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Old 19-08-2016, 13:33   #1
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Charger tripping ELCI

So all of a sudden our three year old non-inverter Mastervolt battery charger is tripping our ELCI breaker.

If we turn down the output amperage to max out at 15 amps (its a 12 volt/60 amp charger) everything is fine. We can run all our AC appliances, including an walmart Air conditioning unit we keep plugged into our galley outlet and the ELCI doesn't trip. The AC outlets on the boat go through the ELCI but not the charger, since the charger is not also an inverter.

If we turn up the output past about 15 Amps the amp meter starts to jerk back and forth for about 15 seconds before the ELCI trips. I tried different pedestals, thinking maybe it was a bad one and it did not change the problem.

We were struck by lightning last year but its been fine so I did not declare it.

Any ideas? A bad charger or a bad connection?
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Old 20-08-2016, 00:37   #2
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Re: Charger tripping ELCI

30a breaker? running charger, air condition, and other stuff all at once? or 50a?

what happens if you turn other stuff off and only charger on?

what is your AC current draw before it trips?
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Old 20-08-2016, 07:21   #3
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Re: Charger tripping ELCI

Blue Sea ELCI trip on over-current as well as earth leakage. You need to determine the cause of the trip. Typically earth leakage will happen all the time if an appliance is bad. If the charger trips when there are no other loads that would suggest leakage, otherwise I'd look at overload.
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Old 20-08-2016, 20:43   #4
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Re: Charger tripping ELCI

The 30 AMP ELCI is tripping when we have the charger on and nothing else. Going so far as to turn off the DC main and everything else on the AC circuit at the breaker box. Since it trips at anything over 15 or so amps (12 volt) from the charger that means the ELCI is getting enough current through it at 180 watts to trip it.

The rest of the AC system is behaving normally. We can run the 1500 watt water heater, a coffee maker, and a window A/C unit all together and still the AC is fine... until we turn on the charger. So, if there is an A/C fault, then its isolated to the charger circuit.

Since A/C can be so dangerous and we happen to be in a marina, I asked the if the electrician could come by. He said to try a factory reset first, which I did and it had no effect. Next, we are going to swap out the charger with one he has on hand for such tests and we are going to see if the ELCI trips again. If it DOES trip then we know we have an fault somewhere on the boat, at which time we look for loose connections or simply swap out the AC (and maybe DC) wires in the charger circuit and try again.

He will also test the my unit in the yard hooked up to an isolated test system as he already suspects a bad diode.

If anything, this is a good learning experience as I've not paid much attention to my AC system since we refitted 3 years ago. Interestingly, the culprit could also be the Blue Sea Systems ELCI - the electrician said that BSS produced ELCI with substandard components about three years ago; if we had one of those I would think we would have seen evidence of that previously.
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Old 21-08-2016, 05:33   #5
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Re: Charger tripping ELCI

Sure sounds like a bad charger. Once you have it out of the boat, you could attach a regular 115vac three prong power cord and plug it into a GFI outlet. They are more sensitive and trip at 5mA vs the 30mA for an ELCI.
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Old 21-08-2016, 09:46   #6
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Re: Charger tripping ELCI

I took today and verified that the grounds are all good. Everything goes to the engine and then to the rudder gudgeon. All the connections are tight and the wires seem in good shape. If its a nick in one of the wires it will take an awful long time to track it down.
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Old 21-08-2016, 13:13   #7
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Re: Charger tripping ELCI

Not a ground problem in the boat, but an internal issue with the charger.
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Old 22-08-2016, 19:29   #8
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Re: Charger tripping ELCI

Today I replaced the ELCI circuit breaker and this did not solve the issue.

I'm convinced that asking this particular "marine electrician" group to perform competent duties was just too much. In the literal 2 or 3 minutes he spent on my boat he apparently determined that our boat (which had just been gutted of electronics and wires and brought up to ABYC electrical standards 3 years ago for about 20K) needed to be regutted and brought up to ABYC standards before he would "volunteer to replace the charger for $1300 plus labor of $105 an hour". Which of course is complete BS.

What is wrong with this industry?

So, I did it myself. I changed out the circuit breaker which took about 20 minutes and $127, and I have a new charger on order for $975, which is also going to take about 10 minutes to swap out and replace.

Then we will see. I certainly am not going to invite these people back on my boat.
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Old 24-08-2016, 15:54   #9
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Re: Charger tripping ELCI

I agree it sounds like a charger issue. I'm not sure but did you check if Mastervolt has any service centers around? at one point they did have a few places that would fix chargers.
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Old 24-08-2016, 16:56   #10
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Re: Charger tripping ELCI

Quote:
Originally Posted by Colin A View Post
I agree it sounds like a charger issue. I'm not sure but did you check if Mastervolt has any service centers around? at one point they did have a few places that would fix chargers.
Apparently, they used to have service centers in the US but have recently closed them.

Kind of makes you wonder where you send them now.

I ended up ordering a new charger. I was able to get a good, not great, price from an online vendor with reasonable shipping. It comes tomorrow, so I'll know for sure tomorrow if it is the charger or something else.
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Old 25-08-2016, 18:19   #11
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Re: Charger tripping ELCI

New charger is in and everything is hunky dory. Took about 15 minutes to do the swap. Still don't have a clear picture as to why it failed. The only explanation is that it took over a year to die after the lightning strike.
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Old 25-08-2016, 18:38   #12
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Re: Charger tripping ELCI

I suspect the insulation on one of the transformer windings started to break down due to the lightning strike. Once that happened it would have allowed leakage current to flow to ground and trip the ELCI.
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