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Old 06-03-2020, 06:39 AM   #1
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Is this battery charger dead?

Hello all. Weíve had this boat for 2 years. 2 months ago we got to the boat to find it dead even though the shore power was on and battery charger on. It was hot with red lights. I was able to reset the breaker and let it cool, then it worked great until we left a few days later.

Next trip last month, same deal but batteries were not yet depleted.

This trip, about a week later, again same deal except this time I canít get the charger back. Did it die? Any idea what would cause this?

I might just run to west marine and grab a new one. Seems easy enough to wire in. Thought Iíd ask here first if anyone has seen this before.

Thanks guys.
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Old 06-03-2020, 07:01 AM   #2
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No experience with one like yours. However with a boat your size, assuming you have a decent size bank, that charger is way undersized. I would not buy another like but go to at least 50 or 60 amps. I like Pronautic chargers. I have 2 of them on my boat. You should also put fuses on each leg going to the battery banks. Blue Seas makes a 3 leg fuse holder for MBRF fuses that works very well for this application. Size the fuses for about 10 amps more than the charger outputs total. For instance if you get a 60 amp charger get 70 or 75 amp fuses because the charger could output the whole 60 amps yo one battery bank if that bank is very depleted.
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Old 06-03-2020, 07:11 AM   #3
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And if you get a significantly larger charger, pay attention to the wire runs from charger to batteries. The wires need to be sized properly to carry whatever current levels you're aiming for over the distance from charger to batteries.

Our boat came with a 40A ProMariner ProTech-4 charger, mounted not close to the battery banks. I wanted to replace it with a newer ProMariner 60A ProNautic... but the existing wires from the original charger location weren't big enough for that current over that distance.

Plan B was that we installed a ProNautic 60A charger closer to the battery bank and with it's own new properly sized wires...

And we left the original in place and working, so I can use it to sometimes augment the new charger.

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Old 06-03-2020, 07:15 AM   #4
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The ProSport charger manual is online. It will tell you what the lights mean.
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Old 06-03-2020, 08:50 AM   #5
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Found the manual. I don’t know why it was working great for over 2 years. Maybe my batteries aren’t happy and it’s overloading the undersized charger?
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Old 06-03-2020, 09:52 AM   #6
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Found the manual. I don’t know why it was working great for over 2 years. Maybe my batteries aren’t happy and it’s overloading the undersized charger?
That wouldn't happen unless there was a short in one of the batteries that was pulling maximum current from the charger so it couldn't do any net charging.

And contrary to the bigger is better philosophy expressed above, it is all dependent on how you use the boat. If you go out on weekends and draw the house batteries down to 50%, then come back to the dock, plug in until next weekend, you only need a small charger. 10A would be fine because you have plenty of time to recharge.

But if you draw your batteries down and want to recharge them quickly with a genset, then size the charger at about 25% of the Ah capacity of the batteries for quick charging. Or if you tie up at the dock overnight after drawing them down but want to go out for several days the next morning, you also need quick charging but probably not 25%. 10% should work fine in that case.

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Old 06-03-2020, 10:31 AM   #7
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Also try giving ProMariner a call. Historically they have been very helpful. I do agree that is kind of a small charger, but that shouldn't be what killed it.
Where is the boat right now? There may be some better alternatives to West Marine. Check Defender as well, they ship pretty quickly.
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Old 06-03-2020, 10:38 AM   #8
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If a battery is failing it might become overloaded and shut down.
If you have wet cells check them with a hydrometer.
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Old 06-03-2020, 02:31 PM   #9
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Ok so I had the breaker off all night. This morning I turned it on and the charger had a “ready” light but wouldn’t charge. Left it like that for couple of hours. So I cycle the breaker again and now it has the red “charge” light and is now charging.

I’m going to go take voltages at the batteries and see what I get. But my volt meter for both engine and house batteries were at 11.5 and now is up to 12.5 volts.

Update: I saw 6.1v and 12.1v. But the charger is really hot. So I turned it off.

I’m worried that it’s the batteries. I will admit that earlier this year I discovered that these batteries need water. Never crossed my mind. I thought they were sealed like car batteries. They are all pretty dry. I topped them off with distilled water months ago but I’m afraid the damage is done.
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Old 06-03-2020, 02:53 PM   #10
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How about a hydrometer test?
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Old 06-03-2020, 03:22 PM   #11
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How many battery banks and how large is each?

A 20 amp charger is going to take a long time to charge batteries. Running FLA batteries down deeply, repeatedly will kill their duty cycles pretty quickly. As will running them down and not fully charging them. Do you sit mostly on the dock, or on an anchor or mooring?? How many hours do you charge them daily?
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Old 06-03-2020, 03:28 PM   #12
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I’m getting ready to figure out what I have.

