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Old 06-20-2018, 12:15 PM   #1
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Adding a Pilothouse (second) Battery Bank

Hi All,
Iím starting to spend many nights aboard her now and am finding that after a full night the main battery bank gets pretty low and the voltage drops below 11.5 volts. The problem I am having is that my equipment in the pilothouse is a bit more sensitive to voltage and also does use a decent amount of power since I run things like an 8 camera NVR at all times, etc. While I know I could spend time figuring out what to turn off I thought it might make more sense and give me more flexibility to add a second battery bank. I dont have much time to get this designed before I leave north so hoping for some suggestions. Also I already researched the Autostart generator option and thanks to great feedback from this group decided thatís not the right way to address this.

My boat currently has an Xantrex 3012 that charges the main bank (6v batteries, 12v system). The power then goes to two panels, one in the main salon which controls all the house systems (plumbing, lights, etc). And then a second panel in the pilothouse which just does running lights and electronics. There are a set of large power (+/-) cables running up to the pilothouse for this but no room to add a second set of cables.

My question is:
Would I either be able to add a second battery bank in the pilothouse charged by the 3012, the complication I see is that I only have that one set of power cables running up to the pilothouse.
Or what about adding a totally separate bank, charged by a 40a charger powered off the 110v inverter power in the pilothouse which would allow for full charging under power and prioritize charging the electronics/critical batteries versus the house system. If I did the separate system I would put a selector switch so the pilothouse panel could be powered by either the house bank or upper bank. This could be handy should the bilge ever flood (hopefully never).

I know little to nothing about proper DC power system design and could use some pointers in the right direction.

Thanks!
Arthur
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Old 06-20-2018, 12:46 PM   #2
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My first concern about putting batteries in the pilothouse would be the weight. Can the floors hold that much? Also what would that do to the stability and the COG of the boat?
Why not just add to your house bank?
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Old 06-20-2018, 12:56 PM   #3
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I’m not too worried about the weight, but valid concern. The same deck is designed to hold a very heavy boston whaler dingy as well on 4 mounts, I checked and there is no difference in construction/reenforcement for the dinghy. And since I’m on a lighter RIB there is several hundred expected lbs I can add so stability shouldn’t be too much of a concern. Not to mention the boat is also designed to take another dinghy up top with modifications and I think one KK54 runs that way which would put much more weight even higher up. (On my boat the dinghy sits right in front of the pilothouse).
As far as adding to the main bank it would mean I couldn’t get down into the midships bilge which I just dont think is practical to have to remove batteries to work on any of the plumbing systems (or battery system for that matter). I had thought about adding taller/more expensive batteries but the prices get to the point I could easily pay for the second bank and it has added benefits if I can figure out how to do it well. Since the batteries and my main plumbing systems are in the same mid-bilge I do worry a throughhull hose failure could put me in a bad spot with zero power, since everything I need to run operates of the pilothouse panel an isolated bank would be useful, although hopefully it never comes to that.
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Old 06-20-2018, 01:05 PM   #4
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FWIW, in the interest of time as you prep for your trip... I think I'd add batteries to the main bank (and/or go taller), charge more often with your genset (or maybe just run the thing most of the time), maybe go to a larger alternator if you haven't already, and turn some non-essential stuff off overnight (assuming you're not underway).

Then that'll give you time to ponder a maybe more elegant comprehensive solution... which could include larger chargers, solar, whatever.


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Or what about adding a totally separate bank, charged by a 40a charger powered off the 110v inverter power in the pilothouse which would allow for full charging under power and prioritize charging the electronics/critical batteries versus the house system.
Not sure I understand that. Using an inverter to charge batteries is using batteries to charge batteries... with some efficiency loss in between.

??

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Old 06-20-2018, 01:28 PM   #5
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The inverter to charge the batteries was just where I would get the AC power from, but it would be easy to make it so the charger would only charge when the main engine or Genset is on. I have a pretty good Maretron setup now with the relays, etc so writing in that control would be simple.
As far as alternators, etc, all of that is fine on the boat, oversized even, I think its a 200 and a 160 off the main engine, this is purely an issue of me greedily wanting to not worry about counting amps every night while leaving things like my full Nav and N2K network, and camera system running 24x7 since they do things like anchor watch. The tall batteries are an option but looks to be several thousand dollars based on what I looked at, more batteries arent really an option.
Also its not about solar as I generally kill my Genset about sun down, its purely a question of added capacity for the night.

The tall batteries might be the simplist but does mean in the case of water in the bilge I am out of luck. Although I havenít actually tested operating the boat with the battery switch off.... (I have a separate starting system)

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Old 06-20-2018, 02:10 PM   #6
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Generally, you are going to be better off using one large battery bank than multiple smaller battery banks.


