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post #1 of 14 Old 05-08-2008 Thread Starter
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Battery chargers

i'm looking to install a battery charger on my 30' catalina. not sure on options/manufacturers i should be looking at.
my current batteries are shot so i'm looking to install 2 group 27s for the house and starting. i was looking at the east penn deka marine masters but i have a credit at west marine so i was thinking of using their batteries since it seems east penn makes their batteries. the wm batteries are their 12v deep cycle group 27 for the house and 12v starting group 27 (900 mca, 182 res. min.). i'm planning on mostly day sailing and overnight trips with the kids.
also, can i mix the deep cycle house battery with the maintenace free starting battery.

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post #2 of 14 Old 05-08-2008
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batteries first

Before you can pick a charger, you need to pick your batteries, and before you pick your batteries, take a serious look at AGM or Gel batteries: you'll no longer need a distinction between "house" and "starting" batteries since they perform both functions. Instead you can just have two battery banks. More expensive, but worth it in the long run. See the Penn website for breakdowns on number of cycles, etc. Then if you go that route you need a three-stage charger to make sure the batteries are charged correctly.

I replaced all my batteries with AGM's, installed smart charger and smart regulator for the alternator and have been very happy with the results. Took some research and a mind-set change after 30 years of "house" versus "starting," but well worth it. Lot's of good literature out there.

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post #3 of 14 Old 05-08-2008
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I have a C27 that I use the same way you describe (I use 2 Group 24 batteries) and I installed a Xantrex Truecharge 2 years ago. It has worked flawlessly and I would buy the same thing if I had it to do over. FWIW.
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post #4 of 14 Old 05-08-2008
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For occasional light use...AGM's are not a cost effective solution AND there is a reason that battery companies make both deep cycle AGM's and Starting Battery AGM's. They ARE different and using deep cycles of any kind for starting duties is not a great idea. (Note...little danger if you are using an extremely large bank where the current demands as a % of total capacity are minimal.)
As to the single group 27 as a "house bank" that gives you only about 45 AH's to play with before a recharge is needed which is pretty minimal. Are you sure that is enough?
...And YES you can mix the sealed starting battery with your house bank flooded batteries. The sealed starting battery is actually a flooded type and takes all the same charging parameters.

As far as charging goes...get a3 stage charger and if you stick with the single group 27 house battery, something in the 15-20 amp range will be plenty even if you get an extra group 27 down the road.

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post #5 of 14 Old 05-08-2008
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Having worked on a buddies C30, and ruined a few sets of clothes on his wet cells, I recommend going with Optima Spiral top AGM's. Get two or three of the 34's (group 27), you'll have 75 ah each. With 2 you have 150 ah, which is 75 ah before you cycle, and 30ah more than your current set up. 75ah is plenty for conservative use of cabin lights, anchor light and stero, not much more.
I recommend the Optima's because they have proven to be able to handle overvoltage charges better. Your altenator, if stock on the Universal 25 like his isn't regulated for AGM's but these will handle what it puts out. His altenator twiddled around at 14.1 to 14.6v; 14.6v will fry some AGM's. Alternatively, get an external regulator for your altenator. If you have the older 12hp, you have the same altenator problem.
For a charger, you are a day sailor, you have all week to top off. Go with the cheapest 3 stage 10 amp marine rated you can find with a AGM setting.
Alternatively, for a little more - hang a 80w or so solar panel and you'll never need a charger again. I've had my boat for a year now and have never used my charger other than to see if it works and all I have is one 80w panel, a stock 50amp altenator and three Optima 34's as my house bank.
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i apologize for the dumb questions ahead of time. electrical work isn't my specialty. looking at my electrical load, i'm figuring 50 ah a day. if i switch my current interior bulbs to halogen i can get it down to 38-40ah. if i'm reading everything correctly, i need a house battery which is at least 2x larger, so about 100 ah? it looks like a deep cycle group 31 would give me 105ah which is just cutting it. or if i can fit them, 2-6v deep cycle batteries. each one, GC2 size, is 215 ah. would two of these give me 12v @ 215ah or 12v @ 430v? also, can i mix 2 6v on for the house and the 12v group 27 for the engine. i'm worried what would happen if someone switched the battery switch to 1+2.
finally, just to be more of a pain in the ass, could i use a 12v dual purpose 904d battery at 160ah. reading the lit. on this is seems best used if using the engine alot. not sure if this would be a good choice?

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post #7 of 14 Old 05-09-2008
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First to answer one of your original questions: yes, I think East Penn makes the West Marine house brand, although I can't remember where I heard that, probably from the same guy in the bar who swore he had figured out a way to save money by re-engineering his diesel to run on coconut milk

I'd back up even one step further. What are you trying to accomplish? If you're just looking to basically put in new batteries for as little money as possible, use your credit, replace what you have, and relax and go sailing. If however you're looking at this as an opportunity to upgrade your system, then you have lots of options. First, go for as many amp hours as you can afford/fit in the boat. I've never met anyone who complained "I've got batteries that are too big," but I've met plenty of people who complained they don't have enough juice and have to run the engine too much, or run their batteries down too much, and the captain becomes an amp-Nazi ("turn off that light!"). So yes, you can do all the calculations for amp hours per day, and then double it, but you used the dreaded word: kids. Somebody will always leave a light on, or run the stereo, or a water pump, or whatever. And oem boats ALWAYS have battery banks that are way too small; it's one of the ways builders like Catalina save money.

I'm a big fan of the Slocum way of sailing: no electrical system at all, but in today's world, people want more and more electrical gadgets. So more power the better.

