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Kismet

dead batteries

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Hello!

 

I am a complete novice, so sorry if I'm asking the wrong thing / this question has been asked before..

I am in a marina and constantly connected to the marina's shoreline electric. Yesterday the mains went out (forgot to top up!) Obviously all my 230v plugs stopped working but so did the essentials , lights, water pump etc. When I have left the marina these essentials worked when not plugged in as they run off my leisure batteries so I assumed they should work when I ran out of electric also. Does this suggest that the batteries are dead? have I been doing something wrong am I meant to not have the batteries connected at all times? 

 

Thanks in advance

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Do you have a mains battery charger or combination inverter-charger set to charge your batteries? I suspect you do because the 12V stuff worked imidiately before the mains shutdown. Now, how are things configured/set? If the set up can charge the batteries from the inverter when no mains power is present then the batteries will be discharged PDQ so in that case the sooner you recharge the more chnace the batteries will recover enough for use.

 

It that is not the case then, yes the batteries probably are now dead and you had been running the 12v stuff of the charger. If the batteries are open cells you may be able to check them with a hydrometer (take great care of the acid) but you its unlikely f you have not kept them topped up. there are other signs of failed batteries but on balance  if the charger form inverter thing is not relevant I would probably just it new batteries.

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Don't worry about asking specific questions, Tony Brooks is a much respected membervof the forum, and he will know how to help you. He also has a website , see his profile, which has lots of training and other info.

I use the search facility on here too, see top right of website.

But it's not always going to answer every very specific question.

Main thing is, are you warm and dry, and pleased with your boat?

If you need to change anything (and everyone does), ask for advice, anytime, day or night.

You will find your thread drifts off course once your initial query has been answered, that's just the nature of the forum.

 

Edited by LadyG
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As per Tony's post, we will need to know a little bit more about your setup, what equipment you have, and or how it is configured.

 

Your are right that a lot of the systems on the boat are likely 12v DC and will run of the leisure batteries when the mains drops out.

You can also have an 'inverter' which turns the 12v DC from the batteries into 240v AC so the mains plug sockets can run from the batteries for a while.

 

The 12v 'leisure' batteries will almost certainly be charged by the engine when it is running, and you likely have a separate 'engine' or 'start' battery for the engine.

You can then also have a mains powered battery charger which can charge the batteries from the mains while you are plugged in, and or run the 12v equipment.

These days often people have a combined 'inverter charger' which does both tasks and can switch automatically. 

If separate it is potentially possible to find the battery charger will run off the inverter, trying to use the batteries power to charge them, which as said obviously works really badly! 

 

At which point I would suggest there are several options for whats happened.

 - The battery isolator is off, the 12v items where running directly from the mains till was disconnected but couldn't fall back to the batteries as they were disconnected.

 - You batteries have died while you have been connected to the mains, for whatever reason, but the mains has proppeded this up until now.

 - Something else!

 

Presumably the 12v things which worked when disconnected from the mains worked till the shoreline power dropped out?

Do you know if they suddenly stopped working, or if it too a few minutes/hours while you were away?

When was the last time the 12v systems worked without being plugged in? 

Can you take photos of the control panels and or any likely looking boxes of kit? 

Or get someone local to look over it for you?

 

 

Daniel

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Re @DHutch's post

 

For clarity combines inverter chargers can discharge batteries by trying to use batery poower to charge them if not correctlys et up.

 

Many members here are willing to help other boaters so as I don't know where Freelance is in the UK a better known GENERAL - not specific - location may get a volunteer or recommendations for a a proffesional.

Edited by Tony Brooks

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4 minutes ago, Tony Brooks said:

Re @DHutch's post

 

For clarity combines inverter chargers can discharge batteries by trying to use batery poower to charge them if not correctlys et up.

 

Many members here are willing to help other boaters so as I don't know where Freelance is in the UK a better known GENERAL - not specific - location may get a volunteer or recommendations for a a proffesional.

whoops I didn't realise it was set to that-  have now changed! 

 

 

I don't have an inverter as when not plugged in the 240V plugs don't work - which never was a problem for me as I stay put in the marina and only go out for the occasional weekend. 

The 'inverter charger' is this different to an inverter?

 

Think I was more aware of my battery setup when first buying the boat and had forgotten it all as I haven't been cruising and hadn't thought about it! So will try and learn a bit more about the setup...

 

They are open cells, and I have two batteries. will have a closer inspection of them when back, at work right now and can also take some pictures. 

12v things were working when the mains was on. Last time I was off the mains electricity was August and the 12v lights definitely worked then. The lights went out and at the time the only electric I was using were the 12v lights so hard to tell if the 240 went out at the same time as the 12v. However I was using 240 plugs earlier in the evening, so if the 12v stayed on it would have been probably minutes rather than hours.  

As for the battery isolator being off, is this something I would have to physically turn off or can it turn it self off? 

 

thanks all for the help, making me realise I need to take more care of my battery set up!

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13 minutes ago, Kismet said:

whoops I didn't realise it was set to that-  have now changed! 

