Catalina 34

General Activities => Main Message Board => Topic started by: Gary Brockman on October 30, 2008, 12:17:23 PM

Title: Stu's Wiring Diagram & The 1-2-B & Dual Circuit Switches
Post by: Gary Brockman on October 30, 2008, 12:17:23 PM
We recently bought a pretty much stock, 1986 tall rig Catalina 34 (#231), except that it has been fully equipped for racing (7 winches, 3 headsail/spinnaker halyards, sheets, spinnakers, etc.), which I plan do again after not owning a boat for over 15 years.  We renamed her “Squall”, and although she was generally in very good condition, many of the original systems needed updating.

After purchasing Squall, I found this website and promptly became an association member. This is a huge resource that is worth much, much more than the price of membership, and truly adds to the value of the boat.

When I relocated Squall to Marina del Rey from San Diego, where I purchased her, I found that the number two battery was completely dead and would not take a charge (battery only 6-months old). This has prompted me to upgrade my electrical system now rather than waiting to the spring as first planned. After reading a number of very helpful articles in the Forum, I am ready to start purchasing everything I need to update the system and have put together the following shopping list of major items:

•   Trojan T-105 Batteries (4)   
•   Xantrex Truechage2 20-amp Battery Charger   
•   Xantrex Truechage2 Remote Display   
•   Xantrex Echo Charge   
•   Xantrex Battery Temp Sensor   
•   Blue Circle M-7102-HD Alternator   
•   Xantrex Alternator Regulator   
•   Cables, fuses, etc.   

I have an experienced boat electrician who will help me install this system as I have no background in this having only taken a one quarter electrical shop class in my freshman year of high school (early 1960’s).   Is there something I have missed?  Should I include something like a Link___? If so, what would be the appropriate model? 

My wife and I have discussed adding an inverter but are not sure we need one.  I spoke with a Xantrex service rep on the telephone about which inverter I should purchase if we decided to add one to the system and he suggested using a Freedom Charger/Inverter instead of the Truecharge2.  From looking at the specs, it looks to me that if I did that, I would be losing some of the functions/advantages of the Truecharge2 charger.  Any thoughts on this?

Besides purchasing the parts to upgrade the electrical system this weekend, I am planning to install new gate stanchions on each side of the boat (purchased from Catalina Direct), replace the original lifelines with new ones, replace the original non-working NICRO solar vents with new ones, and reinstall the newly painted cowl vents.  I hope all of this doesn’t prove to be too ambitious for the weekend.

Future projects include replacing the hot-water heater and its water lines, as it looks as if it is on its last legs, and installing new vinyl stripes over the faded gell-coat stripes on the hull. Although I enjoy working on the boat, I am looking forward to being able to sailing her more.

 - Gary -

Title: Re: New Boat - Updating Electrical System
Post by: waterdog on October 30, 2008, 01:07:22 PM
Definitely include the battery monitor.  Link 10 was the old Xantrex model.  I think they may have a newer variant with the same functions.   You only need the monitor for your trojans, so I would not spend money on 2 bank monitoring - voltage off your starter battery is good enough. 

If you don't think you need an inverter, you don't.   But then having a microwave is a nice alternative to sparking up the stove to warm something up.   If you do, an inverter charger would probably be a good way to go.  But I don't know, my boat came with a trucharge 40 and I added a separate inverter.  With the inverter charger, you can get a battery monitor that also has control functions for the inverter.   

It's a really good idea to think this through all at once in the beginning as you are.
Title: Two Major Choices
Post by: Stu Jackson on October 30, 2008, 02:57:18 PM

Good planning and a good system.  I highly recommend that you also do a search on "1-2-B switch" since there is a lot of material on wiring the alternator directly to house bank in those many discussions, some of which you may already have seen.  You should do this especially since you're adding your echo charger and Blue Circle new alternator.  Be careful of the factory supplied ring connections from the regulator to the alternator, you may want to redo them, since most of mine fell off shortly after the install.

Your choices electrically:

1.  Do what you're planning and do the inverter later.  The inverter, being separate is going to require you to think through a completely different side of the electrical system on the boat, the A.C. side.  You'll have to decide if you want to wire the existing A.C. outlets or use the dual plug single receptacle on the inverter.  You'll also need a Blue Seas 8032 or equivalent (search that and 8132 - I keep forgetting which is the right one) to assure that only one source of power gets used if you wire in the A.C. outlets.

