Shore power chargers don't make any sense to me ... - Page 3 - SailNet Community
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post #21 of 48 Old 05-25-2019
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Re: Shore power chargers don't make any sense to me ...

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Originally Posted by BillMoran View Post
.....I'm not sure I understand what you're getting at, here. I suspect you've misunderstood the situation.
Sorry, Bill. I think itís you who misunderstands. Youíre getting good advise you donít seem to want to hear.


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Re: Shore power chargers don't make any sense to me ...

How do choose an appropriate charger? What are the criteria?
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Re: Shore power chargers don't make any sense to me ...

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"Note that periodic fast charging can help restore usable capacity after periods of constant slow charging after deep discharge cycles."

In order to get maximum cycle life from your Firefly batteries they suggest a ďminimumĒ charge current. Your solar cannot provide this, so it will be up to your shore charger or alternator to provide the beneficial high charge current. This high charge-charge current is also a major part of the "Firefly Restoration Charge" protocol..

Firefly is not the only AGM maker to suggest high charge currents being beneficial to longevity, Odyssey recommends .4C min, Lifeline .2C min (higher is preferred) etc.. Fast charging does make a difference in longevity and is quite critical with Firefly, especially in reversing the effects of PCoC abuse when doing a restoration charge.. The bolded portion of post 12 explains it.

"If deep cycling, ideally once or twice per week, the batteries should be charged at a current of 0.4C or more (40 Amps for a 100 Ah battery), or at least 25A per battery."

If you donít wish to charge the Firefly batteries as they recommend, eg; sufficient charge current, all charge sources eg; solar, wind, alternator, shore charger, are temp compensated, programmed for proper float and absorption voltages then you may want to consider less expensive batteries or ones that prefer slow charging such as thick plate flooded batteries. Start building the infrastructure now, (alternator/regulator, shore charger, solar etc.) with the money you saved on the Firefly's, and when the deep-cycle flooded batteries die you'll be better prepared for AGM batteries.

Like with most AGM batteries the infrastructure to support them, shore charger, solar, alternator/regulator etc. is actually the most important aspect, that you can really control, in regards to longevity.
I grok all that. So, while I'm away from the dock, living at anchor for long periods of time, how does a shore power charger help with any of this?

The fast charging requirement is why I just dumped $1k into a Balmar 100A alternator. That's my reason for assuming that the use case for a massive shore power charger is not the same as my expected use. If I'm off base on that design, please let me know, it's not too late to return the charger (I haven't installed it yet ... still working on the alternator).
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Re: Shore power chargers don't make any sense to me ...

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Sorry, Bill. I think itís you who misunderstands. Youíre getting good advise you donít seem to want to hear.
It's possible that I'm missing a key part of the puzzle, but this is what I'm basing things on:

* If I'm on shorepower, then I'm not deeply discharing the batteries, thus there is no need for high amp charging
* If I'm deeply discharging the batteries, it's because I'm away from shorepower thus a larger shore power charger can't help me and I need a different method of fast charging the batteries

Am I wrong on either of those?

Those are the two points driving my design, which is:
* Buy FF batteries
* Buy enough solar to keep them topped off
* Buy a large alternator to fast charge them from the engine when needed
* Buy a small shore power charger because I don't need anything bigger as the other components cover all the bases

Is there a point in that design that is flawed?

If you want to play the "he's not listening anyway" card and stop discussing the topic, I can't stop you. But that's not the case: I am listening, I'm not understanding what's wrong with this approach.
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Re: Shore power chargers don't make any sense to me ...

A lot of the advice you are getting may be perfectly true with regards to FF, AGM, lead and deep cycling, but not every bit will pertain to your specific use case.

No one knows nor cares about that as much as you.

For example most long term liveaboard cruisers would use their AC chargers fed by a genset, at least as much as from shore power.

Many may live on the hook, and only very occasionally have any access at all to shore power, and that for short periods, so want fast charging as possible.

The original premise / tone of your posting showed you did not have all the information that you know now.

Certainly enough - if you've taken it on board - to make your decision yourself.

If your alternator setup gives you the ability to properly care for your Fireflies, so that **your choice** of shore power charger can be a low & slow cheaper one, then great, do that.
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post #26 of 48 Old 05-25-2019
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Re: Shore power chargers don't make any sense to me ...

