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Old 05-06-2010, 09:05 AM   #1
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Default Need help with Power Cables (pics attached)

Shore Power works fine inside the cabin, but nothing works on battery power. As I try to find the primary cable to the cabin, I have the following questions; if for no other reasons than to rule out anything back there, as well as learning something.

All connections are clean and tight. Both batteries are 12.60 or better.

On the block with three cables, the two outside cables are 12.60, while the middle cable starts around 3 and drops to almost 0. The big fuse on the bottom is working fine.

a. is it normal for the middle leg to be very low voltage?

b. is the cable from the battery charger the Main feed to the cabin? I'm going out to test continuity, but the cable size is quite different. I have yet to find a cable the size of the feed, and with temps in the high 90s, efficiency is worthwhile.

Advice appreciated!
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Old 05-06-2010, 09:24 AM   #2
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sorry, NO idea what we are looking at. And can't follow most of your questions....

What is the device the 3 "legs" are attached to? Is that a battery isolator? If so, NO, it is NOT normal to have 3 volts, on ANY of those. I am totally guessing, but I'd guess that is your House battery, and it is dead. Are you sure you only have 2 batteries?? If that is an isolator as suspected, then you have 3 batteries. The 3rd may be located somewhere else....

Or, that is not an isolator, and we are talking a complete different story..... Need more info: Type of boat, make model and year. Battery isolator or VSR's installed? Battery switches, type and how many, connected to what....
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Old 05-06-2010, 10:46 AM   #3
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I'll get more information. So far, what I thought was the charger/inverter seems to be just a charger;
http://www.pmariner.com/productFeatu...oductNum=51211

I tested power from the ShorePower inlet to the charger and all is working properly. What I don't see are any wires running from the Fly Back 10-3 to ...

Two batteries, one Guest switch (in photo), a Guest CE isolator (? don't know what it is myself) with the two outside posts showing 12V and the inside showing 3 or less. However, an internet search seems to suggest that the middle post goes to the alternator, so I'll turn the motor on and test voltage then.

That still leaves the question of how power would get from the batteries to the cuddy panel. Right now it's looking like power is only available from Shore Power.

IF that's the case, I have an inverter that I can install on the boat. All I need is to know that I won't be blowing up the batteries by using one, and to find the wire from the cuddy's panel on back to learn whether it's capped off.

The boat, by the way, is a Chaparral 240 Signature. Cuddy contains Electric refrigerator, stove and microwave.
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Old 05-06-2010, 01:34 PM   #4
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Do yourself a favor. Hire a pro to diagnose and fix your problem. Don't try to add anything, the boat should operate fine with what it was originally equipped with.

The pro can explain to you what each device is, why it's there, and what it does. All without smoke or flames. It will be money well spent.

Electricity is not something to mess with if you don't know what you're doing, especially on a boat.
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Old 05-06-2010, 03:26 PM   #5
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I've never had a cuddy, and comical as it sounds, had no idea that one could be made to power the cuddy options only via shore power. As you can imagine, we haven't used the boat's refrigerator, stove or microwave until yesterday when the bride wanted to nuke some cheese dip and nothing happened. All of my R&M has been in the carport and the SP has probably been ON most of the time.

Ron, while not the expert that you are, I'm not exactly the, "...don't know what you're doing" type of guy, either. More accurate is that I don't know what I'm looking at, and until I determine that the device is just a charger instead of a charger/converter, I ask questions as I go along.

By now I'm pretty well resigned to the fact that my boat doesn't have an inverter....yet. Wouldn't the panel in the cuddy have as a MAIN switch a 3-way (SP...OFF...BATT)? With my switch being only an On/Off type, that pretty much tells the tale.

That said, do you have a guess about why the middle cable was way less than 12V...was it as I suspected and only showing 12V when the alternator was supplying power?

Next, if I want to add Battery Power to the cuddy devices, I'm going to want to have a plan.
a. install a 3-way switch on the panel
b. wire from the switch back to where the new inverter will go
c. power from one battery to the...inverter, or some other variation?
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Old 05-06-2010, 03:34 PM   #6
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I've never had a cuddy, and comical as it sounds, had no idea that one could be made to power the cuddy options only via shore power. As you can imagine, we haven't used the boat's refrigerator, stove or microwave until yesterday when the bride wanted to nuke some cheese dip and nothing happened. All of my R&M has been in the carport and the SP has probably been ON most of the time.

