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Old 24-03-2020, 02:54   #1
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Charge problem with house battery bank

Hi all, I have an issue with charging the house battery bank while running the engine. The boat has a four way Blue Sea battery selector switch (off, 1, 1&2, 2). With the selector on Start battery only, the engine charge light is fine (off). Change the selector to either house and start or just house and the engine charge light remains on.

The negative / earth lead is common to both banks. Positives go to the Blue Sea battery selector and the output goes to a shunt from which (nearly all power is the sourced. Leads to the engine charging system and starter connect to the common earth and the shunt connected to the output side of the Blue Sea selector switch.

Solar power and wind generator both connect to the common points as does the engine wiring. Solar and wind both charge the house battery bank without issue.

Any ideas or solutions will be greatly appreciated.
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Old 24-03-2020, 05:09   #2
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Location: Mangareva, French Polynesia
Boat: Heritage West Indies 36
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Re: Charge problem with house battery bank

Sounds like your house bank is shot and bringing down the starting bank when they are paralleled. Not surprising if your solar and wind are charging 'a common point'. Start bank will be chronically overcharged and house bank under charged.

Measure the voltage of the house bank independently. If it's good, put a load on it and look at voltage drop under load. That'll give you an idea of how badly it's sulphated.
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Old 24-03-2020, 19:21   #3
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Re: Charge problem with house battery bank

House bank is new - replaced in June 2019 with three 155AH 12v sealed HTL batteries connected in parallel. Start battery is a single 200AH sealed lead acid and was on the boat when I bought it. Estimated age of start battery is 8 years.

House batteries should be in good condition.

When the issue began, the charge light would go off somewhere between 10 - 60 minutes after starting the engine. It has progressed and now the charge light sometimes remains on.

By "Common" I mean the positive side of the solar and wind generators connect to the shunt on output side of the Blue sea battery selector switch and the negative to the negative bar connected to the negative side of the batteries.

The house batteries (or one of them) failing very early has crossed my mind, but I have been reluctant to pull them out as they are difficult to get in and out of the battery box they are in, and the fact that they are new. The alternator was removed and thoroughly cleaned. The engine and alternator have only done 700 hours.
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Old 25-03-2020, 13:50   #4
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Location: Mangareva, French Polynesia
Boat: Heritage West Indies 36
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Re: Charge problem with house battery bank

Hmm, why is there a shunt in the circuit?

I think you need to get some numbers. No need to remove any batteries yet. Measure the voltage across all three house batteries when they are full, with nothing going in or out. If you have a dead cell you’ll see about 12.1V instead of the usual 12.8V (each cell is about 2.1V, divided by three because you have three batteries = a drop of about 0.7V). If that’s the case, disconnect batteries until you find the bad one. If not:

Take your multimeter and test cables and connections. Start by measuring one entire leg (either +’ve or -‘ve) of the circuit. If you see high resistance you can narrow down the search cable by cable until you find a bad one. Also check the circuits from the alternator and the wind and solar generators. If they’re not doing their jobs as intended then you could just have dead batteries, hence the excessive charging times.

No need to take anything apart at this point. At least, these steps are where I’d start. Others (electrical specialists, which I am not) may have better advice but since they’re not chiming in yet I thought I’d offer my two cents!
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