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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance > Electrical Systems
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Old 08-12-2010
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Simple electrical system question

Guys and gals,

I have a simple wiring question. My boat is a Catalina 22. I want to keep the stock control panel, but I want to add a second battery and a solar charger. My basic plan is to wire the batteries in parallel, have the positive leads run to a distribution block, and the solar charger and control panel would have leads on the block as well. And a likewise block for the grounds.

(I realize I can just hook the positive of one battery to the other. Same for the negative)

Should this work well? I just want a very simple, and basic, electrical system.



Thank you
RG
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Old 08-13-2010
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I would install a battery switch/selector so that your system wasn't always energized. Besides the safety factor of not having everything "live" on the boat when you aren't around, humidity and/or salt have funny ways of creating low draw shorts that can kill your batteries in pretty short order. You also have the added benefit of keeping you batteries independent (a bad cell in one battery will kill both batteries if they are wired together). You will have to add a second solar panel, however; or a battery charge controller capable of handling two banks.
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Old 08-13-2010
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Thank you kindly for that information.

The factory Catalina 22 control panel has a "master" switch. Even with that, would I benefit from a master battery switch?

I will be looking into dual battery solar charge controllers!
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Old 08-13-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by radioguy View Post
Thank you kindly for that information.

The factory Catalina 22 control panel has a "master" switch. Even with that, would I benefit from a master battery switch?
Does this master switch allow you to turn use the batteries independently? In other words, does it say "Off-1-Both-2" (or something to that effect) on it? If not, you should either get something like this:



or this:



The latter is probably over-kill for a C22, but the VSR module would let you hook the solar panel up to one battery and have it charge both (once the first one is fully charged).
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Old 08-13-2010
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I'd point out that your understanding of what a VSR does is a bit off. It doesn't start charging the second battery after the first is fully charged. It connects the TWO BATTERIES IN PARALLEL when any charging source is detected. Some will detect charging sources one both sides, others will only work with charging sources on one side. Typically, all the charging sources are connected to the house bank side and the starting bank charges via the VSR paralleling the batteries.

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Originally Posted by SlowButSteady View Post


The latter is probably over-kill for a C22, but the VSR module would let you hook the solar panel up to one battery and have it charge both (once the first one is fully charged).
RadioGuy—

Be aware that I doubt that there is a solar charge controller that allows charging TWO banks of batteries that is reasonably priced for your application. It would make far more sense to get a good MPPT charge controller to connect the solar panels to one battery and then get a VSR/ACR/DuoCharge/Echocharge to charge the second battery whenever the solar panels are active.

I've written a basic article on Solar Power on Boats that may be of interest to you.
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Last edited by sailingdog; 08-13-2010 at 06:52 AM.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailingdog View Post
I'd point out that your understanding of what a VSR does is a bit off. It doesn't start charging the second battery after the first is fully charged. It connects the TWO BATTERIES IN PARALLEL when any charging source is detected. Some will detect charging sources one both sides, others will only work with charging sources on one side. Typically, all the charging sources are connected to the house bank side and the starting bank charges via the VSR paralleling the batteries.
Well, I didn't want to get into all the nitty-gritty details. My thought was that a small solar panel isn't likely to produce enough juice to get the voltage above the "cut-in" threshold until the first battery is pretty close to fully charged. Obviously, the larger the solar panel the easier it will for it to achieve that voltage. Also, as I recall, these relays need a minimum current to actuate the solenoid and put the batteries in parallel, so a little "trickle charger" solar panel might never get the circuit to close.
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Old 08-14-2010
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Hey guys,

Thank you for the input. I've revised my simple schematic. I'm doing a one battery system. The goal is to always have the bilge access to the battery. I have multiple solar panels, so I'm using a charge controller to protect the batteries, etc.

The schematic only shows positive leads. Please let me know what you think.

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Old 08-15-2010
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As long as your outboard has a pull start (likely on a little Catalina), that scheme would be fine. However, if you need battery power to get the motor started, you really should have a second battery that can be kept independent (or semi-independent). There's nothing quite like really needing the motor to start, hitting the start button, and hearing little more than a "click-click-click", if that.
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Old 08-15-2010
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Thank you kindly for the input. It is a pull start.
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Old 08-15-2010
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For what it is worth, I added a second battery bank to my C-27. I have a 128Ah Deep Cycle Lead Acid bank that was my original house bank. I opted to add a new, independent bank for my electronics and I am transitioning all of my house use to it so the original bank will be for emergency use and motor starting only. The second bank is a 184Ah AGM bank with two cells.

I picked up two cheap Sunforce solar panels and their 7A charge controller off Amazon for what West Marine was charging for the one large panel alone. I got their small trickle charger panel and their 15W charger panel. The small panel maintains the engine batteries and the large one is used to charge the AGM house bank.

The charge controller works well as does the panel. My cells took a couple weeks to get to full charge but it has been remarkably easy to install along with the new circuit. It's been very trouble free and is installed nicely hidden away under the cockpit.

If you're looking for a cheap solar option, the Sunforce panels do work. Not as good as a quality single crystal cell but I'm also not going offshore with them. My install costs were reasonable for what I did. Switch panel, master switch, battery fuse, bus bar, terminal strips, wire and all connectors plus tools.

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