diy-electrical-smart_charger-largeNobody wants a failure in high season.

We interviewed Edward Saunders at Mastervolt about the new generation of smart chargers and he began by saying that electronics have a usable lifespan. Anyone with a 1995 or earlier cruisers may find their chargers are still working, but electrical components can fail; they fail suddenly and often without warning.

Think about the environment in your engine room. Edward pointed out that equipment in your engine room goes through extreme hot and cold cycles, experiences oil in the air, dust and dirt as well as spikes from shore power sources. Of course, the humidity in the engine room atmosphere is always an issue. Components can fail and leave a charger inoperable. Recently, home electronics product manufacturers have been saying that their equipment only has a ten-year lifespan. The point is that older battery charges probably need replacing anyway.

Then, with most pre-1995 cruisers, chances are that they have a ferro-resonant battery charger. These are generally big and heavy units and usually operate with an annoying buzzing sound. Unfortunately you cannot leave them turned on to maintain your charge levels as they will boil the batteries. In most cases a ferro-resonant charger will not charge the battery to its maximum potential either and another consideration is that the old type of chargers can have a "ripple effect" that decreases the lifespan of the batteries.

You need maximum power reserves on your boat because you have probably added equipment during the time that you have owned your boat so it is almost certain that your power needs have increased. That, in turn, means that you should increase the size of your battery bank to cope with the loads and that's another reason you'll need a new charger.

Almost all new boats that come with a battery charger will have a smart charger and it's well worth the comparatively small cost for older boats to move up. Examples of the new smart chargers come from companies like Charles, Guest, Maretron, Mastervolt, ProMariner, Victron and Xantrex.

Smart Charger Benefits

First and best, the smart chargers can be left on to maintain charging and maximum battery levels at all times. The smart charger provides power as needed. The newest ones are high-frequency chargers that are commonly available in sizes from 6 to 60 amps of output. New technology has allowed these chargers to become much smaller in size. Keeping the battery charge levels up results in extended life for the batteries. Although the cost of a charger like this could be $300-$500 plus installation, the life expectancy of the batteries can be increased substantially.

That alone, is a powerful financial justification for upgrading.

Among the new smart chargers are useful features that can compensate for hot or cold temperatures depending on where the battery is located, they can also change charging geometry resulting in the best possible charge and most of these new smart chargers will effectively work with absorbed glass mat and gel type batteries as well as the old style of flooded cell.

For smaller, high speed boats, Pro-mariner has some waterproof and also "ruggedized" units to handle the pounding in high performance bass boats.

The larger capacity and higher-end units are microprocessor-driven so you can change the charging process to best suit your battery choices. Control is through the LED or LCD displays on the unit.

Some units, like models from Xantrex, have an equalizer setting. As the condition of the battery declines, the equalization feature has a high-frequency "over voltage" cycle that essentially blows the sulfate off the plates. It basically cleans up the battery plates and restores some of the lost capacity. It's a great feature.

A primary feature of good smart chargers is the ability to distribute the charge current on demand to each battery bank as required. For example, a 30-amp charger connected to three battery banks where there is a house battery plus two cranking batteries might allocate 22 amps to the house bank, 6 amps to one of the other banks and only 2 amps to the remaining bank

Gary Young at Payne's Marine Group helped us research this article. Gary not only sells these, he upgraded to a Xantrex smart charger in his own boat. In addition to much better performance in battery charging and battery maintenance, the small size of the charger actually freed up enough space in his battery compartment that Gary was able to install larger capacity batteries to power his other upgraded equipment.

Your dealer will have a range of smart chargers and their technicians can guide you to the best choices for your boat. While you are at it, look at your whole 12-volt system, not just the charger.

Edward Saunders mentioned that, "We recommend that people use a smaller number of larger batteries. This will give you a better power supply."

Generally, it is best to limit the boat to no more than five batteries. Experience has shown that the internal resistance in each battery causes them to sort of "fight each other" and suffer premature failure when you have more than five batteries. Finally, it's a good idea to keep all of your batteries the same size.

Avoiding an unexpected, sudden charging failure should be enough to motivate most boat owners to replace older ferro-resonant chargers but the many other smart charger benefits are well worth the investment. Then, once you have a better onboard power supply, you can upgrade other equipment!

New at the end of 2019, the 58 Salon Express design features large windows to flood the living areas in natural light, and a main door that opens fully from port to starboard, comfortably merging exterior and interior spaces.
On May 19, the New York State Canal Corporation ...
The seasoned sailor mapped out an ambitious ...
Clean wake: A concept amongst cruising sailors ...
Canadian Yachting Media initiated a series of ...
Boating safety is always—always—a critical ...

Lifestyle

  • Prev
The seasoned sailor mapped out an ambitious course around the world — aboard his 28-foot ...
Clean wake: A concept amongst cruising sailors that stresses the impact that individual behaviour ...
This line-up of Beneteaus can to us from our friends at RCR Yachts in NY State where they are ...
As another harsh Victoria winter came to a close, the deck repair and refinishing continued with ...
The Peterborough Canoe Company was formed in 1892 and began production the following year after ...
On one of the sunny days we had recently, Kyle MacTaggart in Honey Harbour ON fired up the Merc to ...
For all those OnBoard subscribers who have followed along with the maintenance, repairs and ...
We hardly need tell you about the pandemic but it’s worth noting that the marine industry is acting ...
If you’ve been to CORK, you’ve probably seen Tim Irwin. Whether he was organizing volunteers, ...
This brilliant shot comes to us from professional shooter Elle Bruce.  These four sailors are ...

