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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance > Electrical Systems
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  #1  
Old 06-27-2009
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Yes, I'm an Idiot - Please Help (Long)

Hi all, this is kind of a continuation of my post a few days ago, and quite long, so I apologize ahead of time. I went to the boat today and had the same condition - house bank "1" was flat, bank "2" was good. So, without bothering to check the voltage at the batteries, I pulled both house batteries and went to WM. First surprise was that my "house" batteries were both starting batteries. Nice! Wait, there is a second surprise. So, I bought 2 deep-cycle flooded batts at WM on sale and returned to the boat. Well, after installing them in bank "1", my battery capacity gauge still showed bank "1" as dead. Hmmmm. After much testing and continuity checking, I found that the PO had labeled the back of the battery switch opposite of what the terminals actually were. So the big cable labeled "1" was attached to a lug that was also labeled "1" with magic marker. Guess what? When I bought a new battery switch (don't ask!) and began to connect it, I discovered that I had unknowingly been using bank "2" when I thought it was bank "1".

Why is this an issue? Well, the two "dead" batteries that I turned in to WM for the core charge were actually the two that were OK. So I have two new wet-cell deep cycles and two dead-as-hell starting batteries. I don't know why I have two starting batteries, but I was thinking this would be a good time to add one more deep-cycle to the house bank and just one new starting battery. That would give me a house bank of 3 group 24 batteries and one good starting battery. Does this sound reasonable to any of you?

BTW, I bought a new battery switch because I kept getting wierd readings on my multimeter while trouble shooting. I am guessing that when using the meter on the back of the properly functioning battery switch, the following conditions should be found: When "off" there should NO continuity between ANY of the lugs. When in position #1 there should be continuity between the lug for #1 and the common ONLY. When on "all" there should be continuity between all the lugs. And when in position #2 there should only be continuity between the lug for #2 and the common. Does this sound correct?

If so, my old battery switch works just fine. In the meantime, I seem to be dumping $ for no good reason. On a side note, I did make some $ today at the boat swap meet in my marina. The trouble is I bought a bunch of other people's stuff .

Thanks for reading and I will be very happy to try any suggestions that you are willing to make.

Thanks, Bill
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Last edited by montenido; 06-28-2009 at 01:11 AM. Reason: spelling
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Old 06-27-2009
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Bill, it sounds very easily within the realm of possibility and I'd suggest that you go back to West tomorrow bright and early with batteries in hand--or call the store manager--and tell him the same tale.

From his point of view, all "core" batteries are the same and I'll bet he'd gladly give you back your two--which probably are sitting on a crate or pallet out back--and take the real dead ones without any fuss.

As to taking back the "wrong" new batteries you got in exchange for what you really need...he might go that far as well. Business is bad and folks are often accomodating WHEN YOU CONTACT THEM PROMPTLY and especially when you've got a good tale to tell. (G)

As to what's attached and what's reasonable...These days it is most likely to be one starting battery sized for your engine, plus the biggest house bank (one bank) that you can put in. Two or three batteries in parallel with carefully matched wiring so they load carefully to the same voltage is typical.

Then, you might consider replacing your battery switch or adding in a "battery combiner" (West, Blue Seas, etc.) so that the engine always is connected to the starting battery, and once the engine is running and that battery is recharging, the combiner automatically bridges in the house bank and diverts all extra power to recharging that. West and BS both have diagrams and explanations of how to set this up--it works well for many people and eliminates manual use of the battery switch (and switching errors) aside from "OFF".
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Old 06-28-2009
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bill yes your battery switch is fine thats how it works.

what i would do, is try to get the store to swap out the dead for the good core batteries and get a new house battery. that way you have 3 house batteries and one starter battery. then get the battery combiner and install it between the number one and two terminal on the battery switch. then get a new battery cable and wire the starter battery straight to the starter. what this does is now when you leave the switch in "2" or house battery position the starter will only pull from the starter batter. then make sure the common position does not go to the starter.

