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Do you have a battery monitor instrument
You can get a cheap yellow tester but a battery monitor will tell you what it’s putting out.

you have some reading to do....we all were there once have no fear
 

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Volts is volts, amps is amps.

A DMM and ammeter will tell the tale if you don't have a logger.

Start with a battery in decent condition, depleted down to around 12V.

Notate the V & A about every 20-30 min over 7-9 hours, stop when the current falls to around 0.010 or even 0.005.
 

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If you don't know the current capacity of your batteries, it's probably hard to tell. At the least, you could check to see that Absorb voltage and Float was correct for your battery type.

If a battery is run down, a good charger should first attempt Bulk charging, which would try to put a large amount of amps into the battery and slowly raise the voltage, until it meets this Absorb level. It then holds the Absorb voltage, until it thinks the bank is near fully charged, then backs down to Float voltage. You have to look up which voltages are correct for your battery type.

During the Absorb phase, all lead acid batteries accept fewer and fewer amps. The fewest near the end of the charge cycle. Some chargers switch from Absorb to Float, based on this acceptance level, others just pick a random amount of time. Obviously, the latter is not as good.
 

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Let's start with working at all (not necessarily well). Get a cheap multimeter. Run the battery on a load for a bit with some lights or other loads in the boat and the charger off and no other charging source. Measure the voltage at the battery terminals. It should be 12. something. Then turn on the charger. Measure the voltage. Should go up to 13. or 14. something. If it does not, it remains the same, the charger is not working at all. The next step is understanding bulk, float, and all that stuff, but try this first to see if the charger is working at all. I suspect that's the OP question. Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Do you have a battery monitor instrument
You can get a cheap yellow tester but a battery monitor will tell you what it’s putting out.

you have some reading to do....we all were there once have no fear

I just picked up a battery tester today, I guess I'll just attach it to the batteries in the system and see where they're at.
I know the unit works, but I was wondering if it's charging them optimally/fully or not.
 

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After charging let them sit for 10 minutes. If you have a monitor it will read 12.8 .?

It may be charging the batteries as much as the batteries will allow themselves to be charged. That’s why the monitor . It could be that they are sulfated ( suffocated) and won’t get past a certain point. If so read on how to condition ( desulfate) so the lead plates are free to accept charge.

In charging there are three stages bulk up to 80 % absorption up to 95% and float last 5%. The battery is what limits the amt which it can accept no the charger

the real true way to find if the batteries are dying is to take readings of sulfuric fluid in them.

you can measure if the charger works by testing it, but that won’t tell you if the battery is accepting the charge.

Best to get a battery monitor which tells you the state/ condition of your battery

 
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Battery monitors can complicate things, you need to know what you're doing to ensure their SoC accuracy, as opposed to just estimating counting Ah.

OP, just follow the simple logging procedure I outlined and post results here

ideally in a hand drawn graph with time passed on X axis, Volts and Amps on the Y.
 

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Agreed

The monitor still tells you what the battery voltage / amperage is when set right.
 

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I know the unit works, but I was wondering if it's charging them optimally/fully or not.
Do you have a shunt that measures the amount of amps that are draining out or charging into the battery? If so, continue with the voltage tests. If not, there is no way the charger could do an optimal job.
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
Let's start with working at all (not necessarily well). Get a cheap multimeter. Run the battery on a load for a bit with some lights or other loads in the boat and the charger off and no other charging source. Measure the voltage at the battery terminals. It should be 12. something. Then turn on the charger. Measure the voltage. Should go up to 13. or 14. something. If it does not, it remains the same, the charger is not working at all. The next step is understanding bulk, float, and all that stuff, but try this first to see if the charger is working at all. I suspect that's the OP question. Good luck.
Ok i just did this. Reading of 13 on each of the house batteries after running some things. Switched on the battery charger and then got a reading of about 13.55 on each one. Check 5-10 min later, and it was 13.75.

One of the house batteries is quite hot. The other not at all. Is that weird?

EDIT to add: 10 minutes later, and it's not hot at all.
 

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You know your charger is on, but it may even read a higher voltage after another 15-30 mins. First stage charging is Bulk, which puts as many amps in as it can, until voltage rises to Absorb level (you may have caught it in the middle of this process), then it maintains that Absorb voltage and sends whatever amps the bank will accept. When those accepted amps decline to a certain level, it changes voltage again, to Float voltage, which is lower than Absorb. Cheap 3 stage charges just move from Absorb to Float after a set amount of time, which is almost never right.