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The fast charging requirement is why I just dumped $1k into a Balmar 100A alternator. That's my reason for assuming that the use case for a massive shore power charger is not the same as my expected use. If I'm off base on that design, please let me know, it's not too late to return the charger (I haven't installed it yet ... still working on the alternator).
I had a high amp Balmar installed about 20 years ago to support high charge rate, but my diesel mechanic advised that I would be overstressing the fresh water water pump on my 3GM30. I subsequently replaced the alternator with one rated for 65 A, which is still more than the 45 A alternator that came with the motor.

BTW, I didnít trash a perfectly good 100 A alternator, which got trashed in a lightning strike.
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Re: Shore power chargers don't make any sense to me ...

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I had a high amp Balmar installed about 20 years ago to support high charge rate, but my diesel mechanic advised that I would be overstressing the fresh water water pump on my 3GM30. I subsequently replaced the alternator with one rated for 65 A, which is still more than the 45 A alternator that came with the motor.

BTW, I didnít trash a perfectly good 100 A alternator, which got trashed in a lightning strike.
I'm running off of Balmar's recommendations ... they have a doowhatsit on their site where I entered the make+model of my engine and they listed which alternators would work with it.

Interestingly, while prepping for the installation, I realized that the cables going to the alternator were WAY too small for 100 amp. No surprise, I guess, but what really shocked me is that according to ABYC, those cables are sized for about 15 amps. The alternator that I took off was a 55 amp, which makes me think that a previous owner upgraded the alternator without upgrading the wiring.
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Re: Shore power chargers don't make any sense to me ...

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I'm running off of Balmar's recommendations ... they have a doowhatsit on their site where I entered the make+model of my engine and they listed which alternators would work with it.
Have you checked with the manufacturer of your engine?

My mechanic (whoís been around the block a few times) indicated that the added load of the high amp alternator would stress the bearings on my fresh water pump. There was no question that my motor could drive the alternator to 100 A and it fit readily in place of the original alternator. (~45 A ?), but the peak belt tension would be twice that of the OEM configuration.

I had the higher amp alternator for 10 years and didnít have a problem, but I would only average about 50 hours on the motor each year.

Hopefully Balmar did their research properly and you are in good shape.
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post #29 of 48 Old 05-26-2019
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Re: Shore power chargers don't make any sense to me ...

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Originally Posted by BillMoran View Post
......If you want to play the "he's not listening anyway" card and stop discussing the topic, I can't stop you. But that's not the case: I am listening, I'm not understanding what's wrong with this approach.
Bill, no one is playing a card. It comes across as a rude way of engaging folks you’re asking for help. I think you’re probably a pretty nice guy, doing a cool thing and getting out cruising. It’s a touch hard to answer your question, because you seem to fixate on your own thinking. For me anyway, it comes across more like a dare to disagree.

Why don’t we start over. Deal?

I don’t believe your solar can possibly keep your batteries fully topped up. Many of us have explained that above. One issue you might not be familiar with is the charge curve. At higher states of charge, lead accepts less. It doesn’t matter how much you can create, you need time. The sun goes down, or in many cases is blocked by clouds all day and you don’t get the time.

Your alternator, if programmed properly, could do so on long passages. It will not put out rated amperage, unless at high RPM. Therefore, if using it at anchor or at the slip, you have you run the diesel up to high rpm, in neutral. That would tick everyone off at a slip.

Therefore, should you get to a slip, without fully charged batteries already (say you were sailing all day in overcast skies), a light charger will only keep up with your usage. The draw overnight, while your solar is inactive, won’t be properly recovered.

Your boat, your choice. A good charger is the best way to protect the longevity of your new, very expensive, house bank. Personally, I would want to get to shore periodically (or run a generator), to plug in and get a good proper Bulk-Absorb recharge. You’ll enjoy your boat either way, but poorly charging will just reduce your house bank’s lifespan. Many over build their Ahr capacity to allow for this, but that also comes at a cost.

Good luck.


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Last edited by Minnewaska; 05-26-2019 at 10:18 AM.
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Re: Shore power chargers don't make any sense to me ...

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Originally Posted by fallard View Post
Have you checked with the manufacturer of your engine?

My mechanic (whoís been around the block a few times) indicated that the added load of the high amp alternator would stress the bearings on my fresh water pump. There was no question that my motor could drive the alternator to 100 A and it fit readily in place of the original alternator. (~45 A ?), but the peak belt tension would be twice that of the OEM configuration.

I had the higher amp alternator for 10 years and didnít have a problem, but I would only average about 50 hours on the motor each year.

Hopefully Balmar did their research properly and you are in good shape.
That's a good point. I'll give Westerbeke a call on Tuesday and see if they object.
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