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Old 14-11-2015, 01:05   #46
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Re: New Electrical System Questions

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Originally Posted by GrahamHO View Post
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.
All those problems? What "all"? An alternator failure is just one problem, and its a fairly common one.

But an alternator failure will lead to another failure quickly if the windlass is connected to the starter battery. The starter battery will be dead!

We are certainly in agreement that the engine should be running, so the alternator is charging, when the windlass (or any high current load, such as a bow thruster, stern thruster or even inverter) is in use.

So use the alternator to charge the house bank, that these high current loads are connected to. Save the starting battery for starting only.

The goal should be to do everything possible to preserve the start battery, so that no matter what, even operator error (like not starting the engine while using high current loads, or starting the engine and switching the battery switch through off and killing the alternator), the starter battery has juice to start the engine.
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Old 14-11-2015, 02:20   #47
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Re: New Electrical System Questions

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Originally Posted by ramblinrod View Post
All those problems? What "all"? An alternator failure is just one problem, and its a fairly common one.

But an alternator failure will lead to another failure quickly if the windlass is connected to the starter battery. The starter battery will be dead!

We are certainly in agreement that the engine should be running, so the alternator is charging, when the windlass (or any high current load, such as a bow thruster, stern thruster or even inverter) is in use.

So use the alternator to charge the house bank, that these high current loads are connected to. Save the starting battery for starting only.

The goal should be to do everything possible to preserve the start battery, so that no matter what, even operator error (like not starting the engine while using high current loads, or starting the engine and switching the battery switch through off and killing the alternator), the starter battery has juice to start the engine.
More correctly: I don't have ANY of "all those problems". I don't "commonly"have alternator problems. If the starter battery suddenly goes "dead" I have got an emergency parallel switch which will start the engine off the house bank. I've never needed to use it. If they all go dead, I've got sails. If there is no wind and the alternator "commonly" doesn't work. I'll wait for the sun to charge my batteries.

If everything fails, I'll pull up the anchor by hand and sail home and use the dinghy to berth the boat. And I did that when an earlier single cylinder motor broke a mount. Except I sailed into the marina berth ( at Tutukaka )

I believe that those who wire the house batteries to the winch do so because they know that there are some people who don't understand the need to run their engines when winching. There may even be some who switch off their batteries and blow their alternators when the engine is running. But there are also people who run their boats on the rocks.

Can you please tell me when you last had an alternator problem yourself either in your boat or car? And what was the reason for that failure?
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Old 14-11-2015, 07:52   #48
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Re: New Electrical System Questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by GrahamHO View Post
More correctly: I don't have ANY of "all those problems". I don't "commonly"have alternator problems. If the starter battery suddenly goes "dead" I have got an emergency parallel switch which will start the engine off the house bank.

So if you kill the starter battery, you will power the windlass with the house bank; why not just connect the windlass to the house bank in the first place, so you don't kill the starter battery with it?

I've never needed to use it. If they all go dead, I've got sails. If there is no wind and the alternator "commonly" doesn't work. I'll wait for the sun to charge my batteries.

Why risk having to go to all this bother, when all you had to do was connect your windlass to the house bank?

If everything fails, I'll pull up the anchor by hand and sail home and use the dinghy to berth the boat. And I did that when an earlier single cylinder motor broke a mount. Except I sailed into the marina berth ( at Tutukaka )

I believe that those who wire the house batteries to the winch do so because they know that there are some people who don't understand the need to run their engines when winching.

Yup, that is exactly what I said. Again, and you don't seem to understand, you can run the engine just as easily if your windlass is connected to the house bank, so why risk killing your starter battery, when all you had to do was connect the windlass to the house bank?

There may even be some who switch off their batteries and blow their alternators when the engine is running. But there are also people who run their boats on the rocks.

Yup, as well as those who kill their starter batteries by needlessly powering their windlasses and other loads off them.

Can you please tell me when you last had an alternator problem yourself either in your boat or car? And what was the reason for that failure?
I have never personally had an alternator failure on my boat, I've replaced two on vehicles over the years. I typically replace at least one per year on customer boats, because of failure of one form or another, bearings, blown regulator, etc. I also replace deteriorated alternator belts on about 5 more per year, that would most likely have caused a failure, had I not.