DIY & How to

  • Prev
Boating safety is always—always—a critical consideration whenever you push off the dock, but with ...
Building on our last two editions (Sealants, and Fibreglass, respectively), Gelcoat is the next ...
After a successful R2Ak and regatta season in 2019, I felt that Pitoraq was due for a major ...
Pause for a moment and ponder this question. How much is your life and your safety at sea worth? ...
Last edition we talked about sealants to perform tasks like bedding and sealing. Other tasks like ...
Over the winter, a many-thousand pound fiberglass, wood or metal shell is held in position by only ...
Since the late 19th century, a debate has raged on the relative merits of diesel fuel over ...
This bag does more than hold your anchor and rode in one tidy little pile. After you’ve anchored ...
Purchase your copy of the BRAND NEW Ports Georgian Bay 2020 Edition at the Toronto International ...
The boat was put on the hard for this winter and were going to follow along with Graham as he ...

Shrink Wrap2020 is a year of change – self-isolation, social distancing, quarantine, and working remotely have become the norm. For many, this has been a bitter pill to swallow. Another bitter pill for boaters is the delay of the season. Provincial laws differ – so terms like ‘essential’ aren’t translating widely across the marine world.

In BC, marinas remain open and fuel is available, sometimes with conditions. In Ontario, marinas, boat launches, yacht clubs and the professionals that service the marine industry aren’t considered essential, unless the service and location allows a person to access their permanent residence only accessible by boat.

Read more about Boating in 2020........................

 

  

Boat Reviews

  • Prev
New at the end of 2019, the 58 Salon Express design features large windows to flood the living ...
No wonder this is one of Regal’s best-selling boats; the Regal 33 Express offers amazing ...
The newest member of Beneteau’s Gran Turismo line is the GT 36 and this yacht brings the style and ...
With a philosophy of quality and 'doing things right Ranger Tugs launches the all new R-25 at the ...
The new Beneteau Swift Trawler 41 renews the spirit of the practical seaworthy cruiser. The ...
The Canadian Yachting test crew last week had the opportunity to run the Bavaria S36 HT at St ...

CY Virtual Video Boat Tours

Virtual Boat ToursWe all love boats and nothing can break us up! So, what better way to spend our time than looking at interesting boats and going aboard in a virtual ride or tour. We have asked our friends at various dealers and manufacturers to help us assemble a one-stop online resource to experience some of the most interesting boats on the market today. Where the CY Team has done a review, we connect you to that expert viewpoint. Our Virtual Show will continue to grow so visit frequently and check it out. If you can’t go boating, you can almost experience the thrill via your screen. Not quite the same, but we hope you enjoy our fine tour collection.

 

Read more about the CY Virtual Boat Tours....................

Destinations

  • Prev
On May 19, the New York State Canal Corporation today announced an updated opening schedule for the ...
If you have four hours to enjoy a fine tour of one of Canada’s most interesting waterways (let’s ...
Boom & Batten Restaurant is suspended over the water adjacent to the Songhees Walkway and ...
Provincial Boat Havens are those special places to drop anchor in British Columbia’s West Coast and ...
NW Explorations, a Bellingham, Washington-based yacht charter, brokerage, and marine services ...

KingstonBy Amy Hogue

Cruise into the city of Kingston, Ontario, and it will quickly become clear that this city and surrounding waterways have something special. Built around the northern shore of Lake Ontario, Kingston is the place to go if you love to explore new waterways, fantastic views, and exceptional boating opportunities.

Sitting at the intersection of three world-class Canadian bodies of water, Lake Ontario, the St. Lawrence River, and the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Rideau Canal (Cataraqui River from Kingston to Newboro), the water’s influence is deeply woven into Kingston’s culture and history. 

Read more about Kingston...........

 

Marine Products

  • Prev
The new 2020 PORTS Georgian Bay, North Channel & Lake Huron Guide is available for purchase at ...
Professional boatbuilders don't want to have to redo a job any more than a DIYer. Many choose Life ...
Since its introduction last year, the JBL by Harman Marine BassPro 10" Powered Subwoofer (JBLMBP10) ...
After decades of perusing charts and guidebooks as part of planning a cruise, it was a totally ...
Ever since I was a youngster Jeeps of all kinds have fascinated me. It wasn’t until the mid 70s ...
New from Plastimo, this bi-colour backpack in Tarpaulin 500D will keep contents dry from ship to ...
Being a boater can come with certain space restraints for additional items that may make your ...
Whether you are interested in monitoring your vessel’s systems while underway or remotely from your ...
No wires to install down your mast. Transmit to smartphone/tablet. Works with lots of great ...
Vesper Cortex, the advanced multi-station VHF, AIS, monitor with intuitive touchscreen operation is ...