If one battery is warming up, while charging, you could start a fire. Abort.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
You know your charger is on, but it may even read a higher voltage after another 15-30 mins. First stage charging is Bulk, which puts as many amps in as it can, until voltage rises to Absorb level (you may have caught it in the middle of this process), then it maintains that Absorb voltage and sends whatever amps the bank will accept. When those accepted amps decline to a certain level, it changes voltage again, to Float voltage, which is lower than Absorb. Cheap 3 stage charges just move from Absorb to Float after a set amount of time, which is almost never right.

If one battery is warming up, while charging, you could start a fire. Abort.
I dont think it was when I was charging...I think it was before. Not sure though, but it was pretty warm.

It's now been charging for the last hour and a half (it's at 14.08 with charger on. Shut off charger and they read 13.68) and isn't warm at all. Should I be concerned?

I think I'm going to disconnect them and take a look inside, and them charge em fully using this car charger while I'm here, then I'll have some sense of what they're like.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Pulled one out, checked the water levels. They weren't very low, could see the top of the lead parts, but wasn't nearly as parched as the starting battery was. The car battery charger says it's 80%, so I'm going to bring it to 100% (and then do the other), and see if the Low Batt message on my VH radio goes away when I hook them back up.

Then, with two fully charged house batteries, if I still get low battery message, I'll know either these batts are compromised somehow, there's a problem with my Charles charger, or there's a problem in the wiring. Right?

My car battery charging unit keeps saying 14.4 V... them amps initially read 10, then it kept calling. Now, as it charges it says 6.1 amps, 5.9 amps, back n forth. I'll check back on it in a bit. Actually now it's saying 5.4 amps. Why is it going down?
 

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Pulled one out, checked the water levels. They weren't very low, could see the top of the lead parts, but wasn't nearly as parched as the starting battery was. The car battery charger says it's 80%, so I'm going to bring it to 100% (and then do the other), and see if the Low Batt message on my VH radio goes away when I hook them back up.

Then, with two fully charged house batteries, if I still get low battery message, I'll know either these batts are compromised somehow, there's a problem with my Charles charger, or there's a problem in the wiring. Right?

My car battery charging unit keeps saying 14.4 V... them amps initially read 10, then it kept calling. Now, as it charges it says 6.1 amps, 5.9 amps, back n forth. I'll check back on it in a bit. Actually now it's saying 5.4 amps. Why is it going down?
If you can see the top of the lead plates they are too low. It is not just covering the plates although that is very important it is also about keeping the fluids up so the concentrations of ions are correct or something like that. Don't charge them until the water levels are correct. Chances are your batteries are bad but charging them while fluids are low or on a crappy charger won't help them out any. Even crapped out batteries will likely solve your Low Batt message once charged. The problem is how long will the batteries keep a charge.

My battery monitoring unit is a USB outlet with two otlets and a volt meter between them.

I don't even know what the functions of my charger is or at least all the flashing lights mean. I just plug in my charger and watch the voltage move up then back down on the volt meter. When the voltage goes down to 12.2 I plug the charger back in. I have checked my battery with a volt meter directly on the battery and know I need to add .15 volts to the volt reading on the USB outlet, so i know I can go down to 12.1 before recharging.

Before I had this sophisticated battery monitoring system I had a cigarette lighter plug with two alligator clips I could plug into an outlet and then test the voltage there. I wanted an easier way to check the battery voltage without digging down to the battery storage location.

Suggested steps,
Top off the water in your batteries I think it is deionized needed.
Top off the charge on your batteries. After charging then resting the battery voltage should level off around 12.7 volts.
Run a fan or something that requires some amps for a while and see how long the batteries' voltages last.
Test the voltage without a load. If you have a visible meter and turn on the battery switch, you will see 12.6 volts then turn on a power draw and the voltmenter may drop a few tenths of a volt. Just plugging my phone in costs my volt meter .3 volts.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I think my battery was hot because it was mostly depleted (it had been left off the charger for a week or so, beginning when I took out the starting battery) and I connected things up again Friday, turned on the battery switch, and so it was charging for 30 hours straight. Is that still dangerous?
 

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We can only speculate what is going on. But charging a battery with a dumb charger, and leaving it on for a week, with low fluid level, does not bode well. I would guess your batteries are fried by now.

