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Thread: Interested in a boat for 2018 TransPac

  1. #411
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Redwood City
    Posts
    627

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    I now have two fully charged batteries. I've taken the automatic relay out of the system. I'm attaching a diagram. If I read this properly any time there'd be a charge on the system then the relay would connect both batteries, in effect bypassing both switches. I'm not sure that's really helpful.

    Even if they had gone bad I can't see how the two switches would have caused the batteries to fail. That leaves the controller and the automatic relay. The latter is out of the picture now.

    While working on the batteries I ended pulling on one of the strops that keep them latched down and it came right off. I re-secured those strops.

    I re-bedded the stern hatch latch screws to prevent some of the leaking there.

    Tomorrow I'll re-install the batteries and will do a few tests:

    1. Controller: voltage before and after controller; voltage after solar panel fuse;
    2. Switches: make sure they do their jobs;
    2.1. Charge in switch: connect one battery only, switch to that battery and controller should show charging; switch to the other battery (absent) to see lack of charging; switch to 1+2 to see charging. No load on this.
    2.2. 12 V panel out switch: same testing but test with load (e.g. cabin light)
    3. Measure voltage in each possible configuration.

    I wonder if it's possible for a solar panel to go bad. Or maybe there's something wrong in the fuse panel/load, causing constant discharge and the tiny solar panel can't keep up, causing chronic low charge? I'm not sure because I regularly checked the voltage and it looked good.

    Name:  Battery diagram.jpg
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    P___/)___J
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  2. #412
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Location
    Humboldt Bay
    Posts
    127

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    Your charge controllers should be connected directly to your batteries.

  3. #413
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Berkeley Marina
    Posts
    129

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    Just to confirm: both switches are the Off-1-Both-2 type?

  4. #414
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Redwood City
    Posts
    627

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lanikai View Post
    Just to confirm: both switches are the Off-1-Both-2 type?
    They have 4 positions: off, 1 on, 2 on, 1+2.
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  5. #415
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Redwood City
    Posts
    627

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steevee View Post
    Your charge controllers should be connected directly to your batteries.
    There's one controller and, if you consider the switches as passive, it is connected directly to the batteries, unless I'm missing something, which is very common.
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  6. #416
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Arnold, CA
    Posts
    405

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    That setup allows you to choose which battery to charge and which one to draw from, or both at any time.

    The manufacturer of my panels recommended not disconnecting them under load / while they are putting out power.
    I suppose to prevent any voltage spike from causing damage.
    With that thought in mind, I would make sure the switch between the controller and batteries maintains contact with both when switching between batteries.
    I would also set that switch to both when leaving the boat to top up both batteries. Keeping in mind the weaker of the two will affect the other.

    To check for a parasitic draw on the system, use a digital multimeter with an amperage reading, connected in series between the switch and accessory panel. With everything turned off there should be zero amps reading.
    As you turn things on, like a masthead tricolor, you can see how many amps it draws and you can use that information for your electrical budget.

    The panel should have a diode which prevents it from discharging when there is not enough sunlight. The charge controller should mitigate this and could be checked with an ammeter as well.

    Also check all the connections for ANY sign of corrosion. Corrosion causes resistance and a loss of voltage, and heat as loads increase.

  7. #417
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Redwood City
    Posts
    627

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    Thanks for the suggestions.

    Batteries are back in the boat. I didn't do much measuring because ... I shorted my voltmeter ....duh!

    The setup in Double Espresso is actually two setup:

    1. One for the trickle charger aka the tiny solar panel on the stern hatch, which is connected directly to the 12 V fuse panel (with a switch);
    2. One for the 100W solar panel, which feeds into the 1/2/1+2 switch (which goes to the batteries next).

    I did find out a few things, mainly that there is an order to connect things to the controller:

    1. Load first (the controller can power up stuff directly);
    2. Batteries second (that will turn the controller on);
    3. Solar panel(s) last.

    That is very impractical (especially with the trickle charger) and the current system doesn't really allow for that sequence. Say I set up the system correctly when I install the panels and start with charging battery 1. Battery 1 gets to full charge. I decide to charge battery 2. Well, I have to disconnect the solar panels, turn off the controller, switch battery (preferably through the 1+2 setting to prevent turning everything off (auto-pilot)). Turn controller back on and then re-connect the solar panel.

    How did I find this out? I disconnected the batteries from the controller and it was still showing a full battery :-) The solar panel was powering it. SoI called Morningstar tech support ...

    In fact the light of the switch for the trickle charger on the panel was always on, whether the switch was in the on or off position. Basically the controller lets a voltage go through (even without batteries connected to it), which is powering the panel light.

    So ... I'll need a switch on the + of the tiny stern hatch solar panel. And I think I can simply disconnect the large solar panel at the panel itself, although that is unlikely to be very practical. I can also disconnect it inside from inside the lazarette.

    There was also an inverter (Cobra CPI 880) in the system, which I disconnected.

    Now ... to fix the voltmeter ... and maybe buy a proper ammeter or put one in the system to measure draw.
    P___/)___J
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  8. #418
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Redwood City
    Posts
    627

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    An interesting jury rig on the main: https://www.yachtsinternational.com/lifestyle/ondine
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  9. #419
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Redwood City
    Posts
    627

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    I had a look at the solar panel controller today. It was showing as charging and the state of charge of the batteries as >50% but not 100%. I unplugged everything and used my NOCO G7200 to fully charge them and noticed that ... they were fully charged according to the G7200. I've left the 5W solar panel off. I'm going to bring the 100W solar panel and see how that behaves. There is something going on there and the only smart device that remains is the controller. Soon I'll have my voltmeter fuse replaced and will be able to check voltage readings here and there.
    P___/)___J
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  10. #420
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Posts
    73

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    Hi all,
    As some of you may recall, I was actively putting together a 36 foot trimaran, The Prodigal Son, for the 2016 SHTP. I had to drop out when 6 months before the race my wife, my wife was diagnosed with cancer. As a result of that ongoing battle, I have not had time to spend one minute on the water, and have decided to sell that boat. I will be posting an ad within three weeks, in the classified section of this website. The boat has demountable Amas, and comes with its own trailer, and can be delivered anywhere. Its a highly modified hot rod, that can actually be cruised, and has a $15,000 NKE autopilot, still in the box. It would not be realistic timewise to get it ready for the 2018 SHTP race, but there is plenty of time to get it ready for the 2020 race. I should have time within the next three weeks to post the ad.
    Jim Bates

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