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  #1  
Old 03-06-2008
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B2B charger

Hello,

I am reworking the electric system for a 30 year old 33" cruising boat. All the charge (alternator, 115/12V, solar) goes to the service battery (210Ah gel). In order to feed the starter battery (planned about 40Ah AGM) I plan to buy a battery to battery charger. The options are Balmar (Digital Duo Charge) or Ample Power (Eliminator). Are there any opinions, pro or contra?

Aage
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Old 03-06-2008
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Why not just get an echo charger or a battery combiner. Either would do the job, and allow the starting battery to charge via alternator, AC or solar. Connecting it would relatively simple. ACR sells a battery combiner that will handle up to 120 Amps for about $76 or so.

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Old 03-06-2008
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You might want to reconsider

your plans AAGE. You said you have 210ah Gel batteries and want to put a 40ah AGM for your starting batteries.

The charge rate voltage is different for GELS and AGM batteries. GEL cells must be charged at a lower voltage (2/10th's less) than flooded or AGM batteries. If overcharged, voids can develop in the gel which will never heal, causing a loss in battery capacity.

You could use a combiner that uses diodes, with the voltage drop across th diodes you should be below the 14.1 volt charge rate that will kill a GEL in short time. Now the problem is, your AGM will never get a full charge. But AGM's are less expensive than GEL's.

The call is yours to make, I don't know is there is a combiner with 2 voltage outputs.

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Capn' Dave's got a good point...

I'd recommend you go with all AGMs. Gel batteries, IMHO, don't offer any benefits and have all the disadvantages of both AGM and wet cell batteries.
Mixing battery chemistries is generally a bad idea, unless the two battery banks are never going to be charged together.
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The balmar Duo charge is a way to spit alternator current to two different type batteries to charge them properly underway with the engine running. Is this what you are looking to do? If so...it is a good unit and easy to set properly.

If you are looking for dockside charging...a 3 stage charger to your house bank of roughly 40amps + a Xantrex echo charger for the starter is what you need.

The ample power eliminator will work on dockside or alternator power but it is not clear to me if it has agm settings. worth a call.
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Old 03-07-2008
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thanks for the suggestions. My two gel batteries are still pretty good, so I do not want to replace them right now. Therefore I cannot use a battery combiner due to the different voltage levels involved. I am including a schematic of the planned electrics. Ba1 and Ba2 are batteries. The green dots temperature/voltage sensors, note, that each charger is temperature controlled. All the current goes first to the service battery and if its voltage is above 13.0V the starter battery is charged. So there NO diodes, etc.

I want to repeat my first question: Which unit is better for the B2B charger, the Balmar Digital Duo Charge or the Ample Power Eliminator? From their web site, I gathered that the Ample Power unit should not have a problem charging all kind of batteries. Does anybody have a contrary experience? Why is this unit more expensive 349 vesus 285$, although it can handle less current 5A(max12) versus 30A. The 5A would be sufficient to keep the starter battery happy.
Aage
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