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Old 30-06-2013, 14:03   #1
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Location: Victoria BC Canada
Boat: Erickson 32'
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Cooked battery

That was close, nearly burned the boat down last night!

I installed a Sterling 50 amp charger yesterday. I set it to "Gel Cell" charge profile for our main house battery, a 210 amp 8D Gel Cell. I stayed and worked on the boat for a few hours to make sure things were running smoothly.

All seemed fine and cool. The charger output got lower and lower till it hit just 1 amp, it seemed like a trickle charge, so I left. This morning when I returned, the there was a strong Hydrogen sulphide smell and the paint on the outside of the battery cabinet had gotten hot enough to discolour.

The starter battery, a lead acid wet cel was cooked and melted. I believe I was thinking too much about the big house Gel battery and not considering the charge profile for the lead acid starter bat. I'm hoping if I replace the starter bat with a Gel Cell all should work fine.

Here's some questions...
I've read that the max charger size is up to 25% of the battery amperage. At 210 amps, that's intentionally on the high side (23%) for the house battery, because we want to charge from a generator as quickly a possible, when we're off shore. But is it too much charger for a lower amperage starter battery?

If I get a new starter Gel Cell for a compatible charge profile, is there a problem mixing it with an older gel house battery?

Do I need to purchase a Gel Cell from the same manufacturer and the existing Gel house battery. IE: Does the manufacturer make a difference?

My boat partner has much less confidence in my wiring abilities now, I would prefer not to repeat this event
Any input would be helpful.... Thanks
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Old 30-06-2013, 14:13   #2
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Re: Cooked battery

I don't understand how the charger set to gel would cook your lead acid. as gel voltage is lower. if anything it would undercharge it.

50a charger is fine. 25% is acid. AGM is 40%. not sure what gel is. but probably higher then acid. plus it's charging more then one battery. so it's actually lower then 23%

do you have alternator regulators then you can set to gel as well? or internal regulators? gels are a pain.

how are all the batteries getting charged from engine? ACR? diode block?
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Old 30-06-2013, 14:55   #3
Guy
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Re: Cooked battery

It's possible the good battery fried the old battery with help from the charger during the frying of the old battery. Finished cooking and shut back down to trickle charge.
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Old 30-06-2013, 15:16   #4
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Re: Cooked battery

1. The Sterling 50 is an excellent charger. It is not too big for your battery.

2. You can't really have a charger which is "too big". So long as the correct charging voltages are supplied by the charger, the batteries themselves will determine how much amperage they'll take at any stage of charging.

3. I'd bet that you have a battery combiner of some sort, and that the start battery was defective to begin with. The previous poster is correct: Gel cell charging voltages are LESS THAN those for flooded and AGM batteries.

4. Gels are NOT a pain. They are an excellent choice for many boaters, better than AGMs by far so long as they are charged with the correct voltages at each stage.

Don't know how your charging scheme is set up, but the preferred method is to:

1. route ALL charging sources to the house battery bank (battery charger, alternator, generator, solar panels, wind generator, etc.);

2. use a voltage follower device like the EchoCharge or DuoCharge to maintain the start battery....automatically...no switching. ACR's and such battery combiners are generally OK, too, but I much prefer the VF devices which do not "combine" the batteries and provide charging in only ONE direction...from the house batteries to the start battery. The DuoCharge is programmable; the EchoCharge is not.

If you use an EchoCharge or DuoCharge device, there's no problem in putting in a new Gel start battery.

Be sure your new Sterling is set up for Gelled batteries; also, the regulator on your alternator and any other charging device.

Bill
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Old 30-06-2013, 19:37   #5
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Re: Cooked battery

Quote:
Originally Posted by btrayfors View Post
1. The Sterling 50 is an excellent charger. It is not too big for your battery.

2. You can't really have a charger which is "too big". So long as the correct charging voltages are supplied by the charger, the batteries themselves will determine how much amperage they'll take at any stage of charging.

3. I'd bet that you have a battery combiner of some sort, and that the start battery was defective to begin with. The previous poster is correct: Gel cell charging voltages are LESS THAN those for flooded and AGM batteries.

