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Old 09-03-2013, 03:06 PM   #21
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Based on input from this thread (and others), I bought the ProIsoCharge 2-4 for my boat, and installed it last week to replace an older isolator. From the time of the first engine start the voltage readings on my helm gauges rose by a full volt and the unit worked as expected when we spent the weekend on the hook. Now the time test begins...
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Old 03-03-2016, 06:57 AM   #22
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Update- problems

I am not having much luck with the ProIsoCharge 130 2-4. I have just experienced a failure of my third unit. The units perform well for about 50 hours and then I get a really loud relay chatter in the unit. Once the failure occurs the chatter will start when the key switch is in on even before the engine is started. I have sent two back to Promariner. They replaced one with a new one and returned the other stating they could not repeat the problem. The failures have all been on new units. I have yet to install the returned unit. After three failures I think there must be a problem in my system. If I cant figure it out I will "dumb" the system down and eliminate the isolator.
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Old 03-03-2016, 08:23 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by fryedaze View Post
I am not having much luck with the ProIsoCharge 130 2-4. I have just experienced a failure of my third unit. The units perform well for about 50 hours and then I get a really loud relay chatter in the unit. Once the failure occurs the chatter will start when the key switch is in on even before the engine is started. I have sent two back to Promariner. They replaced one with a new one and returned the other stating they could not repeat the problem. The failures have all been on new units. I have yet to install the returned unit. After three failures I think there must be a problem in my system. If I cant figure it out I will "dumb" the system down and eliminate the isolator.
This product, I believe, was designed by Charlie Sterling and is sold in a partnership with ProMariner. As a Sterling dealer I am not a huge fan of this product because I don't see the necessity of it over a much simpler product like a Blue Sea ACR or ML-ACR... Charlie is well known for praying on the fears of consumers then developing products that sell to those fears.

One thing Charlie mentions in his manuals, that PM failed to counsel you on, is that any un-used output needs be tied to another used output.

"Please note in the event of any outputs on the pro split not being used then they must be linked to one which is, i.e. all outputs must be used, one must not be left unconnected."

This product is nothing more than a stepped voltage sensitive combining relay with multiple relays in one box. It combines batteries based on voltage in a priority order or steps.

The start battery is always connected to the alt on these devices meaning charging begins with the start battery.

By the way do not mix up the alt from engine 1 with start battery for engine 2.

When the start bank hits 13.3V it then combines/parallels with bank #2. When the system voltage (combined voltage of bank 1 & 2) is again at 13.3V it then parallels in bank #3 and so on.

It does not charge a start battery first, as Charlie likes to imply, it simply brings it to 13.3V before paralleling it with the house bank. With most start batteries this voltage rise happens in seconds and even with the minimal consumption from starting, the battery Ah capacity has not really been replaced before it has been placed in parallel with the house bank. The device simply begins with the start battery then brings the others in parallel as voltage attains the 13.3V level. Even for a 50% discharged house bank attaining 13.3V does not take a long time with a properly sized charging system. For example a Lifeline AGM discharged to 50% SOC then recharged at .2C (20% of Ah capacity or 20A on a 100Ah battery) will attain 13.3V in about 20 minutes.

