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Old 11-10-2013, 22:51   #1
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No power from batteries and AC

So I'm back on the boat after a three week absence and discovered I have zero power. The batteries appear to be drained and the shoreline connection is reading no current. There is water in the bilge and the float switch is floating. I don't know if there was enough water flowing into the bilge to drain the batteries or if the batteries were drained and then water collected. This has been a very dry boat so my inclination is that the batteries were drained by something else before the water collected.

My first troubleshooting step was to try a different 30 amp connection. I tried two and still have no readings on the AC side. I tested the batteries with my voltmeter and they are reading arround 1 volt each. They are four 6V batteries connected in series/parallel. I don't know how that will affect my readings so I don't know if they are actually drained. The clock is still running (and the time is correct) and I believe it is directly connected.

I'm don't have any idea how to troubleshoot this problem and am open to any suggestions. It appears that anything running through the panel, DC or AC, isn't working.

Help.
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Old 11-10-2013, 22:59   #2
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Re: No power from batteries and AC

Pull the 30 amp socket and check the ground wire. If it is burnt than so is the socket. If that doesn't work try your neighbors cord.
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Old 12-10-2013, 05:46   #3
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If your boat has a ground current sensing device near the AC inlet find it and try resetting it. Also look for a hidden circuit breaker near the AC inlet.

You are looking for some place between the AC socket on the dock and your AC panel that is not connecting. Have you tried another dock cord?

This is probably something simple but may be elusive. If you don't understand AC power get an electrician. This should be a few minute job to diagnose.
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Old 12-10-2013, 05:53   #4
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My next step was to try another cord and get the dockmaster to confirm that the outlets on the dock have power. I got on the boat at midnight last and didn't want to wake the neighbors to borrow a power cord.
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Old 12-10-2013, 05:57   #5
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You need a Ac DC volt meter with ohm/continuity . Put the volt meter leads on the battery terminals. Put the leads in the dock power. Start from the source and follow the wires. Where there is no reading that is where your problem is. Could be anything. 110 volt the biggest failure is the fittings on the cord. Check the cord using the continuity function. Check for burning at the socket.
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Old 12-10-2013, 06:20   #6
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Re: No power from batteries and AC

If spot checking a couple of things doesn't turn up the problem then you should do a methodical, step by step check.

DISCLAIMER!!!! Do not do this if you are not familiar with the proper safety procedures for dealing with AC electricity. It is dangerous and can kill you, especially around boats and water.

First, do you have a good voltmeter and do you know how to use it? If no, may be time to call a pro and pay for the repair. If yes, then

1. Start at the shore power plug on the dock and examine the socket for evidence of corrosion or heating. If it looks good then check for voltage. If voltage is OK then

2. Check your power cord both ends for corrosion and evidence of heat damage. If it appears good then plug in the dock side and check the boat side for voltage. If you see voltage there then

3. Check the boat plug for corrosion and heat damage. If that looks OK then

4. Turn off the power at the dock plug, connect your cord at the dock. Make sure the AC switch is turned off on your boat electric panel and connect the boat side of the power cord. Turn on the dock power switch then go to the boat and make sure all AC circuits are turned off and turn on the main AC power switch. Does your panel have a meter built in? When you turn on the main AC switch does it show voltage? If yes then

5. Turn on the switch for the battery charger and check to see if the batteries start getting charge. Also check the AC voltage meter on the panel to make sure it still shows voltage.

Try these and let us know what you see.
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Old 12-10-2013, 06:51   #7
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One thing I disagree a tad with. If you don't know how to use a volt meter then learn to. Just hiring someone won't help you learn a valuable skill.
Then hire the pro if you can't figure it out.be very careful and safe.
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Old 12-10-2013, 07:05   #8
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Re: No power from batteries and AC

+1 on the voltmeter. Pretty critical, and relatively inexpensive tool to have on board. And could well help you avoid having an electrician show up, tell you your shore power cord is bad, and hand you a bill for $100.
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Old 12-10-2013, 07:21   #9
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Re: No power from batteries and AC

Quote:
Originally Posted by sabray View Post
One thing I disagree a tad with. If you don't know how to use a volt meter then learn to. Just hiring someone won't help you learn a valuable skill.
Then hire the pro if you can't figure it out.be very careful and safe.
Oh I completely agree that every boat owner should know how to use a voltmeter, except of course the mega-rich ones that have more money than, well never mind.

But in the OP's situation if he doesn't know how already he may not have the luxury of time considering water in the bilge, dead batteries, etc.
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Old 12-10-2013, 07:28   #10
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Find the leak? Get a bucket. Learn how to use a volt meter. Not necessarily in that order.
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Old 12-10-2013, 07:47   #11
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Also look for a hidden circuit breaker near the AC inlet.
+1. It will be in the first reasonable location after the inlet if one was installed. Might be a little trouble to find, they seem to be put in odd places because it should be as close to the inlet as possible. After that, the cord and sockets would be my next suspects. Then the source from the dock.

Op has a volt meter, he mentioned testing the batteries.
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Old 12-10-2013, 08:09   #12
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Re: No power from batteries and AC

first thing--check the breaker on the dock power box. if it is OFF, flip it on.
if that isnt it, go inside your boat and find on your electrical panel the switch for the ac power. flip that or those--i have 2 need done simultaneously.
if that isnt the problem, find a friend who knows as much about electricity, preferably 12v and boats,as possible,as well as 120 v.
have that soul teach you how to use a voltmeter.
watch closely as this soul helps you fix problem.
buy 2 6 packs of his greatest favorite beer or whatever--for this, rum might be best, but only after the repair is complete.
good luck
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Old 12-10-2013, 16:03   #13
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Thanks for the advice so far everyone. Very helpful. So the problem is internal. From the shore outlet it runs to an inverter/charger. I've never used this equipment (there is a separate battery charger) and the surveyor was unable to get it to power on. The voltmeter read 120 where the wire goes into the inverter. It leads from the inverter to the panel. There was no reading at the panel.

I tested the wires from the inverter to the panel for continuity and they matched the ohms expected for that gauge.

So it appears that the inverter is the problem for the AC.

For the DC side all four gel batteries in the bank register 0 on the battery tester. They are also deformed, like someone sucked the air out of them. I could run the 120 straight to the panel, bypassing the inverter, but I'm not sure I should attempt to charge the batteries given their current state.
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Old 12-10-2013, 16:08   #14
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Re: No power from batteries and AC

bingo. so the charger/invertor is toast and no one checked batts in forever or 2 months whichever came first...new batts and a rebuild or replacement for the charger/invertor.

boating is fun....your new mantra.
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Old 12-10-2013, 16:25   #15
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bingo. so the charger/invertor is toast and no one checked batts in forever or 2 months whichever came first...new batts and a rebuild or replacement for the charger/invertor.

boating is fun....your new mantra.
I didn't like the power set up on this boat from day one. I planned to reconfigure it next year sometime. I just didn't plan on spending as much as soon. I'm going to start a new thread about what I'd like to do and get some advice from the experts here.
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