I personally am paranoid. I don't leave any electronics running without supervision. I am fortunate to be retired and can sit all day staring at my battery while it charges. Not that I do but when charging one of my batteries, I will be working in the yard or wood shop and note what is happening via a voltmeter. I will never plug a battery in and walk away. There is no harm to charging your battery for a few hours then coming back in a few days and finishing the charge at least compared to leaving it on a charger for a week.

I would guess based on "Overbored's" recommendation the Charles Charger is a quality one. As long as it is working as it should, it is very likely a much better/safer model than the Canadian Tire one.

Top off your water
Carefully charge your batteries
Test voltage an hour after unplugging from charger.
Let sit a day and check voltage again.

You will have a rough idea of the battery's condition.

Unless you invest in a good system and are religious on the maintenance procedures, it is easy to ruin batteries. I buy cheap batteries from Costco because I do not follow the advice i give here. It is cheaper to make mistakes with cheap batteries than expensive ones.
 

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Your CS 27 is a nice boat for what you decided you wanted for your family. It will serve you well . It would be a great place to make memories S well as really venture into sailing life.

You are going to spend lots of time trying to chase rabbits down a hole following the philosophy , “ if you’ve been satisfied with status quo of what you’ve got “ why improve your situation and buy new stuff. Some people like to be campers on a boat. No value judgement, I like to feel comfortable and not forgo creature comforts. It’s also has made it easy to entice my wife and others to join in. We have cooking facilities, a head with shower, good reliable batteries and a system to charge them. I though this was the direction you too were headed, but you are in the beginning stages of outfitting her. My suggestions were to read and learn and IMPROVE what you bought and have found. I don’t want to see you waste your money unnecessarily and think you goals through as well as learn about the specifics.

Others use their boats differently. Again no value judgement. Some are minimalists and try and get by with spending or having the minimum requirements. That can be because they are that or their boats are used on lakes or smaller bodies of water which don’t require as extensive accommodations or creature comforts.

Having refrigeration, etc requires power. What you have Currently won’t fit the bill. Your CS now, Is someone else’s stuff and fits what they wanted in their sailing profile. I am suggesting you make it yours. you have the opportunity to build your own solid electrical system for the boat which will allow you to Outfit her so you can have creature comforts ( refrigeration) , electronics, comfort for charging phone I pod and laptops. Only you can decide what you expect and how you will use the boat. And inevitably whether your family will love it or leave it.

Diddling around with cheap camping battery testers, chasing what you already know.....( the batteries are suspect and not the best deep cycle kind) and don’t fit you increasing or future needs. Don’t get distracted on wiring , as that has to be brought up to standards for this to work, but that’s such a simple fix. Reading up on how to wire and the type to use , the connectors etc . Your are chasing down someone else’s hard to understands antiquated power solution. Make your CS your own so you don’t have to continually worry about it.

It’s simple....adequate house bank....starting battery, and the two methods to charge them. 3 stage shore power charger, and either alternator or solar. A monitor to check on them by a glance. Even if the batteries you are trying to reclaim work temporarily, you’ll never trust them till you replace them. Have you looked to see how old they are? There is a date on them somewhere. If you either put a new charger or found out if the Charles fits the bill you still need batteries. Your car charger is dangerous , and is the WRONG way to charge deep cycle batteries. Others who have expertise have told you that in addition to me.

I’m still not sure why you don’t just start this over. You’ll not have to worry about old batteries, old charger, wrong charger, . You’ll look at a monitor built for you system which is relatively inexpensive and in one glance know the charge on the battery bank, if the charger is working correctly, and how much power you have left to use.

I thought you were serious in improving what you have and learning about electrics so as to not waste money and match your systems components. The beauty of SN is there are all types of boats. Small, medium and large.Boats to camp on, boats to overnight on, boats to take extended trips on, boats to live full time on. The suggestions you’ll get from SN members including me usually reflect how you use your own boat.

Be very careful about statements which have authoritarian must in them, like you must use 10 gauge wire. That’s simply not true. The is a difference between opinion and fact. On Haleakula I have a soft briefcase with lots of spools of different gauges of wire. 12 years ago I re- wired the whole boat from bow to stern , top of the mast to control panel.

I got the advice of a marine electrician on batteries, wire, connectors, how to splice, how to build corrosion resistant attachments etc. I did this when I noticed on my mast when the removed it one year, there was lamp wire in it. That’s how the manufacturer a very reputable one (C&C) Did it. After I spent the time to re-wire , one piece at a time over a year, it was up to current standards. I knew all connections were solid. I knew I had a reliable large power system and a way to monitor and recharge it to make Haleakula fun to travel on, and fun for my wife too.
 
