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Richard T

Battery charger

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In preparation for our trip to Liverpool later in the year I am starting to think about how we will manage our 12v power. We will have a 230v hook up and a very limited number of 230v lights on board. We have a 65w solar panel which will hopefully generate some power but I doubt if it will be enough to keep our batteries topped up. We have 3 x110ah batteries. We currently have no charger so I am thinking about fitting one to keep our batteries fully charged as I don't want to have to run the engine for long periods. When I was involved witha share boat it had a CTEK one which worked well so I am currently thinking of buying a M25 https://www.ctek.com/products/on-board/m25

These appear to be good value at around£250 They are IP44 rated for outdoor use. Has anyone experience of using one? or can suggest alternatives which exclude Victron and Mastervolt.

Thanks

Richard

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I have fitted a " Maso " on my motorhome. Very cheap and good build quality. Mine is only five amps but they do bigger ones. In reality though you dont need much bigger to maintain your batteries when on hook up. Its multi stage and performs spot on for 30 quid.

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FWIW When we visited Liverpool I used my two stage Halfords car charger. It worked will. I did turn if off an on again each morning to force it out of float. I would suggest that if you have a multi-stage car charger it will do the job. Otherwise I am sure the Ctec will do.

 

 

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I have a 5 amp Ctek, which was £80. I was thinking it would keep my batteries [ 500ah], usage 65 ah/day charged if trickling away 24/7, [5 x 24 = 100 ah].

This might have worked If the fridge, and also the Webasto did not demand many more ... err  ?"amps"? in fits and starts.

I am currently turning ON my 20 amp non smart charger when the Webasto fires up, turn it OFF when traffic lights go to green.

Is this sensible?

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1 hour ago, Richard T said:

In preparation for our trip to Liverpool later in the year I am starting to think about how we will manage our 12v power. We will have a 230v hook up and a very limited number of 230v lights on board. We have a 65w solar panel which will hopefully generate some power but I doubt if it will be enough to keep our batteries topped up. We have 3 x110ah batteries. We currently have no charger so I am thinking about fitting one to keep our batteries fully charged as I don't want to have to run the engine for long periods. When I was involved witha share boat it had a CTEK one which worked well so I am currently thinking of buying a M25 https://www.ctek.com/products/on-board/m25

These appear to be good value at around£250 They are IP44 rated for outdoor use. Has anyone experience of using one? or can suggest alternatives which exclude Victron and Mastervolt.

Thanks

Richard

When the Charger side of my Mastervolt Inverter Charger went duff, I temporarily rigged my little 5 amp CTek MXS5 I normally keep on a stored car or motorcycle.  I had 4 x 110Ah batteries and it kept up with them without a problem, this with the usual 12v systems feeding off the batteries - WC, Fridge, Water Pumps, LED Lighting, etc.  It got a bit warm when the fridge kicked in mind, but nothing worrying.

 

When I did the permanent solution, separate Victron Charger and Victron Inverter, I fitted a Victron IP22 30 Amp charger, figuring that I never moor up with very flat batteries, so don't need more than that - if I ever do need more, the domestic alternator can take the early load.  I've proven it over a couple of years now and the cooling fan has never even kicked in so it's having a very easy life and a lower output might do you fine.  I bought the Blue Smart as it connects by Bluetooth to a smart phone to show you what's going on.  This feature is brilliant on the MPPT Controler, but don't bother with that feature on the charger, as the lights on the front tell you just as much! If you go that way, you may be able to source a previous model Blue Power IP22 Charger instead and save a few quid.

 

Here's a link to the Victron range at a usually competitive source, but it's worth shopping around.  https://www.cactusnav.com/chargers-c-1117_107_109_1056_1060.html?mID=1007&sort=a

 

Hope that helps! :)

 

Edited by Sea Dog
CTek Rating

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Idiot question - would you need regular access to shore power to make use of this? If so how would you manage this cruising to Liverpool. 

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9 minutes ago, Ianws said:

Idiot question - would you need regular access to shore power to make use of this? If so how would you manage this cruising to Liverpool. 

Whilst cruising to Liverpool my batteries would be charged by the alternator which will be running for at least 7hours a day. I'm just concerned with charging whilst moored in the city and being connected to shore power. I know that on average I need to run my engine for about 3hours per day to keep the batteries charged even with input from my solar panel.

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Just fit a proper 3 stage battery charger. I'd recommend at least 20-30 amp output for the reasons described above. What you don't want is one of those silly 5 amp jobs connected with crocodile clips. They're for charging small motorbike or lawnmower start batteries not a big bank of domestic batteries on a boat.

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Paco 7 stage 20A charger £80, commonly sold for maintaining motorhome batteries, fit, switch on and forget.  I've used one on my electric powered boat for 5 years with great success. 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Connect-Forget-Leisure-Battery-Charger/dp/B00MX0FO9M

https://www.alpha-batteries.co.uk/12v-20a-connect-forget-automatic-leisure-battery-charger/

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That looks fine but get rid of the croc clips and fit proper ring terminals. The other things I'd be looking for with any charger is a battery type selection switch (if it has none then assume it's max output is 14.4v which is fine for sealed LA batteries but not great for open LAs) and also how many 12v output terminals it has. If it only has one then you can only charge one bank. With multiple outputs you can charge your domestics and start battery at the same time.

