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Old 07-04-2011, 11:25 AM   #1
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Need a few electrical/genset questions answered quickly!

So we are getting ready to head out to Lookout tomorrow. We anchored on Saturday night and I have taken a few looks at the battery/charging system. Ineed a few questions answered before we leave. My boat electrical system book is at home... dammit!

Is the alternator supposed to charge BOTH battery banks? Mine appears to only charge the starter battery via the positive lug on the starter. That means that running the engine, should the house batteries get low, does nothing.

Should the need arise, can I swap the leads from the starter battery to the house bank as a temp work-around? What about jumper cables? Too ghetto?

What should the voltage read off the house batteries sitting idle? They are at 12.88 without the charger on and 12.92-ish with. However, I did not disconnect the loads when I read that.

The genset has a small water leak in the raw water inpeller pump but still moves water thru to the exhaust. I have to run the genset to run the charger to charge the house bank. Any danger if there is still water moving thru it?

One other issue is that it appears that the PO has bypasses the over-temp sensor (bad I know), but is there a way for me to monitor the temp should I need to run it to charge the house bank this week? It's a Next Generation genset. There is the small coolant tank on the top (with the radiator cap on it) that gets to be about 160 degree when I run it. I assume that's normal, but thought I would ask anyway.

I am wondering if I have overheated it a few weeks ago when I ran it and the main engine for a few hours coming home from Carolina Beach. However, I really have no proof of that except that the whole unit was about too hot to touch when we got to the marina. What would be the symptoms or signs that a Kobota had been overheated?

Any help I could get to make me feel better about being on the hook for a day or two would be GREAT!

Thanks y'all!
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Old 07-04-2011, 12:10 PM   #2
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RE: Need a few electrical/genset questions answered quickly!

Quote:
GonzoF1 wrote:
So we are getting ready to head out to Lookout tomorrow. We anchored on Saturday night and I have taken a few looks at the battery/charging system. Ineed a few questions answered before we leave. My boat electrical system book is at home... dammit!

Is the alternator supposed to charge BOTH battery banks?* It depends on how your system is configured.* A single alternator to multiple battery banks usually has some sort of* echo charger/solenoid connection that permits the alternator to charge but not discharge multiple banks. *Mine appears to only charge the starter battery via the positive lug on the starter. That means that running the engine, should the house batteries get low, does nothing.* There must be a charging connection to the house battery bank, unless the system is set up only to be charged via shore power/generator.

Should the need arise, can I swap the leads from the starter battery to the house bank as a temp work-around? What about jumper cables? Too ghetto?* If departure is imminent, jumper cables can be a functional alternative.* They may be good to have onboard in an emergency anyway.* Just remember to remove the connection after engine charging has stopped.

What should the voltage read off the house batteries sitting idle? They are at 12.88 without the charger on and 12.92-ish with. However, I did not disconnect the loads when I read that.* Battery voltage is generally not meaningful unless all loads have been removed, there is no charging going on, and the battery bank has been left in this condition for 24 hours.* This is where a good battery system monitor can help.* Wet cell batteries can be tested with a specific gravity measurement, but this also requires the battery to be at rest.

The genset has a small water leak in the raw water inpeller pump but still moves water thru to the exhaust. I have to run the genset to run the charger to charge the house bank. Any danger if there is still water moving thru it?* Not sure I understand your question here, but you will need to watch the water leak closely, and assuming it isn't too large, watch your exhaust line temps as one of the primary purposes of the raw water cooling system*is to cool the exhaust line.* Lack of cooling water can destroy the generator/exhaust system and cause a fire.* Don't wait too long to repair the water leak.

One other issue is that it appears that the PO has bypasses the over-temp sensor (bad I know), but is there a way for me to monitor the temp should I need to run it to charge the house bank this week? It's a Next Generation genset. There is the small coolant tank on the top (with the radiator cap on it) that gets to be about 160 degree when I run it. I assume that's normal, but thought I would ask anyway.* As you know, an overheat sensor on a generator that produces a lot of heat is a critical part of the system.* Use a hand-held heat gun for a temporary solution.* You should have one of these onboard anyway.* Not familiar with the Next Gen product, but most small generators will run up to a thermostat rated around 180 degrees F.* If the water tem of the coolant gets up towards 200 degrees F, you will need to shut it down and allow it to cool, and get motivated to replace/repair the raw water pump.