2.  Truecharge is a great charger.  However, the choices you have are these:

a.  Go with what you're planning and add (now or later) a Link 10 or Xantrex equivalent (single) house bank or Link 20 two bank battery monitor.  These Link models will NOT control your Truecharge, in fact nothing remote will ever do that, other than the remote idiot lights for the Truecharge, which, if you place the Truecharge where you can see if correctly, the Truecharge remote is essentially worthless and not worth the extra cost nor the hole in your nav station.

b.  Get a combined Freedom 15 or 20 inverter / charger (I/C).  The 15 has a 75 A charger and the 20 has a 100 A charger built in.  Then buy a Link 1000 (single house bank) or a Link 2000 (two bank) battery monitor.  These Link models have a separate telephone cable connection to the back of the I/C and it will control both charging and inverting.  No separate 8132 switch is required, the innards of the I/C do the isolating.  The Link 1000 or 2000 will NOT control a Truecharge.  You would not be losing any functionality of the Trucharge, they're just larger chargers.  The I/Cs are complete smart three stage chargers, plus they equalize, but ONLY with a Link 1000 or 2000.  The Link 10 and 20 will NOT control a Freedom I/C.

Since it's a boat, you can do it either way, and both will work.

Note that the Freedom and Links are MADE to work with each other.  Other manufacturers I/Cs will not work with the Link brand.

You can operate a Freedom I/C without the Link 2000 (or 1000) with the switch on the Freedom.  We did that for nine years until I put the Lnk in.  Downside is you can't equalize.

The battery temperature sensor can be added later.  The alternator temperature sensor would be a better first choice.  If you haven't yet, read this:

You have a VERY extensive weekend planned, and I'd simply caution you to stay with one thing at a time.

If there's anything else you need, let me know.  You can also email me at mraquaq@[no spam] and I'll send you my Tech Notes article from November 2006 with additional electrical installation information and a wiring diagram.  (The Wiring Diagram is posted on page 2 of this thread)

Also see the wiring diagrams for the regulator that I posted here earlier:

When you get to your water heater, see this:

You mentioned you read "articles in the Forum" which I assume is this MB.  If you haven't read the Projects electrical section, you should consider doing that.  Just click on Projects at the top of the MB page and scroll down for the electrical articles.

Better yet, use the new wiki (added 2/09/09)

Title: Re: New Boat - Updating Electrical System
Post by: Stu Jackson on October 30, 2008, 05:26:08 PM
One other thing:  The Freedom's now come with their own built in echo chargers, which they didn't when we bought.  Ah, um, echo chargers hadn't yet been invented, literally, when we did ours!  The concept was always there, but not commercially available. 

What we did in 1998, with the same issues that you face, was to do a $$ comparison, and since we had a microwave installed by the PO already, the choice was somewhat easier because we leaned in the direction of the I/C for starters.  I didn't install the Link 2000, that we'd bought in '98, until earlier this year.

However, in your case, since you can add the inverter later, the advantage of doing them separately is that you do not have to deal with 2/0 [BIG] wiring in your first go around with the electrical system.  You also have time to get more familiar with the systems on your boat.

The 1998 Freedoms came with attached 2/0 wires, no echo charger.  When they put the echo chargers in a few years later, they discontinued the 2/0 wiring, which you now have to supply on your own.
Title: Re: New Boat - Updating Electrical System
Post by: BillG on October 31, 2008, 06:57:22 AM
I took on the same project shortly after purchasing my 87 six years ago. There is alot of great advice contained on this site and different approaches you can take.  I strongly concur with Stu that the batteries should be directly hooked up to the alternator and not thru the battery switch.  I also am a firm believer that the battery Off-1-2 switch be replaced with just on ON-OFF switch, mean that all 4 of you trojans on either on or off.  Many people including Calder believe this gives overall longer battery life, tho you would definitely want to add a dedicated starting battery. I charge my starting battery thru a Balmar Duo-charge.  Another thought is to replace your Seaward fuse panel with an Seaward circuit breaker type.  There are a number of added safety features in the new panels as well as space for added electrical expansion.  The replacement panel most like the old  c-34 panels are being used in smaller catalinas but have the battery switch as part of the panel,talk to  Seaward about the best replacement.  Finally a battery monitor is a must in my opinion and the XBM is a newer version of monitors by Xantrex.
Title: Re: Two Major Choices
Post by: waterdog on October 31, 2008, 09:40:15 AM
... You'll also need a Blue Seas 8032 or equivalent (search that and 8132 - I keep forgetting which is the right one) to assure that only one source of power gets used if you wire in the A.C. outlets...

