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Old 05-28-2019, 11:50 AM   #1
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Balmar Duo Charge blown fuse

This weekend my thruster/windlass battery bank died while raising my anchor. Fortunately, we were anchored in shallow water.


Since I've owned the boat the 2 Lifeline 8D batteries that power the windlass and thrusters has been charged using a Balmar Duo Charge. This is a DC/DC charger that will pass charge current from a house bank under charge, to an auxillary bank, typically a starter battery. This has worked really well on this boat for years on both the thruster/windlass bank as well as the genset start battery.


The Duo Charge has a couple limitations. The first is that it will only charge at a max of 30 amps. The second is that if the auxillary battery bank asks for more than 30 amps, it will shut down, wait for a bit, and then try again.


I found two things. The Lifelines had a voltage of 10.5v. Secondly, the 30 amp fuse between the Duo Charge and the thruster bank was blown. It had gotten so hot in the process that I'm not sure I trust the fuse holder anymore.


So I have two questions. The first is why would the fuse blow? Did the Duo Charge fail to shut itself down if the thruster bank asked for more than its 30 amps?


I happen to have another functioning Duo Charge that I could use if I choose. The only problem is that with the Lifelines dead, a functioning Duo Charge will likely not charge them because they will be asking for more than 30 amps. I would need to find a way to charge the lifelines first.


My other alternative is to use an ACR to connect the house and thruster banks.


Any electrically wise folks have suggestions?
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Old 05-28-2019, 12:15 PM   #2
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I assume that your thruster and windlass is 12 volts, if your house bank is the same chemistry(AGM) then why not use an ACR.... It appears the thruster bank has not been charged in awhile, so probably the fuse may have failed awhile ago check the holder and wiring.... A second thought would be to put the other duo charge in parallel with the original.... If it were me I would want the higher charge current available with an ACR to supplement the available power from the batteries with alternator when using the thrusters or windlass.
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Old 05-28-2019, 12:22 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Ka_sea_ta View Post
I assume that your thruster and windlass is 12 volts, if your house bank is the same chemistry(AGM) then why not use an ACR.... It appears the thruster bank has not been charged in awhile, so probably the fuse may have failed awhile ago check the holder and wiring.... A second thought would be to put the other duo charge in parallel with the original.... If it were me I would want the higher charge current available with an ACR to supplement the available power from the batteries with alternator when using the thrusters or windlass.

Yeah, I am leaning towards the ACR for the reasons you mention.



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Old 05-28-2019, 12:27 PM   #4
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Is the wiring large enough to support the 30 amps without a voltage drop? I always go oversize on wiring that carries a large load just in case and also so I actually get the best voltage possible to the item I am powering.
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Old 05-28-2019, 12:46 PM   #5
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Is the wiring large enough to support the 30 amps without a voltage drop? I always go oversize on wiring that carries a large load just in case and also so I actually get the best voltage possible to the item I am powering.

Yes. The wiring is that which is supplied by Balmar and is only about a foot long with the fuse holder. Not sure, but I think it is about 8 gauge. It then connects direction to the battery cable.
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Old 05-28-2019, 01:02 PM   #6
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I have two DDCs which charge my genset and start/cranking banks. The 30A fuse blows eventually after long periods of on/off operation resulting from the target battery wanting more than 30A. As you have 2 x DDCs, you could do as I do and parallel them to give more capacity IF your two target batteries are the same chemistry. The Balmar official solution is to use the dedicated terminal on the DDC to drive a solenoid which allows as much current as you want thru to the target to charge it up quickly....then when demand falls back below 30A the DDC reverts to its battery chemistry-specific charging profile.

Sounds like you cannot parallel each of your battery banks with at least one other. You may want to add that feature for just the emergency situation you found yourself in.
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Old 05-28-2019, 06:50 PM   #7
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I have two DDCs which charge my genset and start/cranking banks. The 30A fuse blows eventually after long periods of on/off operation resulting from the target battery wanting more than 30A. As you have 2 x DDCs, you could do as I do and parallel them to give more capacity IF your two target batteries are the same chemistry. The Balmar official solution is to use the dedicated terminal on the DDC to drive a solenoid which allows as much current as you want thru to the target to charge it up quickly....then when demand falls back below 30A the DDC reverts to its battery chemistry-specific charging profile.

Sounds like you cannot parallel each of your battery banks with at least one other. You may want to add that feature for just the emergency situation you found yourself in.

Good points.


I can parallel the Genset start battery or the engine start battery with the house if I need. I don't have the ability to parallel the thruster bank with the house bank. That is something I need to look at.


