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Old 29-08-2012, 13:40   #1
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Wiring Nightmare

Hi everyone:

I think I opened pandorra's box on my West Indies 36. The previous owner did a lot of 'quick fixes' and additions. I recently had no charge what so ever in my batteries. Hooking up to shore power, I found out that my old chrger (3 banks 30 amps) was bad. I started digging, and found all kinds of problems with the wiring. I spent one day removing old, unused wires. I also removed an inverter which was actually a redi-line generator (way too big). It seems like I have an idea now of what's left.
I purchased a new charger, which I want to move closer to the batteries. I want to keep the wiring as siple as possible.
Now I have to make sure that everything is wired correctly, which I doubt.
Does anyone have a simple wiring diagram for a charger, battery selector switch, ans 2 battery banks?
Any help is highly appreciated!!
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Old 29-08-2012, 13:53   #2
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Re: Wiring Nightmare

I would suggest Don Casey's book "Sailboat Electrics Simplified". There is also some diagrams and good info on the Blue Sea website.
Upgrading Battery Switching and Charge Management with the ADD A BATTERY Dual Circuit System
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Old 29-08-2012, 15:45   #3
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Re: Wiring Nightmare

There is only only one thing worse than a CORRECTLY wired boat that a new owner does not understand, and that is an INCORRECTLY wired boat that a new owner does not understand.
I don't mean to be condescending, but your questions indicate that marine wiring is not your strong suit.
Find a good marine electrician and have him walk you thru the boat wiring.
Connecting new equipment, particularly AC, can be very dangerous.
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Old 29-08-2012, 15:48   #4
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Re: Wiring Nightmare

please hire a marine electrician so you donot burn to death in your slip
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Old 29-08-2012, 16:01   #5
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Re: Wiring Nightmare

You say you have two banks. Are all the charge sources currently routed to the switch? Also do you use one bank primarily for starting and the other for house needs?

When we rewired our boat we relied heavily on some great members here and their advice. Look for posts by MaineSail, Stu Jackson, and btrays.

I suggest wiring all the charge sources to your biggest bank (including the alternators) and then putting in either a blueseas ACR or a Xantrex echo charge between that bank and the other.

Here is what we did. It would be close to your setup except with the charger added in:
Wiring Diagrams – Sundowner’s Current State Sundowner sails again
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Old 29-08-2012, 17:28   #6
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Re: Wiring Nightmare

Label your wires. I use a standard Brother labelmaker, with 3/8" or 1/2" white tape with black letters. Label what the wire attaches to. Label wires you have no idea what they are with a question mark. It keeps you from repeatedly trying to figure what it is with little evidence.

Fire up the computer with a spreadsheet program. Make a basic plan of the boat, starting at the battery. Label the wires connected to the batteries: This will include wires from the charger, wire going to the engine, to the battery switch, to the panel main breaker, then to individual panel breakers, then to distribution busses and eventually, to the lamp or whatnot it's powering. On the spreadsheet, label where the wire originates (closest to the source) and where it's going to. Then, you can label each end of the wire with the same identifier or a code. I'm not sure how, but I'll try to submit an example of my own system. The key to everything, though, is to name the wire. Then you can start removing "dead" circuits with assurance, and upgrading existing circuits as needed.

I'm not having much luck. Anyone have an idea how I can send a snippet of a spreadsheet into this forum?
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Old 29-08-2012, 18:08   #7
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Re: Wiring Nightmare

Try this:
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File Type: pdf cf test1.pdf (6.9 KB, 193 views)
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Old 29-08-2012, 18:26   #8
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Re: Wiring Nightmare

Okay, I think I can do this now. I use this system when I'm rewiring boats. First, I classify the circuits and give them a numerical code: Primary wiring has the prefix 00, individual circuits get named for the circuit breaker that protects them (example: Cabinside lights portside are circuit 01, starboard are 02, nav lights are 03, etc.). Ground wires have the prefix 99. I build the electrical system on Excel, calculating the maximum current needed for the whole circuit, then calculate the length of the wire run (there and back again), which then provides the wire sizing. Mine is a distributed system, meaning fat wires to the busses, then smaller wires to the units. Every piece of wire gets a name and a code number. These then are printed on labels and the wire is labeled at EACH END. Imagine digging through a bundle of wires and being able to tell what each of them is. Very cool.