This depends on the inverter you buy.  The one I installed this summer had a built in transfer switch.  It was dead easy to wire it to the regular AC outlets.   
Title: Re: New Boat - Updating Electrical System
Post by: Stu Jackson on October 31, 2008, 10:20:13 AM
Steve, what model inverter did you buy?

Link to switch model #s:
Title: Re: New Boat - Updating Electrical System
Post by: waterdog on October 31, 2008, 12:10:12 PM
Stu, you had to ask that question.   Now I must confess my sins. 

The unit I bought is the XM1800 Pro-Series inverter.  This is one of the modified sine wave inverters.

That means its one of the cheap inverters. 

But I am smart man.  I make my living in the electrical industry.   I sell optical sensors that measure up to 500,000A with 0.1% accuracy.   I'm happy to specify a voltage sensor that you can put in your 500kV substation and meter bulk power interties.   I know my ac power.  I now my waveforms.  Not only that, but Xantrex used to be 6 guys who worked in the basement of a company I used to work for.  I know VPs there. 

I had lunch with one and discussed my application.  Without question and beyond a doubt the XM1800 would do the job for me.  No fancy sensitive electronics powered by ac on my boat.   No need to pay the big bucks for a true sine wave version.  I can handle some sharper edges on my sine wave. 

And so the Japanese food ended and I loaded a box into my trunk and wrote a check for some ridiculously small amount of money and I went away with a new inverter and battery monitor. 

And then I went and spent some multiple of the inverter price to buy the cables and I installed it with only brief interuption to wire in a switch for the fridge and start a boat fire, but we're not going there again, Stu. 

And it worked and so I wired in the ac side.   And all was well.  I can now run my shop vac in the middle of the Straight of Georgia. 

But Stu.  My microwave doesn't work.  Well it does sort of.  Sometimes if I fiddle with it and find just the right setting. 

The modified sine wave inverter was a bad idea as it turns out.   But I will never admit that and go spend big bucks on a true sine wave unit.   Instead, I will use the rationale that sometimes when I go to docks with weak power sources, my microwave doesn't work either.  So instead, I will throw out the $60 microwave and try another one.   Yes.  That's it. 

I'll find one that does work with my cheap inverter.  Then I will never have to admit my error. 

Never trust a VP on a technical matter.  Find an application engineer...
Title: Re: New Boat - Updating Electrical System
Post by: Stu Jackson on October 31, 2008, 05:05:02 PM
I strongly concur with Stu that the batteries should be directly hooked up to the alternator and not thru the battery switch.  I also am a firm believer that the battery Off-1-2 switch be replaced with just on ON-OFF switch...

I've been working, on again off again, on an article currently, at least this week, called "In Defense of the Much Maligned 1-2-B Switch."  I've discussed this a number of times before and have come to the conclusion that once the alternator (and other charging source) outputs are directed away from the "C"post of the old 1-2-B switch and directly to the house bank, the old 1-2-B switch works just fine. 

The West Marine Advisors and the switch manufacturers' suggestions that new on/off switches and that fancy-schmansy new 1-2-B switch replacement, the dual circuit switch, (which BTW requires an ACR to work) are needed to keep the dumb brother-in-law from switching to OFF and wrecking the alternator is a thing of the past because the alternator is ALWAYS seeing a load from the direct connect to the house bank.  The only thing the 1-2-B switch now does is take current OUT of the banks, based on which one you choose, to the Distribution Panel and the starter.