I'm also wondering how well the Lifeline 8Ds will come back after such a large DOD.
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Old 05-28-2019, 07:05 PM   #8
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They will have lost 50% of whatever their remaining cycles life was immediately prior to the incident. So if you had say 3 more year's life left before, you are now down to months....according to most manufacturers.
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Old 05-28-2019, 07:57 PM   #9
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They will have lost 50% of whatever their remaining cycles life was immediately prior to the incident. So if you had say 3 more year's life left before, you are now down to months....according to most manufacturers.

Yeah, kind of what I was afraid of. Not sure how old they are. They certainly aren't original but I'm thinking they are at least 6-7 years old. It may be time to look at replacing them.


I keep thinking about just scrapping the 8Ds and adding another pair of L16s to my house bank and then just using the house bank for my thruster and windlass as well.



Pros: Simpler system, larger house bank (1170 vs 780), larger effective thruster bank (1170 vs 500), less weight (~60 lbs), be rid of the monster 8D batteries.



Cons: Large bank to charge which would likely increase charging time to 100% (less time at bulk than a smaller bank), current house bank batteries are a year old so it would mix ages of the batteries, 1 pair of L16s would be separated by the other 2 pair of L16s by 6', creating uneven connecting cable lengths.
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Old 05-28-2019, 08:14 PM   #10
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I think an ACR is the way to go. It won't be abnormal for the thruster battery to need a lot of charge. I think this little "feature" in the Duo is a fundamental design problem, and makes them useful for start batteries, at best. And even then the problem can arise if you need to crank your engine a bunch for whatever reason.
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Old 05-28-2019, 08:35 PM   #11
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I think an ACR is the way to go. It won't be abnormal for the thruster battery to need a lot of charge. I think this little "feature" in the Duo is a fundamental design problem, and makes them useful for start batteries, at best. And even then the problem can arise if you need to crank your engine a bunch for whatever reason.

I agree about the 30amp cut-out being a problem. Now, this Duo Charge has worked on this boat for a lot of years with this being the first problem. So it really has worked pretty well.

I have no idea how electrical stuff works. I think that the 30 amp charging limit is fine, but I wish it was designed so that it still supply that 30 amps even if the battery bank wanted more. As it is, a Duo Charge will not charge up my thruster bank since it will ask for too many amps.

So, since I have a spare ACR and I have some spare 4/0 cables, I think I can pretty easily reconfigure the system to use an ACR.
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Old 05-28-2019, 09:45 PM   #12
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I question the choice of start versus deep cycle batteries and maybe the charge rate. My thoughts:

I agree with the idea of a start battery for the bow thruster. A bow thruster is generally used for seconds with high amperage draw (like an engine starter). If you go to the trouble to calculate the momentary usage of the thuster in watts, you will find your refrigerator uses more watts per hour.

Now if you think about the amperage draw of an anchor windlass, possibly running for minutes, that's deep cycle duration consumption (all be it at much lower amperage). While it may not be practical to run the windlass off the house deep cycle bank or the engine battery (assuming the engine alternator can handle the windlass load), those would be better choices than the start battery you are using.

If I had to guess, the windlass batteries may have reached the end of their life or lost a cell. The charger kept charging at full output (never was able to bring the voltage up to reducie charging rate) until the fuse popped.

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Old 05-28-2019, 11:03 PM   #13
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Since it has run for years you should be looking for what changed causing it to quit, not looking at faults in the original installation.

The Duo Charge manual says the input and output wires are both 10 gauge with 30 amp fuses. All fuses blow after a duration of time at a particular amperage. If your Duo Charger has been running for extended periods at exactly 30 amps the fuse may not have blown, but the element is running at a temperature just below itís melting point, and the clips in the fuse holder will be at the same temperature, oxidizing and loosing their tension. The result is increased resistance in the junction with the fuse terminals, causing additional heat and the 30 amp fuse overheats and blows at an amperage below 30. The fix would be to replace the fuse holder.

While it violates my ď look for why changedĒ advice, this may be worth a quick look. The Balmar manual says that the input wire should be short, no longer than the supplied pigtail and the output wire should be 10 gauge, and a minimum of 8 feet long beyond the supplied pigtail. From their description it appears they use the resistance of the output wire as part of their regulation scheme. Quote from the manual: ďthe reason for the extra wire length is to act like an electric spring which allows the Digital Duo Charge to produce a higher current.Ē Do you have this length of 10 gauge wire? Since it has run for years I assume so, but worth checking, and adding length if needed.
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Old 05-29-2019, 01:09 AM   #14
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I question the choice of start versus deep cycle batteries and maybe the charge rate. My thoughts:
.....
If I had to guess, the windlass batteries may have reached the end of their life or lost a cell. The charger kept charging at full output (never was able to bring the voltage up to reducie charging rate) until the fuse popped.