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Old 14-11-2015, 09:37   #49
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Re: New Electrical System Questions

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Originally Posted by ramblinrod View Post
I have never personally had an alternator failure on my boat, I've replaced two on vehicles over the years. I typically replace at least one per year on customer boats, because of failure of one form or another, bearings, blown regulator, etc. I also replace deteriorated alternator belts on about 5 more per year, that would most likely have caused a failure, had I not.

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This is my recent recollection and I may have even missed one or two..

*4 alternators this year for blow diodes (2 switching related and two of them only partially blown with 1/3 output)
*2 alternators that were completely melted due to demand (both on AGM banks)
*1 alternator for a toasted front bearing
*1 for an intermittent regulator (Hitachi)
*1 because the foot hole elongated & chewed up belts in 20 minutes and made alignment impossible
*1 alternator (Chinese knock off) where the stator got so hot it unsoldered itself...

My numbers on alt abuse may be higher because the vast majority of my customers reside on moorings so the alts get a good work out. My alt issues with dock sailors is less, but still happens.

While I agree 100% that one should ideally run the motor when using the windlass, I have many customers who prefer to sail in, and sail out. "It's a sail boat." they will say to me...

When wired to the house bank sail in/sail out is easy to do. If you practice good bank management then, even at 50% SOC, this should not even break a sweat for a house bank.

What about the customers with electric winches? I have many older customers who have upgraded to electric winches, no different really than a windlass motor... The only reasonable bank for electric winches is the house bank.... I can't imagine instructing my customers to motor sail if they want to use their electric winches.... That would go over like a fart in Church...
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Old 14-11-2015, 10:01   #50
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Re: New Electrical System Questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by GrahamHO View Post

Can you please tell me when you last had an alternator problem yourself either in your boat or car? And what was the reason for that failure?
Sure.

Newly rebuilt 100A alternator. On a cruise. The engine overheated due to some grass in the strainer, sailed to the next spot to drop anchor. Fixed the clog, started the engine, noticed sparks from the back of the alternator. The essentially brand new isolator between the positive post and the case of the alternator had come loose. I disconnected the regulator and the AO and motored home.

Car: four years, battery died, got towed into a dealership (for free under my warranty) and got a new battery. Wasn't an alternator issue though, as far as I can tell a year or two later.

But cars are a rotten, lousy and useless comparison. The loads on a car alternator for starting are just as small and instantaneous as Maine Sail describes for boats. For running car alternators have essentially no load, it's tiny, even with all the lights & the stereo running, compared with a boat.

The ISSUE is the type of battery. Windlass loads are large, but they are far from instantaneous.

The house bank should be used for windlass connections.

If not, it's simply your boat, your choice.

But for those asking, please know that some people don't and explain their reasons, but Maine Sail's make the most sense to me. Plus his example of his client who had problems with using his start but the problems went away when he went to the house bank is certainly a real world example.
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Old 14-11-2015, 10:27   #51
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Re: New Electrical System Questions

"actually my Balmar stopped putting out",

On my Spring trip the red light on the 612 regulator came on and stayed on. 100 amp Balmar was no longer putting out. Had a spare 75, so a quick swap and the cruise continued. After I got back, tore down the 100 amp unit and found the brushes were worn to the point they were no longer making contact. New brushes and bearings and was back in business. This was after 10 years and about 2000 hrs which I think is pretty good.

The real good part was the local generator shop (non boat related) had the exact brushes and bearings and the bill was $15.00. "The crazy prices us boaters pay for stuff". At that price I bought a spare set for the spare alternator (spares for spares).

Balmar makes good stuff but they get a good price for the stuff.

As a side: If your external regulator is in the engine compartment move it to a less hostile environment.


"My Balmar is once again pitting out",
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Old 14-11-2015, 11:14   #52
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Re: New Electrical System Questions

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Originally Posted by Maine Sail View Post
This is my recent recollection and I may have even missed one or two..