so the basic hook up
starter batter is connected to the starter, and position one
house battery is connected to position 2
common terminal is connect to the DC distribution panel
battery combiner is hooked between position one and two
edit install charger feed to pos post on house battery. ( if mutilble outputs put all to house battery)
if you manage to kill either battery you can still put it in position both to start

so now you leave the switch in position 2 all the time, when you try to start the starter can only draw from the start battery, even when the switch is in position 2. the combiner makes sure when you charge or run the motor the banks are combined for charging

if you dont understand pm for a phone number and i can talk ya thru it

Last edited by scottyt; 06-29-2009 at 11:52 PM.
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Old 06-28-2009
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Things are Looking Up

Thanks Scotty and HelloSailor. That is good advice. I did go back to WM this morning and they gave me the good batts back in exchange for the truly dead ones. I installed the rescued starting batteries back in bank #2, so I am back to 2 deep-cycles in the house bank and 2 starting batts in the starting bank. I will get around to installing a third deep cycle and the battery combiner. I noticed one by Blue Sea in WM today. It includes a new battery switch and the combiner.

Do most of you reading this have a combiner installed on your boat? Just curious. Scotty, I think that even I can follow your great instructions for wiring it properly.

Thanks again, Bill
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Old 06-28-2009
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I use an Echocharge to charge start battery, all charging circuits go straight to the house battery and I have two Blue Seas on/off switches, one for house and one for start. Simple and foolproof as all switching is for use only, not charging.
Brian
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Old 06-28-2009
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For all the complaints we see on here about WM, its worth noting that they did the right thing.
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Old 06-28-2009
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[quote=scottyt;500726
starter batter is connected to the starter, and position one
house battery is connected to position 2
common terminal is connect to the DC distribution panel
battery combiner is hooked between position one and two
if you manage to kill either battery you can still put it in position both to start
so now you leave the switch in position 2 all the time, when you try to start the starter can only draw from the start battery, even when the switch is in position 2. the combiner makes sure when you charge or run the motor the banks are combined for charging
quote]

Does everyone agree that this is a solid setup. It looks really good not having to constantly mess with the switch.
Turn it to 2 when on the boat and off when off the boat.
Hook the bilge pump to the house battery directly with a separate fuse and switch.

The only thing I can think might cause a problem is if the house is low and the starter battery is 0 then switching to both may cause enough voltage drop to prevent starting.
In this case leave switch to all and disconnect a lead to battery one.

What is wrong with this setup? I haven't seen it as a factory option.

Last edited by davidpm; 06-28-2009 at 09:53 PM.
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Old 06-28-2009
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Bill-
" I will get around to installing a third deep cycle and the battery combiner. "
Skip the third deep cycle. You would have 2 "old" batteries and one "new" one combined in the house bank, and that just doesn't work out. Unless all three batteries are evenly matched (preferably from the same production lot) when you combine them into one bank, you wind up overcharging the new one, and/or undercharging the old ones.
For now...spend the money on something that will cut your power consumption, like LED lighting, and wait to replace the house bank as one bank.
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Old 06-28-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davidpm View Post

The only thing I can think might cause a problem is if the house is low and the starter battery is 0 then switching to both may cause enough voltage drop to prevent starting.
In this case leave switch to all and disconnect a lead to battery one.

What is wrong with this setup? I haven't seen it as a factory option.
if your starter battery is at 0, there is more wrong than just a dead battery, the idea with this set up is you wont ever drive the starter battery to 0. but you are right it could happen, and if it does there is not much you can do. in a pm i sent to Bill, i said most boats will have a line from the starter to the common terminal. i said to disconnect but not remove the wire, it could be hooked back up in this case to run the starter from the house. another way would be to relocate the line from the battery to the starter to the house battery, just to get started, then the combiner would charge the start bank as the motor ran.

but as i said the idea is you cant kill the starter battery unless it is "dead" and then there is not much you can do except replace the battery. knowing you can switch the starter cable over to the house battery is a back up for this system. you could hook up another battery switch on the starter that just has position one and two with out a both, this will allow a quick change over of the starter feed cable. but again this adds confusion, i would just swap the cable if it happened to me, would take about 2 mins
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Old 06-29-2009
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To quote davidpm:
"Turn it to 2 when on the boat and off when off the boat"
If the shore charger is charging through the 1-2-all switch and it is turned off the house bank will not get charging current when you're not on the boat. Because the house isn't charging, the combiner can't charge the start battery either. The best way to solve this problem is to send all charging sources to house bank, not the switch, which should only control usage not where the charge sources are going.
Brian
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