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Go Back   SailNet Community > General Interest Forums > Gear & Maintenance > Electrical Systems
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  #31  
Old 04-19-2010
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Helios, I would gently suggest that you have too much trust in your battery charger as compared to your light bulbs. At home on land, my light bulbs are pretty much cold (fluorsecent) and secured in wall sockets, so I don't worry much about them.
But one weekend I went away sailing and, as usual, left the computer with voicemail system and brand name backup power supply (i.e., same as a battery charger) running. Came home and said, gee, that's funny, I was sure I left the computer on.
Well, the computer was probably off because heavy storms had spiked the usually reliable underground AC power lines in the area, resulting in some fault in the charger, which in turn blew an internal fuse in the batteries. If the battery maker hadn't included that internal fuse---the whole building would have burned down.
The wall circuit fuse had not blown, the fuse in the charger had not blown, the breaker in the power strip had not blown. The batteries overheated and slagged down an internal device along with part of their housing.

If you think it is safe to leave a charger running, think about "relatively safe" instead. Killing the AC breaker for everything is still the only way to get really close to "safe".

A charger with a metal housing, on a bulkhead that is fire-resistant, with an overhead that is well clear, with some well-fused batteries...still would be safer off. (Not that I'm paranoid about fire, I've just met one too many small ones and figure one day my luck might run out.)

Last edited by hellosailor; 04-19-2010 at 10:52 AM.
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  #32  
Old 04-19-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
Helios, I would gently suggest that you have too much trust in your battery charger as compared to your light bulbs.
Perhaps, but I do need to run the charger when I am not on the boat. I don't need to run the outlets. My main point was that its good to be able to shut things down seperatly, and its not all that much more expensive to do it.
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  #33  
Old 04-19-2010
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Well jarch, I think the applicability of the advice always has to depend on the actual application. In my case, simple works very well because of the application. I'm definitely not saying it works for everyone - but that's exactly why Dog's advice, while good, doesn't apply to every situation either.

Had I taken that advice at face value with no thinking it through, and considering other advice given by other dudes here, I would have paid $160 bucks for the panel and another $225 for the plug/receptacle. Now, there's nothing wrong with the setup - but that would be $385 that I didn't need to spend for my particular application. That's not to say that I don't appreciate his advice (I do) - I'm just saying that it didn't fit my particular needs which are very simple.

As for the lamp and charger scenario - I'm with hello - I'm a bit suspect about leaving shore power plugged in on an unattended boat, period. I'm on my boat 2-3 times a week so I can monitor things pretty closely. But I see tons of boats at our marina that haven't moved in many months that have shore power plugged in with no one checking on them. I'd much rather spend $100 replacing a battery than run the risk of having my boat catch fire by leaving everything powered up and unattended for months.

PS - The breaker is $15-$20

Quote:
Originally Posted by jarcher View Post
Sometimes simple is too simple. SD gave you great advice about using a 3 circuit panel. Right off I see good reason to use two circuits. Battery charger and outlets. You probably want the battery charger running when the boat is unattended, but you probably also want to shut the outlets down.

Lets say you have a 110VAC lamp installed (I would never do that - DC LEDs only for me) and its sitting there on the table. You decide to go home but you forget to turn the lamp off. A wave comes, it falls over, and your boat burns to the bottom. BTW, thats why all my bulbs are LEDs.

Or you turn the lamp off but the brand new leak starts to drip on it. Best case there is that the breaker trips, but its the same breaker that is keeping that battery charger running.

There are many good reasons to turn the outlets off when you leave the boat. Your glorified extension cord approach means all or nothing.

Is it really all that expensive? The breaker is probably going to cost $50 by itself. For $150ish you get the main 30A breaker, the panel and 3 more 15A breakers. Someday you'll want the panel, then you'll have an extra breaker.
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Last edited by smackdaddy; 04-19-2010 at 12:12 PM.
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