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Old 03-20-2006, 04:53 PM
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Default Battery Draining In Boat - Electrical Draw - NEED HELP!

Hello

I know this is vague, but I am not sure how to explain it. I have an electrical draw in my boat that popped up last season. Basically if we leave for the weekend and come back the following weekend, the battery(s) are dead. We are dealing with no changes in wiring and there has never been a problem in 7 years. If I remember ( God Willing ) to use the battery switch to shut it off, no problems. That tells me it ISNT the battery.

Now 2 years ago I took a screw out of the windshield and forgot to replace it. Rain went into the hole and shorted the radio, and caused the battery to die. I removed the radio at the start of last season and it was fine. A few months later, the problem came back. There is no water getting into this area. This is the only provlem that I was aware of, but I cannot see how it is a problem now.

I have semi decent knowledge about DC wiring, electronics, etc, but I have never tried to find an electrical draw. Does anyone have any suggestions on what it could be on a 7 year old boat/engine? Does anyone have any suggestions on how to use a meter to find the problem?

Thank you,
Jason
Boat - 1999 maxum 18' open bow with a 2 stroke 1999 125hp Merc Outboard.

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Old 03-20-2006, 05:01 PM
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Default RE: Battery Draining In Boat - Electrical Draw - NEED HELP!

To clarify, there is no radio in the boat. A replacement was never installed.
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Old 03-20-2006, 05:29 PM
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Default RE: Battery Draining In Boat - Electrical Draw - NEED HELP!

Connect a digital multi meter (preferably 4 1/2 digits) distribution panel and set on volts. Disconnect circuits one at a time and observe the battery voltage. If there is a current drain and it is disconnected you should see the battery voltage rise slightly.
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Old 03-20-2006, 06:40 PM
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Default Re: Battery Draining In Boat - Electrical Draw - NEED HELP!

Jason,

Another way to perform that same check is to disconnect the positive wires from the battery's postivie terminal and touch them one at a time to the battery terminal. The one that is drawing power (if present) will spark when you touch it to the battery terminal. That may help you locate a real problem in older boats.

Good Luck!

C Miller
Mystic Islands, NJ
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Old 03-20-2006, 09:48 PM
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Default RE: Battery Draining In Boat - Electrical Draw - NEED HELP!

Quote:
TonyH - 3/20/2006 4:29 PM

Connect a digital multi meter (preferably 4 1/2 digits) distribution panel and set on volts. Disconnect circuits one at a time and observe the battery voltage. If there is a current drain and it is disconnected you should see the battery voltage rise slightly.
Tony H
Since you are an electrician, I would say you know what you are doing. Thanks!
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Old 03-20-2006, 11:02 PM
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Default RE: Battery Draining In Boat - Electrical Draw - NEED HELP!

I'd put an amp meter between the battery cable and the post--positive, negative, doesn't matter. Start at the 10 amp setting, then go to 2A if the loads are low--DO NOT start turning things on.

Say you have a 100ma bleeding somewhere. You can find it by pulling fuses one at a time and reading the meter. When you find the offender, the ammeter will show 0 amps.

$.02
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Old 03-20-2006, 11:26 PM
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Default RE: Battery Draining In Boat - Electrical Draw - NEED HELP!

Quote:
Kman - 3/20/2006 10:02 PM

I'd put an amp meter between the battery cable and the post--positive, negative, doesn't matter. Start at the 10 amp setting, then go to 2A if the loads are low--DO NOT start turning things on.

Say you have a 100ma bleeding somewhere. You can find it by pulling fuses one at a time and reading the meter. When you find the offender, the ammeter will show 0 amps.

$.02
Guys,
This is the best procedure. Much easier to measure / read current than look for a spark or milli-volt change.

Great time to invest in a 12 volt bible for your boat!! A must read for a DIY'er.
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Old 03-21-2006, 08:38 AM
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Default Re: Battery Draining In Boat - Electrical Draw - NEED HELP!

The first check that I would do is to check all electrical connections to make sure they are tight. I have found that loose battery terminal connections account for a majority of dead batteries.
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Old 03-21-2006, 09:39 AM
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Default Re: Battery Draining In Boat - Electrical Draw - NEED HELP!

Kman hit the nail on the head!!

If the current draw is low, the voltage difference may be almost un-noticable. Working with current is the better way to go. I might add, instead of doing the meter thing at the battery, if you have a distribution panel, to do it there.
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Old 03-21-2006, 01:45 PM
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Default Re: Battery Draining In Boat - Electrical Draw - NEED HELP!

You said you removed the radio that was causing problems; what about the wiring for it? If the problem was in the wiring, removing the radio wouldn't have done much to alleviate it. I would start there (using the ammeter procedure above.)

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Old 03-21-2006, 02:08 PM
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Default Re: Battery Draining In Boat - Electrical Draw - NEED HELP!

You said battery(s)? and battery shut off switch. If thats the case there are 2 things that could be happening, auto bilge pumps are usually wired direct from the battery(s) check the current draw. If there is no draw then 1 of your batteries is bad and drawing the good one down with it.
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Old 03-21-2006, 03:12 PM
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Default Re: Battery Draining In Boat - Electrical Draw - NEED HELP!