 

 

I don't have an inverter as when not plugged in the 240V plugs don't work - which never was a problem for me as I stay put in the marina and only go out for the occasional weekend. 

The 'inverter charger' is this different to an inverter?

 

Think I was more aware of my battery setup when first buying the boat and had forgotten it all as I haven't been cruising and hadn't thought about it! So will try and learn a bit more about the setup...

 

They are open cells, and I have two batteries. will have a closer inspection of them when back, at work right now and can also take some pictures. 

12v things were working when the mains was on. Last time I was off the mains electricity was August and the 12v lights definitely worked then. The lights went out and at the time the only electric I was using were the 12v lights so hard to tell if the 240 went out at the same time as the 12v. However I was using 240 plugs earlier in the evening, so if the 12v stayed on it would have been probably minutes rather than hours.  

As for the battery isolator being off, is this something I would have to physically turn off or can it turn it self off? 

 

thanks all for the help, making me realise I need to take more care of my battery set up!

Does your engine start? If so start it and see if the 12v comes alive, lights work ect.

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15 minutes ago, Kismet said:

whoops I didn't realise it was set to that-  have now changed! 

 

 

I don't have an inverter as when not plugged in the 240V plugs don't work - which never was a problem for me as I stay put in the marina and only go out for the occasional weekend. 

The 'inverter charger' is this different to an inverter?

 

Think I was more aware of my battery setup when first buying the boat and had forgotten it all as I haven't been cruising and hadn't thought about it! So will try and learn a bit more about the setup...

 

They are open cells, and I have two batteries. will have a closer inspection of them when back, at work right now and can also take some pictures. 

12v things were working when the mains was on. Last time I was off the mains electricity was August and the 12v lights definitely worked then. The lights went out and at the time the only electric I was using were the 12v lights so hard to tell if the 240 went out at the same time as the 12v. However I was using 240 plugs earlier in the evening, so if the 12v stayed on it would have been probably minutes rather than hours.  

As for the battery isolator being off, is this something I would have to physically turn off or can it turn it self off? 

 

thanks all for the help, making me realise I need to take more care of my battery set up!

1. What was set like what? What have you now changed? We don't know enough about your system or how it is set up.

 

2. Yes, an inverter just converts battery power (12VBC) to mains power (240V AC). An inverter charger or combi-unit combines both an inverter and charger into one case.

 

 

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1 minute ago, Tony Brooks said:

1. What was set like what? What have you now changed? We don't know enough about your system or how it is set up.

 

2. Yes, an inverter just converts battery power (12VBC) to mains power (240V AC). An inverter charger or combi-unit combines both an inverter and charger into one case.

 

 

sorry the 'changed that' was related to the location you had mentioned for some reasons was 'freelance'

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Just now, Kismet said:

sorry the 'changed that' was related to the location you had mentioned for some reasons was 'freelance'

Thanks. Normally I would offer to drive over and take a look subject to parking but regrettably because  of my age and lockdown I can't make that offer and by the time I can it will be months too late to solve your problem.  Sorry.

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1 minute ago, Tony Brooks said:

Thanks. Normally I would offer to drive over and take a look subject to parking but regrettably because  of my age and lockdown I can't make that offer and by the time I can it will be months too late to solve your problem.  Sorry.

No Problem, thanks for offering anyway and totally understandable lock down is making things trickier to sort! If my batteries are dead , and I top up my electricity - until I get round to replacing the batteries, is there any problems with running off just the mains? I assume the mains still travels through these batteries (correct me if I'm wrong) but doing this will it cause any future problems with the electrics on my boat?  

14 minutes ago, bizzard said:

Does your engine start? If so start it and see if the 12v comes alive, lights work ect.

good idea- will try this when I am back thank you for the suggestion. 

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6 minutes ago, Kismet said:

No Problem, thanks for offering anyway and totally understandable lock down is making things trickier to sort! If my batteries are dead , and I top up my electricity - until I get round to replacing the batteries, is there any problems with running off just the mains? I assume the mains still travels through these batteries (correct me if I'm wrong) but doing this will it cause any future problems with the electrics on my boat?  

good idea- will try this when I am back thank you for the suggestion. 

If your cabin batteries are flat the 12v lights ect will be powered by your alternator, but at least it checks that circuit and ensures your cabin battery isolationn switch is ok

Edited by bizzard

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1 minute ago, Kismet said:

No Problem, thanks for offering anyway and totally understandable lock down is making things trickier to sort! If my batteries are dead , and I top up my electricity - until I get round to replacing the batteries, is there any problems with running off just the mains? I assume the mains still travels through these batteries (correct me if I'm wrong) but doing this will it cause any future problems with the electrics on my boat?  

good idea- will try this when I am back thank you for the suggestion. 

 the mains goes to the battery charger and does its stuff. It stops there. The charger converts the mains to 12V or so DC and sends that to the battery terminals. If nothing 12V is turned on the charger current goes through the batteries to charge them or if they are faulty to try to charge them. If aanything12V is turned on the charger current will flow to that device first and any electricity left over from powering it will try to charge the batteries.

