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Old 03-07-2013, 18:17   #1
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Battery Charging Problems

Help! I am a new owner of a 1984 Catalina. I have one Engine batt which is working fine and seems to be charging when the engine is running. I have two house batterys which only work for a short time and then quickly die after the engine runs for a maybe 15 minutes or so. All batts are in good conditon. I have a Xantrex TrueCharge 20+/40+ Amp mutistage battery charger that is not showing any indicator lights at any time, whether the engine is running or not. I have a West Marine power switch w/ separate house and engine switch. It also has an emergency cross. The engine meter shows approx. 13 volts. The Xantrex meter at the nav station reads approx 13.5. I switch both house and engine on and have also been switching the emergency cross connect on but still nothing and no indicator lights. Any torubleshooting ideas would be much appreciated. Thanks!
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Old 05-07-2013, 05:17   #2
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Re: Battery Charging Problems

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... I have two house batterys which only work for a short time and then quickly die after the engine runs for a maybe 15 minutes or so. All batts are in good conditon...
Either you have a huge load draining your batteries or your 2 house batteries are actually not in good condition. The latter is much more likely.

What type and capacity are your 2 house batteries? If you turn off all loads what does the voltage read after having run the engine for a while? Then put on your running lights and house lights for a couple of minutes and measure the voltage. Then once again turn off all loads and measure the voltage after 10 minutes.

With 2 batteries the charge during draining shouldn't go down much and should recover to close to the original charge after they've rested up a bit. Another way to check this would be to use a car battery tester, available at your local auto store for a couple of bucks.

Does your multimeter measure amps? If so, you can easily measure the drain from your battery bank under load to see if the batteries are being drained.
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Old 05-07-2013, 05:42   #3
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Re: Battery Charging Problems

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I have a Xantrex TrueCharge 20+/40+ Amp mutistage battery charger that is not showing any indicator lights at any time, whether the engine is running or not.
It's a wild guess with so little info such as voltage readings from alternator, direct battery voltages, etc...
What does your shore power charger have to do with the engine status?
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Old 05-07-2013, 05:48   #4
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Re: Battery Charging Problems

I'm assuming that you're looking at the Xantrex when you're connected to shore power and the breaker for it is closed. The fact that you commented that it's not showing any lights while the engine is running leads me to believe you're not familiar with it's function in your electrical system.

If it's not showing any lights when it's getting power and turned on, that is the first thing I would troubleshoot. If it's not functioning properly then there is a good chance that your house batts are shot as a result and so are not holding a charge.
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Old 24-07-2013, 19:49   #5
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Re: Battery Charging Problems

Help! I am still having Battery problems. I know the quickest way to check to see if my alternator is putting out the correct voltage and amps would be to take it out and bring it to be tested, however the bolts are rusted and I can't get them off. I ran a series of tests with and without the engine running. I ran a cumulative amp draw test from everything off ( except the Link 10 Monitor) which read -1.3 to everything such as all running, anchor, steaming, cabin lights VHF, stereo Gps, 3 Nav instr., and autopilot and it topped out at -4.2 with house water pump added, it topped out at -6.5. With the engine running at 10000 rpms my meter begin with 23amps and running the same test dropped down to 17.9 and with the water pump to 14.8. Before I began the test my 2 house batteries were at 13.1 V. after the test they were both at 12.5V. My engine battery was at 13.2v and after the test it read 12.5V. I put a meter on the alternator and got a reading of 13.7. While the Engine is running and both my house and engine batteries are switched to the on position at my battery terminal switch, I get readings of 13.2 on the engine battery and 13.0 on both my house batteries. After running the engine for approximately 20 minutes to perform the tesets, I shut down the engine. After approximately 10minutes my link 10 meter was reading 13.5 V/1.7 Amps. The problem is after 2-3 engine starts and the returning to the boat 2-3 days later my batteries are drawn to between 12.5(engine) and 11.7 (house) and engine will not turn over. Also I have cleaned all of my terminals and connectors to the batteriers, alternator and the ground to the engine. I have not cleaned as of yet the electrical to the solenoid. Is there another way to test my alternator without taking it out??
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Old 24-07-2013, 20:02   #6
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Re: Battery Charging Problems