*4 alternators this year for blow diodes (2 switching related and two of them only partially blown with 1/3 output)
*2 alternators that were completely melted due to demand (both on AGM banks)
*1 alternator for a toasted front bearing
*1 for an intermittent regulator (Hitachi)
*1 because the foot hole elongated & chewed up belts in 20 minutes and made alignment impossible
*1 alternator (Chinese knock off) where the stator got so hot it unsoldered itself...

My numbers on alt abuse may be higher because the vast majority of my customers reside on moorings so the alts get a good work out. My alt issues with dock sailors is less, but still happens.

While I agree 100% that one should ideally run the motor when using the windlass, I have many customers who prefer to sail in, and sail out. "It's a sail boat." they will say to me...

When wired to the house bank sail in/sail out is easy to do. If you practice good bank management then, even at 50% SOC, this should not even break a sweat for a house bank.

What about the customers with electric winches? I have many older customers who have upgraded to electric winches, no different really than a windlass motor... The only reasonable bank for electric winches is the house bank.... I can't imagine instructing my customers to motor sail if they want to use their electric winches.... That would go over like a fart in Church...
I think we should agree to disagree. I'll keep all the winch voltage spikes in the starter circuit where they belong and you can keep your voltage spikes with your instruments and radio in the house circuit. ( I did mention spikes a while ago)

Out of curiosity rather than need I googled "which battery for anchor winch"
The first result I opened was "Do we need one battery for anchor winch only- myHanse-Hanse"
They say "wire the anchor winch to the starter battery and run your engine; and that you do not need a dedicated battery"

( I don't have a Hanse but I've sailed past a few)

So experts disagree. I'll keep going with what works well.
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Old 14-11-2015, 12:41   #53
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Re: New Electrical System Questions

I think I'll go out on a limb and suggest that not everyone who is posting on this thread is in fact any kind of expert. Just because something works for you does not mean it is good practice for the vast majority of boaters and their electrical systems. Just saying....
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Old 14-11-2015, 12:58   #54
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Re: New Electrical System Questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by GrahamHO View Post
I think we should agree to disagree. I'll keep all the winch voltage spikes in the starter circuit where they belong and you can keep your voltage spikes with your instruments and radio in the house circuit. ( I did mention spikes a while ago)

Out of curiosity rather than need I googled "which battery for anchor winch"
The first result I opened was "Do we need one battery for anchor winch only- myHanse-Hanse"
They say "wire the anchor winch to the starter battery and run your engine; and that you do not need a dedicated battery"

( I don't have a Hanse but I've sailed past a few)

So experts disagree. I'll keep going with what works well.
We can agree to disagree for sure and I am not suggesting you change anything on YOUR boat. However the topic is a good one and many folks don't fully understand all the intricacies or have a full deck of information in order to make a well educated decision.

In a properly wired system I have not seen voltage transients to be an issue and I have physically looked for it and had an o-scope on numerous boats trying to pin this down. I don't at all disagree that it can happen, usually on very poorly wired boats, but I've not been able to catch it even with some very sophisticated equipment. The batteries seem to work quite well as filters, especially large banks, if the system is well wired....

Sadly most of these arguments only ever revolve around "engine starting" but the starter is far from the only device on a boat that can/could throw a fault into the system and most of these systems are wired directly to the house bank..

Windlass Solenoid - I see far more boats with windlass to house than start approx 85%
Electric Winches
Engine Driven Refrigeration Clutch
Bow Thrusters
Water Makers
Any DC motor
Alternators
Wind Generators
Inverters

etc. etc...

There are many causes of electrical issues on boats that can, in-theory, cause issues yet the gear is still incredibly reliable. I would estimate that about 70% of my sailboat customers use the house bank for everything, including starting. In a recent battery use survey on SBO.com we had over 1000 responses from sailors and 66% said they used the house bank for everything.


Other potential issues that usually go ignored:

Voltage Transients
Electro-Magnetic Interference (EMI)
Low Voltage
Ripple (poor quality chargers etc.)
Voltage Sag Under High Loads
Voltage Surges
Lightning induced EMF
Human Error (switching off a battery switch with motor running etc.)