Think about it.  Two or three switches are required to replace one switch.  Why?  Because they wanna sell you something new?  Because some think it's easier.  I find it harder.  We rarely use our backup emergency reserve (start) bank, so we just turn the 1-2-B switch to 1 (our house bank) and it stays there.  Period.  No extra wiring, no extra switches, and I can use the 1-2-B switch to parallel the batteries (in addition to our combiner, which has it's own on/off toggle switch in it's own ground wire).

So, reconsider installing two new on-off switches for your two banks, which require then yet another to parallel the two banks you've just separated.  Simply run the alternator output to the house bank, find your chosen way of automatically combining them (combiner, echo charger, oil pressure relay, switch) for charging with single output sources (like alternators, solar panels and your charger), and KEEP the 1-2-B switch for battery OUTPUT only.

Why have THREE switches when ONE can still work?

Added 4/26/09:  Also see this topic: Alternator Output and Battery Switch Wiring,,4934.0.html for a discussion of another way to wire alternator output "around" the "C" post of the 1-2-B switch.
Title: Re: New Boat - Updating Electrical System
Post by: Ron Hill on October 31, 2008, 07:11:35 PM
Guys : I wrote back in the mid 90s that in 1991/2 I purchased a Balmar dual output alternator.  I wired one lead direct to battery bank #1 and the other directly to battery bank #2.  It seemed best to me to by pass the switch for charging (shortening the wire run and minimizing the resistance.)
I've posted many times that the 1 2 All Off switch on my boat is turned to "All" when I get on the boat and then to "Off" when I leave.  The only time I use 1/2 positions is when I want to look at the battery voltages with the engine/charger is off.  I also crimped and soldered each of the connections!!
Another advantage is there is no arcing of current to "dirty up" the switch contacts while the battery selector is changed while charging.  A few thoughts
Title: Re: New Boat - Updating Electrical System
Post by: Stu Jackson on November 01, 2008, 08:37:25 AM
The article Ron's referring to can be found in the November 1996 edition of Mainsheet on our Tech Notes page for C34 IA members:   

In it, Ron describes his electrical upgrades on Apache #788 with his dual output alternator, as well as Hank Recla"s (Bay Tripper #954) and Duane Maher's (Whiskey #1076) systems.  Hank used a Powerline 120 A alternator, and Duane's system upgrade used an Ample 106 A, both single outputs.   This article was literally ahead of its time in explaining "advanced" and comprehensive boat electrical systems, because it described work that had been done a couple of years earlier, soon after the C34 boats were starting to be built.  And, even more importantly, it was only shortly after the beginning of the production of the individual components starting to become commercially available that were required to enhance the electrical systems: high output alternators, battery monitors, regulator controls - and West Marine which was by that time changing the way folks could obtain boating supplies.

During the early days of this website, back during the email "List" days, Hank Recla kindly offered his boat wiring diagram and I took him up on his offer.  It is a masterpiece:  the wiring diagram is prepared on 11 /12 x 17 size paper, it includes every single wire on his boat for the charging system (a Link 2000R, which works as the regulator for the alternator also, including the multiple wires associated with that and its shunt, and all the other battery wiring) with each wire's end identified; plus a separate four page 8 1/2 x 11 wiring component diagram including the fittings at each end of the wire and a description of the wire -- a true professional product).  Studying it helped me immeasurably in figuring out what came with my boat (by comparison only - we were kinda bare bones back then) and what some of the options were in designing my system.

For those who ask about "what do I do about the multiple outputs from my charger when I only have one alternator output?" perhaps we ought to do a FAQ! :D  Heck, it's the same kinda question for three charger outputs with only two alternator outputs from a dual output alternator like Ron's. :D :D  The answer is simple: wire only ONE output of the charger to your house bank and use the same techniques you used for the single output alternator to charge your reserve bank.

As we've noted many times especially for electrical systems, there are always at LEAST two different ways -- that WORK -- aboard any boat.  The referenced article mentions three of the 20-something upgraded electrical system descriptions that I can think of, and that's from only the generous folks who've shared their experiences here on this website with all of us.  Seems it's beyond just the 1-2-B switch, but that's my "pitch" this week, and I stand behind it until someone pushes me into the water! :D
Title: Re: New Boat - Updating Electrical System
Post by: Craig Illman on November 01, 2008, 08:51:44 AM
Gary - My short comment. I don't think I'd upgrade to the four T-105's unless you're planning on refrigeration and/or an inverter. They did seem to address the port lean on my boat. All the published projects and forum threads helped me with my design, yet it's unique as well. I'm satisfied and don't have any plans to modify it. A side benefit will be the knowledge you gain from the upgrade. (It will take about four times as long as you expect, like any boat project) Do a drawing, it's surprising how quick one forgets things. Label as much as you can at both ends of the wire.