I humbly disagree with our fearless moderator about AGM's not being a cost effective solution. Yes, they have a higher initial cost, including a smart charger, but their long term cost per cycle is cheaper, and they have a much faster recharge rate (less fuel spent recharging the batteries at anchor). And they are more resilient to deep discharges, being stored without a trickle charge, etc. Conventional batteries usually give up the ghost sooner than they are rated for because most people let them discharge too far. And since your original question was about buying a new charger, you're already spending that money anyway.

I especially like the solar power response in this thread. Even a flexible solar panel that you put on the cabin top when you're not on the boat will keep your batteries topped off. Get a big bank(s) that can be used all weekend without totally discharging it, put the solar panel on during the week and your batteries will be topped off by next weekend. No running the engine in the anchorage for an hour on Sat. night to charge up the batteries and annoy your neighbors and yourself.

One more thing: use this opportunity to clean all the battery terminal connections, starter motor terminal connections, battery switch terminals, check your battery cables for size and corrosion, etc. Many of the excess current demands when starting are often due to high resistance from corroded connections and/or undersized, un-tinned cables. AGM or dual-purpose batteries should be fine for starting a small engine like yours if the system is properly designed, and then, again, you don't need "house" versus "starting" batteries.

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post #8 of 14 Old 05-09-2008
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Also, as far as a charger goes, where do you keep the boat? On a mooring or at a dock? What kind of shore power is available? What shore power, if any, do you currently have on the boat? When you go for a weekend, do you anchor out or stay at marinas? These sorts of things will also determine your charger/battery needs.

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post #9 of 14 Old 05-09-2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wchevron View Post
i apologize for the dumb questions ahead of time. electrical work isn't my specialty. looking at my electrical load, i'm figuring 50 ah a day. if i switch my current interior bulbs to halogen i can get it down to 38-40ah. if i'm reading everything correctly, i need a house battery which is at least 2x larger, so about 100 ah? it looks like a deep cycle group 31 would give me 105ah which is just cutting it. or if i can fit them, 2-6v deep cycle batteries. each one, GC2 size, is 215 ah. would two of these give me 12v @ 215ah or 12v @ 430v? also, can i mix 2 6v on for the house and the 12v group 27 for the engine. i'm worried what would happen if someone switched the battery switch to 1+2.
finally, just to be more of a pain in the ass, could i use a 12v dual purpose 904d battery at 160ah. reading the lit. on this is seems best used if using the engine alot. not sure if this would be a good choice?
Let me take the questions one at a time.
yes, you should go with at least twice your 'goal' in ah expenditure. I'd add a little bit. How you got to 50 a day is up to you, since you have a number I assume you know how to calculate it.
LED's consume less than halogen, and don't heat up the inside of the boat, if you are going to switch bulbs, switch to LED (include the anchor light which is probably your biggest drain).
Having one bank of 2 6v 215ah batteries wired up in parallel (positive to positive, negative to negative) will produce 12v.
Connecting in series (positive to negative) increases (adds) AH. There is no magic way to do both . Typically folks take 4 6v's at for example 200ah each, wire them in 2 banks of 12v parallel for two banks of 12 @200ah, then wire those two banks in series to get 1 bank of 12v @ 400ah.

Not to worry, 2 6v's at 215ah each, or a 12v 215ah bank fits your intended useage just fine.

Having experienced the joy that is the Catalina 30 battery locker you have to be a contortionist to refill the water on lead acids, or you'd have to unload the locker to do so. I prefer the ease of maintenance on AGM batteries (none). Remember you will need space for the battery box, ventilation, and access to fill the batteries with the inevitable testing / refill that lead acids require and of course the wiring .
Having a bank like that and a group 27 12v will not produce a problem as long as your charging system takes it into account (separate circuits).

I personally like all my batteries to be the same so I can swap them out if one dies prematurely, not all folks are as anal.

Last edited by chucklesR; 05-09-2008 at 11:59 AM.
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post #10 of 14 Old 05-09-2008
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A few corrections...

Quote:
Originally Posted by chucklesR View Post
Let me take the questions one at a time.
yes, you should go with at least twice your 'goal' in ah expenditure. I'd add a little bit. How you got to 50 a day is up to you, since you have a number I assume you know how to calculate it.
LED's consume less than halogen, and don't heat up the inside of the boat, if you are going to switch bulbs, switch to LED (include the anchor light which is probably your biggest drain).
Having one bank of 2 6v 215ah batteries wired up in parallel (positive to positive, negative to negative) will produce 12v.
The two 6 Volt batteries should be hooked up in SERIES—positive to negative, and then negative to ground and one positive to battery switch, preferably with an inline fuse, not PARALLEL.

Quote:
Connecting in series (positive to negative) increases (adds) AH. There is no magic way to do both . Typically folks take 4 6v's at for example 200ah each, wire them in 2 banks of 12v parallel for two banks of 12 @200ah, then wire those two banks in series to get 1 bank of 12v @ 400ah.
I think Chuckles meant to say:

4 6v's at for example 200ah each, wire them in 2 banks of 12v series for two banks of 12 @ 200ah, then wire those banks in parallel to get a large bank of 12v @ 400 ah.

Quote:
Not to worry, 2 6v's at 215ah each, or a 12v 215ah bank fits your intended useage just fine.

Having experienced the joy that is the Catalina 30 battery locker you have to be a contortionist to refill the water on lead acids, or you'd have to unload the locker to do so. I prefer the ease of maintenance on AGM batteries (none). Remember you will need space for the battery box, ventilation, and access to fill the batteries with the inevitable testing / refill that lead acids require and of course the wiring .
Having a bank like that and a group 27 12v will not produce a problem as long as your charging system takes it into account (separate circuits).

I personally like all my batteries to be the same so I can swap them out if one dies prematurely, not all folks are as anal.
I think Chuckles needs coffee.

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