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Old 14-04-2012, 19:19   #1
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Xantrex Echo Charger fuse blows when cranking

Ok maybe someone out there has had a similar problem.
On my sailboat I have the alternator output and solar output wired direct to the house bank, and a Xantrex Echo Charger set to charge my starter battery. The main power cables are 000 gauge and there's a Perko battery selector switch that will allow selection between/combine the two banks to crank the engine.
Since I put it in 2ish years ago it's worked just fine (and in fact it still charges just fine)
The problem is that whenever I crank the engine over the echo charger's 20amp fuse in-line with the house bank blows, slowly, but it goes after a few seconds of increasing red glow while cranking. This is a guess but it seems like when I crank the engine it draws extra juice from the house through the echo charger. I would imagine that the folks at xantrex would of put some sort of restricting component in there to prevent drawing the starter from drawing current though the echo charger? in fact I would have thought just the internal resistance in the echo charger would do this.
Anyway other than replacing the fuse with a breaker and (remembering to) switching the breaker back after I start the engine I'm not sure what to do here. I've pulled the wiring apart and made damn sure there's no resistance in the line between the start battery, the switch and the starter, I even ran a second ground jumper directly from the body of the starter, just in case (0.3 ohms).
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Old 14-04-2012, 19:24   #2
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Re: Xantrex Echo Charger fuse blows when cranking

If you use a Mangum battery combiner (which is current limited) you will not have that problem. The echo charger uses fuses as a current brake. Normally if your starter battery has low internal resistance the house bank will not deliver current through the Echo charger...that is your problem.
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Old 14-04-2012, 19:30   #3
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Re: Xantrex Echo Charger fuse blows when cranking

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Normally if your starter battery has low internal resistance the house bank will not deliver current through the Echo charger...that is your problem.

Well I was hoping not to need a new battery combiner. But what do you mean by if my starter battery has low internal resistance?
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Old 14-04-2012, 19:33   #4
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Re: Xantrex Echo Charger fuse blows when cranking

Haiden
Has this always happened or did it just start? If it just started I would check to see if your starting battery is good.
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Old 14-04-2012, 21:18   #5
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Re: Xantrex Echo Charger fuse blows when cranking

Start your engine with the START battery. Do NOT combine the battery banks when you start your engine. There should be no need to do this unless in an emergency situation, e.g., if the start battery were dead.

If a fuse blows when the two banks are NOT connected, i.e., you're starting the engine with the start battery only....then, it's very likely that you have a bad connection in the starting cables and/or the start battery is deeply discharged or shot....meaning it has little remaining capacity, and should be replaced.

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Old 14-04-2012, 21:21   #6
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Re: Xantrex Echo Charger fuse blows when cranking

Check the fuse holder itself. The clips may have lost tension or are dirty causing excessive resistance. The resistance could heat the fuse and cause it to blow without there being anything else wrong.

I believe that unit uses two fuses, correct??? One fuse in each of the lines going to the house and the engine battery. If the problem were excessive current BOTH fuses should show the problem, I think.
Hopefully that's all it is.
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Old 15-04-2012, 08:45   #7
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Re: Xantrex Echo Charger fuse blows when cranking

but it goes after a few seconds of increasing red glow while cranking.

What does this mean? Are you holding the glow plugs ON at the same time as cranking? That is unnecessary. Do the glow plugs, release the key switch or button, THEN start the engine. No need to have the loads of BOTH the glow plugs and the starter on at the same time.

I agree with checking connections, specially at the fuses, as well as the condition of your start bank.
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Old 15-04-2012, 11:13   #8
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Re: Xantrex Echo Charger fuse blows when cranking

The Echo charger is supposed to have a current limiting circuit that limits the current to 15 amps. It obviously has failed. But there is something that you can do- it is a bit of a kludge, but it may work.

You probably have fairly large wire from the Echo Charger to the starting battery, maybe 10 gauge. Try rewiring it with 14 gauge. That may introduce enough voltage drop to limit the current. You can even go down to 18 gauge safely as it is good for 20 amps, the rating of the fuse.

A 6' round trip run of 14 gauge will drop 0.3 V at 20 amps. 18 gauge will drop 0.8V. That should be enough to limit the current to the starting battery to 20 amps. You can even run extra wire length to increase the voltage drop if necessary to get to the point where the fuse won't blow.

It is a kludge and no one would give it high marks for good electrical system design. If the Echo Charger's current limiting circuitry has failed then if the starting battery is very low, then even with 18 gauge wire it will pull enough current to blow the fuse. But it will be safe with a 20 amp fuse in place.

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Old 15-04-2012, 11:41   #9
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Re: Xantrex Echo Charger fuse blows when cranking

This has just started, up until I found the fuse to be blown it worked fine.
When I connect the cables direct to the starter and jump it with a screwdriver it turns over just fine. Battery voltage gets topped up and sits around the low 13v area during the day (float voltage from the solar) and sits at 12.6 when it's disconnected.

I'm not combining my battery banks the switch is just there to allow me to use either or both in case the starter was dead. The start battery cranks the engine over perfectly fast, for several times without signs of it dying, so I don't think the battery is bad.