Ron, while not the expert that you are, I'm not exactly the, "...don't know what you're doing" type of guy, either. More accurate is that I don't know what I'm looking at, and until I determine that the device is just a charger instead of a charger/converter, I ask questions as I go along.

By now I'm pretty well resigned to the fact that my boat doesn't have an inverter....yet. Wouldn't the panel in the cuddy have as a MAIN switch a 3-way (SP...OFF...BATT)? With my switch being only an On/Off type, that pretty much tells the tale.

That said, do you have a guess about why the middle cable was way less than 12V...was it as I suspected and only showing 12V when the alternator was supplying power?

Next, if I want to add Battery Power to the cuddy devices, I'm going to want to have a plan.
a. install a 3-way switch on the panel
b. wire from the switch back to where the new inverter will go
c. power from one battery to the...inverter, or some other variation?
I think I understand now that you're saying there is no 120 volt AC power to the cabin when not on shore power. You still have 12 volt DC power to the cabin lights, stereo, 12 volt outlets, etc. Is this correct?

If so, this is to be expected. Shore power is 120 volts AC and there is no source other than an inverter powered by batteries or a generator.

Installing an inverter to power the microwave and AC outlets is possible, but more complicated than you may think. For starters, you're going to need additional batteries to get power for a reasonable length of time. Second, you must keep the DC conductors to the inverter as short as possible but you cannot mount the inverter in the engine compartment.

I still wouldn't recommend this to an inexperienced person. My career was in electronics and electricity so I was able to install additional batteries and an inverter in my previous boat and an inverter in my present boat. Again, a lot of planning and no small expense is involved.
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Old 05-06-2010, 11:32 PM   #7
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Ron, while not the expert that you are, I'm not exactly the, "...don't know what you're doing" type of guy, either. More accurate is that I don't know what I'm looking at, and until I determine that the device is just a charger instead of a charger/converter, I ask questions as I go along.
Helpful little guy, isn't he?
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Old 05-07-2010, 01:08 AM   #8
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With the batteries shown, even with an inverter the microwave you mentioned would kill your power in a few minutes. Smallest microwaves are around 1000W = 120V x 8.3A or 12V x 83A not counting loss through conversion to 120V.

Many boats are rigged with 120V via shore power only.

Dwayne
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Old 05-07-2010, 01:13 AM   #9
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...but you cannot mount the inverter in the engine compartment.

I still wouldn't recommend this to an inexperienced person. My career was in electronics and electricity so I was able to install additional batteries and an inverter in my previous boat and an inverter in my present boat. Again, a lot of planning and no small expense is involved.
There is a Xantrex inverter/charger that can be mounted in the engine compartment.

http://www.xantrex.com/web/id/243/p/1/pt/7/product.asp ...but only provides a 1000W so it would have to be a really small microwave. Totally agree he needs help and bigger batteries.

On a side note, it looks like the boat has both a gel and a lead acid battery. Not a good idea to mix battery types on the same charging system.

I strongly recommend not using 120V. Use a 12V Fridge and 12V Coffee Maker.

My boat has an inverter/charger connected to the shore via an isolation transformer and a ground loop circuit breaker. While connected to shore power, batteries are charged and passes through [email protected] which I only use for a small fan/heater which helps with condensation. When disconnected from shore power, I have 120V 16A available via the inverter... Which I have little use for. Alcohol Stove for cooking and Diesel Furnace for heating shower work great.

Dwayne

Last edited by DwayneJ; 05-07-2010 at 01:23 AM.
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Old 05-07-2010, 04:27 AM   #10
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There is a Xantrex inverter/charger that can be mounted in the engine compartment.

http://www.xantrex.com/web/id/243/p/1/pt/7/product.asp ...but only provides a 1000W so it would have to be a really small microwave. Totally agree he needs help and bigger batteries.

On a side note, it looks like the boat has both a gel and a lead acid battery. Not a good idea to mix battery types on the same charging system.

I strongly recommend not using 120V. Use a 12V Fridge and 12V Coffee Maker.

My boat has an inverter/charger connected to the shore via an isolation transformer and a ground loop circuit breaker. While connected to shore power, batteries are charged and passes through [email protected] which I only use for a small fan/heater which helps with condensation. When disconnected from shore power, I have 120V 16A available via the inverter... Which I have little use for. Alcohol Stove for cooking and Diesel Furnace for heating shower work great.

