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Old 12-30-2015, 12:07 PM   #41
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Whats the amperage output of the alternators you have now?
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Old 12-30-2015, 12:23 PM   #42
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Whats the amperage output of the alternators you have now?
I believe the two main engine alternators are 60A each. Actually, the manual calls them generators.

Here is the next generation diagram. Yes, it will take a little more doing, both in effort and cost, but I think it won't be too bad.

It adds a switch and does away with the 1/2/B/O switch. It's what I did on the last boat... And I suspect, more in line with what people here would recommend.
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Old 12-30-2015, 08:04 PM   #43
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I am sure that what is being proposed here will work.

But, I have trouble justifying the excess no of batteries for starting. Here is what I have:

4x6v Golf cart for the house
1 single 4D Start for 2 x TAMD41 Volvos + 1 x Westerbeke 4kw genset.
1 x combining solenoid, should either the house bank or the start bank die and I need some juice from the live bank.

When I bought this boat in 1994, there were 2 x house banks, 1 was 2x 8D, one was 2x 4D. I reduced demand by changing fridges, added an Inverter/charger (Xantrex 2000W, that charges at 100 amps). All of this is regulated by "smart" 3 stage regulators.
I replaced the 4x6v batteries in the house system after 10 yrs, 2 yrs ago, when they showed slow charging. The 1 x 4D start battery is still providing good service after 12 years, never uses a lot of water, never slow to turn over an engine.

I haven't had to use the combining switch to start, in 21 years.

In my Motorhome, I have a pair of car sized start batteries, wired in parallel. they start the Cummins ISL400, that is beside them, and the Onan 10kw genset that is 40' away, without difficulty. There is a combining solenoid, should the need arise.

There are thousands of Motorhomes set up this way. I know of none that have a dedicated start battery for the genset and another for the main engine.

If yours was mine, I would save the weight and cost of the extra start batteries and get one big enough for the big Volvos, use it serially, on all three engines, and sleep well.
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Old 12-31-2015, 11:51 AM   #44
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Here is my 2 cents:

1. The generator start battery should not be connected to anything else. That way you will always be able to start the generator (And the the AC battery charger) even if all the other batteries are dead.

2. The two main engine alternators should be connected to a Balmar Centerfielder regulator (or another brand that does the same). Otherwise, one alternator will "fool" the other alternator into thinking that the batteries are fully charged.

3. The start batteries should be connected together, or alternately you could use one start battery of sufficient size.

4. The house batteries should be connected together into one bank. The start batteries should be connected to the house batteries by using a combiner such as a Charles BattCom.

5. The AC battery charger should only be connected to the house batteries. The start batteries will also be kept topped up thru the combiner.

6. And if all else fails, I carry a pair of booster cables, so I can boost anything with anything, even my dingy battery.

Hope this helps. This is basically the system that I have on my boat, and it works well.
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Old 12-31-2015, 12:38 PM   #45
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Thanks Ross... I have never heard of the Charles BattCom or the Centerfielder and will look into them.

I have to ask: Why not split the alternators between a house bank and starter bank? You aren't the first person to suggest using an ACR type relay to charge the whole kit-and-kabootle with just one alternator and I am curious what the thought process is that leads to this.
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Old 12-31-2015, 03:30 PM   #46
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Thanks Ross... I have never heard of the Charles BattCom or the Centerfielder and will look into them.

I have to ask: Why not split the alternators between a house bank and starter bank? You aren't the first person to suggest using an ACR type relay to charge the whole kit-and-kabootle with just one alternator and I am curious what the thought process is that leads to this.
Typically, it takes very little power to start an engine. Yes, there is a very high amperage draw, but it only lasts for a few seconds. Therefore, a large alternator will fully recharge the start batteries in a couple of minutes. However if your boat has not been connected to shore power for a while, the house batteries may be deeply discharged, and may take several hours to fully recharge.

The system that I described will result in both alternators producing the same amount of amps at all times. This means that there is an equal load on both engines, and there will be the combined output of both alternators available to charge the batteries.

A combiner is nothing more than a relay which opens and closes at a set voltage (13.3V in the case of the Charles Industries version) This means that both the start and house batteries are connected together when the batteries are fully charged. Then when the engines are not running and the house loads draw the voltage down to 13.3, the relay opens, and the start batteries are not discharged any further. When the engines are started, the alternators charge the start batteries first, then when the start battery voltage reaches 13.3 the relay closes, and the alternator output is fed into the house batteries. You can accomplish the same thing with a manual switch, but I would forget to turn the switch half the time, which is why I rely on a combiner.
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Old 12-31-2015, 04:36 PM   #47
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I like your thinking, but I think that if I went that way, I would connect the alternator (or in the example... the Centerfield) to the house and use a Balmar Duo Charge or Blue Sea ACR (or the Charles thingy) to charge the start batteries. Possibly just semantics, but I am more of a fan of alternators going to house banks instead of starts. But that's just me.
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Old 12-31-2015, 05:01 PM   #48
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Like so:
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Old 12-31-2015, 06:40 PM   #49
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Like so:
That would work well. The only improvement that I would suggest is that the generator should have its own start battery. If your start batteries were to become discharged (say by a failure of the combiner), you would not be able to start the generator either.
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