Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: New England
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One other point about what Maine Sail wrote. All the charging sources—solar panels, alternator, AC-based charger— should be connected to the house bank, and the echo charger will charge the starting bank whenever it detects a charging level current on the house side, not just the alternator.
The main two differences between an echo charger and a battery combiner are:
First, under certain circumstances, you can draw down a fully charged starting battery with the battery combiner, since it will try to equalize charge levels between the house and starting battery banks—an echo charger doesn't allow this since it is basically a one-way device.
Second, you can overcharge and possibly damage a starting battery if the house bank is every very badly depleted, since it will reach full charge long before the house bank does and require the voltage to be stepped down, but a battery combiner treats it as part of the house bank, and won't step down the voltage until the house bank reaches the same level of charge. An echo charger is usually a three-stage smart charger, and won't do this, since it keeps the house and starting banks essentially separate.
While I am currently using an ACR unit, I will probably be upgrading to an echo charger type unit later this year as well for these two reasons.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.
—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)
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