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Old 10-02-2007, 12:13   #1
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Generator, Shorepower, & Battery Charger

Hello All:

I'm all set to go up to Sydney, BC and install my new generator (Next Gen 3.5 KVA) and three Iota 55 amp battery chargers. I have four 6v batteries and a seperate starter battery. Instead of using a high amperage alternator I decided to add the generator and use that as my primary means of charging the batteries. In general my thought was that it would consume less fuel and put less hours on the main engine.

My questions are as follows:

What is the best way to isolate the AC power so that only one source of power is able to be used at a time (i.e. either the generator or shorepower is supplying AC but not both at one time.)

Is it better to run the chargers in parallel or use one charger for each bank. Currently they are wired so that there is an A & B bank but I use them on Both all the time so I effectively have one large bank. (I'm thinking of installing another two batteries but am going to wait for awhile to do that.)

Any reponses would be appreciated.
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Old 10-02-2007, 12:34   #2
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Using the two Iota chargers

Here is truly a case where being able to split your house bank in half with a battery selector switch is of great use. Wire one Iota charger each to half of the bank, separate the bank with your selector switch and run the generator to charge them separately. This way each charger will have the best opportunity to deliver rated current.

If you switch the battery selector switch to "both" one of the chargers will eventually run at its maximum output current while the other will put out little to nothing. You can verify this with an ammeter on each charger output, if you have the wherewithall to do so. The problem with attempting to parallel two charge sources that are not controlled as a master-slave (or some other electronic means of control) is that the individual regulators cannot be made to match and track so that each charger contributes half of the current.

Buy and install either a dual breaker with mechanical lock-out (double pole for each breaker so that hot and neutral are both switched) or an individual rotary selector switch to switch the ship's ac bus between shore and generator sources. This will give you a fool-proof method to prevent inadvertent damage to the generator or wiring.
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Old 10-02-2007, 12:48   #3
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Thanks Rick:

I had thought about the switch but really like the two pull breaker idea. I understand what you are saying about the chargers not working in parallel but is there a way to have both chargers working, on seperate banks, at once? This would work much better b/c it would cut the amount of generator time in half.
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Old 10-02-2007, 13:17   #4
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Yes

I guess that it wasn't clear but, yes, the whole idea is that both chargers work at the same time on the separated banks. Keep in mind that even with the battery selector switch in "both" the chargers can still be operated at the same time with their outputs essentially in parallel, you just have an overall reduced number of Amp-hours delivered compared to operating with the two chargers separated due to that phenomenon of the regulation control that I mentioned before.
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Old 10-02-2007, 14:25   #5
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I vaguely remember talking with Charlie (I think) about this before. The problem he has (as I see it) is that he has *three* Iotas and 2 battery banks. Ideally, it would have been better to get the 2 Iota 90 amp chargers, so one could charge each bank (isolated, as Rick says).

Charlie: How do you plan to split the 165 amps up into two banks, given there are 3 outputs?

Can you clarify? Or do I have this wrong... is one of them dedicated just to the starting battery?

In any case, I have the identical setup, right down the the tiny alternator on the engine. I'd be happy to share any info.
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Old 10-02-2007, 16:05   #6
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Thanks Rick:
I appreciate the info. As I'm seeing it one charger would be hooked to bank A and another hooked up to bank B. Seems like the 3rd will not work.

Sulli:
If you have a schematic of your layout I would love to see it. Your memory is correct.
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Old 10-02-2007, 17:37   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick
If you switch the battery selector switch to "both" one of the chargers will eventually run at its maximum output current while the other will put out little to nothing. You can verify this with an ammeter on each charger output, if you have the wherewithall to do so. The problem with attempting to parallel two charge sources that are not controlled as a master-slave (or some other electronic means of control) is that the individual regulators cannot be made to match and track so that each charger contributes half of the current.
I have two 75 amp Iota chargers that were designed to work in parallel. There is a third device that is a charge controller, but it is just a small box about 2 inches / 4 cm on a side. It gives the full 150 amps when the battery can take it, and tapers off just like you would expect from a single charger. When the charge current drops below 75 amps, one of the two works harder than the other, but I don't see that as a problem.

This works because Iota designed the system to work that way. It has the electronic control system that Rick mentions. Iota or their dealer should be able to give you details.

I wouldn't want the hassle of trying to treat the battery as two banks sometimes and one bank at other times, so I'm pretty happy with the Iota chargers.

Quote:
Buy and install either a dual breaker with mechanical lock-out (double pole for each breaker so that hot and neutral are both switched) or an individual rotary selector switch to switch the ship's ac bus between shore and generator sources. This will give you a fool-proof method to prevent inadvertent damage to the generator or wiring.
In the US, the generator manufacturers use the term "transfer switch" to describe this switch. I've never met a generator dealer who didn't try to sell me a transfer switch along with the generator. You have to have it, and it is expensive, so how can they pass that up?
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Old 10-02-2007, 17:52   #8
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Coot Thanks for the inside info:
I might have made a mistake on getting three of the 55 amp Iota's b/c they draw too much amperage from the generator.

The chargers I bought have the extra piece I think it is called IQ or something like that. The transfer switch was not offered to me. I think I'll figure out how to do it with a manual switch. I have a generator at my house and we have a transfer switch that allows only one source of power but then we can only use certain breakers.
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Old 10-02-2007, 18:32   #9
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I have Blue Sea breakers and they supply a lockout slider that allows you to switch from generator to shore power. Fits right into the breaker panel.
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Old 11-02-2007, 05:28   #10
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Circuit Breaker Lockout Slide
Blue Sea #4130 or 4131

• Allows only 1 of a pair of double pole or triple pole AC circuit breakers to be activated at a time
• Guarantees that AC power from 2 sources (power company and genset or inverter) will not be mixed
Goto: C-Series AC Circuit Breaker Lockout Slide
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Old 11-02-2007, 09:50   #11
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Strygaldwir and Gord:

Thanks. That is exactly what I was looking for. Should make my job easier. Not to mention safer.
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Old 11-02-2007, 10:47   #12
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You should have a source selector. Feed the AC side with the generator just like you do when at the dock on the yellow snake. The rest stays the same.

AC Source Selectors
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Old 11-02-2007, 11:02   #13
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Charlie, I'm sorry. I don't have a graphic of my setup to upload...
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Old 23-02-2007, 14:03   #14
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If you ever get to So. Cal., I saw several of these selector switches at Minneys Yacht Surplus (Newport Beach), these were rotary switches and some even had three positions: shore, genset, and inverter.
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Old 23-02-2007, 20:23   #15
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Thanks Thermal:

Unfortunately I don't have time to get to So Cal.
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Between us there was, as I have already said somewhere, the bond of the sea. Besides holding our hearts together through long periods of separation, it had the effect of making us tolerant of each other's yarns -- and even convictions. Heart of Darkness
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