I am wondering if I have overheated it a few weeks ago when I ran it and the main engine for a few hours coming home from Carolina Beach. However, I really have no proof of that except that the whole unit was about too hot to touch when we got to the marina. What would be the symptoms or signs that a Kobota had been overheated?* There may be a number of reasons that the generator could have overheated, including the raw water pump leak mentioned above.* Other reasons can include lack of raw water supply when the boat is cruising.* If the PO disconnected the overheat sensor in response to this siutation, maybe it's a raw water cooling system design flaw (cupped thru-hull strainer facing the wrong way, for instance).* Maybe there is an air supply issue when the main engine is operatiing.*

Any help I could get to make me feel better about being on the hook for a day or two would be GREAT!

Tom, it's great that you can get out boating, and I think you can get by for a couple of days.* BUT - You need to have a long-term plan to identify your system components and how they function and are connected.* It may be that your desire to anchor out is not consistent with how your system is designed to operate.* You need to develop some wiring schematics (if you don't already have that in your book at home), and decide on the size/type of battery banks, charging systems and reserves depending on how you intend to use the boat.* A great starting point is Calder's book.***

Bon Voyage!

Thanks y'all!
*
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Old 07-04-2011, 03:31 PM   #3
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RE: Need a few electrical/genset questions answered quickly!

I certainly WANT to look at Nigel's book, but unfortunately, it is at the house. :-(

Anyway. thanks for the great replies. It appears that is is setup to ONLY charge to the starter battery and not to the house banks, Something I will correct in the very near future. The brown alternator hot lead only goes to the + lug on the starter and the heavy welder's wire goes to the starter battery. I attached the multi-tester to the starter battery and fired up the mains.I read over 14V to it. Did the same with the house batteries and the reading did not change regardless of the 1.2.All switch selection. So I have to assume there is no physical connection to the house bank from the alternator. Bummer.

I think that my 1,2,All switch only selects what will energize the 12V side of my breaker panel. And since the test above about proves that starting the engine doesn't affect any battery voltage, I have to assume that.

The genset pump seems to only be a small leak. Something that doesn't appear to adversely affect the water flow. It's also easy to monitor, so if it DOES get worse, I will be able to see it. Certainly now that I know it is something that needs attention, I won't (read: can't) ignore it should I need to run it for a while. It currently is leaking from the backside of the seal for the pulley shaft and not the weep hole (or priming hole which is what I thing the actual purpose of that hole is for). The manual has a good list of parts, so I am going to order a new pump assembly ASAP. It looks like a VERY easy swap.

If I were to run to get some jumper cables tomorrow, can I just jump from the starter battery to the house bank while we are underway and put a charge to the house batteries? Is it that easy?

Thanks again... I feel much better. Still need to correct my issues, but I know they aren't a show stopper.
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Old 07-05-2011, 11:10 PM   #4
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RE: Need a few electrical/genset questions answered quickly!

Gonzo

Genset maintenance 101 says fix the issues ASAP. The diligence you showed with your "optional" fuel polishing system should be echoed with your "mandatory" genset.*With some raw water pumps a small leak can cause them to lose prime with dry impeller starts resulting.
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Old 07-06-2011, 08:09 AM   #5
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RE: Need a few electrical/genset questions answered quickly!

Ahhh... good point. Thanks.
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Old 07-06-2011, 11:45 PM   #6
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RE: Need a few electrical/genset questions answered quickly!

It sounds like if you go to "all" when the engine is running, you'll charge both batteries from the alternator. I agree that you need a combiner to prevent the two banks from draining on the hook if you forget to deselect the "all" setting.

A way to confirm this is to look at the battery voltages when the engine is running. Either use an on board voltmeter or carry a digital voltmeter on board to troubleshoot.
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Old 07-08-2011, 03:21 PM   #7
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RE: Need a few electrical/genset questions answered quickly!

I did that already. The voltage to the house bank doesn't change when the engine is running.
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Old 07-08-2011, 08:14 PM   #8
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RE: Need a few electrical/genset questions answered quickly!

From West Marine about 90 bucks, a Blue Sea Charging Relay. Use # 2 wire and if you don't have a crimper the local electrician can make the cables for you. It is a no brainer install. This will solve all your charging problems.
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Old 07-10-2011, 04:40 PM   #9
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RE: Need a few electrical/genset questions answered quickly!

This?

http://www.westmarine.com/webapp/wcs...classNum=10337

Looks like I can just put this between the two B+ posts of my starter and house bank and the alternator would then be able to charge both banks when the engine is running. Almost seems too easy.
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Old 07-10-2011, 09:22 PM   #10
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Need a few electrical/genset questions answered quickly!

After doing a little reading (however, maybe not enough), I think I want to use the block diode system. It seems the simplest and safest way to correct my current rig. Still open to alternative suggestions (and may seek professional advise), but I like the simplicity of the idea and that even human error can't cause catastrophic failure.

