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killarney_sailor 12-18-2007 09:40 AM

Battery charge recommendations?
I will be buying a battery charger in the next few weeks and wonder what recommendations people might have. I had a Truecharge 20+ on my last boat and it seemed to be pretty good and was wondering about the 40+ for my Bristol 45.5? It currently has a 50 amp ferro-resonant charger that likely got little use since the boat was on a mooring. The boat has 3 battery banks with AGM batteires. I will be keeping it in a slip as a liveaboard in New Jersey so the electrical demands will be higher.

Thanks in advance for any ideas.


CapnHand 12-18-2007 10:00 AM

The IOTA chargers are designed and built well, providing a lot of value for their low cost. Check ebay for some good deals. $100 will get you a 55A charger, $155 for 75A.

camaraderie 12-18-2007 10:07 AM

Killarny...yes a good 3 stage charger is necessary for your AGM' don't say the SIZE in amp hours of your banks but since you will be plugged in full time to the dock it is of little importance on a daily basis what size charger you use. Where charger size WILL be of importance is when you are on the hook and out cruising around and depleting those battery banks and need to re-charge at a dock or with a generator. I will guess that you have 400AH of capcity...which means you will have 200 AH's to recharge when off cruising. This will take 5 hours to replenish to about 90% with a 40 amp charger so an overnight stay at a marina will get you fully topped off. You can substitute your actual numbers for my assumption to see if it makes sense for you.
Living at the dock with the DC stuff in heavy're still gonna be using less than 20amps DC so even a small charger will suffice to keep you topped up full time as long as you remain plugged in.

Cruisingdad 12-18-2007 10:12 AM

I have heard VERY good things about Outback chargers, but I only own a Outback solar charger, so cannot comment on the other. I will say the ONLY reason I did not buy an outback charger/inverter was because it would not fit where I wanted to mount it. THe Xantrex fit perfectly.

I currently have a Xantrex which I have been very happy with (it is actually a Prosine 2.0 Inv/Chg - but I assume it has the same functionality as the charger). I would buy one again without hesitation. You can set the breaker size on your boat so that it is always maximizing the input/output to the batteries without tripping the breaker. You can also set the battery type (including your own charge voltage rate) at the remote on the 2.0. It automatically switches on/off based upon input voltage from dock... not from inverter. I have nothing but positives to say. Of course, again, this is the combo unit and I am making the ASSUMPTION it is the same as the charger.

I realize that Iota has been mentioned. I know Bill Trayfors always recc's them - which carrys a lot of weight.

Catalina pretty much uses Charles. I have no real complaints against them other than I like the functionality of the Xantrex better (the remote, for example and the ability to set the size of the bank and breaker to keep from tripping) and that some of them need to be sent back to the factory to change battery types (wet versus agm/gell).

Now that did not answer your question completely, but if I had to rank them:

1) Outback
2) Xantrex
3) Iota (simply because I do not know enough about them).
4) Charles

THose are my opinions. Hope that helps.


- CD

sailingdog 12-18-2007 11:48 AM

I'd have to ask what size your battery banks are. The larger the banks, the larger a charger you'll need, especially with AGMs, which have a much higher charge acceptance tolerance than wet cells do.

Xantrex, Iota, and Outback all make a good unit.

killarney_sailor 12-18-2007 12:03 PM

Battery sizes
I have four batteries-
1) two house 8Ds
2) engine start 4D (seems like a lot for a 58 hp engine)
3) genset start group 27

jonlgauthier 12-18-2007 04:32 PM

Iota chargers
I checked out Iota when I was designing Beausoleil's electrical system. They're well built, inexpensive, and are capable of bulk/absorption/float mode with an optional smart regulator (which can be ordered pre-installed). Stack a few in parallel and you can charge just about any battery bank. Good buy for the money.

However, there was one drawback that was a killer for me. There is no mechanism for sensing battery temperature - which is mandatory if you want to charge a battery bank in as little time as practical (blast the batteries at the highest rate they can absorb without gassing). For me to keep genset running times to a minimum while on the hook, it was a deal breaker. The other problem for me is that they aren't available in a universal AC version (120-240V/50-60Hz) for international cruising.

For someone who spends most of their time in a slip, the Iota's are a good bang for the buck.

camaraderie 12-18-2007 05:05 PM for your house bank you have about 500 ah's capacity and 250 usable amp hours before recharging is needed. No change in recommendations. Since AGM's can accept unlimited current there is no need for a temperature sensor...just a good 3 stage charger.

Cruisingdad 12-18-2007 05:21 PM


Originally Posted by camaraderie (Post 239038) for your house bank you have about 500 ah's capacity and 250 usable amp hours before recharging is needed. No change in recommendations. Since AGM's can accept unlimited current there is no need for a temperature sensor...just a good 3 stage charger.

Hmm, that is intersting. No need for temp sensor? I don't know if I agree with that.

It is true that wets may be more suscptible to temperature differentiation-voltage than agm's... but agm's are too. If your agm is cold, you would increase the voltage and hot, decrease it. The cost of a temp gauge is nto that much anyways.

- CD

thekeip 12-18-2007 09:17 PM

Just a note...If you get to your boat regularly, perhaps live aboard (and can stand the hum), like to baby sit, etc., there isn't a better battery charger for your money than a ferro resonant. They are easily the most versatile chargers ever created...but NOT for AGM's. As an evolutionary product, AGM's have become very finely adapted to their working environment, but very finicky when it comes to their diet. You really do need to pay attention to their charging'll need a programmable charge routine both on the alternator and shore charger sides. You'll be glad you did.
Howard Keiper
Sea Quest

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