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Old 11-21-2021, 05:10 PM   #1
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Thoughts on Bow Thrusters

I'm thinking of running my windless from my bow thruster batteries. What follows is a brief description of my bow thruster, windless, and DC panel wiring. Followed by questions on charging considerations.

A couple of years ago I had a Lewmar bow thruster added to my boat. It is powered by two 12 V batteries, wired to provide 12 volts. The charge is maintained by a #8 wire, protected by a 30 amp fuse that goes from the batteries to a positive distribution post in my electrical closet. This distribution post it fed from my main distribution (house battery xantrex charging) located in my engine room.

At present my Tigress windless is fed by a 40 year old #1/0 cable, of unknown Taiwanese quality that goes from my main distribution in my engine room through a 100 amp fuse and a 30 foot run to the windless.

My proposal is to run my Tigress windless from my bow thruster batteries with some 2/0 welding cable that I have on hand. No run would be more than 4 feet.

I also just completed a new DC panel install (Blueseas 8380), on the other side of my electrical closet, that has a multiple bank voltage metering capability so I will be able to see what the voltage is on my bow thruster/windless batteries. The sensing wire for voltage measurement is independent from the panel.
The panel is fed by a 2/0 distribution wire from engine room that steps down to an 18" long 2 awg wire after the shunt to accommodate the panel swinging out on a piano hinge.

Question
Do I leave my #8 wire to my positive bus bar in my electrical closet as my charging wire as is or do I employ a Xantrex echo charger from my main distribution bar in the engine room. Could I run the echo charger from my 2/0 main feed in the electrical closet before the shunt? Do I need an echo charger at all?

I also have an isolator in the engine room for my house bank and start battery fed by my alternator (150amp). Considering the size and expense to run a cable from my isolator to my thruster batteries (30ft), is there any sense to do that? I could use my old 1/0 wire that is all ready in place.

I hope I explained myself coherently.
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Old 11-21-2021, 06:03 PM   #2
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Use of welding cable in boats instead of properly sized electrical cable with the concomitantly larger strands is often frowned upon, but otherwise I certainly agree with powering the windlass from a local battery. I believe I would muster up a dedicated 120 volt charger and post it well forward. Rather than rip out the old but apparently functional 1/0 cable, why not use it to connect the bow batteries to an echo charger or ACR located at the engine room battery bank to get underway charging from the alternator when the genny is not running?
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Old 11-21-2021, 06:48 PM   #3
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Agree with Rich re using proper size tinned marine cable vs welding cable. Why cut corners to save $ when an important system aboard?
Use best practices and quality supplies and sleep soundly.
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Old 11-21-2021, 08:09 PM   #4
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Couple of points to consider:

While thruster requires more amperage to run, your windlass can draw far more amp hours out of the batteries depending on water depth. Make sure the bow thruster batteries are deep cycle and up to the draw down.

If you're dramatically increasing the draw down of your batteries, I would recommend recharging with a 20 amp battery charger. My preference would be a 120 VAC running off an inverter, generator, or shore power.

Ted
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Old 11-21-2021, 08:37 PM   #5
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Shouldn't the thruster battery be a start battery due to the high amp draw?

Quote:
Originally Posted by O C Diver View Post
Couple of points to consider:

While thruster requires more amperage to run, your windlass can draw far more amp hours out of the batteries depending on water depth. Make sure the bow thruster batteries are deep cycle and up to the draw down.

If you're dramatically increasing the draw down of your batteries, I would recommend recharging with a 20 amp battery charger. My preference would be a 120 VAC running off an inverter, generator, or shore power.

Ted
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Old 11-21-2021, 08:54 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by O C Diver View Post
Couple of points to consider:

While thruster requires more amperage to run, your windlass can draw far more amp hours out of the batteries depending on water depth. Make sure the bow thruster batteries are deep cycle and up to the draw down.

If you're dramatically increasing the draw down of your batteries, I would recommend recharging with a 20 amp battery charger. My preference would be a 120 VAC running off an inverter, generator, or shore power.

Ted
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Shouldn't the thruster battery be a start battery due to the high amp draw?
If you use AGM they do both deep cycle and hi amp (start) fairly well and why many spec both AH and CCA. They are also well suited for placement close to hi amp draws where FLA are impossible or difficult.
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Old 11-21-2021, 08:59 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by sean9c View Post
Shouldn't the thruster battery be a start battery due to the high amp draw?
That's what mine are. Depending on amperage draw of the bow thruster and the type of deep cycle battery, you could use deep cycles. I wouldn't have any heartache using a pair of Fireflys in this application. I don't think most sealed lead acid batteries will live a long life in this application.

This is one of those areas where 24 volts makes a big difference.

Ted
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Old 11-21-2021, 10:01 PM   #8
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Something to consider is that (at least for me) you are always running your engines when operations the windlass or bow thruster. That helps with current supply. I have no batteries in the bow. I do have maybe 2 AWG (I’d have to check if its 0) running from my house bank. I have had no issues. I have measured voltage at the windlass and thruster during operating with only a few tenths of voltage drop. I’d vote for simplicity with heave gauge wire.
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Old 11-22-2021, 07:00 AM   #9
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I don't think most sealed lead acid batteries will live a long life in this application.



Ted
I have an 8D AGM serving my B & S thrusters. It is still doing very well after 8 seasons. This year I moved my single engine start over to it to make my house bank a pure house vs combo w start. Side benefit was run to starter was about half of previous.
I dont see why this isn't a good application for AGM...
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Old 11-22-2021, 08:44 AM   #10
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[QUOTE][Something to consider is that (at least for me) you are always running your engines when operations the windlass or bow thruster. /QUOTE]

Not me. I would run my windlass to take up most of the scope 20 or so feet at a time before I fired up the engine. This would give the chain time to clean off.
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Old 11-22-2021, 09:35 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bacchus View Post
I have an 8D AGM serving my B & S thrusters. It is still doing very well after 8 seasons. This year I moved my single engine start over to it to make my house bank a pure house vs combo w start. Side benefit was run to starter was about half of previous.
I dont see why this isn't a good application for AGM...
8Ds aren't batteries, they're ballast. A single battery that weighs more than I do, isn't a battery. An 8D is a back injury waiting to be inflicted.

