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Old 13-11-2015, 12:26   #31
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Re: New Electrical System Questions

A 33' boat will find a single, centrally located, electrical distribution panel sufficient. Have ONE DC panel made to do the job, not multiples, except you can put the windlass breaker on its own panel. And AC and DC could be on separate panels, if you prefer. Bass Products makes the best panels I've ever installed. I get their backlit legends and "on" indicator LED's. They will pre-load the breaker positions to whatever values you choose, so you can group and alphabetize your loads. I usually group lights in 1 column, pumps and equipment in another, and electronics in another, alphabetized. Often I ask them to put panel lights on the top breaker position, so it's easy to find in the dark. Digital meters are most impressive and precisely read, but a bit more $.

On adding batteries, at least make sure the new ones are identical brand and model. Install fuses right at the batteries.
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Old 13-11-2015, 12:51   #32
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Re: New Electrical System Questions

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Originally Posted by exMaggieDrum View Post
So we'll just have to agree to disagree as I think several of your recommendations are controversial. To each his own. Thanks for taking the time to give yours though. You definitely have thought them out.

FWIW - most windlass installations I have seen have been connected to house banks, including my own. My new boat came that way. I have installed many that way. But I am sure connecting them to a start battery will work provided it is charged well, is a sufficient size, the motor is running when you winch, the battery cables are beefy, etc. A medium/large bank of deep cycle batteries will have no problem working a windlass just from surface charge. So either will work but sometimes start batteries are a bit undersized to start a cranky engine and work a windlass and both tend to be used at the same time so the battery starts out a bit low for one or the other. But if it is big enough, or up in the bow, no problem.
Sure I've thought it out. But I've also been advised by a very qualified marine electrician.

Another good reason is your winch motor can create voltage spikes which can damage sailing instruments which might also be on the house system.

Your start battery cannot flatten while the motor is running. That is assuming your start battery is in good condition as it should be.

It works fine for me and has never been a problem. I don't have a "problem" start battery. My diode is 135 amps and my alternator s 80 amps. No diode problems. The charge voltage is corrected for the diode.

Just because the house bank is often used for the winch doesn't mean it's the better way. I would like to know why you consider it the better way. Not just that it works.
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Old 13-11-2015, 12:58   #33
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Re: New Electrical System Questions

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Originally Posted by SV Miss Fe View Post
Frankly,
There's literally a switch labeled "emergency" and I'm afraid to try it until I trace the wire.
This is hilarious, please let us know what it does
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Old 13-11-2015, 13:03   #34
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Re: New Electrical System Questions

I think it's a good idea to run the windlass off the start battery. Some installations even have a solenoid controlled by engine oil pressure, so you cannot operate the windlass unless the engine is running (and charging).
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Old 13-11-2015, 14:31   #35
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Re: New Electrical System Questions

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Originally Posted by SV Miss Fe View Post
Frankly,
There's literally a switch labeled "emergency" and I'm afraid to try it until I trace the wire. I think it probably makes sense to run two panels though since 50 and 100 amps seem the norm and one of each should meet my needs.
It is most likely an "Emergency Parallel" switch. Probably a fairly heavy switch similar in size to your main battery isolation (on off) switches. It's purpose is to connect the house batteries to the start battery if the start battery packs a sad.

After using it for a possible emergency start it should be turned back to its its default "off" position until it might be needed again. Before you replace the battery, if that happens, check its battery connections and then get a battery company to check the battery before replacing it.

You can check what it is for by looking at a digital volt meter if you have one.
The house batteries and the start battery usually have slightly different voltages (when the motor is not running). If you deploy the emergency parallel for a check, the voltages will become the same. If you have solar panels however they will affect that reading so it is best to do it at night.

If you are able to trace the wiring, it should be similar to a starter cable in size. One side of the switch goes to the + VE of the house batteries and the cable on the other side goes to the +VE of the start battery.

So if you have 1 start and 2 house batteries for example, you can have all 3 starting the motor.