While I do prefer a properly wired, three ON/OFF switch configuration, if I can start from scratch, it's not always worth the cost for an owner who can't DIY when his / her 1/2/BOTH has been working just fine for, well, oh perhaps 30+ years of starting and drawing loads from the same bank..

In late July of this year I was called to a 1978 Grand Banks for a "windlass issue". This boat has been starting and running house loads & the windlass off the house bank for 37 years. The current owner has had her for 22 years and only ever uses switch position #1, for everything. The other battery bank, a 4D, sits there and looks pretty just in case the owner kills the house bank.


3283 Hours is a LOT of starts..
This image has been resized. Click this bar to view the full image. The original image is sized %1%2.

The feared and vilified 1/2/BOTH
This image has been resized. Click this bar to view the full image. The original image is sized %1%2.

Every piece of electronics on this vessel went out of "current" technology many, many moons ago. I estimate the VHF radio at 1981-1984 vintage and even the RayNav 580 Loran C still power ups (but no Loran signal of course).. This Furuno radar and Garmin 210 are both 15-20 + years old....
This image has been resized. Click this bar to view the full image. The original image is sized %1%2.

The owner stepped on this windlass switch, into a stalled motor, so many times and for so long that the breaker finally tripped... All this while the radar and GPS, motor and all other electronics were on and running & being powered off the same bank..
This image has been resized. Click this bar to view the full image. The original image is sized %1%2.

Yes I have tried to talk the owner into a dedicated starting circuit for the big Ford Lehman but the owner looked at me and said;

"RC, look at the age of this equipment, if there was such an issue caused by how I have been starting, I would have seen it by now, no?"

Kind of hard to argue with 37 total years of success on this boat.......

And again we come full circle as to how to we deal with electric winches on sailboats. Start banks simply don't play well in this scenario. We simply can't remove every item from a house bank that has the potential to cause a voltage transient or has a potential for a spike but we can wire the boat well and let the batteries filter it down. Having done marine electrical professionally for many years I think the issue of spikes is often over dock-talked. And as for experts disagreeing we get that in every industry, you should see the corrosion side of marine electrical for some real disagreement...
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Old 14-11-2015, 13:40   #55
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Re: New Electrical System Questions

Corrosion issues is definitely the most controversial electrical/physical issue that I have seen on boats. I have decided to not comment on it despite having done many electrolysis surveys and bonding exercises, etc. Very complex with lots of dock experts and despite having worked on it, I just have decided to do my own thing with my boat and hope it works out. If someone asks me I will give a couple of general pointers and suggestions and let it go. I will replace corroded equipment and suggest some good wiring practices to prevent active electrolysis and stray current but really won't take on any corrosion projects any more.

MaineSail, you add so much to these topics since you actually take a very practical approach to testing and recording data from a huge variety of systems and situations. I really haven't found anyone else that has done it to the extent and breadth that you have. It helps to cut through a lot of the dock talk aspects of the issues. Real systematic info really helps. Thanks for contributing. I have some pretty good practical experience but I would have appreciated working in your shop as an apprentice.
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Old 14-11-2015, 14:22   #56
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Re: New Electrical System Questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maine Sail View Post
We can agree to disagree for sure and I am not suggesting you change anything on YOUR boat. However the topic is a good one and many folks don't fully understand all the intricacies or have a full deck of information in order to make a well educated decision.

In a properly wired system I have not seen voltage transients to be an issue and I have physically looked for it and had an o-scope on numerous boats trying to pin this down. I don't at all disagree that it can happen, usually on very poorly wired boats, but I've not been able to catch it even with some very sophisticated equipment. The batteries seem to work quite well as filters, especially large banks, if the system is well wired....

Sadly most of these arguments only ever revolve around "engine starting" but the starter is far from the only device on a boat that can/could throw a fault into the system and most of these systems are wired directly to the house bank..

Windlass Solenoid - I see far more boats with windlass to house than start approx 85%
Electric Winches
Engine Driven Refrigeration Clutch
Bow Thrusters
Water Makers
Any DC motor
Alternators
Wind Generators
Inverters

etc. etc...