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Originally Posted by csharp View Post
Help! I am still having Battery problems. I know the quickest way to check to see if my alternator is putting out the correct voltage and amps would be to take it out and bring it to be tested, however the bolts are rusted and I can't get them off. I ran a series of tests with and without the engine running. I ran a cumulative amp draw test from everything off ( except the Link 10 Monitor) which read -1.3 to everything such as all running, anchor, steaming, cabin lights VHF, stereo Gps, 3 Nav instr., and autopilot and it topped out at -4.2 with house water pump added, it topped out at -6.5. With the engine running at 10000 rpms my meter begin with 23amps and running the same test dropped down to 17.9 and with the water pump to 14.8. Before I began the test my 2 house batteries were at 13.1 V. after the test they were both at 12.5V. My engine battery was at 13.2v and after the test it read 12.5V. I put a meter on the alternator and got a reading of 13.7. While the Engine is running and both my house and engine batteries are switched to the on position at my battery terminal switch, I get readings of 13.2 on the engine battery and 13.0 on both my house batteries. After running the engine for approximately 20 minutes to perform the tesets, I shut down the engine. After approximately 10minutes my link 10 meter was reading 13.5 V/1.7 Amps. The problem is after 2-3 engine starts and the returning to the boat 2-3 days later my batteries are drawn to between 12.5(engine) and 11.7 (house) and engine will not turn over. Also I have cleaned all of my terminals and connectors to the batteriers, alternator and the ground to the engine. I have not cleaned as of yet the electrical to the solenoid. Is there another way to test my alternator without taking it out??
My guess is your batteries are trashed and so is your wiring.

- Put in new batteries.
- Don't re-attach anything directly to them.
- Put the starter motor to the engine battery. If you want to be safe, put a fuse between it rated just a smidge higher than your starter motor will consume.
- Put the alternator (and any other charging sources) to the house.
- Put a common ground between them.
- Put a Blue Sea ACR between the house and starter batteries.
- Wire a bus bar from the house bank, and anything that needs power gets wired to that bus. Put a fuse between the bus and the bank, maybe 100 amps.

With that:

- You're protected from a lot of problems.
- You will only drain your house bank.
- You will charge your house bank first.
- You will only start from your starter battery.
- Dump the 1/2/off switch and just put in an on/off switch for the house bank.
- If you ever need to start the motor from a dead starter, which is nearly impossibly in this configuration, you can move the cable itself.


It might seem like a lot, but it's a very simple configuration.
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Old 24-07-2013, 20:08   #7
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Why keep checking. It's dead.
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Old 25-07-2013, 05:54   #8
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Re: Battery Charging Problems

My Interstate engine battery is one month old, my WM house is 2011 and my Napa house #2 is 2010. Output reading at the alternator is 13.7v but the readings at the batteries themselves while the engine is running is 13.1v.
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Old 25-07-2013, 06:22   #9
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1.5 amps withe everything but the meter off? I would check the float switch on your bilge pump, if it is stuck on and running dry the draw may be that low and that circuit should be wired always on.

Get a hand held meter and disconnect and test across the batteries one at a time. One of your house cells may have lost a cell to sedimentation dropping it to 10v or so, the 2nd cell will take up the slack voltage as they are in parallel but it will kill your amps out and charging.

On your charger, as I do not know your model I would disconnect it and the try it on just a single isolated known good battery. You should be able to see the charge/ float voltage. A really nice charger will sense a fault ( like a single shorted cell causing over current) and shut themselves off to protect for thermal runaway and heat failure. Or you charger is dead due to being overtaxed by the bad cell.
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