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formerly 'BoatyardBoy'
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hello fellow netters,

I am nearing the point of ordering my DC components and I have the fortunate situation where my boat had/has nothing in it but existing wires. At the moment I am going to go with lifepo4 batteries, but that won't be purchased till next year sometime. I don't know how much my energy needs are because I don't have anything in the boat but lights that I can do the calculations.

That said, I am looking to get my battery charger. I would like to get a Sterling or Promariner but not sure where to get them here in the states, or which one is best to find here. I looked on the Sterling site and saw pounds not dollars.

I was thinking of getting the 60a now just because it would better be suited for the lifepo4 batteries down the road. And I would put one of the three legs on the start battery which will be a Optima yellow top(it's what I have laying around). Plus I'd like to go ahead and get the remote display.

For now, will probably get some FLA battery(s) to do for now for house bank. I will do the necessary wiring and fusing that is outlined by Mainsail(thanks by the way for what you do). I have a ACR that I will use for now with the engine alternator for charging the batteries while not at the dock.

Does this sound like a good plan? Should I get a Balmar MC-614 regulator for my stock Yanmar 4hj4-te 80a alternator? Do I need to get a "smart" monitor from Victron, Balmar, etc or will the Sterling display be fine? Take note that I'm trying to buy things that will work for lifepo4 down the road. I know the regulator will work once I set the parameters for lifepo4.

Ronnie
 

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formerly 'BoatyardBoy'
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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Just found the USA Sterling site.. How is the Sterling ProCharge Ultra $540 and the Promariner ProNauticP is $680?

And the Sterling ProCharge Ultra has better specs, its input range is 90-270vac and 40-70 hz compared to the Promariner ProNauticP 100-260vac 50-60Hz...
 

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H At the moment I am going to go with lifepo4 batteries,
Bring in someone who understands this stuff!!!

That said, I am looking to get my battery charger. I would like to get a Sterling or Promariner
If starting from the ground up the Sterling or Promariner are really not the best choice for LFP. Can they work? Yes, but your money would be better spent on a product like the Victron Multi-Plus I/C which has dedicated voltage sense leads. Outback is the only other company that can do dedicated bank remote voltage sensing but this requires extra equipment in order to do so..

The Victron will also be a much larger charger portion and give you an inverter. The Blue Power remote is nice too. I use a Sterling PCU on my own boat but the charger is not really being used as an LFP charger. It is used in the off season as a power supply connected to my reserve AGM battery because I don't leave the LFP bank on-board in the winter. Maybe once or twice per year I use it on the LFP bank but that's it. I use alternator and solar to charge the LFP bank.. Even on the LFP bank I set the Sterling for 13.5V which is basically using it as a power supply not really a charger. I did set it at 13.8V but it got pretty hot trying to keep up......

I was thinking of getting the 60a now just because it would better be suited for the lifepo4 batteries down the road.
Again if starting from scratch then go with a Victron or other charger that offers dedicated remote voltage sensing. There are only a couple options..

And I would put one of the three legs on the start battery which will be a Optima yellow top(it's what I have laying around). Plus I'd like to go ahead and get the remote display.
Remember your LFP bank voltage will be below 14.0V for charging. The Optima's want 14.6V+. Best to charge the Optima separately and then let it sit in reserve. They will hold voltage for a long time...

For now, will probably get some FLA battery(s) to do for now for house bank. I will do the necessary wiring and fusing that is outlined by Mainsail(thanks by the way for what you do). I have a ACR that I will use for now with the engine alternator for charging the batteries while not at the dock.
I really have not outlined any wiring just discussed the finer points and do's and don'ts... Finer points include a dual buss system, one for loads and one for charge, proper over current protection, dedicated voltage sensing for alternator and battery charger and solar/wind if the current output is large enough to create voltage drop in your system wiring, fully custom programmable chargers, regulators and solar controllers. A BMS system that protects against HVC and LVC. A BMS system that properly cuts charge sources so you don't damage them etc. etc.. This is just a skimming of the surface...

Does this sound like a good plan? Should I get a Balmar MC-614 regulator for my stock Yanmar 4hj4-te 80a alternator? Do I need to get a "smart" monitor from Victron, Balmar, etc or will the Sterling display be fine? Take note that I'm trying to buy things that will work for lifepo4 down the road. I know the regulator will work once I set the parameters for lifepo4.

Ronnie
The MC-614 is a great regulator but your 80A Hitachi is not well suited to charging LFP batteries. If you do convert it you will want to current limit it to 40A or less otherwise you will destroy it.. These Hitachi alts have in-built temp gradients for a reason. That reason is because they are wimpy car alternators not a purpose built high performance alternator. 80A out of one of these, for more than a couple of minutes, is a Disney fairy tale...

Even a high performance small case alt will need to be sized about 30-35% larger than where you expect to run it. If you want any real charging performance, suitable for the LFP bank, then a serpentine belt system and 150A+ alternator (run at 110 - 120A) will be required.

Yes you will need an Ah counter in order to tell where you are capacity wise. You will also need to top balance the bank, figure out the Peukert of the bank, do a capacity test of teh bank for a known value for the battery monitor, wire a BMS, contactors and HVC relays etc. etc.. This should be done as a system.

