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  #1  
Old 01-03-2010
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Light problem on Cal-22

Hello All, I am the new owner of an '86 Cal 22 and hope to get some advice on a problem with my lights. The boat has a single marine deep cycle battery (2-years old) that runs all the lights (running, cabin, mast, etc.). The problem is that the nav lights go dim very quickly, after 20-minutes or less, even with a fully charged battery. I assume the 8-hp Mercury outboard is re-charging the battery, but I don't know for sure. When I'm sailing at dusk or after hours I have to run the engine in neutral to keep the lights charged.
Any ideas??? I don't think it's the battery, but will get it checked. I have a solar panel to recharge, but I'm not sure thats working either. Where do I start? Any advice to a new owner is appreciated.
Thanks.
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Old 01-03-2010
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Hi and welcome
Would I be right to assume that any other lights dim as well after 20 minutes? Are you sure the battery is charged? Where you start is with a known. I'd get the battery load tested. You know the engine is charging because the lights are brighter with it running. If a battery needs replacing it will seem fully charged but the voltage drops quickly under use. Have you checked the fluid in the battery? The other thought is that if the battery is down a ways the 8hp outboard will take a long time to recharge it. I looked on the Mercury site and a 8hp outboard has a 6 amp alternator. Assuming the battery is 90 AH and is at 50% charge the engine would have to run about 8 or more hours to charge it fully.
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Last edited by mitiempo; 01-03-2010 at 08:44 PM. Reason: correction
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Old 01-03-2010
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Mitiempo, thank you for the quick response. You wrote..."You know the engine is charging because the lights are brighter with it running." I assumed the engine was charging the battery but was not sure because the battery never seemed fully charged. I will have the battery load tested and will check the water level.
If that checks ok, any other suggestions? I don't suppose the wiring is faulty because the lights do work. Also, there is a small solar panel that came with the boat. Is there a way to check if it is working properly, or does that take a long time to charge too.
Hope all is well in beautiful BC.
seb5thman
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Old 01-03-2010
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Let's just say it's not a good solar panel day in Victoria. But the rain is warm.
Like I said, if the battery is down a ways the engine's 6 amp alternator will take all day to recharge it fully. My guess is that you don't motor all day so it is never fully charged to start with. Are you at a marina with shorepower? If so the solution would be an ac charger so the battery is kept up between sailing trips. With your system it would not be hard to use more AH than you can put back in the battery and so constantly fall farther behind. To check the solar panel buy an inexpensive voltmeter. Radio Shack or a similar store should have one for $15 or so. By measuring voltage of the battery before and after the solar panel is connected (assuming sun) you'll see a higher voltage if it is working. Hope this helps.
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Brian, it makes a lot of sense what you say. Here's my situation. Bought the boat last summer and had a great time with it. There were a few more things that needed to fixed than the seller let on, oh well, it's still a solid boat for my first boat. It's on the hard in the winter and in a slip in the summer; no shore power. I charged the battery at the beginning of the season and was told by the owner that he never had to recharge all season. However, I would like to do some night sailing and would rely on the single battery to supply that power. I'd like to do it without having to run the engine when the power drops. I was thinking of a 2nd battery. I did take the battery home and recharged once over the summer, but I may have to do that more oftern if I can't rely on the alternator and solar panel.
Stay dry.
Jim
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Jim
A battery will slowly drain just sitting without use. You may have to take it home to charge more often as you suggest. I'd have it checked first as it seems to have been used more than charged. If you start a weekend with a full battery in good condition you should be okay. Isn't there power in the slip or nearby for a charger in the summer? If not a larger solar panel could make sense. What else needs fixing?
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Old 01-04-2010
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Also you should check that the solar panel is hooked up so that it does not discharge the battery when the panel is not producing power.
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RXBOT, what do you mean by making sure the solar panel is hooked up? Are you talking about the ends being connected, one to the solar panel and the other to the battery? If the solar panel is stored during non-use times, is that a problem?
Thanks.
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RXBOT stated " hooked uo so that it does not discharge..."
Solar panels usually have a diode installed so the power doesn't flow the wrong way at night or whenever the panel is not producing power.
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Old 01-04-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seb5thman View Post
If the solar panel is stored during non-use times, is that a problem?
Thanks.
If your solar panel is stowed (or stored) out of sunlight it will not charge the battery. If there is no regulator between the panel and the battery it could help discharge the battery while the panel is 'stowed'.
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