Ted
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Old 11-22-2021, 03:02 PM   #12
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When the logic side of my brain takes over I think, my engine is running so my alternator is making current, my ACR's have connected all my batteries together and when I'm done using my thruster/windlass my alternator will make up any amps that I use, why do I need a big windlass/thruster battery?
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Old 11-22-2021, 03:22 PM   #13
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8Ds aren't batteries, they're ballast. A single battery that weighs more than I do, isn't a battery. An 8D is a back injury waiting to be inflicted.



Ted
No argument there. Another 8D will not be brought aboard. My plan is a pair of GP31 AGMs as a replacement. I don't see why an AGM isn't well suited for the application?
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Old 11-22-2021, 04:16 PM   #14
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When the logic side of my brain takes over I think, my engine is running so my alternator is making current, my ACR's have connected all my batteries together and when I'm done using my thruster/windlass my alternator will make up any amps that I use, why do I need a big windlass/thruster battery?
2 reasons:

If using the thruster to dock, the battery won't be recharged before shutting the engine off. Like wise, when anchoring, depending on your technique, the windlass may be used (maybe more than once), and then not recharged before shutting down. Then it's used before recharging to recover the anchor.

Second reason is that most batteries lose charge over time while sitting. A charger maintains the batteries connected to shore power.

Ted
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Old 11-22-2021, 04:36 PM   #15
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[QUOTE=jleonard;1054803]
Quote:
[Something to consider is that (at least for me) you are always running your engines when operations the windlass or bow thruster. /QUOTE]

Not me. I would run my windlass to take up most of the scope 20 or so feet at a time before I fired up the engine. This would give the chain time to clean off.
So you are using your windlass to move the boat? I thought that was a no-no. I always start the engine before attempting to raise the anchor. Firstly, I want to be sure I have a running engine before I begin to un-set the anchor, and secondly, small bursts of fwd with the engine, moves the boat forward so the windlass is only lifting the slack rode and anchor but not pulling the boat forward. Normally my wife is at the helm and I am at the bow and simple hand signals work fine.
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Old 11-22-2021, 05:00 PM   #16
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I just installed a two battery, 6V series AGM bank under the vee berth to run my windlass. It's about a 12 foot run, round trip, of 2/0 cable to power windlass with 500A solenoid switching the big cable. We use a Sterling battery to battery 12V, 30 Amp charger to charge from the Firefly house bank. The Sterling programmable charger allows custom charge profile for the AGM. The charging circuit is about 30 feet of #4 AWG for 1% drop. The windlass bank is being charged/held at float whenever the house bank is being charged by 110VAC shore or generator or 12VDC alternator. Not a lot use yet but all is working as designed. Rod Collins helped me with schematic reviews from the beginning my 12V system design.
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Old 11-22-2021, 05:29 PM   #17
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I have the same windlass and it is wired to my thruster bank with its own 100 amp breaker/disconnect. I think that's what you are describing as your future state. No issues or concern, although recent discussion here on shutting things down at the main panel and runaway windlasses got me thinking a bit. My windlass is always powered up.

To keep my thruster bank charged I use a 30 amp dc-dc charger that is powered from my house bank. It sounds like you have wiring in place now that would support that. In my case I used a Victron unit, and configured it to charge based on house bank voltage triggers, so if my house bank is being charged by any source the charger for the thruster bank is on.
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Old 11-23-2021, 07:22 AM   #18
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[QUOTE=backinblue;1054944]
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So you are using your windlass to move the boat? I thought that was a no-no. I always start the engine before attempting to raise the anchor. Firstly, I want to be sure I have a running engine before I begin to un-set the anchor, and secondly, small bursts of fwd with the engine, moves the boat forward so the windlass is only lifting the slack rode and anchor but not pulling the boat forward. Normally my wife is at the helm and I am at the bow and simple hand signals work fine.
Only when the water is quiet, which it usually is in the morning when we would raise the anchor.

I would take in some slack, then the boat would inch forward by the weight of the chain. Then after a few minutes I would repeat that cycle. It never put much strain on the windlass.

When we got to the last 30 or 40 feet then it was time to fire up the smokey Joe and finish pulling it up.


I never worried about a running engine, it always started quickly.
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Old 11-23-2021, 09:47 AM   #19
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No argument there. Another 8D will not be brought aboard. My plan is a pair of GP31 AGMs as a replacement. I don't see why an AGM isn't well suited for the application?
An AGM is good. For a thruster battery, I view it's use as identical to an engine battery. Generally short duration pulses of very high amperage. Some AGM batteries are listed for starting, some for deep cycle, and some as dual purpose (great at neither). So an AGM for a thruster battery should be listed as an engine battery, not deep cycle, and a compromise as dual purpose, IMO.

Ted
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Old 11-23-2021, 11:33 AM   #20
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[QUOTE=backinblue;1054944]
Quote:
Originally Posted by jleonard View Post

So you are using your windlass to move the boat? I thought that was a no-no. I always start the engine before attempting to raise the anchor. Firstly, I want to be sure I have a running engine before I begin to un-set the anchor, and secondly, small bursts of fwd with the engine, moves the boat forward so the windlass is only lifting the slack rode and anchor but not pulling the boat forward. Normally my wife is at the helm and I am at the bow and simple hand signals work fine.
Agreed!
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