There are many causes of electrical issues on boats that can, in-theory, cause issues yet the gear is still incredibly reliable. I would estimate that about 70% of my sailboat customers use the house bank for everything, including starting. In a recent battery use survey on SBO.com we had over 1000 responses from sailors and 66% said they used the house bank for everything.


Other potential issues that usually go ignored:

Voltage Transients
Electro-Magnetic Interference (EMI)
Low Voltage
Ripple (poor quality chargers etc.)
Voltage Sag Under High Loads
Voltage Surges
Lightning induced EMF
Human Error (switching off a battery switch with motor running etc.)

While I do prefer a properly wired, three ON/OFF switch configuration, if I can start from scratch, it's not always worth the cost for an owner who can't DIY when his / her 1/2/BOTH has been working just fine for, well, oh perhaps 30+ years of starting and drawing loads from the same bank..

In late July of this year I was called to a 1978 Grand Banks for a "windlass issue". This boat has been starting and running house loads & the windlass off the house bank for 37 years. The current owner has had her for 22 years and only ever uses switch position #1, for everything. The other battery bank, a 4D, sits there and looks pretty just in case the owner kills the house bank.


3283 Hours is a LOT of starts..
This image has been resized. Click this bar to view the full image. The original image is sized %1%2.

The feared and vilified 1/2/BOTH
This image has been resized. Click this bar to view the full image. The original image is sized %1%2.

Every piece of electronics on this vessel went out of "current" technology many, many moons ago. I estimate the VHF radio at 1981-1984 vintage and even the RayNav 580 Loran C still power ups (but no Loran signal of course).. This Furuno radar and Garmin 210 are both 15-20 + years old....
This image has been resized. Click this bar to view the full image. The original image is sized %1%2.

The owner stepped on this windlass switch, into a stalled motor, so many times and for so long that the breaker finally tripped... All this while the radar and GPS, motor and all other electronics were on and running & being powered off the same bank..
This image has been resized. Click this bar to view the full image. The original image is sized %1%2.

Yes I have tried to talk the owner into a dedicated starting circuit for the big Ford Lehman but the owner looked at me and said;

"RC, look at the age of this equipment, if there was such an issue caused by how I have been starting, I would have seen it by now, no?"

Kind of hard to argue with 37 total years of success on this boat.......

And again we come full circle as to how to we deal with electric winches on sailboats. Start banks simply don't play well in this scenario. We simply can't remove every item from a house bank that has the potential to cause a voltage transient or has a potential for a spike but we can wire the boat well and let the batteries filter it down. Having done marine electrical professionally for many years I think the issue of spikes is often over dock-talked. And as for experts disagreeing we get that in every industry, you should see the corrosion side of marine electrical for some real disagreement...
If you say to me "you don't understand" I can also say that to you.
In 35 years with my boat I have not had an alternator failure. It has though had 3 different engines with 4 different alternators. The extra one was an upgrade 12 or so years ago. In 60 years of motoring in at least 10 different countries
involving my own cars and more rental cars than I can remember, I have never had an alternator failure.

Transient voltage spikes do exist and you are correct that bad wiring can play a part, though it doesn't cause them. I did have a couple of chart plotters destroyed presumably by voltage spikes. They were replaced free. When the second one failed I sought advise from a marine electrician who advised me to use the starter battery for my winch which I changed to. It could also have been the Autohelm causing it we can't tell. I also dedicated a battery to the GPS / instruments at the same time and have had no more problems.

You might also say that the marine electricians that recommend using the starter battery for the winch "don't understand"

But the main fact, not opinion is that the starter battery will not be flattened by the winch if you use it with the motor running. The other fact is that the winch will run better with the engine / alternator running. It will be recieving around 14 volts ( depending on your regulator)

If you wire to the house batteries and don't run the engine, so you "can sail away" your winch will be receiving 12 volts or less and the winch will be drawing more current. That is why I mentioned the back EMF effect which was dismissed with "the price of tea". In fact if the winch runs too slow or stalls due to low voltage it can overheat and / or trip its circuit breaker.

