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Author Topic:   Battery Maintainer/Charger
Frank O posted 10-09-2006 10:25 PM ET (US)   Profile for Frank O   Send Email to Frank O  
Saturday night I took my (fairly-new-to-me) 1995 Outrage 21 out for my first nighttime run in it. I can see that what with running various lights plus the livewell pump (for lobster storage), electronics, etc, that recharging the house battery only from the alternator during the half-hour run from marina to reef may be cutting it a bit fine.

I'm therefore thinking about putting the boat's two batteries on battery maintainers or trickle chargers when not in use. I have a couple of "smart" battery maintainers that would be fine with batteries of this chemistry. The boat's two batteries are underneath the console. I'm keeping the boat in the water in a slip.

The only thing I'm trying to figure out now is whether to (a) set up the chargers on the boat with power from the dock, or (b) take the batteries out and bring them home for charging between boat outings. Keeping everything at the dock would be more convenient, but the question is whether it's safe to leave something like this on when absent from the boat. Also, I'm not real sure how to route a power cable down under the console while keeping it locked up. This time of year I get out to the boat to use it once every week or two. If you were in my shoes, which way would you go?

Chuck Tribolet posted 10-10-2006 01:42 AM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
If you have to take the batteries out, you won't.

What you want to do is mount the chargers inside the console,
hardwired to their batteries and to a shorepower plug you mount
in the side of the console. When you dock, you just uncap
the shorepower plug and plug the female end of an extension
cord into it.


Frank O posted 10-10-2006 12:26 PM ET (US)     Profile for Frank O  Send Email to Frank O     
Thanks, Chuck. Sounds fairly straightforward, but I'll have to give some thought as to where I'd place the shore-power socket on the side on the console.

If I hardwire the chargers to the batteries, I assume that the chargers won't draw any power from the batteries when they're not plugged in to shore power? Given that these are supposed to be "smart" units, I'd hope not.

davej14 posted 10-10-2006 02:04 PM ET (US)     Profile for davej14  Send Email to davej14     
You should also give consideration to a sealed AGM type battery. These will not discharge corrosive gasses and you will not need to pull them from time to time to check their fluid level.
Chuck Tribolet posted 10-10-2006 03:44 PM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
The chargers shouldn't draw any power from the battery when not
plugged in. There's typically a diode (check valve for
electrons) in that sort of circuit.


jimh posted 10-11-2006 08:34 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
For about $100 you can purchase a dual bank battery charger designed to be permanently installed and connected to two batteries in your boat.

Here is an example: jsp?_DARGS=/cabelas/en/common/catalog/item-link.jsp_A& _DAV=MainCatcat21276-cat600056_TGP&id=0019015015766a&navCount=6& podId=0019015&parentId=cat600056&masterpathid=&navAction=push& catalogCode=6IS&rid=&parentType=index&indexId=cat600056&hasJS=true

With a dual bank 8-Ampere charger you could maintain or recharge your batteries from shore power.

pglein posted 10-13-2006 03:09 PM ET (US)     Profile for pglein  Send Email to pglein     
Whatever you do, I can tell you as a marina owner, you can't just have a normal extension cord run from a shorepower outlet to your charger. Too much of a fire hazard. The only acceptable way to do it is to have a proper shorepower cord (with black plastic threaded rings over the connectors) go to a sealed shorepower receptacle. What you do inside the console is up to you, but between the boat and the dock, you've got to do it right, or your marina will have a fit.

My suggestion would be to set it up just like a shorepower system on a larger boat, with the receptacle, a power panel with a circuit breaker and hard wire your charger to that. I would go ahead and install a GFI outlet as well because you just never know when it will come in handy and it only costs a few dollars. I find an on-board 120VAC outlet to be very handy when doing maintenance modification projects (drills, saws, shop-vacs, power buffers, etc...).

Frank O posted 10-14-2006 11:23 AM ET (US)     Profile for Frank O  Send Email to Frank O     
Thanks for the suggestions. Sounds like the project is getting a little more extensive, but the right way to go.

From a quick scan of electrical panels on West Marine's website, I'm mostly seeing panels for 12-volt systems, and just a couple of fancy ones up in the $1K price range that include some provision for 120v. I don't suppose anyone has a link handy to a panel that would be appropriate for just this 120v application?

jimh posted 10-14-2006 07:11 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I don't have any permanent 120-VAC wiring on my vessel. When I use a dock's shore power, I just plug in the coffee pot or the battery charger.
pglein posted 10-16-2006 05:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for pglein  Send Email to pglein     
Blue Sea Systems makes what you're looking for. A panel like this would probably be just fine: l2=7989

It's more than you need, but allows for growth if for some reason you wanted to add something.

West Marine sells it for $145: 10001/29965/10001/348/118/9

Which means you could probably get it elsewhere for cheaper.

If you wanted to be super snazzy, you could add a main breaker switch as well, but that would run you another $100+.

You'll also need a shorpower inlet: php?loadItem=303SSEL-B_Marinco%20Shore%20Power

That's about $100 at West, depending on what kind you get.

