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Old 04-04-2015, 09:13 AM   #21
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Ok. Will do. Thanks ski.
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Old 04-04-2015, 10:52 AM   #22
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The voltage going into the "duo charge" is only 13.1 and 12.9 coming out, so something is wrong I guess.

Tried calling Balmar but they aren't open today.

Can I run the genny to power the battery charger while underway? Or will that confuse the alternator?
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Old 04-04-2015, 11:46 AM   #23
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Looks like you have an amp meter as well as a voltage meter on your panel that monitors your batteries. How many amps are you drawing when you are running. A weak battery usually takes a heavy charge and may be loading down you alternator. If the amps are higher than what they had been when things were working well then I would be leaning toward batteries but it could be a load that is drawing excess current. Ski, does this sound right?
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Old 04-04-2015, 11:48 AM   #24
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I would not trust any voltage readings on your panel. A multimeter at the battery terminals is going to give you more accurate information. I think the Duo Charge is essentially a battery combiner that allows your alternator to charge both battery banks. When the house bank is full it separates the banks and charges the start battery alone.

Which battery banks are the thruster and chart plotter hooked up to?

Voltage numbers on the batteries are not going to give you all the information you need. The real question is how many cranking amps your 7 year old batteries can provide to the thruster. A good battery tester can give you this information.

Running your generator and the engine at the same time will not hurt anything.
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Old 04-04-2015, 12:02 PM   #25
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Bow thruster turning off chart plotter and sounds weak

Thruster and plotter hooked to house batteries.

So when I use the thruster should I measure the amp draw at the house bank? How do I do that?

Panel says pulling only 2 amps underway. When I hit the thruster it didn't change, so that's not accurate.

Sorry for all the questions, very new at this obviously!
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Old 04-04-2015, 12:55 PM   #26
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From reading the Digital Duo manual, the duo stops combining and shuts down when loads exceed 30 amps. From the manual,
"In applications where the Duo Charge is used to support larger capacity starting batteries (such as 4D and 8D models) or windlass and/or thruster batteries, there may be instances when the 30-amp capacity of the Duo Charge’s circuitry may not
provide sufficient current to satisfy demands. When used as a stand alone charge source, the Duo Charge is designed to discontinue charging when demands exceed its capabilities. At that point, the Duo Charge will wait for a short period and
query if the demand has diminished to below its 30-amp capacity. If so, the Duo Charge will continue charging. If demand continues to exceed capacity, the Duo Charge will continue to shut down, while checking periodically to see if demand has
diminished."
Given this I would check your amp draw with loads as you are typically running and then also when you use the thruster. Check on both house and engine bats. If your typical load is often above 30 amps, IE using an inverter to run fridge, then it may be normal given the electrical design and would lead to run down house bats. Here is the link to the manual for the duo. http://www.balmar.net/pdf/duo%20charge%20manual.pdf
Keep in mind this is best guess without actually being there....
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Old 04-04-2015, 02:23 PM   #27
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Thanks so much. Will have a look at it again after we dock.
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Old 04-04-2015, 02:38 PM   #28
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I did not see your message above mine till now. I would expect that the amp meter on the panel switches with your voltage monitor switch. Not sure though but many are wired that way. If you have an electrical diagram of the boat it would show that. Otherwise you would need a clamp on DC meter and clamp it over the large red feed wire coming from Each of the battery banks. I will be out of touch for the next week and a half starting tomorrow, so if I don't answer that is why. I will be in and out rest of today and this evening. I strongly suspect all your batteries are getting weak but it would be nice to confirm everything else is working correctly and that there is no minor design issue with loads and the duo as I mentioned above.
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Old 04-04-2015, 02:51 PM   #29
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From reading the Digital Duo manual, the duo stops combining and shuts down when loads exceed 30 amps.
Ah yes, you are reminding me why I didn't buy one of these. If you have a big battery bank and/or you draw your bank way down such that it will accept more than a 30A charge rate, this thing shuts off and leaves you hanging. Why is doesn't just current-limit to 30A is beyond me. At least then it could get you charged back up over time, but the way it operates now, if you get too low you are shut out of luck.
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Old 04-04-2015, 04:17 PM   #30
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This sounds to me like old batteries. They can't put out the power when the thruster needs it and the volts drop. The charger or alternator is not designed to put out the current that a thruster needs.

Do a load test on each battery when it is disconnected from the charger and the other batteries. After seven years it may be time for new batteries.
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Old 04-04-2015, 04:44 PM   #31
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Agree with BlueYonder, load test on the bats would tell you for sure if they need to be replaced which I suspect is the problem. Still concerned though that you may be exceeding the 30 amp cutoff that would limit charging on the new bats. Short term exceeding will not be an issue but if you are running that way for along time then that would eventually shorten the life of the new bats. Given that these have lasted 7 years I expect that to not be the issue but just to be safe it would be worth checking it out.
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Old 04-04-2015, 06:15 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by cardude01 View Post
Thruster and plotter hooked to house batteries.

So when I use the thruster should I measure the amp draw at the house bank? How do I do that?

Panel says pulling only 2 amps underway. When I hit the thruster it didn't change, so that's not accurate.