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Discussion Starter #20
Your CS 27 is a nice boat for what you decided you wanted for your family. It will serve you well . It would be a great place to make memories S well as really venture into sailing life.

You are going to spend lots of time trying to chase rabbits down a hole following the philosophy , “ if you’ve been satisfied with status quo of what you’ve got “ why improve your situation and buy new stuff. Some people like to be campers on a boat. No value judgement, I like to feel comfortable and not forgo creature comforts. It’s also has made it easy to entice my wife and others to join in. We have cooking facilities, a head with shower, good reliable batteries and a system to charge them. I though this was the direction you too were headed, but you are in the beginning stages of outfitting her. My suggestions were to read and learn and IMPROVE what you bought and have found. I don’t want to see you waste your money unnecessarily and think you goals through as well as learn about the specifics.

Others use their boats differently. Again no value judgement. Some are minimalists and try and get by with spending or having the minimum requirements. That can be because they are that or their boats are used on lakes or smaller bodies of water which don’t require as extensive accommodations or creature comforts.

Having refrigeration, etc requires power. What you have Currently won’t fit the bill. Your CS now, Is someone else’s stuff and fits what they wanted in their sailing profile. I am suggesting you make it yours. you have the opportunity to build your own solid electrical system for the boat which will allow you to Outfit her so you can have creature comforts ( refrigeration) , electronics, comfort for charging phone I pod and laptops. Only you can decide what you expect and how you will use the boat. And inevitably whether your family will love it or leave it.

Diddling around with cheap camping battery testers, chasing what you already know.....( the batteries are suspect and not the best deep cycle kind) and don’t fit you increasing or future needs. Don’t get distracted on wiring , as that has to be brought up to standards for this to work, but that’s such a simple fix. Reading up on how to wire and the type to use , the connectors etc . Your are chasing down someone else’s hard to understands antiquated power solution. Make your CS your own so you don’t have to continually worry about it.

It’s simple....adequate house bank....starting battery, and the two methods to charge them. 3 stage shore power charger, and either alternator or solar. A monitor to check on them by a glance. Even if the batteries you are trying to reclaim work temporarily, you’ll never trust them till you replace them. Have you looked to see how old they are? There is a date on them somewhere. If you either put a new charger or found out if the Charles fits the bill you still need batteries. Your car charger is dangerous , and is the WRONG way to charge deep cycle batteries. Others who have expertise have told you that in addition to me.

I’m still not sure why you don’t just start this over. You’ll not have to worry about old batteries, old charger, wrong charger, . You’ll look at a monitor built for you system which is relatively inexpensive and in one glance know the charge on the battery bank, if the charger is working correctly, and how much power you have left to use.

I thought you were serious in improving what you have and learning about electrics so as to not waste money and match your systems components. The beauty of SN is there are all types of boats. Small, medium and large.Boats to camp on, boats to overnight on, boats to take extended trips on, boats to live full time on. The suggestions you’ll get from SN members including me usually reflect how you use your own boat.

Be very careful about statements which have authoritarian must in them, like you must use 10 gauge wire. That’s simply not true. The is a difference between opinion and fact. On Haleakula I have a soft briefcase with lots of spools of different gauges of wire. 12 years ago I re- wired the whole boat from bow to stern , top of the mast to control panel.

I got the advice of a marine electrician on batteries, wire, connectors, how to splice, how to build corrosion resistant attachments etc. I did this when I noticed on my mast when the removed it one year, there was lamp wire in it. That’s how the manufacturer a very reputable one (C&C) Did it. After I spent the time to re-wire , one piece at a time over a year, it was up to current standards. I knew all connections were solid. I knew I had a reliable large power system and a way to monitor and recharge it to make Haleakula fun to travel on, and fun for my wife too.
Thanks for this post. This is exactly what I want to do. I want to make it my own, including a rewire, thought that may take some time.

I'm doing what I'm doing now just to rule out some thing and figure out the problem, but I'm pretty sure I'm just going to put new batts in there and take care of them from here on out. Same with the Charles if it's not 3-stage. This boat is 40 years old, and some of the wiring might be too - I'd love it if it were all new, and I could trust it. I know you said not to get hung up on the wiring, but I definitely would like to get that done in the year future.
 
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