4. Gels are NOT a pain. They are an excellent choice for many boaters, better than AGMs by far so long as they are charged with the correct voltages at each stage.

Don't know how your charging scheme is set up, but the preferred method is to:

1. route ALL charging sources to the house battery bank (battery charger, alternator, generator, solar panels, wind generator, etc.);

2. use a voltage follower device like the EchoCharge or DuoCharge to maintain the start battery....automatically...no switching. ACR's and such battery combiners are generally OK, too, but I much prefer the VF devices which do not "combine" the batteries and provide charging in only ONE direction...from the house batteries to the start battery. The DuoCharge is programmable; the EchoCharge is not.

If you use an EchoCharge or DuoCharge device, there's no problem in putting in a new Gel start battery.

Be sure your new Sterling is set up for Gelled batteries; also, the regulator on your alternator and any other charging device.

Bill
Hi Bill, thanks for the input. Thanks to all for the other input as well. I've looked into the DuoCharge, based on your message and it looks good. We also
have solar and I'm just looking into a new alternator, one of our last upgrades for our off-shore prep. Thanks for pointing out that any new alternator and regulator, needs to be set for Gel charge profile.

I had set up the new charger to charge the starter battery, as a second bank, the Sterling has 3, as I'm sure you know... I have a feeling that the starter battery we cooked, was also defective. It was giving us trouble for a while.

Oh dear, another thing to buy! We're running out of money!

Again... thanks!
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Old 01-07-2013, 05:06   #6
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Re: Cooked battery

I suspect that your starting battery had a bad cell(s) and was cooked. I also suspect that your charger was cycling back and forth from float to absorption and you happened to look at it in float mode so it was only showing 1 amp. Ten minutes later it was probably showing much higher.

David
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Old 01-07-2013, 05:37   #7
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Re: Cooked battery

Quote:
Originally Posted by artist View Post
Hi Bill, thanks for the input. Thanks to all for the other input as well. I've looked into the DuoCharge, based on your message and it looks good. We also
have solar and I'm just looking into a new alternator, one of our last upgrades for our off-shore prep. Thanks for pointing out that any new alternator and regulator, needs to be set for Gel charge profile.

I had set up the new charger to charge the starter battery, as a second bank, the Sterling has 3, as I'm sure you know... I have a feeling that the starter battery we cooked, was also defective. It was giving us trouble for a while.

Oh dear, another thing to buy! We're running out of money!

Again... thanks!
I hear you and feel your pain :-)

If you're going to go with the DuoCharge solution to maintaining the start battery, I'd wire the Sterling 50 to maintain just one battery bank -- the house batteries -- and let the DuoCharge do it's thing. That way, you'll be set up OK for whichever charging source is used: alternator, battery charger, solar panels, etc.

Here's a Sterling Pro60 I set up for single-bank charging, using a flat copper plate to bridge the unused positive terminals.

Click image for larger version

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I've had good success with the PowerMax alternators from Ferris, as well as the Balmars. And, the Balmar MC-612 or MC614 are excellent regulators which can be set for gelled batteries and which have lots of programming options. You can also fit them with temp sensors on the house and start batteries.

Good luck,

Bill
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Old 02-07-2013, 08:45   #8
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Re: Cooked battery

Quote:
Originally Posted by btrayfors View Post
1.

1. route ALL charging sources to the house battery bank (battery charger, alternator, generator, solar panels, wind generator, etc.);

2. use a voltage follower device like the EchoCharge or DuoCharge to maintain the start battery....automatically...no switching. ACR's and such battery combiners are generally OK, too, but I much prefer the VF devices which do not "combine" the batteries and provide charging in only ONE direction...from the house batteries to the start battery. The DuoCharge is programmable; the EchoCharge is not.

If you use an EchoCharge or DuoCharge device, there's no problem in putting in a new Gel start battery.

Be sure your new Sterling is set up for Gelled batteries; also, the regulator on your alternator and any other charging device.

Bill

No Xantrex lover here........however I have their 50 amp charger on my boat which so far works properly. It offers three different battery charging connections that are independent of each other. And each battery type can be different.
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