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Old 03-13-2014, 11:08 AM   #1
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Pro Mariner 50 Amp Keep or Change

On my previous boat, a 34 Beneteau sailboat I had a Xantrex Tru Charge 20 amp charger, what I'd call a smart charger. On my new to me boat there is a 50 amp Pro Mariner, what I've seen referred to as the big blue box.

It seems to be adequately charging 2 - 8D's, one for each engine and a group 31 for the genset. Here's my question, should I change this out for a newer, smart charger or keep it since it seems to be working just fine.
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Old 03-13-2014, 11:21 AM   #2
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Greetings,
Mr. I. If the Pro Mariner (PM) is the old ferrite core type it can boil your batteries dry. IF you keep a close eye on state of charge and electrolyte levels there should be no problems that I can see. I currently have a PM 80 (ferrite type) and a Heart Interface inverter that puts out 130A and 4 KW (if memory serves) I don't use the PM at all any more but, since I have the room, I'm keeping it for emergency use (OK, I'm just too lazy to remove it so far).
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Old 03-13-2014, 11:33 AM   #3
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If you don't have it already, look on the ProMariner website and find the manual for your model. You may find it's already a 3-stage smart charger (they actually enumerate 4 stages in there). If you can't find the manual, call their tech support; they've always been helpful.

Given yours is 50-amp, I'd guess it's probably "smart" -- ours is a 2002 model -- but that's easy enough to check.

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Old 03-13-2014, 11:50 AM   #4
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The true test is to put a good digital voltmeter directly on the battery terminals. If it is a "smart" charger, and has been on a while, it should be in "float" mode. Terminal voltage should be between 13.2 to 13.6Vdc. Any higher and batts will eventually overcharge and drive out electrolyte. Turn charger off, then back on, and volts should go up to around 14.5 for a while (may be up to a few hours), then drop down to mid 13's.

If this is what it is doing, then it's "smart" enough!!

The old ferro-resonant chargers put out a near constant output around 13.8-14.0 regardless of charge state of batts.

I recommend trashing the FR chargers, as they can kill more $$ worth of batteries than the replacement smart charger.

Keeping the FR charger as a backup, that's fine.

If in doubt, the FR charger has a BIG heavy noisy transformer inside, a capacitor, and some diodes. Usually buzz when on, too. If it has a printed circuit board with lots of colorful electronic trinkets, then it is probably a smart charger. The volt meter is the true test.
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Old 03-13-2014, 01:59 PM   #5
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Depends on the FR charger. The Sentrys are set up to turn completely off when the battery reaches full charge, and they are field repairable. Lewco's apply a pulse type maintenance. . A lot of big boat guys are quite devoted to either or both. Guy who fixed my old Sentry says he tears out several defective "smart" chargers a year and puts in a Sentry at owner's request. My personal opinion is that for traditional house banks (non-inverter) and start banks they are great chargers. Not cheap!

Not familiar with the PM version of ferro chargers, so can't comment. A smart charger that stays in perpetual float mode and doesn't turn itself off will also boil batteries,as will a charger that goes into a programmed timed phases of charge regardless of battery condition.
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Old 03-14-2014, 06:57 AM   #6
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The true test is to put a good digital voltmeter directly on the battery terminals.

This works , if the engine batt is usually on , installing the V meter to the engine start terminals will allow monitoring start voltage AT the starter , as well as all the other usual uses for a V meter during operation.
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Old 03-14-2014, 10:03 AM   #7
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Thanks, guys.

I do have the manual and it says the unit is a "smart" charger. On the inside of the front panel the date says 1998. I wasn't sure if smart in 1998 means the same thing as smart in 2014. There is a digital readout for the batteries near the helm and it is usually reads around the 13.6 area. And there is a selector switch for the charger that has 6 positions and the #2 and 3 are the "normal" ones and 5 & 6 are quick charge settings. The manual states to leave it in either of these positions when hooked to shore power for an extended period.

It sounds like the PM can stay, but I'll need to check battery level on a regular basis. Thanks again.
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Old 03-14-2014, 10:32 AM   #8
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From your description and the 1998 date, I'd guess yours is slightly older than or at least a different model from ours (ProTech-4 1240, 40-amp).

Still, at least three stages -- nominally 14.8-ish for fast charge, 14.8-ish for absorption, 13.8 -ish float is pretty much what current smart chargers do. Mine calls out a 4th stage, too, but that's pretty much just "return to Fast Charge."