 

I wonder what those 7 charge stages are? I remember people on this forum including Gibbo laughing about what Sterling called 4 stage charging (the 4th stage being automatically running a full charge cycle if no 12v activity was detected after 7 days), but now we have 7 stage charging....

Edited by blackrose

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5 minutes ago, blackrose said:

That looks fine but get rid of the croc clips and fit proper ring terminals.

 

I wonder what those 7 charge stages are? I remember people on this forum including Gibbo laughing about what Sterling called 4 stage charging (the 4th stage being automatically running a full charge cycle if no 12v activity was detected after 7 days), but now we have 7 stage charging....

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2 hours ago, Murflynn said:

Paco 7 stage 20A charger £80, commonly sold for maintaining motorhome batteries, fit, switch on and forget.  I've used one on my electric powered boat for 5 years with great success. 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Connect-Forget-Leisure-Battery-Charger/dp/B00MX0FO9M

https://www.alpha-batteries.co.uk/12v-20a-connect-forget-automatic-leisure-battery-charger/

Yep more than adequate. My motor home 5 amp one maintains my batteries when we plug in. I had a 10 amp on my wide beam that did the job full time live aboard when on hook up. Ten years ago a supposed special marine unit costing four billion pounds was needed, that is no longer the case. 

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50 minutes ago, blackrose said:

I wonder what those 7 charge stages are? I remember people on this forum including Gibbo laughing about what Sterling called 4 stage charging

Indeed, there are only 3 charging states: bulk, absorption, and float.
 

Desulphation is a maintenance operation, not a charge state. Soft-Start is just that, it’s not a charge state. Battery Test is just that, it’s not a charge state. Etc. 

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When my 40a sterling charger was bost, I bought a £40 12a halfords 2 stage car charger, and just left it on (at the time I was on hookup and not moving).  It took me 6 months to get around to getting the sterling fixed and everything was fine.  If you're hooked up 24/7, you don't need anything fancier.

  • Greenie 1

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If you want a charger for 24/7 operation from shore power, as opposed to using with a generator, then there is no need for a high current charger. The charger just has to be able to meet the overall daily power consumption, any peaks are supplied by the batteries. Therefore I would have thought that 20A was plenty and I have one like this for my caravan which is fine. Only slight issue is a fan running, so you would not want it near the bedroom.

https://www.tayna.co.uk/battery-chargers/numax/12v-20a/

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1 hour ago, blackrose said:

That looks fine but get rid of the croc clips and fit proper ring terminals. The other things I'd be looking for with any charger is a battery type selection switch (if it has none then assume it's max output is 14.4v which is fine for sealed LA batteries but not great for open LAs) and also how many 12v output terminals it has. If it only has one then you can only charge one bank. With multiple outputs you can charge your domestics and start battery at the same time.

 

I wonder what those 7 charge stages are? I remember people on this forum including Gibbo laughing about what Sterling called 4 stage charging (the 4th stage being automatically running a full charge cycle if no 12v activity was detected after 7 days), but now we have 7 stage charging....

I use Anderson connectors throughout, so I can detach the charger at will.  The croc clips are on the end of a short lead also fitted with an Anderson, ready for charging the car battery if needed.   

 

I have 440AH LA leisures, and after a day's run the volts are down to about 12.2, assume 50% discharged.  Most days I would hook up to a mains pillar at about 6pm, and watch the volts go up to about 14.5, then drop to 13.6 float by about 6a.m.    On first sight this looks like it was charging at about 20A for 9 hours with little drop off, which seems over-idealistic; perhaps the batteries are only 40% discharged at the end of a day's run. 

Edited by Murflynn

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41 minutes ago, Murflynn said:

watch the volts go up to about 14.5, then drop to 13.6 float by about 6a.m

Most chargers switch to float too early. The important thing to look for with your setup would be the current down to <8A at 14.5V. If it drops to float while still outputting say 16A then try switching it off and back on. 

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1 hour ago, Murflynn said:

I use Anderson connectors throughout, so I can detach the charger at will.  The croc clips are on the end of a short lead also fitted with an Anderson, ready for charging the car battery if needed.   

 

 

Ok, I don't know about those connectors so I will look them up. Were they designed by Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull?

Edited by blackrose

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2 minutes ago, blackrose said:

 

Ok, I don't know about those connectors so I will look them up. Were they designed by Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull?

standard heavy duty DC plug/sockets.  Brilliant, not cheap if you buy the big red ones, but very versatile.

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Thank you for all your suggestions. I will look at all the options and buy what I consider to be the best for the use that I have in mind for it. On my home morring I do not connect to shore power unless I need to, my solar panel heeps the batteries fully charged even at this time of the year. I will be permanently connecting the charger to the battery bank - I do not trust crocodile clips.

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20 hours ago, WotEver said:

Indeed, there are only 3 charging states: bulk, absorption, and float.
 

Desulphation is a maintenance operation, not a charge state. Soft-Start is just that, it’s not a charge state. Battery Test is just that, it’s not a charge state. Etc. 

 

Absolutely, and there is no evidence whatsoever that a pulsating current will remove sulphation better or quicker than a steady current.

 

Soft start is probably more about protecting cheap electronics than anything else.

 

I wonder what the battery test phase does? Many industrial chargers (DC power plant rectifiers) incorporate a regular ramping down of output to allow the battery to do some work, and whilst it is, to compare the discharge voltage with a map of discharge curves and thus predict (poorly) battery life and capacity.

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