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Just jump your alternator to the starter post already.

Frank Langer

1984 Ericson 30+, Nanaimo, BC
Ken, I was just going to snip and butt splice the trailer plugs away and not admit it online.
The only advantage to ring terminals and buss bar is that it provides a place to check voltage with a multi meter to help problem solve.
Frank
 

Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
Wait Ken ! I just saw one hoof twitch just a little....
:)
Yes. And, as one of my favorite paraphrases of someone else on this site: All these projects are great when you realize that setting fire to $20 bills isn't a fast enough way to get rid of them.....
The quote is a sig line from Rob Thomas and is... thought provoking...
"I purchased a boat because setting fire to $100 bills was not an efficient enough way to dispose of them...."
:(
 

1911tex

Sustaining Member
Ken, I was just going to snip and butt splice the trailer plugs away and not admit it online.
I did it and admit it. Cannot see why it is a problem...cheap, quick, more secure, better connection..soldered with heat shrink tubing. Why is that not the best way? Only one trailer connection done...will do the other after virus.
 

Tin Kicker

Sustaining Member
Moderator
Ken, I was just going to snip and butt splice the trailer plugs away and not admit it online.

Just waterproof the butt splices and leave plenty of extra wire looped for future replacement of the terminals on the end. It may sound excessive but leave enough slack for 3-5 replacements.

btw - Automotive butt splices are not waterproof but can easily be made so. While I do use the proper heat shrink marine butt splices, every now & then one is not available, so I always have some liquid tape around. Pack it into the end of an automotive butt splice and it is a waterproof splice, plus the rubber provides a little strain relief so the copper strands don't always bend at the exact same point.
 

Kenneth K

Sustaining Member
Blogs Author
May as well cop to both thread drift and beating the horse, but I’ve been intrigued by some earlier comments from debonAir and Tin Kicker, regarding battery charging/combining options.

@ debonAir: I followed your reasoning for wiring the alternator to the starter post, keeping the Batt switch in “1,” and adding an ACR to Bank 1 to charge Bank 2. Sounds pretty reasonable. I’m also intrigued by the Alternator Protector Device (APD)—seems like it would handle many common faults (loose connections, a bad battery selector switch, or selecting OFF on the batt switch while charging).

Where did you put the APD? It says to keep it as close as possible to the Alternator. Do you know if there is any passive electrical draw from the APD?​

@ Tin Kicker: I get Mainesail’s recommendation for wiring the alternator output directly to the House Bank (he describes his reasons in great detail) rather than to the starter post. It seems this would alleviate the potential Battery Selector Switch problems and, thus, most of the need for an APD. However, it does require a longer wire run (probably about 3 ft in the E323) and, likely, the need for fusing in the line. I’m guessing 4GA wire would be sufficient here for a 50-70A alternator.

@ Anyone: Poke some holes in this idea, if you would: If I play with Mainsail’s recommendation and end up with a 3 ft charging wire to my House Bank, it seems this this circuit should be fused within 7” or so of the alternator output (although I don’t recall MaineSail specifying this). Any easy way to do this would be run the alternator output wire to an ANL fuse block mounted to the engine stringer below the alternator. The other end of the ANL fuse block would power the 3-ft charging cable to the House Bank. This hot-wires the House Bank to the alternator (essentially eliminating the mishaps from the Batt Selector Switch and, thus, the need for an Alternator Protection Device). And, it still allows charging of the Start Bank by selecting “ALL” on the Battery Switch. (I.E. this is like MaineSail’s recommendation but simply using the Batt Selector Switch as a manual Battery Combiner, rather than an ACR).

In debonAir’s worst case scenario, where the House Bank fails (or is otherwise removed from play) all I’d have to do is move the alternator output wire from the ANL fuse block back to the starter post and select the Start Bank on the Battery Selector Switch to overcome the problem of the failed House Bank. Not an instant fix, but not difficult or time consuming either.

Plus, I wouldn’t have to buy or install an ACR or an APD. And, being on a mooring buoy without AC or solar, I like to minimize passive draws on the battery. Even at .015A the ACR is passively drawing 11A▪H per month–that’s equivalent to 4 continuous hours of a running bilge pump.