A quote from a website I saw a couple weeks ago, "Anyone can make something complicated, it takes a genius to design something simple" - Pete Seeger.

Title: Re: New (to me 1986) Boat - Updating Electrical System
Post by: Stu Jackson on November 03, 2008, 10:19:54 AM
My wife and I have discussed adding an inverter but are not sure we need one.  I spoke with a Xantrex service rep on the telephone about which inverter I should purchase if we decided to add one to the system and he suggested using a Freedom Charger/Inverter instead of the Truecharge2.  From looking at the specs, it looks to me that if I did that, I would be losing some of the functions/advantages of the Truecharge2 charger.  Any thoughts on this?

Gary, I just reread this, and I'm not sure if you're right about losing some of the features of the Truecharge2 if you go with a Freedom I/C.  The Truecharge2 is the newer variety of Xantrex's line and was discussed at length in a recent post.  It's features are less than the old Truecharge 20s and 40s.  Only the newer XC has the features of essentially of turning itself off, and are not available on the Freedom I/Cs nor the new Truecharge2s. 

I posted John Nixon's charger evaluation as a sticky, which I'm sure you've seen.  His comparison PDF is important.

The choices are if you're going to leave your boat plugged in all the time or not.  There's an actual "cottage industry" about that very subject right here on our MB! :shock:  Only the newer XCs have that feature of turning themselves off relative to the batteries, as I understand John's evaluations.

We've found the Freedom extremely reliable, no hiccups in over 10 years.  The Truecharge2, as noted, are new technology.

Oh no, not again:  your boat, your choice. :D

What did you end up doing?

Aslo see:,4352.0.html - John Nixon's excellent battery charger evaluation.
Title: Re: New (to me 1986) Boat - Updating Electrical System
Post by: Gary Brockman on November 03, 2008, 03:14:58 PM
I want to thank each of you for all of your suggestions and the information you have shared answering my questions. After speaking with my wife again, we decided to go with the Truecharge2 and not with the Freedom charger/inverter.  We are leaving the option open of adding an inverter later if we feel the need to microwave something at Catalina.

I bought four T-105’s from the local distributor last Friday ($143.98 each) and ordered the Truecharge2 20, the echo charger, the alternator regulator and alternator. I should have everything but the alternator by tomorrow morning. I haven’t ordered the battery monitor yet as I am a little confused about which one to order. The Xantrex web site still shows the Link 10, but does not show the Link XBM. I found information on the web on the XBM that says that it replaced the Link 10 and that it is a little more accurate and uses less power than the Link 10. I then found that the Xantrex web site says that the Link Pro has replaced the XBM. After reviewing the data sheets on each of these monitors, it seems to me that the Link Pro offers more than I need. and that the Link 10 would be the better choice for my needs. Thoughts?

Regarding the use of the 1-2-Both-Off switch vs a single on-off switch, I am leaning towards the single on/off but still need to discuss this with my marine electrician once I have all of my components on hand and we sit down to install everything. It won’t be this weekend because of football tickets and family plans, probably the following weekend.

All of my plans for working on the boat last weekend didn’t happen due to the on and off rain we had over the weekend. Didn’t think it would be too good of an idea to start drilling holes in the deck for stanchions and vents with the possibility of rain . The only thing I did get done was re-installing the newly painted cowl vents and loading the new batteries on to the boat. The best laid plans ….

Thanks again,

 - Gary -
Title: Re: New (to me 1986) Boat - Updating Electrical System
Post by: Stu Jackson on November 04, 2008, 07:54:52 PM
Why get confused?

The XBM seems to have the connectivity for a computer "dump."  For $25 (list) more $.

If that feature is worth it to you, then your choice. 

If not then the Link 10 is a good alternative.

If it's $$, then the tradeoff of the XBM to the Link 20, which would check your reserve bank, also is a good choice.