Ted, I know there is a lot of discussion of start vs deep cycle for thruster batteries. If someone had a remote batter in the bow next to the bow thruster, then a start battery(s) would make some sense. In my case, I have one bank that supplies both thrusters and the windlass. The PO chose Lifeline 8Ds. I am sure the reason he made that selection was that is what the yard that did the work recommended and supplied. My understanding is that those batteries are kind of a hybrid. Not a bad choice really. If the bank is sufficiently large, it can provide the high, short term demand of the thrusters even if made up of deep cycle batteries.

You may be right about the potential of a failed battery. I will to research how to figure out if that is the case.

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Originally Posted by Island Cessna View Post
Since it has run for years you should be looking for what changed causing it to quit, not looking at faults in the original installation.

The Duo Charge manual says the input and output wires are both 10 gauge with 30 amp fuses. All fuses blow after a duration of time at a particular amperage. If your Duo Charger has been running for extended periods at exactly 30 amps the fuse may not have blown, but the element is running at a temperature just below itís melting point, and the clips in the fuse holder will be at the same temperature, oxidizing and loosing their tension. The result is increased resistance in the junction with the fuse terminals, causing additional heat and the 30 amp fuse overheats and blows at an amperage below 30. The fix would be to replace the fuse holder.

While it violates my ď look for why changedĒ advice, this may be worth a quick look. The Balmar manual says that the input wire should be short, no longer than the supplied pigtail and the output wire should be 10 gauge, and a minimum of 8 feet long beyond the supplied pigtail. From their description it appears they use the resistance of the output wire as part of their regulation scheme. Quote from the manual: ďthe reason for the extra wire length is to act like an electric spring which allows the Digital Duo Charge to produce a higher current.Ē Do you have this length of 10 gauge wire? Since it has run for years I assume so, but worth checking, and adding length if needed.

Your point about asking for what has changed is a good one, and goes along with Tedís question about a possible failure of the battery. I also like the idea of just aging connections at the fuse holder that could have increased the heat. The fuse holder definitely looks like got overheated.

I donít believe the installation has that 10 gage wire. The supplied wire is connected to a buss bar which connects to the battery via a 4/0 battery cable. That runs probably 8í to the battery. So the original installation doesnít seem to conform to the Balmar installations.

Even so, it has worked for a number of years with no APPARENT problems. I still think that in some ways, that the design which causes the Balmar to shut down if there is too large a voltage delta between the house and charged bank poses some potential problems in this application.

If the current batteries are sound, then I think reconfiguring to use an ACR would be my best option as I have the ACR. If the batteries are not sound, then I am very tempted to simply upsize my house bank and run the thrusters and windlass off the house bank. Since all my primary charge sources run to the house bank, the alternator is charging it while using the thrusters or windlass as well.

That gets back to how to determine if the batteries that are there are OK?
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Old 05-29-2019, 11:06 AM   #15
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Balmar Duo Charge blown fuse

Dave: I had a similar issue with a blown fuse on my DDC, which I reported here:

Issues with Balmar Digital Duo Charge charging the thruster bank.

I never fully solved the issue and replacing the charge source is on the ďto doĒ list. I only had 20 amp fuses aboard and it limped along as a charger but the thruster could not be used. I replaced the fuse with a 30 amp one and the issue has not returned, but I agree with others here that it is not the best method of charging my thruster bank. I think it becomes more of an issue when your batteries are nearing end-of-life.

I am leaning towards moving the Mastervolt battery mate charge from the Genny battery to the thruster bank, as that unit can provide more amperage when required. The issue will be charging demands when the thruster is actuated, voltage drops, wire size, appropriate negative termination, etc. Iím going to have my electrician look at this because he installed the Mastervolt unit.

You may want to look into the option of using a Mastervolt Batterymate. It may, or may not be a better option than either the ACR or Duo charge.

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Old 05-29-2019, 11:45 AM   #16
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Quote:
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Ted, I know there is a lot of discussion of start vs deep cycle for thruster batteries. If someone had a remote batter in the bow next to the bow thruster, then a start battery(s) would make some sense. In my case, I have one bank that supplies both thrusters and the windlass. The PO chose Lifeline 8Ds. I am sure the reason he made that selection was that is what the yard that did the work recommended and supplied. My understanding is that those batteries are kind of a hybrid. Not a bad choice really. If the bank is sufficiently large, it can provide the high, short term demand of the thrusters even if made up of deep cycle batteries.

