Boat battery/electrical issue

EstragonEstragon Registered Users Posts: 4,496 ✭✭✭✭✭
An older 20' inboard/outboard runabout with a niggly issue. 

The starting battery (flooded) is getting long of tooth and should be replaced soon.  Before doing so I'd appreciate any thoughts on the niggle. 

The boat is used to/from the cabin, ~10-15mins each way.  During the trips, the dash voltage meter spikes suddenly to max (~18v), and an alarm sounds (which I think is the halon system complaining about high voltage).  It can last anywhere from a second or two to several minutes, and can happen multiple times on a given trip, or not at all.  It never happens at low throttle or warming up at the dock, only underway, which makes it difficult to confirm with a different meter or troubleshoot.  I'm kind of suspecting a failing alternator, but I would have expected unregulated voltage to be anchored somewhat by the battery (as opposed to spiking suddenly from 12.x to >18 in a second.  Today I measured 12.2v before leaving the dock.  The dash meter showed voltage fairly stable for ~10mins, then spiked.

Maybe the battery is getting full enough to not anchor the voltage?

I've sanded,  greased, and retightened the battery connections to no apparent effect.
Off-grid.  
Main daytime system ~4kw panels into 2xMNClassic150 370ah 48v bank 2xOutback 3548 inverter 120v + 240v autotransformer
Night system ~1kw panels into 1xMNClassic150 700ah 12v bank morningstar 300w inverter

Comments

  • Marc KurthMarc Kurth Solar Expert Posts: 953 ✭✭✭✭
    I would suspect the voltage regulator first.
    I always have more questions than answers. That's the nature of life.
  • EstragonEstragon Registered Users Posts: 4,496 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I'm pretty sure the alternator is internally regulated, which I guess means replacing it?
    Off-grid.  
    Main daytime system ~4kw panels into 2xMNClassic150 370ah 48v bank 2xOutback 3548 inverter 120v + 240v autotransformer
    Night system ~1kw panels into 1xMNClassic150 700ah 12v bank morningstar 300w inverter
  • Marc KurthMarc Kurth Solar Expert Posts: 953 ✭✭✭✭
    edited September 2019 #4
    If it is internal, yes. But I wouldn't be in hurry unless it pegs that high voltage for long periods. If your battery has enough energy to start the engine, it is far from an "open circuit" to mess with the alternator. How old and what brand is the engine?
    I always have more questions than answers. That's the nature of life.
  • EstragonEstragon Registered Users Posts: 4,496 ✭✭✭✭✭
    It's a Mercruiser, likely original to the 1990 boat.  About 1/2 hour is the most I expect the boat to be underway, with 10-15mins being typical.

    The battery does start the engine (grudgingly if cold), but is old and due for replacement anyway.  I'd rather not damage the replacement though.  Put a costly new lower drive on it a couple years ago, and hope to get a few more years out of it without putting a ton of money into it.
    Off-grid.  
    Main daytime system ~4kw panels into 2xMNClassic150 370ah 48v bank 2xOutback 3548 inverter 120v + 240v autotransformer
    Night system ~1kw panels into 1xMNClassic150 700ah 12v bank morningstar 300w inverter
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 32,639 admin
    Have you ever had problems cranking the engine? Lights that were dim when the motor was not running? Possibly a bad wiring connection somewhere between the engine alternator and the battery? Or possibly a battery will a failing grid?

    If you can put a current meter or DC Clamp DMM on the battery or alternator cable and see if you see a high surge of charging current (probably a bad internal regulator or other alternator issue), or not (then possibly wiring issue taking the battery out of the circuit and not buffering the minimum current output of the alternator).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • EstragonEstragon Registered Users Posts: 4,496 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I haven't noticed anything with dim lights, but rarely drive in the dark. It cranks "normally", considering battery age, temp, and thicker oil when cold.

    Battery with a failing grid is possible.  It's flooded and mobile, so an intermittent shorted cell may be a suspect.  It's been going on for some time though, and doesn't seem to be related to rough conditions.  Today was rainy and smooth as glass.  Still, speed changes could slosh things around a bit and cause an intermittent short.  If that's the case, would an alternator voltage regulation typically limit the SC voltage?
    Off-grid.  
    Main daytime system ~4kw panels into 2xMNClassic150 370ah 48v bank 2xOutback 3548 inverter 120v + 240v autotransformer
    Night system ~1kw panels into 1xMNClassic150 700ah 12v bank morningstar 300w inverter
  • mcgivormcgivor Solar Expert Posts: 3,854 ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    Intermittent faults are the hardest to find, the likely cause is a poor connection as a component failure would be permanent. Where I would start is checking all negative grounding points including engine straps making sure all are clean and tight. Then move on to the positive side, rationale being a single ground negative fault can affect multiple positive functions by seeking negative paths through components such as motors and yes gauges. Lessons learned solving auto electrical faults.
    1500W, 6× Schutten 250W Poly panels , Schneider MPPT 60 150 CC, Schneider SW 2524 inverter, 400Ah LFP 24V nominal battery with Battery Bodyguard BMS 
    Second system 1890W  3 × 300W No name brand poly, 3×330 Sunsolar Poly panels, Morningstar TS 60 PWM controller, no name 2000W inverter 400Ah LFP 24V nominal battery with Daly BMS, used for water pumping and day time air conditioning.  
    5Kw Yanmar clone single cylinder air cooled diesel generator for rare emergency charging and welding.
Sign In or Register to comment.