How'd we know you'd have football tickets....? :D
Title: Re: New (to me 1986) Boat - Updating Electrical System
Post by: Tom Soko on November 05, 2008, 12:03:01 PM
I've followed this thread, and just had to stick my $0.02 into it.  I didn't see where you mentioned that you were planning to install a separate starting battery, in addition to the 4 house batteries.  If you do, I would highly recommend a new type of battery switch to replace the 1-2-B switch installed now.  It's the dual circuit Blue Seas #5511e
For 99% of the time it is a simple on/off switch, connecting the house batteries to the house load, and connecting the starting battery to the starter.  IF it is ever needed, another 1/4 turn of the switch, and you can combine all (5) of your batteries for an emergency start. I installed one on a friend's boat (he's mechanically challenged), and it's been perfect. 
Many years ago I installed an Ample Power EMON on my boat.  After 17 years it finally gave up the ghost, and two years ago I went looking for another energy monitor.  I was told that the Link 10 was no longer in production, so I bought the XBM.  In short, it has been wonderful.  It measures the house bank, which is really all I have a need to do.  Hope this helps
Title: Re: New (to me 1986) Boat - Updating Electrical System
Post by: Stu Jackson on November 06, 2008, 07:17:27 AM
It would also be helpful to read this, from Tom's reference:

You see this "new fangled" switch is just another switch.  I do not yet see it's difference from a 1-2-B switch, because it provides ALMOST the same functionality.  Either of the two battery banks or Both will provide power to the only two outputs that should be coming off a switch:  the distribution panel and the starter.  I'd be pleased to learn more about this switch, but I just can't justify recommending it when it costs more and seems to require the ACR to make it operate to charge the reserve bank automatically, which is no different than an ACR, echo charger or combiner or oil pressure relay for a 1-2-B switch.
Title: Re: New (to me 1986) Boat - Updating Electrical System
Post by: Tom Soko on November 06, 2008, 11:22:30 AM
Stu (and Gary),
I should have been more clear in my explanation.  My house circuit is separate from my starting circuit.  The house bank feeds the house load, and the starting battery feeds the starter.  My alternator output goes directly to the house bank, and is NOT connected to the starter.  I wired it this way so that the house bank can be left on, and the starter circuit can be left off.  The only time the two circuits are combined is when I combine them.  I have an on/off switch for the house load, and I have a 1-2-B switch for the starter.  If the Blue Seas dual circuit switch had been invented when I re-wired my boat, I would have bought it.  It would have eliminated the need for a second switch for me. 
If on the other hand you do not separate the starter from the house load, then the OEM 1-2-B switch would work fine.  Hope this helps.
Title: Re: New (to me 1986) Boat - Updating Electrical System
Post by: Stu Jackson on November 06, 2008, 11:38:57 AM
Tom, it certainly is amazing how many different ways there are to arrange electrical systems on our boats.

I believe there are two very important things skippers should keep in mind when wiring (or rewiring) their boats:

1.  Remove the alternator output from the 1-2-B switch (or any other combining switch) and run it directly to the house bank.  This assures that the current flowing to the banks when the alternator is running is always ON and avoids someone from turning the switch and frying (possibly) the alternator diodes.  It also completely avoids the issue of having to have the 1-2-B switch in the B position to select which bank(s) to charge.  This assures that the 1-2-B (or any other switch) is ONLY being used to decide which battery bank is being used to either start the engine OR to run the house electrical distribution panel.  Because so many boats were built with the alternator output going to the 1-2-B switch, too many skippers thought they had to start their engines on BOTH because they thought they needed the power, which was, and still is, just plain wrong.  It was because they needed to use the switch to charge both of the battery banks when the alternator was producing, because the alternator output was put on the common "C" post of the switch by the factory.  In most cases, with a good reserve bank, the switch could just as well have been left on the house bank, but the power went from the alternator to the switch to the banks in what usually then became undersized OEM wiring for higher output alternators.

