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Old 16-05-2012, 06:38   #1
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Xantrex Echo-Charge vs Blue Sea ACR

Want to add one of the automatic controllers for charging my start battery. I see the Xantrex Echo-Charge recommended but I like everything I have purchased from Blue Sea Systems and am considering their ACR.

I think both company's products have the same features but not totally clear to me reading the data sheets if that assumption is correct. Also, Blue Sea offers a heavy duty ML version or the SI version for a lot less money. The main difference I can see is the ML version will parallel the two banks for emergency starting and a higher capacity that seems beyond what I would need. If those are the only differences in the ML I would stick with the cheaper SI model as I plan to set up a manual switch for using the house bank for emergency starting.

I looked at the Balmar unit but see some complaints so dropped that from my list. I do seem to recall mention of another brand as well but was not able to find that in the archives.

So, unless I see compelling reasons to do otherwise I like the Blue Sea SI model for $80 vs $180 for the Blue Sea ML model or $130 for the Xantrex Echo-Charge.

Opinions or recommendations?
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Old 16-05-2012, 07:09   #2
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Re: Xantrex Echo-Charge vs Blue Sea ACR

Skip-
These are two different technologies and concepts. The ACR is simply a smart relay that closes at a ceiling voltage and opens at a floor voltage. The ACR will pass as much current as the receiving battery will accept. The Xantrex Echo-Charge and the Balmar Duo-Charge will only pass their design current to the receiving battery when they are turned on by the donor battery's voltage exceeding a ceiling setpoint. I am partial to the Balmar Duo-Charge and have had very good results with all my installations. The Duo-Charge will pass up to a maximum of 30A to the receiving battery.

Hope this helps.
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Old 16-05-2012, 07:28   #3
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Re: Xantrex Echo-Charge vs Blue Sea ACR

They are two very different products that share some features in nominal operation. The ACR is simply a relay that parallels battery banks when a charging source is on and separates them when it is off. The Echocharge takes a portion of the charging voltage produced by a charging source and feeds it to another battery bank. In the basic operation of providing charge to an isolated battery bank, they both work, but not in the same manner. The Echocharge does not connect the banks together, which some think is a better way to operate.

We have the BS SI ACR models and they work very well. You probably do not need the ML model for your application.

Another ACR manufacturer is Yandina, who also sells through Defender and West Marine (I think).

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Old 16-05-2012, 07:30   #4
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Re: Xantrex Echo-Charge vs Blue Sea ACR

Sorry about repeating Charlie's info - I am having posting problems and did not see his entry.

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Old 16-05-2012, 07:40   #5
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Re: Xantrex Echo-Charge vs Blue Sea ACR

Quote:
Originally Posted by colemj View Post
Sorry about repeating Charlie's info - I am having posting problems and did not see his entry.

Mark
Oh but you did mention the Yandina which is the other brand I had been trying to remember.
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Old 16-05-2012, 07:46   #6
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Re: Xantrex Echo-Charge vs Blue Sea ACR

As Charlie said they're not the same. The combiner just shorts the two batteries together when a charging voltage is sensed. The Echo Charger limits current/voltage.

If your charging source never exceeds 14.4 volts these two devices are going to function very much the same, except that the Echo supposedly will never allow more than 15 amps through it, which is a non issue unless you have a badly depleted start battery, at which point the combiner is probably the better choice.

If you have something like the Balmar 612 regulator, it has programs where the bulk charge stage can be a higher voltage, some built in programs are 14.8 volts. So a discharged house bank could sit at 14.8 volts while the start battery on a combiner which probably is mostly charged already will be getting overcharged. The Echo states it will never exceed 14.4 volts to the start battery.

From:
http://www.xantrex.com/documents/Acc...4-01-01%29.pdf

When the input voltage is 13.0/25.5 volts DC or higher, echo-charge
automatically switches ON. The LED glows a steady green. When the
input voltage is lower than 13.0/25.5 volts, the echo-charge automatically
switches OFF, and the LED blinks green. The output voltage of echocharge
is limited to 14.4/28.8 volts. When it reaches 14.4/28.8 volts, the
charge current will decrease, maintaining a float condition. The starter
battery will be fully charged without overcharging.
No load current drain on the house bank is less than 50 milli-amps.
If the input voltage is above 14.4 volts (or 28.8), output will be limited to a
maximum of 14.4/28.8 volts.
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Old 16-05-2012, 08:09   #7
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Re: Xantrex Echo-Charge vs Blue Sea ACR

Thanks gentlemen for the clarification. So as I understand it from a design and construction standpoint the Duo-Charge and Echo-Charge are more sophisticated than the ACR or Yandina.

From the functional aspect:

- All three have min/max voltage points for sending charge to the secondary battery

- Duo-Charge and Echo-Charge also limit the max current to the secondary battery.

- ACR allows as much current as the charging source can supply and the secondary system will accept based on voltage difference between the primary and secondary banks.

- Yandina appears to be a smart relay like the ACR.

- All brands offer some sort of protection against charging a dead or shorted bank. The ACR appears to be just a low voltage setpoint where as would be expected due to the more sophisticated design, the Balmar and possibly the others have current, voltage and I think thermal limits.

Looking at the options having lots of bells and whistles may be fun but I think the basic Blue Sea ACR will do what I want to do for less money. Unless anyone has heard of any quality or reliability concerns for the ACR.
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Old 16-05-2012, 08:23   #8
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Re: Xantrex Echo-Charge vs Blue Sea ACR

You've made the right choice.
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Old 16-05-2012, 08:48   #9
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Re: Xantrex Echo-Charge vs Blue Sea ACR

Quote:
Originally Posted by cal40john View Post
As Charlie said they're not the same. The combiner just shorts the two batteries together when a charging voltage is sensed. The Echo Charger limits current/voltage.