Dwayne
12 volt coffee makers are pretty slow.

Dwayne, if you have power for a microwave oven and a place to put it, get one, you'll never look back. You can cook so many things at home and heat them in the microwave to add to or replace what you cook on the stove.

Bacon or sausage is a mess to cook on the boat, but reheats in the microwave in seconds. Cook your eggs on the stove and you have breakfast.

Soups, stews, casaroles, cooked roasts, meatloaf, etc. warm up beautifully. Heat canned vegetables on the stove for a complete meal.

Things I would never buy for home use like microwave rice and mashed potatoes work great on a boat.
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Old 05-07-2010, 06:08 AM   #11
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There is a Xantrex inverter/charger that can be mounted in the engine compartment.

http://www.xantrex.com/web/id/243/p/1/pt/7/product.asp ...but only provides a 1000W so it would have to be a really small microwave. Totally agree he needs help and bigger batteries.

On a side note, it looks like the boat has both a gel and a lead acid battery. Not a good idea to mix battery types on the same charging system.

I strongly recommend not using 120V. Use a 12V Fridge and 12V Coffee Maker.

My boat has an inverter/charger connected to the shore via an isolation transformer and a ground loop circuit breaker. While connected to shore power, batteries are charged and passes through [email protected] which I only use for a small fan/heater which helps with condensation. When disconnected from shore power, I have 120V 16A available via the inverter... Which I have little use for. Alcohol Stove for cooking and Diesel Furnace for heating shower work great.

Dwayne
BATTERIES:
*both batteries are lead acid, so no mixing
* what led me to think that the charger was a charger inverter were the two batteries (and the fact that my last two boats had inverter/chargers). There isn't a reason for the boat to have two batteries if one isn't a house battery, other than redundancy.

USAGE:
* a small microwave is the goal. Fridge, electric stove and coffee maker aren't how we use the boat. As Ron said, re-heating in the microwave is the goal.
* a couple of 60-second bursts is what I'd expect from the system, so not worried about draining the battery, either

QUESTION:
I use an inverter that connects to the truck battery in order to power up circular saw or air compressor on sites. Connect leads to a battery, extension cord and power's there.

If I want to provide 120V for the purposes mentioned, and not install combiners, etc, it seems like I could simply add a third battery (plenty of room), then hook up the inverter when needed.

If I opt for a permanent fix, and if an isolation transformer and ground loop circuit breaker are needed, that's okay. My question is to learn what the item in the first photo is? It's a Guest brand...and nothing else on the casing.
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Old 05-07-2010, 06:26 AM   #12
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Rick,

I understand you want to learn, but you can't learn electrical theory or practice here by asking questions. At the very least, you should buy a couple books on boat wiring and study until you understand. Even then, you may not know enough theory to make decisions, just enough to do basic installs and troubleshooting.

One reason for multiple batteries to operate an inverter/microwave oven combination is being able to supply enough current to the inverter to maintain 12 volts. Even if you only run the microwave for ten seconds, if the battery cannot supply the required current at the required voltage, the inverter will shut down or the microwave won't work.

The theory behind this is that a battery has a natural internal resistance much like the resistance in a piece of cable. Try to draw too much current from the battery and the voltage at the terminals goes down because of this internal resistance (and the battery heats up).

Putting two batteries in parallel cuts the internal resistance in half. More batteries cuts it further. A higher capacity battery may have a lower internal resistance. Also, a battery's internal resistance can rise as the battery ages.

Before you make any changes to your boat's electrical system, you should understand exactly what you have and what it does. Then, plan what you want or need and determine how to arrive at that point from where you are now.
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Old 05-07-2010, 08:31 AM   #13
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Dwayne, if you have power for a microwave oven and a place to put it, get one, you'll never look back. You can cook so many things at home and heat them in the microwave to add to or replace what you cook on the stove.
I know exactly where you are coming from as I have put together a 120V system with a Microwave in a van I own. My wife and I have done a huge amount of camping and cook a lot so we know hot to plan for our our multi day boat meals.