If you don't have a lot of electrical experience please bring in a pro or choose a system such as the Genasun or Mastervolt. I would NOT advise any of the "drop in" LFP systems (in fact "drop-in" LFP was a very hot topic at the recent ABYC meeting on high capacity batteries). The Genasun or Mastervolt systems are currently the best engineered for marine specific use and I prefer the Genasun system over Mastervolt for a number of reasons.

Was just on an installation a few weeks ago that melted down a 200A alternator and started a small engine room fire (mostly smoke, luckily). The person doing the installation and set up is equally important as the equipment chosen. It is not enough to choose good equipment it goes well beyond that and proper wiring, set up and programming are critical. In this case the alternator regulator was simply not set up properly allowing the alternator to literally cook itself... It got so hot the serpentine belt was literally melted to the pulley!!!
 

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formerly 'BoatyardBoy'
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Bring in someone who understands this stuff!!!

If starting from the ground up the Sterling or Promariner are really not the best choice for LFP. Can they work? Yes, but your money would be better spent on a product like the Victron Multi-Plus I/C which has dedicated voltage sense leads. Outback is the only other company that can do dedicated bank remote voltage sensing but this requires extra equipment in order to do so..

The Victron will also be a much larger charger portion and give you an inverter. The Blue Power remote is nice too. I use a Sterling PCU on my own boat but the charger is not really being used as an LFP charger. It is used in the off season as a power supply connected to my reserve AGM battery because I don't leave the LFP bank on-board in the winter. Maybe once or twice per year I use it on the LFP bank but that's it. I use alternator and solar to charge the LFP bank.. Even on the LFP bank I set the Sterling for 13.5V which is basically using it as a power supply not really a charger. I did set it at 13.8V but it got pretty hot trying to keep up......

Again if starting from scratch then go with a Victron or other charger that offers dedicated remote voltage sensing. There are only a couple options..
I understand it's a system approach which is why I don't want to buy something and it not be compatible down the road with LFP. I'll check out the Victron unit. Though I may get a small Sterling so I can use it as a power supply like you said. I'll be at the dock for a while and having use of my boat's 12v systems would be nice to have during wire up. I can just use an existing battery to get by for now for house loads.

I really have not outlined any wiring just discussed the finer points and do's and don'ts... Finer points include a dual buss system, one for loads and one for charge, proper over current protection, dedicated voltage sensing for alternator and battery charger and solar/wind if the current output is large enough to create voltage drop in your system wiring, fully custom programmable chargers, regulators and solar controllers. A BMS system that protects against HVC and LVC. A BMS system that properly cuts charge sources so you don't damage them etc. etc.. This is just a skimming of the surface...
I'm aware I can't just throw this stuff in to the boat and be done with it, I will be doing it as correctly as I possibly can. I'm trying to get the infrastructure pieces so I have something to start with. Right now I have nothing, so I figured I would start with the battery charger and clean up the 12v before I get to the LFP, solar, alternator.

The MC-614 is a great regulator but your 80A Hitachi is not well suited to charging LFP batteries. If you do convert it you will want to current limit it to 40A or less otherwise you will destroy it.. These Hitachi alts have in-built temp gradients for a reason. That reason is because they are wimpy car alternators not a purpose built high performance alternator. 80A out of one of these, for more than a couple of minutes, is a Disney fairy tale...

Even a high performance small case alt will need to be sized about 30-35% larger than where you expect to run it. If you want any real charging performance, suitable for the LFP bank, then a serpentine belt system and 150A+ alternator (run at 110 - 120A) will be required.
Yea, I know that alternator is way too small and not built for LFP system. I was only getting the regulator for use with solely the engine battery. Also, for now it will charge a similar battery with the ACR for the temporary house bank. When I do get LFP, I'll get a new alternator and regulator that is sized accordingly for the LFP.

Yes you will need an Ah counter in order to tell where you are capacity wise. You will also need to top balance the bank, figure out the Peukert of the bank, do a capacity test of teh bank for a known value for the battery monitor, wire a BMS, contactors and HVC relays etc. etc.. This should be done as a system.

If you don't have a lot of electrical experience please bring in a pro or choose a system such as the Genasun or Mastervolt. I would NOT advise any of the "drop in" LFP systems (in fact "drop-in" LFP was a very hot topic at the recent ABYC meeting on high capacity batteries). The Genasun or Mastervolt systems are currently the best engineered for marine specific use and I prefer the Genasun system over Mastervolt for a number of reasons.

Was just on an installation a few weeks ago that melted down a 200A alternator and started a small engine room fire (mostly smoke, luckily). The person doing the installation and set up is equally important as the equipment chosen. It is not enough to choose good equipment it goes well beyond that and proper wiring, set up and programming are critical. In this case the alternator regulator was simply not set up properly allowing the alternator to literally cook itself... It got so hot the serpentine belt was literally melted to the pulley!!!
(As a note, I am fully aware that this isn't some drop in technology.)