 

The only problems with running the 12V off the charger with dead batteries are:

 

1. If the power required by the 12V circuits exceeds the charger maximum out[put the charger might blow a fuse or emit magic smoke.

2. If battery cells are shorting then the battery may start emitting sulphur dioxide that is a very dangerous gas - it smells of rotten eggs and tarnishes bright metal.

3. many modern charges will refuse to start charging a very discharged battery but if yours starts charging then subject to the above its fine.

 

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If everything works when connected to the mains, there should be no problem running everything this way. This will buy you time to consider the whole situation without rushing into things.

 

If you don’t know what the battery isolator is, it is unlikely that you have turned it off - unless you have tried turning/flicking switches/knobs when you don’t know what they do.

 

When you get your engine going, it should start charging your batteries, but I would suggest disconnecting the mains when you try this, so that you know that it is the engine, rather than the mains that is doing the charging.

 

When you take the photos, make sure you include one of your charger, and any other “boxes” in the electrical area of the boat. This might identify whether you have an inverter, or an inverter charger, and other stuff.

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And a photo of the battery isolater, so we know you have found it, there may be more than one if you have more than one battery.

.OR

I know that is rather stating the obvious, but sometimes two batteries are on a single switch, which has several positions, something like 'Batt1' ,'Batt 2'  'Both', OFF When running the engine do Not turn to OFF, it may cause the alternator to 'blow' ie stop working, permanently. the alternator which is mounted on the engine, and has V belts or some such sends the electricity to the batteries, it needs to keep that electricity generated flowing. Obviously that is my layman's visualisation.

Knowing what you have helps you, and others to think how your system works.

Btw, do you have a wiring diagram? Mine is biro on a page torn out of a jotter, with boxes,  + and - signs, wiring shown in biro, ie not coloured red for positive. It is fairly normal to have one and not really know how to interpret it, so don't worry about that  someone on here will know, though over the years, things might get changed.

 

Edited by LadyG

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6 hours ago, Kismet said:

When I have left the marina these essentials worked when not plugged in as they run off my leisure batteries so I assumed they should work when I ran out of electric also.

Depending on how the boat is wired, a dodgy connection, either between, or too and from the batteries, or a dodgy battery isolation switch could have caused what you are seeing. Worth making sure all the battery connections are tight and corrosion free and cycle the battery isolation switch(es) a few times. With luck your batteries may not be as dead as they appear and merely disconnected from the boat. The mains powered battery charger may have been supplying all your 12V needs until the mains supply failed.

Jen

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Waiting with bated breath for some photos, fingers crossed :)

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11 minutes ago, Jen-in-Wellies said:

Depending on how the boat is wired, a dodgy connection, either between, or too and from the batteries, or a dodgy battery isolation switch could have caused what you are seeing. Worth making sure all the battery connections are tight and corrosion free and cycle the battery isolation switch(es) a few times. With luck your batteries may not be as dead as they appear and merely disconnected from the boat. The mains powered battery charger may have been supplying all your 12V needs until the mains supply failed.

Jen

I can't see this as being correct totally. The battery charger is not normally connected via the isolation switch so you can leave the boat with the isolator off but the batteries charging. This is allowed under the BSS as long as the charger 12V side is fused.

 

The charger will normally be on the battery side of the idolater so a faulty isolator would prevent the charger supplying the boat's 12V circuits. 

 

I agree it would be well worth removing and cleaning the battery connections, especially if the 12V works the moment the mains are turned back on. This would then exclude dirty terminals.

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43 minutes ago, Tony Brooks said:

I can't see this as being correct totally. The battery charger is not normally connected via the isolation switch so you can leave the boat with the isolator off but the batteries charging. This is allowed under the BSS as long as the charger 12V side is fused.

"Normally" is the important word! I've seen a boat with the battery charger connected to the non-battery side of the isolator switch, leading to precisely the symptoms the OP is seeing, with all the 12V stuff going off when the shore power is disconnected. It also used the horrible removable red handle switches just to make this fault more likely!

Jen

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33 minutes ago, Jen-in-Wellies said:

"Normally" is the important word! I've seen a boat with the battery charger connected to the non-battery side of the isolator switch, leading to precisely the symptoms the OP is seeing, with all the 12V stuff going off when the shore power is disconnected. It also used the horrible removable red handle switches just to make this fault more likely!

Jen

Fully agree

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6 hours ago, ditchcrawler said:

Maybe a photo of your equipment

 

Hmm, this isn't the only forum you use, is it...

 

:giggles:

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32 minutes ago, Sea Dog said:

Hmm, this isn't the only forum you use, is it...

 

:giggles:

I could read that 3 ways

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2 minutes ago, ditchcrawler said:

I could read that 3 ways

You swing three ways? Like Elton John?

Edited by LadyG

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34 minutes ago, LadyG said:

You swing three ways? Like Elton John?

Er,  what's the third way?

Elderly ladies?+

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