DC->AC->DC is a huge waste of power. I wouldn't consider that.


I think you are frankly better off turning off stuff you don't need running 24/7. Either that, or run your genset overnight. Either of those would be a better soluntion, IMO, to adding a separate bank.


If you do add a separate bank, I would first figure out exactly how much you need. How many amp hours does your pilothouse panel use overnight? Size the new bank for that load. You then could take that current set of cables that run to the pilothouse panel and use those with your charger to charge the PH bank. Many chargers are setup to be able to charge multiple banks so your charger could charge both the house bank and Pilothouse bank. The downside to that is that the PH bank would only be charged while you are either plugged in or have the genset running.


Alternatively, use the cables to the PH panel and use an ACR to combine the house and PH banks while they house bank is getting charged. This has the advantage of charging the PH bank regardless of the charging source, such as your engine alternator. The down side is that the two banks should have the same charge profiles.


Another option is to use a DC->DC charger using the existing cables to the PH to charge the PH bank from the house bank. This has the same advantage as the ACR in that they PH bank would be charged whenever their is a charge source to the house.


All in all, I would likely opt for the ACR if you just can't expand your house bank and aren't willing to be a little less profligate with your electricity at night.
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Old 06-20-2018, 02:47 PM   #7
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You can expand your current bank (which would be my approach too) without having the additional batteries physically right against the existing set.....which seems to be your concern in doing this. Find a convenient place elsewhere and cable together with appropriately sized cables. Surely you can find somewhere other than the pilothouse for another 2~4 gc batts?
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Old 06-20-2018, 03:08 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arthurc View Post
...this is purely an issue of me greedily wanting to not worry about counting amps every night while leaving things like my full Nav and N2K network, and camera system running 24x7 since they do things like anchor watch. The tall batteries are an option but looks to be several thousand dollars based on what I looked at, more batteries arent really an option.
Also its not about solar as I generally kill my Genset about sun down, its purely a question of added capacity for the night.

The tall batteries might be the simplist but does mean in the case of water in the bilge I am out of luck. Although I haven’t actually tested operating the boat with the battery switch off.... (I have a separate starting system)

Maybe describe how much water you might be worried about in that mid bilge?

(FWIW, our batts are in the engine room, but high enough so water in the bilge (rare) isn't an issue.... and if there's enough water to kill batteries, I'd have way more important problems to deal with -- like launching the tender, etc.)

I haven't priced tall batteries like L16s, and I don't see where you mentioned how many pairs of 6Vs you have in your 12V system -- but are they really that much more expensive than normal GC2s? -- and maybe you could recoup a bit of that cost if you can sell off your current batts afterwards, presumably in good shape?

Greed is at least more easily managed when clearly identified.

Maybe turn on your genset again just before bedtime, run it for (an hour?) to top up batts just before you retire?

How much of that stuff do you need to mount an anchor watch? Or for deptch alarms? For example, we have a couple different GPS units and a couple different sounders, but I don't really need to run both of each overnight for an anchor watch...

How does the camera system contribute?

Is your anchor light an LED?

-Chris
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Old 06-20-2018, 03:35 PM   #9
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I would second that increasing the size of the existing house battery bank. if you have the height clearence you might consider replacing the existing 6v batts with l16s
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Old 06-20-2018, 04:45 PM   #10
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I’ll take a look at the height options plus maybe look at extending the bank into the forward bilge which may have space. That all makes sense and would be simpler.

As for water a majority of my throughhulls are in that midship bilge and so a Jose issue might flood it while likely wouldn’t flood the engineroom much before I was able to close it. The starter batteries are mounted high in the eng room for both the main and Genset.
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Old 06-20-2018, 05:08 PM   #11
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I have 3 48v banks. Each connected by a relay and a homemade voltage sensing system that switches to the next bank when the volts go below a set point. If all three are down, the inverter starts a generator. I can go 2+ days with 120v lights, reefer and freezer. I went to a 48v inverter because the needed cable sizes are smaller and I can put the banks some distance from the inverter.
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Old 06-20-2018, 06:29 PM   #12
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Why do you need the cameras on all the time, or any of the equipment that is causing the draw down? I disagree about the AGS, having been an avid actual user of one rather than fearful speculator about them.
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Old 06-20-2018, 06:44 PM   #13
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Why do you need the cameras on all the time, or any of the equipment that is causing the draw down? I disagree about the AGS, having been an avid actual user of one rather than fearful speculator about them.
I never said I needed any of this on but I do prefer not to hassle with it. The cameras record 24x7 which is great if anything ever happens in the anchorage, such as the rope that got pulled all around my deck a few months ago when I was at the dock, turns out it was a playful otter, irritating but good to know versus it being a human.
Secondly they are super handy for anchor watch or just in general, they go to any TV or ipad in the boat so its easy to flip the TV input and get a view of any changes in the anchorage. Thatís the same reason I run my TZT12 plotter as the anchor alarm, it also displays to any TV in the boat, really quick and easy to see where you are.

