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Discussion Starter #1
Hi Folks,

I bought an Iota 45a Intelligent (Q4) battery charger in the summer, but didn't have time to install it.
Now that the boat is in storage for the winter, I removed the 2 group 27 flooded house batteries (new this spring). Brought them to the house for warmer storage, and figured I would use the Iota to charge / maintain them throughout the winter, and install it in the boat in the spring. It comes with a 3 prong AC plug!

I had NOT yet plugged in the charger to the AC outlet, but when I tried to connect the leads to the 1st battery, I got a decent spark!!!
Double checked everything, tried again, same result!

Looked like the charger was shorting out the battery! Got out the multimeter, set for Ohms (2K). ** Electrical not my strongpoint, but do understand basic short, ground, etc**** Got reading of .54 on pos /neg leads from charger!!
Not sure what I was expecting for readings, but since the charger was not plugged into AC, I did not think a spark was normal. Should the charger leads show open / no resistance (1.0 reading) until it is plugged in and starts charging? Or is this normal??

I did NOT have the chargers ground lug connected to ground either, but don't think this woudl matter so far.


Thoughts?????
 

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Larus Marinus
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I think the charger may have some big capacitors inside and that spark is caused by them charging up when you connect the battery. So it may not be an issue.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Idiens - Thanks for the reply. I am hoping that there is an explanation, similar to what you have said. I figured it was worth asking the experts here, rather than connect it and possibly do some damage.
 

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Larus Marinus
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If the charger has a fault, you will have to send it back anyway. Try connecting it and plugging it in. Make sure you have the polarity right of course. If the battery is being short circuited, it will cook the charger. If not, it should behave normally and you can use that multi-meter in its volts mode to see what is happening at the battery terminals. Anything between 12 and 14.4 volts is "normal".
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Would it hurt to plug the charger into the AC outlet, without connecting the battery, for a few minutes?

Would this "charge" the internal capacitors (if this is what is causing the spark / draw on the battery), or would it do nothing without the battery connetced?
 

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Larus Marinus
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It should not hurt the charger to be plugged in but not connected. Just don't let the outlet leads touch! (Even then, it should be fused).

I don't know the charger, but I am never surprised to see a spark when connecting a battery.

I would however normally connect the battery prior to plugging in the charger.

P.S. What does the charger's handbook say.
 

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What IDIENS said.

The spark is a normal thing, and it will occur even when connecting the 2nd output to the 2nd battery.

Howard Keiper
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Handbook just says to connect the battery leads, ground lug, and then plug into AC.

If a spark is common, it woudl be nice for them to mention it in the manual!!

I am not talking a huge spark, like what you get if you short out jumper cables, when boosting a car. However, it is definitley a noticible spark, and I don't want to do permanent damage to the battery, or charger, if I can help it.

If anyone else has noticed something similar, it would be nice to get additional confirmation!

Thankd agin for your input Idiens!!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Connected it up, and seems to work fine. Putting 14.57V accross the two batteries as I write this. Will keep an eye on it, to make sure it goes into float stage.

Thanks again!!
 

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A modest spark is normal when connecting many chargers to a battery. As one of the posters said, it's just charging up some sizeable capacitors.

If you were to leave it connected for a few seconds, or touch it to the battery terminal a few times, you'd see the spark diminish and disappear as the capacitors came up to full charge.

You'll like the Iota. IMHO it's the best one on the market for many marine setups. It's not the mickey mouse circuit one often finds...this one is RFI suppressed, frequency and voltage tolerant, has a true multi-stage operation (with the IQ4), including a periodic "equalization" stage, uses pulse-width modulation (PWM) technology which makes the batteries very happy, etc., etc.

I've got a 45A model sitting next to me here in the ham shack which maintains my bank of T-105 batteries which power all my radios. It runs 24/7 (for over 4 years, now). Another 55A model is on my boat dedicated to the T-105 bank which powers my windlass. It, too, runs 24/7 when at dockside. After several years, the T-105's test excellent with a sophisticated battery analyzer. By far the best battery charger I've ever used. And, at the current prices, an incredible deal!

Bill
 

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I'd second the Iota chargers. Got one for a friend's boat based on Bill's recommendation. Nice unit. :) IIRC, it's the same one you have...
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks for all of the help / advice! The charger is working great - Have watched to go from bulk - float and voltages tested great.

As mentioned, the spark was normal for connecting to batteries for the 1st time. Jut caught me off guard, and I am happy that I could check with you guys to confirm that it was normal, instaed of possibly ruining some equipment.

Thanks again.

On a related note. Eventually the charger will be installed on the boat, on a dedicated breaker, which I can shut off before disconnecting shore power.

However, since it is now just plugged into an AC outlet at the house, (house has older fuse panel rather than breakers), I just have to unplug it from the wall, if I want to shut it off, move it etc.
I will of course get a small spark as I pull the plug from the AC outlet, as it will be drawing current at the time. I have noticed this while unlpugging a running shop-vac as well, instead of turning it off 1st. Can any possible damage occur doing that, or it the spark so minor it is "normal / acceptable"??
 

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Larus Marinus
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If you are doing it often, it would be worth fitting a proper switch that's designed to break circuits. But occasionally, no problem.
 

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Northeaster,

No need to unplug it at all; leave it plugged in. My 45A Iota which maintains my T-105s for the radios has been plugged in for over 4 years now, except for the occasional unplug when I needed the receptacle for something else.

As Idiens said, no harm if you unplug it occasionally.

Just be sure to check the water level in your batteries occasionally, being sure that the plates are covered. Use ONLY distilled water if they need some to cover the plates to about 3/8" above them.

Bill
 

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I have a Guest 6 amp charger and battery maintainer which does the same thing. Been using it for about 6 years with no problems.
 
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