Any obvious drawbacks I'm missing here?
 
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bigd14

Sustaining Member
Blogs Author
Hey Ken- I wonder if you could add an ACR along with an isolation switch to prevent the ACR from drawing current from the house bank? I guess you would have to add a charging bus to make this work but maybe that would solve your fusing issue. I have an ACR and I like being able to set the battery switch to 1 (house bank) and not have to worry about whether the backup battery is being charged or not. I have the alternator run about 5 feet to a charging bus which is fused. I didn't consider a fuse close to the alternator but that may be a smart idea. I do have an alternator disconnect switch which is useful when wrenching around the back of the alternator. And, because I use the charging bus, I installed an isolation switch next to the house bank that will bypass it and send the charging current only to the ACR and backup battery if the house bank goes bad (I could also pull the cables off, but the switch is easier and safer). I'm sure there are some issues with this installation, but its been working fine so far.

Electrical.jpg
 
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Tin Kicker

Sustaining Member
Moderator
@ debonAir: I followed your reasoning for wiring the alternator to the starter post, keeping the Batt switch in “1,” and adding an ACR to Bank 1 to charge Bank 2. Sounds pretty reasonable. I’m also intrigued by the Alternator Protector Device (APD)—seems like it would handle many common faults (loose connections, a bad battery selector switch, or selecting OFF on the batt switch while charging).

Where did you put the APD? It says to keep it as close as possible to the Alternator. Do you know if there is any passive electrical draw from the APD?​

@ Tin Kicker: I get Mainesail’s recommendation for wiring the alternator output directly to the House Bank (he describes his reasons in great detail) rather than to the starter post. It seems this would alleviate the potential Battery Selector Switch problems and, thus, most of the need for an APD. However, it does require a longer wire run (probably about 3 ft in the E323) and, likely, the need for fusing in the line. I’m guessing 4GA wire would be sufficient here for a 50-70A alternator.

@ Anyone: Poke some holes in this idea, if you would: If I play with Mainsail’s recommendation and end up with a 3 ft charging wire to my House Bank, it seems this this circuit should be fused within 7” or so of the alternator output (although I don’t recall MaineSail specifying this). Any easy way to do this would be run the alternator output wire to an ANL fuse block mounted to the engine stringer below the alternator. The other end of the ANL fuse block would power the 3-ft charging cable to the House Bank. This hot-wires the House Bank to the alternator (essentially eliminating the mishaps from the Batt Selector Switch and, thus, the need for an Alternator Protection Device). And, it still allows charging of the Start Bank by selecting “ALL” on the Battery Switch. (I.E. this is like MaineSail’s recommendation but simply using the Batt Selector Switch as a manual Battery Combiner, rather than an ACR).

In debonAir’s worst case scenario, where the House Bank fails (or is otherwise removed from play) all I’d have to do is move the alternator output wire from the ANL fuse block back to the starter post and select the Start Bank on the Battery Selector Switch to overcome the problem of the failed House Bank. Not an instant fix, but not difficult or time consuming either.

Plus, I wouldn’t have to buy or install an ACR or an APD. And, being on a mooring buoy without AC or solar, I like to minimize passive draws on the battery. Even at .015A the ACR is passively drawing 11A▪H per month–that’s equivalent to 4 continuous hours of a running bilge pump.

Any obvious drawbacks I'm missing here?

As you note, the boat and system are small and simple enough that I do not intend to install an ACR, APD, alternator separator switch, or a number of other cool devices that are on Maine Sail's site.

I am doing something very similar to Debonaire in having the BAT 1 switch on all the time, primarily to run the two ventilator fans (70mm computer fans in the ducts) to prevent mold, but also for the bilge pump. I do have a 50A solar panel on the roof which fit perfectly in front of the companionway slider. A single charged battery can run the little fans for almost two weeks and I don't think I would be comfortable if on a mooring without at least that much solar at this point to run them and the bilge pump, plus it's relatively inexpensive.