If you leave a terminal open, such as bank 3 or 4, when the unit looks for it and sees nothing it may hiccup. This may be causing your relay chatter issue. Perhaps PM changed this in their unit but I suspect it is the same product inside a box with a different sticker and color. Try connecting any unused output with a jumper to a used output. Eg: Jump output #4 to the house bank terminal.
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Old 03-03-2016, 09:17 AM   #24
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Thanks CMS for the valuable information. I did some testing today. The BATT 1&2 lites are the only ones coming on and flickering with the relay chatter. I thought it might be something in the ignition voltage so I removed the Ignition leads and jumped 12 volts to the ignition terminal. The relays still chattered. I then removed the ground lead for a few minutes and replaced it. The chatter is gone. It looks like the unit reset itself when voltage was removed. I use the 1,2&3 Battery terminals. I will be placing that jumper on terminal 4 and seeing what happens in time.
This explains why Promariner could not repeat the failure. It goes away when the unit is down powered.
I see what you mean by the simplicity of the ACRs. Live and learn.
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Old 03-03-2016, 02:12 PM   #25
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Man it's like a trump conversation, success stories, failures, hit pieces...
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Old 03-03-2016, 06:07 PM   #26
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Old 03-04-2016, 11:43 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by fryedaze View Post
Thanks CMS for the valuable information. I did some testing today. The BATT 1&2 lites are the only ones coming on and flickering with the relay chatter. I thought it might be something in the ignition voltage so I removed the Ignition leads and jumped 12 volts to the ignition terminal. The relays still chattered. I then removed the ground lead for a few minutes and replaced it. The chatter is gone. It looks like the unit reset itself when voltage was removed. I use the 1,2&3 Battery terminals. I will be placing that jumper on terminal 4 and seeing what happens in time.
This explains why Promariner could not repeat the failure. It goes away when the unit is down powered.
I see what you mean by the simplicity of the ACRs. Live and learn.
I have the 4 output unit and have had to replace it once. Same chatter as you described but my engine 1 and 2 blue lights stayed illuminated with everything shut off. PM sent me a new one as a good will as they too couldn't duplicate the problem.

A few days ago I was in the ER and noticed the same blue lights on. I removed all + voltage and the unit reset it self and I haven't had any issues with it thus far.

I may drop PM an email asking WTF??????
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Old 03-04-2016, 11:50 AM   #28
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I may drop PM an email asking WTF??????
I sent the WTF email yesterday.
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Old 03-04-2016, 11:58 AM   #29
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I sent the WTF email yesterday.
I sent one today too. Will post when I get a response.......
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Old 06-06-2016, 03:21 PM   #30
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Failed again

Well, this is the 5th time since Oct 2105 I have pulled my ProIsoCharge. I have used the remove power trick and it didn't work this time. The yellow low voltage lites just flash and the unit wont let the alternators charge the batts. I have had a spare that lets me swap one out and send the bad
one to ProMariner. This the last time for me. The indications have been different on each failure, different light combinations. I am going to something simple from here.
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Old 06-06-2016, 05:13 PM   #31
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Well, this is the 5th time since Oct 2105 I have pulled my ProIsoCharge. I have used the remove power trick and it didn't work this time. The yellow low voltage lites just flash and the unit wont let the alternators charge the batts. I have had a spare that lets me swap one out and send the bad
one to ProMariner. This the last time for me. The indications have been different on each failure, different light combinations. I am going to something simple from here.
The Blue Sea ML-ACR really can't be beat. These are very, very robust latching relays that can drive up to 500A continuous, which makes them great for bow banks.. I have never seen one fail...
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Old 06-07-2016, 07:23 AM   #32
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Here's a link to a Sailing Today comparison of many isolator - combiner technologies.

I rewired my charging system and considered a Blue Sea unit but finally decided on a Sterling CVSR that I purchased from CMS.
My situation was a somewhat unique one and was the reason for deciding against the Blue Sea.
See this link for detail of my system if interested.
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Old 06-07-2016, 08:56 AM   #33
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Here's a link to a Sailing Today comparison of many isolator - combiner technologies.

I rewired my charging system and considered a Blue Sea unit but finally decided on a Sterling CVSR that I purchased from CMS.
My situation was a somewhat unique one and was the reason for deciding against the Blue Sea.
See this link for detail of my system if interested.
Sadly the information in that article appears to be written by someone reading glossy marketing material rather than having a solid grasp of charging systems? Of course most magazines won't devote the space necessary to write an article like that for how it really needs to be written so we get incomplete articles that lack a lot of detail.

A few thoughts, and I do remember selling a CVSR to Ken whom I am assuming is your brother..?

