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Generator won't run with engines on

Discussion in 'Technical Discussion' started by Worthyvess, Jan 8, 2018.

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  1. Worthyvess

    Worthyvess Member

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    Does anyone have any idea what the issue could be? If the electric is running off the generator and I start the engines, a warning light and buzzer comes on the boats Volvo display. If I turn off the curcuit breaker it goes away even though the generator is still running (and the engines are still on). Northern Lights generator. Thanks for any help! We are trying to get to the Bahamas.
  2. Calvin Wagner

    Calvin Wagner New Member

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    Any more info on the warning light? Off hand, this sounds like a short or a grounding issue. A short, because your disconnecting the hot-side while still running and not having issues. Is it a floating or grounded system?

    Do you have access to the ships wiring diagrams?
  3. 30West

    30West Member

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    What is common between the engines and generator on this boat? Battery, fuel, raw water? Does this happen with only both engines, or only with one of the engines, or either engine? What breaker specifically are you turning off to stop the alarm?

    Has any work been done on this boat recently? I assume this is your 53' Navigator you've owned a while.
  4. Capt Ralph

    Capt Ralph Senior Member

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    If this is a new issue, i'd bet somebody has been messing around the batteries. There is a strap off, loose or installed wrong.
  5. Worthyvess

    Worthyvess Member

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    Thanks so much for the quick replies!
    Only happens on one engine.
    Does not happen if I turn off the battery charger.
    A meter shows a jump in voltage with the generator and charger on from 13.94 to 14.25
    Could it be a setting in the Volvo control panel or that the battery charger is over charging?
  6. 30West

    30West Member

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    Battery charger should be putting out around 14V. Batteries will slowly drop to around 12V without the charger, jump back up to 14V with the charger. If that is what is happening, sounds normal.

    Rcrapps is probably right, someone probably did some cleaning and tightening before your journey, and something got bumped or reinstalled incorrectly.
  7. Calvin Wagner

    Calvin Wagner New Member

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    Only happens on one engine? As in, this problem is only affected by a certain engine, or it only occurs when operating on either one out of the two engines are running? Not surprising there's a higher voltage with the generator and charger on.

    So the system is operating correctly without the battery charger online? Does your system have any kind of smart regulators for the alternators? If so, that will certainly, and is known to, mess with Penta motormanagement.

    As others have said, check your connections.
  8. Pascal

    Pascal Senior Member

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    I don't understand. You titled the thread "gen won't run with engines on"

    Then you say "generator still runs"

    There could be two issues. First having the charger on confuses the engine electronics and they sense a higher voltage than expected, triggering a warning light. But the generator should still be running. Does it?

    What happpens if you start the engines on shorepower with the charger on? Does the warning light comes on?


    Other problem, which I have seen in the past is when the generator shares a starting battery with one engines (bad setup). The draw from the engine cranking can be enough to shut down the generator

    Is this what happens?
  9. Worthyvess

    Worthyvess Member

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    Sorry,
    Only occurs on one engine. The engine runs fine plugged into shore power or running without the gen on. If I start the gen, the battery warning light and buzzer come on. The buzzer goes off if I turn off the battery charger.
    In other words the warning comes on with the gen running and the battery charger on.
  10. Capt Ralph

    Capt Ralph Senior Member

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    Your gen-set uses the engines battery to start/run. There is a problem in the wires to the battery, alternators from either/both engines to/from the common battery.
    Is this a new problem?????????
  11. PacBlue

    PacBlue Senior Member

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    How are you using the Battery Selector Switch, is it on #1 or #2 or All? Have you tried to isolate each battery? Typically, the Charger is on all of the time.

    I would assume the problem may be in the Volvo panel if you are now seeing this for the first time after all these years.
  12. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    How old are your batteries? To me it sounds like a battery/voltage issue. The charger also could be bad and leaking AC voltage which will play hell with DC electronics.
  13. Worthyvess

    Worthyvess Member

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    The batteries are less than a year old and the generator has its own starting battery
    The problem started since Volvo installed a new alternator on that engine- nothing wrong with the old one just wanted a spare to cruise. Thanks again.
  14. Capt Ralph

    Capt Ralph Senior Member

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    Have you called Volvo back?
  15. Worthyvess

    Worthyvess Member

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    No, we've been traveling towards Nassau in the Bahamas. Met a captain who said that the batteries are probably getting overcharged and setting off the alarm. So now we just shut the charger off when we run the generator and it runs fine now.
    Thanks again for all the interest and responses!
    Now we have new issues. Always an adventure!
  16. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    I would change the charger out ASAP or all of your batteries will be fried.
  17. Pascal

    Pascal Senior Member

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    AGMs or Lead Acids? Wrong setting on the charger?
  18. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    Most likely a bad diode in the charger sending AC voltage through to the batteries.......or just full charge mode and cooking them, but guessing most likely leaking AC voltage into the batteries.
  19. Capt Ralph

    Capt Ralph Senior Member

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    I still think something is missing here.
  20. Worthyvess

    Worthyvess Member

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    That sounds very possible that it's the charger, thanks. Just got to Paradise Island. Was leaving the charger off when using the generator. Now the dripless is leaking, so don't want to leave charger off, sunk boat worse than fried batteries. Always an adventure!! Thanks for all the help.

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