Yes, I am running the alternator directly to house BAT 1 and there's a 120A fuse on a sub-panel. The fuse is that big because a hard short on a small alternator wired to the battery can easily hit 120A if just from the battery end and I see going to a bigger alternator when the current crusty one dies. The existing alternator output wire is 10 AWG and the potential replacement alternator is why it will be 1 AWG when I get to it. Your 4 AWG output wire will work for the small alternator but remember that the battery is at the other end. I'd suggest heavier AWG (or a relatively small fuse) and the only down side to it other than a few cents and couple of ounces. Wires too thin can make a lot of smoke or start fires. https://www.bluesea.com/resources/1437

The electrical sub-panel is at the top forward end of the opening when the quarter berth access panel is removed. Two latches and it's in your face. Because gravity always wins, the ground bus bar is on the engine stringer, fuel lines run along the inside of the quarter berth, and power is at that front corner above it all. This is located to have the shortest runs to the alternator/battery/glow plugs, to maximize separation of power/fuel/ground components, is a nice disconnect point for everything going aft to the cockpit, allows the shortest wire runs for the engine and new conduit to the nav station, and it is conveniently accessible while usually hidden.

Note that I have NO high amperage wiring to the cockpit. It's all a work in progress so I'm attaching a diagram for where this is migrating to:

RAGTIME SCHEMATIC 12VDC MODS.jpg
Notes:
1. Anything with a cross-hatch background is on the sub-panel, shown along the bottom.
2. There are only so many things you can ground to the engine so I made a ground bus bar of copper.
3. The conduit runs forward of the fuel tank where the battery cables come into the engine compartment and goes to the nav station.
4. The engine panel is eventually moving out of the swamp where snow covers it to the top of the pedestal. The following is craziness!

5. The separate key and kill switch prevent theft by simply jumping the key switch in the lazarett and a passenger can easily remember how to kill the motor because hitting the switch marked KILL cuts the fuel supply.
6. Yes, there is a spare fuel pump because diesels like their fuel. The 35 year old Facet still works but is a potential single point failure so it became the backup/coarse filter/prime pump.
7. The "Glow solenoid or relay" became a 30A relay on the sub panel.
8. The little gray numbers are AWG.
9. The colors of various items mean stuff to me.
10. I still have a LOT to do. :rolleyes:
 
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1911tex

Sustaining Member
Tin Kicker says: "I still have a LOT to do."
Me too. Just wish I had a big full wallet. But having too much fun! Thank you!! Best forum in this world for the best sailboat.......
 

debonAir

Member III
@Kenneth K - I used a Xantrex Heart Echo charger - Its not an ACR, but serves a similar purpose. It is only active when batt -1 voltage is > 13V (i.e. only when it is being charged) so it doesn't draw any current when just sitting, except the slow blink of a green LED.

The Alternator is a Sterling Power device I got from Maine Sail's site (Compass Marine). I don't know if it has any static power draw but if it does it is below the detection capability of my battery monitor (0,01A). It is a small square and fit right under the alternator against the engine compartment wood.

My dodger-top solar panel keeps everything at 100% all the time so I don't worry about small draws at all, which is one of the great benefits of the panel and it was one of the best things I've done for the boat. If I lose all my battery capacity and the engine dies I will still charge back up over a day and be able to use the radio, etc. If I forget to turn off some cabin lights (which are now LED) and the cabin light switch, the panel will supply enough to keep up so when I come back a week later the batteries are still fully charged. That isn't as important though as the fact that my battery won't deep-deep discharge which isn't good for them, even the AGM style.

Interesting note: when playing with the battery monitor, I can tell the current draw of each device on the boat. I now know that the little panel indicator light on the switch panel takes more power than all the LED cabin lights together... LEDs are a huge power saver and not expensive anymore. I am going to switch my nav lights over to LED now that I'm thinking of it.
 

bigd14

Sustaining Member
Blogs Author
Tin Kicker, I really like your electrical diagram! Also your backup fuel pump is really a great idea. Nice work.
 

Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Moderator
Blogs Author
Regarding the need for a kill switch, Boat US says 75 percent of boat theft is 26' and under. Vast majority are on trailers. Theft (of the boat) is the 16th most popular claim overall at Boat US. Of all boat theft claims, sailboats represent 3 percent.
 