One of your biggest limiting factors aboard Bacchus is your LR-180-03 alternator. Those Deka's really, really, really don't like PSOC cycling and need to see proper absorption voltages, 14.6V ideally for upwards of 5+ hours from 50% DOD. Unfortunately our LR-180-03 is simply not capable of this due to the thermistor protection and voltage fold back gradient built into it (automotive alt).. A conversion to external regulation then dialing it back to about 45-50A would be the best case scenario and actually yield a healthier charge profile.

In situations like yours I will almost always feed the alt directly to the house bank. This allows for proper voltage sensing and optimal charge performance in the shortest time frame, though the house bank would ideally be contiguously wired..

You can't adequately & accurately voltage sense the battery with a 1/2/BOTH switch in the path and there is always performance robbing voltage drop in that path. The closest you can get is the "C" post but if this is closer to the banks then it is better than nothing (sensing at the alt)..

By leading the charge to house you can then use a smaller ACR or even an Echo charger for a start battery, which I did not see on your diagram.

The point in the article about VSR's chattering and combining & un-combining (called relay cycling) is simply the result of an improperly installed VSR. By feeding all charge current to house you prevent relay cycling all together by passing only the current necessary to charge the lightly discharge start battery. It takes very, very little Ah capacity to start an engine.

This is the number one issue I see with VSR relays an improper installation by feeding charge first to a small lightly discharged start bank and then combining with a large deeply discharged house bank. This not only leads to relay cycling, especially with solar and wind, but also forces all alternator current to pass through the relay. By wiring to house first only the low current needed to charge the start battery runs through the VSR.

I will quite often place an ML-ACR with dash switch between house and thruster banks. Some of the thrusters I work on are 400A at 12V. Not my idea BTW......

By having the ability to lock the relay into combine/parallel mode you now pick up extra oomph from the house bank plus you have the alternator output to feed the thruster and it is not current limited with the ML-ACR. In your situation you're not gaining much from the alt but any little bit helps.

We have some marinas up this way with serious river or tidal current and even an 8D at 400A does not hold voltage for very long, and yield peak performance, if the owner is heavy on the thruster. The ML-ACR is capable of passing 500A continuously thus does not need the current limiting Charlie built into the CVSR. I have owners with massive high performance alternators and when the ML switch is activated, paralleling the house bank and bow bank, plus picking up the alt boost, the thruster performance is alarmingly improved.

Some of the big engines have pre-heaters that draw significant current (some over 200A) and so in some cases I will leave the alt feeding start and use an ML-ACR that can be manually locked at the dash to prevent relay drop out due to the pre-heater sucking start bank voltage down. In your case it appears you use house for start and hotel loads so feeding the alt direct to house with external regulation would certainly be a charge performance improvement. All this depends on how much time away from the dock you spend. If you weekend jaunt only then the Hitachi as is can suffice. If you cruiser for more than a few days at a time converting it to external regulation would be a good choice. If you cruise heavily then a larger alt would be an even better choice. Some of the 6LP's already have dual v-belts..

The Hitachi LR-180-03 is a bit tedious to convert to external regulation but it can be done. I usually keep a few of them on-hand (already converted) because they are such poor performing factory alts, and many owners don't want to pony up for a beefier alt, but they want the ability to attain a healthy absorption voltage for their expensive batteries.

The CVSR is a neat piece of gear that allows Charlie to use smaller capacity relays, if you have the ability to push more than 2X the current across it. If you are not grossly exceeding the capability of the CVSR then the thermal fuses don't ever really come into play.

Any VSR will drop out when voltage drops below combine threshold (provided time limits are met), as happens with thruster banks, so unless you have an alt capable of more than the relay can pass you won't damage it by pulling lots of current from a thruster bank it will just un-combine on low voltage.

The other point that is critical for bow banks, if you have alternative energy, is the ability to recharge via solar. When charge management is connected to an ignition feed this ability is lost and you will only get back to 100% dock side or when under power for many, many hours. I have this exact issue on my own boat, with my emergency/reserve bank which is charged via a Balmar Duo Charger excited by ignition. In this application it works fine because the self discharge rate is such that this is a non issue in the application..