When you see 13.6v at the helm, that might just be a symptom of voltage drop over distance, so it could probably be 13.8v at the batteries.

Some of your selector positions or other settings are like for lead acid/AGM or gel batteries, too. Another option might be the length (in time) of the absorption charge (our allows a choice of 1, 2, 3, or 4 hours). That's simply a matter of matching setting to the batteries you have, and I'd check... but I'd also expect it's already been set correctly.

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Old 03-14-2014, 01:24 PM   #9
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13.6 is absolutely fine. Having manual control for fast charge (14.8ish) is a nice feature. I wish my "smart charger" had that, it just stays at fast for a preset time. Sometimes I don't want that if I am just switching from shore/gen/etc and know batts are already topped off.

Try going to fast charge and see that it goes up to 14.8ish. You'll want to do that after running down batts during a anchor/inverter session.
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Old 03-14-2014, 05:05 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ski in NC View Post

Having manual control for fast charge (14.8ish) is a nice feature. I wish my "smart charger" had that, it just stays at fast for a preset time.

Try going to fast charge and see that it goes up to 14.8ish. You'll want to do that after running down batts during a anchor/inverter session.

FWIW, the only way to put ours in "Fast" charge mode is to turn it off for a while. When it comes back on, it immediately goes to "Fast" and stays there for... ummm... never sure.

After that, it changes (sometime, never sure when) to "Absorption" charge mode... but since it's the same voltage, there's not much way to see a switch-over. I happen to have our "Absorption" time set to 4 hours (longest available), but that's simply using the recommendation relevant to our battery and bank sizes.

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Old 03-14-2014, 06:12 PM   #11
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Thanks, guys.

I do have the manual and it says the unit is a "smart" charger. On the inside of the front panel the date says 1998. I wasn't sure if smart in 1998 means the same thing as smart in 2014. There is a digital readout for the batteries near the helm and it is usually reads around the 13.6 area. And there is a selector switch for the charger that has 6 positions and the #2 and 3 are the "normal" ones and 5 & 6 are quick charge settings. The manual states to leave it in either of these positions when hooked to shore power for an extended period.

It sounds like the PM can stay, but I'll need to check battery level on a regular basis. Thanks again.
Glenn, What's the model number? Maybe we can help you learn more with that information.

My ProMariner manual states the charging voltages for each stage. Does your manual provide this info?
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Old 03-15-2014, 06:44 AM   #12
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Both 14.8 and 13.8 are on the high side , so be sure to water the batts regulary.

Check every week till you know what happens when a DC load asks the charger to work.

If it hammers away at 14.8 with every run of the FW pump or lamp on , water will be necessary.
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Old 03-15-2014, 07:47 AM   #13
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Both 14.8 and 13.8 are on the high side , so be sure to water the batts regulary.

Check every week till you know what happens when a DC load asks the charger to work.

If it hammers away at 14.8 with every run of the FW pump or lamp on , water will be necessary.

Ay, yep, sorry, I mis-spoke earlier, typing from memory. I just checked, and our manual actually says 14.7v for fast and absorption charges, and 13.5 for float. Sorry.

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Old 03-16-2014, 06:53 AM   #14
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The question is still the operating cycle ,

weather a minor load for a few min will kick the unit into high voltage charge , or the unit will allow the batt to charge slowly , using less water.

If you have room above the batts , Hydrocaps might be worth the cost.

Hydrocap | Information

www.hydrocapcorp.com/info.htm‎
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Old 03-16-2014, 09:05 AM   #15
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Both 14.8 and 13.8 are on the high side , so be sure to water the batts regulary.

Check every week till you know what happens when a DC load asks the charger to work.

If it hammers away at 14.8 with every run of the FW pump or lamp on , water will be necessary.
Not if it is just feeding the load and turns off when the load is gone.
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Old 03-17-2014, 07:10 AM   #16
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>Not if it is just feeding the load and turns off when the load is gone.<

True but rare , today most boats use battery chargers , in earlier times the battery converter topped at 13.4 so it replaced the batt , until its charge amps were exceded.

eg 20A converter , 40A DC fridge compressor ,50A Electrosan , the batt would slowly be run down , and just as slowly brought back to float. Done so watering was less required.

Today most are chargers , not converters , so the charge profile must be understood.
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Old 03-18-2014, 11:31 AM   #17
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What's the model number? Maybe we can help you learn more with that information.
I'll look it up later this week, when I'm on the boat.
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