Tin Kicker

Sustaining Member
Moderator
Regarding the need for a kill switch, Boat US says 75 percent of boat theft is 26' and under. Vast majority are on trailers. Theft (of the boat) is the 16th most popular claim overall at Boat US. Of all boat theft claims, sailboats represent 3 percent.

Of course you are right. In my thoughts there was more to my desire to have the key in the cabin such as:
The exposed hole gets snow in it (we're not in Marina Del Rey ;)), plus water or any other grime at the cockpit floor.
I have plans to do an instrument pod on the pedestal and the new wiring will be long enough (looped) but it'll be a while before that project.
The key at the floor is just too vulnerable to bare toes. That means a lot to my Sweetie but I like to go bare foot too.
Even at the pedestal, I've been on enough boats where the key float got knocked around to shut the engine. Granted that this isn't a work boat but it happens.
Dropping the key or misplacing it inside the cabin is a LOT less worrying than losing it in the cockpit.
 

Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Moderator
Blogs Author
The Enlightened Yachtsman is above, far above, any need for a mundane "key," because he starts the engine by push-pull force of will. (And because I've managed to lose or misplace every key I've ever had.)

IMG_5760.JPG
 

Kenneth K

Sustaining Member
Blogs Author
Hey guys, thanks for posting the schematics and the information. Seems like there are a lot of varied and good ideas for managing battery banks.

It takes me a while to work through the ins-and-outs of someone else's schematic so I've only gotten as far as Doug's so far. More questions & comments will likely follow as I am slowly able to wrap my brain around some other ideas. Again, thanks.

@ Doug: I like your schematic--showing the actual components you used is very helpful. I also like the charging bus--I already know I need to replace my existing battery charger (which ran 2 sets of wires all the way to the nav panel), and I'd like to add solar someday. A charging bus seems like the most efficient way to handle changes and add-on power sources.

Here are my big questions for you:

(1) I get that with your "disconnect" and "isolation" switches "closed", the alternator is basically hot-wired to Bank 1, and Bank 2 is charged by the ACR. But, if the Bank 1 "isolation" switch is "open", and the ACR needs 30-90 seconds sensing before it closes its relay to charge Bank 2, don't you fry your regulator diodes during the 30-90 sec delay (analogous to turning a basic battery switch to OFF with the alternator running)? And,

(2) MaineSail has a whole post dedicated to an Alternator Service Disconnect Switch for a Balmar external regulator. He mentions that the disconnect switch prevents "welding a wrench to the manifold." I'm just running the original Motorola 50A alternator. If my alternator output is "hot-wired" to the house bank (rather than the starter post) then the alternator output post is always "hot" (unlike the starter post, which only became hot once the Battery Switch was set to 1/2/or ALL). Other than touching a wrench directly to the the hot-wired alternator post is there some other shock/shorting hazard crated by hot-wiring an internally-regulated alternator to a battery bank?

Also, - where did you physically locate the charging bus on your boat?
- that looks like one of the Sterling battery chargers from MaineSail's site. Would you recommend it? I need a new charger.​
- I re-read MaineSail's ACR article, and he never mentions fusing the alternator side of the charging circuit--only the battery side. Not sure why...​

Thanks.
 
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bigd14

Sustaining Member
Blogs Author
Hey Ken, excellent point about turning off the house bank and the delay in the ACR kicking in. I had not thought of that. I knew there were issues, just not what they were! I suppose to disconnect the house bank and keep the alternator charging battery 2 I could add a 1-2 switch with a jumper which in position 2 would totally bypass both the house bank and the ACR and send the charging bus output including alternator to Battery 2. This would take the place of the existing On/Off house bank disconnect switch. The other is to purchase an APD, but if I have to take the house bank out of service for a long period of time this might not be optimal.

As for your second question about the alternator disconnect, I am not aware of any other issues. At any rate I have an external regulator which came with the boat but I have not messed around with it much. The alternator disconnect switch may well be redundant to the house bank disconnect switch as it currently exists (but maybe not if I switch to the 1/2 ACR/house bank bypass switch).