2.  Find an appropriate (easy to understand) method of charging the emergency reserve backup (sometimes incorrectly called the "start" bank) from single output sources which are the most prevalent in most boats (few folks have dual output alternators).  This can be any of the relay types, another switch or just using BOTH, which parallels the batteries even if the alternator output goes directly to the house bank.  In fact, there's really no reason to ever have to parallel the two banks, because if one doesn't work the other should and putting them together to start makes little sense if one is "dead."    That's the BIG "problem" with the new dual circuit switch. The only need to parallel is for charging, which can be done with switches or relays, and reserve banks rarely need to be charged given their use, since so little is taken out, even with glow plugs and numerous starts (you can get an awful lot of starts out of a 'meager' 60 ah reserve "start" battery without recharging, at from 2 to 5 amp hours per start because the high amperage draws are of such short duration).

I do not dismiss the new switches completely because perhaps making things "easier" for people to understand is certainly good, but I don't buy the hype that it is better - it still does ALMOST the same danged thing as the old 1-2-B switch.

I encourage people to understand what they have so they know how to properly use it.
Title: Re: New (to me 1986) Boat - Updating Electrical System
Post by: jmnpe on November 06, 2008, 01:35:57 PM
Here are few random comments on various topics emerging in this discussion, in no particular order.

Xantrex Echo Charge Function If you are using the built-in function contained in the larger Freedom Series inverter/chargers, be advised that you do not want to use the Echo Charge function with any low internal discharge batteries: i.e. - any form of AGM or Gel battery technologies. The way the Echo output(s) receive their power internally in the Freedom unit causes high voltage spikes to propagate through the Echo output and can result in float voltages appearing across connected low loss batteries up to 16 volts. This will result in rapid degradation of the positive plates in the battery and seriously reduce the useful life of the batteries. I haven't specifically looked at the stand-alone Echo charge module in detail, but I have seen the same problems appear with them when used with a few older chargers and some alternators that had "dirty" outputs.

Link 10 Replacement The old Link 10 has been directly replaced by the new Link LITE, and with one or 2 features unavailable in the basic Link 10. Of particular interest, the Link LITE provides for the display of a second battery voltage on the internal display much like the Link 1000 provided. The accuracy of the Link LITE is comparable to the original Link 10, and I think retails for a little less than the Link 10.
The Link PRO has all the features of the LITE but at higher internal accuracy for voltage and current measurements, and therefore all computed charging parameters are also more accurate. The PRO also offers a few features not available on the LITE, and the retail price is about 15 to 20% higher than the PRO depending where you buy it.

Truecharge2 I noticed that Xantrex has now dropped the ridiculous idea of having this charger available in 7 different output current levels. It is now produced in either 20 or 40 amps like it's predecessor. If you are using flooded cells, you will definitely be using the equalize function, and without the optional remote panel you will only be able to activate the equalize function from the control panel built into the charger, which means you will have to provide for physical access to that part of the charger unit. Unlike the remote panel option for the Truecharge+ series ( which was almost worthless ), the remote panel for the Truecharge2 will let you fully utilize/program any features available from the charger.

Microwave Ovens and Psuedo-Sine Wave Inverters  With a large fully charged battery bank, a non-smart "psuedo-sine wave" ( i.e. bastardized square wave ) inverter will sort of work a microwave, but always at reduced power output.  I have used one that way, and it was better than heating up the cabin in the summer with the regular stove or oven. As the battery voltage reduces, however, the microwave power starts to drop in a hurry and quickly becomes almost useless.
If you want to use the microwave a lot and effectively, you will have to go with a smart true sine wave inverter that will allow the microwave to maintain it's normal peak power output over a larger battery output voltage level range. As an added bonus, the microwave and some fans and power tools won't "growl" at you as the battery voltage level drops.....

Xantrex XC Series Chargers In my on-going evaluation of this product, I have discovered some disturbing characteristics when used with low internal loss batteries ( AGM for sure, and maybe Gel ) that I have discussed with Xantrex personnel and am still awaiting their response to my disclosures and questions. I'll update my previous product review on Xantrex chargers once I have received a response from Xantrex. For now, I will caution everyone to only use the XC Series chargers with flooded cell batteries.


C34 Otra Vez
1988 wing keel
Hull 728

Copied to the Battery Charger Evaluation thread (  November 10, 2008 - Stu
Title: The 1-2-B Switch & the Dual Circuit Switch
Post by: Stu Jackson on November 09, 2008, 11:03:22 AM
For the new Dual Circuit switches, if you follow the wiring and the switch positions, you'll see that it has a limitation, an unintended consequence if you will, that the old 1-2-B switches do not have.