You may be right about the potential of a failed battery. I will to research how to figure out if that is the case.




Your point about asking for what has changed is a good one, and goes along with Tedís question about a possible failure of the battery. I also like the idea of just aging connections at the fuse holder that could have increased the heat. The fuse holder definitely looks like got overheated.

I donít believe the installation has that 10 gage wire. The supplied wire is connected to a buss bar which connects to the battery via a 4/0 battery cable. That runs probably 8í to the battery. So the original installation doesnít seem to conform to the Balmar installations.

Even so, it has worked for a number of years with no APPARENT problems. I still think that in some ways, that the design which causes the Balmar to shut down if there is too large a voltage delta between the house and charged bank poses some potential problems in this application.

If the current batteries are sound, then I think reconfiguring to use an ACR would be my best option as I have the ACR. If the batteries are not sound, then I am very tempted to simply upsize my house bank and run the thrusters and windlass off the house bank. Since all my primary charge sources run to the house bank, the alternator is charging it while using the thrusters or windlass as well.

That gets back to how to determine if the batteries that are there are OK?
The benefit of the DDC over an ACR is that it permits the use of a different battery chemistry for Start/cranking purposes. In my case, I have Crown FLA 6v gc's for House and 3 x Optima spiral wound AGMs for Cranking (Start, Thruster, Davit & Windlass). Works perfectly and Cranking bank still in fine form after 9 years (hoping for 11).
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Old 05-29-2019, 04:49 PM   #17
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Dave: I had a similar issue with a blown fuse on my DDC, which I reported here:

Issues with Balmar Digital Duo Charge charging the thruster bank.

I never fully solved the issue and replacing the charge source is on the ďto doĒ list. I only had 20 amp fuses aboard and it limped along as a charger but the thruster could not be used. I replaced the fuse with a 30 amp one and the issue has not returned, but I agree with others here that it is not the best method of charging my thruster bank. I think it becomes more of an issue when your batteries are nearing end-of-life.

I am leaning towards moving the Mastervolt battery mate charge from the Genny battery to the thruster bank, as that unit can provide more amperage when required. The issue will be charging demands when the thruster is actuated, voltage drops, wire size, appropriate negative termination, etc. Iím going to have my electrician look at this because he installed the Mastervolt unit.

You may want to look into the option of using a Mastervolt Batterymate. It may, or may not be a better option than either the ACR or Duo charge.

Jim

I'll try and check that out and add that to my list of potential long term solutions.
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Old 05-29-2019, 04:52 PM   #18
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The benefit of the DDC over an ACR is that it permits the use of a different battery chemistry for Start/cranking purposes. In my case, I have Crown FLA 6v gc's for House and 3 x Optima spiral wound AGMs for Cranking (Start, Thruster, Davit & Windlass). Works perfectly and Cranking bank still in fine form after 9 years (hoping for 11).

Exactly. Initially the boat had sealed FLA batteries. He ended up replacing the engine start battery, genset start battery, as well as the thruster bank with AGMs. Since they had different charging profiles, than the FLA house bank, that may be why whomever did the work elected to go with the Balmar Duo Charge.


Now, I have AGM throughout and so don't have that issue.
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Old 05-29-2019, 09:12 PM   #19
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Balmar Duo Charge blown fuse

Random interjection, because thatís what I do:

I have a Balmar Duo Charge, but I donít know why. It came with the boat.

My thruster works off the house bank. I have a separate start battery. All batteries are AGM. I have a 100amp Balmar alternator. What does this Duo Charge do?

(Now back to Dhays original problem)
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Old 05-30-2019, 01:54 AM   #20
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Random interjection, because thatís what I do:

I have a Balmar Duo Charge, but I donít know why. It came with the boat.

My thruster works off the house bank. I have a separate start battery. All batteries are AGM. I have a 100amp Balmar alternator. What does this Duo Charge do?

(Now back to Dhays original problem)

We can only guess. If it isnít connected, then it isnít doing anything. ;-)

My guess would be that your charging sources go to the house bank. The Duo Charge then charges your start battery from the house bank. When there is a charge current to the house bank that raises the voltage above a given threshold (I donít remember what that is) then the Duo Charge will send up to 30 amps of charging current to your start battery.

This keeps your start battery charged up.

It should be easy to tell. There are two fused wires on the Duo Charge. One will go to the house bank and the other to the battery that is being charged by it.
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