Dwayne
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Old 05-07-2010, 08:49 AM   #14
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The second pic - Flyback 10-3 is a fast charger with three outputs rated at 5amps each for 12v batteries..
Top pic appears to be a two battery isolator (three terminals), but would be helpful if you could pull info off a label. The outside two terminals are connected to either batt positive terminal. The center connection should be to the alternator positive output. If you start your motor, you should see about 13.5-14 volts there (center). This allows you to charge two batteries simultaneously from the alternator but leaves the starting battery isolated from dc devices to keep it from being discharged and stranding you without enough juice to crank.
Top pic mounted on the floor - maybe a ckt breaker? Again more label/brand info would be helpful.
Is using a Honda 1000 out of the question. Certainly enough power for a microwave and other small appliances.

Last edited by airbrush; 05-07-2010 at 09:14 AM.
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Old 05-07-2010, 09:24 AM   #15
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Ron, the dual battery setup on a boat this size (small) would be for a starting and a house battery because it's a cruiser and not a fishing boat with lots of electronics, pumps, etc.
Seeing the two batteries and never having seen a boat with two batteries that didn't have an OEM inverter made me assume that it had one.
Not learning the difference in 3 months tells us how little we'd use any of the cabin options, anyway. However, if we go to see the Blue Angel show and had a microwave, things would be a lot more convenient.

My first test is hook the inverter up to a spare battery and power up a spare microwave. I'll see how much umph the battery is capable of; and if it can produce 10 minutes of power, then I'm fine with that.

airbrush, thanks for the description. The circuit breaker is the thing on the floor; albeit a goofy place to install it when there's so much space available that more water resistant...so I'll move it if there's enough cable to do so.

The isolator....what's the purpose for one? Is this the device that shuffles power to the battery that needs it? I thought the charger did that, so any idea what it's purpose is?

Ron, I respect your opinion, but we teach each other how to paint boats, tie knots, choose GPS, etc on this site. I'm going to learn just enough about installing an inverter to get it done...and I'll appreciate just enough tidbits of information to walk be through the process.

The last time you and I were in a similar discussion was when I was intending to install a windlass...and the installation went perfectly because you guys taught me what I needed to know.
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Old 05-07-2010, 09:38 AM   #16
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The isolator allows your alternator to charge both batteries at the same time. It prevents (through diodes, primarily) devices connected to one battery from drawing down the other battery. Typically, your starter (and possibly your auto bilge pump) will be connected to one battery (let's call it battery A) and all the other dc devices will be connected to the other battery (Battery B). That way you could run your stereo, radio,etc all day until batt B is dead, and you would still have batt A alive and well to start the motor.

The isolator is part of the Motor Charging circuit. I suppose you could run a single cirsuit battery charger through it also but not generally hooked that way. The shore powered charger is generally connected directly to each battery. Yours (shore powered charger, that is) should be capable of independently charging up to three batteries.
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Old 05-07-2010, 09:54 AM   #17
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Here'a simple depiction of the circuit:
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Old 05-07-2010, 10:05 AM   #18
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Small microwaves are generally in the 600-850 watt range, so an inverter (if you want to go that way) such as this could work as it has a good surge rating as well as a 9oo watt continuous rating.

http://www.voltageconverters.com/ite...sp?ic=PW900-12

One other point to consider is that most inverters have a cutoff voltage on the input side - in this case 10vdc. This means you need a battery with enough ass to handle the startup surge as well as continuous load. If the batt limps below 10 volts at any time, you're out of commission. One way to help the situation would be to run your boat motor during microwave operation to help the battery deal with startup surge issues. Simple advice - before assembling this animal, be sure to match your components to insure compatability of operation.
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Old 05-07-2010, 10:25 AM   #19
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Old 05-07-2010, 07:25 PM   #20
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hmmm, that's interesting. I took an admittedly less-than-perfect spare battery and testing the inverter/microwave with it.

Charged the battery up and V at full charge was 13.4 right off the charger. Attached the inverter and plugged in the microwave. Two minutes for a cup of water and...water was slightly warm, that's it.

Voltage during the test was around 116V A/C (according to the meter). Water didn't warm up very much. Next I hooked up regular home electricity and the water got pretty warm; certainly not boiling like on our home nukers, but a lot warmer that battery power.

that has me wondering whether the weak, full charged, battery just didn't have enough to do the job, or whether the inverter is the problem. or what? Just did one test so nothing's conclusive at this point.
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