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Old 04-03-2015, 02:53 PM   #1
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Bow thruster turning off chart plotter and sounds weak

So I'm bringing the boat over to the west coast of FL this weekend, and I noticed today when I used the thruster in a lock it sounded weak and my new Garmin plotter also turned off (I'm guessing from low voltage). The thruster does not have its own separate battery.

The battery system has 4 group 27 AGM wired parallel and then there is a separate start battery for the engine and gen. The starter also sounds weak on crank up.

How do I load test for a bad battery?

I put a multimeter on the start battery when the engine was running and it only showed 12.7 volts. Is that low? It has a Balmar 110 amp alternator and a Balmar Max Charge regulator. The house bank showed 13v when underway.

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Old 04-03-2015, 03:06 PM   #2
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Greetings,
Any marina mechanic should have a battery load tester. Aside from that are your drive belts tight?

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Old 04-03-2015, 03:12 PM   #3
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12.7 is low with engine running. Should be 13.8-14.2. Check alternator terminals with digital volt meter with engine running at elevated rpm of say 1200. Could be weak alt or crapped out isolator or switches in wrong position.

With batts at 12.7, no suprise that thruster dropped volts enough to kill plotter.
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Old 04-03-2015, 03:18 PM   #4
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Ok. Thanks y'all. Getting ready to pull into FFs dock. I'll check it out then. After a beer. 😎
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Old 04-03-2015, 03:19 PM   #5
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Dirty, loose and/or bad connections is what I'd look for first. Both Pos and ground.
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Old 04-03-2015, 03:58 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cardude01 View Post
So I'm bringing the boat over to the west coast of FL this weekend, and I noticed today when I used the thruster in a lock it sounded weak and my new Garmin plotter also turned off (I'm guessing from low voltage). The thruster does not have its own separate battery.

The battery system has 4 group 27 AGM wired parallel and then there is a separate start battery for the engine and gen. The starter also sounds weak on crank up.

How do I load test for a bad battery?

I put a multimeter on the start battery when the engine was running and it only showed 12.7 volts. Is that low? It has a Balmar 110 amp alternator and a Balmar Max Charge regulator. The house bank showed 13v when underway.

Yes, that's low if measured with the engine running, depending. Since you say it's sounding weak when you start... that battery may just be old, tired, ready for being put out to pasture.

Are the thruster and plotter running off the house bank (4x G27s) or the separate start battery? If they're running off the engine start battery, maybe that'd be an indication you're using all the amps your alternator can provide (electronics and thruster), none left over for charging.

What charges the house bank when underway? The engine alternator? Or...?


If your house bank is showing signs of weakness, you could read threads about upgrading to 4x G31 (about 400 Ah) or to 4v 6V golf cart batteries (about 440 Ah) in essentially the same footprint.

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Old 04-03-2015, 04:16 PM   #7
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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.
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Old 04-03-2015, 05:08 PM   #8
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Bow thruster turning off chart plotter and sounds weak

Alternator puts out 14.2V at 1200 RPM and all cables are tight on top of batteries.

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And yes the thruster works off the battery bank.

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There is also this regulator and splitter thing but I don't know how to check it.

I'm thinking all these batteries maybe be OEM, so they could be 2008 vintage, just FYI.

I guess the alternator is supposed to keep all the batteries up underway, but by the time I docked my danfoss fridge compressors shut down from lack of juice. I'm not sure much charging is going on underway.
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Old 04-03-2015, 05:54 PM   #9
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Nice batteries and a nice installation. 7 years is beginning to reach the lifecycle of Lifelines, but I'd check out the alternator first. Sounds like you are near Ortona? If so Mark Richter is a great electrician and frugal cruiser. 863-517-1152
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Old 04-03-2015, 06:06 PM   #10
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Bow thruster turning off chart plotter and sounds weak

Mark is the next dock over. Forgot all about him. Thanks.

Edit: called him up but he's at a party.

Changed the oil and filter on the genny today so I might use that as another charging source underway tomorrow. Wait, will the genny running the battery charger and the alternator get along?
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Old 04-03-2015, 07:13 PM   #11
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If alt is putting out 14.2 and batts are at 12.7, somehow the alt is not connected to the batts. Do you have a 1-all-2 switch or a charge relay?

Some boats you need to put switch in all for house bank to charge with engine and start bank.

Also check start bank batts and make sure they are seeing alt voltage.
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Old 04-03-2015, 07:28 PM   #12
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Bow thruster turning off chart plotter and sounds weak

Ok. Let me check that.
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Old 04-03-2015, 07:38 PM   #13
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Bow thruster turning off chart plotter and sounds weak

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This is how I was running while underway.

From my "owners manual"
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Hooked up to shore power and battery charger has the batteries up to this:

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But underway it is a different story. Start battery was at 12.7 and house batteries at 13.2 a few hours into the trip.

Could it be that Balmar "duo charge" or maybe the regulator? How do I test that ?
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Old 04-03-2015, 07:45 PM   #14
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Bow thruster turning off chart plotter and sounds weak

Here is that Balmar regulator and "duo charge" thing that I think splits the charge between the house and start battery.
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I was afraid to put the multimeter on that thing for some reason...
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Old 04-03-2015, 08:35 PM   #15
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With engine running 1200 and charger off, check the volts on the duocharger thingy- one red lead at top is input, other at top is output. Use digital volt meter with neg lead going somewhere to a decent ground or bonding.

If that thing is in operate mode, both batts shoud be connected and volts on the two top terminals should be the same within a few mV.

Note the thing may have some sort of timer before it connects.
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Old 04-03-2015, 08:42 PM   #16
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Bow thruster turning off chart plotter and sounds weak

👍👍👍👍

Thanks. Will try that tamale. Very quite around here now...
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Old 04-04-2015, 01:26 AM   #17
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Besides sorting out the charging/battery problem, it may be worth swapping the power supply for the plotter over to the house bank.
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Old 04-04-2015, 06:03 AM   #18
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Balmar has some pretty good troubleshooting techniques on there web site. Go to the manual for the duo from there web page or just google Balmar digital duo trouble shooting and you will get a link to the manual. It should be a big help.
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Old 04-04-2015, 08:36 AM   #19
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So underway again this am. Checked the electric panel and there is a battery test switch that checks bank one and bank two. 1 was at 14.2V and 2 was at 13.8V at 2200 rpm. Yesterday when I checked the batteries themselves at idle I got 13v and 12.7v. Maybe the rpm is the difference, or maybe my check at the batteries was not accurate.

So maybe the batteries are charging, but just old and weak?Click image for larger version

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Old 04-04-2015, 08:44 AM   #20
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If you were on charger all night, that likely topped up batts. See if volts drop during the day. Do the check on the duocharger from a couple posts up.
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