With a spreadsheet, you can start at one end and work to the other, or just rewire one area at a time. You don't miss anything, everything gets labeled, and you can even highlight stuff as you finish that section (the green highlight in my example). The first column is the code. The second is the name of the wire. Third and fourth indicate where it attaches closest to the power source and the farthest connection. If a wire gets split, using a distribution buss, I simply add some more numbers telling who's who (02-01-01 is an aft-located overhead lamp, 02-01-02 is a forward one, both coming off the same distribution buss 02-01).
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Old 29-08-2012, 18:36   #9
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Re: Wiring Nightmare

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roy M View Post
Label your wires. I use a standard Brother labelmaker, with 3/8" or 1/2" white tape with black letters. Label what the wire attaches to. Label wires you have no idea what they are with a question mark. It keeps you from repeatedly trying to figure what it is with little evidence.
Good advice from Roy. I might add that clear heat shrink tubing is great for keeping the label tape from coming unstuck and falling off.
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Old 29-08-2012, 18:38   #10
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Re: Wiring Nightmare

I also label my wires in the same manner as Roy M describes. It has saved me a lot of time and frustration, especially when I have to diagnose a problem. The label stays on fine if you fold the sticky side back on itself, like a little flag.
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Old 29-08-2012, 18:42   #11
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Re: Wiring Nightmare

Ziggy, I started that way, but it got expensive, time consuming, and hard to modify. Now I just make my labels 1 1/2" long, wrap them around the wire end, and leave them as "tails". You can then, as I now do, put both a text name and wire code, so you don't need a "cheat sheet" when tracking a wire or circuit. Also, on some wires, I use 1" yellow tape with black print to provide special cautions, such as removing a fuse before working on a certain circuit. You can't miss it.
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Old 29-08-2012, 19:06   #12
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Re: Wiring Nightmare

Here is a basic wiring diagram that should work with only minor mods.

You can see they are using ACR from an outboard (this would equate to your alternator) to charge the house battery as prime and overflow charge the start battery while the engine is running.
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Old 29-08-2012, 19:22   #13
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Re: Wiring Nightmare

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roy M View Post
Ziggy, I started that way, but it got expensive, time consuming, and hard to modify. Now I just make my labels 1 1/2" long, wrap them around the wire end, and leave them as "tails". You can then, as I now do, put both a text name and wire code, so you don't need a "cheat sheet" when tracking a wire or circuit. Also, on some wires, I use 1" yellow tape with black print to provide special cautions, such as removing a fuse before working on a certain circuit. You can't miss it.
Roy: Yeah, I don't use heatshrink everywhere, but it's good for cable going to the base of the mast or ones that might need to be pulled through tight openings. I buy heatshrink in 3 foot lengths in my local (non-marine) electronics store at very reasonable prices.
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Old 04-09-2012, 06:14   #14
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Re: Wiring Nightmare

Hi all:

Well - that is quite a response. I would like to thank you so much for taking the time to read, and answer my question.
It's true - I'm not very good with marine wiring. If it would have been straight forward, I could have figured it out. Blue is right - with it beibg incorrectly wired, it's really hard to get it all figured out.
Roy - thank you so much for your ideas. Labeling the wires was my intend, but the spreadsheet idea is great!!
I will work with a professional sometime this week, to get it done right, and to learn from a pro. Again - thank you all so much - this is a great forum!!

:-) Ernst
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Old 06-09-2012, 11:50   #15
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Re: Wiring Nightmare

Here are some links that you may find useful. Even if you do get an electrician, you still should figure out what YOU want before he goes to work.

Basic Battery Wiring Diagrams This is a very good basic primer for boat system wiring: Basic Battery Wiring Diagrams

This is another very good basic primer for boat system wiring: The 1-2-B Switch by Maine Sail (brings together a lot of what this subject is all about)
1/BOTH/2/OFF Switches Thoughts & Musings - SailboatOwners.com

These are the referenced threads mentioned above from Maine Sail and me.

You may also be interested in all of these:

Electrical Systems 101

Good luck.
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