Obviously there is no, one answer that is "correct" but please don't tell me "You don't understand" because I do understand. Just say what "you think"
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Old 14-11-2015, 14:31   #57
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Re: New Electrical System Questions

Quote:
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If you wire to the house batteries and don't run the engine, so you "can sail away" your winch will be receiving 12 volts or less and the winch will be drawing more current.
A DC motor draws more current with less voltage..?

Quote:
Originally Posted by GrahamHO View Post
Obviously there is no, one answer that is "correct" but please don't tell me "You don't understand" because I do understand. Just say what "you think"
I never said you don't understand....

You quoted me and this is exactly what I said:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maine Sail
We can agree to disagree for sure and I am not suggesting you change anything on YOUR boat. However the topic is a good one and many folks don't fully understand all the intricacies or have a full deck of information in order to make a well educated decision.
The term "many folks" is not the same as you it was a continuation of a good discussion that's all.
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Old 14-11-2015, 14:39   #58
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Re: New Electrical System Questions

Graham,

Maine Sail didn't say YOU didn't understand, he said "many folks don't understand."

It could well be your marine electrician suggested you switch to the start bank because, well, maybe, you said you didn't want to spend any money. We simply don't know.

It could also be that providing a separate bank for your electronics either solved the issue BY ITSELF or simply pointed out your house wiring was inadequate. We simply don't know.

Why? 'Cuz I learned a loong time ago that if you do two things at the same time you'll never know what the real cure was.

Those are simply POSSIBILITIES. None of us were there at the time, we and simply don't know, but I'm suggesting these as OPTIONS for consideration. Most all of us with clients note that it's their money and their boats, building, etc. It's their choice. It is our job to give them the options and the reasons for them.

As far as a winch on a bank? If the chemistry of a particular battery doesn't support a load that is NOT instantaneous, like, gee, a winch, I would simply submit that a house bank battery chemistry is a better source for power.

Added to that what Maggie said and the fact that Maine Sail is literally universally known and respected, personally and over the web. And it wasn't just a "what you think" approach, it was well reasoned and insightful, with backup info and reasons.

I'm glad your system works for you. I also wonder if after this discussion you may have some other thoughts. In a positive manner.

Thanks for mentioning the options. Let's play nicer, he didn't attack "you."


Quote:
Originally Posted by GrahamHO View Post
If you say to me "you don't understand" I can also say that to you.
.............I have never had an alternator failure.

...........When the second one failed I sought advise from a marine electrician who advised me to use the starter battery for my winch which I changed to. It could also have been the Autohelm causing it we can't tell. I also dedicated a battery to the GPS / instruments at the same time and have had no more problems.


Obviously there is no, one answer that is "correct" but please don't tell me "You don't understand" because I do understand. Just say what "you think"
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Old 14-11-2015, 14:44   #59
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Re: New Electrical System Questions

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A DC motor draws more current with less voltage..?



I never said you don't understand....

You quoted me and this is exactly what I said:



The term "many folks" is not the same as you it was a continuation of a good discussion that's all.
Apologies to you. It was RamlinRod who wrote "Again, and you don't seem to understand" He does not know what I understand
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Old 14-11-2015, 14:45   #60
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Re: New Electrical System Questions

Marine electricians are like any other trades person or professional. There are good, bad, and better ones. There are several here in town that I wouldn't recommend to my worst enemy. They have botched some boats really bad. And some of them claim, and some off their customers say, they are the best. But I know different because I have had to come after them and fix grossly incompetent work that the owner didn't understand.

And Graham, I do not mean in any way to imply that the people you cite are in the bad category. Just that someone calling themselves a competent marine electrician does not make them one. There are some guys out there that should not be working in this trade but they somehow manage to get new customers. Usually cheap customers who think they are smart enough to get a better deal than the rest of them that hire the "expensive" guys. Buyer beware goes for everything. Having said that there are always some very competent guys who, for whatever reason, do not charge the "going" rate. And independents can charge less than the big shops.

But one of my pet peeves is trying to convince a new customer why something needs to be redone that was done by one of the incompetent ones. If they give me too much trouble, I pack my bags, get off the boat, and only charge them for something I actually did. I'm retired now so I don't have to worry about it. I've fired more than a few customers in my time.
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