The dual circuit either separates the reserve and house banks or combines them.  There is NO position on the new switch that allow JUST the reserve bank to provide power.  So, if your house bank is dead flat (for whatever reason), putting the dual circuit switch in the combined position means your reserve bank is gonna bleed into the dead house bank.

That concept is basic stupidity for using battery banks.

The ONLY thing it's good for is isolating electronics by always starting on a separate ("start" not reserve) bank than the house bank.  A much better way to do this is to buy a separate very small (PWC type) 12V battery for your electronics, because paralleling a good bank and bad one is nonsense.

The advantages of the 1-2-B switch is that the house bank can be completely disconnected from any load and the reserve bank can be used for (albeit controlled and limited) house loads.
Title: Re: New (to me 1986) Boat - Updating Electrical System & The 1-2-B Switch
Post by: Gary Brockman on November 12, 2008, 11:06:34 AM
My plans for upgrading my boats electrical system changed yesterday morning when a sales rep from Xantrex told me that they have yet to start production of the Truecharge2 remote panel which I had on order and need given my planned location for the changer (under the chart table against the head bulkhead). The sales rep told me that Xantrex hopes to start distribution of the remote panels by the end of the year (but he could not guarantee it). Not wanting to wait until the first of the year for the remote, or even longer if there are delays in manufacturing, I returned my Truecharge2 20 amp charger uesterday afternoon and ordered a XC3012 charger instead. The cost difference ($209 vs. $389) should work out about the same given that the XC3012 comes with a battery temp sensor and the control panel can be removed and used as a remote.

I am planning to start this project Saturday and will update this thread as I go.

 - Gary -
Title: Re: New (to me 1986) Boat - Updating Electrical System & The 1-2-B Switch
Post by: jmnpe on November 12, 2008, 12:10:03 PM
Hi Gary,

One thing you need to know about the remote location option of the panel in the XC series charger is that while it can be removed from the main unit, there is no mounting means provided for it except for some rather permanent adhesive backed tape already in place around the periphery of the panel. If you ever want to be able to remove it from a mounting location, you will have to make a backing plate with a cutout to permanently mount the remote panel onto, and then mount the backing plate + remote panel assembly with screws in the corners. Not a very well thought out design detail in my opinion. The lip around the panel is relatively small, and drilling mounting holes in it could result in warranty issues in the future.

Also, as I noted previously, the XC series chargers for now(?) should only be used with flooded batteries because of over-voltage issues in the float mode with AGM batteries.


1988 C34 wing keel
Hull 728
Otra Vez
Title: Re: New (to me 1986) Boat - Updating Electrical System & The 1-2-B Switch
Post by: Stu Jackson on November 12, 2008, 12:18:00 PM
Good luck, Gary, sounds like you've thought this one out pretty well.

This is a copy of my wiring diagram which uses the 1-2-B switch.  It was part of my Nov. 2006 Alternator Regulator Mainsheet Tech Notes article.  I finally got it into a jpg after making it up in Word Draw. [Stu wiring diagram]

You may also be interested in this thread from  "Engine Starting and Real World Amp Draw"

It discusses the actual draw of starting an engine, separate reserve emergency banks, the 1-2-B switch and electrical systems.  It reflects some of what we've been discussing here, and includes a nifty video!  It was originated by Maine Sail, who has been active here on our board, too.

Here's another good discussion and summary, bottom of page 1, then most of it is one page 2. (

I've since added the battery sense wire from the regulator to the house bank.
Title: Re: New (to me) Boat - Updating Electrical System w/ Diagrams & The 1-2-B Switch
Post by: Stu Jackson on November 28, 2008, 06:52:41 PM
Another unintended consequence of the dual circuit switch:

The diagrams in the West Marine catalog show an outboard motor as the "engine" for the wiring diagram.  This seems to imply that the engine includes BOTH th alternator (energy output device) AND the starter (energy consumer).  The most important part of the diagram's wiring is missing:  the wires FROM and TO the alternator and the starter, assuming that the "engine" performs both functions.