If your charging source never exceeds 14.4 volts these two devices are going to function very much the same, except that the Echo supposedly will never allow more than 15 amps through it, which is a non issue unless you have a badly depleted start battery, at which point the combiner is probably the better choice.

If you have something like the Balmar 612 regulator, it has programs where the bulk charge stage can be a higher voltage, some built in programs are 14.8 volts. So a discharged house bank could sit at 14.8 volts while the start battery on a combiner which probably is mostly charged already will be getting overcharged. The Echo states it will never exceed 14.4 volts to the start battery.

From:
http://www.xantrex.com/documents/Acc...4-01-01%29.pdf

When the input voltage is 13.0/25.5 volts DC or higher, echo-charge
automatically switches ON. The LED glows a steady green. When the
input voltage is lower than 13.0/25.5 volts, the echo-charge automatically
switches OFF, and the LED blinks green. The output voltage of echocharge
is limited to 14.4/28.8 volts. When it reaches 14.4/28.8 volts, the
charge current will decrease, maintaining a float condition. The starter
battery will be fully charged without overcharging.
No load current drain on the house bank is less than 50 milli-amps.
If the input voltage is above 14.4 volts (or 28.8), output will be limited to a
maximum of 14.4/28.8 volts.
Interesting point. The over voltage cutout on the SCR is 16V so theoretically could over charge the start battery. But then, wouldn't a start battery benefit from occasional equalization voltage or tolerate a higher voltage as well as a house bank?
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Old 16-05-2012, 11:09   #10
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Re: Xantrex Echo-Charge vs Blue Sea ACR

The Yandina has an option to limit voltage going to the destination battery to 14.2 volts to protect a sealed battery from higher voltage lead-acid or equalizing voltages. It limits the load on the alternator to a safe level to avoid overloading or overheating when trying to charge a very low house bank.

It has been in production for (very nearly) 20 years, the only one with UNCONDITIONAL warranty. About $60 at Defender.
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Old 16-05-2012, 11:55   #11
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Re: Xantrex Echo-Charge vs Blue Sea ACR

I have the BS ACR which has worked fine for 4 years now.
The West Marine purchased small Yandina combiner failed after 1 year.
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Old 16-05-2012, 12:07   #12
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Re: Xantrex Echo-Charge vs Blue Sea ACR

West Marine have not sold Yandina Combiners for about 12 years. However even if you had a 15 year old Yandina Combiner and it failed it would be replaced free. Try that with an ACR.
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Old 16-05-2012, 15:48   #13
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Re: Xantrex Echo-Charge vs Blue Sea ACR

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andina View Post
The Yandina has an option to limit voltage going to the destination battery to 14.2 volts to protect a sealed battery from higher voltage lead-acid or equalizing voltages. It limits the load on the alternator to a safe level to avoid overloading or overheating when trying to charge a very low house bank.

It has been in production for (very nearly) 20 years, the only one with UNCONDITIONAL warranty. About $60 at Defender.
Hi Andina and thanks for the information. From your user name I am guessing you may know something about the product and may be able to answer another question or so.

The Combiner 100 is certainly the best deal of the lot and I like the ability to limit voltage. I would like to describe my proposed system to see if you see any problems.

First, I have an alternator rated max 136 amps, a bit over the rating for the Combiner 100. However I will wire the alternator output to the house bank where the bulk of the charge will be needed and feed the starting battery through the Combiner. Since under normal conditions the starting battery will never see but a small fraction of the alternator output I would think the 100 should be more than adequate and see no reason to upgrade to the 160.

This arrangement would also allow me to use the voltage limiting feature of Combiner when charging the start battery and my smart regulator for the house battery.

So any concerns here?
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Old 16-05-2012, 17:05   #14
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Re: Xantrex Echo-Charge vs Blue Sea ACR

That "should" work, Skip and setting the house bank as the primary charging destination is quite common. In fact this is standard practice on some OEM emergency vehicles that use the Combiner160 as standard equipment on high output alternators.

The Combiner100 is suitable for alternators up to 100 amps but the "fudge" factor is already built in to allow for the portion of charge going to the starting battery and the fact that a 100 amp rated alternator can't really put out 100 amps. The C100 can only carry higher currents (up to 400A) for short periods, the "continuous" rating is 85 amps.

Normally for alternators rated over 100 amps you should use the Combiner160. The only problem you could have is where you have had starting problems and the starting battery is very low while the house bank doesn't need much charge. In this case all the output from the alternator would be bypassing the house bank and going to the starting battery. This could overload the C100.

However it is unlikely to do any damage. Yandina Combiners have a thermal shut down to protect them from overload so under overload conditions it would cycle on and off as the temperature got too high (about 85 C). This would eventually get charge into the dead battery but it would take much longer than the Combiner160.
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Old 16-05-2012, 20:15   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andina
West Marine have not sold Yandina Combiners for about 12 years. However even if you had a 15 year old Yandina Combiner and it failed it would be replaced free. Try that with an ACR.
I did, and Blue Seas is awesome! I bought a boat with an ancient ACR that was not bolted to anything but the battery wires. It roamed loose on the engine compartment floor. The previous owner would drop wet fenders on it. I noticed the LED indicators were not making sense. I called Blue Seas to ask what the LED signals meant. They sent me a new unit, FedEx'd overnight, free of charge. I was willing to pay for a new one, and never asked them to replace it! They have the best customer service I've ever encountered.
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