The cheap solution would be the Marinco Battery Charger inlet for $25: 10001/14773/10001/311/310/9

That eliminates the need for a breaker panel and allows you to use a regular extension cord. Wouldn't cut it at my marina, but probably fine at most.

Chuck Tribolet posted 10-16-2006 09:57 PM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
That Blue Sea Systems AC panel doesn't look like it's designed
for a wet location like the outside of a console. It looks
like it's intended for use in a cabin. And I think if it
was good for a wet location, Blue Sea would brag about it.


rtk posted 10-17-2006 12:13 AM ET (US)     Profile for rtk  Send Email to rtk     
I would check with the marina you keep your boat at to see if they allow you to leave a battery charger plugged in unattended.

Here is a guide on AC systems. If you do need to put a proper system in I would contact Marinco to see what they recommend.

The battery charger inlet would be the easiest way to go if the marina will allow you to keep an extension cord plugged in unattended.


kamie posted 10-18-2006 11:32 PM ET (US)     Profile for kamie  Send Email to kamie     
You can always try Solar Battery chargers. They worked great when I had the boat in the water with bilge pumps on auto all week. It beats running the wire, cutting the console and risking running power from shore onto your boat. Best of all if your actually out on your boat all day, you can use them to keep the battery topped off while you read or fish or whatever.
pglein posted 10-19-2006 03:04 PM ET (US)     Profile for pglein  Send Email to pglein     
Chuck, my assumption would be that the panel would be located inside the console, where it should stay dry.
Frank O posted 10-20-2006 04:14 PM ET (US)     Profile for Frank O  Send Email to Frank O     
Thanks again for all the advice -- that is really helpful. I have to say that the solar panel option seems like a particularly attractive idea. I'll have to take a look tomorrow to about options for routing the cables into the console (preferably without having to drill any new holes).

kamie posted 10-21-2006 07:09 PM ET (US)     Profile for kamie  Send Email to kamie     

It's not the prettiest here is how I did mine,

You can see the wire from the battery box, around the stern seat supports and up over the console. The solar panel is flat on the forward cooler seat where it gets good sun. I could have also put it on top of the t-top but it was never really necessary.

Frank O posted 10-21-2006 08:05 PM ET (US)     Profile for Frank O  Send Email to Frank O     
Thanks, Kamie. I took a look while working on my boat today, and it appears that a solar panel would hang nicely on the front of the console. This is south-facing in my slip, so it should get pretty good sun. As for getting the cables inside the console, I noticed that there are some gaps (ventilation holes?) around the courtesy lights mounted near the bottom of the console that I think I could snake some wires through.

What size of solar panel do you use? I was thinking of the mid-sized Sunsei (SE-400), which West Marine sells for $89.95:

They claim this typically charges 1.5 amp-hour per day. I neglected to look at the batteries on my boat today to see what amp-hour capacity they're shown as having.

norsman posted 10-23-2006 04:46 PM ET (US)     Profile for norsman  Send Email to norsman     
I have a 1987 Whaler that I use for fishing most every week. I have a Minn kota trolling motor for which I installed a 2 prong (12V) receptacle on my console. I found that using my battery maintainer, with a mating plug for this receptacle works great. I keep my boat in my garage year round and when I get home from a trip, I just plug the plug into the receptacle, and the battery maintains. Since I have 2 separate batteries (one for starting and electronics, and one for the trolling motor) I have 2 waterproof receptacles on the console. It works great!


Frank O posted 12-16-2006 05:14 PM ET (US)     Profile for Frank O  Send Email to Frank O     
I just wanted to say thanks again to Kamie for the inventive idea of going with a solar panel rather than shore power to keep my battery topped-up at the marina. I finally got around to installing the panel on the front of my console yesterday -- just in time for the power demands of the bilge pump as we get into the wet season here

Photo: Solar panel rigged to front of console on Boston Whaler.

Peter posted 12-18-2006 09:59 AM ET (US)     Profile for Peter  Send Email to Peter     
Although the blue test LED lights up on an overcast day or even in dim light, keep in mind that the current output of those solar panels is considerably lower on overcast days than it is on bright sunny days. The specifications for output of the Sunsei solar panels are based on 5 hours of sunlight, not overcast skies.

Having said that, I have used two watt panels for each battery on my 27 WD to keep my batteries from self-discharging during the week when the boat is not being used and they seem to work fine but we do get a fair amount of sunshine during the Summer. I'm upgrading my two watt panels to the six watt panels this coming year to provide trickle charging.

Frank O posted 12-18-2006 04:14 PM ET (US)     Profile for Frank O  Send Email to Frank O     
Hi Peter, yes, it looked to me as though the solar panel's output might be on the low side to be able to recharge my house battery over the course of a week if heavily used over a weekend. But since the maker described it as being suitable for a mid-sized boat I thought I'd at least give it a try.

Rich M posted 12-20-2006 11:22 PM ET (US)     Profile for Rich M  Send Email to Rich M     
I use a large (truck/RV) ICP solar panel and it claims to work in overcast conditions as well as under snowcover. It has always kept my batteries topped off and we have weeks of overcast at a time. A friend uses this same panel on his 3 electric boat lifts and his batteries have never discharged either.

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