Sorry for all the questions, very new at this obviously!
I didn't read everything, but a couple thoughts:
1) In all probability, the panel ammeter doesn't read the thruster draw -- its a lot of draw;
2) The chart plotter is shutting off because its voltage is too low. You should put a volt meter on the batteries while the thruster is activated. If the voltage before is anywhere near 13 (or at least 12.8), and if you have a big voltage drop (say to under 11), probably bad batteries, but conceivably the thruster is "shorted" and consuming way more than it should. But if that were the case, I would think the circuit breaker would break. I can't think of any other explanation, unless your thruster and chart plotter are on the same circuit, which they should not be.
3) You may have charging circuit deficiencies that are only tangentially related to the thruster problem, especially if the battery voltage is near 13 (see above) without the thruster and under 11 when the thruster is engaged. The higher voltage indicates that the batteries are getting enough voltage to eventually reach full charge (at least without loads), but that the batteries don't have the capacity to withstand the draw of the thruster without dropping to unacceptable levels. If you charger or its parameters are not correct, that can cause premature battery failure (loss of capacity).
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Old 04-04-2015, 06:54 PM   #33
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Remove the cables from the batteries after they are fully charged, then load check them or better check the specific gravity of each cell. One bad battery could be causing a problem, if the batteries are as old as you think I would replace with new. All the batteries in a bank should be the same, I wouldn't replace a single bad battery in a bank. I have a question on the 30 amp limit on the charge relay (or whatever it is) will this limit charging and draw to 30 amps?
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Old 04-04-2015, 07:28 PM   #34
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Most electric bow thrusters either have their own battery(s) or are tied into the starter battery. Sometimes they share the windlass battery.

Was the thruster on the boat from the factory or is it a PO installation? It doesn't sound like a factory install. You need to get it off the house bank.
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Old 04-04-2015, 07:56 PM   #35
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Most electric bow thrusters either have their own battery(s) or are tied into the starter battery. Sometimes they share the windlass battery.

Was the thruster on the boat from the factory or is it a PO installation? It doesn't sound like a factory install. You need to get it off the house bank.

Each thruster of ours has two 8D's and have a series parallel switch that allows them to run on 24v. But they're are tied in with the House bank. I don't find it odd. Our Camano's thruster was also tied into the house.
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Old 04-04-2015, 08:14 PM   #36
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Sorry I didn't see this thread till now, Bill. I had the same problem twice before. A check on my two 8D house batteries showed a dead cell both times. Replacing the batteries fixed the problem, but I have a long run to the bow thruster and I gotta have big cable and terminals clean. Low batteries will cause all the symptoms you've got there and once you determine this with a decent meter, it's just money, and we all know you've got plenty of that. Best of luck tomorrow on the ICW north.
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Old 04-04-2015, 08:27 PM   #37
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Bow thruster turning off chart plotter and sounds weak

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Sorry I didn't see this thread till now, Bill. I had the same problem twice before. A check on my two 8D house batteries showed a dead cell both times. Replacing the batteries fixed the problem, but I have a long run to the bow thruster and I gotta have big cable and terminals clean. Low batteries will cause all the symptoms you've got there and once you determine this with a decent meter, it's just money, and we all know you've got plenty of that. Best of luck tomorrow on the ICW north.

Wait. What's this "plenty of money" talk? I sell used cars for a living...

I'll try to load test the batteries tamale. Have had too much beer to do it tonight.

If I do replace them, should I go back with AGM? Is there a better (cheaper?) AGM out there than Lifeline?
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Old 04-05-2015, 08:04 AM   #38
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We've had god luck with our Odyssey 12v Group 31 AGMs, and the Sears Platinum AGMs are made by Odyssey (last I heard). But yes, there are less expensive AGMs, by Deka and so forth. The "premium" brand may or may not be worth it, but I can say we're starting our 10th season on our oldest bank of Odysseys.

That said... it sounds to me like you have an opportunity to re-do your system. Your G27s aren't really true "deep cycle" batteries. You could replace those with two pairs of 6v deep cycle golf cart batteries (GC2s, see Lifeline's GPL-4CTs for example specs) and end up with 440 Ah in the house bank... and these would very likely fit in the same space where your 4x G27s live now. A bit more Ah than what you've got now, but also better designed for the job.

Next, move your thruster to it's own circuit, with it's own battery bank, ideally with decent cranking amps. The Odyssey G31s, for example, provide really high CCAs...

Then I'd probably get all your electronics onto the same battery circuit your engine uses. That way you'd have all that stuff active and charged by the engine alternator, no matter what's happening to your house or thruster banks. (I'm wondering if, when your thruster makes your plotter go south, if it also makes you depth sounder and VHF and so forth crap out, too?)

Realize not all of this could happen while you're traveling, nor would it all have to happen at once...

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Old 04-05-2015, 10:29 AM   #39
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Thrusters really work best on their own properly sized bank which eliminates this sort of problem. A Group 27 sounds pretty small for a thruster, let alone powering the whole shebang, and a thruster can cause a big voltage drop when engaged. If you are out of gear, in neutral at the time, you can try revving the engine and seeing if that gives you more oomph, problem is one often times IS in gear and using the thruster at the same time.
What he said !

This will be a recurring problem until you have a dedicated battery for the thruster. You can put a large diode in line to stop it drawing down your other batteries.
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Old 04-05-2015, 10:55 AM   #40
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Your start bank should be for loads that have a high current draw for short durations. Thrusters, starters, windlass. Choose the batteries for high CCA. Electronics and such have low current demands but run for extended periods of time. The house bank is where they should be. If your system is set up properly, your engine alternator should be charging both banks when the motor is running. Your Balmar system should be charging both banks as required.

A dedicated battery for the thruster is the best option. The wiring could be more complicated and your charger would need to support three banks. Connecting the thrusters to the start bank is a good compromise.
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