Also, if you have replaced a bilge pump lately it could be the problem. "Rule" bilge pumps have had a model out for a couple of years now that runs every 10 minutes or so. If it detects water, it keeps pumping. If it does not detect water, it shuts down. But it still comes on every 10 minutes regardless. Other than that bilge pumps should be wired directly to the battery. Check for wires in the bilge and especially chaffed areas and breaks in the wire insulation. You have not mentioned the age of your batteries?
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Old 03-21-2006, 08:12 PM
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Default Re: Battery Draining In Boat - Electrical Draw - NEED HELP!

First, a loose battery connection will not drain a battery. It can cause it not to be charged completely by the charger or alternator but it cannot cause a "drain".

Second, the "spark test" is not a good idea if the battery is in the engine compartment of an I/O or inboard. It could cause an explosion.

Aside from the bilge pump, the memory circuit in a stereo bypasses the battery switch but it draws a very small current and in your case, the stereo is gone anyway. If the boat has a CO detector, these are often wired directly to the battery (bypassing the switch) and some draw as much as .3 amps. This could drain a battery in a week or two depending on it's capacity and condition.

I agree that using an ammeter is the best way to find a current draw. You need a sensitive one such as a DVOM. They are relatively inexpensive at Radio Shack, Sears, etc.



http://www.sears.com/sr/javasr/produ...id=03482082000

Are we overlooking the simplest cause - a defective battery?

Disconnect either the positive or negative cables from the batteries when you finish using the boat. Also, any other wires connected to those posts. Reconnect when you return to use the boat. If the battery is "drained", the problem is with the battery. If not, it's with the boat's wiring or accessories.
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Old 03-21-2006, 09:28 PM
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Default Re: Battery Draining In Boat - Electrical Draw - NEED HELP!


The bilge is wired directly in. it doesnt have the ability to go on every 10 minutes. The batteries are less than 1 year old ( last season ). With the switch off, the only thing connected is the bildge. But again, no problems with the batteries when they are off after a week, so I would rule out the bilge & batteries for this reason.

The radio did cause a drain, but there is no more radio. The wiring harness is in the back taped off. There was a persiod after the radio was removed that there was no drain, I would think that would rule it out.

What about the motor? Is there a potiential issue with the 1999 Merc Outboard? Perhaps the volt regulator is shot?
Thanks!
Jason
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Old 03-21-2006, 10:25 PM
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Default Re: Battery Draining In Boat - Electrical Draw - NEED HELP!

A loose battery terminal will cause an increased drain on a battery if there is any current draw watsoever (memory circuit, CO detector, auto bilge). The increased resistance in the connection will require more current from the battery to power whatever is connected when the battery switch is tuned off resulting in a drained battery. If the connection is loose enough this can be substantial. Besides that fact, checking the connections is a very quick, easy check.

Why do you still have the harness connected? Try disconnecting it. Any moisture in the taped off connecter can cause a drain.

[quote]The radio did cause a drain, but there is no more radio. The wiring harness is in the back taped off. There was a persiod after the radio was removed that there was no drain, I would think that would rule it out. [quote]

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Old 03-22-2006, 08:20 AM
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Default Re: Battery Draining In Boat - Electrical Draw - NEED HELP!

Quote:
pbruce66 - 3/21/2006 8:25 PM

A loose battery terminal will cause an increased drain on a battery if there is any current draw watsoever (memory circuit, CO detector, auto bilge). The increased resistance in the connection will require more current from the battery to power whatever is connected when the battery switch is tuned off resulting in a drained battery.
Not correct. A loose battery connection inserts resistance into the circuit, lowering the voltage (and current) available to the device. The device has no way of drawing additional power and the battery has no way of providing it. Higher resistance in a circuit lowers the current.
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Old 03-22-2006, 08:25 AM
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Default Re: Battery Draining In Boat - Electrical Draw - NEED HELP!

Quote:
What about the motor? Is there a potiential issue with the 1999 Merc Outboard? Perhaps the volt regulator is shot?
Yes, that's a possibility. Again, use a meter to determine what's drawing current.
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Old 03-22-2006, 07:57 PM
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Default Re: Battery Draining In Boat - Electrical Draw - NEED HELP!

OK Ron, you are absolutely right, a loose terminal will not cause a drain (it's still a check that should be done regularly). I've seen many dead batteries due to a loose terminal but that was because they were not charging.

The taped off stereo connector seems a likely suspect. Any short to ground will cause a drain, if it is severe enough you may be able to observe it with a volt meter across the battery (battery switch on then off). To eliminate (or confirm) that the engine is the problem disconnect the main harness and the positive lead at the engine.
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Old 03-23-2006, 10:18 AM
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Default RE: Battery Draining In Boat - Electrical Draw - NEED HELP!

Already said but below demonstrates:

loose cable = bad connection = more resistance = heat


Not my boat but from another site. Tighten the cables as part of regular maintenance.
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Old 03-24-2006, 04:21 PM
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Default Re: Battery Draining In Boat - Electrical Draw - NEED HELP!

I gotta ask how old are the batt's and are they Maintenance free?
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