If it has been accidentally left in the "on" position all the batteries could run down together including the start.

On the other hand it could be a "Mission Impossible" switch to self destruct this message in 10 seconds.
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Old 13-11-2015, 16:05   #36
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Re: New Electrical System Questions

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Originally Posted by GrahamHO View Post
Rambling: There is no difference between - to much battery capacity for your charging capacity; or too little charging capacity for your battery capacity.
Only in the words you choose.

Sorry, this is still incorrect.

Your battery bank capacity is sized to your energy demand, not your charging system. Your charging system is sized to the target charge duration to replenish energy drawn, not your battery capacity.

Using the starting battery for your winch is correct (if you don't want a dedicated battery). A start battery is the correct type of battery for a winch. Your start battery is or should be always charged whereas the house bank can be low say in a morning when you want to depart.

This is not correct. While a starting can power a winch, it shouldn't. Starting batteries should be reserved for starting. Using the starting battery to operate an electric windlass of winch is wrong. You could kill the starting battery. You will certainly reduce your starting battery's life expectancy as it is intended for high current and short duration (100 A for 15 seconds). Your windlass can easily draw 100 A for several minutes.


You will not flatten your start battery by winching because you should run your engine while you winch.

So what happens if the alternator is not working?

I said nothing about pulling the boat forward on the winch.

Correct, I said that, because a lot of people do it, even though it is bad practice.

So what happens if the alternator is not working?

If your motor is running when you are winching you are getting maybe 14.5 volts instead of a nominal 12 volts at your winch. The winch will run better and faster. It is bad for a brush motor to run slowly.

[COLOR="red"]If your motor is running and your engine alternator is charging the house bank, the windlass will run as designed for a 12 Vdc (nominal) system, and will not be harmed in any way. [COLOR]

It can overheat or the commutator can get carbon-ed from the brushes.

Nope.

( I'm sure you are familiar with the back EMF effect in a shunt wound electric motor which results in less current drain as it runs faster)

Price of tea.....

If you use a VSR (voltage sensing relay) instead of a diode, and if you connect your anchor winch to your house bank, and run your engine while you winch ( as you should) you will eventually burn out the contacts in the VSR as the full 70 amps or whatever your winch requires will be going through the VSR.

Incorrect! The ACR is sized to the alternator. If the alternator puts out 100 A, and the ACR is rated for 130A, it will not hurt the ACR.

Likewise if you are using a VSR you must connect your winch to the start battery as then the VSR will not be passing the winch current through its contacts.

Incorrect! The ACR does not pass loads current, it passes the the charging current from the relay. If you are passing load current through a charging system ACR, your boat is wired incorrectly. Otherwise, no boat with an 2000W + inverter, could use an ACR. They all do, just fine.

Your regulator can be corrected for the around .5 voltage drop from a splitting diode. That is standard practice. Incorrect! It is not possible with an alternator with a fixed internal regulator. While it may be possible with an external regulator, few actually do it. Because it can be done, doesn't mean it should be. An ACR is a superior solution.

If you have a dedicated winch battery and if you install it up front, you still need heavy cables connecting it to the engine alternator system.

Incorrect! You can use a 15A echo charger with much lighter cable.

That is because the winching current will be mainly supplied by the alternator.

Incorrect! See above.

If you decide to use light cables to charge the winch battery they risk overheating if your boat motor is running.

Incorrect! The echo charge limits current to 15 A. See above.

If your boat motor is not running your dedicated winch battery might not be able to handle a 100' deep anchorage.

[COLOR="red"]Incorrect! Size the battery to the energy demand! Size the charging system to the target charge cycle duration. A 15 A echo charger is plenty for a dedicated windlass battery. If you run a 100 A draw windlass for 2 minutes, the echo charger replenishes in about 15 minutes./COLOR]

So if you want a dedicated winch battery you may as well simply have 2 start batteries near the motor. I just have one start battery myself, with an emergency parallel switch to connect to the house system.

