Dead Battery on Catalina 25 - SailNet Community

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  #1  
Old 09-04-2009
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Dead Battery on Catalina 25

I have owned this boat since February and I have a Marina Max battery with a Coleman trickle charge solor panel.

I have never had any issues with my battery dying or even the least "dim" lights.

I went out 2 nights ago, and the lights were so dim ( running and cabin ). I returned back earlier than wanted because of the danger.

I wonder if it is my battery or is my solor charger not working anymore?

I do not know how the solor charge is hooked up to the battery ,but I guess I will finding out tomorrow.
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Old 09-04-2009
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Your small solar panel may not keep up with any loads, but another possibility is that your battery has a dry cell... depending on the type you could refill with distilled water, and put a real charger on it for a couple of days.

Don't think you can rely solely on a small solar panel to maintain a charge once you start using amps....

Or, as you say, perhaps there's a broken connection somewhere.
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Old 09-04-2009
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Well I really never use the lights anyways.
I have used the lights ( running or cabin ) once since February and that was the 4th of July. The lights ran for the entire 5-6 hours we were out in the dark. With no problems.

I will try to re-fill the cells with distilled water and see if that works.
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Old 09-04-2009
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I second Faster's rec to first check the water level in all of the cells. I learned that lesson the hard way...
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Old 09-04-2009
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Well, now you go to Target or WalMart and invest $20 in a digital multimeter, so you can test the output of the charger and the battery.

If that's one of the under-$50 solar panels? It would be most unusual if it wasn't damaged by rain, if it has been outdoors all this time. Who would think, a device designed to be left out in the sun, couldn't be left out period.
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Old 09-04-2009
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Hi,

You could have many or few problems, without doing some diagnostic testing there is no way to guess.

As previously mentioned, you need to buy or borrow a voltmeter. The cheapest model at Sears / Home Depot / Lowes / Radio Shack would be fine. Digital is better than analog, but analog would work to.

Your problem could be:
  • a bad connection between the battery and the boat, either the positive or negative
  • a bad connection between the battery and the charger
  • a defective charger
  • an undersized charger
  • a dead battery
  • a dry battery
  • bad wiring on the boat
That's why it's impossible to determine the cause without a meter and a sunny day.

If it were my boat I would start by physically examining the battery. Are there dry cells? Is it cracked and leaking? Are the connections clean and tight? Is there corrosion or broken wires? After that I would remove, clean, and tighten all the wiring connections. Next, on a sunny day, I would disconnect the solar charger and measure the battery voltage. Then I would connect the solar charger and measure the voltage again. If the voltage doesn't go up, the charger is bad.

Perform those tests and let us know the results.

Good luck,
Barry
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Old 09-04-2009
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Did you check the battery charge level (specific gravity) with a tester? As has been noted, a solar trickle charger will maintain a fully charged battery while not being used but will not bring back one that is discharged.
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Old 09-05-2009
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I ran the house batts down to where it would not start the 2gm20. We overnighted in a friends cove and had stayed up late... I switched over to the starting batt and it was dead.(still under warranty) I put the solar panel out for max exposure while sailing back to make the start of the race to try to recharge the house batt. It took an hour and we were able to spin the engine with the decompression levers open and dropped them once we had all the rpms we were going to get. On the second try, it farted, coughed and started up. We were able to get enough charge prior to the race to listen to tunes and be able to start the engine after the race. The engine battery was prorated and replaced for a small fraction of the original cost (red top orbital) The solar panel was a cheepie (set of 2 in parallel) to get 1.6 amps in the sun. Nothing fancy but worked out this time...
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