Iím on full LEDs, new fridges, etc so Ive thought about efficiency of every device, but at this point I would rather spend additional money to not have to worry about every amp right now, priority is on making sure we are having fun and the kid is safe.

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Old 06-20-2018, 09:10 PM   #14
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Dyno L16 deep cycle batteries should cost about $350 a battery. The question is how many do you need. I run 8 of them. This gives me just shy of 1600 amp hours.
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Old 06-21-2018, 01:21 AM   #15
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I believe I’m running 6, I thought they were significantly more when I looked at fisheries but may have been looking at the wrong ones.
When I go to the boat Friday I’m going to see if I can move to the L16s and add 2-4 more to the forward bilge (only a bulkhead between them)

Thanks for all the advice, love this forum.
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Old 06-21-2018, 01:24 AM   #16
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Looks like the ones I was looking at were Lifeline brand, 650 a piece. Thoughts on a better or more cost effective brand?
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Old 06-21-2018, 02:02 AM   #17
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Dyno makes only commercial grade lead acid batteries for both the fishing industry and the railroads. You won’t find a better lead acid battery. I would need to price check but I bet I can sell them to you for $350 a battery.
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Old 06-21-2018, 07:16 AM   #18
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Quote:
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Looks like the ones I was looking at were Lifeline brand, 650 a piece. Thoughts on a better or more cost effective brand?

Lifeline are AGMs. so they do come with some advantages... as for example, if servicing is difficult due to access, or if you need to mount them sideways or whatever. When I installed a bank of Lifeline 6V 4CTs (the regular GC2s) our local dealer agreed to match internet prices... so my net costs were much lower than MSRP. My previous Odyssey AGMs on that bank laster 11-12 seasons, so overall cost over their lifetime isn't necessarily out of line.

OTOH, if wet batteries work for you, I see lots of recommendations for Trojans, and some for East Penn/Deka.

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Old 06-21-2018, 10:26 AM   #19
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We had a similar conundrum on Delfin. Although we don't run anything at night other than an anchor light at night unless other electronics are needed for anchor watch during storm conditions, we would use around 300 amps @ 24 vdc per day at anchor. With a 1250 amp bank and the extended charge time to get lead acid ( in this case AGM) batteries back up to FULL charge I narrowed the solution down to either a quiet night time genset (settled on NextGen 5kw) that would run during the late pm to bedtime, or LiFePO4 batteries that would recharge very quickly using the existing genset.

Either would have given me what I wanted, which was peace and quiet while charging, or if I had to run the 20kw genset, a much shorter run time. I settled on the LiFePO4 solution and am quite happy with it. While it doesn't solve your current time restricted need for a solution, you should think through how much power you need over how long a period of time, and either be prepared to run a big genset a whole lot, or think through a quieter, more efficient solution.

FWIW, running your existing batteries to 11.5 volts will kill them off pretty quickly. That is about 80% discharge and you won't get more than a couple hundred cycles out of lead acid batteries, using (abusing) them that way. If it were me, I wouldn't just add more capacity of a system I doubt you'll like over the long haul. I'd take the trip and reduce the load so the batteries don't ever drop below 12 volts, then take out the checkbook and install a night generator if you want to stay with LA batteries, or put in a bank of Lithium that are just fine being discharged 75% - 80% and will still give you thousands of cycles. I found the cost to be about the same either way.
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Old 06-21-2018, 10:28 AM   #20
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Lifeline are AGMs. so they do come with some advantages... as for example, if servicing is difficult due to access, or if you need to mount them sideways or whatever. When I installed a bank of Lifeline 6V 4CTs (the regular GC2s) our local dealer agreed to match internet prices... so my net costs were much lower than MSRP. My previous Odyssey AGMs on that bank laster 11-12 seasons, so overall cost over their lifetime isn't necessarily out of line.

OTOH, if wet batteries work for you, I see lots of recommendations for Trojans, and some for East Penn/Deka.

-Chris
Chris, the OP might benefit from hearing what capacity you drew your AGMs down to before fully re-charging that allowed you to get so many seasons. I got the same out of my AGMs and I never let them get below around 35% discharged.
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