Incorrect! A dedicated windlass battery is best located near the windlass to reduce the cost of the cabling an the voltage drop.
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Old 13-11-2015, 16:17   #37
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Re: New Electrical System Questions

Apparently boat electrics just became a world of absolutes...
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Old 13-11-2015, 17:09   #38
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Re: New Electrical System Questions

I just dug out my shop note book and found a test I ran a few years ago.

I suspect what gets lost in the translations is that a starter battery is intended for extremely short duration's, think impulse current. Once beyond that they peter out rather quickly and voltage decays quickly under long duration high amperage loads.. Keep in mind that cranking capacity tests last 30 seconds and goes all the way to 7.2V... If you drop to a voltage anywhere close to that when powering the windlass, or a winch this is not good.

While windlass loads are much, much lower than engine cranking loads the duration is far longer when using a windlass. It is the duration that is the game changer for starting batteries. Most good running engines I test will have the starter motor go from loaded to unloaded in under 2 seconds. My own engine is loaded to unloaded in 765mS or under one second. A high peak current for fractions of a seconds then a medium average current all while loaded to unloaded in about 0.77 seconds.

A few years ago I ran a test on two banks off a customers boat. He had a 650CCA start battery 1 season old and a 450Ah bank of GC2 golf cart batteries also 1 season old and bought at the same time. The house bank had approx 35-40 cycles on it and the start battery exceeded the CCA and MCA ratings on a Midtronics EXP-1000HD tester.. I charged both batteries to full, rested them for 24 hours, and then applied an 80A load to each bank, at a 75F battery temp, let them run to 10.5V and timed it.

-Starter battery lasted less than 9 minutes @ 80A before hitting 10.5V

-6V series parallel bank @ 80A was still going when I had to stop the test at 2:45 minutes.

I never did re-test the customers house bank to see how long it would go beyond 2:45 minutes, at 80A, but that duration is nothing to shake a stick at. The reason I did this test was because the PO installed a Balmar Duo Charge and pulled the windlass off the starter battery and the owner was struggling with issues. Long and short the Duo charge was left in place and the windlass moved over to house bank. He's not had a single issue since, and his voltage remains higher at the windlass motor, for longer, even when weighing anchor at 50% DOD...

Deep cycle house banks are usually very large, often quadruple or more the size of the starter battery, and as such they deal with 75A - 100A +/- windlass and winch loads with ease.
If you think deep cycle batteries can't power a windlass, or are the wrong battery for it, I would suggest considering re-thinking this because it is not a necessarily accurate assumption.
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Old 13-11-2015, 17:15   #39
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Re: New Electrical System Questions

MS--you can get around this with proper battery selection.
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Old 13-11-2015, 17:54   #40
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Re: New Electrical System Questions

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Originally Posted by Terra Nova View Post
MS--you can get around this with proper battery selection.
I did, I selected the right bank for his windlass.. It was also the most cost effective fix for the owner..
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Old 13-11-2015, 18:15   #41
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Re: New Electrical System Questions

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Originally Posted by ramblinrod View Post
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Rambling: What say your alternator is not working and your anchor is snagged at the same time as a Tsunami is bearing down on you and it's blowing 40 knots? Get real
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Old 13-11-2015, 20:50   #42
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Re: New Electrical System Questions

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Originally Posted by GrahamHO View Post
Rambling: What say your alternator is not working and your anchor is snagged at the same time as a Tsunami is bearing down on you and it's blowing 40 knots? Get real
Hmmm, I'm not the one who stated when they wake up in the morning, the house bank could be low.

Nor am I the one who stated one should use the starter battery to power a windlass in a 100 ft deep anchorage.

This is the scenario you have set.

So here's my addition, the alternator fails. (Search on "failed alternator", it happens, heck all one has to do is rotate the battery switch to "off" on 90% of boats that have a battery switch, and nobody bothered to connect the alternator field.).

Shut off that engine, and you're not starting it again, starter battery dead and house bank dead. (If your house bank can't power a windlass, it sure ain't gonna turn that engine over.)