The charging bus is on a panel I installed under the quarterberth. The whole wiring area surrounding the quarterberth is an absolute nightmare of tight awkward spaces with wiring coming in from all different directions. The wiring when I got the boat was an utter disaster with multiple large and small wires running unsupported through, around and under the battery compartment, no battery fusing, and the DC panel had been moved from its original quarterberth location and poorly installed by the nav table. All the wires from lights and pumps and etc. terminated in this general area and I couldn't move the battery switch and the batteries so it turned into a godawful mess trying to connect all these bits up. I'm almost embarrased to post a photo of the charging bus/ACR panel its so messy, but here you go. At least the battery compartment and the DC panel reinstalled in its original location turned out OK.

And finally, that is a Sterling 30A battery charger from Maine Sail. It works great!

73C4652E-BB9C-402A-8D5D-3F246CBEECE3_1_201_a.jpegCharging Bus Panel to the Right of Battery Compartment

65FEA99C-0B0C-40C7-9F13-A51486958E0A.jpegBattery Switch, Bilge Pump Switch and AC Panel On Front Face of Quarterberth

6B57FE1D-2FE0-40AD-AEA4-DF6689F50595.jpegMessy Charging Bus Panel

0FD9919F-433C-4F34-AB1A-43400D8E9988_1_201_a.jpegCleaned up Battery Compartment

7DB98277-7040-4FDD-843C-7508860B763D.jpegCleaned up DC Panel Reinstalled in Original Location

2E66DC5F-3F24-4925-8777-D30C4345ACCD.jpegSterling Battery Charger Location
 

Kenneth K

Sustaining Member
Blogs Author
Doug,

Thanks for the pictures and the explanation. Yeah, how to handle charging the start battery with an ACR and a failed house bank seems to be an awkward issue. It's making me lean toward just keeping "manual combining" through the Off-1-2-All switch, and maybe installing one of those $65 alternator protection devices in case the contacts on the Batt switch go bad.

I still like your charging bus idea. I think yours came out great. I'm not sure where I could put one on my boat though. It's gonna take some more head scratching. I'm guessing that with a charging bus, you just run one pair of wires from the Charger to the Charging bus and then let your combiner system figure out where to send the power. That would beat running separate cables out to each battery bank. And, ditto for adding a solar controller.

Hey, what would it cost to have you make the back of my DC panel look like yours? That's sweet! To be honest, I've never even looked behind my DC panel yet--even once. Some things you'd rather not know until you have to.....
 
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Tin Kicker

Sustaining Member
Moderator
fwiw - Just tripped across the following illustration on the Blue Seas website, which shows circuit protection between the alternator and battery. This probably came about well after our boats were built. In my re-wiring I am implementing this with a C/B at the battery end because the wire is too short to fuse both ends. Just sharing. . .

 

Soupy sails

Member I
The alternator output and glow plug mods are very worthwhile changes. Do pay heed to Mainesails' comment:

"Please note that I generally advise running the alternator output directly to the house bank, not to the starter as shown here. You can then install an automatic combining relay (ACR) or an Echo Charger between the banks to charge both simultaneously. Doing this will remove the potential for fried diodes via the flipping of the battery switch through the OFF position."

In the meantime or if not going to install the ACR, try to not rotate the battery switch while the engine is running. Each time you do hits those diodes with the alternator output and even though they were rated for it when new, they just aren't that new anymore.

I'd encourage doing the glow plug mod as well, because it is also running a high current 10 AWG circuit through those 35 year old (in my case) corroded trailer connectors. When replacing the trailer connectors with terminal strips, the one near the starter is easy to find and replace, but don't forget that there is a second trailer connector hiding beneath the cockpit control panel.

fwiw - I made up some combined schematics a while ago (example below) and have been finding that the diagrams they were based in differ from how the boat was wired. Most of what I'm seeing does appear to be the 1985 factory wiring so I can't blame previous owners for most of these and the message is to check yours before making electrical changes. When I finish the current fuel system replacement and can get in there with the schematics illustrationon the iPad I will update the electrical schematics and post them.

Hey Tin, is there a version of this schematic someplace in the site that I can enlarge and print it? Dan
 
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