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  1. #1
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    Should my generator charge its battery

    I had suspected my generator battery wasn't getting charged so last night I put a volt meter to it and confirmed nothing is charging it. The battery charger isn't hooked to it, the generator isn't charging it when running and neither do the motors.

    Should my generator be charging it when running?

  2. #2
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    Yes, while running, the generator--or more accurately, the alternator on your generator--sends a current to your battery to keep it charged. Inside the alternator is a regulator that determines just how much current to send to the battery.

    If you're finding that your battery isn't being charged, the first thing to suspect is the battery itself. If the battery's good, suspect the alternator. (There are plenty of online guides to show you how to test the alternator.) Bear in mind, though, that while the generator is running, it's demanding very little, if any, energy from the battery itself, and thus the amount of current being sent to the battery necessary to keep it fully charged is similarly very small.

    Hope this helps.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Go_Jim View Post
    Yes, while running, the generator--or more accurately, the alternator on your generator--sends a current to your battery to keep it charged. Inside the alternator is a regulator that determines just how much current to send to the battery.

    If you're finding that your battery isn't being charged, the first thing to suspect is the battery itself. If the battery's good, suspect the alternator. (There are plenty of online guides to show you how to test the alternator.) Bear in mind, though, that while the generator is running, it's demanding very little, if any, energy from the battery itself, and thus the amount of current being sent to the battery necessary to keep it fully charged is similarly very small.

    Hope this helps.
    Thanks for the information. Battery is good so I believe my issue is with the generator.

    I found the generator manual online this morning and there is a short section on the battery charging circuit. Looks simple enough with just the alternator, voltage regulator and a 10 amp fuse. Next trip down, I think I'll start by hunting down that fuse.

  4. #4
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    On Cobalts, the genset will charge the boat's 2 batteries when genset power is available and the "battery charger" is turned on. This way, shore power or genset power performs the same function. Didn't realize some boats have a separate battery & alternator on the genset.

    You might check to see if your arrangement is similar.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Holy Smokes View Post
    On Cobalts, the genset will charge the boat's 2 batteries when genset power is available and the "battery charger" is turned on. This way, shore power or genset power performs the same function. Didn't realize some boats have a separate battery & alternator on the genset.

    You might check to see if your arrangement is similar.
    I have a third dedicated generator battery, that's the one not getting charged. Same thing using the battery charger to charge up the starting batteries when the genset is running though.

    I think I'm going to purchase a new 3 bank battery charger so I can make sure the genset battery stays topped off and maintained properly.

  6. #6
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    Before you install and connect a battery charger to the generatorís battery, you might want to check and make sure that itís safe to do so. (If youíll only be charging when connected to shore power, youíll be OK.) Itís been eighteen years since we took delivery of our boat, and at the time I asked why the generatorís battery wasnít connected to the onboard charger, which keeps the engine batteries charged. Unfortunately, I donít recall the answer. (It certainly wasnít to save a few bucks.) It may have been for safety reasons. If so, I wouldnít want you to proceed to do something thatís not safe. Ask someone who knows for certain.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Go_Jim View Post
    Before you install and connect a battery charger to the generatorís battery, you might want to check and make sure that itís safe to do so. (If youíll only be charging when connected to shore power, youíll be OK.) Itís been eighteen years since we took delivery of our boat, and at the time I asked why the generatorís battery wasnít connected to the onboard charger, which keeps the engine batteries charged. Unfortunately, I donít recall the answer. (It certainly wasnít to save a few bucks.) It may have been for safety reasons. If so, I wouldnít want you to proceed to do something thatís not safe. Ask someone who knows for certain.
    I have been pondering this since the beginning, why wasn't it just hooked up??? You have the scenario where if the genset was running and I turned on my battery charger (like I always do when anchored) I would I have 2 things trying to charge it, maybe that's an issue?? I'd think the charger would just handle that ok, but I will do some more reading on it.

    I've purchased my new charger and should get it this week. Maybe they'll have something in the documentation on this scenario. The genset battery and battery charger are very close so I might just hook the charger up to it for maintain mode over the winter and disconnect when I summerize.

  8. #8
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    So the issue with hooking up the genset battery to the same charger as the motors could be different grounds??? The batteries that run the house and start the motors all ground to the motor while the genset battery grounds to the generator. I'm thinking running a grounding wire from the genset into the charger along with the common ground for everything else might be a bad thing.

    Wonder if I can run a grounding wire from the generator to the motor grounding bus and solve the issue...

  9. #9
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    In the 18 years we've had our cruiser, the generator battery has never needed to be charged during the boating season--and we've gone months without using the boat at all. (I might add, though, that we replace the battery every third year.) After the boating season ends, I take the generator battery out and store it in my basement, where I charge it about once a month. It's a little inconvenient, yes, but it's very easy and I never have to worry about a dead battery.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Go_Jim View Post
    In the 18 years we've had our cruiser, the generator battery has never needed to be charged during the boating season--and we've gone months without using the boat at all. (I might add, though, that we replace the battery every third year.) After the boating season ends, I take the generator battery out and store it in my basement, where I charge it about once a month. It's a little inconvenient, yes, but it's very easy and I never have to worry about a dead battery.
    I probably will have no issues and not worry about the charger once I get the generator putting a charge to the battery as it should. The battery was at 25% and could still crank the genset with no problems and it probably hasn't been charging all season.

    What drew my attention to the low battery was the blower fan sounding weak as I do use the genset battery to run the blower when the engines are off. Since it wasn't charging I bet it was the blower that drew down the battery and not really the cranking of the genset.

  11. #11
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    Unfortunately the fuse didn't take care of it. I charged it up it with a portable charger and tossed a maintainer on it for the winter.

    Next step is to test the out the voltage regulator. Looks like I'm going to learn how to actually use a multi-meter...

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