The good news is there is no right or wrong way just lots to consider. Some products have proven less reliable than others and the Blue Sea relays (Yandina too) for me have proven the most robust and bullet proof. Sterling's are good too but not all models are s reliable as others.
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Old 06-07-2016, 02:15 PM   #34
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CMS, thank for the help and all the information.
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Old 06-07-2016, 03:01 PM   #35
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Of course most magazines won't devote the space necessary to write an article like that for how it really needs to be written so we get incomplete articles that lack a lot of detail.

A few thoughts, and I do remember selling a CVSR to Ken whom I am assuming is your brother..?

One of your biggest limiting factors aboard Bacchus is your LR-180-03 alternator.
A conversion to external regulation then dialing it back to about 45-50A would be the best case scenario and actually yield a healthier charge profile.

In situations like yours I will almost always feed the alt directly to the house bank.

You can't adequately & accurately voltage sense the battery with a 1/2/BOTH switch in the path and there is always performance robbing voltage drop in that path. The closest you can get is the "C" post but if this is closer to the banks then it is better than nothing (sensing at the alt)..

By wiring to house first only the low current needed to charge the start battery runs through the VSR.

All this depends on how much time away from the dock you spend. If you weekend jaunt only then the Hitachi as is can suffice. If you cruiser for more than a few days at a time converting it to external regulation would be a good choice. If you cruise heavily then a larger alt would be an even better choice. Some of the 6LP's already have dual v-belts..

The Hitachi LR-180-03 is a bit tedious to convert to external regulation but it can be done. I usually keep a few of them on-hand (already converted) because they are such poor performing factory alts, and many owners don't want to pony up for a beefier alt, but they want the ability to attain a healthy absorption voltage for their expensive batteries.
.
CMS - Thanks for a very complete & thoughtful response...

Agree w comments re: the Sailing Today Article - it provided a starting point for me when I was learning & looking for alternatives to the diode isolators that Mainship installed

Ken is my brother and if I recall correctly he initially posed some questions to you on a sailing forum - he's the blow boater - I'm the stink potter. He then put me onto your website and when I realized you handled Sterling we started communicating directly and I purchased the Sterling CVSR from you.

I'm less than thrilled w/ how Mainship wired my 34HT but wasn't prepared to tackle a major rewire or alternator upgrade - figured I'd start by eliminating the diode isolators and see how things went... I'm a single Yanmar 6LYA-STP and don't have dedicated start batt'y... MS provided 2- 8D's for a combined start / house bank.

So far that has worked OK for me for the type of cruising we have done.
We tend to return to the dock & have shore charger available most days. When extended cruising normally for a month about once / season we have power available maybe 60% -75% of the time w/ the occasional night or two on the hook or tied up to wall w/o power. I do have a Gen and run it 2x/day to cook & recharge batt'ys.

I normally run w/ the 2 - 8D's combined (Sel SW on ALL) - my thought was to keep the 8D's at the highest SOC by combining vs isolating and running one down lower (don't know if that's smart or not - that was my rationale?)

I thought about upgrading alternator but again decided to remove the diode isolators and see how things went. The Alt is wired via starter +wire to the Sw Common - and charges what ever batt'y(s) are selected as well as the thruster 8-D via the CVSR.

I haven't had a need for a larger alt but would consider a change if the cost was reasonable and the charge profile had the potential to improved my AGM batt'y life significantly.
What is involved w/ swapping the Hitachi alt for an externally regulated one w/ a good regulator? What's a good budget cost Est for parts? (I'm in NY and would do the rewire / install myself)

The Deka Sheet recommends 13.8V - 14.6V Absorption and 13.5V +/- .01 Float
I have selected the Pronautic C3 Profile (2) (AGM1) which lists 14.3 Abs & 13.3 Float -
There is also available a C3 Profile (5) (AGM2) w 14.6 V Abs & 13.7 Float.
I usually run AGM1 so as not to exceed the Deka recommended Float V -My understanding is AGM's don't like higher Float V for extended times.
would the AGM2 setting be better w/ 14.6 Abs? and any downside to the higher Float V of 13.7V vs Deka rec of 13.5V?

