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SAR v3 Not Charging Properly...

PostPosted: Fri Aug 09, 2013 2:22 pm
by mitchell

This is my first post to the forum, and I need your technical guidance for what appears to be an issue charging my batteries.

I have a SARV3 and Energy Monitoring Controller (Model H1A), both installed by Brewer’s Yacht Yard (Mamaroneck, NY). The system was originally installed in 2001 with (4) lead-acid golf-cart batteries. The lead-acid batteries were subsequently replaced with (4) Lifeline AGM’s, and I got about 4 years out of them (though I never saw more than 200 AH on the EMON).

The boat has a Heart Interface 2500 Inverter/Charger with remote control panel, which also displays battery status with colored LED’s. Over the winter the boat was plugged in to shore power, after one month on the mooring the lifeline batteries were dead.

I installed (4) new Interstate lead-acid batteries; the House Bank (Bank #1) has 3 Pro-27M ECL Series, and the Starter Bank (Bank #2) has 1 SRM-27 Deep Cycle/Starting Battery. I subsequently had a problem with the solenoid on my starter and replaced it with a new Yanmar starter, starting issue solved.
Then I left on a cruise, and over time it became apparent the charging system was not bumping the new batteries up properly (voltage showed 14.31 while charging, but system did not load enough amps). Running interior lights or Adler Barbour fridge quickly drained the house bank, evident on both EMON and Heart Interface Control Panel.

First I checked the individual battery voltages by removing the cables and reading each battery, got a uniform 12.78 v from each house battery. Starting battery showed 12.62 volts (about 2 weeks ago). Subsequently I purchase a lead-acid battery tester, and checked the cells individually – to see if a bad cell was keeping the system from charging up amperage. All the cells were uniform, no low fluid levels, all showing around 1.21 – 1.25 Specific Gravity. This was in the low FAIR range, and it has not improved with long periods running the engine under load.

I then acquired a Clamp-On style Amp Meter, to perform further diagnostics on the 100-Amp alternator (Balmar OEM). Initial readings on the heavy red + cable showed only 2.2 Amps being generated while running the engine mid-speed, with the EMON showing 14.31 volts. To rule out either a diode or stator problem, I made a test wire to plug the Alternator Field Terminal directly to the Starter Battery + post. Upon starting the engine and touching the test wire the alternator went full load (same RPM as before) with the engine noticeably straining, and the Amp Meter now showed 55 Amp Output to Bank #1. By-passing the SARV3 for 30 seconds proved the alternator output to work properly.

I then tested the load on the field wire, putting the meter between the modular plug and the alternator field wire. At the same engine speed as before, the meter showed 8 volts and 2.8 amps on the field wire, but only 2.2 amps was charging to the batteries (which are quite low in stored amperage).

Spoke with the battery distributor, who suggested that I plug into shore power for 24 hours, to let my Heart 2500 charge up the batteries. But doing so would put them in a state where the SARV3 would not immediately go into charge mode, and not help me diagnose (and solve) why the system is not charging properly running under engine, with the SARV3 properly regulating the alternator output.

So I pray that Coulomb’s Law still applies, and that you will be able to offer guidance to this problem. I am willing to do the dock-charge scenario, but not before hearing your valued input. Further, be advised that the Interstate Distributor has provided me the option to upgrade my 27-style lead-acid batteries to their sealed 31 AGM units, which are made to military spec (by Odyssey) for use in US Navy Nuclear Submarines. Doing so will cost me $120/battery, and also require installing larger battery trays.

While it is easy to blame the batteries, that doesn’t explain why the system outputs 55 Amps while bypassing the SARV3, yet outputs only 2.2 Amps when being regulated by the SARV3 (with the batteries never coming to full charge, evident by the low Specific Gravity readings).

Also – I do not have a manual for the EMON (2001) and would greatly appreciate if you can send it by e-mail (as PDF file) or post it to the website – which would benefit the entire Ample Power community.

I am looking for your best advice and timely reply. Thank you very much…!


Re: SAR v3 Not Charging Properly...

PostPosted: Fri Aug 09, 2013 3:24 pm
by Coulomb
This is a classic example of not understanding batteries and how they are charged.

You've done everything but run the one test that would show you that your batteries are no good - a capacity test.

This issue has been dealt with multiple times on this forum. The regulator can only raise the voltage to a sufficient voltage to charge and then it's up to the batteries to accept a charge. Have you read what constitutes a full charge?

Of course you can get 55 Amps, and maybe more by full fielding the alternator. What was the voltage when you did that -- 25?

I'm going to say it again -- millions of dollars have been wasted on batteries by prople who have not read out books and Primer. Before you spend any more money on batteries you should read the books and follow the recommendations.

The manual for the Emon has been on the web site since the mid-1990s.

Re: SAR v3 Not Charging Properly...

PostPosted: Fri Aug 09, 2013 7:34 pm
by mitchell

I only installed new batteries this spring because the old Lifeline batteries were totally dead.
To answer your question; the voltage was 17v during the 55 amp output test (for 30 seconds).
I have not found the EMON Manual yet, but will look further in the morning, thanks. BTW: It was Ruth who mentioned that the EMON Manual was not available online.
It would be appreciated if you would simply tell me what books you are referencing and where I can find them, instead of thrashing me to death in this online forum.
I did say this was my first post, and made no reference to being any sort of expert in this matter... It is not fair to assume that I have had the time to read all posts (or relevant material) prior to my initial communication with you.
Finally, the "new" batteries may simply not be willing to accept a charge, as the regulator is shutting down the charging system due to voltage reading, not amperage stored.
They ran down to 25% capacity, and may never recover properly. I will obtain a battery load tester from Harbor Freight Tools to see how they really do under load.
Also going to plug into shore power at midnight, to see if 8-10 hours on the Heart Interface 2500 Inverter/Charger gets them to wake up. If not, then they will either be replaced under manufacturer's warranty... or "upgraded" to AGM's (which is money wasted).

Please reference specific books and manuals, where I can download them, and go easy on us newbies...

Thanks again,


Re: SAR v3 Not Charging Properly...

PostPosted: Mon Aug 12, 2013 10:55 am
by Coulomb
Get a copy of Living on 12 Volts with Ample Power and read it!

Read the Primer on the Ample Power website. Read the information about what constitutes a "full" battery.

As I said in the first reply - a capacity test is the only way to determine the health of a deep cycle battery. You wasted money on the load tester.

Going to AGMs is most likely another mistake.