This is why you should not run loads other than your starter off of your starter battery. What is the point of having an isolated starting battery, if you are not really going to isolate it, and will run house loads (like a windlass) off of it. Why not just add another house battery?

There are no absolutes in marine electrical wiring. There are practices, good practices, and poor practices; standards, standard compliance, and non-compliance.

There is no standard that states one cannot run other loads off a start battery. Heck, some boats only have one battery to do everything.

But good practice dictates that if a boat has a dedicated starting battery, one not wire the boat such that the operator can kill the start battery with other loads (like a windlass). In practice, I have wired these to a starter battery, at the request of a customer, after warning that it is better practice to run it off the house bank and why. None-the-less, they wanted to save a few dollars in cable. Their boat, their money. I simply wouldn't suggest this is the correct or best way to do it, and the reason I spoke up here.

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Old 13-11-2015, 20:55   #43
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Re: New Electrical System Questions

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Originally Posted by GrahamHO View Post

Using the starting battery for your winch is correct (if you don't want a dedicated battery). A start battery is the correct type of battery for a winch. Your start battery is or should be always charged whereas the house bank can be low say in a morning when you want to depart.

You will not flatten your start battery by winching because you should run your engine while you winch.

If your motor is running when you are winching you are getting maybe 14.5 volts instead of a nominal 12 volts at your winch. The winch will run better and faster. It is bad for a brush motor to run slowly. It can overheat or the commutator can get carbon-ed from the brushes. ( I'm sure you are familiar with the back EMF effect in a shunt wound electric motor which results in less current drain as it runs faster)

If you use a VSR (voltage sensing relay) instead of a diode, and if you connect your anchor winch to your house bank, and run your engine while you winch ( as you should) you will eventually burn out the contacts in the VSR as the full 70 amps or whatever your winch requires will be going through the VSR.

Likewise if you are using a VSR you must connect your winch to the start battery as then the VSR will not be passing the winch current through its contacts.
I would keep the start battery dedicated to just that - engine starting only. All other loads should come from the house bank. You state that start batteries are the correct type for a windlass. Keep in mind a larger house bank (such as the op has) has more cranking amps than a single start battery.

Yes you should run the engine when using the windlass.

There is no issue with burning out contacts in a VSR (ACR in the US) as all charge sources should go to the battery bank most in need - the house bank. It makes no sense to design a system where all the current the house bank needs has to travel through the start battery first.
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Old 13-11-2015, 21:09   #44
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Re: New Electrical System Questions

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Originally Posted by Maine Sail View Post
I just dug out my shop note book and found a test I ran a few years ago.

I suspect what gets lost in the translations is that a starter battery is intended for extremely short duration's, think impulse current. Once beyond that they peter out rather quickly and voltage decays quickly under long duration high amperage loads.. Keep in mind that cranking capacity tests last 30 seconds and goes all the way to 7.2V... If you drop to a voltage anywhere close to that when powering the windlass, or a winch this is not good.

While windlass loads are much, much lower than engine cranking loads the duration is far longer when using a windlass. It is the duration that is the game changer for starting batteries. Most good running engines I test will have the starter motor go from loaded to unloaded in under 2 seconds. My own engine is loaded to unloaded in 765mS or under one second. A high peak current for fractions of a seconds then a medium average current all while loaded to unloaded in about 0.77 seconds.

A few years ago I ran a test on two banks off a customers boat. He had a 650CCA start battery 1 season old and a 450Ah bank of GC2 golf cart batteries also 1 season old and bought at the same time. The house bank had approx 35-40 cycles on it and the start battery exceeded the CCA and MCA ratings on a Midtronics EXP-1000HD tester.. I charged both batteries to full, rested them for 24 hours, and then applied an 80A load to each bank, at a 75F battery temp, let them run to 10.5V and timed it.

-Starter battery lasted less than 9 minutes @ 80A before hitting 10.5V

-6V series parallel bank @ 80A was still going when I had to stop the test at 2:45 minutes.

