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Old 02-26-2012
djwindrifter djwindrifter is offline
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Battery Bank Combining for Charging ĖSterling B2B Charger or Blue Sea ACR?

Iím trying to decide on a charging technology that will automatically charge all my battery banks when a charging source is present. Right now Iím trying to choose between the respected Blue Sea SI 120 ACR and the newish Sterling Battery-to-Battery Charger. I like the simplicity and reputation of the ACR, but I like the fact that the Sterling Charger can do multistage charging appropriate to each individual isolated battery bank. I also like that the Sterling can do a targeted desulfation charge.

The boat has a starting battery and a 400Ah house bank of Trojan T-105s that live inside the engine room, and a 350Ah house bank of Trojan L16Hs that lives under the companionway.

The boat is a full-time live-aboard 42 foot sailboat. Iím in the planning phase of a project to address a number of energy management issues. Typically, when I am charging, the house banks will have different levels of charge: one usually near full, one usually 25%-50% depleted. In this situation, I ideally want the charged bank to get a float charge while the discharged bank needs an absorption charge. Iím concerned that the ACR would cause the charged bank to get a voltage that is higher than it needs and the discharged bank to get a voltage that is lower than it needs (Calder, p40). This is why Iím looking into the Sterling battery-to-battery charger.

Dear reader, do you have any experience with this battery-to-battery charger?
Is there any feedback you can share about it?
Have you had a good experience with a different series regulator?

The echo charger probably has too small a capacity for charging the large banks I have.

Since Iíve owned her (until the past month) the boat has been run with the two sets of house batteries joined together in a single house bank. But as I contemplate buying new batteries, Iím coming face-to-face with what Iíve already known and have been trying to ignore, Nigel Calderís cautions about mixing different battery types in a single bank, and especially the dangers of mixing batteries in the wildly different temperature environments between the engine room and the companionway area (in general, though, Calder strongly advocates single large house battery banks). Charlie Wing, on the other hand, advocates an older practice using half-sized and alternated banks that has turned out to have been essential to me in analyzing the health of my various different batteries.

Any thoughts you can share?
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