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Battery Charger problems

Old 08-29-2011, 10:35 AM
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Default Battery Charger problems

Guys, need some input on this.

I have a '90 trawler. We spend a lot of time at anchor, living off the batteries and relying on the generator and battery charger to keep the batteries charged.

This spring I decided to upgrade the charger, my goal was to spend less time with the generator running.

I had my installer install a 60 amp Xantrex three bank unit. He finished the install, powered it up, and was working on another project in the engine room, when he heard a loud "pop" and the charger amp output went to 0. There were no warning or fault lights on, and the unit shows full output voltage (14.5), but the output stays at 0 amps. I called Xantrex, they said to send it in and they will check it out.

Again, I was two days from a 10 day trip with no way to charge batteries (other than running the port engine). So I purchased a ProMariner 60 amp three bank unit, spent the night before we were leaving on my back on the floor of the engine room swapping out units.

Halfway through the cruise I noticed that the Promariner unit is doing the same thing, showing 14.5 volts, but 0 amps. No fault lights, it shows its in "conditioning" mode. If I shut it off and turn it on again it goes through the self tests, then the amps start at 5 and quickly go to 0.

There are three banks
(really 4, but the generator battery circuit is seperate, only the ground is connected to the common ground).

Bank 1 is the starboard starting battery, Deka 4d.
Bank 2 is the port starting batter, Deka 4d
Bank 3 is the house, two Deka 4d's wired in parallel.

All batteries are 2007, all have proper fluid levels, etc.

The chargers were both set up in the above order, so the lead from Bank 1 went to the starboard starting battery, the lead for bank 2 to the port starting battery, etc.

When the engines are running the house bank charges off the port starting battery through a BlueSeas ACR with a 60 amp fuse. So this ACR is connected to Battery 2, and one of the two batteries in the house bank. So when the voltage on the starting batter is high enough, it charges the bank. The ACR was on the boat when I bought it. I don't know much about it.

Given that two battery chargers from two different manufacturers are exibiting the same symptom, I wonder if there is something wrong on the boat, not with the units. Can anyone think of something that would cause that problem?

I spent the weekend messing with it. I thought the ACR may throw off the chargers, so I disconnected it, but the problem persists. I tried connecting the lead for bank 1 to the house batteries. That didn't work.

The house batteries are low (around 11 to 11.5 volts). The starting batteries are a little over 12. But the charger won't kick out any amps.

I just find it hard to believe that two different chargers have the same problem.

Any suggestions?
Old 08-29-2011, 11:03 AM
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That is odd.. Have you checked the voltage at the batteries when the charger is on? The loud pop could have been may different things in that setup..

Do you have the possibility of hooking up the charger to batteries that are out of the boat to start eliminating some possibilities?
Old 08-29-2011, 12:34 PM
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The proper way to connect a charger to a battery or batteries is to have a fuse or circuit breaker at both ends of the charging lead(s). This is because a short circuit in the lead could receive power from both the battery and from the charger.

The charger usually has the fuse internal to the charger, but there should be a fuse within seven inches of the battery terminal. There are fuses made for this purpose that attach directly to the positive battery terminal and don't look like typical fuses.

Just guessing, because I'm not at the boat, but I would be checking this or these fuses.




http://www.westmarine.com/webapp/wcs...8911&langId=-1
Old 08-29-2011, 03:47 PM
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"Do you have the possibility of hooking up the charger to batteries that are out of the boat to start eliminating some possibilities? "

That's a good idea. I have the Xantrex charger in my car. I'll try hooking that up in the garage and see if it charges.
Old 08-29-2011, 03:48 PM
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Originally Posted by rwidman View Post
The proper way to connect a charger to a battery or batteries is to have a fuse or circuit breaker at both ends of the charging lead(s). This is because a short circuit in the lead could receive power from both the battery and from the charger.

The charger usually has the fuse internal to the charger, but there should be a fuse within seven inches of the battery terminal. There are fuses made for this purpose that attach directly to the positive battery terminal and don't look like typical fuses.

Just guessing, because I'm not at the boat, but I would be checking this or these fuses.




http://www.westmarine.com/webapp/wcs...8911&langId=-1
There are no fuses between the charger and the batteries. I ran the whole length of the cable this weekend. I wish it were something that easy.
Old 08-29-2011, 04:09 PM
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I know it may sound a little far fetched, but think about this. Both the Xantrex and the PM were receiving their AC input off the same feed. That is a commonality between 2 failed units. In the case of the Xantrex, an audible "pop" was heard from the unit. That being said, have you gone through the 120VAC side of things to ensure you don't have an intermittant short somewhere in that feed?

In the case of the PM, it may be that the charger is not seeing the desired input current and/or voltage, and is simply shifting into a default mode...
Old 08-29-2011, 04:51 PM
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If the charger is showing 14.5 volts and the batteries are showing 11.5 volts, they are not connected together. Since it's both banks, I would check the common negative connection first.
Old 08-30-2011, 04:33 AM
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Originally Posted by rwidman View Post
If the charger is showing 14.5 volts and the batteries are showing 11.5 volts, they are not connected together. Since it's both banks, I would check the common negative connection first.

I didn't check the common negative, I should have thought of that. I'll check it tomorrow.
Old 08-30-2011, 06:18 AM
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Originally Posted by seabob4 View Post
I know it may sound a little far fetched, but think about this. Both the Xantrex and the PM were receiving their AC input off the same feed. That is a commonality between 2 failed units. In the case of the Xantrex, an audible "pop" was heard from the unit. That being said, have you gone through the 120VAC side of things to ensure you don't have an intermittant short somewhere in that feed?

In the case of the PM, it may be that the charger is not seeing the desired input current and/or voltage, and is simply shifting into a default mode...
I'll try to dig out a multimeter and check the ac side. I don't know a lot about AC. I may need to enlist some help on that.
Old 08-30-2011, 07:14 AM
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.... I had my installer install a 60 amp Xantrex three bank unit. He finished the install, powered it up, and was working on another project in the engine room, when he heard a loud "pop" and the charger amp output went to 0 .........
The "pop" may have been the spark as the negative wire came loose from the common battery connection (at the batteries, not the charger) when he accidentally stepped on it.

Just a thought.
Old 08-30-2011, 12:21 PM
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Originally Posted by rwidman View Post
The "pop" may have been the spark as the negative wire came loose from the common battery connection (at the batteries, not the charger) when he accidentally stepped on it.

Just a thought.
The negative lead from the charger does not connect at the batteries, its connected to a post back by the switch panel (a couple feet away and buried behind the starboard engine) Just as a test I was going to disconnect it from the post (if I can get to it) and connect it directly to the negative terminal on one of the house batteries and see if it made a difference.

Does that make sense? Is there any reason not to connect it directly to the batteries?
Old 08-30-2011, 12:35 PM
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Originally Posted by jfdlaw View Post
The negative lead from the charger does not connect at the batteries, its connected to a post back by the switch panel (a couple feet away and buried behind the starboard engine) Just as a test I was going to disconnect it from the post (if I can get to it) and connect it directly to the negative terminal on one of the house batteries and see if it made a difference.

Does that make sense? Is there any reason not to connect it directly to the batteries?
If it worked before, you should not have to rewire it.

You don't have to disconnect it, leave it in place and connect another wire from the negative terminal of your battery charger to one of the negative battery terminals. If it starts charging, the original wire is your problem. If it doesn't, it's not the problem.

You might want to just go ahead and bring in a marine electrician on this. It would have been fixed in less than an hour and you could go boating knowing that your batteries are charging correctly.

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