Originally Posted by danielgoldberg
We've come upon something now on our punch list that might actually impact our ability to leave the dealer on time. Our charging system seems to be acting a little screwy. This is a bit long, for which I apologize, but I'm hoping to give a detailed description so as to allow otherw to provide some useful advice.
Our house bank consists of 4 4D lead acid batts. Our engine start is a Group 31 lead acid.
Damn, that's a pretty big house bank...not as big as Steelboat's, but still...
The dealer installed a Freedom 30 inverter charger, as well as a Link 2000 monitor/controller. The boat also has it's own volt meter on the electrical panel.
Good, this is a great addition to the system IMHO.
The house and engine start are separated by an isolator. I confess that I don't yet fully grasp the setup (but I'll get there) because I've not had a boat set up this way before. My previous boats had the house and engine banks entirely separate, and connected solely by an emergency switch. So, the concept of isolators is new to me.
Not a big fan of isolators, due to the voltage drop they cause and charging problems the voltage drop can cause.
As for battery switches, there is a single negative switch, and then two positive switches, one for the house and one for the engine (if you've seen Beneteau's setup on this, you'll know what I mean).
By negative switch, do you mean there's a switch in the ground line???
The Freedom 30 also has two echo chargers, one of which is connected to the engine start on our boat. I have a slight concern about this, as it's not clear to me why the echo charger is hooked up to the engine start bank if the two banks are separated only by an isolator. In theory, whatever charging source is on the house bank should flow through to the engine start too, but loads drawn on the house bank should not draw on the engine start, or at least that's how it has been explained to me. Again, this setup is new to me, and I may be getting some of this wrong.
The echo charger is probably hooked up to the engine start bank to avoid the problems caused by the isolator and the voltage drop it creates. Also, by using the echo charger, the Freedom 30 can do a better job of properly charging the engine start bank. If it went with just the isolator connection, the voltage would be a bit low to really fully charge the battery properly.
Finally, the boat was plugged in to shore power, but it was a god-awful connection. There were several 15 amp extension cords connected for the very VERY long run to the shoreside outlet, and in turn the final extension cord was plugged into a 30 to 15 amp reducer so as to allow the connection to the boat's 30 amp outlet.
That's a damn dangerous setup IMHO. A real fire hazard and possibly an electrocution hazard as well.
OK, that's pretty much the setup. Now here's what's going on. We fired up the charger, and at first all seemed to be well. The house bank was getting between 14.4 and 14.5 volts as registered on the Link 2000, and the engine battery was a tenth or so less, which is typical when working with echo chargers. The boat's volt meter on the electrical panel concurred for the most part (the Link is more sensitive and reads to hundreths, whereas the panel's volt meter reads only tenths). Once the batteries were charged and the charger shifted over to float, things got a little odd. At first, it seemed fine, as the house bank dropped to 13.6 volts or so, and the engine start went to 13.4. Then, over a little bit of time, the engine start bank started to creep up, and eventually was in the 14.5 range, with the house bank remaining at 13.6, and the Link 2000 showing the system in float mode. Clearly something's amiss. The Link 2000 and the boat's integral volt meter pretty much concur, which makes me think the problem is not merely the gauge misreading the voltage.
This may be due to the fact that the setup you have can't possibly be supplying the Freedom 30 with enough amperage on the AC side. The sucker draws well over 15 amps when it is charging. IIRC, the Freedom 30 draws 28 amps @ 110 VAC when the thing is operating at full power. The charger has a maximum charge rate of 140 Amps DC.
Plus, another oddity (and I'm thinking it must be related somehow), with the water heater breaker on, incoming AC voltage dropped from 120 to 109 volts, which I attribute to the poor connection to the boat, which would account for the voltage drop under a load like a hot water heater. But, the impact on the batteries was a full tenth or so on the ENGINE START bank. That is, with the hot water breaker off, the engine start bank would jump up a tenth or so in voltage. Indeed, in charge mode, with the hot water heater off, the engine start bank would spike every now and again to 14.7 or even 14.8 volts, tripping the warning on the boat's integral volt meter, which ain't good. I'm not at all sure why the AC water heater circuit would have an impact on the engine start voltage without any impact on the house bank voltage.
This may be due to how the Freedom 30 is hooked up. Does your boat have only a single 30 A shorepower connection or does it have two 30 A shore power connectors? The Freedom 30 can be setup with either one or two AC inputs and one or two AC outputs. Depending on which of the four possible setups it was installed with, the behavior of the unit can change.
Two other tidbits. First, when you hit the buttons to switch from bank 1 to bank 2 on the Link 2000, all the backlights on the Link 2000 panel flash. Sort of has the look of stray RF energy when you key your SSB mic, if that helps describe the situation. Second, when I turn on the negative battery switch, certain interior lights on the boat flash once. It doesn't happen when the negative switch is turned off, or when any of the positive switches are turned either on or off.
So, what the heck is going on? There are a lot of moving pieces, and it certainly is possible that they are unrelated, but I'm thinking not. I'm assuming that something must be wired wrong, or there's a problem with the isolator, etc. I'm meeting the dealer in the morning to go over a whole bunch of stuff on the boat (general walk through, sea trial, etc.), but this will be at the top of my list. Anyone have any thoughts so that I can hit the ground running tomorrow morning?
No idea on these last two...without more information on the "negative" switch and how it is connected and what it is supposed to do. Also, knowing what kind of light fixtures are on the boat would help. Are the ones that flicker all the same type or on the same circuit or have anything in common?