That's an idea about the fuse holder, it looks pretty clean but I'll check it out for resistance. Yeah the echo charger has a 20amp fuse on both the wires going to the start battery and the house bank but only the one on the house bank seems to be heating up, don't ask me why, I too would of thought that both fuses would get it.
I guess it could be that maybe the echo charge is screwed up and for some reason when it senses the voltage on the starter drop suddenly it dumps a large current from the house bank to ground instead of to the start battery (which would explain why it seems to be untouched) and they are the right size fuses, I've gone through a few now.

No I am not using the glow plugs, just turning the engine over, I can see the filament in the fuse start to glow after a couple seconds of cranking, if I continue to crank the engine over the fuse will blow in a couple seconds later.

Interesting to know that there's supposed to be current limiting, is this just a guess or do you know this for sure?
I figured there must of been something to prevent a large draw, due to it's intended use. But I now am starting to think that it isn't actually drawing the current from the house and grounding it through the starter but is in fact just grounding it through the echo chargers ground wire. I gotta get some amp meters and do some poking around. I emailed Xantrex so hopefully they'll get back to me with something.
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Old 15-04-2012, 11:53   #10
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Re: Xantrex Echo Charger fuse blows when cranking

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Originally Posted by djmarchand View Post
It is a kludge and no one would give it high marks for good electrical system design. If the Echo Charger's current limiting circuitry has failed then if the starting battery is very low, then even with 18 gauge wire it will pull enough current to blow the fuse. But it will be safe with a 20 amp fuse in place.

David
hmm a kludge had to look that one up.
I wondered about doing that, I also thought it would screw with the echo charger's sensing abilities and it wouldn't top up the battery as well. I think I'd sooner install a 15amp breaker and just flip it back on after cranking.
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Old 15-04-2012, 13:30   #11
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Re: Xantrex Echo Charger fuse blows when cranking

Well no answer there. I just replaced the fuses with a different brand and the fuse on the starter battery blew this time in fact they both got a little cooking this time. I put afuse on the echo chargers ground wire too, which seemed fine afterward.
I also bypassed the switch - no difference. So it's not the switch either.
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Old 16-04-2012, 17:16   #12
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Re: Xantrex Echo Charger fuse blows when cranking

I would guess that the starting battery is shot, and under load the voltage from it is dropping so rapidly that the echo charger is overloading while trying to take up that load.

A load tester with enough capability to test batteries up to Group31 size should be less than $50, might be worth buying one rather than taking the battery out to have it tested. Or possibly getting a 'free tool loan' of one from an auto parts chain.

I'm not surprised that the echo charger doesn't let go before the fuse blows, AFAIK these type of chargers are not particularly "smart" that way, nor are they expected to be.

Could also be that the starter itself is about to fail. With a couple of shorted windings, it could be demanding way too much power and THAT in turn could be the reason for the overload. Some of those battery load testers can also be used to test the draw to the starter. Again, possibly worth owning.
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Old 17-04-2012, 11:38   #13
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Re: Xantrex Echo Charger fuse blows when cranking

Well the starter battery seems to work just fine, starting my engine cranking for 5-10 seconds stopping cranking for 5-10 seconds, etc... - has lot's of juice, it's turning over a 50hp Isuzu so I figured if the battery was shot it would show. It works the same if I take the fuse out or leave it in, it doesn't seem to need the current it's drawing through the echo charger it's just another path for the the cranking current to travel - one that should be closed off but doesn't seem to be, though it used to.



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Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
I would guess that the starting battery is shot, and under load the voltage from it is dropping so rapidly that the echo charger is overloading while trying to take up that load.

A load tester with enough capability to test batteries up to Group31 size should be less than $50, might be worth buying one rather than taking the battery out to have it tested. Or possibly getting a 'free tool loan' of one from an auto parts chain.

I'm not surprised that the echo charger doesn't let go before the fuse blows, AFAIK these type of chargers are not particularly "smart" that way, nor are they expected to be.

Could also be that the starter itself is about to fail. With a couple of shorted windings, it could be demanding way too much power and THAT in turn could be the reason for the overload. Some of those battery load testers can also be used to test the draw to the starter. Again, possibly worth owning.
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Old 17-04-2012, 11:47   #14
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Re: Xantrex Echo Charger fuse blows when cranking

I think it is a defective Echo Charge. I own one and have installed many - never had any issues like this.

Echo's are current limited to 15 amps. I think only an internal fault or an external short would cause the fuse to blow.
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Old 17-04-2012, 12:07   #15
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Re: Xantrex Echo Charger fuse blows when cranking

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I think it is a defective Echo Charge. I own one and have installed many - never had any issues like this.

Echo's are current limited to 15 amps. I think only an internal fault or an external short would cause the fuse to blow.
Yeah I'm thinking that's it too. Although I do think it's strange that no one has had this problem before. I haven't opened up the unit yet but I suspect that the bleeding from one bank to another is just controlled by some sort of high wattage transistor that normally would break the connection or hold it at 15 amps but the transistor must be shot. the rest of the circuitry seems to be fine, it turns on when voltage goes above 13v (green led is on solid) and the led blinks at night when the solar is off. Maybe it got some water or dust on it in just the wrong way. Now I've got to figure out if I should replace it with another echo charger and hope it doesn't do the same thing or whether I should find a different bleeder/combiner. A fellow earlier suggested a Magnum ME-SBC which looks to be pretty much the same, but goes up to 25amps and appears to be slightly cheaper.
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