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Old 05-02-2020, 13:46   #1
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Partner Scared He's Damaged Batteries

Hi all,

We recently replaced our battery bank with a bunch of second hand ones. Since then, my other half has been 'pottering' ...

There have been two incidents where he's been terrified that he's damaged the batteries permanently and I'm trying to console him, but my limited knowledge means that I can't really tell him facts, only speak hypothetically! So I thought joining a forum and asking those who know these things would be better. Anyway, here are the two 'incidents' that happened:

- Our converter blew a fuse, I'm not sure what compelled him to do this, but he wanted to 'see if something worked' so he bridged the gap where the fuse was with some copper wire and caused a huge spark. He thought he'd ****d the batteries as the voltmeter monitoring the battery power dropped 2v from 28 to 26.

- The next converter he wired the wrong way, input into output; it was supposed to go from 24v to 12v and we ended up with (what he thinks is) 48v coming out - it did cause an electrical fire on the converter but he's also convinced that leaving it plugged in for so long (before we noticed it was smoking) has also damaged the batteries...

Can anyone confirm whether we've actually damaged our batteries or do you need more information? I'd love it if you could put his mind at ease as he's really really upset at the thought of it OR let us know what the extent of the damage might be if we have messed them up (the truth will help him accept it rather than speculating wildly!).

Suffice to say I have told him that he's not allowed to mess about with the boat's electronics any more
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Old 05-02-2020, 14:09   #2
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Re: Partner Scared He's Damaged Batteries

Quote:
Originally Posted by JuggernautUK View Post
Suffice to say I have told him that he's not allowed to mess about with the boat's electronics any more
I'm not going to comment on the batteries, but ... Good call on this!
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Old 05-02-2020, 14:21   #3
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Re: Partner Scared He's Damaged Batteries

I believe it’s unlikely he damaged the batteries, my line of reasoning is that a bank can supply an enormous amount of power in a short time for things like starting engines, powering windlasses, bow thrusters etc.
I would guess he drew no more amperage from his escapades than either of those.
Fires scare me on a boat more than anything, even sinking, so I’d say be way more careful with wiring as it’s often the source of a fire.
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Old 05-02-2020, 14:44   #4
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Re: Partner Scared He's Damaged Batteries

@Kelkara - Haha yes! We also have two young puppies who have caused less damage around the place

@a64pilot - Thank you for this, he's mostly reassured although he thinks the converter being plugged in for so long may have caused damage still, but I asked whether the voltmeter had changed over that period of time and he thinks not... hoping this has quelled his fears, haha. A boat on a stretch of the water near us succumbed to a fire two nights ago, it's scary! The wiring on our boat is quite insane (as are a great deal of other things incl. plumbing) due to the first owner having some 'creative solutions'. We've passed all of our safety certification though, so I hope it's fine until we get a qualified boat electrician in to actually sort things out!
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Old 05-02-2020, 19:26   #5
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Re: Partner Scared He's Damaged Batteries

Hi, Juggernaut,

Might I suggest you start your electrician's ticket? People on yachts can often need help; it also happens to be the sort of thing many women are good at. Even if it would only be a hobby for you, it could do both of you a world of good.

Ann
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Old 05-02-2020, 20:16   #6
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Re: Partner Scared He's Damaged Batteries

You stated you replaced your batteries with second hand batteries. While nothing that has happened says battery damage (fire yes) I wouldn’t be surprised if the second hand batteries don’t have too much life in them anyways.
Besides forbidding your partner from working on the electrical system (there have to be sanding, painting, cleaning, etc projects to be done) I would suggest saving up for a new battery bank. Study new battery chemistries especially LFP.
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Old 06-02-2020, 09:00   #7
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Re: Partner Scared He's Damaged Batteries

Hey J you didnot mention the make of battery, GEL.AGM.LEAD ACID SEALED. LEAD ACID UNSEALED , LITHIUM .
This will add a certain degree of uncertainty to the issue of hurting the battery's as each will charge and be effected slightly differently , do you have a volt meter , and if so you can test the life of the battery and also with a charge on it , not always 100% but you will know if you have cooked them ,
Also get a good electrical DC handbook and read and youtube it there are great resources out there that can talk you through a DC system and also AC on a boat
We are only scared of the unknown and when we find knowledge and accomplish small tasks it becomes easier and more apparent
Good luck
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Old 06-02-2020, 11:10   #8
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Re: Partner Scared He's Damaged Batteries

Juggernaut:

We all gotta learn sometime ;-)! But seriously, it sounds as if you two need to go back to the very basics. 12V electrical systems in boats are about a simple as electrical systems come, but their design, construction, installation and maintenance is not taught in school. Tho' by my lights, it should be :-)!!

Go here:

https://www.12voltplanet.co.uk/elect...it-basics.html

and look around. It's only a starting point, but as with all things in life, you gotta learn "from the bottom up". And because "the devil is in the details", it never hurts to review something you already know.

You haven't said what sort of boat you have, but in terms of electrical systems, few are simpler than those of a small sailboat. The systems of bigger boats are just "more of the same": Same fundamental principles, just more circuits and more boughten devises, the inner functions of which you can learn about later.

Do yourselves a favour that will conduce enormously to your understanding of these things and will furnish you with an implicit list of "do"s and "dont's" that will preclude these kinds of things happening in the future. Draw out on paper a diagram (among the cognoscenti called a "schematic") of your boat's wiring. Then sit down and do a systematic "study" of how the basic - really, really basic - Theory of Electricity relates to each component of that schematic, both in terms of the sundry boughten devices and of the wiring that connects them.

We are here to help, but we cannot really do that until you give us SPECIFIC information ("basic specs" as given by the manufacturer) of the devices you want help with. It is also useful for us to know the make and model of the boat you have.

Remember that none of us were born knowing these things. You are not "at fault" for not knowing. The public education system is at fault for not having taught them :-)

All the best

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Old 06-02-2020, 11:16   #9
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Re: Partner Scared He's Damaged Batteries

It probably did not hurt the batteries. Fast discharge does not usually do any damage to batteries unless to continues for a long time. Batteries are more damaged by being discharged below about 11 volts than by a short, fast discharge.

It sounds like you need someone who understands circuits to work with you and your partner. Since it is your boat, you and your partner need to understand how and why things work.

Also:
You said you have a bank of used batteries. Are these matching batteries from another boat? Or is it a parallel connection of various batteries from various sources?
A bank of batteries is usually pulled down to the condition of the worst battery. That is why sailors never "add a couple new batteries" to a used bank.
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