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post #11 of 17 Old 07-20-2015
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charge voltage.

I seek advice about my charging set up on a Sabre 426 mk II. After a full day of sailing using the auto pilot, electronics including radar, etc. our charging system delivers between 3.4 and 3.9 volts to our Odyssey batteries (1 starter bank and one 4X battery house bank). The system has a manual combiner switch that we leave in the off position and an automatic charging relay that combines the two banks. The charging system is a Balmar 614 and 100 amp alternator. The Balmar 614 is programed for AGM as recommended by Odyssey. Except when cruising or day sailing, the boat is on a shore charger that delivers 14.6 volts until it reaches the float stage. When we take the boat off the shore charger and start the engine, the Balmar system charges initially at 14.3 volts but as expected soon switches to float. What I donít understand is why it does not charge at 14.3 volts when motoring after drawing amps from the battery while sailing. Iím especially concerned that we will potentially damage the battery because of the low bulk phase voltage (the 614 display indicates ďbulkĒ phase with a capacity of 14.3 volts) but the actual charging voltage is typically 3.4-3.9 volts. Is this normal or is it possible that something else is wrong i.e a defective ACR?
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post #12 of 17 Old 07-20-2015
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Re: Not getting enough charge voltage.

If the ACR was defective the primary battery would show the proper voltage, the other not.

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post #13 of 17 Old 07-20-2015
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Re: charge voltage.

Quote:
Originally Posted by msogin View Post
I seek advice about my charging set up on a Sabre 426 mk II. After a full day of sailing using the auto pilot, electronics including radar, etc. our charging system delivers between 3.4 and 3.9 volts to our Odyssey batteries (1 starter bank and one 4X battery house bank). The system has a manual combiner switch that we leave in the off position and an automatic charging relay that combines the two banks. The charging system is a Balmar 614 and 100 amp alternator. The Balmar 614 is programed for AGM as recommended by Odyssey. Except when cruising or day sailing, the boat is on a shore charger that delivers 14.6 volts until it reaches the float stage. When we take the boat off the shore charger and start the engine, the Balmar system charges initially at 14.3 volts but as expected soon switches to float. What I don’t understand is why it does not charge at 14.3 volts when motoring after drawing amps from the battery while sailing. I’m especially concerned that we will potentially damage the battery because of the low bulk phase voltage (the 614 display indicates “bulk” phase with a capacity of 14.3 volts) but the actual charging voltage is typically 3.4-3.9 volts. Is this normal or is it possible that something else is wrong i.e a defective ACR?
You are likely experiencing some voltage drop due to your regulator and alternator being wired incorrectly and your setting for the TPPL AGM's is not correct..

Alternators and Voltage Sensing - Why it is Important

The Balmar AGM setting is NOT optimal for your Odyssey TPPL AGM batteries. Using the factory "pre-sets" for Odyssey TPPL AGM's will shorten their life and can lead to irreversible sulfation damage.

With the battery bank discharged...

YOU WILL NOT & SHOULD SEE ABSORPTION VOLTAGE FOR A LONG WHILE!

If your discharged bank of TPPL AGM's comes up to target voltage quickly, with a 100A alt, the batteries have been ruined and are due for replacement..

In bulk charging the voltage is SLOWLY climbing to the Balmar bulk 1 voltage set point (this should be 14.7V). Depending upon how deep you go bulk charging should take you two plus hours before you hit 14.7V.

A 100Ah Odyssey PC-2150, discharged to 11.7V, then charged at 46A (.46C) will not hit 14.7V in less than an hour, unless the battery is sulfated.

You are charging at nowhere close to .46C with a 100A alternator so expect upwards of two+ hours before yous see 14.7V at the battery terminals. With a 100A alt you are likely at about 75A, when hot, so your charge rate on a 400Ah bank of TPPL AGM's is a paltry 18.7% or 0.187C..... Odyssey wants to see .4C (40A for a 100Ah battery or 160A continuous for a 400Ah bank) as optimal charge current.

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post #14 of 17 Old 07-20-2015
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Re: Not getting enough charge voltage.

Thank you for your response - Which Balmar 614 factory program should I use for the Odyssey batteries or do I need a completely customized program? The Balmar 614 originally was set to gel cell but we never saw more than 13.9 volts. Odyssey recommended in their newer literature using AGM and ideally 14.7 volts. I changed the Balmar 614 to AGM and that produced 14.3 volts but only after having been on the 120 volt charger. It does not approach that value during the 20-30 minutes of using the motor after sailing all day. I could revert to the gel cell program and alter the max charging voltage to 14.7 volts but am not sure that is the proper course of action. Also, I do not think the batteries are damaged - they were properly tested with good metrics in June and during the three years of their life they have mostly been charged by the boats 120 volt charger. I wish we had not agreed to install Odyssey batteries but I'm reluctant to discard them if in fact they are still functional.
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post #15 of 17 Old 07-21-2015
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Re: Not getting enough charge voltage.

Quote:
Originally Posted by msogin View Post
Thank you for your response - Which Balmar 614 factory program should I use for the Odyssey batteries or do I need a completely customized program?
You need a custom promgram if you want any sort of longevity and performance out of the system. Every single external regulator I install uses custom programming.

Quote:
Originally Posted by msogin View Post
The Balmar 614 originally was set to gel cell but we never saw more than 13.9 volts.

GEL is the absolute wrong setting for TPPL AGM batteries...

Quote:
Originally Posted by msogin View Post
Odyssey recommended in their newer literature using AGM and ideally 14.7 volts.
Odyssey recommends 14.7V as the optimal absorption voltage for the longest cycle life.. If you want to use a factory pre-set, you will not be optimally charging the Odyssey bank unless it is set precisely for Odyssey batteries, which none that I know of are.


