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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance > Electrical Systems
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  #1  
Old 02-04-2009
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Ferroresonant Charger

Good day, folks.
This past summer was my first at the helm of my '84 Hunter 34. While trying to wrap my head around the whole experience, I unfortunately neglected my battery bank, and now need to replace both of my house batteries. As I kept my battery switch on "Both" for the entire season, I'm not sure if I cooked them or if they were in this condition when I got the boat (my starter's still in good shape). She came with a Raritan ferroresonant charger, which I kept on continuously because I kept the refrigerator running all summer. Is this bad practice? Should I update my charger to a smart one if I want to keep food onboard? One of the house bank was literally half empty (or half full, depending on your outlook), and neither will hold a charge.
I look to the wisdom of more experienced boaters.
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Old 02-04-2009
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Yep,time for an upgrade. And, not just because you leave the frig running.

What kills batteries most of the time is failure to maintain a full charge. However, there are other things which will greatly reduce battery life, including contamination, stratification, sulfation even if float charge is maintained but battery isn't exercised and/or equalized, etc., etc.

Investment in new batteries isn't cheap. Since you're gonna do it, you might as well get a good multi-stage charger to maintain them.

If you have a diesel boat, my suggestion would be to look into the Iota line of chargers with the smart IQ-4 regulator (either built-in or external..they come both ways). These chargers use pulse technology and have lots of other design factors which make them exceptional in maintaining your batteries, including "automatic equalization", high tolerance for voltage and frequency shifts, excellent RFI suppression, etc. Best of all, they are priced right, and come in sizes from about 90 amps down to about 15 amps. You can find them on eBay and elsewhere.

Bill
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Old 02-05-2009
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"Yep,time for an upgrade. And, not just because you leave the frig running.

What kills batteries most of the time is failure to maintain a full charge. However, there are other things which will greatly reduce battery life, including contamination, stratification, sulfation even if float charge is maintained but battery isn't exercised and/or equalized, etc., etc."

Great explanation and when you're buying your new battery don't go for the too cheap ones because you usually get what you paid for.
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Old 02-05-2009
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Thanks for this feedback. So with a charger like the one you recommend can it simply be left on all season at dockside with appliances like the frig running? I don't want to invest in new batteries and cook them out of negligence.
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Yes. I have two Iota chargers w/IQ-4 regulators -- one external and one internal. One of these Iotas (55A model) is on the boat and maintains the two T-105 golf-cart batteries which are dedicated to the windlass. The other Iota (45A model) is at home, and maintains the two T-105 golf-cart batteries which run all my radios (I'm a ham and a radio freak....lots of radios, all run off of 12V). Both of these Iotas are left on 24/7.

That said, it's very important to periodically check on electrolyte level, 'cuz you can easily get fooled. All my T-105s (I have 8 of them on the boat and 2 at home) have Water Miser Caps, which greatly reduce water loss. Additionally, they make it literally a snap to check on water levels in the batteries...you just snap up the covers to have a look and/or to add distilled water when needed.

Providing that you periodically check the water levels and don't let the batteries run dry, then I believe 24/7 is the best way to maintain flooded batteries. Mine are several years old and with a sophisticated battery tester still test almost like new.

Bill
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Old 03-02-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by btrayfors View Post
If you have a diesel boat, my suggestion would be to look into the Iota line of chargers with the smart IQ-4 regulator (either built-in or external..they come both ways). These chargers use pulse technology and have lots of other design factors which make them exceptional in maintaining your batteries, including "automatic equalization", high tolerance for voltage and frequency shifts, excellent RFI suppression, etc. Best of all, they are priced right, and come in sizes from about 90 amps down to about 15 amps. You can find them on eBay and elsewhere.

Bill
Why wouldn't you use the Iota charger for a gasoline powered boat? Is it because it is not ignition safe? I have an outboard powered boat and am considering getting an iota.
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Good advice all around...but I don't think anyone answered your question directly. I'll bet you didn't check your battery water since you got the boat. FR chargers have (or had, anyway) a reputation for being 'brute force' chargers...almost indestructible, but dumb. Depending on the brand and model, they will float about 13.8V no matter what. Over time, measured in months, not years, they will boil off your water. They really weren't bad chargers if you paid attention...that and the fact that they generally make a lot of noise. I can't say that I've ever run into an actual charger failure.
Howard Keiper
Berkeley
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