Note per you recommendation - I do switch to the higher Abs rate prior to putting the boat up for winter to make sure I get max charge on the batt'ys - I'm there and monitor when it switches to float and may run 2-3 cycles to make sure they are really fully charged before disconnecting but I don't run extended time at the higher float V.

Thanks again for sharing your knowledge & experience
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Old 06-08-2016, 03:27 AM   #36
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+1 for Blue Seas ACR. I have 2 x 200 A Leece-Neville alternators, a Balmar 612 then 3 Blue Sea RBS and 2 ACR. Both port and stbd start batteries are Odyssey PC1800's, and the House bank is 6 PC 1800's. One ACR can Auto or manual parallel the start bats. The second ACR then parallel's the House bank to the start bats. System works a treat. I really like the automatic aspect of it.

I have seen 350A charge rate to the batteries, but with temp sensing etc 250-300 A seems more typical. A few hours of running gets a lot of charge into the batteries. If possible I will plan to run in the morning, then when anchored the solar (1820W of panels) tops off the house bank.

Pic 1 shows helm switches, pic 2 shows Blue Seas units themselves. They have the yellow switches on them, for manual control if desired.
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Old 06-08-2016, 09:34 AM   #37
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OK, most of this has gone over my newbie head, though I do feel I've learned a couple things by reading this thread.
My biggest takeaway is this is motivating me to continue reading till I finally understand all that's going on with the electrical system/s. (I hate not knowing things.)
However, that's not the point right now:
Judging by Insequent's pics, I'm having more faith in the previous owner of our boat and their most recent modifications.
We've got the same helm switches (3 - Start/Engine, Crossover, House) and the same 3 Blue Sea relays in the ER.
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Old 06-08-2016, 10:58 AM   #38
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+1 for Blue Seas ACR. I have 2 x 200 A Leece-Neville alternators, a Balmar 612 then 3 Blue Sea RBS and 2 ACR. Both port and stbd start batteries are Odyssey PC1800's, and the House bank is 6 PC 1800's. One ACR can Auto or manual parallel the start bats. The second ACR then parallel's the House bank to the start bats. System works a treat. I really like the automatic aspect of it.

I have seen 350A charge rate to the batteries, but with temp sensing etc 250-300 A seems more typical. A few hours of running gets a lot of charge into the batteries. If possible I will plan to run in the morning, then when anchored the solar (1820W of panels) tops off the house bank.

Pic 1 shows helm switches, pic 2 shows Blue Seas units themselves. They have the yellow switches on them, for manual control if desired.
That looks like a nice setup. I have been trying to figure out how I could implement something with the ML-ACR. It appears to me that all I need is two ML-ACRs with manual control to ties three banks to two alternators. I already have isolation switches for the battery banks.
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Old 07-18-2016, 09:56 AM   #39
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Well my Pro Isocharge saga is over. For some reason it continues to fail in my system. It may be some interference from the magnetic pick ups for my tachs that cause the unit to loose it brains. The folks at Promariner have been great supporting their product, but it was time to move on. Anyway both my alternators eventually failed due to bad diodes. Probably cause by some spiking from the combiner relays chatter and various failure modes.I have installed the Bluesea ACRs and I am hoping to get years of good performance out of them. Before and after pictures.
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Old 07-18-2016, 11:36 AM   #40
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Good move, Dave. Seems like an expensive lesson, but I've only heard good about the BlueSea ACRs.

My boat is set up similarly with a single 160A Yandina combiner for my 2 banks- not as stout as the BS ACR, but reliable, same functions and more affordable for budget boater like me. I have a helm SPST switch that allows me to combine or separate the banks during charging since my start batt doesn't require special long-term charging like my house bank requires.
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