Quote:
Originally Posted by msogin View Post
I changed the Balmar 614 to AGM and that produced 14.3 volts but only after having been on the 120 volt charger.
If this is absorption voltage on Odyssey batteries is is far too low. The difference in lab tested cycle life between Odyssey batteries charged at 14.2V and the same batteries charged at 14.7V is in excess of 300 cycles. This is HUGE!!!! Charging these batteries at the optimal voltage is critical..

Quote:
Originally Posted by msogin View Post
It does not approach that value during the 20-30 minutes of using the motor after sailing all day.
In 20-30 minutes you SHOULD NOT be getting to absorption voltage with a 100A alternator on a 400Ah bank. If you are getting to absorption voltage in 20-30 minutes your batteries are likely scrap lead / junk..


Again PLEASE read and comprehend what I wrote above. Charge sources do not magically "put out a voltage", as I hear repeated so often, they supply constant current then when the battery voltage has gradually RISEN to the absorption level the regulator holds the voltage steady and current begins to decline.

To get from 50% SOC to absorption voltage (14.7V) using a 100A alternator on a 400Ah bank of Odyssey TPPL AGM's should take in excess of TWO HOURS to attain 14.7V....

Quote:
Originally Posted by msogin View Post
I could revert to the gel cell program and alter the max charging voltage to 14.7 volts but am not sure that is the proper course of action. Also, I do not think the batteries are damaged - they were properly tested with good metrics in June and during the three years of their life they have mostly been charged by the boats 120 volt charger. I wish we had not agreed to install Odyssey batteries but I'm reluctant to discard them if in fact they are still functional.

Odyssey AGM's are some of the best AGM batteries out there. Your problems are simply a lack of understanding of how battery charging works, perhaps incorrect wiring of the system and incorrect programming of your charge sources.

Unless your batteries underwent a 20 hour capacity test the "metrics" testing is pretty much meaningless in terms of state of health without an as new baseline...

Set your charge sources to the proper float (13.6V) and absorption voltage (14.7V) and absorption time of at least 4 hours but preferably 6-8 hours. All charge sources should be temp compensated...

Check your voltage sensing circuitry and use battery and alternator temp compensation.

______
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Last edited by Maine Sail; 07-21-2015 at 08:41 AM.
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post #16 of 17 Old 07-21-2015
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Re: Not getting enough charge voltage.

Again I thank you for helping AND for your past posts on this subject. You are absolutely correct that I did not understand the charging process using the alternator and 614 controller. I was fooled by the fact that the shore charger reaches higher initial voltages AND I did not realize that the initial bulk phase charging from the alternator would have a much lower voltage until it approached a higher SOC. Using advice from your earlier posts, I reprogramed the 614 to bulk charge at 14.7 volts and absorption rate at 14.7 volts. The float is set to 13.6 as your advised. I also set the belt parameter to "2". The batteries do not go to 14.6 volts instantly unless they were fully charged on the shore charge. Last night I used my fridge, freezer, instruments etc to draw down the batteries as much as possible. With the new settings the charger initially had a value around 13.2 or 13.3 volts and after a couple of hours had reached a higher level - close to 14.1. I will plan to adjust the absorption time to 4 hours later today and I need to investigate temperature sensing on the batteries - the shore charger does have temperature sensing but I imagine I need a second sensor or a sensor for each battery for the 614 to detect temperature. This has been a good learning process.
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post #17 of 17 Old 07-21-2015
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Re: Not getting enough charge voltage.

Quote:
Originally Posted by msogin View Post
Again I thank you for helping AND for your past posts on this subject. You are absolutely correct that I did not understand the charging process using the alternator and 614 controller. I was fooled by the fact that the shore charger reaches higher initial voltages AND I did not realize that the initial bulk phase charging from the alternator would have a much lower voltage until it approached a higher SOC. Using advice from your earlier posts, I reprogramed the 614 to bulk charge at 14.7 volts and absorption rate at 14.7 volts. The float is set to 13.6 as your advised. I also set the belt parameter to "2". The batteries do not go to 14.6 volts instantly unless they were fully charged on the shore charge. Last night I used my fridge, freezer, instruments etc to draw down the batteries as much as possible. With the new settings the charger initially had a value around 13.2 or 13.3 volts and after a couple of hours had reached a higher level - close to 14.1. I will plan to adjust the absorption time to 4 hours later today and I need to investigate temperature sensing on the batteries - the shore charger does have temperature sensing but I imagine I need a second sensor or a sensor for each battery for the 614 to detect temperature. This has been a good learning process.
The MC-614 has a port for alternator temp and battery temp. You can actually monitor two batteries with the MC-614. Place the batt temps sensor on the neg terminal of the battery with the ability to become hottest (eg: the battery next to the engine room bulkhead).

If your shore charger does not have temp compensation I would pick a profile that is slightly below 14.7V (14.5V or so) so that if the batteries exceed 80F we are not also pushing to hot of a voltage. This will not be optimal for the Odyssey's but it will be safer especially if you are in a hit climate.. If your batteries normally stay below 80F then 14.6V, due to bilge temps, should be fine...

To give you an example of charge rate vs. voltage yesterday & overnight I capacity tested a 2 year old 100Ah Lifeline battery. It delivered 81.26 Ah's at a 5A discharge rate. At 7:30 am this morning it began recharging at a 5A charge rate. I just walked by it now, at 12:28 PM, 5 hours later, and the battery terminal voltage is just 12.604V.... At a low charge rate an AGM spends a LOT of time in bulk..... The absorption voltage is set for 14.4V but I don't anticipate it will get there for another 9+ hours or so....

______
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Last edited by Maine Sail; 07-21-2015 at 12:31 PM.
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