When it comes to the actual LFP system which will come later, I am still doing my research on it so I make sure it is done correctly. I understand LFP is power chemistry and news special care. I have looked at the Genasun units and they are attractive, but since I'm not sure of my loads I don't know what size I would need. Which is why I'm starting here to make sure I have everything in place for when that time does come.

Appreciate the pointers, I'll check out the Victron today.
 

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I would set up a very basic system for now as the Lipo systems are really just in the early stages yet. No need to be the guy learning the expensive lessons. If you don't need it right now then just set up a basic system keeping in mind the cabling. By the time you are ready there may well be whole new systems available.

Sent from my DROID RAZR using Tapatalk
 

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formerly 'BoatyardBoy'
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I would set up a very basic system for now as the Lipo systems are really just in the early stages yet. No need to be the guy learning the expensive lessons. If you don't need it right now then just set up a basic system keeping in mind the cabling. By the time you are ready there may well be whole new systems available.

Sent from my DROID RAZR using Tapatalk
That's basically what I'm doing, but I'm buying products that won't need to be replaced when LFP batteries are in a better position. I'm shooting for a solid well built electrical system that I won't have to worry about. I'm not going out to get these LFP batteries anytime soon, but I would like to have to possibility to down the road without having to replace my charger, monitors, etc.

Yea, I'll be replacing wires where I can. I am definitely changing out the AC wires because they are the Taiwan untinned kind, so they are black when you strip time back. Changing the outlet to a smart plug and installing an galvanic isolator.

Speaking of, I was going to get the ProMariner ProSafe FS 60A but I was scrolling through the Victron catalog getting info on the multiplus and I noticed they have a "isolation transformer". I can't see anything different in what they do..
 

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Speaking of, I was going to get the ProMariner ProSafe FS 60A but I was scrolling through the Victron catalog getting info on the multiplus and I noticed they have a "isolation transformer". I can't see anything different in what they do..
With an isolation transformer there is no direct connection between shore power wiring and the AC system on the boat. By contrast a galvanic isolator just blocks 1.2 volts of current through the green wire but allows a fault to pass.
 

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formerly 'BoatyardBoy'
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
With an isolation transformer there is no direct connection between shore power wiring and the AC system on the boat. By contrast a galvanic isolator just blocks 1.2 volts of current through the green wire but allows a fault to pass.
Thanks, I ended up finding a thread on it too. Seems the IT is nice but at 60lbs a pop for the Victron units and I would need two for 50a it's not going to happen, especially at $500+ each.

I'll just get the ProMariner ProSafe FS 60 A and call it a day. After the install, I'll just check for stray voltage across the isolator, and if anything is found I'll do my best to find the source and fix it there.
 

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formerly 'BoatyardBoy'
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
What makes you think you would need 2? Just buy the one with the proper rating.

Marine: Isolation and Boosting Transformers
I didn't look up Charles, but regardless those are just as heavy as getting two Victron units. (the Victron on has up to 30a, that's why I said two). The 50a/120v is 155 lbs, and the 50a/240v is 235lbs! That's huge, plus it's a 16x16x10 box at that.
 

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Are you installing 2 separate 30 amp shore power circuits? Or one 50 amp circuit? That would determine which transformer. There are probably lighter ones, I didn't look. I guess it depends how concerned you are with corrosion.
 

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formerly 'BoatyardBoy'
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Are you installing 2 separate 30 amp shore power circuits? Or one 50 amp circuit? That would determine which transformer. There are probably lighter ones, I didn't look. I guess it depends how concerned you are with corrosion.
One 50a, which I believe is only a 120vac.

I think a better option would be the galvanic isolator. Like I said, if I find stay current the best thing to do is fix the problem at the source. It's better than what the PO had on it and more than most boat owners.
 

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One 50a, which I believe is only a 120vac.

I think a better option would be the galvanic isolator. Like I said, if I find stay current the best thing to do is fix the problem at the source.
The problem that a galvanic isolator remedies is the DC stray current that travels through the AC ground (green) wire. It solves nothing on your boat but what comes aboard from shore power - from other badly wired boats or bad marina wiring.

If you have 50 amp service you would need a 50 amp galvanic isolator or a 50 amp isolation transformer.
 

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formerly 'BoatyardBoy'
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
The problem that a galvanic isolator remedies is the DC stray current that travels through the AC ground (green) wire. It solves nothing on your boat but what comes aboard from shore power - from other badly wired boats or bad marina wiring.

If you have 50 amp service you would need a 50 amp galvanic isolator or a 50 amp isolation transformer.
Got it, yea I was looking at the 60a ProSafe. That should be plenty as I really don't have anything that draws 50a,but that's what the boat comes with. Eventually an ac unit will go in the boat, so that galvanic isolator should be sufficient for my needs. Thanks for the information, much appreciated.
 

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formerly 'BoatyardBoy'
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
So I have looked for a bit for larger than 10awg marine wire for running from the shore power outlet to the panel. All I can seem to find that is tinned is 10awg. I'd like to get at least 8,but 6 is rated for 50a.

I'm getting my list together to purchase and want to run new wiring when I install these items. Should I just get the 10awg marine wire for the shore power outlet?
 
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