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Old 15-05-2016, 20:41   #1
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How to keep lights isolated

When the water pump, bilge, windlass or anything else kicks in on the boat, cabin lights flicker for a moment. Is there a way (perhaps by isolating the lights somehow) to eliminate this problem?


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Old 15-05-2016, 20:49   #2
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Re: How to keep lights isolated

good question......I will follow
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Old 15-05-2016, 21:22   #3
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Re: How to keep lights isolated

Motor starting surge drawing voltage down. The starting surge can be many times the current demand of steady operation.

Without going into detail on the how/why you see the lights dim:

The cure is a larger battery bank and heavier wires... or isolating the lights to their own battery bank, not used by the pumps or windlasses.
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Old 15-05-2016, 23:10   #4
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Re: How to keep lights isolated

a windlass maybe but there is no way a bilge should do this... your batteries or wiring is probably junk.
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Old 16-05-2016, 08:16   #5
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Re: How to keep lights isolated

I wonder if there is a way to wire in a capacitor to that side of the wiring system so the cabin lights won't flicker. Like they do on home A/C systems.
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Old 16-05-2016, 08:55   #6
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Re: How to keep lights isolated

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Originally Posted by smac999 View Post
a windlass maybe but there is no way a bilge should do this... your batteries or wiring is probably junk.
+1 on that! The windlass could well draw fifty times as much current as current as the bilge pump.
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Old 16-05-2016, 09:26   #7
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Re: How to keep lights isolated

depends on how big the pump is...

And how small the battery bank is.
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Old 16-05-2016, 09:29   #8
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Re: How to keep lights isolated

Get larger or more batteries. Evidently you are drawing more power than can be delivered without browning out stuff. Not good.
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Old 16-05-2016, 09:33   #9
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Re: How to keep lights isolated

Quote:
Originally Posted by hd002e View Post
When the water pump, bilge, windlass or anything else kicks in on the boat, cabin lights flicker for a moment. Is there a way (perhaps by isolating the lights somehow) to eliminate this problem?


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Sounds like you dont have your circuits logically seperated.

Are you running Leds? If so I'd avoid dimmers as they are electrically noisy.

Also many domestic 110V AC appliances are electrically noisy.

Have you isolated what other circuit or appliance is causing this problem.

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Old 16-05-2016, 09:38   #10
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Re: How to keep lights isolated

Since there are many devices you mention that seem to cause lights flickering, I suspect mainly a bad connection from the batteries to the main distribution panel, or poor connections in the lighting circuits. You should compare battery voltage to distribution panel voltage and light socket voltage under different load conditions (with none and lots of equipment turned on).

If you are talking about fluorescent lights, they are very sensitive to low voltage and will either flicker or just not turn on at all, if not supplied with proper voltage.

Always use the same voltmeter when doing this type of comparative investigation as I have found some of the cheap DVM's absolute accuracy to be way out of calibration as purchased.
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Old 16-05-2016, 09:41   #11
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Re: How to keep lights isolated

I would say your batteries are weak or you just don't have sufficient capacity. Another thought is, undersized wiring or corrode or damaged connections.

If you've had this problem since the boat was new, it could be any of the above. If it's a new problem, it's not undersized wire or battery capacity but it could be any of the other things I mentioned.


Attempting to isolate the lights is just masking the problem, not fixing it.
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Old 16-05-2016, 10:21   #12
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Re: How to keep lights isolated

I agree with the bigger batteries and LED's. With the original batteries and incandescent lights on our RV, the lights would dim when the water pump kicked in. This was especially noticeable as the batteries wore down. I went to 6 volt, deep cycle batteries wired in series and all LED lights. I no longer see any dimming when the pump runs.
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Old 16-05-2016, 12:05   #13
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Re: How to keep lights isolated

hd002e,
In addition to agreeing with many of the others here that there is NO reason that your lights should flicker or dim, when the bilge pump, fresh water pump, etc. is used...

Assuming that you've checked all the wiring / battery / breaker panel connections, to ensure that they are all clean and tight....
And, while weak or under-sized batteries could be the cause, I suspect that it might be both the wiring, and your breaker panel at fault...
Quote:
Originally Posted by hd002e View Post
When the water pump, bilge, windlass or anything else kicks in on the boat, cabin lights flicker for a moment. Is there a way (perhaps by isolating the lights somehow) to eliminate this problem?
By happenstance just a few minutes ago, I answered a query about autopilot problems on a Bene 473, where is appears that the autopilot is wired thru a solenoid controlled by the panel breaker, rather than from the breaker panel itself....
Nobody knows for sure, but it appears that this is because the panel (and it wiring) are inadequate to power even this
medium current device...(and another Bene 473 owner also comment on how "repeated low voltage events would dump the memory" of the autopilot)...
Raymarine SPX-30 Power Source


So, with those tidbits of info....and your description of light flickering, my first thoughts are:
a) Poor breaker panel feed wiring
b) Inadequate breaker panel
c) Poorly designed wiring overall

But, then again....it could just be old / tired / weak batteries...

You're going to have to do some more looking, AND measure the voltages at many different points, both at rest and when these other systems power on and the lights flicker/dim...



{BTW, if it is just a momentary flicker....it could be just some inferior LED regulators (found in a LOT of inexpensive, made-in-China LED fixtures these days)....as leftbrainstuff and waterman46 pointed out, it could be your lights!!}


I hope this helps...

Fair winds..

John
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Old 16-05-2016, 16:22   #14
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Re: How to keep lights isolated

You are seeing a high draw. I dimming lights may be telling you something. You just don't have the capacity for all the other things coming on at one time. I can see a windless not a bilge pump. You may want to look at the wiring.
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Old 16-05-2016, 17:01   #15
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Re: How to keep lights isolated

My macerator toilet is my culprit! Doesn;t worry but but I've often wondered if, for some reason, it's drawing so much current. Must look up it's specs.
It is quite common for lead/acid batteries to drop SOME voltage under use. LiFePO4 much less (or nil) drop.
Often see sparkies tell someone to test voltage after X hours resting after charging or usage when deciding if the batteries are failing.
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