*EDIT* After reading even more... The voltage drop across the diode rig might be a bit much and I might be back to the Blue Seas combiner. Still, my batteries aren't that high of a quality and maybe it won't matter. Maybe I'll keep reading ;-)


-- Edited by GonzoF1 on Monday 11th of July 2011 05:25:50 AM
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Old 07-11-2011, 05:35 PM   #11
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RE: Need a few electrical/genset questions answered quickly!

Yep that's it. There is no reason to mess with diodes any more. When this little box senses 13.5 volts (charging, altrnator or charger) on either side it closes. When not charging it opens. Also the picture in your link is the actual size.*
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Old 07-11-2011, 09:18 PM   #12
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RE: Need a few electrical/genset questions answered quickly!

What about this thing?

http://www.bepmarine.com/home-mainme...arging-cluster

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Old 07-12-2011, 10:02 AM   #13
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RE: Need a few electrical/genset questions answered quickly!

Sure, that will work.*
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Old 07-13-2011, 03:40 PM   #14
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RE: Need a few electrical/genset questions answered quickly!

I had a lengthy conversation with a sailor friend I work with today. He has convinced me that the Echo Charger is the better way for me to go. It will be a little bit more work, but should be a significant upgrade to my electrical and charging ability. Before I plop down the cash, I'm going to post my alternator specs up here to see if there are anything I need to be concerned with. I also plan on getting an IOTA charger that should upgrade the charger without costing an arm and a leg and give my batteries a bit of a break from the constant cooking they get now.
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Old 07-15-2011, 01:51 PM   #15
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RE: Need a few electrical/genset questions answered quickly!

Can someone tell me if this is the way to go?
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Old 07-15-2011, 02:30 PM   #16
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RE: Need a few electrical/genset questions answered quickly!

Looks like it will work. Depending on where the combiner switch is physically located*it might*be worth*investing in a copper mine.*

Personally, I am not too thrilled about that connection to the generator.
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Old 07-15-2011, 03:12 PM   #17
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RE: Need a few electrical/genset questions answered quickly!

Thanks for looking at this Rick.

Actually, most of it is already in place. The run to the combiner switch is already there too. About all I need is the two buss bars, the Echo Charge, and a few short 1 ga. jumpers. The longest pull I need to add is the run from the alternator output to the positive buss bar. Maybe six or eight feet of 10 ga (guessing). Would it be better to replace all that wire? Sure. But I would much rather get it up and going first, then begin the swapping out of welding wire (although I have heard good and bad for it). Anyway, I assume the genset wiring is because of the switch? That was the job of the PO. It can easily be removed if it is not needed or unsafe.
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Old 07-15-2011, 03:30 PM   #18
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RE: Need a few electrical/genset questions answered quickly!

I've got nothing against welding wire. Just keep it dry and away from oil.

My comment about the generator is not so much an electrical safety issue as it is the idea of keeping the generator independent of the other battery banks. It has its own little battery and that is charged off its own alternator and if you run that battery down just use a jumper cable to start it if you have to. Even a start battery that is too low to start a main should still start a generator.

If the drawing really shows generator starting current coming from the main engine start battery then there could well be safety issues.

When you draw a DC system that includes batteries it is better to use heavy lines to indicate high current cables such as starter cables and thin lines to indicate auxiliary or low current conductors.

Also, toss in a couple of fuses to protect the heavy current conductors at the batteries in case things go terribly wrong and Fido isn't around.
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Old 07-15-2011, 03:42 PM   #19
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Need a few electrical/genset questions answered quickly!

My genset doesn't have its own alternator and I don't see a way to add one. It's just a little Next Generation 3.5k. Sorry about the crude drawing. I just bodged it together quickly in MSWord. I'll get it up to your standards for you when I have a few spare hours (just kidding). The only fuse in the rig currently ( <- PUN ) is on the windlass.


-- Edited by GonzoF1 on Friday 15th of July 2011 03:43:36 PM
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Old 07-15-2011, 04:36 PM   #20
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RE: Need a few electrical/genset questions answered quickly!

Quote:
GonzoF1 wrote:
My genset doesn't have its own alternator and I don't see a way to add one. It's just a little Next Generation 3.5k.

Sorry about the crude drawing. I just bodged it together quickly in MSWord. I'll get it up to your standards for you when I have a few spare hours (just kidding). The only fuse in the rig currently ( <- PUN ) is on the windlass.
Roger on the Nex Gen. I guess you have no choice other than a hand crank! Again, fuse it at the battery or the buss, wherever you attach the cable so it doesn't turn into a fuze.

My standards are pretty flexible, it is just that when you are looking at a mixed circuit it makes it much easier to see what is what.

Put the windlass fuse at the current source, not at the consumer, remember it is there to protect you and the wiring, not the windlass.
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