I never did re-test the customers house bank to see how long it would go beyond 2:45 minutes, at 80A, but that duration is nothing to shake a stick at. The reason I did this test was because the PO installed a Balmar Duo Charge and pulled the windlass off the starter battery and the owner was struggling with issues. Long and short the Duo charge was left in place and the windlass moved over to house bank. He's not had a single issue since, and his voltage remains higher at the windlass motor, for longer, even when weighing anchor at 50% DOD...

Deep cycle house banks are usually very large, often quadruple or more the size of the starter battery, and as such they deal with 75A - 100A +/- windlass and winch loads with ease.
If you think deep cycle batteries can't power a windlass, or are the wrong battery for it, I would suggest considering re-thinking this because it is not a necessarily accurate assumption.
Interesting tests. I am though suggesting; and what I have done for a longtime; running the boat engine at the same time as winching. Then the alternator is supplying the current and you could likely remove the battery from the equation altogether but I'm not suggesting doing that.

I typically run the engine at 1900 rpm; in neutral naturally. If I need to motor forward of course it's running slower but then the winch / windlass isn't doing much. Then of course, take up the slack with the motor back in neutral.

I'm on my second start battery with this arrangement. It's been going well for 3 years so far, and the previous start battery lasted only 11 years.
I haven't measured the speed of engine start. I can only describe it as a millisecond. I'm using 1 Optima Blue Top AGM start battery and 2 Optima yellow top AGM batteries for house. The yellow top have been going well for 14 years so far.

I'm using an Ample Power, Next Step regulator and Hitachi 80 amp alternator both installed at the same time as the Optima batteries.

I don't winch without running the engine. In the unlikely event of the alternator or the engine not working I figure I would know about that in advance and not anchor in 100'. I would simply get a little more exercise.

When was the last time your car alternator or motor failed?

You might want to run those battery tests again with an alternator running on a start battery. I can tell you now that the voltage will stay at 14.5 v during winching and still be around 12.5 v after the engine is stopped.

When an engine is started of course your tests are relevant because the alternator is obviously not generating, and that is what happens with a hard to start engine when you keep cranking.

My alternator charge cuts in controlled by the Next Step; about 10 seconds after engine start to reduce the initial starting load.
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Old 13-11-2015, 21:31   #45
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Re: New Electrical System Questions

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Hmmm, I'm not the one who stated when they wake up in the morning, the house bank could be low.

Nor am I the one who stated one should use the starter battery to power a windlass in a 100 ft deep anchorage.

This is the scenario you have set.

So here's my addition, the alternator fails. (Search on "failed alternator", it happens, heck all one has to do is rotate the battery switch to "off" on 90% of boats that have a battery switch, and nobody bothered to connect the alternator field.).

Shut off that engine, and you're not starting it again, starter battery dead and house bank dead. (If your house bank can't power a windlass, it sure ain't gonna turn that engine over.)

This is why you should not run loads other than your starter off of your starter battery. What is the point of having an isolated starting battery, if you are not really going to isolate it, and will run house loads (like a windlass) off of it. Why not just add another house battery?

There are no absolutes in marine electrical wiring. There are practices, good practices, and poor practices; standards, standard compliance, and non-compliance.

There is no standard that states one cannot run other loads off a start battery. Heck, some boats only have one battery to do everything.

But good practice dictates that if a boat has a dedicated starting battery, one not wire the boat such that the operator can kill the start battery with other loads (like a windlass). In practice, I have wired these to a starter battery, at the request of a customer, after warning that it is better practice to run it off the house bank and why. None-the-less, they wanted to save a few dollars in cable. Their boat, their money. I simply wouldn't suggest this is the correct or best way to do it, and the reason I spoke up here.

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Well I've never had all those problems you suggest. A house bank of batteries is usually lower in remaining capacity after being at anchor a day or overnight. The start battery will still be fully charged.
Obviously you are an expert. I'm not claiming that but I have discussed this with marine electrical experts.
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