaning towards the Iota 45 -- just can't beat the price...though the 55 is tempting too since it's only about 10 bucks more but I'm worried the honda won't be able to keep up with it, but I've read other posts of people using the 45 with the eu1000i

for battery monitor I'm going to get the Victron I think -- I'd like to skip the victron and just get a good charge controller for the alternator with a nice display but I don't quite know what I'm looking for there so the victron it is

for a circuit panel I think I'm going to get one of those expensive blue sea 8 circuit boards, they look nice and seem like it'd be easy to hook up but $200 bucks for switches seems crazy -- all in all I'm looking at around $1000 for new switches, a multimeter and upgraded charging.....

aaahhhh boats

Any thoughts on those brands or a better set up?
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Old 22-09-2010, 09:33   #8
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The switch panel is not really "switches" they are circuit breakers and that is why they are somewhat expensive. You could try and find a boat junk store and buy somebody's old c/b panel(s) and use them instead of a "new" one.
- - I would definitely recommend a good "multi-step" external regulator for the alternator. It will significantly increase the life of the batteries and pay for itself. By the way, be sure the alternator is an "externally" regulated alternator and not a "car"/internal regulatored alternator. And there is nothing wrong with getting a re-built alternator from your "rebuild shop."
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