Boat stays plugged into shore power. When we run the boat or at anchor the generator is running because I don’t have an inverter.
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Old 06-03-2020, 03:40 PM   #13
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Iím getting ready to figure out what I have.

Boat stays plugged into shore power. When we run the boat or at anchor the generator is running because I donít have an inverter.
What are you running that needs 120VAC while you're underway? It's not your problem, just a bit of a surprise.
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Old 06-03-2020, 03:50 PM   #14
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Ok I have five 6v batteries and two 12v batteries. All voltages are identical. All 6 volts are reading 5.7 and the 12ís read 11.8. This is with the charger off
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Old 06-03-2020, 04:14 PM   #15
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5 - six volt batteries is a problem. Either 4 or 6 but not 5. The 6 volts need to be in pairs of 2 in series to make 12 volts. If those voltage readings are at the battery post with a digital volt meter after charging, they are toast.
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Old 06-03-2020, 05:04 PM   #16
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It is really strange that you have 5 - 6 volt batteries. It looks like that 4 are in series/parallel which is normal but what is the single 6 volt battery doing? Also not in love with the wiring job on the batteries. I would like to see it cleaned up, not a critical issue but it would be much nicer if it was cleaned up and cover all the positive terminals at least. That way if you are in there working and drop a tool across the posts it may not short out. Have you had a certified marine electrician look at your boat? That may be the place to start just to look over the whole boat and check things out and then help you decide what way to go.
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Old 06-03-2020, 05:05 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve91T View Post
Iím getting ready to figure out what I have.

Boat stays plugged into shore power. When we run the boat or at anchor the generator is running because I donít have an inverter.
My Promariner 50-Amp battery charger can be set to 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100% power settings. I leave it on 25% to keep my four 12V batteries topped up when sitting on shore power for extended periods. Out at anchor not running the genny, I might set it to 100% so that when I do run the genny, I get the house batts recharged a bit faster. This charger appears to be something you might need.
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Old 06-03-2020, 05:28 PM   #18
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Ok I have five 6v batteries and two 12v batteries. All voltages are identical. All 6 volts are reading 5.7 and the 12ís read 11.8. This is with the charger off
As mentioned, there's a 6th 6V battery hiding there somewhere, they have to be in pairs for most any modern system, I highly doubt you have a 6V system and 6V charger to support that 5th battery.

To check a battery properly, you have to charge it first for enough hours to completely charge it. Testing without charging won't really help you.

After charging let rest with no load for several hours, overnight is best. Now check voltage, should be 12.6-12.7 volts for brand new, a bit lower for older. Each 6V 6.4-6.3 volts. If lower, read individual cells with a hydrometer and you can determine if a single cel is bad or multiples. If all this passes, you can put a large load on the batteries (100 amps) and monitor voltage, should not drop below 11.5 volts but closer to 12V is better for a larger battery bank, it should recover quickly to 12.5+ after the load is removed.

If you can't charge the whole bank (your charger is overheating it seems like), you will need to separate the parallel batteries and charge/test each 12 V pair separately. You could have just one bad cell in one battery that is consuming most of the charge power and preventing the others from accepting a charge, or you could even have some corroded terminals causing issues. Three inexpensive automotive chargers can be employed temporarily on each 12V pair after you have separated them to accomplish this more quickly than having to do each one after another with your built in charger.
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Old 06-03-2020, 05:43 PM   #19
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None of you batteries appear to be restrained. Image #1 shows the lone 6v wedged between 2 seacocks with no means of restraint in any direction. Essentially the seacocks are restraining that battery. As mentioned, neither battery boxes or covers on the positives.

You also have a bunch of directly connected, inline fused add-ons. Technically it's fine, but each of those items are hot wired with no means to isolate the device or circuit.

I might get banged up for this one, but .....'usually' in either series or parallel, the main positive is on one battery and the main ground is on the other battery. It kind of looks like you have Postive and negative on one bank, then have daisy chained them with the positive to the other set of batteries, and a common ground running through all of the them. The challenge is whether the interconnects can truly handle potential load.

Feel free to flame me on that one....I like to learn the hard way.
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Old 06-03-2020, 06:20 PM   #20
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I really canít tell how it is wired because some of the wires go out of sight and then, maybe, come up and make the connection. I think at this point it is just guessing. I donít know how big the current draw is but all of the battery cables look small if there is any significant load on the bank. Also the connectors look poorly done, no heat shrink on them so there may be corrosion in the connections. On my battery bank all the cables are 4/0 because I donít want any voltage drop. Large cables is an easy way to get the most voltage out of the battery bank. There could be a 6th 6 volt battery somewhere but if you are making a series bank you really want the interconnect wires as short as possible. Again I would get a certified marine electrician to spend a couple of hours doing an audit of the boats electrical system. Then there will be a plan on fixing the issues that everyone have noted, plus possible other problems that are not in the photos.
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