How to connect alternator, solar and shore power to batteries? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 14 Old 08-06-2018 Thread Starter
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How to connect alternator, solar and shore power to batteries?

I'm working on fixing some issues I inherited from the previous owner and am wondering what is the 'correct' method for attaching my various charging sources to both my house bank and my start battery.

Can I connect all of them to the battery isolator and then from there use the battery 1 and battery 2 output to the two different banks? Is it that easy? The isolator manual says hook up the alternator (or shore charger) to the input but doesn't mention solar.

Thanks,
Dave

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post #2 of 14 Old 08-07-2018
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Re: How to connect alternator, solar and shore power to batteries?

Good question Dave , I'm not the guy to answer it but I would like to see this post get some hits . First lets break it down , what kind of isolator are you using ? Is it the old diode type like I have ? I was told to get rid of mine and get one of the newer ones . As for a A/C battery charger , I just bought a new one from this guy Purchase a Sterling ProCharge Ultra Photo Gallery by Compass Marine How To at pbase.com I got the 40 amp , the owner of this site (Rod) is a nice guy and answers questions . He checks in here once in a while , so maybe he'll chime in here and bail me out . Anyhow the charger hooks up to each battery , with or with out a isolator . I'm kind of thinking I don't need a Isolator . From my Isolator , a wire from it powers my Amp meter , this wire I was told to run from the Amp meter to my starter (the big pole) . If I ditch the Isolator .
Lastly Solar , my set up is separate from anything except the battery the controller and the panel .
I hope this helps a little . Come on people I'm dyin' here .
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post #3 of 14 Old 08-07-2018
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Re: How to connect alternator, solar and shore power to batteries?

Tad off subject but I always thought the shore power charger should have inputs for solar, wind and alternator power. The control electronics for battery charging are already in there, just needs additional inputs. And this is a way to subscribe to this thread while adding a bit to the conversation.
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post #4 of 14 Old 08-07-2018
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Re: How to connect alternator, solar and shore power to batteries?

Without knowing your particulars it’s hard to give specific advice. Tell us some more
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post #5 of 14 Old 08-08-2018 Thread Starter
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Re: How to connect alternator, solar and shore power to batteries?

Hey guys thanks for the comments.

@Markwesti - I'm currently without a working isolator, or not working properly anyways but it's a diode one. I'm planning on replacing it with a new Victron FET model that doesn't have the voltage drop the diode ones do.

@chef2sail - Additional details below.

More details on the system:

6x Lifeline AGM 6v batteries wired as 1 12v bank
1x AGM Start battery (can't recall brand)
Xantrex TrueCharge 40+ (only used during occasional marina stays)
Balmar 150A Alternator
400W solar
Victron BlueSolar 100v/50a controller
Victron BMV-712 Battery Monitor
Victron ARGOFET 200-2 (200A, 2 battery bank) Isolator (on order)
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post #6 of 14 Old 08-08-2018
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Re: How to connect alternator, solar and shore power to batteries?

I am certainly no expert on this subject, but have an interest in these things and my opinion there is no one right way to wire the various inputs to your batteries. You could tie everything into the isolator with no problem - may need to connect to a positive bus first to avoid terminal congestion at the isolator. You could also tie the solar and house charge inputs just to the house bank, and let the alternator charge the start battery when it's running. A lot depends on your personal preferences.

For example, my boat is set up with no isolator, and all charge sources go to the house bank. An Echo charger feeds the start battery. This keeps the banks effectively isolated and the both the house and start battery banks charged well. I haVe an on - off switch for the house bank, and a separate one for the start battery. An emergency switch allows me to use the house battery to start the engine in an emergency.

Make sure if you send all charging sources to the isolator that you size the wires from the isolator to the batteries for the total combined current from all of the charge sources.
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post #7 of 14 Old 08-08-2018
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Re: How to connect alternator, solar and shore power to batteries?

Isolators are a poor choice for solar controllers and smart chargers because there is no turn on voltage present on the input stud. They are intended for alterntors and are not even a good choice there.

Most decent controllers and chargers need to see a voltage in order to turn on. You would be better off to feed everything to a charge bus (busbar in close proximity to house positive) and then use an ACR/Combiner/VSR or Echo Charger, Duo Charger or a DC to DC battery to battery charger to charge the start.
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Re: How to connect alternator, solar and shore power to batteries?

Thanks @bigdogandy , yeah I'll definitely size the wires to the isolator appropriately to the total combined current.


@Maine Sail - oops posted before I saw your post. Thanks for the input I'll look at the other (ARC, combiner, etc) options instead.. do you have anything in particular that you really like in that regard?

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Re: How to connect alternator, solar and shore power to batteries?

Dave-
I'd suggest one of the physical books from Charlie Wing or Ed Sherman or Nigel Calder on boat electrical systems. They will not just answer your question, but they go a long way to explaining options and showing you how to actually do things, and they may very well answer questions that you haven't thought of yet. Search online for "boat electric book" or ask a local reference librarian, if they don't have one they can usually bring it in for a free library loan. Not a huge expense or delay, and you'll get comprehensive information.
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Re: How to connect alternator, solar and shore power to batteries?

@hellosailor - I've got a couple/few (Calder, Casey, etc) but I'll check out and see what else is out there. I wish I could find one that had the latest tech in it like LED lights, new battery technologies, etc but so far no-dice. If you know of any that are that current please feel free to make suggestions. In the mean time I'll dig back into the books, read more online stuff and then decide which parts I need to import on down here. :cheers:
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